Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders


Six Thoughts On Bernie 2020, Caitlin Johnston


Bernie Sanders has announced his 2020 Democratic primary run for president of the United States, to predictable sighs of relief from his supporters and equally predictable vitriolic shrieking from Democratic Party centrists. I’ve been asked by my readers to give some thoughts on the matter, so here they are in no particular order:

1. The DNC can still rig its primaries.

It’s really weird how amid all the excited chattering about Bernie’s 2020 primary run, there’s been almost no discussion of the known fact that the Democratic Party’s primaries were rigged against Sanders in the last election, nor about the fact that nothing has been done to stop them from being rigged again.

It’s absolutely insane that this isn’t front and center in the conversation about Sanders’ candidacy, especially since it looks like Kamala Harris is the next Anointed Queen of the political/media class. If Sanders manages to win the primary it will be either because far too many people elevated him for the manipulators to successfully quash, or because the Democratic establishment is now satisfied that he doesn’t pose a threat to them.

2. Sanders would be better than Trump.

Sanders is probably the most likely candidate to beat Trump, and he would be a marked improvement, not that that’s a high bar. The only arguments to the contrary come from partisan “boo, socialism” right-wingers and Trump supporters who still believe he’s spreading world peace and fighting the Deep State. I personally find those arguments neither convincing nor interesting. Even on foreign policy, someone who opposed the Iraq invasion has better instincts than pretty much everyone in Trump’s cabinet, some of whom actively facilitated that very invasion, and indeed better instincts than Trump himself.

3. He would also be far from perfect.

I find myself unable to join in the jubilations over Bernie’s candidacy because of what I’ve learned and seen since the last election. Sanders not only refused to provide any pushback whatsoever against the DNC’s blatant subversion of the will of the people, but he actively fanned the flames of the establishment Russia hysteria which the Democratic Party used to completely kill the narrative about primary rigging.

Contrary to the belief of some Bernie supporters I’ve spoken to, Sanders didn’t just pay lip service to some Russian interference once or twice and then change the subject back to healthcare and income inequality: he has gone full Rachel Maddow promoting the Russian collusion narrative many, many times. As we discussed recently, this baseless Russia hysteria that he has sold to American progressives will be used to attack him throughout the primary, and it will be partly his fault for promoting that narrative.

While Bernie might not start any new hot wars or engage in the kind of obscene regime change interventionism we’re seeing from Trump in Venezuela, under a President Sanders we can expect to see a continued escalation of the world-threatening cold war against Russia, continued starvation sanctions against nations which fail to comply with the demands of the US empire, continued military expansionism around the world, and very little pushback against the depraved agendas of military and intelligence agencies. We can expect to see him play right along with the establishment narrative if the political/media class decides that Assad is gassing civilians and needs a dose of Tomahawk missiles, and we can probably expect him to facilitate the persecution of Julian Assange as well.

4. I won’t object to his candidacy.

All that said, if Americans choose to uplift Sanders (and the DNC doesn’t thwart those attempts), I won’t raise my voice to object. As the citizenry of the nation with the most powerful military force in history, Americans are kept poor and propagandized to ensure the uninhibited movement of the power establishment which holds the gun. If Americans want to try and elect Sanders under some faint hope of maybe possibly getting to have healthcare or a $15 minimum wage someday, it’s not my place as an Australian to try and stop them.

Contrary to what a lot of my critics claim, I don’t just make it my business to write about all US politics; I actually have a strict code where I stay inside my sovereign boundaries and only comment on the aspects of the US government which directly or indirectly impact the rest of the world. Given how brutalized Americans are by their political system, I see it as outside my sovereign boundaries to do anything which undermines their attempts to elect a progressive leader. Once he’s in office I’ll be just as critical of his bad foreign policies as I am of the current White House occupant, but I won’t be one of those aggressively critical alternative media figures working to kill his support.

5. Your fantasy Bernie-Tulsi ticket isn’t going to happen.

A lot of my readers have been publicly fantasizing about the possibility of a Sanders-Gabbard ticket running against Trump, but there’s no way that happens. Gabbard has been far too disruptive to establishment war narratives, and thus has already been aggressively vetoed by the political/media class. US politicians can get away with disrupting establishment narratives a bit when it comes to domestic policy, but if you try it with foreign policy you’re immediately blacklisted. Sanders never makes moves that are that severely transgressive of establishment doctrine. If he becomes the nominee, he’ll pick someone safe like Elizabeth Warren or Keith Ellison.

6. Sanders is more interesting as a phenomenon than as a candidate.

Sanders will be one of the few candidates in the race who will be consistently promoting clear, specific progressive policies instead of wearing a plastic smile and reciting scripted talking points designed to offend the smallest number of people possible, but we’ve seen him do that already, probably in exactly the same way he’s going to do it this time around. What makes Sanders interesting is not Sanders himself, but the Sanders movement.

I personally do not believe that the establishment is afraid of Sanders. Sanders is just one man, and even if he really is hell bent on destroying the oligarchy and bringing power to the people, they can deal with just one man. What they truly fear is millions of people rising up in a populist movement to take power for themselves, and using every tool in their toolbox to make that happen. If millions of Americans can resist the attempts to manipulate and herd them in directions which pose no threat to the plutocracy and insist on economic and institutional justice to the same extent that the Yellow Vests in France are, for example, that would absolutely terrify our rulers.

And that’s what we can expect to be the area of narrative control emphasis with regard to Sanders’ campaign: not keeping Sanders from being elected, but keeping the public from developing a revolutionary spirit. An enthusiastic Sanders campaign will get the mass media manipulators working very hard to control the narrative and keep everyone herded into their lanes, and they often expose themselves for the malignant liars they are when they do that. Anything that causes the propagandists to lose control of the narrative is a good thing, and the Sanders campaign may do just that.

Caitlin Johnston is an Australian journalist

Bernie, your moment has come — and gone, 2-19-19

For Sanders, 2020 will present challenges that didn’t exist in 2016, 2-20-19

MANCHESTER, N.H. — When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, it took little time for him to turn the competition into a two-person race with Hillary Clinton. As he joins the field for 2020, the path ahead will be more complicated and the environment potentially less forgiving.

The assets that Sanders brings to a second campaign for the presidency are obvious. He has the experience of 2016 upon which to draw. He has some supporters who are as loyal to him as President Trump’s backers are to the president. He has the capacity to again raise substantial amounts of grass-roots money. Given all that, he enters as a top-tier candidate.

But so much has changed. Sanders faces a political dynamic dramatically different from that of 2016, both in terms of the national mood and inside the Democratic Party that he seeks to lead. Had he been in New Hampshire over the Presidents’ Day weekend and seen the energy and the crowds who turned out to see some of his rivals, he would have recognized how much things have changed.

Sen. Bernie Sanders will seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, 1-19-19

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose 2016 presidential campaign grew from a left-wing insurgency to a force that reshaped the Democratic Party, announced Tuesday that he will seek its nomination for president again in 2020.

Sanders wrote in an email sent to supporters Tuesday that he was building “an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign” that would draw on people across the country.

“Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history. It is not only about winning the Democratic nomination and the general election,” he wrote. “Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”

The senator, an independent, cited health care, climate change, student debt, the “demonization” of undocumented immigrants, income inequality, gun violence and the myriad problems of America’s needy as propelling him into his second presidential contest.

“In a sense, this campaign is a continuation of what we did in 2016,” Sanders said during an interview Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.”

Asked how this bid would differ from his first run, Sanders said, “We’re gonna win.”

During an earlier interview with Vermont Public Radio, where he first announced his bid, Sanders called Trump “an embarrassment to our country.

“I think he is a pathological liar,” Sanders said. “I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities, often undocumented immigrants.”

Sanders, who has held dozens of political rallies across the country since the 2016 election, enters the race with the biggest social media following — and biggest mailing list — of any candidate for the Democratic nomination. His decision came after a number of groups that spun out from his 2016 run, such as Our Revolution and People for Bernie, held house parties to mobilize his old supporters, and to find new ones.

After coming a few hundred delegates short of victory in 2016, Sanders begins a 2020 race with some advantages. He is one of the best-known and most admired figures in Democratic politics, though he is not a member of the party. He built campaign operations in every primary and caucus state.

But unlike Hillary Clinton, who recovered from her 2008 primary defeat to become the party’s front-runner in 2016, Sanders has not built on his support from the prior campaign. In early polls of Iowa and New Hampshire, where he won 50 percent and 60 percent of the vote, support for the senator from Vermont has ranged from the low teens to 30 percent.

Two Democrats who endorsed him in 2016, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and author Marianne Williamson, have themselves entered the race; a third, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), is considering a bid. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has long been a friend of Sanders and shared an overlapping network of supporters, announced her campaign on New Year’s Eve. And some strategists and endorsers who helped Sanders in 2016 have already moved to other campaigns.

