Friday, October 26, 2007

A Progressive National Agenda

A coalition of progressive organizations has put together a Progressive Agenda for candidates for President and Congress. It is quoted below.

Questions for discussion:

1) Is this a good platform for our federal office candidates to adopt? If not, what would you change?

2) How can we get our federal candidates to sign on?

3) Could we come up with something similar at the more neglected county level?

Progressive Agenda

  1. End Imperial Foreign Policy, Redirect Funding

    All U.S. troops and military contractors must be safely withdrawn from Iraq now with war funding redirected toward social needs at home, and humanitarian and reconstruction aid to the Iraqi people. Under our Constitution, Congress has the power of the purse to cut off funding that prolongs the occupation of Iraq. The disastrous war in Iraq must not be extended into an even more disastrous attack on Iran.

    U.S. foreign policy must be fact-based, committed to international law and respect for the sovereignty of other nations, and aimed at intelligently countering real threats, such as weapons proliferation and transnational terrorism. Instead of producing more advanced nuclear warheads and promoting weapons into space and building missile shields, U.S. policy should lead by example in non-proliferation by disarming our own nuclear stockpiles. Reducing our nuclear weapons will facilitate negotiations with major powers like Russia and new nuclear countries like Iran. U.S. policy must be even-handed in the Middle East, aimed at justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. U.S. foreign policy must shift from reckless unilateralism toward cooperation and diplomacy with people of other countries knowing us more by our helping hand than our slugging arm.

  2. Healthcare for All

    It is immoral for a country as wealthy as ours to have 47 million people with no healthcare coverage, and millions more with inadequate, overly expensive coverage. Despite spending twice as much as other industrialized nations on healthcare, our system performs poorly because the private U. S. insurance bureaucracy soaks up nearly one-third of all healthcare money in waste, profits, paperwork and advertising. Poor health and poor healthcare drag down the economy and job creation; healthcare expenses are a factor in half of all personal bankruptcies. Nonprofit national health insurance Enhanced Medicare for All could provide topnotch universal coverage by negotiating drug and treatment costs, while recouping $300 billion in administrative savings currently wasted in private insurance bureaucracy. This kind of cost-effective single-payer system is publicly financed, privately delivered healthcare.

  3. Economic Justice

    The Bush Administrations enormous tax breaks for the wealthy must be rolled back so that the richest 1 percent of our population (with yearly incomes averaging $1.3 million) will not pocket $300 billion over the next few years. Tax burdens on the middle class can be eased if the wealthy pay their share. Thirty seven million people (equivalent to the population of California) are living in poverty in the U.S. today. These immoral levels of poverty, which disproportionately impact communities of color and women, can be significantly reduced through concerted effort including a living wage for all workers, expanded earned income tax credits, childcare assistance and housing vouchers. The federal government must fulfill its promise of resources to Hurricane Katrina survivors so they can return to rebuild their communities in the Gulf Coast.

    Protecting the right of workers to form and join unions in the U.S. is essential to preserving the middle class, as is federal investment in job creation, such as the Apollo Alliance for renewable energy, and investment in wireless Internet networks. We need fair trade deals with other countries that protect workers' rights and the environment not wage-reducing "free trade" agreements that protect only corporate rights to globally exploit unprotected labor.Finally, we need humane and comprehensive immigration reform, which insures the rights of undocumented workers in the workplace and affirms the dignity and integrity of immigrant families.

  4. Stop Global Warming

    No issue reveals more clearly the flaws of the U.S. political-economic system than global warming the triumph of greed and corporate power over the public good, and the near-sighted focus on the short-term over the welfare of future generations. But the U.S. public is ready to take action to save the planet and protect our remaining wild places from further degradation in the pursuit of oil. We need elected leaders who will act boldly in reducing our country's oil dependence and use of fossil fuels. This can be done by raising auto fuel economy and imposing mandatory caps on carbon pollution while investing in public transportation, energy conservation technologies and alternative energy development. (Such investments create good-paying jobs.)

  5. Reproductive Freedom/Civil Rights & Liberties

    A woman's reproductive freedom, including the right-to-choose, is essential to personal privacy and gender equality. Equal rights and equal opportunity must be a guiding principle of society, especially in view of historic and ongoing discrimination against women and racial, ethnic and sexual minorities. Affirmative action in employment and education is an important tool for racial and gender equality. Lesbians and gays must be afforded equality, including in marriage and military service. The Bush administration has exploited the 9/11 tragedy to constrict precious Constitutional rights of privacy, speech and due process. These rights must be restored. Drug policy should emphasize treatment over criminalization not a drug war that erodes Constitutional freedoms, privacy and law enforcement resources. The prison-industrial complex in which economic interests profit from incarceration must be shrunk and capital punishment, with its racial and class biases, must be abolished.

