Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Resolutions

Thanks again to all of you who have followed and contributed to my work so far. A campaign really is about the people who make it happen and the ideas that drive us to this commitment. In gratitude for the support you have given, this year, I make my resolutions to those of you who have helped me make this year possible and who create the bright hopes I hold for 2014.

I Resolve:
1)      To continuingly look for ways to work w others to challenge Tea Party ideas.
2)      To share the workload when possible
3)      To develop the strengths of others
4)      To be funny whenever it is possible & appropriate … and occasionally when it is not
5)      To not confuse activity w activism
6)      To not shy away from my ideas, values, issues or friends no matter who is watching
7)      To not be so wrapped up in my own BS, I can’t admit when it smells
8)      To give the benefit of a doubt unless I’d have to be absolutely crazy to swallow such BS
9)      To be demonstrably and righteously pissed off and call you on it if you tried to feed me such BS
10)   To forgive
11)   To admit my ignorance so I can learn new things
12)   To be joyous in my victories and humble in my losses/to be gracious in my victories and studious of my losses
13)   To seek fun and wisdom, especially where they merge
14)   To raise money to promote myself and other Democratic candidates and causes
15)   To not work for people or causes I don’t believe in just because they claim to be Democrat
16)   To wisely spend all the monies donated to our campaign & make the campaign as big as possible given the resources available
17)   To keep looking for more resources
18)   To cherish my wife and love my families, to embrace my dogs and my flaws and my friends and to not confuse the categories
19)   To devote my waking hours to this challenge
20)   To be more grateful. I have only this one life and so many have given so much to help it come this far.

With that mind I would like to close my year by thanking the following people who have been significant in my life this past year. The list is so long; but it is only partial. The universe has been so generous w me. It is easy to be grateful at a time like this.
Happy New Year!
Thank You, Julie Thompson, Cynthia Engstrom, Brian Scully, Bill Gauslow, Kathy Svendsen, Dennis Bohlke, Eugenio Cifelli, & Perry Wickerd. 

Josh, Jay, Jean, Joe Longoria (& Jon), Danny Baker, La Deana, Dean, Archy, Aidan & the bug, Mert & Kari, Carol & Susie, Ed, Flor, Betsy, Chris & Will, George & Leonard, Jeanie-Michelle, Butch, Butch & Andy, Joan Lewis, the late great Jim Kanelos, Capt. O'Donoughe, Kim Alsheimer, Pete, Tamara Kelly, & Gary, Bruce, Trish, Celestine Stoltenberg, Wayne Wissinger, Michael Packer, Donna Cat, Donna Grenek & Alan, Evan & Theo.  Geo Oceguerra, Audrea Cardoza, the Colemans, Chris Ash, CJ Love, Cristian Curiel, Chad Starr, Lorena Quinones, Bryan Ayala, Kai Mayer. Cheryll Zapp, Tuttie & Ms. Bennett. Pete & Carol, Hillary & Joel, Alice, Julie, Alberta, Mark, Dave Hamilton, Darcy, Pat Daly-Carle & Pat Coburn, Jon Vick, Ed Carlson, Michael & Juanita. Vicky & Long & William & the dogs, Patty Anchondo. Marshall, Kay (though you moved), Natalie, Al, Joan McDermott, Dave & Rosemary, Jim McCullough, Merritt & Paul. Ed Foster, John & Jade Jones. Tim Corrimal, Lou Show, Laffy, & Marnus3. Tucson Miles & guitar playing Miles, Joe Thomas, Andrew Morrill, Chris Mayer  & John Campbell. William Morse. Lindsay Bell, LaBeth Pondish, Jo Kelleher, Toni Denis, Ellie, Sandy, Jim Pullaro, Maggie Garvey & her folks, Ralph Hess, Dawn, Gwen & Jeri, Dick & John, James Kimes, Frances & Joel, Dennis Duvall, Jackie Zeigler, Paul Mitchell, Valerie & Joe and the all Wiesner girl choir, Glenn Miller, & Margaret & Jon Fullen. Ryan Brown, Josh Wiss, Even Dissinger, Jackson, Gabbie, Sunshine, Wildflower & her folks Maple & Sarah & Joe, Harriet Young, Steve Peru, Doug & Louisa, & Eva & Joe. Andy & Ginger & Brian's dad & sister, Vogue, Al Moyer, & all the crowd at Human Experience. Jay Cravath. Wendy & Mudje. Mark Johnson, Teri Conrads & Byron, Crystelle & Byron, Barbara Tellman, Barbara Kelly, Barbara Luben, Barbara Njos & Barb Olbinski, Donna Wickerd, Donna Crouse, Donna Crane Donna Gratehouse & Donna Stebbins. Mark, Ken, Larry, Ruthana, Arky, Rhonda and Roma. Woody, Bill Ford, & John & Teri. Jesse, Sarah Lydick, Paul Moreno, Dante Mitchell & his mom, John & Jody, Adele, Ira Bohm-Sanchez, Colby, Alicia, & Karl. Kevin, Henry, Maynard, David Coward, Mary Desio, Mike Weaver, Roberto Reveles, Carolyn Cooper, & Carolyn Gordon, my man Barry McCain, Rebecca DeWitt, Olga, Belen Sisa & Joel & her folks, Yanet & the AZ Original Dreamers, Randy, Beto, & the good folks at CBA, the good folks at PDA including Dan & Randall, Viriginia Hauflaire, Joe Murphy, John Gallagher,Toby & Hal, John & Mary, Deborah Curtis, John Rider & Rome,  Karyn & the good folks at DFA too. Alison Porter, Jim Parker, Lizzy AZ, Janey & Frank, & Janet Tillitson. Marcus, Ferrell, Luis Heredia, Fred DuVal, Felecia Rotellini, Steve Brittle, Jim Holway & Rita, their friend Guy, Guy the dog at Cynthia's house, William too of course, here daughters too. Chris Campas. Barb Meyer & Michelle Steinberg & Dr. Julie from training. Sen Shooter, Sen. Ward, Sen. Pancrazi, Sen. Hobbs, Sen. Bradley, & Sen. Crandall. Rep. Dial, Rep. Otondo, Rep. Quezada, Rep. Gallego (& Kate), Rep. Cardenas, Rep. Steele, Rep. Mach, Rep. Myers, Rep. Carter. Rep. Sherwood, Rep. Mendez, Rep. Larkin, Rep Fann, Rep. Goodale, Rep.  Borrelli, Rep. Wheeler, & Rep Pierce. The incomparable Jackie Adams & DJ Quinlan, Chris, Frank, Sam, Dan, the late great Fred. Eli Blake. Bill Roe,  Adam Kinsey & Emily, Jim & Pam, Michael Gordy, Audra Antone, Bob Clark & Shawn Earl, Tom & John, Ezra Letra (u rock!). John Howlett, Eric Johnson, Rain, Kimmie, Aari, Russel Davis, James Davis, Krissy, Krystine Kuhl & Damien, & Michael. Alison, Alice, Jeff, Geoff, Geoff, Jeff & Karen. CJ, Eddie & Cj's puppies, Sharon, Ben, Aurora & Sharon's puppies, Mike Mogliotti & Ray, Peter Wilson & Brooklyn. (Bo & Cindy) Kathy & Dave, Andrew Myers, Steve Muratore, Thomas Meadows, Ray Chubb, & Dave W, Michelle Anderson, Jon Tackett, Howlett's kids, Jerry & Sue, Jonne, Brittany, Lori Justus, Christie. Seth Walker, Jese Parent, Jessica Standifird, Aaron Johnson, Carol Hogan, Chrissy, Bill Campana, Jack Evans, Shawnte Orion, Klute, Rowie, Tristan, Crystal, Lauren, CFG, Azami, Gary Every, Carol Fish, Chris Harbster, Angela, Susan Cloud & David, Gary, Michael & Steve. S.A. & Lorraine, Don Kingfisher Campbell, Michael C Ford, Angel & Nick, Ellyn, Murray, Richard, Matt, Phillip, Elaine, & Beyond Baroque. Ethan, Al, Scott Simpson, Joe Coffey, Christine Collins & the dozens of donors & all the other super important people I can't list right now.

