McCormick slams Trump administration attack on immigrant justice


A newly-announced “pause” in federal grants to legal aid organizations around the country will end provision of legal rights information to individuals arrested by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as of April 30.

The Trump administration action would cut off in mid-year a $285,000 United States Department of Justice grant to Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ), leaving unfulfilled America’s promise of “equal justice under law” and posing difficulty for Garden State families.

“The Legal Services Corporation tackles the ‘justice gap’ at its most elementary level,” says Lisa McCormick, who is calling on her primary election rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bob Menendez, to fix the problem or answer to voters.

“I am disappointed in Senator Menendez for failing DACA recipients by voting to end the Trump Shutdown without addressing the end of a program that protected almost a million Dreamers, but pulling out the rug on the sole organization offering detainees in New Jersey information about their legal rights is just too much,” said McCormick. “With barely any notice, people who may face death or worse if they are sent back to tyrannical regimes could go into a complicated process without the right to an attorney.”

Representatives of the lawyers’ organization expressed serious concerns.

“From our experience at least 85% of those attending our legal rights presentations have been NJ residents,” said Raquiba Huq, chief attorney of LSNJ’s Immigration Representation Project.

“Most have at least one family member in the state.”

“In 2017, 2,996 people were detained and placed into removal proceedings in NJ,” Huq said. “Of these, 40% continued in detention, with the remainder released on bond pending their removal proceeding.’
the federal grant enabled 2,051 detainees to get basic information from LSNJ about their legal and procedural rights within a few days of their detention in 2017.
At any given time there are 1,000 to 1,200 people detained under ICE custody at the Elizabeth Detention Center and at county correctional facilities Essex and Hudson.

“Simple explanation of their legal rights is the most basic element of the fundamental fairness – due process – that should be afforded anyone suddenly arrested and incarcerated in the United States,” said Melville D. Miller, Jr., president of LSNJ.

“These arrests and detentions are all taken under the explicit, sole authority of federal law,” said Miller.  “To suddenly tear these people from their families, and then without justification or notice abruptly suspend the very program that offers them some level of guidance and hope, is cruel, unwarranted and an affront to American values.”

“We hope that nationally voices of criticism will lead to an early reversal of this decision,” Miller stated. “In the meantime, LSNJ will seek every means within its power to continue this work and provide the information. In humanity and decency, we can do no less.”

McCormick calling for six debates


Lisa McCormick, one of two Democratic primary election candidates for US Senate, has called on the incumbent, Senator Robert Menendez, to agree on a schedule of six debates to give voters a chance to make a fair comparison of the candidates.

“I have proposed substantive policies to address the problems confronting American and I would be willing to defend my ideas, anywhere and any time,” said McCormick. “The US has 800 military bases around the world and a war budget of about a trillion dollars. We do not buy ourselves safety with the murder of people around the globe and it is imperative that we restrain our exporting of death and destruction.

“The smartest people in the world say we are on the threshold of disaster,” said McCormick, noting that: “The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists this year set the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight as a symbol for humanity’s approach toward self destruction.”

“During the 25 years that Sen. Menendez has been in Congress, the quality of life for working Americans has significantly decline,” said McCormick. “I would say there has never been more lost by America’s middle class than the wealth destroyed or distributed to the super wealthy while he was supposed to be protecting the working families and middle class retirees.”

McCormick says extinction level threats and other dramatic problems left her without any option except to compete for the nomination.

“If we fail to address gun violence, issues of war and peace, climate change or extreme poverty on this planet, then we are inviting our own demise,” said McCormick. “Surely these are issues candidates should talk about. I hope my opponent shows voters enough respect to give them that opportunity.”

Robert F. Kennedy’s Statement on Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Indianapolis, Indiana, April 4, 1968


Today marks 50 years since an assassin’s bullet claimed the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and it is fitting to not only remember, but commemorate the heroic and patriotic deeds of this great dreamer.

The following is the text of Robert F. Kennedy’s statement, delivered extemporaneously when the senator learned of the tragic slaying of America’s most prominent civil rights leader. Fifty years later, America is a very different place. Too many of our people stopped asking what they can do for their country. Too many of our people gave up on the American Dream. Too many of our people lost patience with the long arc of the universe.  Bobby and Martin both died before our nation could fulfill the promise of the better future that they envisioned but now that things have gone so horribly wrong, maybe Americans will be ready to right the ship and redirect our efforts to revive the legacy that these great American martyrs represent.

Bullets claimed their lives in 1968, but in 2018, let’s make sure the spirits of RFK & MLK live within us all.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy
Indianapolis, Indiana
April 4, 1968

Sound Recordings Icon   Listen to this speech.

I have some very sad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died in the cause of that effort.

In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black — considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

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.