Synopsis of My Book

In Search of the Next POTUS: One Woman’s Quest to Fix Washington

By Judy Frankel

In this raw memoir, Judy Frankel walks away from her 15-year marriage without a career to fall back on. Worried that she will literally “lose the farm”—her house and organic edible landscape in southern California—she bets her savings on an extraordinary venture. As a master gardener and mother of a special needs child, Judy knows little about politics yet she decides to fulfill her most urgent needs and those of other Americans by taking on the biggest disaster of all: the U.S. government.

Judy discovers a disturbing blacklist proving that both political parties have facilitated systemic banking graft. Believing that bribery is the root cause for almost everything that is going wrong, she develops a strategy to convince voters to choose new representatives who won’t accept big money. Judy designs an ambitious political website, moderates Presidential debates among outlier candidates, produces an infomercial, and hosts a fundraiser, all with a small staff of colorful independent contractors and capricious volunteers.

Despite her fear of the limelight, she thrusts herself into the world of venture capitalists, wealthy philanthropists, the entertainment industry, the media, candidates for federal office, and finally into activism to fix Congress.

Weaving fantasies and prophetic visions with facts and current events, Judy uses earthy wisdom to shatter complex boondoggles. When the challenges seem overwhelming and her personal demons come back to roost, the garden and its gifts ground her, providing a path for redemption.

Never forgetting the size and scope of the United States political machine, Judy charts a six-point plan to modernize Washington so that it functions as a true government of the people. Her dogged determination and positive approach toward addressing the world’s problems of war, economic peril, and corruption aspires to rally the (mostly) silent majority to rise up and take back the White House.

 

Posted in Agriculture, Blogroll, Congress, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Everyday life, Military, Money In Politics, Roses, Voting, Writeindependent.org | Comments Off

Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Act (TPP)

Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on June 17, 2012

600 secret corporate “official US advisors” wrote themselves a beautiful deal in the TPP or Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, the final nail in the coffin for the United States as a sovereign nation. If you were proud to be an American, you can kiss your country goodbye when this becomes international law. It effectively supercedes the highest court in our land, because the TPP gives corporations the right to sue governments, and gives them the upper hand if it can be shown that our country’s laws threatened their profit-making agenda.

For example, if a foreign company thinks that our environmental protections are standing in the way of them making a profit, under the TPP, they can sue our government, have the case tried by a three-person “international tribunal” instead of an American venue, and if they “win”, we the taxpayers have to foot the bill for the fines. “That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings,” writes Zach Carter of the Huffington Post.

But it’s not just about punishing us for having food safety laws and environmental protections. The TPP also gives corporations patent control over medicines and seeds. That means a small seed company can be driven out of business if a foreign company files a suit for patent infringement and the tribunal rules in favor of the multinational conglomerate. Who is more likely to afford the attorneys for such a case? And what difference would it make, when the deck is already stacked their favor because the tribunal was put into place by the same companies who want control over the seed supply.

This is bad on so many levels, that one wonders who would ever vote for this sort of thing. Yet, whenever trade agreements didn’t work for us Americans, like GATT, or NAFTA, or the FTAA, our congress and president passed those without any difficulty, and against public opinion.

Obama has already reaffirmed his commitment to the TPP, and Romney would sign it because he would argue that it represents “free trade.”

The TPP Agreements are so secretive that even members of congress have a hard time getting their hands on them. According to a Zach Carter, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness, was stonewalled by the Office of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) when he attempted to see any of the draft documents related to the governance of the TPP.

“I would point out how insulting it is for them to argue that members of Congress are to personally go over to USTR to view the trade documents,” an aide to Wyden stated. “An advisor at Halliburton or the MPAA is given a password that allows him or her to go on the USTR website and view the TPP agreement anytime he or she wants.”

Public Citizen, a non-profit that reviews trade agreements writes: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ‘free trade’ agreement is a stealthy policy being pressed by corporate America, a dream of the 1 percent, that in one blow could:

  • Offshore millions of American jobs
  • Free the banksters from oversight
  • Ban Buy America policies needed to create green jobs and rebuild our economy
  • Decrease access to medicine
  • Flood the U.S. with unsafe food and products
  • Empower corporations to attack our environment and health safeguards”

Lori Wallach, an attorney who studied the one of the 24 secret TPP documents that were leaked so far, says that the “Dracula strategy” might be the best method for fighting this bill. “When something has been so secret and it so extreme, when it’s dragged out into the sunshine, if the public gets involved, and demands, demands that this is unacceptable, these agreements in the past have been stopped. … But if we’re quiet about it, if we don’t continue to dig, if we don’t demand that the whole agreement’s released, we could literally see this kind of imposition of corporate rule via so called ‘trade agreements’ through the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“The trade representative Ron Kirk said nothing would make him happier than if China signed this agreement. So we really need to get the rules right. We do not want this tribunal system for the whole world. It would set up a two track system of justice, where systematically, officially, formally, corporations are privileged over all the rest of us.”

