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Swinging for the Fences

By: New Progressive Alliance Wednesday September 17, 2014 5:47 am

Our series profiling independent and alt-party candidates for seats in the November election who have endorsed the New Progressive Alliance’s Unified Platform continues. An introductory piece is here.

By Andrew McCoy
NPA Volunteer

Green party logo

A newly redrawn district offers a chance for a Green upset in Colorado.

Gary Swing of Colorado believes it’s time for Progressive candidates to raise the stakes, and again this election cycle, this endorser of the Unified Platform is all in.

Swing, a Green, is running for Colorado’s newly drawn 6th District seat for U.S House, where major-party registrations are about equally split. He has run twice before for House from Colorado, but in traditionally “safe” Democratic districts.

This cycle is different.

“Every election year we hear the same nonsense about ‘voting for the lesser of two evils,’” Swing says.

“Despite the spirited chants of ‘We Are the 99 percent,’ 99 percent of American voters continue to embrace the greater evils: perpetual wars of aggression, imperialism, authoritarianism, and environmental devastation,” which, Swing says, “is the shared agenda of the two corporate parties.”

So this year Swing is working to give the people a stronger voice. He is challanging not only incumbent Mike Coffman, who Swing calls a “a right-wing Republican militarist,” but the Democrat, Andrew Romanoff – who leads the incumbent by about 10 points in recent polling.

“We still hear the same tired old arguments that have never been valid: Voting your conscience is a wasted vote; a vote for a Green Party candidate is a vote for the Republican, and so on,” Swing says. “Voting Green can’t ‘spoil’ elections that are already rotten to the core.”

Swing similarly pulls no punches in distinguishing himself from his opponents. His clear policy positions unequivocally oppose wars of aggression, the spread of American imperialism, and the national surveillance state. He opposes government policies that privilege corporate profits over the well-being of workers (such as the TPP and NAFTA).

Swing also seeks to empower the American people by pushing for structural change that gives citizens a more forceful voice in policy decisions.

Romanoff and Coffman, meanwhile, support largely similar policies that emphasize balancing the federal budget, though neither has expressed any desire to raise revenue. Both support American intervention overseas in response to vague “security” concerns, and neither has provided any clear policy framework regarding their positions on any specific issue. Campaign contributions from private industries and PACs constitute a significant portion of both candidates’ cash flow.

“The corporate media are already so bored and unimpressed with the meaningless contest between Coffman and Romanoff that they have declared this to be a ‘swing district,’” Swing notes, adding with a wry laugh, “and I’m looking for Swing voters!”

An avid outdoorsman, Swing has climbed all of Colorado’s 637 mountains and backpacked more than 10,000 miles of American wilderness. He says his understanding of the risks of exploiting of our natural resources has made him committed to developing a sustainable path forward.

 

FL Governor’s Race: The Man With a Plan

By: New Progressive Alliance Friday September 5, 2014 4:41 am

Our series profiling independent and alt-party candidates for seats in the November election who have endorsed the New Progressive Alliance’s Unified Platform continues. An introductory piece is here.

By Anthony Noel
NPA Communications Director

As the Rick Scott and Charlie Crist elephant-and-jackass show gathers steam in Florida, a candidate who shares one similarity with Crist – a 2010 gubernatorial run as an Independent – is being largely overlooked.

But for Farid Khavari, an Iranian-American economist and author, that’s where the similarities end.

Khavari’s birthplace means he has no presidential aspirations (although in the cases of both Scott and Crist, delusions might be the better word). And his thoroughly fleshed-out policy initiatives mean Khavari won’t be passing himself off as a Florida Democrat anytime soon.

“Florida’s Democrat leadership serves the Republican Party,” Khavari insists. “There is no opposition to the extremist Republican agenda in the legislature; 40 seats are not even contested by Democrats. This state has been ruled by a minority party for decades – Scott elected by only 23.2 percent of voters, Crist by 24 percent.”

“The only way to make state government work for the people,” he concludes, “is with an Independent governor.”

Khavari began this cycle as a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor, a race from which he withdrew to focus on his second Independent run in as many gubernatorial cycles. “I’m waiting until after the election to change my registration,” he said. Though the Green Party has approched him, “I prefer to be an Independent.”