Beth, Victoria & Shane, Valerie & Atlantis (& Robin), Jan & John, Sam & Ramie, Evan, Sean, Elise, Jo-Jo, Lefty, Bailey, Moose & even Wheatie. & yes, the cats (but not that one cat), the fish and the chickens, especially the ones we've eaten this year. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Which Groundhog Will You Worship?" 1993 Happy Holidays Piece

 [In 1993, while toiling in the stacks as lit-critter in grad school at the University of Illinois in Springfield, I had a wonderful opportunity to write for Anthony Moyer's Springfield, IL underground 'zine, Unlimited Possibilities. Tony published his monthly newspaper for 7 years and stuck with my work through thick and thin even though I actually didn't even learn how to spell till year 3. This piece was from year two. I also fancied myself quite the rhymey poet at the time and the piece somehow incorporates three whole poems masked as paragraphs. Why I do not recall. Lol. I do know this: 20 yrs ago I thought it was clever and in some ways I still do. I still want people of all faiths, religions or no, to take heart as we pass through this chilly, often painful season. I still want each of you to feel warmth and light from your fires, from your family, from friends and from these words.]
Happy Holidays, 2013,
Mikel Weisser

Greeting my kinsmen in this the midst of our high holy season.  My encouragements in all your holiday endeavors.  Find Light. There are many to choose from: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Year's, the others, or, my personal pick this year, Groundhog Day. 
In making your own choice, my advice is, choose them all.  The worship of god is too great a thing to remain contained in any one church. The purpose of god is to see and to sing or enrich the whole world with your search.  Saying "just one church" is not about finding the best; but running away from the worst, nor embracing and bathing the breast of the blessed, but numbering the names of the cursed.  For if god is love, and god is all, then each church is holy--when all blessings be--and sown veils only cover-up bloodstained stone walls when any some one's one word should set every any one some free.  Mark my word, it's the mark of a religion that's flawed when it's claim of frame limits the worship of god. 
Sounds great on paper.
But then there's the "having to actually deal w actual winter" part that so often sucks so: cold swallows up the sun, everything starts to die and you have to take to your cave hoping for some warmth.  Mere survival takes faith and we, in turn, take warmth from those around us instead of just from being; and often eventually even make offerings all around in trade for hope of Spring.   Festive, huh?   That may be the reason the US calendar provides us with these winter festivals plus others that haven't quite scored the marketing just yet.  Basically they're all simply winter time excuses to gather, seek joy and make offerings.  Besides, in America we all get a chance to spend money: 
  Thanksgiving (which will be mere bones by the time you read this) offers heritage, pilgrims, football, sharing food and the eternal question of what is the philosophical meaning of minced meat as dessert.  Hanukkah, which is beyond the realm of my experience, and Solstice--point of balance in the deepest night, a godly time for light -- neither of which to my knowledge incorporate football, though perhaps they should in search for ratings.  Used to be we savages sacrificed our king when the nights began to look like they would last forever.  Then Christianity came along and convinced us it would be more profitable to simply sell our spirit to merchandisers crafty enough to meld the ancient Nimrod winter holiday with our Pagan tree sacrifice  & phoof! waah laah! we have Christmas.
My usual favorite, New Year's  Day (not Eve): the concept of time's birthday, the most prolific of our national religious holidays (showing up on three different dates: Oct. 31, Jan. 1 and April 1). The turn of the year says a little something towards a sense of solstice, the getting rid of the old broken stuff to make way for new breaking stuff.  No wonder, New Year'  is so well celebrated; we get to throw all past away in the pause between soap operas, celebrate time's birthday and open a new present. 
But then there's Groundhog  Day.  Besides being an excellent Harold Ramis film, I am talking about Feb 2nd, when we celebrate a medium sized rodent-like mammalia as deities.  Like many religions, the essence of the holiday is that if the groundhog does or does not do a certain something then a set of conditions is fated to fall on his followers.  If the groundhog DOES NOT see his shadow then it's sunny days, yippee!  If he DOES … trouble and pain for all those who believe or, at least, worry about trouble and pain, because the weather is ultimately going to do whatever it DOES, the will of medium sized rodent-like mammals aside.  Sounds like any of the other winter holidays?
Everyday all over the planet, billions of people do their certain devotions to their certain groundhogs certain that it is going to make a difference. And, while it may work for many, I've often had a question:  Which ground hog will you worship?  I mean there are so many of them.  If you had to pick just one, how could you be sure? Hey, you might pick a nutria and where would that take you?  Then there's the bit about the shadow.  Are you supposed to watch him all day and he's never supposed to see it or does he make allowances if he has to double back on his path?  Can you just bribe a groundhog to get what you want and if he doesn't come through should just go pick another one?  Even worse, what if the critical moment  where it mattered if he did or did not see his shadow happened before you were awake that day?  Are you stuck to just guess what he's thinking about the weather or should you just go outside yourself and tell which way the wind blows and judge whether you need a coat or not?
Used to be the political leaders of a country presented themselves as the groundhog.  And of course everybody said long live the king, imagine the alternative.  Billions of dollars and great works of art have been made that way.  But after a few thousand years or so and some very fine artwork glorifying some not necessarily fine kings, the people noticed that the prime proponents of the king-as-god concept were the king himself, and his priests.  So, of course, that kind of thing fell be the wayside … in some cases, yet groundhogs continue to thrive. Some groundhogs who claim if you don't adhere strictly to their beliefs then their followers have ever right to kill you. This insures the deity's power over your mortality, which has  also led to some impressive artwork; but still the rain it raineth every day. 
Those groundhogs.
 Here in America, we've made up this one groundhog all adults know as completely false and taught our children to worship him.  Of course it does sell soda water and I wouldn't want to slander old St. Nick, patron saint of thieves. 
 Maybe all that groundhog business is really just a mask that we wear to hide our fears.  Maybe we're just afraid to not believe in something.  History's always been that way, check the groundhog mythology yourself: Romulus and Remus discovered the penis:  but Venus discovered Mars.  The terrible Thor clambered plunder for war; while Elohim made himself from his stars.  The fierce Yahweh taught the people to prey,  Mohammed led the people to sword; while wise old Emerson called believe and all is one, but remains to this day largely ignored. 
Ah, Groundhogs. 
Maybe, we all just want something to believe in, to comforts us, like Teddy bears. When we're cold and scared in the dark our groundhogs do give us something to hold onto.   And it is true, being mammals, almost any groundhog you get a hold of is likely to be warm, fuzzy, and to some degree playful unless you make him mad.  But then maybe all groundhogs, like all ground, are holy, maybe the whole thing's holy and it's all just one big groundhog.  You know,  because I was just dirt before  ate by beans I ate; because I am the air I breathe and all that's on my plate,  I cannot think I am not God (unless I think I'm not)  and my part reaches half of all my hole, the rest still blessed, I thought. Because I was and am and are and still a speck of time I live to love all I am knowing  and dare not doubt divine.

So … which groundhog will you worship, pray tell?  I hope you try them all; I hope you find light.  Happy Holidays.

Springfield, IL, 12/18/93

Monday, December 2, 2013

2014 Platform: Priorities and Issues

It is time we insisted we have a government that is of the people and for the people for a change. I am calling for a 21st century economy and 21st century social values that respect the rights and lives of all citizens, not just those of a narrow religious view or the largest corporate donors.