Sanders also faces a crowded and liberal-leaning field of candidates that bears little resemblance to the lengthy two-way race with Clinton. Most of the Democrats currently seeking the nomination back Sanders’s signature legislation to turn Medicare into a universal health-care plan, and to raise the federal minimum wage to $15.

“There are some really good people who have announced, and they’re friends of mine,” Sanders told The Washington Post last month. “My views are maybe a little bit different.”

Both Sanders and Trump in 2016 argued that Americans were suffering from a rigged economy and that chunks of the country had been forgotten as Wall Street and other elites prospered. Sanders bridled at such comparisons in 2016, and on Tuesday upbraided the president in stark terms.

“You know as well as I do that we are living in a pivotal and dangerous moment in American history,” he wrote. “We are running against a president who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction. I’m running for president because, now more than ever, we need leadership that brings us together — not divides us up.”

Sanders’s successes in 2016 capped an unlikely political ascent. He ran for multiple offices in Vermont before a stunning 1981 upset that made him mayor of Burlington, the state’s largest city.

In office, Sanders became the best-known democratic socialist in American politics, bringing new development to the city while building ties to international left-wing movements. In 1990, he won the state’s sole seat in the House of Representatives, as an independent, after Democrats did not field a candidate of their own — an understanding that would continue through seven more House campaigns and three for the Senate.

Despite that, Sanders was not viewed as a first-tier challenger to Clinton when his 2016 bid began. Liberal groups had launched efforts to draft Warren, although she chose not to run. When he announced his campaign, Sanders parried questions about poll numbers that showed Clinton 40 or 50 points ahead, saying he was “in this race to win” and battling the impression of a fringe candidacy.

To Clinton’s surprise, Sanders’s campaign caught fire. By the summer of 2015, he was regularly speaking to crowds numbering in the thousands or tens of thousands. He stuck to the issues that animated him: universal health care, free college tuition and higher taxes on the rich. After several speeches were disrupted by protesters, he began speaking more about criminal justice reform and an end to the war on drugs.

“We can live in a country where every person has health care as a right, not a privilege,” Sanders said on the trail, words he repeated in Tuesday’s presidential announcement.

As Sanders’s last campaign surged, neither candidate was comfortable making personal attacks. Sanders refused to talk about the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server while at the State Department, focusing instead on whether Clinton was too close to Wall Street; Clinton accused Sanders of making unrealistic promises, warning that his agenda would lose in a general election.

Sanders nonetheless won more than 13 million votes and consistently trounced Clinton among voters under 30. While the senator later endorsed Clinton and campaigned for her, some of his supporters walked out of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and Republicans used social media to urge Sanders’s voters to cast protest votes or embrace Trump as the real change candidate.

“His attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump’s ‘Crooked Hillary’ campaign,” Clinton wrote in her 2017 campaign memoir.

Clinton’s surprise defeat left Democrats leaderless. Sanders, who had never actually joined the party, began to take a bigger role in shaping it. He joined the Senate Democratic leadership for the first time and held dozens of rallies around the country — some alongside Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez — to build opposition to the Republican agenda.

Sanders also began recrafting and reintroducing ambitious bills to enact his agenda, starting with “Medicare-for-all” legislation that was co-sponsored, for the first time, by more than a dozen colleagues. Through much of 2018, he worked with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to pass a war powers resolution to end America’s involvement in the Saudi bombing of Yemen.

If successful, Sanders, 77, would also be the oldest nominee ever put forward by a major political party.

UPDATE: Schrödinger's CAT Scan: Bernie's specific #MFA WOULD eliminate nearly all private insurance., 2-5

As the 2020 Presidential race starts to heat up, one of if not the biggest issue which will be on the minds of every Democratic candidate and primary voter will be about the Next Big Thing in U.S. Healthcare policy.

By the time January 20, 2021 rolls around, the Affordable Care Act will be just shy of 11 years old...assuming, that is, that it manages to survive the insanely idiotic #TexasFoldEm lawsuit (as an aside, it looks like the 5th Circuit of Appeals will likely take up the case this July).

The ACA has done a fantastic job of expanding healthcare coverage to over 20 million more people, lowering or eliminating costs for millions of them, and completely changing the zeitgeist about what's acceptable (no longer acceptable: denying coverage to or discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions).

Unfortunately, while it was a major step forward, it was still only a step, and between its intrinsic limitations, original flaws and major incidents of sabotage both passive (refusal to expand Medicaid in many states) and active (the Risk Corridor Massacre, CSR cut-off, mandate repeal, etc), the Democratic base is hungry for a truly universal healthcare coverage system.

And so, the $64,000 question for every 2020 Democratic candidate is whether or not they support "Medicare for All"...and, as a subsection of that, do they insist on "Medicare for All" as the only way forward.

However, there's a ton of confusion about what "Medicare for All" actually means. Some people think it means "Medicare for Everyone". Some assume it means "Medicare for All Who Want it". Some think it means "CURRENT Medicare", which would only cover about 80% of most medical expenses and which includes premiums, co-pays, deductibles and annual/lifetime limits. Others think it means "EXPANDED Medicare", which covers 100% of expenses. And so on, and so on.

In January 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced what he called the "Full" version of a "Medicare for All" single payer healthcare plan, which I tore to shreds for being absurdly vague about almost every detail. A year and a half later, in September 2017, Sanders introduced a fully-detailed version of the plan. While the official legislative text called it the "Medicare for All Act of 2017", the summary called it a "Universal Medicare Program", causing further confusion about semantics and wording.

The bill was co-sponsored by no fewer than 16 other Democratic Senators, including Senators Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Martin Heinrich, Mazie Hirono, Patrick Leahy, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Brian Schatz, Jeanne Shaheen, Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse. At least four are already actively running for President (and likely five assuming Sanders himself jumps in): Sanders, Booker, Gillibrand, Harris and Warren.

Last week, Harris caused a bit of a kerfuffle during a televised Town Hall when she was asked about Medicare for All. It wasn't so much the original question, it was her response to the follow-up by moderator Jake Tapper:

TAPPER: So just to follow up -- so just to follow up on that, and correct me if I'm wrong, to reiterate, you support the Medicare for all bill, I think...

HARRIS: Correct.

TAPPER: ... initially co-sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders. You're also a co-sponsor onto it. I believe it will totally eliminate private insurance. So for people out there who like their insurance, they don't get to keep it?

HARRIS: Well, listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don't have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require. Who of us has not had that situation, where you've got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, well, I don't know if your insurance company is going to cover this? Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on.

TAPPER: All right. Let's go to the next question.

Pretty much everyone took her response to mean that yes, she wants to completely eliminate all private health insurance, even for those who currently "like" their insurance.

The next day, however, she was already backtracking her position (or clarifying it, depending on your POV)...

this has now led to some die-hard Bernie-MFA activists to start attempting to claim that Sanders' bill wouldn't completely eliminate private health insurance.

Bernie Sanders’s estate tax plan would reduce the federal debt and help even the playing field, 2-4-19

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during a news conference at
the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 30. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

IT WILL not be a question of whether prominent 2020 Democratic presidential candidates favor hiking taxes on the very wealthy. It will be a question of how they propose to do it. Sen.?Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) last month suggested a wealth tax of 2 percent per year on fortunes of more than $50 million, an idea that is constitutionally questionable and logistically difficult. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) entered the scene Thursday with a better plan: substantially hiking the estate tax on huge inheritances, an alternative to taxing someone’s fortune during his or her lifetime.

The country has an estate tax, but the rate and the amount exempted from the inheritance tax have bounced around as Republicans and Democrats have fought a tug of war over its terms. The number of estates hit with some level of inheritance tax has plummeted from more than 50,000 in 2001 to fewer than 10,000 in recent years. The 2017 GOP tax law doubled the inheritance tax exemption from $11?million per couple to $22 million per couple, driving the number of estates liable to pay the tax below a negligible 2,000 per year.

This was just the latest victory in Republicans’ push to protect wealthy heirs at the expense of the federal purse, and one of the most obvious giveaways to the superwealthy in the 2017 tax cut law. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out that, even for those heirs getting more than $22?million, the latest estate tax reform amounted to giving them a $4.4 million tax break on the newly exempted portion of their inheritance. The price tag for the federal government is $83 billion over a decade — or, put another way, $83 billion in extra debt over a decade.

Mr. Sanders wants to roll back the GOP reform — and more. He would insist that estates worth more than $3.5 million pay at least 45 percent on money over that threshold, with higher tax brackets scaled to the size of the fortune in question. The rate would be 77 percent — the top rate from 1941 to 1976 — on estates worth more than $1 billion. Because such a plan would spur estate planners to seek legally creative ways to avoid inheritance taxes, Mr. Sanders would also close some loopholes currently used as tax avoidance vehicles. Mr. Sanders estimates that his plan would raise $315 billion over a decade.

