Friday, March 13, 2020

US Senate Candidate Lisa Savage Covid- 19 Response Plan

Source: Tomas Poyao

Today Lisa Savage, independent Green candidate in Maine's 2020 ranked choice voting US Senate race, issued the following statement regarding the coronavirus pandemic:

The spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is a challenge to us as a society. It is already exposing deep failures in our political and economic system, including the moral abomination of a pay-or-die healthcare system, the refusal by political leaders to heed scientists’ warnings with policies to protect the public, and a precarious economy that leaves too many working people vulnerable to illness and economic ruin. For our society to overcome a pandemic in this unprepared state, we must meet it with collective will.

With accurate information, plus care and attention, we can control the spread of the disease and mitigate its effects. We cannot expect to continue our lives as normal in the coming days and weeks, but if we alter our behavior now for a short while, we may be able to avoid radically altering our behavior for a long period of time.

The most difficult aspect to controlling the disease is that those who carry it may not show any symptoms for as long as 14 days. That’s why it’s vital for us to pause, assess who has the disease as they begin to show symptoms, and then treat those people in isolated settings.

In order to accomplish this, we must take a series of actions at the local, state, and federal levels and we must take them quickly:

Testing: The federal government must partner with state governors to immediately commit resources to testing kits that can be deployed to every corner of the United States as quickly as possible. There is no higher priority. We must have roadside testing at travel chokepoints and sidewalk testing on city streets, in addition to tests at hospitals and health care facilities.

Health care: We must enroll everyone without health insurance immediately in some kind of Medicare plan, hiring displaced workers as fast as possible to process virtual paperwork. 
Coronavirus testing and treatment must be provided without individual cost.

Travel: We must suspend all non-essential travel and greatly restrict people’s non-essential movement. People should be encouraged to stay local and certain areas may have to be quarantined with enforcement.

Stimulus: We must pass emergency legislation that suspends rent and mortgage collection in quarantined and restricted areas and subsidizes those companies manufacturing items that are essential to daily social life so that they radically lower their prices. We need to institute a temporary universal basic income that would allow for purchase of food and necessities.

This may require something on the order of 1% of GDP, or $190 billion. The $1.5 trillion recently injected into the markets is a clear indication that there is no shortage of resources for this kind of stimulus package.

Military: As quickly as possible, military forces must be converted into humanitarian forces, distributing necessities, doing wellness checks, conducting testing, etc. Bring as many as possible home from overseas.

Social Services: We must immediately not only cancel SNAP restrictions, but we must extend SNAP liberally alongside and as part of the universal basic income. We will have to create food distribution systems to address food insecurity that will be worsened by disruption of supply lines. A moratorium on evictions will ensure housing security for low income people and families.

Utilities: People must receive subsidies to pay for their power, water, and heating oil/propane, etc., so that no one experiences loss of power, water, or heat.

Taxation: Corporate wealth must be taxed for the purpose of fighting the spread of Covid-19, which they can pay in in-kind donations. The Internal Revenue Service must be tasked with rapidly cataloging contributions and Tax Day for 2020 must be delayed at least six months.

Foreign Policy: The time for inter-country brinksmanship and adversarial saber-rattling is over. Sanctions must be lifted to ensure the free flow of humanitarian aid and supplies around the globe. Anywhere this virus continues to thrive represents a threat to global health, including to those of us here in the United States. We must partner with countries around the world to create the most efficient system possible for creating a vaccine and other treatments and administering them as quickly as possible.

Prisons: Incarcerated people are particularly at risk of contracting communicable diseases. Both the federal government and the states should immediately release nonviolent offenders and incarcerated people whose age or health puts them at high risk, including the many low-income people who are currently incarcerated because of their inability to pay a fine or post bail. Further, we must provide these people with the means to house and feed themselves, along with health care.

 Source: Lisa for

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Judge Joseph Field To Jaywalk22: Go Ye Hence And Continue To Do Good Work

Phil Berrigan being arrested at the Pentagon after one of his many actions. In 1997 he led a plowshares action at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Maine and was called "a moral giant, the conscience of a generation" by Judge Joseph Field.      (Etching by Tom Lewis)      Source: Organizing Notes

Thrilled to repost my friend Bruce Gagnon's account of today's trial of some of the group of us arrested at Bath Iron Works war ship celebration last summer.