Administrative Priorities
(If Elected I Pledge to Work on Legislation to Advance These Issues)

1. Reshape Immigration Policies to a) provide safe, controlled ports of entry for undocumented immigrants; b) coordinate the identification and registration of foreign nationals already in the country so they may be documented and taxed; & c) strengthen existing rules regarding the exploitation of undocumented workers, both immigrant and national.
2. Investigate Wall Street fraud and bank/mortgage fraud which created so much misery in our country, along with the regulators who were supposed to protect us from those folks. Any houses not currently occupied should be returned to their rightful owners. Call for reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, tighter regulation of the derivatives market and greater executive accountability for corporate abuses.  
3. End cannabis prohibition, establish a taxation system for its production and sale, Pardon and rehabilitate non-violent prisoners in jail for possession. Promote medical research.
4. Vastly Increase Education Spending for smaller class sizes, improved school infrastructure, increased arts ed and special services.
5. Create TVA-style Solar and Wind Power generating networks to reduce dependence on petroleum/gas/coal-based technologies.
6. Federal Campaign Finance Reform to eliminate corporate funding of candidates and establish public funding for all elections. In addition, I would call for a federal challenge to recent state-level voter suppression laws.
7. Develop a program for the government acquisitions of all private/for-profit correctional facilities at the national level and offer incentives for state compliance as well. Review all government contracts that privatize government services to evaluate ways to return those jobs to the public sector.
8. Revamp highway and internet infrastructures to improve equality of access for all Americans and get America building again.
9. Review  & Revive previously successful government programs already cut as “tax-savings measures” to evaluate for reviving.
10. Federally end gender-inequality, including instating full marriage and adoption rights for LGBT 

On The Issues

We need to get out of the business of ruining other countries for business interests. Our role in Afghanistan is poorly defined and counter-productive. It squanders cash and good will, aids Karzai narcotics trafficking, the Uni-Cal pipeline and fattens defense contractors while violating basic American values. I call for a timetable for withdrawal from this quagmire and an investigation into the profiteers who have bilked our government’s good will for billions.

While I support the idea of balancing the federal budget, I am not going to wreck good programs for the sake of arbitrary, largely symbolic cuts in spending. For example when I call for a reduction of defense spending, I am not calling for a reduction of our military personnel; but a reduction in the monies paid to military contractors for over-priced, often unnecessary weapons systems.
I am also calling for a return to sensible taxation. The GOP Slash & Burn budgetary practices of the past two decades have destroyed or badly damaged many of our country’s most important functions: safeguarding our resources, wallets and fellow workers from abusive business practices; protecting the public from all enemies both foreign and domestic; and creating an infrastructure to aid all Americans in pursuing our life, liberty & happiness; and perpetuating the freedoms. These are the main goals of the government and we will only get the quality of government we are willing to pay for. Right now our government works best for its wealthiest. I say it’s time they paid their fair share. It’s time we stopped paying for their tax cuts off of the back of the public.
While supporting the idea of balancing a budget, solving the current financial crisis is a first priority and it requires a Keynesian New Deal public sector infusion of gov't spending through infrastructure jobs, not further austerity to further dampen consumer spending. Social investment and robust consumer spending and restored confidence due to improved quality of life will help pay down the debt the right way. It is time to improve our way into the 21st century and build our better America now.

Campaign Finance:
I support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions, and call for a nation-wide "clean elections"-style program for all state and federal elections as a way to get money out of politics and get the focus of elections onto the public and not on a money chase. In fact, one of my campaign issues is to say that if corporations are privileged with citizenship rights; then they should be subject to citizenship spending limits in elections.

