Friday, November 11, 2016

Election 2016 -The Autopsy Report

The biggest failure I see is the continuing lack of resources for a sustaining engine for progressives/liberals. We have never developed a well-funded counter to the Lewis Powell memo -which built and continues to provide the engine for the GOP political machine that grows more powerful in every election cycle.

We continue to react to every fire that is started -instead of bringing together labor, environmentalists, women's rights organizations, youth groups, the LGBTQ community and many more. We work in silo's. We've abandoned some Red states completely.

Ask yourself this -in a well-educated, well-informed society could Trump (or a Tom Cotton, or a Dennis Richardson) happen? Could Oregon Measure 97 lose?

We can blame superdelegates. We can blame Hillary, We can blame Bernie. We can blame the DNC. But at the end of the day -we fund candidates. We provide resources (to great groups that deserve them when they are under siege -like NARAL Pro-Choice America or Planned Parenthood). But what are we doing really?

We are reacting to every battle in every cycle -trying to convince a less educated and less informed populace why progressive/liberal ideas are better for all of us. We give up or laugh at people with "Government out of my Medicare" signs. I do it. However -they each represent OUR FAILURE. When people think government is our problem (when we the people are government). When people believe that the Affordable Care Act is standing between them and affordable health insurance and actually causing rates to climb (without the understanding of the relationship between Insurance industry or Big Pharma executive pay and bonuses).

We will send $27 to Bernie. We will send $27 to Hillary. And that's still important -but we are reacting. The time to become proactive was after the 2000 cycle. It's been 16 years and what have we done? What have we built? Courageous people like Sheldon Drobny and Anita Drobny founded and built Air America -they poured their heart and their own resources into it -and it paved the road for two terms of President Obama. But when they tried to raise money for progressive media infrastructure -who was there for them?

We need a media platform, rapid response capability, a people's counter to ALEC (the people that unleashed "Stand Your Ground" -never forget Trayvon Martin), and an easy method for all of us to participate and engage politically and economically (participatory democracy and budgeting). The tools we need are out there -but if we don't bring them and people together -and fund the effort -we will be fire fighting until we are all consumed by fire. can help build a platform for our future -and bring people together across ideologies -and you may think it's an interesting concept -but will you help us fund it? Will you contribute $5, $10, $20 a month to help proactively build OUR machine -while I personally continue to reach out to Our Revolution, Brand New Congress, Revolution Messaging,, the State Innovation Exchange and others to work cooperatively?

When we lose school board races and the right wing controls the textbooks -how do we reach into communities and counter the redaction of climate change? The removal of slavery, the trail of tears or other history from our textbooks in which our societal actions have been horrific (because they are not "patriotic" enough) is abhorrent.

We need our version of the "machine". And it doesn't mean we give up what we are doing -our architecture needs to allow local autonomy and action -but provide the mechanism for all of us to work together in a coordinated and cooperative way. If we don't begin now -we will continue to erode any hope or chance for the America we know we could build for the future that is possible -predicated upon opportunity, justice, courage and community.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Democratic Courage

Since 2003 I've been imploring progressive Democrats to produce a brief media piece that reclaims the values we share. We have allowed the right wing to frame us as "weak".

  • The reality is -we are not frightened of democracy -we encourage voting (as we've done in Oregon and California).
  • We are not afraid of refugee's seeking shelter from horrific violence against themselves and their children.
  • We are not afraid to pass laws -not to take people's guns away -but to do all we can to keep them from terrorists and criminals.
  • We are not afraid to trust women with decisions about their own bodies.
  • We are not afraid to demand that corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes.
  • We are not afraid of taking bold action to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • We are not afraid to protect retirement security for our seniors.
  • We are not afraid to properly invest in education and build a lifelong thirst for knowledge and truth in future generations.
  • We are not afraid of people that love or believe differently than we do.
  • We are not frightened of facts or science.
  • We do not hide behind walls, gated communities or fences.
  • Don't mistake our kindness and compassion for weakness or fear.
We are indeed, stronger together.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Vote to Defend