On June 24, 2019, 22 non-violent peace activists were arrested at BIW during another destroyer 'christening' as they blocked buses and cars full of people trying to enter the shipyard for the event.

On that day nine in the group refused to pay the $60 bail commissioner fee and spent two nights in jail.  In the end some of those arrested paid a $152 fine (being told they would lose their drivers license if they did not pay the fine), some had their charges dropped (after a screw up at the DA's office) and seven decided to take their case before the West Bath District Court in a bench trial.

(The entire group had wanted a jury trial but the state reduced the charges to a 'jay walking infraction' that was not severe enough to warrant a jury trial.  Thus a bench trial, before a judge only, was in order.)

This morning four of the remaining defendants (Brown Lethem, Natasha Mayers, Ridgely Fuller & Ashley Bahlkow) appeared before Judge Joseph Field for the bench trial. After a long period of sitting around the court house the case was finally called before Judge Field around 11:00 am.

Judge Field is known in peace movement circles as the presiding judge in 1997 following a plowshares action at BIW.

Before dawn on February 12, 1997, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian season of Lent, six religious peace activists, Steve Baggarly from Norfolk, VA, Philip Berrigan, a former Josephite priest from Baltimore, Mark Colville of New Haven, CT, Susan Crane, from Baltimore, Tom Lewis-Borbely of Worcester, MA and the Rev. Steve Kelly, a Jesuit priest from San Jose, CA, calling themselves Prince of Peace Plowshares, boarded the USS The Sullivans, an Aegis destroyer, at BIW. Inspired by Isaiah’s prophecy to turn swords into plowshares, they poured their own blood and used hammers to beat on the hatches covering the tubes from which nuclear missiles can be fired and unfurled a banner which read Prince of Peace Plowshares, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks…Isaiah 2:4.”

On that same day in 1997 in Sagadahoc County District Court, when the Prince of Peace Plowshares were brought to arraignment, Judge Joseph Field felt impassioned enough to say, “Anyone of my generation knows Philip Berrigan. He is a moral giant, the conscience of a generation.”

When we entered the court room today we didn't know who the presiding judge would be.  It wasn't until the proceedings were over that we realized that Judge Field had once again made an impassioned statement for peace and our constitutional rights.

When the judge began this morning he said the following:
I personally agree with what you are doing.  I support your right to speak out.  No damages occurred by your action.  
I am horrified about our rights being taken away these days. 
I want you to know this. We are not seeing any [positive] leadership out of Washington DC.
Judge Field went on to cancel the $152 fine the District Attorney's office was requesting.  Instead he gave the four activists 20 hours of community service at a place "where real people are being touched".

He then sent his clerk back into his office to retrieve his laptop which he then used to search for something which he tearfully read in full before the courtroom.  It was a quote by former President Eisenhower:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. 
This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

Judge Field then asked each of the four defendants if they wished to make a statement.  Natasha Mayers told the story about a Labor Day rally at BIW in 1994 joined by President Bill Clinton, Sen. George Mitchell, Rep. Tom Andrews, BIW President Buzz Fitzgerald and other national and local labor leaders. They all called for the conversion of the shipyard to civilian production so there is indeed a tradition in Bath along these lines to ensure job and community stability.

The judge responded by asking what kinds of products could be built at the shipyard?  Attorney Logan Perkins (Belfast), representing the four, stated, "These are people of conscience who risked their freedom to take a stand against climate change by peaceful assembly.  

They are not anti-worker, not anti-BIW.  They insist we convert the Pentagon - the world's biggest polluter which is on a death march of producing destroyers at BIW. They have a bold and creative vision to transform our economy to sun, wind, and rail systems."

Judge Field closed the legal proceedings with these words, "Go ye hence and continue to do good work.  Keep it non-violent without property damage."

As the judge rose those in attendance applauded this remarkable man and this incredible experience - unlike any we've ever experienced in an American courtroom.