Khavari’s Ph.D in economics shows. “I’m the only candidate for governor with an economic plan which explains in detail how we can solve our economic problems at no cost to taxpayers.” And he really does; a plan so granular that even cyberspace seems to have a little less room by the time one has slogged through it.

Khavari’s plan is a nod to the potential effectiveness of economic initiatives in driving social policy, and he’s not shy about saying so: “I am running to revive Florida’s economy and to eliminate the needless suffering of millions of Floridians caused by bad economic policies.”

Those doubting Khavari’s Progressive chops – easy to do in a state where the word is more recognized as the name of an insurance company than a political ideology – need only study his key issues: A jobs program where “many of the jobs will be created in the course of solving our other problems”; Reduced-cost (and eventually free) higher education and a vastly improved public school system; establishment of a citizens-owned “SuperBank,” restructuring the state’s homeowner’s insurance and health care systems; marriage equality; saving the Everglades; and implementing medical marijuana (Florida is voting on it this cycle) through small growers and dispensaries, “out of the hands of big business. Later,” Khavari adds, he would “lead a ballot initiative for legal marijuana with the same sensible regulations.”

Here’s an overview of his plan for a state bank, from his 2010 campaign.

A lifelong small business owner and holder of two patents, Khavari also pledges to “veto any legislation that benefits a special interest group at the expense of the people,” something he says “only an Independent governor can do.”

Khavari’s been a U.S. resident since 1977. He lived and studied in Germany before that. Born in Iran in 1943, he earned his Ph.D in economics from the University of Bremen with a dissertation on the pricing of OPEC crude oil. (Solar energy is a key component of his economic plan for Florida.)

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard executed Khavari’s father in 1980 for refusing to renounce his religion. Then, Khavari says, the Guard “charged my mother for the bullets and [said she must] denounce her religion if she wanted to keep her house. She walked out of the house and told them to keep it.”

A chapter in his 1990 book Oil and Islam is called “The Lesser Evil,” in reference to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The book detailed Khavari’s long-held belief that “the real threat to the West comes from Iran, not Iraq.” He is a frequent guest on Iranian-language radio programs, particularly in Los Angeles, which has a large Iranian ex-pat community.

In addition to his gubernatorial campaigns, Khavari ran for mayor of Miami-Dade County in 2012.

PCA “Truth Teller” Seeks Texas Ag Post

By: New Progressive Alliance Tuesday September 2, 2014 9:32 am

This is the first in a series of posts profiling independent and alt-party candidates who have endorsed the Unified Platform and are seeking office this fall. An introductory piece is here.

By Anthony Noel
NPA Communications Director

As 2008 became 2009, nine people died and more than 700 were sickened by products containing ingredients produced by Peanut Corporation of America. Do you remember the headlines?

Peanut Butter Caused Salmonella Outbreak

Salmonella Outbreak In Peanut Butter Leads To One Of Nation’s Largest Ever Product Recalls

Former company CEO Stewart Parnell, who reportedly “told his employees [in early 2009] that the company’s products had never tested positive for Salmonella, despite the 12 positive tests over the two preceding years,” is now standing trial on criminal charges in Georgia, and PCA is no longer in business.

But the story really begins at a PCA plant in Texas in 2006, where Kenneth Kendrick worked for four months.

During his brief tenure, Kendrick repeatedly warned Parnell of unsanitary conditions at the plant, including a leaking roof from which the feces of roosting birds washed in when it rained. Kendrick – who prefers “truth teller” to “whistleblower” – says the plant routinely exchanged shipments with the Georgia PCA plant to which products responsible for the deadly outbreak of salmonella were ultimately traced.

Since blowing the – er, telling the truth – on national TV at the height of the outbreak, Kendrick has experienced firsthand the ins and outs – mostly outs – of exposing corporate fraud. His honesty has cost him employment opportunities in state agencies, he says, leaving him with mounting debt and contributing to his divorce.

If that’s not enough, foods bearing PCA-processed peanuts even sickened his granddaughter, many months after he’d left the company.