It's pure mathematics at this point -as described by Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis. You are either voting to preserve hard fought progressive wins dating back to and including the New Deal -or you are voting to blow up America.
And when you blow America up -who will suffer? Those with millions in offshore accounts? Or those that will die from hunger -because the Paul Ryan budget has cancelled food stamps. Those that die of disease -because the ACA has been repealed. Women that die from infections -from a coat hanger.
This is not about punishing the DNC. This is not about years of right wing attacks and innuendo. If we lose -the America that we all hope for will be gone forever and replaced with the Wal*Mart/Hobby Lobby/Exxon version that will persist for generations.
I know there are many who care deeply and see things from a more idealist and/or purist perspective. Nevertheless this a battle that has been fought over generations -sometimes we can go on offense -and make great gains (as society did in the 1960's). Sometimes we have to defend -while preparing for another assertive push.
My read is we must defend now. Failure to do so will obliterate any chance we will have -when SCOTUS is stacked with conservatives that believe the pursuit of profit and wealth is a priority over quality of life. When religious doctrine is held to be supreme -over civil rights and separation of church and state.
November 8, 2016 is a major battle -in a long unfolding war for the soul and direction of America. Some may think we can simply wait it out. However after the Reagan and post-Reagan concentration of power and wealth -we must defend with our votes now; and then build a strong progressive machine together. 
If we allow ourselves to be divided we will be crushed -and the America that is possible will forever be lost.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Indivisible We Are Invincible

I often consider America’s  future and how far apart so many Americans are -whether it is Trump vs Hillary, GOP vs Dems, Greens, Libertarians -I thought it important to weigh in with my observations.

We seem to have lost our way. We argue vehemently for Trump or for Hillary. Or some argue Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of the same coin. We fight about "Big Government", immigrants, guns and abortions.

When I think of all of the ways we are divided -the phrase that keeps returning to my mind is "focus on outcomes". And when we do -suddenly -we become united again.

Consider the following:
When we think of America's future -we know the world is a rapidly changing, competitive and volatile place. If we want a strong America -one outcome we need is to make sure our education system is among the best in the world. We know how to accomplish this -smaller class sizes, great teachers, curriculum focused on teaching and inspiring children to want to learn more throughout their lifetime.

When we think of campaign finance -no one I talk to wants candidates that are bought and purchased by the wealthiest Americans. Regardless of political side -we want political integrity as an outcome.

Regardless of how you feel about guns -we should all agree that the outcome we want is to feel safe in our homes or in our travel. And we don't want terrorists, the mentally ill, or criminals to possess weapons and use them against innocent Americans or law enforcement. We don’t want all of the accidental deaths we read about almost daily when a child finds an unlocked gun in the home.

Together we respect our elders -after a lifetime of work and responsibility -we want to make sure they have the financial resources they need to have a decent lifestyle -with affordable access to healthcare, housing and transportation.

None of us wants a "Big" Government. We want an effective and transparent government that is responsive to us -that provides the common services we need for all of America, Oregon and Lincoln County.

When we turn on our kitchen faucet -every American wants safe, good tasting water for themselves, families, friends and community -not a flammable toxic sludge or water tainted with dangerous chemicals. Similarly -when we breathe our air -we don't want our lungs to burn, eyes to water -taking in some dangerous pollutants from a nearby plant or refinery. When we buy food –we want food that is fresh, safe and free from dangerous chemicals.

Together we believe in an America where if every person works hard -they can improve the quality of their own life and family.

We believe there is great beauty in America –our coasts, rivers, valleys, mountains, forests and national parks. It’s part of what makes America a special place –and we believe in preserving and protecting them for future generations of Americans.

Most of us believe in the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty --"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" -we accept those fleeing from horrific violence with open arms and without fear.

We may have very different ideas about how to achieve the results we want -and that is what Democracy is about. We honor the fact that we can decide these things with our vote -and not with violence. America is not about Kings, Queens or Oligarchs. It is about all of us talking about what our vision of America is -and then electing people to represent us in shaping that future -while we stay involved to make sure they do represent our interest and vision.

Let’s stop yelling over each other with political slogans. When we consider and talk about the America we know is possible –we won't agree upon everything however I think you will find we have far more in common than not. And when we unite –together we can get closer to realizing the American dream for ourselves, families and communities.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Love Trumps Hate

I do think if people would take the time to share the context of their lives with others -we would understand we all want and need similar things. Life is a struggle (for almost all) in varying degrees -based upon privilege, economic standing, geography, gender, beliefs, culture and so much more. We are intentionally and strategically divided -as long as we distrust and hate others -it keeps us distracted from asking the real questions -about why in one of the most affluent countries -we are all fighting for table scraps -minimum wage, healthcare, housing, clean/safe water, breathable air -and equal justice and protection. The day when America (or if America) awakens and discovers how much money and power is controlled by the Koch's, Sheldon Adelson, the Walton heirs and others -there is going to be a reckoning.

