McCormick would repeal federal marijuana prohibition


Democrat Lisa McCormick said she supports legislation that would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, and make cannabis legal for use by adults in the United States and chided incumbent US Senator Robert Menendez for scoring poorly on a congressional scorecard.

“Legalizing marijuana in the United States could save billions by reducing government spending for the ineffectual prohibition enforcement and rampant abuse of the criminal justice system,” said McCormick. “Marijuana is legal for medical or recreational purposes in a growing majority of states. George Washington grew hemp at Mount Vernon. Despite the historic and modern benefits of this plant, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum, an Obama-era policy that discouraged U.S. Attorneys from enforcing federal laws against state-legal cannabis enterprises.”

“No American should be jailed for smoking marijuana,” said McCormick. “The so-called ‘war on drugs’ declared by President Richard Nixon has been an unmitigated failure that cost billions of taxpayer dollars and ruined millions of lives instead of addressing a public health issue in a sensible and intelligent way.”

Colorado collected $135 million in taxes and fees during 2015 and advocates estimate the financial benefits of legalization in New Jersey would include $300 million a year in sales tax revenue.

Eight out of ten Americans support the medical use of marijuana, nearly 3 out of 4 Americans would only fine (no jail) recreational smokers and 58% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, according polling referenced by McCormick.

“It is time to respect the freedom of adults to make their own choices in balance with everyone’s obligation to refrain from causing harm,” said McCormick.

Gov. Phil Murphy proposed marijuana legalization during his campaign and Evan Nison, executive director of NORML New Jersey, an organization that advocates the legalization of marijuana has said, “This is something that a vast majority of Americans want, and a vast majority of New Jersey residents want.”

McCormick said if she is elected, she would seek to become a cosponsor to The Marijuana Justice Act, which would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Establish universal child care


In 1971, Congress approved legislation that would have established a network of nationally funded, locally administered, child care centers that were to provide comprehensive quality education, nutrition, and medical services.

Sponsors viewed the measure as a first step toward universal child care, which would have avoided being cast as a poor person’s program but rather, a service to all Americans made affordable on a sliding scale basis.

If the bill had become law it would have reduced reliance on the welfare system by making it easier for single parents to work and raise children simultaneously with help from a multi-billion dollar national day care service.

President Richard Nixon vetoed the proposal, lumping together the struggle for equal rights between sexes with social equality in general.

Conflating patriarchal society with capitalism in a time of fierce anti-communist fears amid a global competition for power led Nixon to reject a common sense advancement for society that was increasing women’s participation in the workforce by adapting to serve the needs of its people.  Remember, this was just a few years after such right wing politicians as Ronald Reagan warned that if the United States enacted Medicare, we would no longer be free.

Today, Americans have moved past the fears that once accompanied poor comprehension of socialism and the benefits of working as a community.

Medicare is now recognized as an indispensable health insurance program for older people instead of the threat to personal liberty Reagan once described.

In fact, Medicare has been so incredibly successful that many Americans want the program expanded to cover everyone! Lisa McCormick strongly supports that idea.

That is why we should revisit the idea of comprehensive child care centers that will unleash the economic prowess of working parents, improve the financial standing of our families and provide the next generation with a head start on learning and healthy development.

While Americans remain proud of the nation’s heritage rooted in rugged individualism, more people recognize an equal measure of interdependence that makes us stronger together than we could ever be on our own.  As Abraham Lincoln put it, “The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves—in their separate, and individual capacities.”

The notion of freedom is weak without the economic means to enjoy our liberty, so Americans must remember that we are all in this together. We have an obligation to one another just as we owe a duty to our country. One’s patriotism cannot be stronger than his or her sense of fraternity. So we are obligated to insure that the equality promised in our founding documents takes on a life through the instruments of justice at our disposal.

It has also been said we do not inherit the Earth from our parents, but instead we borrow it from our children. There is not greater obligation than our society’s protection and support for future generations as they begin their lives and develop into the citizens and leaders they will be.