In spite of it all, Kendrick doesn’t think twice about whether he’d do it again:

(The above is excerpted from remarks in 2011. See Kendrick’s full remarks here.)

It’s hard to imagine a post in government more crucial than ensuring the safety of the food we eat, even harder to think of a candidate better motivated than Ken Kendrick to make that happen in a state where, since the PCA debacle, more than 350 additional unlicensed food processing operations have been identified. That’s right, the PCA plant in Plainview was never licensed – or even inspected – by Texas authorities, and the ag commission certified it as organic. Site unseen.

There are three other candidates in this race. Republican Sid Miller’s last campaign finance report (July 15) shows that, mingled with contributions from dairymen, a cattle rancher and cotton farmer (i.e., interests he’ll be charged with regulating) are payments from PACs including Scott’s (the OH-based maker of home and commercial ag products), and DuPont, the chemical giant (read: pesticides) for total donations of over $46,000. It also lists his campaign manager as “Ted Nugent.”

Jimmie Ray Hogan, the Democrat, lists no fiscal activity since the primary, during which he listed only expenses – something over $400 for “travel within the district.”

And there are no gubmint reports on file at all from the Libertarian, Rocky Palmquist. (Big surprise.)

Kendrick, meanwhile, who describes his campaign budget as “on a shoestring,” has received one $25 contribution while spending about $30 with VistaPrint.

He has also shown integrity and a sense of duty to the greater good which we at NPA feel is without peer.

For these reasons, for his endorsement of the Unified Platform, and because we believe truth tellers are the only ones protecting us from corporate malfeasance, the New Progressive Alliance takes the rare step of giving an early, full endorsement and our highest ranking of 5 to Kenneth Kendrick, Green Party candidate for Texas Commissioner of Argiculture.

And truth teller.

40 Million Freed From Two-Party Trap!

By: New Progressive Alliance Saturday August 30, 2014 11:03 am

Well that was quick. One more long weekend and it’s “Adieu, summer.”

Meaning of course that next week, what we’ve increasingly taken to calling “silly season” begins. Its bombast will scream from our TVs and radios when we wake Tuesday morning, and it won’t stop for the next two months.

What these news outlets won’t tell you – won’t even mention – is that this November, almost 40 Progressive million voters have real options to the two corporate-owned parties.

The even-better news: The alternative candidates to which we refer have pledged to a uphold a platform of true Progressivism – one crowd-sourced and ratified by MyFDL readers, who also founded that document’s steward organization, the New Progressive Alliance (NPA), in 2010.

By then, Barack Obama’s total capitulation on key principles of Progressivism – from health care policy to workers’ rights – was obvious, the need for an organization dedicated to real Progressivism clear. Post-midterms activism morphed into brainstorming, followed by a founding process which charted NPA’s course. (Each of those links opens on a related MyFDL diary from NPA’s founding. If you prefer a synposis, it’s here.)

From 2012 through this year’s campaign, the Unified Platform – sown from the seeds of Progressive ideology – has been endorsed by more than 120 candidacies nationwide, for positions ranging from a seat on the Monroe County (FL) Mosquito Control Board to races for U.S. House (and Senate); from Mayor of Little Falls, Minnesota (pop. 8,288) to President of the United States; and from local school boards to a host of state legislatures. We are especially thrilled to have numerous repeat endorsers, who, we believe, are some of the smartest people we know. (Though we could be biased.)

This cycle, with your help, the NPA – the non-profit, 100-percent volunteer voice for true Progressivism you helped found – can take another important step. And we’re not asking for money.

As the fall campaign gears up over the next two weeks, we will feature in-depth bios and contact information of candidates who have endorsed the Unified Platform this cycle. We hope you’ll share the information widely, especially with friends and family eligible to vote in those candidate’s races. But we’re hoping you’ll do a little bit more.

Candidates recruit “poll watchers.” We want candidate watchers, people in the field observing and informing NPA what Platform endorsees are up to, and doing so through a decidedly Progressive lens. We’ll share your observations and impressions with readers here and at our web site.

