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A Healthy a Lunch With Louden! - The Politics and Practice of Food Safety

Food Safety at the Local Level

Today on Lunch with Louden, Debilyn Molineaux interviews Chris Hardy of Village Farm who is concerned about the impact of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seed farms located nearby.  We’ll explore the question of why Chris’ efforts to protect Jackson County, OR from the impacts of GMOs have met with resistance from local elected officials, and we’ll find out what he’s doing about it.

We'll also interview healthy food advocate Mary Closson, who created and promoted the “Down to Earth Sustainability Speaker Series” in Wilsonville, OR, about local and sustainable food. Mary will enlighten us about:

  • Local food processing
  • Farmer’s markets with vouchers for kids
  • Organic farming to supply local stores and restaurants

Mary’s program is a template that could be duplicated in your community, and in many others wishing to increase their use of locally grown, healthy foods.

Many Americans are choosing to eat more organic foods, and/or healthier foods rather than processed or fast food. But what happens when organic farms are contaminated by seeds that blow in from nearby GMO farms? Will our choices as consumers diminish or grow in coming years. And why are the elected officials, even at the local level, listening to Big Ag instead of We the People? On that one we already know the answer...

Join us for a healthy "Lunch with Louden" (Jeanene Louden is on vacation).  

In Bipartisan Vote, Massachusetts Senate Calls on Congress to Enact Constitutional Amendment Reversing Citizens United

In overwhelming vote of 35-1 State Senate
calls for Constitutional amendment to restore self-governance

BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Senate today passed a resolution calling on the United State Congress to enact a federal Constitutional Amendment to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and restore fair elections and constitutional rights to the people.

The State Senate passed its resolution by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 35 to 1, with all Republicans joining all but one Democrat in approving it.  Attention now turns to the House as the end of the legislative session approaches.

The 2010 Citizens United decision overturned decades-old laws restricting corporate expenditures, ruling that they violated the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The decision dramatically expanded the fabricated “corporate rights” doctrine and has unleashed a flood of corporate money into federal, state, and local elections.

“The Citizens United decision dramatically dilutes the voice of every American who does not control a large corporate treasury,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge, the original sponsor of the bill. “The health of our democracy and the integrity of our political system are at stake, and I am proud of the Senate for passing this resolution today and sending a strong message that our democracy isn't for sale."

In the wake of the Citizens United decision, campaign spending by outside groups has skyrocketed. In the 2010 election cycle, the first since the Supreme Court decision, outside groups spent nearly $300 million.

“The fundamental question facing the nation today is whether people or corporations shall govern in America,” said John Bonifaz, the co-founder and director of Free Speech For People, a national campaign launched on the day of the Citizens United ruling to press for an Amendment to the Constitution to overturn the ruling and make clear that corporations are not people with constitutional rights. “With the strong bipartisan passage of this resolution, Massachusetts will help to lead the way in restoring American democracy to the people,” Bonifaz said.

Super PACs have emerged as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, amassing huge amounts of money used for attack ads, such as those aired this past spring during the Republican presidential candidate primaries. Super PACs are expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the 2012 elections, breaking all previous records.

“Big corporations aren’t run by the 99 percent – or even by the 1 percent. Rather, they are run by a super-wealthy 0.01 percent,” said Avi Green, Executive Director of MassVOTE. “Politics should be for all of us – not just the super-wealthy and the big corporations they control. Kudos to the Senatefor recognizing this and supporting this resolution.”

“Massachusetts is a step closer to joining the several states and hundreds of communities nationwide who’ve issued similar resolutions,” said Mark Hays, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign. “With leadership from the states, we’re demonstrating that amending the Constitution to challenge the corrosive impacts of money in politics is no pipe dream, but is a mainstream vision for a democracy that serves the people, not giant corporations.”

Cities and towns across the nation have voted on similar measures. In Massachusetts, 68 communities have voted in favor of a Constitutional Amendment including Boston, Springfield and Worcester.  If a similar resolution is passed by the House, Massachusetts will join the state legislatures in California, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont in voicing their states’ opposition to the decision and support for a Constitutional Amendment to address its ramifications.