As early childhood education has vast potential for improving their quality of life, and spending on learning is an investment in both national defense and future prosperity, we can make no more wise choice than to create a system for the protection, care and development of our young.

To that end, America must establish universal child care  building upon the comprehensive quality education, nutrition, and medical services envisioned almost 50 years ago.

 

 

Iran


Isolation in our global community is impractical but America has a terrible history with Iran, so the future will require either war or engagement and the reality of modern times must be that violent conflict is unacceptable. America must be brave enough to pursue peace.

The Islamic Republic of Iran restricts press freedom, represses dissent, and disregards international human rights norms. The government regularly jails members of religious minorities, women’s rights activists, and both foreign and domestic journalists.

Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, reported a variety of harsh punishments meted out by the Iranian regime, including executions, floggings, amputations, and even blinding.  Iran’s medieval barbarity is easy to condemn from far away, but ending such practices will require a close contact.

Iran is one of only five countries in the world where people can receive a death sentence for being homosexual while the United States of America has recently made same sex marriage legal. Our cultures are far apart on many levels but these are not irreconcilable differences.

Americans will never influence the internal affairs of Iran by screaming at them from thousands of miles away, but as customers or trading partners, US citizens could discourage human rights abuses and intolerance to create potential changes.

Commerce has always opened doors that were closed to strangers, so it is clear that route would be more effective than having no engagement and one other thing is obvious: War is an unacceptable alternative, so we must find peaceful ways to rectify problems, resolve our differences and live in harmony with other cultures.

Global population stands at about 7 billion and Islam is among the world’s leading religions with 1.5 billion followers, compared to 2.1 billion believers of Christianity. We need to learn to get along together or humanity will perish.

America has a history dealing with Iran that is not well known among our people because it is essentially shameful but for many Iranians, the 1953 coup is the original sin.

A joint British-American plot ousted the country’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh , in 1953 and the restoration of a monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was amenable to Western interests but whose visit to the US for medical treatment in 1979, sparked the Iranian hostage crisis.

Mossadegh had plans to nationalize Iran’s oil assets, which were the lifeblood of the mammoth Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. (now better known as BP), so his government was overthrown in a coup d’état aided by the American Central Intelligence Agency and the British Secret Intelligence Service. This was the CIA’s first successful dismantling of a foreign government but it has haunted America in many ways ever since.

An author, administrator, lawyer, and prominent parliamentarian, Mossadegh introduced a range of progressive social and political reforms such as social security, rent control, and land reforms. Many Iranians regard Mossadegh as the leading champion of secular democracy and resistance to foreign domination in Iran’s modern history. He fought against internal corruption as well as foreign interference, and he kept the fundamentalist religious zealots at bay.

Iran did not restrict press freedom, repress dissent, or abuse human rights until the American and British governments illegally intruded and set off the history that has since unfolded.

Before Americans condemn Iran’s medieval barbarity, we must acknowledge our responsibility for bringing about its existence and understand that their animosity is not unfounded. And we must act to correct those errors of our past and move toward peace and justice to insure our future.

 

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McCormick embraces America Goals


Lisa McCormick announced that she has embraced a set of policy proposals called, ‘America’s Goals’ from a project of Future Now and SDGUSA, two issue advocacy organizations.

“I support America’s Goals and pledge to work to achieve these targets in America by 2030 or sooner.” ~ Lisa McCormick

America’s Goals for 2030

1. Good Jobs
1.a   100% of jobs pay a livable wage
1.b   Paid family, vacation and sick leave for 100% of jobs
1.c   Protect labor rights and increase worker representation

2. Affordable Quality Healthcare  
2.a   Universal, affordable health coverage with a cap on out-of-pocket expenses
2.b   Life expectancy of at least 84 years
2.c   End hunger for 100% of households

