Archive for April, 2015

The guy on the gyrocopter isn’t crazy. He just wanted to draw attention to an important issue.

Because most of the corporate media missed the issue or minimized it while concentrating on the sensational aspects of Mr. Hughes heroic flight (why wasn’t he shot down? Bla, bla, bla…). I have posted the letter (below) he brought with him to deliver to every member of Congress.

He’s a hero in my book.

Dear ___________,

Consider the following statement by John Kerry in his farewell speech to the Senate —

“The unending chase for money I believe threatens to steal our democracy itself. They know it. They know we know it. And yet, Nothing Happens!” — John Kerry, 2-13

In a July 2012 Gallup poll, 87% tagged corruption in the federal government as extremely important or very important, placing this issue just barely behind job creation. According to Gallup, public faith in Congress is at a 41-year record low, 7%. (June 2014) Kerry is correct. The popular perception outside the DC beltway is that the federal government is corrupt and the US Congress is the major problem. As a voter, I’m a member of the only political body with authority over Congress. I’m demanding reform and declaring a voter’s rebellion in a manner consistent with Jefferson’s description of rights in the Declaration of Independence. As a member of Congress, you have three options.

1. You may pretend corruption does not exist.

2. You may pretend to oppose corruption while you sabotage reform.

3. You may actively participate in real reform.

If you’re considering option 1, you may wonder if voters really know what the ‘chase for money’ is. Your dismal and declining popularity documented by Gallup suggests we know, but allow a few examples, by no means a complete list. That these practices are legal does not make them right! Obviously, it is Congress who writes the laws that make corruption legal.

1. Dozens of major and very profitable corporations pay nothing in taxes. Voters know how this is done. Corporations pay millions to lobbyists for special legislation. Many companies on the list of freeloaders are household names — GE, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, Verizon, Citigroup, Dow …

2. Almost half of the retiring members of Congress from 1998 to 2004 got jobs as lobbyists earning on average fourteen times their Congressional salary. (50% of the Senate, 42% of the House)

3. The new democratic freshmen to the US House in 2012 were ‘advised’ by the party to schedule 4 hours per day on the phones fund raising at party headquarters (because fund raising is illegal from gov’t offices.) It is the donors with deep pockets who get the calls, but seldom do the priorities of the rich donor help the average citizen.

4. The relevant (rich) donors who command the attention of Congress are only .05% of the public (5 people in a thousand) but these aristocrats of both parties are who Congress really works for. As a member of the US Congress, you should work only for The People.

1. Not yourself.

2. Not your political party.

3. Not the richest donors to your campaign.

4. Not the lobbyist company who will hire you after your leave Congress.

There are several credible groups working to reform Congress. Their evaluations of the problem are remarkably in agreement though the leadership (and membership) may lean conservative or liberal. They see the corrupting effect of money — how the current rules empower special interests through lobbyists and PACs — robbing the average American of any representation on any issue where the connected have a stake. This is not democracy even if the ritual of elections is maintained.

The various mechanisms which funnel money to candidates and congress-persons are complex. It happens before they are elected, while they are in office and after they leave Congress. Fortunately, a solution to corruption is not complicated. All the proposals are built around either reform legislation or a Constitutional Amendment. Actually, we need both — a constitutional amendment and legislation.

There will be discussion about the structure and details of reform. As I see it, campaign finance reform is the cornerstone of building an honest Congress. Erect a wall of separation between our elected officials and big money. This you must do — or your replacement will do. A corporation is not ‘people’ and no individual should be allowed to spend hundreds of millions to ‘influence’ an election. That much money is a megaphone which drowns out the voices of ‘We the People.’ Next, a retired member of Congress has a lifelong obligation to avoid the appearance of impropriety. That almost half the retired members of Congress work as lobbyists and make millions of dollars per year smells like bribery, however legal. It must end. Pass real campaign finance reform and prohibit even the appearance of payola after retirement and you will be part of a Congress I can respect.

The states have the power to pass a Constitutional Amendment without Congress — and we will. You in Congress will likely embrace the change just to survive, because liberals and conservatives won’t settle for less than democracy. The leadership and organization to coordinate a voters revolution exist now! New groups will add their voices because the vast majority of Americans believe in the real democracy we once had, which Congress over time has eroded to the corrupt, dysfunctional plutocracy we have.

The question is where YOU individually stand. You have three options and you must choose.


Douglas M. Hughes

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White Privilege is alive & well in Sonoma County

2 fatal accidents, texting, alcohol involved, two very different results.

Driving while texting.

White  driver- Nicholas Tognozzi

Two deaths in the car he rear-ended while going 65 mph while texting under the influence of marijuana. The two dead women were in the back seat of what used to be a Toyota Camry. Nicholas Tognozzi gets 1 year in the county jail and three years probation. If Tognozzi successful completes 18 months of probation, the two felony gross vehicular manslaughter charges will be reduced to misdemeanors. CHP determined Tognozzi was not over the line for alcohol, but was arrested anyway after officers searched his car and found several buds of marijuana in a glass jar and a pipe. Tognozzi had received at ticket in 2011 for using a cellphone while driving.

He was driven to the CHP office in Rohnert Park where he was tested three hours later by a drug recognition expert, Officer Greg White, who determined Tognozzi was under the influence of marijuana but not impaired.

Deputy District Attorney Dustin Hughson said the prosecution had not made any plea offers to Tognozzi and did not have any input on the indicated sentence that was reached between the defense and the judge during discussions in the chambers. Hughson, objected last month when Judge Chouteau removed from the complaint the great bodily injury enhancement. Hughson said the enhancement would have added five years to Tognozzi’s sentence. Nicholas Tognozzi was arrested at the scene on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The CHP says Tognozzi was determined to be under the influence of pot. So where are the driving under the influence charges?

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Brown driver- Rafael Prieto-Gonzalez

One death, of his passenger, when he lost control of the vehicle and hit a tree. Rafael Prieto-Gonzalez gets 19 years in San Quentin. Prieto-Gonzalez will be eligible for release after serving 85 percent, over 16 years, of his sentence. He pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, vehicle theft and other allegations in a deal with prosecutors. No indication in the article that he had a lawyer, most likely a public defender, who probably didn’t ask if they could make a deal in chambers with the judge (but he isn’t a nice local white person). Prieto-Gonzalez’ request to postpone his sentencing so he could get married in the county jail was denied by Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite. Prosecutors argued he could just as easily tie the knot at San Quentin State Prison.

Read more. 

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