  6. Clean, Fair, Transparent Elections

    The U.S. election system is in crisis, with voters facing political and racial obstacles in casting votes and in getting their votes counted. Big money and entrenched power deform the political process, with incumbents unfairly insulated by district gerrymandering and rules obstructing independent candidates and parties. We need comprehensive campaign finance reform at the state and national level, including Clean Money public financing of the public's elections, plus free TV/radio time for candidates. We need a ban on touch-screen (DRE) voting machines for counting votes, paper ballots as the official records for deriving voter intent, and rigorous mandatory audits of elections. We must end racially-biased disenfranchisement of felons who've served their time, and initiate reforms like "Instant Runoff"/proportional voting, which assure more accurate and broader representation than winner-take-all elections.

  7. Media Reform

    A half-dozen media conglomerates now sit on the windpipe of the First Amendment, having seized the publics broadcast airwaves; these companies helped facilitate the Iraq War. Giant phone and cable TV companies threaten to transform the Internet from a free forum fostering citizen action to a corporate-dominated medium fostering profiteering. The Internet can be saved by legislating Net Neutrality. Regulation and anti-trust enforcement can break up media monopolies to diversify broadcasting and expand minority and nonprofit ownership. Our country needs well-funded, genuinely independent public broadcasting to replace the current corrupt system of corporate underwriting and politicized White House control. Government policy should promote nonprofit and public access outlets, along with high-speed community Internet for all.

Friday, October 19, 2007

We're Not In Right Now

Please leave a message after the tone. Mostly, we're out gathering signatures for ourselves as Precinct Committeeentities and for our candidates. If you want to help with the latter, visit our Links Page for a list of candidates, or look here for petitions for candidates whose campaigns have asked us to display them.

In the meantime, here's a couple of things to tide you over. First, a bit of reading from Paul Krugman:
According to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, in the current election cycle every one of the top 10 industries making political donations is giving more money to Democrats. Even industries that have in the past been overwhelmingly Republican, like insurance and pharmaceuticals, are now splitting their donations more or less evenly. Oil and gas is the only major industry that the G.O.P. can still call its own. All of this greatly increases the odds that the Republicans, far from establishing a permanent majority, will be out of power for quite a while. But it also raises the question of what Democratic rule will really mean.... Many progressives, myself included, hope that the next president will be another F.D.R. But we worry that he or she will turn out to be another Grover Cleveland instead — better-intentioned and much more competent than the current occupant of the White House, but too dependent on lobbyists' money to seriously confront the excesses of our new Gilded Age.

Second, here's a video from a group calling themselves the 35 Percenters. Even if you're not a Kucinich supporter like I am, you may find this amusing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Your Tax Dollars At Work: The Free Speech Saga Continues

In our last very exciting episode, our protagonists Jeff and Sarah had been arrested for the crime of making public criticism of our leaders. Well, okay, those weren't the official charges, which were the supposed throwing of "unknown objects" down onto the roadway, and the impersonation of a traffic sign, causing dozens of motorists to get off at the next exit thinking they'd found Impeach Bush and Cheney Avenue.

And now, the plot sickens. Here's a note from co-defendant Jeff:

Hello All,
The absurdity continues.......

Sarah and I went to court this morning with our attorneys Shawn Collins and Julie Anderson of the Collins Law Firm in Naperville. They filed a motion to quash the fraudulent case against us. As a result, the State dismissed the "Reckless Conduct" and "Unauthorized Display of Sign" charges and added a new "Disorderly Conduct" charge.

I am now falsely accused of making a throwing motion. Yes, you read that right. I allegedly made a throwing motion.

The new official complaint reads:
"...Committing the offense of Disorderly Conduct in that said Defendant: Acted in such an unreasonable manner as to alarm and disturb Charles Hardin, and provoke the breach of the peace in that said defendant or one for whose conduct he is legally responsible, stood on an overpass above highway I-355 and made a throwing motion in the direction of vehicles traveling on I-355."

Sarah and I still have to appear in court on the 15th for a preliminary hearing on the new false charge. Technically, the original "Disorderly Conduct" charge is still pending, though I've got a feeling it'll be dropped. Of course you're welcome to attend the hearing on Monday. Please bear in mind, it will be very brief, like our previous hearings.

Due to the change of events, we've decided to scale back on the demonstration scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. A handful of us will be there as planned, but we've asked the Master of Ceremonies and Speakers to postpone indefinitely. We will re-schedule depending on how the circumstances develop. If all the charges are not dismissed and a new trial date is set in the future, then we will organize another protest. If that happens, we want a BIG turnout!

Please help spread the word. I've heard that people from all across the Midwest have planned on attending the demonstration and trial.

I'd like to remind everyone:
Sarah and I demonstrated on the bridge peacefully and within our Constitutional Rights. We did not throw anything. We did not act like we were throwing anything. There were no traffic disturbances.

We Are Not Backing Down!

You see, they never actually threw objects off the bridge. But Birkett and company thought that they had. And since nothing is ever your fault when you're a right-winger, Jeff and Sarah have to be held responsible for that.

This, in a nutshell, is how the Republican government of DuPage County thinks your tax dollars should be spent. And may I be the first to suggest: Let's draft Collins or Anderson to run against Birkett when his current term is up.