And I'm not anti-capitalism or anti-wealth -provided it has been earned by risk and innovation -and not simply stolen, collected or hoarded. I am against concentration of wealth based upon tax and fiscal policy that erodes the quality of life for the impoverished, working poor and middle class -while transferring what should be their earnings (our earnings!) to the already obscenely wealthy -the essence of the trickle down fraud also known as Reaganomics. It has brought America and the aspiration of democracy to the brink of destruction.

I'm grateful to all of those that continue Bernie's Political Revolution in meaningful and sustained ways -that will continue to ask the questions -"With all of America's wealth -why are people without shelter, without access to quality healthcare, drowning in student loan debt, working multiple jobs to survive?" Why is all of the wealth WE HAVE EARNED -in the hands of so few? 

Those that are pragmatic -and understand that by abandoning Clinton/Kaine (and the endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders) -they would not only be jeopardizing America's future -but also putting all of the hard fought gains over generations at risk. Gains people fought, struggled and died for. I understand idealism -and it's needed to help people understand the America that may someday be within our grasp. However -we also must understand the reality of the world we live in today. Our choice is simple -supporting the fascist, theological oligarchy represented by Trump/Pence and the GOP -or supporting Senator Sanders wishes, committing to Clinton/Kaine -and working side by side on building the progressive infrastructure.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Violently Sick America

The closing written for Furious George, Episode 17: Violently Sick America:
This program isn't about "Making America Great Again" or "Keeping America Great". The reality is America has had great potential from our flawed beginning to become a beacon of hope for humanity. A place where diversity is respected, people are empowered and opportunity, fairness and justice are embodied in the soul of America -not just an empty promise scrawled upon our landmarks. An America where each new generation has a brighter future than past generations.
Image result for reagan and richAs the rich have gotten richer -insurmountable pressure has been heaped upon working men and women -until we are so busy and distracted -working around the clock to pay for necessities and a few distractions and escapes -we no longer have time for ourselves, our families or our communities. This has been the slow burning "Reagan Revolution" built on the foundation of the massive criminal fraud otherwise known as "trickle down economics". The average working person now pays higher taxes than the wealthy on a percentage basis -this all stems back to Reagan/Bush tax and economic policies.
Image result for reaganomics

We are too tired to question. We are too tired to fight back. Even after Bush subverted the election process, aided and abetted by a GOP majority in the "non-partisan" Supreme Court -and then Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Even after Cheney/Bush invaded the wrong country -leading to thousands of American military deaths and casualties, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and the chaos that now exists in the Middle East -threatening as I speak to draw us back in. We are too tired to question why BP still exists as a profitable company after the destruction of the Gulf Coast. We are too tired to question how do Exxon executives remain wealthy and free -knowing and obscuring the facts about Climate Change -and the global environmental threat we now face because of their actions. We are too tired to volunteer in our schools to make sure the next and future generations are well-prepared for unprecedented challenges.
Image result for bp disaster

Bernie speaks of the necessity of a political revolution in America. But the reality is -we need a counter to years of "Reagan-esque" economic policy that has led to CEO's making 500 times the salary of an average worker. We need strong unions again. We need manufacturing and trade jobs again. We need a living wage. We need to fix healthcare by removing the profit motive -and providing high-quality healthcare for all. We need real journalists and well-funded independent media -that questions the rise of a fascist, misogynist, racist, silver-spooned trust fund child as a presidential candidate. We need well-funded public schools and affordable higher education for all -because ultimately knowledge IS power. The foundation of a real democracy is a well-informed, well-educated and engaged society. We need people that work hard -to better themselves and families -but also have a real life work balance so we can not only be employees -we can be moms and dads again -involved in our communities.

People are angry -left and right. Trump supporters, Sanders Supporters, Stein supporters and Clinton supporters. We need to understand that the anger and frustration is about what has been stolen from all of us -and our families for the last 40 years. Our own quality of life -and that of our communities, our schools, our infrastructure -and it has gone into the hands of a few. This is the real issue. It is not about black versus white. It is not about immigrant versus American. It is purely about green and gold. People that are uninformed (because they only listen to fox spews or other hate speech) blame the wrong people. Live in the projects before you call someone lazy or "gaming the system". Live with the fear that your child will be shot on his or her way from school -or at a BBQ or front porch -or by the police. If we are to move beyond the deeply-rooted violence and blind, ignorance driven hatred -we must first listen to each other. Then we must fully explore our sins of the past, pay for them, apologize for them and teach them -so they never happen again. Let us make new mistakes in our future -not repeat those we've made in the past.