Sources:

http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=3129

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Strategic_Economic_Partnership

http://www.ustr.gov/tpp

http://ianmasters.com/content/june-13-secret-trade-negotiations-exposed-gloom-eurozone-latino-voters-sleeping-giant-2012-e

http://ianmasters.com/sites/default/files/mp3/bbriefing_2012_06_13websitefullprogram.mp3

http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/leaked-document-tpp-trade-agreement-p

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/trilateral-pact-would-redraw-trade-map/story-e6frg6ux-1226397983451

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/11736-tpp-secret-trade-agreement-puts-international-tribunal-above-us-law

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/obama-trade-document-leak_n_1592593.html

http://arizonaatheist.blogspot.com/2012/06/leaking-of-trans-pacific-partnership.html

 

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Icelandic Pots and Pans

Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on June 13, 2012

This past Sunday, I spoke with Hördur Torfason, an Icelandic musician, activist and local folk hero who was largely responsible for organizing people to overthrow their corrupt government.

Icelandic protests began in October 2008 due to the financial crisis, calling for the resignation of government officials. The protests have been called by several names, most notably the Kitchenware Revolution or the Pots and Pans Revolution.

On January 17, 2009, he told protestors in front of parliament, “Go home, polish your pots and pans, and start training your voices because I will ask you to use them very soon. And next Tuesday, we will stand in front of this house, and make a lot of noise, because these people keep telling us to keep quiet.”

They came back to the parliament building every Saturday, and banged their pots. The protestors hurled many items: paint, eggs, snowballs, skyr, and smoke bombs. It was impossible for the government to ignore them.

Finally in March, 2009 all three demands had been met. It was time to start over with a clean slate. A parliamentary election was held on April 25, 2009 but the real work was just beginning, because the government had to be restructured.

I asked Hördur how he was able to organize people. He said “make it very clear what you want.” He formulated his simple message by asking people what they wanted. He let them talk, and here are the three things he heard over and over again. People wanted:

  1. Resignation of the government
  2. Resignation of the Central Bank chairman
  3. Resignation of the directorship of the Financial Supervisory Authority

Starting in November 2009, a National Forum was organized, inviting 1,500 people from all over the country, most chosen at random to allow the citizens to become involved in creating a new constitution.

The process will take time, but one thing is for certain: people are the process. In an interview last April, Hördur  summed it up this way:

“I think whatever they come up with is going to be better than what we have now. The power structure in this country is so sick, so corrupted. There’s going to be a lot of fights this coming winter. I mean, a new constitution: are we going to let the politicians and their rich friends take it and destroy it? Or are we going to get a new constitution and a better society? I cannot imagine the people in power saying, ‘Alright.’ They are not going to accept this. Have you noticed how well they live? I don’t mind people getting rich, but the parliament members are working for us, the people. Yet they seem to have the attitude that we are their slaves. They have lost the people’s trust and we must change this situation for the better. It will take time.”

Sources:
http://grapevine.is/Features/ReadArticle/You-Cannot-Put–Rules-On-Love
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_loan_guarantees_referendum,_2011
http://www.icenews.is/index.php/2011/02/25/icelands-constitutional-assembly-to-transform-into-a-constitutional-council/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_Constitutional_Assembly

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Oink Oink

Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on June 5, 2012

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0512/76849.html

Does anyone else find this repugnant?

Posted in Money In Politics, Writeindependent.org | Comments Off

Voter ID

Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on May 30, 2012

Why are voter registration laws requiring photo ID a bad idea?

It seems so simple: citizens should easily be able to present a photo ID to register to vote, right? Most states have photos on drivers’ licenses. Student ID’s have photos. Elderly people who don’t drive and people without cars should be able to obtain photo ID’s somewhere, right?

Wrong. According to the voter suppression laws that have passed in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Kansas, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, American citizens must show photo government-issued ID to register to vote. Studies show that 11% of voting age citizens lack such an ID, many of whom would have difficulty producing the kinds of documents required by the government to obtain one. For example, an elderly person who doesn’t drive wouldn’t be able to register. And student ID’s don’t qualify as proof of citizenship for most states.

This tactic has been called “Katrina Democracy” because it means that only people with cars and licenses will be able to vote, while the poorest people who don’t own cars or drive won’t be able to register and will drown in their political powerlessness.