That revenue is badly needed. Federal debt as a share of the economy has spiked. Rising generations face huge challenges paying for the health care and pensions of their retiring parents. Meanwhile, the very wealthiest Americans have done extremely well in recent decades, with a drift toward an ever-higher concentration of national wealth at the top. Weak inheritance taxes have contributed to this trend. Critics charge that the estate tax taxes income twice, first when it is earned and second when it is inherited. Yet it also serves as a backstop against avoidance of other types of taxation, in which the wealthy excel.

Rich heirs would still be rich after paying a Sanders tax. But their unearned head start over their less fortunate cohort would be shorter, and the government would have more resources to help promote opportunity for everyone else.

Bernie Sanders could be US president in 2020 – and this is what it means for Israel and the Middle East, By Robert Fisk, January 18, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

If you’re an American, he’s still out there among the “maybe” candidates. But if you live in the Middle East – whether you’re Arab or Israeli, Muslim, Jew or Christian – you should keep your eye on Bernie Sanders.

He’s no shoo-in, of course – certainly not after his pitiful handover to the awful Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election. I still remember shouting “No!” myself when I heard his fans cursing his decision to stand down in favour of Clinton. But the guy just might have the guts, even the courage, to stand up to the ally to whom the US always gives groveling, uncritical, slavish, immoral support.

Note how at this point I don’t need to identify Israel as the ally in question. Nor did I have to mention in my first paragraph that Sanders is one of the two most prominent Jewish members of the US Senate. In fact, Sanders wears his origins, race, religion, social background and integrity so easily that he comes across, even to a cynical European still living in a pre-Brexit world (just), as a patently nice guy. Unlike Donald Trump, he’s sane. But unlike Obama, he’s not so goody-two-shoes or optic-obsessed to think that he can fandangle voters with ageing good looks and the right heart.

It’s one thing for a black candidate to go for the black vote in the US, but for an American Jew to go for the American Jewish vote is a very different matter.

Sanders’ campaign is not just going to be about economics or the futility of Mexican walls. It might well be about Iran. It’s going to raise a lot of questions among the Christian fundamentalists. But, most importantly of all, it’s going to be about Israel. And, if this liberal intellectual is going to be a serious candidate for 2020, he’s going to meet plenty of latent anti-Semitism in the United States. It took long enough for John Kennedy, the first Catholic American to become president, to shake off the claim that he would be more loyal to the Pope than to America.

Just imagine how Sanders will have to confront the same bigots when they insinuate that he’s more loyal to Israel than to his own country. He’s not – as one television presenter once suggested – a dual national. He’s not an Israeli. He’s the child of Polish Jewish immigrants.

“You know,” he told the same television host, “my Dad came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket. He loved this country ... I am, obviously, an American citizen and I do not have any dual citizenship.” He was, he said in a later interview, “proud to be Jewish” but not “particularly religious”. He spent time on an Israeli kibbutz near Haifa in 1963 after college graduation. So did thousands of other Americans and Europeans – and they weren’t all Jewish.

Take a look through his Israel/Palestine CV, and Sanders is clearly neither an aggressive Zionist nor a liberal patsy. He’s a New Deal Democrat, which is how many would judge him. Younger, leftist voters might consider him as a kind of upwardly mobile intellectual, a Chomsky on wheels – even though the great (Jewish) philosopher, activist and linguist said before the last presidential election that he’d vote for Clinton as a frontrunner rather than Sanders in swing states in a final vote to keep Trump out. Much good did that do him.

But let’s remember a few more things about Sanders. He’s always supported the “right of Israel to exist” and its right to self-defence, and he’s always condemned Palestinian attacks on Israelis. But he’s also kept away from pro-Israeli Jewish lobby groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and he didn’t restrain himself when he chose to condemn Israel for its illegal colonial project of building homes for Jews and Jews only in the occupied West Bank, nor when Israel has blatantly interfered in US domestic or electoral politics.

When Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress in 2015 – with the usual Saddam-like standing ovations from American representatives more fearful of being critical of Israel than standing up to the lobby – Sanders skipped the speech. “He [Netanyahu] doesn’t have the right to inject himself into an American political discussion by being the speaker before a joint session of Congress to criticise the United States,” he told CNN. This is breath-of-fresh-air stuff from a leading American politician, even if his 77 years gives Sanders the patina of wisdom – and thus more leeway than usual for a critic of Israel.

The 2014 Gaza war (with its usual exchange rate of 2,100 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, for 72 Israelis) seems to have been a critical moment in the Sanders horror of Israeli-Palestinian killings. He spoke of “the Israeli attacks [sic] that killed hundreds of innocent people – including many women and children” and referred to Israel’s ruthless air strikes as “disproportionate” and “completely unacceptable”. Unlike Hillary Clinton, he didn’t cosy up to AIPAC by speaking at their 2016 policy conference. In the speech he would have given to them, he said that “it is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians.”

But, he added, it was unacceptable for Palestinian “president” Mahmoud Abbas – my inverted commas, here, for a man who has long run out of presidential legality – to “call for the abrogation of the Oslo agreement”. This would make sense – only Abbas had actually threatened Oslo because the continued building of Jewish colonies on Arab land had already effectively destroyed the agreement. And in a later AIPAC-encouraged Senate round robin letter, Sanders appeared to give all the usual caveats to Israel, complaining that the UN delivered disproportionate criticism of Israel and demeaning the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). He later said he didn’t actually write the letter even though he signed it, which was a bit like apologising to the Palestinians after you have thrown them under the proverbial bus.

The nearest he’s got to confronting the great taboo – the sacrosanct economic-military relationship between Israel and America which no candidate ever wants to talk about – was half-Chomsky and half-Obama. “What must be done,” he said, “is that the United States of America must have a Middle East policy which is even-handed, which does not simply supply endless amounts of money, of military support to Israel, but which treats both sides with respect and dignity, and does our best to bring them to the table.”

But he even got a nod of approval from that brilliant grudge Norman Finkelstein when he told J Street liberals that Donald Trump’s support for a peace deal didn’t amount to much. “The real question is: peace on what terms, and under what arrangement? Does ‘peace’ mean that Palestinians will be forced to live under perpetual Israeli rule, in a series of disconnected communities in the West Bank and Gaza? That’s not tolerable, and that’s not peace.

“If Palestinians in the occupied territories are to be denied self-determination in a state of their own, will they receive full citizenship and equal rights in a single state, potentially meaning the end of a Jewish majority state? These are very serious questions with significant implications for America’s broader regional partnerships and goals.”

If you want to see what Sanders is up against in the abuse stakes from American Jews who would definitely not vote for him, you have only to glance at columnist Andrea Peyser’s critique in the New York Post in 2016. “Bernie Sanders is not quite Jewish,” she wrote. “He’s Jew-ish – a non-practising, anti-Israel, kinda, sorta Hebrew ... What’s ‘disproportionate’ about Israel’s self-preserving responses to rocket fire on civilians’ heads, Bernie?” Sanders, she said, had “forged a far-left political brand, siding with Jew-haters and Israel foes, which is redundant”.

But Bernie Sanders can also dish it out. When anti-Israeli audience members interrupted him in Vermont, he told them to shut up – itself a red rag to the super-left, who immediately condemned him for being pro-Israel. He’s talked about the dangers of Hamas, but he’s also condemned proposed US legislation that would punish boycotts against Israel and Israeli colonies on the West Bank (the Israel Anti-Boycott Act) on the grounds that it would harm free speech in America.

He’s now bashing Trump for destroying the Iran nuclear agreement, Saudi Arabia for its Yemen war and Israel for its shooting down of Palestinians on the Gaza Strip fence. He’s even critical of that imperial journalistic messenger Thomas Friedman for blaming the Palestinians for their own suffering. So things can’t be that bad.

Of course we have to remember the numbing sickness of American politics; the absolute need to kowtow to power when there’s no alternative; the use of the word “compromise” instead of capitulation; the personal pressures that might be used against a Jewish presidential contender.

I’m not sure Bernie Sanders can resist all this. I still recall how Judge Richard Goldstone, a fine and decent man whom I wrote of two weeks ago, believed in justice for the Palestinians and wrote so eloquently of their suffering in the 2008-2009 Gaza war in his massive UN report. Yet he, after pressure on him from Jewish groups and from his own Jewish family, then recanted and turned his back on those who trusted him.

Be sure Bernie Sanders knows of Goldstone’s Calvary, but he may be made of sterner stuff. The Arabs will watch Sanders, if they’re wise, though they are still blinded by the Trump bauble. The Israelis, whose lives depend on their future dependence on America as much as their past reliance, may come to fear him.

One certainty is that if Sanders is up for the 2020 race, the US-Israel Middle East collusion is likely to lose its taboo status for a long time to come.