We all want one thing -a better life for ourselves, our families -we want a future. Let's start with that -and then turn our attention to where the problem really exists -with the Koch brothers, the Walton families and others that are very close to establishing an American Oligarchy for the obscenely wealthy -constructed on the backs of the working class and poor.
Image result for people marching in unity
And then let's do something that strikes fear into the cold, dead hearts of those that have stolen from all of us. Let's unite, cooperate and and work together for the America we know we could have -based upon fairness, justice, compassion and respect for all.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I'm Proud to be a Liberal

As we move rapidly toward another crucial election cycle I wanted to reflect and share why I’m a proud liberal. There are many attempts to intentionally misrepresent what liberal means and I reject such dishonest attacks upon the liberal community by people working to mischaracterize me. I do believe that the generosity of most Americans during national disasters and tragedies is clearly indicative of a strong, resilient and caring liberal America.

As a liberal I want every American to reach their potential. Every American should have the opportunity to be well-educated, self-reliant and productive – to lead a satisfying life. I also understand that the greatness of any society isn’t derived from any single individual. The Apollo program didn’t begin and end with Neil Armstrong. It was about all of us working together as Americans to make a lunar landing possible. Together Americans have accomplished great things –and together –we can again.

I often hear a great deal about “Big Government”. I do not want “big government”. I don’t want “small government”. I want government that is efficient, transparent and accountable to all of us –not just the obscenely wealthy. And I most certainly don’t want a government that is so big –it insinuates itself into a very personal and difficult decision between a woman and her doctor.

I am not anti-wealth. However I make an important distinction between those that have gained wealth through innovation, risk and monumental effort (creating companies and sometimes entire industries) and those that simply want to take wealth through loopholes, rigging the economic system and not creating anything other than a weaker America.

I want retirement security for our elders. No one living on fixed income should ever have to choose between medicine and food.

I’m grateful for the Affordable Care Act –it has given millions of Americans access to health insurance. Nevertheless I want high-quality universal healthcare for all Americans. Healthcare that transforms the system from expensive, emergency and reactive medicine to proactive, preventative management as a key to controlling skyrocketing costs. And I want to reform the pharmaceutical industry or “Big Pharma” to control healthcare costs. No one should have to go bankrupt in order to pay for the care of a loved one suffering from a catastrophic medical condition such as cancer or ALS.

I want sustainable economic growth that creates opportunity and fairly rewards workers and management for their hard work. No worker should have to subsist on taxpayer funded social welfare while executives are shopping for another summer home. And I believe a woman performing the same work as a man should not earn less than her male counterparts.

I believe that “Trickle Down economics” is not economics –it is a massive fraud perpetrated by the obscenely wealthy on the working class and poor. The American economic engine is the middle class. When the majority of American working families are thriving –the American economy grows –and America becomes stronger. When wealth is just concentrated at the top –and a few crumbs drop down –that is not greatness –it leads to a climate of fear, anxiety and uncertainty for most Americans.

I want a system of law enforcement and justice that works for every American. No mother or father should have to worry when their child leaves the house to go to work, school or anywhere and is targeted because of the color of their skin. We cannot be a nation of racism rooted in ignorance and blind hatred.

I believe in well-funded infrastructure –our bridges, highways and mass transit systems. Infrastructure represents the lifeblood of commerce –it’s how we move things from manufacturers to store shelves. It should be safe, reliable, fast and efficient.

I believe in the beauty of America –our coastline, mountains, valleys and forests. I believe in our system of State and National parks and monuments –so we can protect pristine beauty for future generations of Americans.

I believe in an America that takes responsibility for its mistakes and injustices of the past –an America that learns from them and strives toward justice –in foreign and domestic policy.

No election should be bought and paid for by a mega-corporation, a small group of obscenely wealthy individuals, a foreign government or a mysterious organization with a group of people hiding behind its legal structure. We need to massively restructure campaign finance law so every voter knows who is funding each candidate, issue or ballot initiative with strict limits on contributions.

I am fortunate to live in Oregon. We have a legislature that protects and expands voter rights. In other legislatures across the country there is clearly a fear of democracy –where they have disenfranchised voters, closed offices where people could obtain necessary documentation made mandatory to vote (disproportionately affecting people of color, the elderly and working poor) and have gerrymandered districts to maintain control regardless of the majority will of the people.