Your impressions will help us in ranking these candidates’ Progressive cred, rankings we’ll post on October 15. NPA’s vote-worthiness scale will range from 1 (censured) to 5 (full endorsement). To be an NPA candidate watcher, write tonyn_at_newprogs.org, or volunteer here.

Both corporate parties have abandoned the humanist policies of true Progressivism – policies their forebears embraced, leading to our nation’s worldwide recognition as a bastion of individual rights tempered with a profound responsibility for ensuring every person’s basic needs were met. Finding our way back will require consistent, clear-eyed assessment of those who seek to represent us; nothing less than a Consumer Reports for voters. We’re building it, as part of a comprehensive resource for true Progressives.

Heads up, Texas!! Our series of candidate profiles for the 2014 election opens Tuesday with Kenneth Kendrick, a corporate whistleblower whose bravery saved countless lives. He now seeks to save Texans from the monied interests trying to control agriculture policy in the Lone Star State.

We bid you a great Labor Day weekend, and thank you in advance for helping NPA make a difference.

The New Progressive Alliance operates as a 501c4 educational organization (official status applied for January 13, 2014).

Stein Endorses Unified Progressive Platform

By: New Progressive Alliance Wednesday May 9, 2012 6:49 am

Received late last night by the New Progressive Alliance via email, from Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein:

8 May 2012

To: New Progressive Alliance
From: Jill Stein
Subject: Endorsement of NPA Platform

This is to confirm that as a candidate for President I endorse the
platform of the New Progressive Alliance.

I thank the NPA for the hard work that went into developing this
excellent statement of progressive values.

As you know, I worked actively with the NPA as a board member until I
took a leave of absence to work on my presidential campaign. I hope
to see the NPA flourish and make a major contribution to the revival
of the progressive movement in America.

2012 is shaping up as a year in which we have a golden opportunity to
create a permanent progressive presence on the national political
scene. I am currently involved in Green Party ballot access drives
with the goal of putting our progressive ticket before more than 94%
of the voters in America. I am also working hard to qualify for FEC
matching funds that would give credibility to our campaign and provide
us with funding to undertake several important initiatives. But this
is not a short-term effort to make a splash in one election. It
involves organizing permanent organizations in as many states as
possible and helping elect local and state officials who will organize
in their areas.

We all know that no matter who is elected president on November 6, we
will face enormous challenges over the next four years. We have to
make this election the springboard to what will follow. Every vote we
get in this election, every volunteer that we activate, and every
donor that we discover will put us in a better position to meet the
challenges that will come.

I would like to invite NPA to jump into the fray and demonstrate that
they can make a decisive difference in the electoral arena. There is
much to be done. The Internet and social media have given us exciting
new techniques for political action – and these are ideally suited to
the skills of NPA activists. This is the year to show that we can
revitalize the progressive movement in America and rescue our democracy.

I respectfully request the endorsement of NPA and their full
engagement in the exciting work before us.

Forward!

Jill Stein
Candidate for President of the United States
Green Party

The New Progressive Alliance was founded by MyFDL readers in 2010. Through electoral activism, we aim to unify Progressive independents, third parties, and other organizations to create a strong, uncompromising voice for Progressive principles, policy, and reform at the national level.

Our mission is based on Noam Chomsky’s long-held belief that the American electoral process is upside down, and it is up to citizens to state what they expect of their elected officials and to support only the candidates who pledge to fight for those interests. The Unified Platform is the NPA’s statement of expectations for candidates seeking our support. In addition to the platform content sourced from current and legacy Progressive organizations, much is the result of ideas provided before and during its writing, by readers of MyFDL.

FireDogLake and its affiliated sites are officially neutral as regards the NPA, its mission, and goals. We thank Jane Hamsher for maintaining a forum where people are free to coalesce around issues that are important to them.

To contact NPA facilitator Anthony Noel, email tonyn_at_newprogs_dot_org.

Egypt’s Lesson to the Occupy Movement

By: New Progressive Alliance Tuesday September 27, 2011 1:07 pm

The American people’s awakening to the carefully propagandized (yet iron-handed) oppression in which our ruling elites engage both at home and abroad – an awakening exemplified in the Occupy Wall Street action and a host of other planned occupations – is heartening indeed. But for all who side with full employment, peace, national self-sufficiency (versus the plunder of other nations’ resources at gunpoint) and individual rights, a critical question looms.