Cannabis (Marijuana):
The 80 year “War on Drugs” has been a catastrophic failure, a horrific social and economic injustice and must be brought to an immediate halt. Cannabis has a 7000 year documented history of safe positive recreational and medicinal use and the prohibition we have suffered under has only enriched the criminals and the jailers. A properly operated and regulated cannabis market can dramatically reshape consumer spending, yielding billions in state and federal revenues. And, the return of the hemp market to the US can be an stimulus to our struggling agri-industry as well. Legalization will cripple drug cartel influence and help reduce our border violence. It will also go a long way towards improving the attitudes of millions of Americans when they stop having to fear their government sees them only as criminals. It is time to admit our mistakes, end the war on Americans.
Capital Punishment & Corrections:
I do NOT support capital punishment and oppose the prevailing punitive trends that perpetuate as many social problems as they aim to solve. Our criminal justice system is a shambles and has led to our country veering towards becoming a prison state. Our economic imbalances lead to unjust imprisonments and fuel the oppression of the poor and minorities. We must do better. I want a review of all death-row cases w pending DNA evidence and a suspension of the expansion of the private prison industry. Further I call for the full restoration of all former prisoners’ citizenship rights (including voting) once they have served their time. In conjunction with my efforts on cannabis reform, I also call for a review of all federal cannabis possession cases and pardons or reductions of sentences for all non-violent convictions.
Planned families are happier, healthier & more stable and impose fewer burdens on society over time. Modern medicine gives women the choice to decide their destiny. I strongly support a woman’s access to family planning measures of all kinds and resent the Pro-"Life" movement’s push to erode Roe V Wade as an encroachment on our national First Amendment religious freedom.
I support the concept of federal spending, especially spending on infrastructure projects, as a means of promoting economic growth. Government spending and government workers improve society both through their own consumer spending and by the good work their departments do.
I do not support providing tax incentives to businesses for the purpose of job creation. Tax cuts do not increase revenue, they cut services. Isn't it time we stopped selling our country out to the public impulse to be cheap and greedy? I want my country to be healthy and strong and it needs to be respected and supported, not short-changed at every turn because someone wants to be penny-wise and pound foolish. Can't we start caring about our country again and not just ourselves?
Economic Development in Rural Arizona:
The economy of Western/Rural Arizona is as diverse as the regions this unique Congressional District (AZ-04) encompasses. Along the Colorado, tourism and agribusiness dominate, manufacturing and transportation issues, drive the economy along our interstate corridors. Mining and forest management are major factors in the central highlands; and sustainable urban development and quality of life are primary concerns in the extreme-suburban areas of Maricopa and Pinal Counties and in the booming Yavapai communities of Prescott & Prescott Valley. Each area has its own issues and needs specific support, not a “one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter” quick fix. Promoting tourism and improving our transportation corridors is an approach that provides support throughout the region. Sensible mineral management policies that protect the environment and worker rights provide long-range stability for the people of rural Arizona and can still provide the US w our precious raw materials. Arizona has jeopardized our water quality and public health for far too many years for short-sighted business interests and our Bureau of Land Management routinely mismanages the lands we entrust to it and starve the counties’ PLT funds (Payment in Lieu of Taxes—the way the federal government compensates counties for land the national government holds and takes out of the local tax base) instead of contributing a fair share to local economies.
Our lives in rural AZ will always be rugged. That’s why we came here, but the federal government is supposed to be our friend and becoming a partner in our economic survival would be a great place to start.
NCLB and "Race to the Top" are disasters, outrages and destroying our schools. The powerful are gutting public education and enriching themselves. Time to drop high stakes testing, unfunded mandates, and teaching to the test. Time to invest in arts education, smaller class sizes, critical thinking skills and supportive social services. America is falling apart and can only be saved through education. We have GOT to start seeing education as a service again, and start investing in the quality of education our children deserve. In today’s crushing economy, many of America’s poorest have come to need our public schools for the social services they have come to provide. It is time we stop constantly trying to underfund these services and start honestly attempting to address the struggles our students and their families face.
America has got to move past the petro-chemical model that has dominated our energy strategies and our economy in general for the past 150 yrs or so. I call for intensive support of alternative energy sources on the consumer and on the industrial level and hope we can put a stop to endangering the American public for the profit of our oil & coal moguls. I do not support continuing our national subsidies to the oil and gas industries. I further do not support lowering our protections from the slipshod predatory practices of energy companies. Diablo Canyon, Hinckley, CA, Love Canal, Times Beach, Exxon Valdez, Deep Water Horizon, these are real events, real cases where America has suffered because company errors, neglect, greed, or deceit. We need more protection, not less.