3. Investing in Children
3.a   100% completion of quality K-12 education
3.b  Path to higher education, including technical training, without debt for 100% of students
3.c  Early childhood education for 100% of children

4. Empowering People Over Special Interests  
4.a   Limit corporate special interest spending in politics
4.b   At least 70% voter participation and fair legislative districts
4.c   Personal control for everyone over their private online data

5. Equal Opportunity for All
5.a   Equal pay for equal work regardless of gender or race
5.b   End mass incarceration for non-violent offenders
5.c   Freedom from ethnic and racial profiling for everyone

6. Sustainable Infrastructure, Resilience, and Innovation
6.a   100% of roads, bridges, railways, airports, sea ports, levees in good repair
6.b  Plans to make every community resilient against natural disasters
6.c   Enhance scientific research and technological capabilities

7. Clean Air, Water, and Energy
7.a   All new energy investments in clean, safe energy
7.b   Clean air and water for every community
7.c   Polluters pay 100% of damages from pollution

Lisa McCormick said the law authorizing indefinite military detention must be repealed


Indefinite military detention without charge or trial violates the Constitution

On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but New Jersey Democrat Lisa McCormick said Congress or the courts must repeal the law, which for the first time in American history authorizes indefinite military detention without charge or trial.

“This law’s dangerous provisions would authorize President Obama and all future presidents to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people anywhere in the world,” said McCormick. “This worldwide detention authority violates the Constitution and international law because it is not limited to people captured in an actual armed conflict, as required by the laws of war.”

McCormick previously protested President Bush’s enactment of the Patriot Act, on October 26, 2001, allowing non-U.S. citizens suspected as terrorists to be detained without trial until the War on Terrorism ended.

“I said it was wrong when the Bush administration claimed the authority to hold people without charges in military custody, and it is still wrong whether it is done in secret or out in the open,” said McCormick.

“military detention of American citizens or anyone else in the United States would be unconstitutional and illegal,” said McCormick. “Congress – which allowed a small group to negotiate in secret and without proper review – and the President – who expressed ‘serious reservations’ about the NDAA’s detention provisions – are guilty of betraying fundamental American values.”

Obama issued a ‘signing statement’ saying his administration would use the NDAA’s detention authority, but McCormick said that would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent presidents.

“Both Congress and the president need to clean up the mess they have created,” said McCormick. “No one should live in fear of this government abusing the NDAA’s authority, which could be read to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act and authorize indefinite military detention without charge or trial within the United States. These dangerous provisions must be repealed.”

In this photo reviewed by US military officials, an American flag waves within the razor wire-lined compound of Camp Delta prison, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba on Tuesday, June 27, 2006. The Supreme Court this week is expected to rule on the legality of President Bush’s decision to create U.S. military tribunals for the detainees at Guantanamo, the first such tribunals since World War II. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, Pool)

You have power to change the world


Do not ever imagine that you are helpless to influence the events taking place around you. This is a democracy, so it is your duty to make the world a better place.

There is no need to feel sorry if things are your fault because accepting the blame only means you have the power to take responsibility. Working together, we have the power to make a difference. We can change the world.

That is why I am calling on you, and thousands of other citizens just like me and you, to run against political insiders in the next several primary elections.  Primaries are the most consequential elections because there are usually fewer voters, and they often decide who is going to win because many jurisdictions are tilted in favor of Democrats or Republicans, so winning the nomination of the dominant party is tantamount to victory.

One thing you need to know about New Jersey is that the primary ballot is intentionally rigged to give an unfair advantage to political insiders. Consequently, Democrats for Change is forming a line that will allow a slate of challengers to enjoy a similar advantage.

Stronger Together: We can do more as a team than any one of us can do alone!

We hope to field a complete ticket so any progressive Democrat in the state should join us.  In 2010, I got 47% of the vote for county clerk because we ran 25 candidates in several cities throughout Union County.

Some members of our team won, including the current Mayor of Linden and council members in several cities. We contested the regular political organization in six towns & for five county offices.