Education is the foundation for a strong, competitive America. I want the best public education system in the world so future generations of Americans will be prepared to handle unprecedented environmental, energy, security and geo-political challenges offered by a rapidly changing world. We need well-paid teachers, small classroom sizes and the resources to not only educate however to create a life-long commitment to learning in every citizen. I believe in an America that invests in more schools –not more prisons.

College and University must be affordable. If we saddle each new generation with growing school loan debt –we will not be able to employ our best and brightest in areas of public service –teachers, professors, research scientists, government or non-profit organizations.

I believe in affordable early education and quality childcare for working single parents and families.

We can no longer tear families apart through immigration policies that no longer serve America. We must create a meaningful path to citizenship for people that work hard and are as committed to the American dream as we are. The Statue of Liberty has the quote ““Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This opportunity has led to our diversity and richness as a society.

We must not infringe upon people’s right to own guns. However –we must have the mechanisms in place as a society to ensure responsible gun ownership. As long as there are guns there will be accidental shootings and violent crimes in which guns are used. While we cannot yet ensure that anyone squeezing a trigger is a responsible gun owner -we must recognize that guns are weapons of death and carnage –as proven every day in America –and we must do all we can to prevent accidents and gun violence regardless of the protests of extreme fundamentalists of the NRA and other fringe domestic groups.

Whether you are a teacher, a plumber, a firefighter, a soldier or a nurse –you should not have to pay more in income taxes on a percentage basis than an investment banker, Wall Street executive or CEO. Similarly if you own a small to mid-size business –a restaurant, a kite shop, a roofing company –you should not be subject to the same taxes, regulations and fees of a large mega-corporation. We must reform our system of taxes and regulation to encourage investment in America –not hording cash offshore. We must not provide economic incentives for mega-corporations to close facilities in America and shift operations elsewhere around the world to avoid paying workers fairly. We must provide the opportunity and resources for our small “mom and pop” businesses to thrive. We must restore “Main Street” America through proper and fair economic incentives.

I believe in a strong, well-funded and well-equipped military –so we don’t have to go to war. I believe in diplomacy and strength as the core of our American character –and view war as an absolute last resort. Liberals prefer to work with the international community as a strong, benevolent partner –instead of a foreign policy best described as “Let them hate us as long as they fear us”. And when we must send our military into harm’s way –we do not invade the wrong country and create complete regional chaos –and we have an exit strategy. And we believe in honoring and helping our veterans adjust back to civilian life.

We must embrace scientific research –and use it to guide our governmental policy and investment. We cannot ignore the reality and impact of climate change. We are fortunate in Lincoln County and as Oregonians to have elected officials that respect science -our best, brightest most educated minds that have warned us about climate change for many years (just as they did when a link was made between smoking and lung cancer). In spite of the massive money invested by the Koch Brothers, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and others to create confusion and delay- we must act boldly and rapidly to protect the only home we have.  I’m very grateful for Oregon legislators like Senator Arnie Roblan, Representative David Gomberg and others that voted to extend the provisions of our Clean Fuels Bill. What is lost in the constant lying about the bill in direct mailings and letters to local papers (probably funded by Big Oil) is that Consumer Reports, a long trusted non-profit research organization, continues to stand behind the passage of the Clean Fuels bill and its provisions because it expands competition for fuel and for the positive environmental impact. We must transition from oil, coal and fracking to solar, wind and other safe, clean and renewable alternatives.

If we truly aspire toward democracy –we must be a well-educated and informed society.  Not only should we be investing in education –we must make real journalism thrive again. As media has consolidated and television, radio and print media have slashed costs in order to create profitability –our access to unfettered information has greatly suffered. Without a well-funded “Fourth Estate” that properly seeks and reports factual information –we get the result we have today –opinions and perspectives funded by the obscenely wealthy telling you who to blame, telling you that fracking is good, labeling GMO’s are bad, immigrants are bad, climate change is a Democratic plot and war is good. From our local newspapers and media –through national news –we must have organizations dedicated to the pursuit of the truth. We need publications that aren’t afraid to call out lies and misinformation whether by a public official, an opinion piece or other form of intentional attempts to mislead the public.

I am proud to be a liberal –because liberals are about empowering individuals to be self-reliant however we also recognize that beyond the individual there is greatness in what we accomplish together. When we work together as a society our young nation creates fairness, justice and opportunity for all.  We become a beacon for what is possible for the rest of the world and America leads by example. 

I am proud to be a liberal.