Human activity is contributing to climate change. We have seriously devastated the planet’s climate and bio-systems and MUST address this runaway pollution problem before we imperil the whole planet. I support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, federal funded research for alternative energy applications and pollution mitigation measures. I do not support indulging the Right’s War on Science. Do we still have to go through this? I would rather talk reality than oil company propaganda.
I am opposed to making gun safety an issue in my campaign. That said, as a Christian, I no longer own guns myself. I support gun rights, but believe in the "a well regulated militia" part of the 2nd Amendment as well. I don't want 4 year-olds with bazookas, do you? All men are not angels. Some folks are criminals, some are fools, some folks are nuts. Criminals, fools and nuts with guns kill people. Let's be reasonable.
Health Care:
Flawed or not, I support improving, not repealing, the 2010 Affordable Care Act. I avidly call for single payer/universal health care for my long-term goal. But in the here and now, as long as we exist in a outdated, over-priced for-profit healthcare model, people will need health insurance to pay for their outrageously priced, comparatively sub-standard medical care in America. In some cases that means that some individuals will have to be required to purchase health insurance, as mandated in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. And it further means that we need strong safeguards to protect Americans from the heartless abuses of the health insurance industry, who all too often equate success, not with improved quality of care, or the health of the patient, but profits gotten from denial of care.
Of necessity, the ACA has some strong mechanisms in place to ensure participation; but it unfortunately needs those as has been amply demonstrated by the greed-driven HMO practices of the past and the short-sighted health care decisions of many Americans. Thus the mandate. The American public ends up having to pay the health care costs of those who refuse to purchase health insurance when they are faced w catastrophic injury or illness anyway. The ACA’s mandate reduces the burden on the rest of us by guaranteeing more Americans participate. We have to buy all sorts of things that are good for us under penalty of law. Parents must feed and clothe their children under penalty of law. Drivers must buy IDs, insurance, safe cars, we all pay taxes, etc. So that's all I have to say about that angle.
However, I further want to note that gutting the ACA instantly hurts tens of millions of Americans. The GOP doesn't care about that. They're after a talking point to sway the greedy and uninformed. I believe the right’s battle over the central philosophy behind the ACA is their greatest shame: to insist that a government is not responsible to ensure, protect and promote the quality of life of its citizens is to harbor a cruel vision of our country. It is not Christian and borders on Un-American. When they cry they don’t want a country that cares for its people, I wonder what it is they do want? Ultimately I want universal health care, but the ACA is a key step in that direction.
American Immigration policies are an outrage and one of the most frustrating human rights embarrassments in America today. Our country has long made a shameful practice of exploiting our immigrant population from the indentured servants of colonial times, the Irish, the Asians, and Southern and the Eastern Europeans of a century ago, right up to today’s demonization of Hispanic immigrants and our government’s blind eye to the creation of an invisible slave-class: the undocumented immigrant, who is exploited by small businesses and multi-national corporations alike. I reject our administration’s policies and practices by and large and hold that the recently scuttled “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” was not the change we need.
That said, I do NOT support requiring illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship, or the enforcement of federal immigration law by state and local police. And I do support allowing DREAMers, undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the United States as minors, to pursue citizenship without returning to their country of origin. Our immigration laws create injustice for both the documented and the undocumented immigrant alike. They perpetuate a second class underground human being and a culture of fear, racism and disrespect, and need to be reformed. People who are already in the US need to be brought into the system. Talented and or well-off immigrants need to not be penalized due to government ineptitude. Economic refugees need a path to immigration legally, not a path through the desert. If you want to stop illegal immigration, make immigration legal. And the exploitation of American workers, citizens or no, has got to stop.
I support full-citizenship rights for our LGBT community including marriage equality as a minimum expectation for a country that claims to be about liberty and justice for all. Again this is a matter of a violation of my religious freedoms by homophobic theocrats legislating their prejudices on my marriage rights. No one is free while others are oppressed. Our American humanity depends on how we treat all people. Marriage, adoption, health care, family property, the list goes on. Is this really a still a question in America? Why?
National Security:
America can never attain security by threatening the rest of the world into submitting to our will. It is not our freedoms that our enemies hate, it’s our oppressions. We have got to review our priorities in a world where the US sphere of influence is only part of the larger interwoven mosaic. American might was meant for defense. If we made more friends we’d have fewer enemies.
Social Security:
I am so sick of the Right’s attack on Social Security and reject any schemes they have to restructure social security to their own liking, including suggestions that individuals divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts. This is a recipe for disaster and SO predatory it verges on Un-American. This anti-American boondoggle is criminal in intent and needs to be widely discredited. It will only enrich the powerful, impoverish the public, and destroy our entire social service network. Whoever promotes this should be tried for crimes against humanity.