“We are delighted that the Senate has taken bipartisan action to address this disastrous decision,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “A campaign for a Constitutional Amendment is no easy task, but the US Supreme Court left us no choice. Only with a constitutional amendment can we address the problem of money in politics that it, with other decisions, has created. Passing this resolution has put Massachusetts on the forefront of that critical effort, which, as the cradle of liberty, is where we should be.”

"We congratulate the Senate on passage of this resolution, and urge the House to do so as well.  It is past time to limit the impact of large amounts of money, often from donors whose identity is not public, on our elections," said Eva Valentine, president of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.

Citizen Journalist Account of Historic US Senate Hearing on Overturning Citizens United

by Sally Lau, Herndon, VA

The US Senate hearing on overturning Citizens United was an excellent, impressive learning experience with former GOP presidential candidate Buddy Roemer and Harvard Law professor (and Coffee Party philosopher in chief) Lawrence Lessig testifying.  Both gave very strong arguments to validate and pursue a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision  [see video].

Those of us who were in attendance were particularly intrigued by Lessig's suggested solution — one thing that's great about his books is they always include a solution, not just complaints.  Lessig suggested four, regional "citizen conventions" for which 300 citizens would be selected at random, not unlike jury duty.  This was in response to Sen. Richard Durbin's question about how we could keep the amendment process from being corrupted by the ruling class in the same way our democracy has been.  After the hearing, Lessig told me that the idea for these "citizen conventions" originated with the Coffee Party!  Wow!  It turns out that Coffee Party founder Annabel Park had put together a "Mock Constitutional Convention" which Lessig co-chaired with GOP strategist Mark McKinnon at the first ever national meet-up for the Coffee Party in 2010 [major takeaways  |  mock convention video ].

I'm so proud and pleased to have had the opportunity to meet and talk to such a superb Constitutional lawyer and distinguished professor.  He really does listen to the ideas emanating from ordinary, lay citizens.  Not only was he the most effective speaker at the hearing, he was was quick to defend President Obama when Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute criticized the President's statements about the "Citizens United."  Lessig pretty much destroyed everything Shapiro said, but he did it respectfully, and I was glad that the Republicans had a witness to advocate for unlimited contributions by international corporations to influence our elections.

I liked Lessig's observation that We the People still have the Voting Election, but we have lost the Money Election."  He pointed out that a tiny fraction of our society — 22 people, or 7 one-millionths of 1% — account for 50% of the Money Election. And the problem is that the Money Election determines the options We the People have to choose form in the Voting Election. Buddy Roemer added a humorous yet serious,  down-to-earth impression on the panel.  Lots of laughs and cheers from the audience when the former Congressman and Louisiana Governor spoke. Roemer shared that there was a fund-raising litmus test that kept him from participating in any of the 23 episodes of the GOP Presidential Debate Show.  His best line was "The system isn't broken, it's bought."  

The hearing opened with outstanding speeches and appeals from Sen. Max Baccus, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Tom Udall, Rep. Donna Edwards, Sen. Chris Coons, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (whom I met at Netroots convention this June in Providence), Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and Sen. Dick Durbin who chaired the hearing.  Each one presented strong support and reasons for an amendment. 

There were so many people in attendance that I did not get to sit in the actual Senate Hearing Room 216.  Many of us were allowed to view the hearing on a screen in the overflow room in the adjacent Dirksen building.  Afterwards, I made my way back to 216 and I was so happy to see Annabel Park there talking with Prof. Lessig.  In addition to getting to meet Lessig, I met his cute 8 year old son.  I also met Marge Baker of People for the American Way, Adam Green, and others. 

I would really like to thank the Coffee Party for organizing petitions and letters in support of this hearing, and for reaching out to all our members so we could be there in person or watch on the Internet. 