What happens next?

Imagine, if you will, the moment our victory is secured. The day it is universally accepted that the unemployment rate is the last concern of money-grubbing corporatists. The day we reject militarism in the name of “nation building” and corporate collusion in the name of “market share.”

The day – whether six weeks, six months, or six years hence – we finally decide to begin building a culture and an economy rooted in scientific inquiry, peaceful technologies, sustainable industries and agriculture, education, and the arts, in order to address critical societal needs such as creating jobs, saving the environment, and developing a real social safety net.

The Occupy Movement is a beacon of hope that such a day may now be much nearer at hand than it was even a week ago.

Or even yesterday.

But as history has shown time and again – and as we are seeing right now in Egypt – successful uprisings create a power vacuum which is all too often filled by elements of the status quo that the uprising sought to oust.

The only defense is preparedness. Organization. A clear vision of the kind of country in which we want to live, and people in place who are fully committed to seeing that transition through.

Indeed, it is the lack of any such vision or organization to which those trying to subvert the Occupy Movement most frequently point. “What exactly are you protesting for?” or “Things are bad everywhere, it’s just the way it is!” or “Imagine how much worse it would be if the Republicans controlled things.”

In short, the same old bullshit that feeds the status quo, and ensures our oppression by it.

Trouble is, they’re right. Those protesting have nothing even remotely resembling a clear statement of greivances, let alone a plan for the fundamental overhaul of what America has become – and such a plan already exists.

It was crafted over the first half of this year, based upon the input of hundreds of everyday people.

It was ratified by some of the most vocal supporters and key organizers of the protests now occuring and spreading across the country.

It is wholly non-partisan.

It’s called the Unified Progressive Platform.

It could well be a blueprint for What Happens Next.

Or… we could end up like Egypt.

Anthony Noel
NPA Facilitator
tonyn_at_newprogs_dot_org

The New Progressive Alliance is a 100-percent volunteer organization founded last year by diarists and readers at MyFDL in response to the deepening corporatization of the American electoral and legislative process. Learn more here. (You’ll also find a printable version of the Unified Platform for distribution at public events.)

Jobs for All with a Green New Deal

By: New Progressive Alliance Wednesday September 7, 2011 2:56 pm

by Jill E. Stein

Jill Stein is a member of the NPA Steering Committee. She wrote this op-ed in anticipation of President Obama’s speech before a joint session of Congress, September 8.

President Obama’s new job proposals are intended to send a political message that the President cares about the dismal state of the economy. But America needs a decisive and immediate solution, not a limited gesture for the unemployment emergency facing 25 million workers in need of full time jobs that aren’t there.

We need a Green New Deal that will establish government’s responsibility to guarantee the right to a job for every American willing and able to work. The roots of this lie in the Employment Assurance concept that the Roosevelt administration used to tackle the great American depression in 1935. Let’s turn the unemployment office into the employment office: if the private sector fails to provide you a job, you go down to the employment office to get work that keeps you afloat until things turn around.

The “green” in the Green New Deal means that we can solve our jobs problem as we build the economy of the future – a sustainable, green economy that protects the environment as the core foundation for economic prosperity. The Green New Deal would tackle multiple environmental threats to our economy – not only climate change, but also the converging water, soil, fisheries, forest, and fossil fuel crises that imperil our fundamental needs for food, water and energy. Other countries are already making major investments for a secure, carbon-free future. America needs to catch up.

The Green New Deal would enable us to build sustainable energy, transportation and production infrastructure: clean renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, intra-city mass transit and inter-city railroads, “complete streets” that safely encourage bike and pedestrian traffic, regional food systems based on sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing of the goods needed to support this sustainable economy.

The Green New Deal would also address the enormous, urgent need for social infrastructure – for public education, health care, child care, elder care, youth programs, and arts and culture.

Since a Green New Deal would go where the unemployment is, severe pockets of joblessness – where the poor and people of color are suffering rates as high as 30% – would not be bypassed.