Spending and Taxes:
Spending: Yeses & No’s:
Increase Arts Spending
Decrease Defense Contractor Spending
Greatly Increase Education
Decrease Homeland Security
Maintain International Aid Spending
Greatly Increase Medical Research
Greatly Increase Scientific Research
Maintain United Nations
Increase Social Services

Taxes: Yeses and No’s
Increase Capital Gains Taxes
Maintain Corporate Taxes
Slightly Increase Excise taxes (alcohol)
Slightly Increase Excise taxes (cigarettes)
Maintain Excise taxes (transportation fuel)
Maintain Income taxes (low-income families)
Maintain Income taxes (middle-income families)
Increase Income taxes (high-income families)
Increase High-End Inheritance taxes
Maintain Payroll Taxes
Legalized and Tax Cannabis and Cannabis Products,
End Social Security Pay-In Cap for Those Earning Over $105,000
Create the Transaction Fee for Brokers for Electronic Trading
Increase Taxes for Businesses With Offshore Tax Shelters
Enforce White Collar Fines for Tax Cheats
Adjust Taxes for Those Earning Over $250,000 to 35%



Friday, November 29, 2013

AZ Cannabis Reform Update 11/29/13: AZ Rep Introduces Legalization Bill and We Are Here to Help!

Here's something to feel thankful for this holiday season:  

AZ House Minority Whip, Ruben Gallego (D-LD27), just announced he is introducing a bill for full-scale marijuana legalization in Arizona, in part, thanks to the work of our organization, Safer AZ. The bill is already making national news though it hasn’t been filed yet. Read Gallego’s press release about it here:
Gallego’s announcement is already

In response this week there has been a flurry of calls and messages between cannabis activists around the state to see what all we could do to in promoting public awareness of this bill and bring AZ cannabis legalization one step closer to reality. THX to my congressional run last year and my wife's membership on AZ's DNC delegation, the Gallegos and the Weissers are already social friends within the party, and so I am more than happy to help my friend w his work, especially when he is working on one of my main issues. It is the kind of thing I am attacking at a federal level w my congressional campaign and here in the state through my work as the legislative liaison and general speaker for Safer AZ.
Safer AZ is a cannabis activist network working to promote reform through direct activism at the statehouse and in the general public. We are the people behind the current petition drive for the citizens’ Marijuana initiative to tax and regulate cannabis, AND, the “Harm Reduction Measure,” another cannabis bill also readying to be introduced this January by Rep. Mark Cardenas (D-LD19), which will address the state draconian felony sentencing statures for possession. We are also the creators of the “Safer AZ Legislative Status” report which informs Arizonans of our legislators’ positions on cannabis reform.
 Among others things we are already doing to promote Gallego’s bill include communicating w other cannabis activist groups, in particular PHX NORML, NORML in AZ & LEAP to promote awareness of the bill through our networks. I, in particular, talk directly w smoke shop and dispensary operators throughout the western part of the state to promote cannabis awareness in general and legalization efforts. In addition, Safer AZ creates/participates in musical events to increase visibility and we are coordinating a major public action on Jan. 13 to bring cannabis activists from all corners of Arizona to the statehouse to call for legalization. Finally we work w reporters to provide info and interviews to help improve their coverage of the issues.
The future of America is legalization. We have this chance to push to bring that future sooner, rather than later. There is a tremendous urgency of now. The often quoted figure is the AZ Central poll that showed 59% approval for legalization. It is certainly reflected in what I am seeing in the western part of the state. While the two parties officially take different positions on the issue, the citizens of both parties support legalization. Here is a link to read further on my observations of this issue.
A poet, political writer, entertainer/arts organizer and Democratic community activist from the Bullhead, Kingman & Prescott areas, I first challenged the GOP for control of the newly created congressional seat in 2012 while maintaining my full-time teaching career. This year I am running full-time and standing up for a 21st Century economy, dramatically improving education, immigration reform, women's rights & gender equality, solar & wind, rural modernization, improved consumer protections against predatory banks & corporations, reversing the privatization of government services (such as private prisons), increased arts funding, and, yes, cannabis legalization at the federal level.