The Debut of STARTO and Dueling Visions of the Future: Funding Innovation and the Industries of Tomorrow

by Mike Massey

The first three episodes of STARTO have a lot of interesting fodder for those of us who like to spend our free time thinking about startups and innovation. I keyed in on three points in particular:

  1. Computer-related startups are quick, cheap, and getting cheaper (episode #2)
     
  2. Existing venture capital avenues have their limitations in funding both larger and smaller startups (episode #1), but “crowdfunding” presents an interesting alternative for creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs (episode #2)
     
  3. Innovation requires the vision to map trends into the future, and a culture that facilitates creativity while aligning with core values that must be communicated by the founders (episode #3)

These days, the word “startup” is usually synonymous with “tech startup” which is really just a euphemism for “computer startup,” whether it’s in the field of software, hardware, networking, mobile, etc. I’d like to spend some time examining the other kind of startups: the non-virtual startups in non-”tech” industries — the startups most people don’t think about, or hear about. In the process, I’d like to introduce some potentially unpopular ideas about the very nature of our system for “innovation” in this country.


Earth Day, Richard Nixon, and energy independence

In 1973, in the wake of the “oil embargo,” President Richard Nixon spoke about the importance of United States energy independence. Every President since has made similar speeches. Though his policies primarily focused on increasing development of US fossil fuels, President Nixon also was cognizant of the role of renewable energy for US energy independence and US national security. Watching footage of Richard Nixon speaking about funding for renewable energy nearly 40 years ago is an eerie experience; President Obama could probably use the same words, unedited, today.

This brings us face-to-face with an uncomfortable truth: in some very important sectors, we just aren’t that good at innovation. We’ve known about the importance of energy to our national security for longer than I’ve been alive, yet our energy supply has undergone very little change in that time. We’re basically doing the same thing humans were doing millennia ago when they learned to harness fire: we’re burning stuff to do work.

Energy alternatives do exist, and there is a lively and active debate on why they don’t figure more prominently in our energy supply. For comparison, it took less than 40 years to go from building ENIAC to playing solitaire on the personal computer. One popular argument is that entrenched, monied interests fight to maintain power and control. Another popular argument is that renewables are simply not economically competitive. That’s not an argument I’d like to (re-)rehash here. Instead, I’d like to look at our current system of “innovation” as it relates to fundamental aspects of our lives, and ask the question: “Can we address tomorrow’s problems with today’s system for funding ‘disruptive’ innovation?” “Disruptive innovation” was defined very nicely in some recently-posted essays on businessman/investor/venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s “startup” class at Stanford: going from “0 to 1”–creating something new, rather than going from “1 to n”–imitating something else. This viewpoint probably makes me somewhat unpopular in Silicon Valley, but I would argue that the current model for innovation is in some cases anti-disruption, and is therefore inadequate to address the challenges of our future.

I'm Proud to Be the Son of a Formerly Undocumented Immigrant and I'm Not Going "Back to Mexico," I Was Born Here

by Jose Gutierrez, Coffee Party Board of Directors

"Jose, you are the son of illegal immigrants. Go home to Mexico and be the voice of reason there. GO HOME. We do not want you here."

The above words were part of an email I received in response to a blog I had written introducing myself to the Coffee Party community.  I wrote back to the man who sent it, and, some of my response is below.  Since then, as the Coffee Party has begun to explore connecting communities as part of our strategic plan, I've decided to launch Coffee Party Immigration because I believe there is a need to address the frustration over immigration — from all perspectives. 

I have to say that I am very proud to be the son of an illegal immigrant. My father came here at the age of 15, looking for a better way of life and more opportunity. He came from Mexico. And before that, his father also came from Mexico through the Bracero program, enacted in 1942 to help sustain a growing economy by importing contract workers to meet our growing demand for labor.  The United States actively solicited people from Mexico to work in our agricultural fields. My grandfather was among them.  He was paid about 25-50 cents a day. That was not a lot back then, but it was much more than what people made in Mexico.

Coffee Party Radio
Immigration For America, First Show!
CLICK HERE to listen to archived show

To this day, large industries in the United States seek out immigrant workers because their cheap labor keeps produce, services, and other goods, at extremely low prices. Let's say construction workers make around $800-$1000 a week. In Mexico, for the same back-breaking work, they would make only $100-$200. Not only do we treat our workers much better than other countries, but we reward them better as well. If I lived in Mexico, I would move here too, if it meant I'd make 4-5 times as much for the same job. And that's what my grandfather realized — he could really help his family by working in the States.