People who live in poverty and elderly who don’t have cars and don’t drive can not provide a driver’s license. Does that mean they shouldn’t be able to vote? If a senior citizen collects social security, it means they have paid taxes to our government, therefore a social security check should be enough proof that they are a citizen.

One would think that a social security number would be enough to prove citizenship, but apparently the states who have passed voter suppression laws don’t accept social security ID or numbers, even though it is a simple solution and easy to track. One number, one vote.

“When voter fraud occurs, it is practically never done in person at polling places. You must sign in, and your signature could betray you (unless you are an expert at handwriting fraud). Your face could betray you too, if the inspector knew the real voter’s face. That is why it is almost impossible to find documented cases of in-person voter fraud – which is the only form of fraud that would theoretically be reduced by photo ID’s.”

If you live in one of the following states, you need to know there is legislation pending to enact voter suppression laws where you live: Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Virginia.

Let’s face it: our voting system is out of whack. We need to revamp the system entirely so that everyone who should be voting can vote, and so that those votes are counted properly. But voter suppression should not be part of the program.

Sources:

http://www.democrats.com/automatic-voter-registration-plan

https://www.aclu.org/maps/voter-suppression-measures-passed-2011

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99% Spring Humor

Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on May 23, 2012

I had to laugh today at the following email. If you want to know how the 99% Spring is creative, this is a good example.

Dear MoveOn member,

This is shaping up to be the dirtiest presidential election ever. And the most expensive, with pro-Romney super PACs and huge corporations spending like drunken sailors, thanks to Citizens United.1 The sheer quantity of misleading ads will be stupefying.

But even if they buy the airwaves, they can’t buy the skies. So we can “rise above” their dirty ads—literally—and fly messages from the 99% over dozens of Mitt Romney events. We already did it successfully when we hired a plane to fly over Romney’s Liberty University graduation speech towing a banner that read: “GOP = HIGHER SCHOOL DEBT.”2

We can’t afford hundreds of millions of dollars of TV ads. But it turns out, if we all chip in a bit, we can afford to fly banners over Romney’s head. All the time.

Call it 99airlines.

Here’s the plan: if we can raise $150,000 today, we’ll use the opportunity of high-dollar Romney fundraisers to fly a plane overhead towing a message that reminds voters how he represents his corporate and 1% donors.

It’ll be fun—and it’s sure to grab the media’s attention. But most importantly, with Mitt leading in many polls, it’s a way to let millions of voters who are concerned about the economy know whose side Mitt is really on. Will you chip in?

Yes, I can contribute $5.

With 99airlines, we’ll transform Mitt Romney’s 1% fundraising tour into an airborne progressive message machine. If we hit our fundraising goal, we can secure enough plane banners so that at every Romney event, instead of looking at the podium, the reporters’ eyes and cameras will be pointing up, on the lookout for our banners.

According to Gallup, only 1/3 of voters under 29 are registered to vote and say they’ll definitely do so in November (far less than every other age group).3 That’s enough to swing the election. So with your support, we’ll also reach these voters by making 99airlines huge online—using Facebook and a Tumblr site, to post pictures of the best plane banners.

This summer, we’re pulling out all the stops to win the fight against the Romney super PAC ad assault. The 99airlines planes—and the messages they carry—will transform Romney fundraisers into an opportunity to remind voters what he really stands for—corporations and the 1%.

Can you contribute $5 to help launch 99airlines?

Thanks for all you do.

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G8 Energy Policy

Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on May 22, 2012

It’s business-as-usual for the powers that be, according to the following statement made after the May 18-19 G8 summit at Camp David. No mention of hydrogen, solar, or wind sourced-energy, no mention of batteries with longer life spans or of geothermal or hydropower. But there is specific mention of fracking, deep water drilling for oil, and nuclear.

The biggest red flag of all is this: they promote the “evolution of global energy infrastructure.” Why should this be a red flag? Because “global” means not local. It’s anti- distributed energy, and anti- on-site generation. Distributed energy is anathema to big business, because its very essence means decentralized: small enough to get the job done in your home town. It means making power close to the consumer, so that the consumer can participate in the selection of the means for generation, so that energy does not have to be transported far distances from the generation facility, and so that neighbors can pool their resources for greater efficiency.

Again, G8 really only supports G8. They decide what works best for them, not the population as a whole. For the text of their statement, read:

“As our economies grow, we recognize the importance of meeting our energy needs from a wide variety of sources ranging from traditional fuels to renewables to other clean technologies. As we each implement our own individual energy strategies, we embrace the pursuit of an appropriate mix from all of the above in an environmentally safe, sustainable, secure, and affordable manner. We also recognize the importance of pursuing and promoting sustainable energy and low carbon policies in order to tackle the global challenge of climate change. To facilitate the trade of energy around the world, we commit to take further steps to remove obstacles to the evolution of global energy infrastructure; to reduce barriers and refrain from discriminatory measures that impede market access; and to pursue universal access to cleaner, safer, and more affordable energy. We remain committed to the principles on global energy security adopted by the G8 in St. Petersburg.