We can make a difference, 

Join me.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"My Name Is ..." (A 2014 Campaign Introduction)

My name is Mikel Weisser. I am a former construction worker and retired history teacher taking on Paul Gosar and the Tea Party in Western Arizona. I want your help in the fight.

A poet, political writer, entertainer/arts organizer and Democratic community activist working in the Bullhead, Kingman & Prescott areas, I first challenged the GOP for control of the newly created congressional seat in 2012 while maintaining my full-time teaching career. This round I'm running full out for US House of Representatives in Arizona's 4th Congressional District and cleaning house is job #1.

The 4th Congressional District (I affectionately call it “The Left Coast of AZ”) spans the western 1/3 of the state. Running along the Colorado River from Yuma to Utah, CD4 also wraps around the PHX metropolitan area, and includes the majority of Yavapai County, plus northern Gila County as well. It’s a big territory and I have a big job ahead of me, but I am a big man w an even bigger heart & I came ready for the battle. We can see the the Tea Party is crumbling right before our eyes. It is time to take them this fight.

I stand for a 21st Century economy, dramatically improving education, immigration reform, women's rights & gender equality, solar & wind, rural modernization, improved consumer protections against predatory banks & corporations, reversing the privatization of government services (such as private prisons), increased arts funding, and cannabis legalization at the federal level. I currently serve as the legislative liaison for Safer AZ, on cannabis legislation at the state level. I am also Northern Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party Progressive Caucus, Mohave County Democratic Party Secretary and serve on the board of the Arizona chapter of Democracy for America.

We CAN make a Difference, Let's Change Arizona Now!
Join Me--

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Help Make Change Now:
Ask Julie how YOU can help
Julie Thompson, Office Manager

Contact me to set up an event in your area. We belong anywhere YOU think a Democrat should be:
Mikel Weisser
4490 Sundown Dr
So-Hi, AZ 86413

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Original text of my 10/28/13 Speech to the Orange County Democrats!

My name is Mikel Weisser and I am an Arizona Democrat taking on Paul Gosar and the Tea Party crazies. 

I know we’re all used to thinking of congressional candidates in suits and ties (good luck David Peiser!), but I’ve been a working man all my life and out in AZ we got our work cut out for us. Last year I was a school teacher telling my kids how they had to stand up for our country and I saw our party needed a fighter, a showman, a superhero and a miracle to turn things around. So I figured I was the right guy for the job. Now I can tell you a whole lot more about my campaign after the meeting.

But I didn’t make this thousand mile round trip for two minutes of your time to brag about me, I came here to talk to you about why you should pay attention to what we are doing in AZ. Turning places like AZ and Texas blue should be the #1 goal for Dems all over America. I happened to know a couple tough as nails Dems out here so you’re the ones I’ve come to ask to help us.

We ARE changing things in AZ, but we could do it A LOT faster if you helped.

Like, in my district, AZ 4, in Quartzsite we have an embattled Democratic mayor, Ed Foster, who was arrested by his own GOP chief of police and city manager when he discovered their graft. But thanks to national media putting attention on Ed’s struggle, Foster got the tables turned and now the chief out on his ear and the town is turning around.

In Queen Creek, at the other end of my district, there’s a young Dreamer, Belen Sisa, who is taking on my opponent Paul Gosar on his inhumane immigration policies and now Move On.Org and the USA Today are following her story and maybe our world will change. Maybe. We need places like Orange County to give us their money, time and treasure, of course, but first we want you pay attention to AZ as we fight this change. Share our stories, tell others our struggle matters. 

They say Arizona is always turning into California. I sure hope you’ll help us make that change sooner than later. It’s a desert out there. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Safer AZ October Legislative Update

Safer AZ October Legislative Update
Mikel Weisser

Safer Arizona is a non-profit political action committee that focuses on cannabis reform through the legislative process—addressing laws and politicians directly. Currently, we are working on three legislative approaches to reducing the harm Arizonans suffer from unjust and unnecessarily harsh cannabis laws.
A.      The “Tax & Regulate” Citizens’ Initiative—Originally the creation of Safer AZ treasurer, Dennis Bohlke, based on Colorado’s successful 2012 citizens’ initiative, Bohlke offered the text of the initiative online for three months for public input before submitting it to the AZ Secretary of State’s office in June.  Intended to be purely an “organically grown” citizen-driven petition drive, SA’s work in promoting the petition has been mostly word of mouth w petition gathering at public cannabis friendly events such as NORML meetings, large-scale protests and concerts or live music venues. Publicity effort have been inconsistent, but gaining momentum and have now included national and international press coverage. Recent articles in the Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times, Culture Magazine, Rueters, and the Huffington Post have increased public awareness and extended the circle of petition gatherers, though the majority of the work is occurring in the metropolitan areas of the state.

A new development in promoting petition circulation has been the additional step of conducting appeals at political party meetings. Party members are familiar w the importance and process of petition gathering and are quick to see the eventual political advantage of being publicly active on this issue, despite the fact that many of older, more traditional party members balk at the idea. Of note: in attending events w both major parties, a trend is developing. Members of both the Democratic and Republican Parties are supporting the petition and volunteering, though leadership is wary. In urban districts, GOP take as strong an interest in advancing the petition as Dems and in Mohave County, the GOP 1st vice chair and other members of their leadership are actively advancing the petition and cannabis issues in general. Resistance is essentially generational, but it should be noted the “hippies of the 60s” are now the voters in their 60s.