My father came here as well because he saw how well America welcomed people like my grandfather. He came, fell in love with my mother, married, had children and after 20 years of attempting to become "legal" he finally became a citizen in 2010. We are happy for him. It was a long journey — becoming a citizen isn't as easy as "waiting in line." While my father was applying for citizenship, he decided to open his own business. He's owned his own auto shop for over 10 years. He is fairly successful, and now employs two other people — adding jobs to an economy that desperately needs it. With the profits he earned from owning a business, he helped put me and two of my brothers through school. I graduated top of my class, my brother is majoring in pre-med and my other brother is a talented young artist.

Cheap Patriots Versus Deep Patriots — an excerpt from a new book by Van Jones

A new book by green economy pioneer Van Jones hits the stores today on the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Rebuild the Dream updates our national conversation and our approach to rebuilding Dr. King’s Dream and the American Dream in the 21st century.  In the excerpt shared below with permission, Jones suggests a way forward to reclaim, reinvent, and renew the American Dream. Order the book here.

 

CHEAP PATRIOTS VERSUS DEEP PATRIOTS

The time has come to turn things right side up again and declare that America’s honest, hard-working middle class is too big to fail. The aspirations of our low-income, struggling, and marginalized communities are too big and important to fail. The hopes of our children are too big to fail. The American Dream itself is too big to fail.

And we are not going to let these things fail.

Of course, it will not be easy to stop the dream killers. Tax policy that burdens working families and gives the biggest breaks to the super-rich has helped to keep more and more of our national wealth locked in the private safes of the top 1 percent. This alarming economic polarization, combined with the constant flow of good-paying jobs overseas, threatens to end our status as a middle class nation. Too many of our big banks and largest corporations are behaving in a manner that is both irresponsible and unpatriotic. Their conduct makes it that much worse for the many patriotic and responsible businesses—especially small businesses—that follow the rules and provide good jobs to their employees.

Additionally, many well-intentioned people have been recruited into a powerful crusade—the Tea Party movement—that promises the American people economic relief by slashing taxes and taking a wrecking ball to America’s government. The impact of the Tea Party’s reckless policies would be to financially decimate our government, further dismantle America’s middle class, and strengthen the choke hold that the top 1 percent has on the economy. Nonetheless, the Tea Partiers effectively seized the public narrative in 2009 and congressional power in 2010, quelling the wave of hope generated by the 2008 election. They have succeeded at painting their agenda “red, white, and blue.” If we are to have an economy that works for the remaining 99 percent, this kind of “cheap patriotism” must be sidelined in favor of a “deep patriotism”—one that honors the accomplishments of our parents and grandparents. After all, they used the tools of both free enterprise and democratic government to build a society that sets the global standard. [MORE]

Rally at the SEC Against Secret Money in Politics Sparks Wave of Emails

by Cameron Michaels

The struggle to inject a measure of transparency to corporate electioneering and lobbying has gained some momentum over the last few days as the protests at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have led to a wave of letters asking the SEC to require corporations to disclose political spending.

"The SEC can do something about the fact that money is taking over the political process," said Bill de Blasio, the public advocate for New York City. "They can force publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending. It's not a lot to ask to simply disclose what they're doing. The SEC has the power, but the SEC is not using the power."(1)

At the center of this corporate money/influence peddling scam is a government organization that was created to regulate such atrocious actions, the Securities and Exchange Commission, whose infamous noteriety has been noted over the last decade as incompetent. The SEC now has a vested interest in seeming to do something positive for the people, as they were asleep at the switch during the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme and failed to regulate Wall Street before, during, and after the 2008 financial crisis that led to the great recession. The lack of action by the SEC has left the country with a laser focus on its accountability, and whether or not it can even do its job. The SEC is now seen as one of the "Keystone Cops" on the financial industry beat due to its cozy relationship with Wall Street, and the people want answers. Groups are urging the SEC to force publicly traded corporations to disclose their electioneering activities as a protection of all shareholders who own those company shares involved in electioneering activities.