Bernie at Standing Rock

Email from "Jonathen Swein" 12/14/16

The Electoral College is meeting in six days to decide who will be the next president of the United States. Bernie is giving a talk tonight where he will weigh in on whether the electors should reject Trump as a demagogue and allow another canidate to take his place. That candidate could be Pence, Clinton or Bernie!

Already, one Republican elector from a state Trump won has said that he will not cast his vote for Trump—and he says there are others who will not either.

Dump Trump Get Bernie

Several lawsuits have been filed to allow electors to vote their conscience without facing fines or legal punishment. A bipartisan group of electors has sent an open letter to intelligence agencies requesting access to classified information on Russian interference in the election—a request that MoveOn is actively supporting. And this weekend, Representative Jim Himes became one of the first members of Congress to call for the Electoral College to reject Trump.

The Miracle of Bernie’s Candidacy: The Holiday Story You Won’t Be Told By Veena Trehan - January 24, 2016 | Op-Ed

This article examines the forces aligned against Bernie and his agenda: the “establishment” under so much debate recently, institutional obstacles to Bernie’s visibility and the policies he champions, and Hillary’s strategic failures.

BREAKING: Vice Chair of DNC Quits, Endorses Bernie Sanders By NationofChange Staff - February 28, 2016

Bernie's Post-Endorsement Message to His Supporters The following was posted by Bernie Sanders at Medium.com


Just Getting Started...       / Time for US to get to work.

I am writing you today to express my deep pride in the movement?—?the political revolution?—?you and I have created together over the last 15 months. When we began this historic campaign, we were considered fringe players by the political, economic and media establishment. Well, we proved them wrong.

We showed that the American people support a bold, progressive agenda that takes on the billionaire class, that fights for racial, social, economic and environmental justice and that seeks to create a government that works for all of us and not just the big campaign donors.

Most importantly, we elevated the critical issues facing our country?—?issues the establishment has pushed under the rug for too long. We focused attention on the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in this country and the importance of breaking up the large banks who brought our economy to the brink of collapse.

We exposed our horrendous trade policies, our broken criminal justice system, and our people’s lack of access to affordable health care and higher education. We fought aggressively to address the crisis of climate change, the need for real comprehensive immigration reform, the importance of developing a foreign policy that values diplomacy over war, and so much more.

We have shown throughout this election that these are issues that are important to voters and that progressive solutions energize people in the fight for real change. What we have accomplished so far is historic?—?but our work is far from over.

This movement of ours?—?this political revolution?—?must continue. We cannot let all of the momentum we have achieved in the fight to transform America be lost. We will never stop fighting for what is right.

In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the creation of successor organizations to carry on the struggle that we have been a part of these past 15 months. I hope you will continue to be involved in fighting to transform America. Our goal will be to advance the progressive agenda that we believe in and to elect like-minded candidates at the federal, state and local levels who are committed to accomplishing our goals.

"Bernie Sanders brings honesty and compassion to the campaign trail" (Ed Schultz show).

Bernie Sanders, What the Hell Have You Done for Us Lately? By Rockhopperkid Tuesday Oct 06, 2015

The incredible list of Bernie's accomplishments. Outstanding!

What Americans Abroad Know about Bernie Sanders and You Should Know Too By Susan Neiman June 04, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "LA Times"

Sanders won the first global Democratic Party primary by a landslide — 69% of the vote — that the media hardly noted and never analyzed. Democrats Abroad, the overseas arm of the Democratic Party, organized the election, which took place in March, to represent citizens who live outside the U.S., a group the Democratic National Committee considers the 51st state.

Expatriate Democrats could choose to send primary election absentee ballots back to their home states, or they could participate in the global primary, which will send 21 delegates to the party convention in July.

While we are wondering what drives young Latinas or older white men to support this or that candidate, we ought to consider why 69% of Democratic voters who live in 40 countries preferred Bernie Sanders. The answer is quite simple: The Sanders proposals that may strike Americans who have never lived in other countries as impractical and outlandish are simply common sense elsewhere — especially in Canada and Western Europe, where the majority of Democrats Abroad voters live.

Universal healthcare? The U.S. is the only developed country that lacks it. Family leave? While it is nice that San Francisco just mandated six weeks of paid leave for new parents, Germany mandates 14 months — 16 if both parents share the time spent at home.

Free college tuition? Britain recently tripled its college tuition fees, though it’s still the case that a year at Oxford will cost you a fraction of a year at a middling American college. In the rest of Europe, free tuition, and interest-free loans for living expenses, are the rule.

Early in the campaign, Sanders made a rhetorical mistake by appealing to Scandinavia as a model for realizing his proposals. “We are not Denmark,” was Clinton’s withering reply. His choice of such a small country seemed only to underline the impracticality of his proposals for the United States. Why didn’t he name a major player on the world stage?

The obvious choice would be Germany, the world’s fourth-largest economy, which manages to provide its 80 million citizens benefits unheard of in the U.S. Importantly, the word “benefit” isn’t used for these programs. Healthcare, education, publicly sponsored arts and labor regulations that include family leave and long vacations are considered to be rights, not favors.

If you want to understand the difference between our two countries, just try to explain the concept of sick leave to a German. “But what happens to people who are sick for longer than the allotted time?” she will ask you, aghast that Americans find the German system equally incredible: If you’re sick for more than three days, a note from the doctor will be sent to your employer, who cannot legally withhold your salary. Like any system, this one is occasionally abused, but not even Germany’s most business-friendly political party would consider amending it.

Germany is a model worth emulating: Its economy remains one of the strongest to emerge from the 2008 financial crisis. It has managed to preserve much of its manufacturing base in the process of becoming a dominant player in a globalized world. It is a major industrial exporter. Its success has gone hand in hand with laws and practices that American workers, blue collar or white, would be grateful for.

Real knowledge of daily working life abroad has shown expats that the revolution Sanders proposes for the United States could be just a matter of course. Voters at home should take heed.

The Biggest Difference Between Hillary and Bernie? The Real Steps They Will Take to Address America's Inequality Crisis Hillary has no burning desire to reverse runaway inequality by fundamentally reordering the economic system.

As the rich grow richer and corporations grow more powerful, they move their money offshore. The tax burden is shifted to the rest of us as state and local governments lurch from one fiscal crises to the next. As a result the richest country in the history of the world, can't remove lead from its drinking water or provide healthcare for all, or move a quarter of its children above the poverty line.

5 Ways Bernie Sanders Is Leading the Fight Against Big Pharma’s Rip-Offs Sanders has been vocal on the issue for years

Meanwhile, requiring Medicare to “use its bargaining power to negotiate with the prescription drug companies for better prices, a practice that is currently banned by law,” is at the very top of Sanders’ detailed plan to lower prescription drug prices. He also plans to increase competition with Big Pharma by letting individuals, pharmacists and wholesalers in the U.S. import their prescriptions from Canada; restore discounts for low-income seniors; prohibit deals that keep generic drugs off the market; strengthen the penalties for prescription fraud; and require drug companies to be transparent when it comes to the pricing and cost of drugs, i.e. show us exactly what they’re spending the money on.

Hillary Clinton takes more donations from Big Pharma than any other candidate in either party.

Sanders has accepted zero dollars from the pharmaceutical industry.

DNC Vice Chair Resigns, Endorses Sanders, Blasts Clinton's 'Interventionist, Regime Change Policies' Tulsi Gabbard left the Democratic National Committee, which has been accused of pro-Hillary bias, to support Bernie.

Four Horsemen of the Democracy By Robert C. Koehler

“It was also a shock to the system that a candidate universally known in Iowa, with deep pockets and long experience, could come close to losing to a relative unknown who was initially considered little more than a protest candidate.”

Just think of it! The tiny, tightly controlled consciousness that calls itself The World’s Greatest Democracy got all rattled and discombobulated by the behavior of Iowa caucus participants this week, because a large number of them — virtually half of the participating Democrats — cast their vote for an old socialist, well outside the zone of official approval.

The above quote, from the Washington Post, lays painfully bare the scope of awareness considered allowable in the American electoral process. Oh Bernie, with his unrealistic ideas, his idealism, his anger! He was supposed to be fringe — the candidate of the unserious (non-voting) American — but instead his campaign has cut into the mainstream vein, bleeding money from it and now, OMG, actual votes. What’s going on here?

The way I see it, he’s threatening the consensus of ignorance that has congealed over the last four decades around the American political process, especially at the highest levels. Indeed, the consensus is coming apart on its own this election season, even for those who have traditionally embraced it, e.g., the “white middle class,” as conservative writer R.R. Reno notes in a recent New York Times op-ed:

“Our political history since the end of World War II has turned on the willingness of white middle-class voters to rally behind great causes in league with the wealthy and political elite: Resist Communism! Send a man to the moon! Overcome racism! Protect the environment! Today, white middle-class voters want to be reassured that they can play an active role in politics. They want someone to appeal to their sense of political self-worth, not just their interests.