Our candidate for sheriff came 1,365 votes away from toppling the most popular Democratic incumbent in the area! Replicating that experience on a statewide level is merely a question of finding enough people who are tired of politics as usual to complete a progressive team that gives voters a real choice.

I know this works, because we did it!

Whether you want to run or not, you have a duty to serve your community and fix such problems as corruption and corporate control over our economy.  This is necessary. From the deadly consequences of climate change to the incredible dangers posed by Donald Trump Republicans who are betraying American values as well as engaging in a treasonous cover-up of potential crimes that have vital implications for national security and the role of the United States in the world, versus that of Russia.

This is not the time to sit on the sidelines or trust the Democratic political establishment that was so ineffectual, Donald Trump & the Republicans rode right over them and into the White House with majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives! This is a time for unity! This is a time for action!

Universal Basic Income


Universal basic income, or distributing money to citizens regardless of employment status, is not a new idea but it is a concept whose time has come.  A recent Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans see guaranteed income as a solution for helping workers displaced by automation, but with some explanation that share could increase and ultimately, an economic benefit shared by all will be as common and accepted as our constitutional guarantees of security, privacy, freedom or justice.

A universal basic income should be established immediately to help Americans who’ve lost their jobs when people are replaced by a robotic intelligence, but a broad national dividend paid to all citizens could eventually implement the concept described by American revolutionary Thomas Paine.

Paine advocated a citizen’s dividend to all United States citizens as compensation for “loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property.” In Agrarian Justice, a pamphlet published in 1797, Paine proposed that those who possess cultivated land owe the community a ground rent, and that this justifies an estate tax to fund universal old-age and disability pensions, as well as a fixed sum to be paid to all citizens upon reaching maturity.

Wealth in the United States is now concentrated among a very small part of the population. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett possess more net worth than the 160 million poorest Americans, or half the population of the United States. At the same time, the rapid acceleration of robotics and automation technology has lead to fears of significant job loss.

In 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders launched a Poor People’s Campaign to organize towards transformative actions to end poverty, racism, and militarism in America.

Partisan divide: Support for the issue varies greatly between political parties—while 65 percent of Democrats support it, only 28 percent of Republicans are on board (not exactly a shocker).

Monitoring changes in the forces affecting the U.S. economy is crucial to understanding the quality of life of American workers. As societies grew in economic and social complexity, and as isolated farms gave way to cities and villages, communities witnessed the development of formal organizations of various types that sought to protect the economic security of their members.

With the increase in automation, we need to redefine our economy, and one way to keep our society going is to implement a universal basic income. Robots are certainly taking jobs. In the U.S., robots have taken about half a million jobs already – mostly replacing assembly line workers with predictable machinery.

Some economists agree that the next wave of AI will only accelerate this trend: Researchers estimate that by 2030, we could lose 800 million human jobs globally. By 2040, we could lose half. By 2060, we could lose them all.

 

 

 

Very little justice for crime victims in New Jersey


The overall number of murders reported to police fell during 2017 but a majority of killers escaped justice during that period, according to New Jersey State Police crime statistics.

Democrat Lisa McCormick wants citizens to know that authorities typically fail to solve most crimes that get reported to police.

McCormick says statistics from the State Police Uniform Crime Reports cast a gloomy outlook for any resident seeking justice.

Of 294 murders reported to police last year, only 142 have been solved, according to the State Police Uniform Crime Report (available online at: http://www.njsp.org/ucr/pdf/current/20180123_crimetrend.pdf).

“Only 31,549 crimes were cleared with an arrest out of the total 155,450 offenses reported to law enforcement,” said McCormick. “That means 80 percent of all crimes are unsolved, including more than half (52%) of the reported murders.”

“The vast majority of crimes reported to police were not solved in New Jersey, representing another aspect of our fundamentally dysfunctional government,” said McCormick. “Only about half of the murders reported in this state are cleared with an arrest, and the people responsible for 80 percent of all reported crimes escaped justice.”