Koch Brothers Exposed: a film that reveals the link between the very, very wealthy, and the very, very suggestible

Koch Brothers Exposed: a film that reveals the link between the very, very wealthy, and the very, very suggestible (and how the power of this link hurts America).

 

Smart Meters: Sound Environmental Technology or the Next Tobacco?

by Leah Spitzer

Just as the tobacco industry covered up their findings oh so many years ago, so now  is the smart meter industry. Touted as the next great thing in environmental technology, smart meters are now being installed in at least 23 states across the country and all around the world.   

What are smart meters?  Smart meters are the new digital utility meters that are transmitting your usage directly to the utility companies through wireless technology. The environmental benefits, according to the industry, are less trucks on the street (no need for meter readers) and the ability to charge you more for peak hours thereby encouraging you to reduce your usage.  

The problem?  They are mandatory, they are unsafe and they are hazardous to the environment. And we are getting misinformation from the industry with regard to usage, frequency and risks.  What they don’t want you to know is that the risks far outweigh the rewards.  

While industry funded studies show them to be safe, many non-industry funded studies  are showing just the opposite.  From the abstract  by Daniel Hirsch, “the failure to take into account duty cycles of cell phones and microwave ovens and the failure to utilize the same units (they should compare everything in items of average whole body exposure) the cumulative whole body exposure from a Smart Meter at 3 feet appears to be approximately two orders of magnitude higher than that of a cell phone, rather than two orders of magnitude lower.”  This abstract then goes on to show a graph which reflects  that smart meters emit 40 times the the cumulative whole body exposure of cell phones. [MORE]

Why I Volunteer for Buddy Roemer for the Americans Elect Nomination

 
by Diane Goldman, Plymouth, MN
 
I have recently become a volunteer for Buddy Roemer for President. I am also a member of the Coffee Party USA and a volunteer with Americans Elect.
 
Independent Charles (Buddy) Roemer embodies my reformist views and I fully support him as a candidate for President. Early last October I watched Dylan Ratigan interview Buddy Roemer who was running in the GOP primary at that time. I loved what I was hearing! Here is someone who speaks for me!
 
Like Ratigan, whom I greatly admire, former Governor and Congressman Buddy Roemer wants to reform the campaign financing system and he calls for immediate reporting of big contributions to federal campaigns. Like Ratigan, Roemer echoes that our government is bought and sold to the highest bidder saying “Both parties are joined at their wallets.” I could not agree more! In addition, Roemer supports the spirit of the Occupy movement and has joined protesters at Wall Street and in New Hampshire. Governor Roemer also spoke at the Coffee Party Rally in Washington DC in October.
 
Roemer has never taken PAC money, not while running for US Congress or running for Governor of Louisiana.
 
He is Free to Lead. This makes him unique among all candidates. But in addition Buddy Roemer has common sense centrist views, he will negotiate fair trade deals, including with China, and he wants to bring jobs back to Americans. On Banking Reform, he would restore a version of the Glass-Steagall Act when elected president.
 
Why don’t more voters know about Buddy Roemer? While Buddy is getting some TV time, the main stream media has too much at stake to let him be heard by more people. TV and cable will lose hundreds of millions in ad revenue if FEC versus Citizens United is overturned. Being a reformer, Buddy supports overturning this SCOTUS ruling.
 
Roemer's signature pledge is to accept donations of no more than $100.  That way, he represents every American equally.  Case in point, he is very accessible via email. I recently asked him for a statement on restoring Glass Steagall and here is his reply:
 
“Certainly I have always supported the restrictions imposed on Investment Banks and Commercial Banks by the Glass Steagall Act. In fact, I was a member of the House Banking Committee from 1983 to 1988 and opposed elimination of Glass-Steagall in every case. Further, I will restore the risk protections of Glass when I introduce banking reform at the start of my Presidency.”
 
On the economy, Roemer says we need a mix of both spending cuts and tax increases and he has a 5 year plan to balance our budget. And on energy he believes we need to have more renewable energy sources.
 
Governor Roemer is now seeking the nomination of Americans Elect, leaving the GOP in late February to seek Americans Elect’s nomination which will be decided in June. Follow this link for more information on Roemer’s views on issues.
 
 
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