“This is precisely what Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders offer.”

I think it’s bigger than that. The American public is hearing the distant rumble of civilization’s collapse — hearing it beyond the chatter of the boob-tube pundits, beyond our trivialized identity as “consumers.” With the term “sense of political self-worth,” Reno is trying to say that democracy has a deep, spiritual dimension, that politics is about life and death, that our so-called leaders have to pledge a different sort of allegiance than the one they’ve gotten used to. . . that maybe, as a society, we need to start over at some basic level.

This is what a movement is: collective momentum for change, focused around a resonating principle. All people are equal. Violence solves nothing. We must cherish, not exploit, the planet that sustains us. These, at any rate, are some of the core principles that Bernie Sanders is tapping into and animating with his campaign.

A movement is bigger than any given leader, certainly bigger than any politician, but without leadership — and, especially, without some sort of access to the political process — movements can quickly lose momentum and deflate.

This is what happened to the global antiwar movement that preceded George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. No matter that the invasion was an utter disaster from (almost) every point of view — indeed, that it set loose, you might say, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — it has been coddled politically for over a decade now and perpetuated by both a Republican and Democratic presidency. Something is deeply problematic about the democracy both Sanders and Trump are now rocking. Issues of real significance are not up for discussion, and haven’t been for a long time.

Meanwhile, the contemporary Four Horsemen are running loose: War, Poverty, Racism and Climate Change. They may have other names, but these are how they appear to me in my political nightmares. And the riders are human. They’re the ones leading us right now, behind the façade of democracy.

Confronting them — stopping them — will take a movement independent of politics as usual, but not independent of the political process itself. This, I believe and hope, is what Bernie Sanders is bringing to the 2016 presidential race: a public opening into the process now owned by the acolytes and fiscal beneficiaries of the Four Horsemen.

Consider War, a.k.a. militarism: While Sanders is roundly condemned for the cost of his “socialist” ideas, such as universal healthcare and free college tuition, the cost of perpetual war and military readiness — the cost of nukes and surveillance and global domination — never comes up in presidential debates or official political discussions of any sort. This cost manages to be both enormous and almost invisible.

Nicolas J.S. Davies, writing last fall at Huffington Post, points out that the military budget during the Obama administration has averaged $663.4 billion annually. He adds: “These figures do not include additional military-related spending by the VA, CIA, Homeland Security, Energy, Justice or State Departments, nor interest payments on past military spending, which combine to raise the true cost of U.S. militarism to about $1.3 trillion per year, or one thirteenth of the U.S. economy.”

U.S. military spending, as has often been noted, equals or surpasses the annual budgets of the next ten largest military spenders combined. Davies also makes this fascinating point in his essay:

“If we compare U.S. military spending with global military spending, we can see that, as the U.S. cut its military budget by a third between 1985 and 1998, the rest of the world followed suit and global military budgets also fell by a third between 1988 and 1998. But as the U.S. spent trillions of dollars on weapons and war after 2000 . . . both allies and potential enemies again responded in kind. The 92 percent rise in the U.S. military budget by 2008 led to a 65 percent rise in global military spending by 2011.”

U.S. military spending leads the way! A U.S. decision to disarm would also lead the way, but none of this is up for public discussion. Our military spending is silently necessary for the continuation of business as usual. Not only that, it’s never in danger, as, let us say, Social Security is, or any effort to relieve the hell of poverty. The money is always available, no matter the condition of the economy.

This enormous wrong requires direct confrontation by an informed and politically empowered public. Let us make sure that the 2016 presidential race is no less than this.

Four Horsemen of the Democracy By Robert C. Koehler

“It was also a shock to the system that a candidate universally known in Iowa, with deep pockets and long experience, could come close to losing to a relative unknown who was initially considered little more than a protest candidate.”

Just think of it! The tiny, tightly controlled consciousness that calls itself The World’s Greatest Democracy got all rattled and discombobulated by the behavior of Iowa caucus participants this week, because a large number of them — virtually half of the participating Democrats — cast their vote for an old socialist, well outside the zone of official approval.

The above quote, from the Washington Post, lays painfully bare the scope of awareness considered allowable in the American electoral process. Oh Bernie, with his unrealistic ideas, his idealism, his anger! He was supposed to be fringe — the candidate of the unserious (non-voting) American — but instead his campaign has cut into the mainstream vein, bleeding money from it and now, OMG, actual votes. What’s going on here?

The way I see it, he’s threatening the consensus of ignorance that has congealed over the last four decades around the American political process, especially at the highest levels. Indeed, the consensus is coming apart on its own this election season, even for those who have traditionally embraced it, e.g., the “white middle class,” as conservative writer R.R. Reno notes in a recent New York Times op-ed:

“Our political history since the end of World War II has turned on the willingness of white middle-class voters to rally behind great causes in league with the wealthy and political elite: Resist Communism! Send a man to the moon! Overcome racism! Protect the environment! Today, white middle-class voters want to be reassured that they can play an active role in politics. They want someone to appeal to their sense of political self-worth, not just their interests.

“This is precisely what Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders offer.”

I think it’s bigger than that. The American public is hearing the distant rumble of civilization’s collapse — hearing it beyond the chatter of the boob-tube pundits, beyond our trivialized identity as “consumers.” With the term “sense of political self-worth,” Reno is trying to say that democracy has a deep, spiritual dimension, that politics is about life and death, that our so-called leaders have to pledge a different sort of allegiance than the one they’ve gotten used to. . . that maybe, as a society, we need to start over at some basic level.

This is what a movement is: collective momentum for change, focused around a resonating principle. All people are equal. Violence solves nothing. We must cherish, not exploit, the planet that sustains us. These, at any rate, are some of the core principles that Bernie Sanders is tapping into and animating with his campaign.

A movement is bigger than any given leader, certainly bigger than any politician, but without leadership — and, especially, without some sort of access to the political process — movements can quickly lose momentum and deflate.

This is what happened to the global antiwar movement that preceded George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. No matter that the invasion was an utter disaster from (almost) every point of view — indeed, that it set loose, you might say, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — it has been coddled politically for over a decade now and perpetuated by both a Republican and Democratic presidency. Something is deeply problematic about the democracy both Sanders and Trump are now rocking. Issues of real significance are not up for discussion, and haven’t been for a long time.

Meanwhile, the contemporary Four Horsemen are running loose: War, Poverty, Racism and Climate Change. They may have other names, but these are how they appear to me in my political nightmares. And the riders are human. They’re the ones leading us right now, behind the façade of democracy.

Confronting them — stopping them — will take a movement independent of politics as usual, but not independent of the political process itself. This, I believe and hope, is what Bernie Sanders is bringing to the 2016 presidential race: a public opening into the process now owned by the acolytes and fiscal beneficiaries of the Four Horsemen.

Consider War, a.k.a. militarism: While Sanders is roundly condemned for the cost of his “socialist” ideas, such as universal healthcare and free college tuition, the cost of perpetual war and military readiness — the cost of nukes and surveillance and global domination — never comes up in presidential debates or official political discussions of any sort. This cost manages to be both enormous and almost invisible.

Nicolas J.S. Davies, writing last fall at Huffington Post, points out that the military budget during the Obama administration has averaged $663.4 billion annually. He adds: “These figures do not include additional military-related spending by the VA, CIA, Homeland Security, Energy, Justice or State Departments, nor interest payments on past military spending, which combine to raise the true cost of U.S. militarism to about $1.3 trillion per year, or one thirteenth of the U.S. economy.”

U.S. military spending, as has often been noted, equals or surpasses the annual budgets of the next ten largest military spenders combined. Davies also makes this fascinating point in his essay:

“If we compare U.S. military spending with global military spending, we can see that, as the U.S. cut its military budget by a third between 1985 and 1998, the rest of the world followed suit and global military budgets also fell by a third between 1988 and 1998. But as the U.S. spent trillions of dollars on weapons and war after 2000 . . . both allies and potential enemies again responded in kind. The 92 percent rise in the U.S. military budget by 2008 led to a 65 percent rise in global military spending by 2011.”

U.S. military spending leads the way! A U.S. decision to disarm would also lead the way, but none of this is up for public discussion. Our military spending is silently necessary for the continuation of business as usual. Not only that, it’s never in danger, as, let us say, Social Security is, or any effort to relieve the hell of poverty. The money is always available, no matter the condition of the economy.

This enormous wrong requires direct confrontation by an informed and politically empowered public. Let us make sure that the 2016 presidential race is no less than this.

As Trump Surges, New Polls Underscore Corporate Media’s ‘Bernie Blackout’ Posted on Dec 13, 2015 By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

New Wall Street Journal/ NBC News polling numbers out Sunday showed that Donald Trump continues to lead the wide and varied Republican presidential field and—despite increasingly inflammatory rhetoric—reached a new high with 27 percent support.