McCormick said she is recruiting women to seek elected office in the Democratic primary election because voters need candidates who are not part of an establishment that ignores problems confronting ordinary people.

“Political insiders like Robert Menendez have had decades to address this problem but it only gets worse,” McCormick said. “With 80 percent of elected offices occupied by men, many issues that disproportionately concern women — who are more frequently crime victims — get ignored.”

“We need to stop wasting time on the ineffective ‘war against drugs’ so we can redeploy police where they can do the most good,” said McCormick. “We cannot accept or ignore the fundamental injustice of unsolved crime. We spend billions of dollars on law enforcement but grieving families and innocent victims are not getting the justice that will help restore their shattered lives.”

“When we remember crime victims, we should demand that police and politicians do a better job to insure justice because nobody is going to be safe tomorrow if those who endangered us yesterday and last year escape,” said McCormick.

McCormick said this is not a new problem, since only a little more than half the homicides were solved last year and it is getting worse, as almost 60 percent of murder cases were cracked in 2014.

Menendez will face new bribery trial


U.S. Senator Robert Menendez with former Gov. Chris Christie

The Justice Department said U.S. Senator Robert Menendez will face a new trial on the charges of bribery and corruption for which he was indicted on April 1, 2015. 

“During his first trial, Bob Menendez did not dispute taking money & gifts from his co-defendant or doing favors for the man convicted of $109 million Medicare fraud,” said Lisa McCormick, a New Jersey Democrat who is running for senator in the 2018 primary election. 

A link to the indictment appears below, under the following press release, which was published to announce the criminal allegations against Menendez and his co-defendant during the Obama administration:

Robert Menendez, a U.S. Senator, and Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, were indicted today in connection with a bribery scheme in which Menendez allegedly accepted gifts from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to benefit Melgen’s financial and personal interests, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel of the FBI’s Newark, New Jersey, Division.

“Government corruption – at any level of elected office – corrodes the public trust and weakens our democratic system,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “It is the fundamental responsibility of the Department of Justice to hold public officials accountable by conducting thorough investigations and seeking an indictment when the facts and the law support it.”

“The job of an elected official is to serve the people,” said Special Agent in Charge Frankel.  “The citizens of New Jersey have the right to demand honest, unbiased service and representation from their elected officials at all levels of government.  The charges and activity alleged in this indictment are another example of the FBI’s commitment to aggressively and tenaciously pursue public corruption in the state of New Jersey.”

Menendez, 61, of Paramus, New Jersey, and Melgen, 60, of Palm Beach, Florida, were indicted in the District of New Jersey for one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the travel act, eight counts of bribery and three counts of honest services fraud.  Menendez was also charged with one count of making false statements.

According to allegations in the indictment, between January 2006 and January 2013, Menendez accepted close to $1 million worth of lavish gifts and campaign contributions from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to influence the outcome of ongoing contractual and Medicare billing disputes worth tens of millions of dollars to Melgen and to support the visa applications of several of Melgen’s girlfriends.

Specifically, the indictment alleges that, among other gifts, Menendez accepted flights on Melgen’s private jet, a first-class commercial flight and a flight on a chartered jet; numerous vacations at Melgen’s Caribbean villa in the Dominican Republic and at a hotel room in Paris; and $40,000 in contributions to his legal defense fund and over $750,000 in campaign contributions.  Menendez never disclosed any of the reportable gifts that he received from Melgen on his financial disclosure forms.