“As we pursue energy security, we will do so with renewed focus on safety and sustainability. We are committed to establishing and sharing best practices on energy production, including exploration in frontier areas and the use of technologies such as deep water drilling and hydraulic fracturing, where allowed, to allow for the safe development of energy sources, taking into account environmental concerns over the life of a field. In light of the nuclear accident triggered by the tsunami in Japan, we continue to strongly support initiatives to carry out comprehensive risk and safety assessments of existing nuclear installations and to strengthen the implementation of relevant conventions to aim for high levels of nuclear safety.”

“We recognize that increasing energy efficiency and reliance on renewables and other clean energy technologies can contribute significantly to energy security and savings, while also addressing climate change and promoting sustainable economic growth and innovation. We welcome sustained, cost-effective policies to support reliable renewable energy sources and their market integration. We commit to advance appliance and equipment efficiency, including through comparable and transparent testing procedures, and to promote industrial and building efficiency through energy management systems.”

Source: http://www.utilityproducts.com/news/2012/05/20/g8-summit-confirms-adherence-to-energy-security-principles-adopted-at-st-pete.html

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South Carolina Makes Ballot Access Difficult

Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on May 21, 2012

I called the South Carolina Elections Commission this morning (803-734-9060) and asked if write-ins are allowed for federal Senators and House of Representatives. The woman who answered the phone said that write-ins are not allowed during the primaries, but they ARE allowed during the general election! So apparently, as long as you’re electable, you can run as a write-in.

South Carolina is among the top two states having the most difficult independent ballot access requirements in the nation.

http://www.ballot-access.org/2012/05/15/wpde-tv-in-south-carolina-covers-attempts-by-candidates-to-petition-as-independents/

http://www.carolinalive.com/news/story.aspx?id=754165#.T7XhAiPevqt

http://www.ballot-access.org/

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How Political Parties Will Divide (and Ruin) the USA

From my friend, Sally Baptiste, who used to align with the Tea Party until she realized that the parties are part of the problem…

President George Washington warned us the political parties and factions/associations would divide a united people.  In the words of President George Washington…….

17 All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.

18 However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

20 I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

21 This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

22 The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

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How Proposition 14 Works in California

Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on May 19, 2012

California’s Proposition 14, also known as the “Top Two Primaries Act” passed on June 8, 2010 and went into effect April 19, 2011. It affects elections for each state elective office and congressional office in California, including federal Representatives and Senators.

The gist of the bill is that the primaries determine whose names appear on the ballot in the general election. Only the top two vote-getters will advance, and all other candidates no longer have ballot access and write-ins are not counted. It also means that two Republicans can run against each other in the general election on November 6th, because the top two vote-getters win ballot access, irrespective of party affiliation.

Is this good for democracy? Would you not feel as though your choices were limited if you were, say, a Green party advocate and the only two choices were Republican and Democrat?

Both the League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the bill. Much more funding went toward passage of the bill than through fighting the bill, which begs the question: who wanted to get this legislation passed?

Michael Feinstein, attorney and former Mayor of Santa Monica is probably the best versed in Prop 14. He and Brandon Gesicki debate the merits/problems of the proposition in practice. Since the law was written to be misleading (calling the new type of primary an “open primary” instead of what it is: a top two primary), the points outlined by Michael Feinstein bear highlighting here:

  1. Prop 14 eliminates the right for all parties to have a candidate on the ballot in the general election
  2. Vote splitting among numerous candidates in the primary will have the effect that the top two vote getters may not be the best choices or most qualified
  3. It favors incumbents. In Washington state which has a similar law, only 1 incumbent lost in the general election out of 139 offices.
  4. The person who raises the most money the earliest in the race is motivated to push out all other candidates running in their same party, to avoid splitting party votes and lose the top two positions.
  5. It makes gerrymandered districts easier for the funders to win earlier in the race, by appealing to their base before the primaries rather than to a more general population of voters prior to the general election
  6. It makes it difficult for voters to know what ideals a candidate really represents, since candidates can change their party affiliation between the primary and the general. It can mislead the public into voting for someone who does the opposite in Washington than what the voter expected.

Prop 14 claims to allow more people to run in the primaries, because all party members and undeclared candidates can run. Also, every voter gets to vote in everybody’s primary. But these benefits were already available even before Prop 14 was passed, so did

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