It is time for the White House and Congress to admit that Obama/Bush approach of showering money on Wall Street has failed. Decades of hard-won experience – plus basic economic theory – show that government spending is essential in a recession to stimulate demand and put people back to work. Both major parties, as well as Obama, instead have used the recession caused by Wall Street abuse, costly wars, and bogus trickle-down economics as an excuse to slash funding for vital programs. As a result, seniors, working families and the poor are footing the bill for tax giveaways to the wealthy and large corporations. This is not only wrong it’s also guaranteed to destroy jobs and weaken the economy.

We have put America to work through public works programs many times since the 1930s. We did it with the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in the 1930s and CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) of the 1970s. These programs employed millions of workers to provide socially needed public infrastructure and public services like education, health, child care, elder care, youth programs and arts and cultural programs.

How much would such a full employment policy cost? Surprisingly, the final cost is almost nothing. It pays for itself over the course of the business cycle according to Philip Harvey, a professor of law and economics at Rutgers in his paper, Learning from the New Deal.

Assuming that for every two public jobs created, an additional job would be stimulated in the private sector, we would need about 17.5 million public jobs. Harvey notes that all these jobs increase tax revenues that defray the cost of the program. Government saves money on unemployment insurance and other safety net programs. As working people spend their earnings, business booms and stimulus programs can be curtailed. The bottom line is simply this: Full employment through a Green New Deal is cheaper than rampant unemployment.

An initial investment is required, of course. The first year net cost for 17.5 million living-wage public jobs, $666 billion, would be less than Obama’s ineffective $825 billion stimulus of 2009. The net cost per job would be only $28,600 compared to $228,055 per job cost of Obama’s indirect stimulus.

The cost could readily be covered through a combination of needed tax reforms – such as taxing Wall Street speculation, off shore tax havens, millionaires and multimillion dollar estates – in addition to a 30% reduction in the trillion dollar bloated military-industrial-security complex budget.

A Green New Deal that decisively ends unemployment and the escalating Bush/Obama recession is within our reach – technically and financially. All that’s needed is the political will to stop throwing money at Wall Street and start building the sustainable prosperity American workers deserve. In spite of Washington’s slavish addiction to serving Wall Street, that political will may finally be catching fire in the American electorate.

Jill Stein is a medical doctor, an environmental health advocate, and former candidate for Governor of Massachusetts for the Green-Rainbow Party. She can reached at thegreennewdeal_at_gmail_dot_com

2012 Begins Today! We Need Your Help!

By: New Progressive Alliance Monday September 5, 2011 8:09 am

We stand this Labor Day at the traditional start of another presidential campaign.

Since Barack Obama’s election nearly three years ago, millions of words have been devoted to dissecting what went wrong. Were we naive to believe in “Change we can believe in”? Do Obama’s and other Democrats’ one-eighties on the issues indicate that our elected officials are merely pawns used to lend an air of democracy to the emerging corporate state?

Can there really be a meaningful difference between the two major parties when the results – rampant unemployment, perpetual war, environmental degradation, and the erosion of our social safety net – are the same, regardless which party is running things?

First conceived at MyFDL in February 2010 amid such questions, the New Progressive Alliance has steadily worked to create a lasting counterweight to their all-too-obvious answers. MyFDL readers and diarists figured heavily in the NPA’s founding – indeed, it would not exist without you. Now, we’re counting on you to take the lead as we move forward!

Today, Labor Day 2011, the NPA’s founding formally ends. Over the summer, a small group of NPA volunteers worked to create and ratify the Unified Progressive Platform, and to tweak the cyberstructure that will allow us to challenge both major parties through relentless electoral activism and popular dissent, throughout the 2012 campaign and beyond, at every level of government. Our organization is in place. It is time for the hard work that we must do to begin in earnest.

It will take thousands of volunteers working together across the long term to reform our broken system. Whether you consider yourself a follower or a leader is not important. Whether you can donate just an hour or two per week or 10 or 20, we have important work to do. Click here to see all our volunteer opportunities and to contribute your talents.

Like America, the NPA belongs to you. Are you ready to begin working for the kind of country you wish to live in?

In Solidarity,
Anthony Noel
NPA Facilitator