Thursday, January 4, 2007

My Action List for the New Congress

So the new Congress is in place and there's buzz about a "100-Hour Agenda". Ok, I endorse that; it's a start. But there's quite a lot more to be done:

1. Global Warming - with the polar bear threatened, penguins adjusting habits due to climate change and even a "tongue" of Canadian arctic ice breaking off from Ellesmere Is., it can no longer be denied that this is indeed a planetary threat. We need to get get into the Kyoto Protocol and start taking some leadership for addressing this immense problem. If we don't, I have the feeling many others won't matter.

2. Iraq - get us out of there. Get U. N. Peacekeepers in if possible, get the Iraqis doing the job, just stop letting our men and women face danger in this quagmire.

3. Violence - we need to take steps to stop the violence that seems to be infecting our cities, especially. What about having some sort of summit or networking session to help law enforcement and community leaders find solutions? We also need to commit more money for police and for rehabilitation programs.

4. Civil Rights - for heaven's sake - recall that detainee bill, restore Habeas Corpus, and make sure that detainees have fair legal hearings and close Guantanamo. For privacy's sake - stop warrantless wiretapping and snooping. I just saw a snippet of a report where they were opening mail. This practice needs to be curbed and snooping should ONLY be done by court order. Fix the Patriot Act and stop snooping on what people borrow from libraries!

5. Poverty - I don't know of easy solutions, but funding more rehab (so many impoverished are addicted) and more education, training, and mentoring programs would be a start. Get good affordable child care and public transit. Those things can help people as they seek to rise.

6. Education - start scholarship programs so that students can attend college without going into debt. If the government could start the framework and provide some seed money, I would think that people and organizations would be willing to donate. Hire more social workers to help students cope with the pressures and problems of society they are too often faced with.

7. Accountability - listen to ordinary Americans. Members of Congress (as well as other officials such as the President and the Cabinet) should hold regular town hall meetings. Be accessible to regular folks, not just lobbyists. Pay attention to demonstrations and protests, don't be so insulated from them, even if you disagree.