The latest survey comes on the heels of an analysis by the Tyndall Report which that showed that media coverage of Donald Trump eclipses that of all his rivals from both parties.

According to the study of nightly news programs on NBC, CBS and ABC, Trump has received more network coverage than all the Democratic candidates combined and accounts for 27 percent of all campaign coverage thus far.

What’s more, there appears to be a concerted “blackout” of news about Bernie Sanders, despite similar voter support.

As Eric Boehlert at Media Matters for America pointed out this week, “The network newscasts are wildly overplaying Trump, who regularly attracts between 20-30 percent of primary voter support, while at the same time wildly underplaying Sanders, who regularly attracts between 20-30 percent of primary voter support.”

In fact, ABC World News Tonight devoted a total 81 minutes this year to Donald Trump’s campaign and just about 20 seconds to Sanders’ candidacy—a ratio of 81:1 which Boehlert calls a “stunning revelation.“This comes despite the fact that a recent poll found that Sanders would beat Trump by eight points in the general election.

Fighting Back, Students Rise Nationwide to Demand Debt-Free Higher Ed byDeirdre Fulton Published on Thursday, November 12, 2015 byCommon Dreams. "The United States is the richest country in the world, yet students have to take on crippling debt in order to get a college education."

Galvanized by a key plank in Bernie Sanders' presidential platform, current and former students from hundreds of colleges coast to coast are holding walk-outs, rallies, and marches on Thursday to call for tuition-free public college, a cancellation of all student debt, and a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers.

Noting that more than 40 million Americans share a total of $1.2 trillion in student debt and 58 percent of that is held by the poorest 25 percent of Americans, the organizers chastise "establishment politicians" for failing to take action in the face of what they call an "urgent crisis."

"Today we are dealing with a curriculum that reflects a corporate agenda, outrageous university tuitions and fees, massive student debt, and a K-12 public education system under attack by budget cuts, charter schools, standardized tests, and the school-to-prison-pipeline."

What Socialism Means to Bernie Sanders—and You Posted on Nov 6, 2015 By Joe Conason

Since the advent of the Cold War, and even before then, the multifarious meanings of the S-word were hidden behind the ideological and cultural defenses erected against communism. The Soviet dictatorship and its satellites claimed their authoritarian way was the only true socialism—and conservatives in the West seized that self-serving claim to crush arguments for social justice and progressive governance. American politicians of both parties embraced the blurring of socialism with communism, rejecting both.

But that narrow definition of socialism was always wrong. To accept it meant to ignore fundamental realities, both contemporary and historical—such as the bolstering of the Western alliance by European democracies that called themselves socialist or social democratic, all of which had adopted programs, such as universal health care, denounced by American politicians as steps on the road to Communist serfdom. Decades later, of course, those same countries—including all of Scandinavia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom—remain democratic, free and open to business.

As for the United States, Sanders might recall that this country once had a thriving Socialist Party, which elected mayors in cities like Milwaukee and even sent two of its leaders, Milwaukee’s Victor Berger and New York’s Meyer London, to Congress. Their movement enjoyed not only electoral victories but also a strong record of municipal reform and reconstruction. They built sewers to clean up industry’s legacy of pollution; they built public housing; they ensured delivery of publicly owned, affordable water and power; and they cleaned up local government.

Chris Hedges: What It Means to Be a Socialist Chris Hedges gave this speech Sunday at a Santa Ana, Calif., event sponsored by the Green Party of Orange County.

We live in a revolutionary moment. The disastrous economic and political experiment that attempted to organize human behavior around the dictates of the global marketplace has failed. The promised prosperity that was to have raised the living standards of workers through trickle-down economics has been exposed as a lie. A tiny global oligarchy has amassed obscene wealth, while the engine of unfettered corporate capitalism plunders resources, exploits cheap, unorganized labor and creates pliable, corrupt governments that abandon the common good to serve corporate profit.

The relentless drive by the fossil fuel industry for profits is destroying the ecosystem, threatening the viability of the human species. And no mechanisms to institute genuine reform or halt the corporate assault are left within the structures of power, which have surrendered to corporate control. The citizen has become irrelevant. He or she can participate in heavily choreographed elections, but the demands of corporations and banks are paramount.

We will, as Friedrich Engels wrote, make a transition to either socialism or barbarism. If we do not dismantle global capitalism we will descend into the Hobbesian chaos of failed states, mass migrations—which we are already witnessing—and endless war. Populations, especially in the global South, will endure misery and high mortality rates caused by collapsing ecosystems and infrastructures on a scale not seen since perhaps the black plague. There can be no accommodation with global capitalism. We will overthrow this system or be crushed by it. And at this moment of crisis we need to remind ourselves what being a socialist means and what it does not mean.

First and foremost, all socialists are unequivocal anti-militarists and anti-imperialists. They understand that there is no genuine social, political, economic or cultural reform as long as the militarists and their corporatist allies in the war industry continue to loot and pillage the state budget, leaving the poor to go hungry, workingmen and -women in distress, the infrastructure to collapse and social services to be slashed in the name of austerity.

The psychosis of permanent war, which infected the body politic after World War I with the internal and external war on communism, and which today has mutated into the war on terror, is used by the state to strip us of civil liberties, redirect our resources to the war machine and criminalize democratic dissent.

We have squandered trillions of dollars and resources in endless and futile wars, from Vietnam to the Middle East, at a time of ecological and fiscal crisis. The folly of endless war is one of the signs of a dying civilization. One F-22 Raptor fighter plane costs $350 million. We have 187 of them. One Tomahawk cruise missile costs $1.41 million. We fired 161 of them when we attacked Libya. This missile attack on Libya alone cost us a quarter of a billion dollars. We spend an estimated $1.7 trillion a year on war, far more than the official 54 percent of discretionary spending, or roughly $600 billion. If we don’t break the back of the war machine, profound change will be impossible.

The human cost has been horrendous. Over 1 million dead in Iraq. Millions more are displaced or are refugees. Iraq will never be reconstituted as a unified state. And it was our war industry that created the mess. We attacked a country that did not threaten us, and had no intention of threatening its neighbors, and destroyed one of the most modern infrastructures in the Middle East. We brought not only terror and death—including the Shiite death squads we armed and trained—but power outages, food shortages and the collapse of basic services, from garbage collection to sewer and water treatment. We dismantled Iraq’s institutions, disbanded its security forces, threw its health service into crisis and engineered massive poverty and unemployment. And out of the chaos rose insurgents, gangsters, kidnapping rings, jihadists and rogue paramilitary groups—including our hired mercenaries, like [the current army of] Iraq.

Foreign battlefields are laboratories for the architects of industrial slaughter. They perfect the tools of control and annihilation on the demonized and the destitute. But these tools eventually make their way back to the heart of empire. As the corporatists and the militarists disembowel the nation, rendering our manufacturing centers boarded-up wastelands and tossing our citizens into poverty and despair, the methods of subjugation familiar to those on the outer reaches migrate back to us—wholesale surveillance, indiscriminate use of lethal force in the streets of our cities against unarmed citizens, a stripping away of our civil liberties, a dysfunctional court system, drones, arbitrary arrest, detention and mass incarceration.

Democracy is snuffed out. As the German socialist Karl Liebknecht said during the First World War: “The main enemy is at home.” We will destroy the engines of endless war and shut down the war profiteers or we will become the next victims; indeed many in our marginal communities already are its victims.

You cannot be a socialist and an imperialist. You cannot, as Bernie Sanders has done, support the Obama administration’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and be a socialist. You cannot, as Sanders has done, vote for every military appropriations bill, including every bill and resolution that empowers and sanctions Israel to carry out its slow-motion genocide of the Palestinian people, and be a socialist. And you cannot laud, as Sanders has done, military contractors because they bring jobs to your state. Sanders may have the rhetoric of inequality down, but he is a full-fledged member of the Democratic Caucus, which kneels before the war industry and their lobbyists. And no genuine grass-roots movement will ever be born within the bowels of the Democratic Party establishment, which is currently attempting to shut down Sanders to make sure its anointed candidate is the nominee. No elected official dares to challenge any weapons system, no matter how costly or redundant. And Sanders, who votes with the Democrats 98 percent of the time, steers clear of confronting the master of war.

There is a reason no establishment politician, including Sanders, dares say a word against the war industry. If you do, you end up like Ralph Nader, tossed into the political wilderness. Nader was not afraid to speak this truth. And it is in the wilderness, I am afraid, that real socialists must for the moment reside. Socialists understand that if we do not dismantle the war industry, nothing, absolutely nothing, will change; indeed, things will only get worse.

War is a business. Imperial wars seize natural resources on behalf of corporations and ensure the profits of the arms industry. This is as true in Iraq as it was in our campaigns of genocide against Native Americans. And, as A. Philip Randolph said, it is only when it is impossible to profit from war that wars will be dramatically curtailed, if not stopped.