According to allegations in the indictment, during this same time period, Menendez allegedly engaged in three efforts to use his Senate office and staff to advocate on behalf of Melgen’s personal and financial interests.  First, Menendez allegedly pressured executive agencies in connection with a conflict between Melgen and the government of the Dominican Republic relating to a disputed contract that Melgen purchased to provide exclusive screening of containers coming through Dominican ports.  Second, Menendez allegedly advocated on behalf of Melgen in connection with a Medicare billing dispute worth approximately $8.9 million to Melgen.  Third, Menendez allegedly took active steps to support the tourist and student visa applications of three of Melgen’s girlfriends, as well as the visa application of the younger sister of one of Melgen’s girlfriends.  Throughout these efforts, Menendez allegedly engaged in advocacy for Melgen all the way up to the highest levels of the U.S. government, including meeting with a U.S. cabinet secretary, contacting a U.S. Ambassador, meeting with the heads of executive agencies and other senior executive officials and soliciting other U.S. Senators, all in order to assist Melgen’s personal and pecuniary interests.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chiefs Peter Koski and J.P. Cooney, and Trial Attorney Monique Abrishami of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

Menendez and Melgen Indictment

USA must rebuild unions to restore the American Dream


“Today’s report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics based on union membership data collected as part of the Current Population Survey, shows that organized labor makes America strong,” said Lisa McCormick, a New Jersey Democrat who believes state and federal laws need to be revised to encourage union membership.

“The middle class is disappearing because millionaires and billionaires control too many politicians in Congress, while America’s founding fathers believed government should protect ordinary people from powerful interests,” said McCormick. “Dismantling the labor movement has been a priority for Republican since the Reagan administration’s union busting action against the air traffic controllers and it remains a nefarious goal in the U.S. Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME,  which will be decided later this year.”

“The significance of that case is that it seeks to undermine the 34.4 percent of public-sector workers who are union members,” said McCormick. “Union membership in the private sector has fallen under 7 percent — levels not seen since 1932  — and public employee participation reflects a membership rate that is more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers, only 6.5 percent of whom are unionized.”

“Nonunion employees are paid 80 percent as much as workers who are union members, earning an average of $829 a week compared to $1,041. That is a difference of $11,000 a year,” said McCormick. “For a family of four that would be enough to escape being close to poverty and being solidly in the middle class.  If millions of Americans had another couple hundred dollars a week to spend, the economy would be booming.”

There are 14.8 million members in the U.S., down from 17.7 million in 1983, but the percentage of workers belonging to a union in the United States is 10.7 percent, compared to 20.1 percent in 1983.  In 2017, about  half of the employees who belong to a union work in the public sector.

Although much smaller than they were at their peak membership in the 1950s, American unions remain a political force to be reckoned with and all workers deserve the right to organize for collective bargaining. Only a balance in the relative power of unions and management will unleash the economic engines in ways that benefit all Americans.

 

After World War II, 25 percent of the workforce was unionized. The top tax rate was 90 percent. Wages were pretty high for average in comparison with those paid to corporate executives. Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, the US economy was booming, we saw the middle class expand to include a majority of our citizens and America’s influence in the world was strong.

Organized labor has been weakened by a series of new laws in recent years, so McCormick said she would sponsor legislation to require employer neutrality on union organizing, explicitly permit closed shops, allow employees to join unions by checkbox, and increase protections for striking workers and targets of employer retaliation. She said the Taft–Hartley Act should be repealed and new National Labor Relations Act, including provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act, should be enacted.

In 27 states that have banned union-security agreements, each employee may decide not to pay dues even though a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the union protects all workers.

McCormick said she would authorize the Department of Labor to work with businesses and educational institutions to create a report analyzing the future growth of artificial intelligence and its impact on American workforce. She also said overtime rules should apply to anyone making less than $65,000 a year or less, which would guarantee extra pay for more than 40 hours of work for about 90 percent of employees.

All workers must have the right to know what they need to be safe on the job; the right to participate in workplace health and safety; and the right to refuse unsafe work.

“Journalists at the Los Angeles Times voted 248 to 44 to be represented by the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America, a first for the 136-year-old newspaper that was known for its opposition to organized labor,” said McCormick. “Unions make America work, because they help ensure that our economy works for everyone and not just the richest members of society.”