Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The people deserve safe drugs again

A drug safety bill is entering the conference stage by both houses before it will be sent to our President for his signature. It concerns the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the regulator of prescription drugs. It corrects some of the agency's failures and makes it more accountable to the people.

We have heard the stories-- Vioxx, Paxil and now Oxycontin and Avandia and other dangerous drugs passing the FDA on their way to peoples' medicine cabinets. Used to be, we often complained that the FDA took too long to approve drugs, such as those for cancer; however, our FDA was very thorough in certifying the safety of drugs before they hit the market.

With today's passing in the House of a strong ethics and lobbying bill, let's continue this strong reform of government by sending President Bush a good drug safety bill as well!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Campaign finance abuse leads to mistrust with constituents

There is a dangerous lack of trust between the American people and our President. For many quarters of the political community, Bush has not earned his credentials since he first entered office in 2001. It is only after several years of kowtowing to his major campaign fundraisers at the highest levels of government that most of the nation is now at odds with him.

In effect, Bush's administration is a living case of the campaign finance abuses of his electoral campaigns for 2000 and 2004. In an attitude of a free-wheeling cowboy, he gave special names to his largest campaign donation bundlers (those who marshalled big money donations personally). In an attitude of cronyism, he enlisted these bundlers and other political hacks to high government positions. And in an attitude of executive priviledge, Bush is now justifying his cronies 'till they are thrown out of office.

There is now a year and a half left in our President's last term of office. Will the American people justify their sense of citizenship and patriotism and lose all trust with him? Only time will tell.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ask your U.S. Senators to support the Fair Elections Now Act - S1285

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, has introduced the Fair Elections Now Act, S 1285; it is the first time public financing of congressional campaigns has received such high-level support. Rep. John Tierney, D-MA, has introduced similar legislation in the House that will cover House races.

The Fair Elections Now Act will restore public confidence in the election process by allowing qualified candidates to receive campaign funds from the Senate Fair Elections Fund instead of asking for money from private or special interests. In return, participating candidates would voluntarily agree to limit their campaign spending to the amount allocated to them.

This voluntary alternative to privately financed campaigns will free candidates from the all-consuming money chase. Candidates could instead devote their time and energy to talking with their district's constituents about the issues that are important to them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Beat back government and volunteer!

10 things that don't require the government, that most people can do:

give blood
take CPR training
recycle soda cans and paper
take a defensive driving course
say hi and ask how they're doing
give during USPS canned food drive
give your best used clothes to charity
vote in all primaries and general elections
join a local church/community service group
put an American flag bumber sticker on your car

Your life, and those you help, will be richer for it!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Executive Branch represents ALL of the people

On July 18th, the Washington Post revealed energy industry's role in V.P. Cheney's Energy Task Force of 2001. To no one's surprise, most of the final report reflected industry's input.

The Executive Branch represents the whole country, not select pieces of it. Sure, there may be particular problems that rely mostly on certain segments of the population for input. However, on fundamentals like national energy policy, all players must have a voice. When one sends a letter on a national issue to the Vice President, for example, they should not be fearful of biased reception of it. We, the people can hire and fire any elected official at will.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Public financing of campaigns frees us from special interests

The Washington Post writes today about the "contamination" of public officials' duties, as opposed to the "corruption" of them. I believe there exists both, and I understand that most of the influence of big money on campaigns contaminates the winners' priorities when they enter office. However, both problems-- contamination and corruption-- must be dealt with through the public financing of campaigns. By being free from the pains of raising funds from the private sector, candidates can spend most of their time addressing all of the people of their district; with a publicly financed campaign, issues of we the people can always be front and center. Public Campaign has taken the lead in campaign finance issues as a proponent of publicly-financed campaigns; they have already seen success across this nation, and with the rising amounts of money today's federal candidates are receiving from individuals and special interests, now is the time more than ever for public financing for all levels of government.

IRV Instant Runoff Voting is today's solution of representation

If you've ever been in a neighborhood restaurant at 6:30 in the morning, you would have probably met several men sharing coffee and a table; this is a ritual that usually includes the discussion of politics, in addition to the weather, local football, etc. And often when talking politics, there is a consensus about the poor quality of our representatives in Washington, DC.

Of course they aren't entirely serious, and they may be male-bonding a bit, but this is the conventional wisdom with today's presidential candidates in both major parties; we are disgruntled that big money raising events have lifted a few of our candidates to the "top tier", and that that has already lifted to the top of the polls those who will likely win their respective parties' nominations next year.

There are solutions available to voters for this dilemma, however. FairVote is a national organization that promotes electoral reforms, including IRV (Instant Runoff Voting). With IRV, you can rank all of the candidates on the ballot based on your preference-- this eliminates the time and money for runoff elections, but, more importantly, breaks the "winner-take-all" system in place today. There is a growing recognition in all levels of government to the value of this alternative to today's nasty and vitriolic campaigns among all candidates.

FairVote also promotes "proportional representation", "universal voter registration" and other improvements in the quality of America's electoral system. IRV is today's hottest reform, allowing we the people a closer and more honest representation from our future elected officials.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Let's include all proven, honest and serious candidates in presidential debates

A "caught on tape" moment is now circulating the web-- it's Hillary Clinton and John Edwards scheming to limit future Democratic presidential debates to only the "top tier" candidates. For fundraising purposes, I guess that would mean Clinton, Obama and Edwards! Remember, we are in the Summer of an off year-- the primaries for determining the Democratic winner is next year!

The Moderate Voice blog made an insight that is truly the battleground in electoral politics-- the "establishment/ special interest" candidates against all proven, honest and serious candidates. Politics will steer power where the money is; until we have publicly-financed campaigns and Instant Runoff Voting, our elections will be steered in the wrong direction!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Reform the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and make it better

A coalition of groups has urged the U.S. Congress to pass a bill that would reform the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and make it work better for the public. The OPEN Government Act (S. 849) would enact common-sense reforms to the FOIA and put in place incentives for federal agencies to process FOIA requests from the public in a timely manner. It's supported by a wide range of organizations and individuals across the ideological, political, and economic spectrum.

S 849, proposed by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is currently behind a closed door; however, it already has strong bipartisan support. And, the United States House of Representatives already passed a similar bill by an overwhelming majority vote (308-117) in March 2007 which included 80 Republicans. If it does pass in the Senate, it will be reconciled with the House version and presented to President Bush for his vote.

Good government is open and accountable government. Currently, it takes up to 20 years to have a FOIA request fulfilled; often times it gets lost in the process, or is challenged in court by the federal agency only to be fulfilled right before the court's decision. The OPEN Government Act, S 849, is common sense legislation in good faith with the American people, and it should be passed overwhelmingly by the Senate and our President. Good leaders enjoy a high level of respect and trust with their constituents back home.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Have courage, candidates-- call yourselves 'ethical'

We must turn the tide of loopholes and trickery in our candidates' election campaigns if we are to call ourselves truly "democratic". Instead of "abusing the letter" of our campaign finance laws, we must "align with the spirit" of those laws. True leadership involves honesty and accountability; you can't have that if you "work the system" for your own campaign's own short-term benefit. If we want to elect true leaders for our elective offices, we must recognize the honesty and accountability of ethical campaigns.