War, wrapped in the cant of nationalism and the euphoria that comes with the giddy celebration of power and violence, is used by ruling elites to thwart and destroy the aspirations of workingmen and -women and distract us from our disempowerment.

Eugene V. Debs--“I have been accused of obstructing the war,” Debs said in court. “I admit it. I abhor war. I would oppose war if I stood alone.”

Debs, who would spend 32 months in prison, until 1921, also delivered to many a socialist credo at his sentencing after being found guilty of violating the Espionage Act:

“Your honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

The redirecting of national frustrations and emotions into the struggle against a common enemy, the cant of patriotism, the endemic racism that is the fuel of all ideologies that sustain war, the false bonding that comes with the sense of comradeship, seduces those on the margins of society. They feel in wartime that they belong. They feel they have a place. They are offered the chance to be heroes. And off they march like sheep to the slaughter. By the time they find out, it is too late.

“War,” as Randolph Bourne wrote, “is the health of the state.” It allows the state to accrue to itself power and resources that in peacetime a citizenry would never permit. And that is why the war state, like the one we live in, has to make certain that we are always afraid.

The manufacturing of weapons systems and the waging of war is today the chief activity of the state. It is no longer one among other means of advancing the national interest, as Simone Weil pointed out, but has become the sole national interest.

The radicals, such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), or Wobblies, founded by Mother Jones and Big Bill Haywood in 1905, were destroyed by the state. Department of Justice agents in 1912 made simultaneous raids on 48 IWW meeting halls across the country and arrested 165 IWW union leaders. One hundred one went to trial, including Big Bill Haywood, who testified for three days. One of the IWW leaders told the court:

"This war is a business man’s war and we don’t see why we should go out and get shot in order to save the lovely state of affairs that we now enjoy."

The Wobblies once led strikes involving hundreds of thousands of workers and preached an uncompromising doctrine of class warfare. It went the way of the passenger pigeon. The Socialist Party by 1912 had 126,000 members, 1,200 officeholders in 340 municipalities, and 29 English and 22 foreign-language weeklies, along with three English and six foreign-language dailies. It included in its ranks tenant farmers, garment workers, railroad workers, coal miners, hotel and restaurant workers, dock workers and lumberjacks. It too was liquidated by the state. Socialist leaders were jailed or deported. Socialist publications such as The Masses and Appeal to Reason were banned. The assault, aided later by McCarthyism, has left us without the vocabulary to make sense of our own reality, to describe the class war being waged against us by our corporate oligarchs.

We will regain this militancy, this uncompromising commitment to socialism, or the system the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism” will establish the most efficient security and surveillance state in human history and a species of neofeudalism. We must stop pouring our energy into mainstream political campaigns. The game is rigged.

We will rebuild our radical movements or become hostages to the capitalists and the war industry. Fear is the only language the power elite understands. This is a dark fact of human nature. It is why Richard Nixon was our last liberal president. Nixon was not a liberal [personally]. He was devoid of empathy and lacked a conscience. But he was frightened of movements. You do not make your enemy afraid by selling out. You make your enemy afraid by refusing to submit, by fighting for your vision and by organizing. It is not our job to take power. It is our job to build movements to keep power in check. Without these movements nothing is possible.

“You get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it,” Malcolm X said. “When you get that kind of attitude, they’ll label you as a ‘crazy Negro,’ or they’ll call you a “crazy nigger”—they don’t say Negro. Or they’ll call you an extremist or a subversive, or seditious, or a red, or a radical. But when you stay radical long enough, and get enough people to be like you, you’ll get your freedom."

The New Deal—which as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a charter member of the oligarchic class, said—saved capitalism, was put in place because socialists were strong and a serious threat. The oligarchs understood that with the breakdown of capitalism—something I expect we will again witness in our lifetimes—there was a real possibility of a socialist revolution. They were terrified they would lose their wealth and power.

In other words, Roosevelt went to his fellow oligarchs and said hand over some of your money or you will lose all your money in a revolution. And his fellow capitalists complied. And that is how the government created 15 million jobs, Social Security, unemployment benefits and public works projects. The capitalists did not do this because the suffering of the masses moved them. They did this because they were scared. And they were scared of radicals and socialists.

George Bernard Shaw got it right in his play “Major Barbara.” The greatest crime is poverty. It is the crime every socialist is dedicated to eradicating.

We must stop looking for our salvation in strong leaders. Strong people, as Ella Baker said, do not need strong leaders. Politicians, even good politicians, play the game of compromise and are too often seduced by the privileges of power. Sanders, from all I can tell, began his political life as a socialist in the 1960s when this was hardly a bold political statement, but quickly figured out he was not going to have a seat at the table if he remained one. He wants his seniority in the Senate. He wants his committee chairmanships. He wants his ability to retain his seat unchallenged. This was no doubt politically astute. But in this process he sold us out.

Integrity and courage are powerful weapons. We have to learn how to use them. We have to stand up for what we believe in. And we have to accept the risks and even the ridicule that comes with this stance. We will not prevail any other way.

As a socialist I am not concerned with what is expedient or what is popular. I am concerned with what is right. I am concerned with holding fast to the core ideals of socialism, if for no other reason than keeping this option alive for future generations. And these ideals are the only ones that make possible a better world.

If you will not call for an arms embargo along with the boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, you are not a socialist. If you will not demand we dismantle our military establishment, which is managing the government’s wholesale surveillance of every citizen and storing all our personal information in perpetuity in government computer banks, and if you will not abolish the for-profit arms industry, you are not a socialist.

If you will not call for the prosecution of those leaders, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who engage in aggressive acts of pre-emptive war, which under post-Nuremberg laws is a criminal act, you are not a socialist. If you will not stand with the oppressed across the globe you are not a socialist.

Socialists do not pick and choose whom among the oppressed it is convenient to support. Socialists understand that you stand with all the oppressed or none of the oppressed, that this is a global fight for life against global corporate tyranny. We will win only when we stand together, when we see the struggle of workingmen in Greece, Spain and Egypt as our own struggle.

If you will not call for full employment and unionized workplaces you are not a socialist. If you will not call for inexpensive mass transit, especially in impoverished communities, you are not a socialist. If you will not call for universal, single-payer health care and a banning of for-profit health care corporations you are not a socialist. If you will not raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour you are not a socialist.

If you are not willing to provide a weekly income of $600 to the unemployed, the disabled, stay-at-home parents, the elderly and those unable to work you are not a socialist. If you will not repeal anti-union laws, like the Taft-Hartley Act, and trade agreements from NAFTA to the TPP and CAFTA, you are not a socialist. If you will not guarantee all Americans a pension in old age you are not a socialist.

If you will not support two years of paid maternity leave, as well as shorter workweeks with no loss in pay and benefits, you are not a socialist. If you will not repeal the Patriot Act and Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act as well as halt government spying on citizens, along with mass incarceration, you are not a socialist.

If you will not put into place laws that prohibit all forms of male violence against women and criminalize the trafficking and pimping out of prostituted girls and women, while not criminalizing the exploited girls and women, you are not a socialist. If you do not support a woman’s right to control her own body you are not a socialist. If you do not support full equality for our GBLT community you are not a socialist.

If you will not declare global warming a national and global emergency and divert our energy and resources to saving the planet through public investment in renewable energy and an end to our reliance on fossil fuels you are not a socialist. If you will not nationalize public utilities, including the railroads, energy companies and banks, you are not a socialist. If you will not support government funding for the arts and public broadcasting to create places where creativity, self-expression and voices of dissent can be heard and seen you are not a socialist.

If you will not terminate our nuclear weapons programs and build a nuclear-free world you are not a socialist. If you will not demilitarize our police, meaning that police no longer carry weapons when they patrol our streets but rely on specialized armed units that have to be authorized case-by-case to use lethal force, you are not a socialist.

If you will not support government training and rehabilitation programs for the poor and those in our prisons, along with the abolition of the death penalty, you are not a socialist.

If you will not grant full citizenship to undocumented workers you are not a socialist. If you do not declare a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions you are not a socialist.

If you will not provide free education from day care to university, and forgive all student debt, you are not a socialist. And if you will not provide free, state-run mental health care, especially for those now caged in our prisons, you are not a socialist. If you will not dismantle our empire and bring our soldiers and Marines home you are not a socialist.

Socialists do not sacrifice the weak and the vulnerable, especially children, on the altars of profit. And the measure of a successful society for a socialist is not the GDP or the highs of the stock market but the right of everyone, especially children, never go to bed hungry, to live in safety and security, to be nurtured and educated, and to grow up fulfill his or her potential. Work is not only about a wage, it is about dignity and a sense of self-worth.