B.      The “Harm Reduction Measure” Statehouse Bill—This bill hopes to reduce criminal sentences for cannabis possession from felony to misdemeanor. The felony penalty law is a legacy from the waning years of impeached governor, Evan Mecham and leads to 18,000 charges a year. While the vast majority of these cases end up in a diversion or TASC program w charges eventually reduced to misdemeanor, lives are still wrecked and the charges can jeopardize parenting, state assistance, ed funding, college admissions, military qualifications and even gun-owner rights. Also the creation of Dennis Bohlke, the “Harm Reduction Measure” is a rewrite of ARS13-3405 (the section of state statute dealing w cannabis/marijuana), editing the majority of the language and lowering penalties for various levels of possession. Bohlke had originally drafted the legislation in 2010 and presented it as a citizens’ initiative, but withdrew it to focus efforts on the successful Prop 203 MMJ law.

The majority of my work as legislative liaison for Safer AZ has focused on advancing this bill into the AZ statehouse for introduction at the upcoming Jan. 13 opening of new AZ legislative session. To that end, I have been polling the statehouse and conducting one-on-one sit-down presentations to members of the state legislature. In addition to having meetings w state representatives myself, I have also brought members of the cannabis community and leadership in Safer AZ to meet w the legislature and other key, including the Department of Public Health (overseers of the state’s medical marijuana program) and representatives of law enforcement and criminal justice.

At the Legislature, thus far (as of 10/11/13) we have contacted the offices of 32 of 60 representatives (including the office of the Speaker of the House) and 11 of 30 senators. Four senators and fourteen representatives have had official “sit-down” meetings, or extended casual discussions. Responses tend to fall toward party lines w the majority of Democrats supporting the idea of the bill and several offering extensive advice on how to advance this legislation. Particularly helpful on the Democratic side have been Tucson area representatives Victoria Steele and Stephanie Mach and PHX area representatives Mark Cardenas, Jonathan Larkin and Andrew Sherwood. The majority of the Democrats polled however, stand firm in their belief that the bill must be advanced through the legislative process by Republican leadership to succeed in the AZ political landscape. On the GOP side, in the senate, LD5’s Dr. Kelli Ward & LD13’s Don Shooter have both offered support, w Sen. Ward inviting Safer AZ to attend a stakeholders’ on a somewhat related alcohol measure and Sen. Shooter advancing the text of the bill to the senate’s legislative counsel for review (this process is currently underway.)

The majority of the GOP membership approached on the bill have grave concerns over getting constituency support and some, such as LD16’s Kelly Townsend, are adamantly opposed to any lessening of cannabis enforcement and, in casual conversations, have refused to take official meetings on the issue. Others, such as LD5’s Doris Goodale and LD25’s Justin Pierce (both on the judiciary committee, the committee that would hear the bill) & LD1’s Karen Fann, while supportive of the ideas in the proposed changes are concerned that GOP leadership and right-wing voter resistance to easing cannabis restrictions make any ameliorating changes in cannabis enforcement highly unlikely. Citing anti-cannabis crusaders such as LD12’s Eddie Farnsworth, LD23’s John Kavanagh in the House & LD 20’s Kimberly Yee in the senate, mainstream GOP leaders suggest that the current complexion of the statehouse makes the bill a tough sell.

I am not daunted, however, as the continuing process itself is shifting opinion all by itself and cannabis reform on the national scene is shifting AZ trends. We still have yet to contact over half of the legislators and have only conducted meetings w 18 of 90. A new development on this front is exhorting citizens, at political party and cannabis-related/friendly meetings to contact their legislators, call on them to support the “Harm Reduction Measure,” and ask for meetings to discuss cannabis.

Working w NORML, we are in the early planning stages of turning Jan. 13, the opening day of the new legislative session, into a cannabis education day, as part of an all-out push to get the statehouse to take on cannabis reform. My office continues to focus on political education in general and has now taken to including presentations to political clubs and civic organization in addition to continuing to schedule legislative meetings as time permits.

(Currently as part of me keeping track of my work, Safer AZ is conducting a poll of legislative positions on various cannabis legislative issues and will present the results as part of NORML’s upcoming voter awareness guide and also as part of our efforts to generate public support for cannabis reform.)

C.      Tucson City Ordinance “Measure AZ”—Created by Tucson Shawn Earl, based on Oakland’s city ordinance AZ, which lowered cannabis enforcement to “lowest police priority,” the Tucson activists of Safer AZ have been working with the city council for months trying to advance this ordinance. Recently (Sept. 25) representatives from Safer AZ met w Tucson city council member Paul Cunningham and the city attorney to discuss the measure. However in subsequent negotiations the city has shifted their position and leaning toward a more restrictive measure that only covers MMJ patients and then in only limited circumstances. The Tucson Safer AZ activists are continuing to push for their measure through public outreach such as speaking at events, conducting fund raiser concerts and appearances at city council meetings.

D.      On the Horizon—Safer AZ has also been asked from various sources to address other injustices in AZ cannabis law and have begun preliminary work in addressing the following issues: 1) Metabolite measurement in DUI cases, particular for MMJ patients; 2) Clarification of the “concentrates and resins” in ARS 13 and ARS 36, to allow continued production of edible MMJ products to provide for the large numbers of patients for whom smoking is not a preferred delivery method. Both of these issues are best addressed through legislative action and awaiting the drafting of bills to introduce to the legislature.

Safer AZ