I am not naive about the forces arrayed against us. I understand the difficulty of our struggle. But we will never succeed if we attempt to accommodate the current structures of power. Our strength lies in our steadfastness and our integrity. It lies in our ability to hold fast to our ideals, as well as our willingness to sacrifice for those ideals. We must refuse to cooperate.... We must rebel.

I cannot promise you we will win. I cannot promise you we will even survive as a species. But I can promise you that an open and sustained defiance of global capitalism and the merchants of death, along with the building of a socialist movement, is our only hope. I am a parent, as are many of you. We have betrayed our children. We have squandered their future. And if we rise up, even if we fail, future generations, and especially those who are most precious to us, will be able to say we tried, that we stood up and fought for life. The call to resistance, which will require civil disobedience and jail time, is finally a call to the moral life. Resistance is not about what we achieve, but about what it allows us to become. In the end, I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.

What ‘The Wall Street Journal’ Gets Totally Wrong About Bernie Sanders’s Agenda ? The Journal wants to shock and awe voters with big numbers, but Sanders’s proposals would save America big bucks.

This week, The Wall Street Journal dropped a terrifyingly large number on Senator Bernie Sanders’s upstart campaign, warning that his proposals would carry a “price tag” of $18 trillion over a 10-year period. It’s a number designed to shock and awe and discourage voters from giving the social democrat’s ideas a close look.

But according to the very data cited by The Journal’s Laura Meckler, Sanders’s highly progressive proposals wouldn’t cost the United States a single penny, on net, over that 10-year window. In fact, they’d cost less, overall, than what we’d spend without them.

It’s not hard to understand why. The lion’s share of the “cost”—$15 trillion—would pay for opening up Medicare to Americans of all ages. (Meckler notes that Sanders hasn’t released a detailed proposal, so she relies on an analysis of HR 676, Representative John Conyers’s Medicare-for-all bill.)

Rather than cost us more as a society, this proposal would only shift spending from businesses and households to the federal government by replacing our current patchwork system of public and private insurance with a single, more efficient system of financing.


9/15/15 email from Bernie:

I don’t have a Super PAC, Colby. I am not going to travel around the country begging millionaires and billionaires for money. That’s just not going to happen. But the success of our campaign certainly has the billionaires' attention. Yesterday, one of Hillary Clinton’s most prominent Super PACs attacked our campaign pretty viciously. They suggested I’d be friendly with Middle East terrorist organizations, and even tried to link me to a dead communist dictator. It was the kind of onslaught I expected to see from the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson, and it’s the second time a billionaire Super PAC has tried to stop the momentum of the political revolution we’re building together.

Bernie in the Lion’s Den The socialist senator from Vermont wasn’t exactly eaten alive at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg.

Sanders made no effort to paper over the political divide between his vision of a just society and the values inculcated by a university that describes itself as “a Christian academic university” in the evangelical tradition. “I believe in a woman’s right to control her own body,” he began. “I believe in gay rights, and gay marriage.” The small but spirited contingent of Sanders supporters, some of whom had driven from Tennessee and West Virginia to be there, erupted in cheers. Sanders continued: “We disagree on those issues. I get that. But let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and the world and that maybe, just maybe, we don’t disagree on them.”

? His voice hoarse but powerful, Sanders preached a sermon on the theme of rampant injustice, citing Matthew 7:12 (the Golden Rule) and Amos 5:24 (“let justice roll down like waters”). But if the texts were familiar, the lessons were not. The Vermonter’s declaration that any country that cared about all its children would guarantee them healthcare as a human right got just scattered applause.

? But if his attacks on corporate greed, inequality, and the excessive power of the 1 percent mostly fell on stony soil—afterward a young woman told me “those people had to work hard to make that money” and that poor people “were part of God’s plan”—Sanders did find some common ground with his audience. When he said that racism was part of America’s past, but that today racism, racial discrimination, and racist attacks on foreigners or immigrants were “completely unacceptable in America,” the audience cheered.

Poll: Support for Sanders climbs as Clinton takes a dip Bernie Sanders is gaining ground on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, according to a new CNN/ORC poll, which shows support for the Vermont senator has grown 10 points since July.

Sanders’s surge coincides with a nine-point drop in support for the former secretary of state, bringing Clinton’s favorability among likely Democratic voters below 50 percent for the first time since she entered the race.

While Clinton has been busy defending her email practices, Sanders has been touring the country like a 73-year-old liberal rock star, drawing tens of thousands of people to campaign rallies whose attendance rivals those of Barack Obama in 2007. After he addressed a large crowd at last week’s Iowa State Fair — where Clinton chose not to speak — an informal poll of fairgoers saw Sanders surpassed Clinton as their preferred Democratic candidate.

We’re NOT Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon Instead, I strongly agree with St. Clair and Frank that the conventional ways of supporting Sanders, unaided by something sharper-edged, are doomed to failure, perhaps not even the memorable failure that would make Sanders at least a “beautiful loser” in Leonard Cohen’s sense. But I, as both leftist and regular CounterPunch reader, sense the left is making a tragic mistake in not recognizing Bernie Sanders as a unique presidential candidate, running under unique historic circumstances, who could reap unprecedented gains for the left—provided our support is tailored to the singularity of both candidate and circumstances.

Enlisting a larger sector of the left in support of Sanders is critical to increasing radicalism among his devotees. And that radicalism, in turn, is utterly essential to securing leftists “bang for our Bernie buck.”

Bernie Sanders Explains Why You Should Care About What’s Happening to Greece ?He really does sound like a socialist, doesn’t he?

Bernie dropped off the campaign schedule on Thursday to reach out to the people of Greece. Far as I know, Greeks don’t get to vote in US primaries, but never mind. Bernie wanted to address their sorrows.

“I am expressing solidarity with the people of Greece in a time of cruel and counter-productive policies,” he declared at conference he arranged on Capitol Hill. Sanders called it a full-blown “humanitarian crisis” that other nations, including America, must not ignore; 26 percent unemployment, 30 percent in poverty, 50-60 percent of young people without jobs. Yet the financial masters of Europe (the bankers who lent Greece all the money in the first place) are imposing a new round of crippling austerity—deeper suffering—in effort to get their money back.

The Revolt Against the Ruling Class by Robert Reich

“He can’t possibly win the nomination,” is the phrase heard most often when Washington insiders mention either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

Yet as enthusiasm for the bombastic billionaire and the socialist senior continues to build within each party, the political establishment is mystified.

Political insiders don’t see that the biggest political phenomenon in America today is a revolt against the “ruling class” of insiders that have dominated Washington for more than three decades.

In two very different ways, Trump and Sanders are agents of this revolt.

What’s new is the degree of anger now focused on those who have had power over our economic and political system since the start of the 1980s.

Included are presidents and congressional leaders from both parties, along with their retinues of policy advisors, political strategists, and spin-doctors.

Most have remained in Washington even when not in power, as lobbyists, campaign consultants, go-to lawyers, financial bundlers, and power brokers.

The other half of the ruling class comprises the corporate executives, Wall Street chiefs, and multi-millionaires who have assisted and enabled these political leaders – and for whom the politicians have provided political favors in return.

America has long had a ruling class but the public was willing to tolerate it during the three decades after World War II, when prosperity was widely shared and when the Soviet Union posed a palpable threat. Then, the ruling class seemed benevolent and wise.

Yet in the last three decades – when almost all the nation’s economic gains have gone to the top while the wages of most people have gone nowhere – the ruling class has seemed to pad its own pockets at the expense of the rest of America.

We’ve witnessed self-dealing on a monumental scale – starting with the junk-bond takeovers of the 1980s, followed by the Savings and Loan crisis, the corporate scandals of the early 2000s (Enron, Adelphia, Global Crossing, Tyco, Worldcom), and culminating in the near meltdown of Wall Street in 2008 and the taxpayer-financed bailout.

Progressives Need to Be More Radical Than Bernie Sanders—Here’s Why None of the 2016 presidential candidates’ approaches to politics will fix this country; they won’t even come close, argues Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect. Kuttner then goes on to list all the issues that ail the economy and the “radical reform” that needs to take place.

To remedy the problem of income inequality would require radical reform both of the rules of finance and of our tax code, as well as drastic changes in labor market regulation so that employees of hybrids such as Uber and TaskRabbit would have both decent earnings and the protections of regular payroll employees.

Congress would have to blow up the sequester deal that makes it impossible to invest money on the scale necessary to repair broken infrastructure and deal with the challenge of climate change.

But the reforms needed to restore that degree of shared prosperity are somewhere to the left of Bernie Sanders.

Video: Ralph Nader on Bernie Sanders’ Presidential Bid & His Unanswered Letters to the White House transcript of video:

AMY GOODMAN: In the last few weeks, a new person has thrown his hat into the ring in the Democratic Party, and that is independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Since Sanders announced his candidacy in April, polls in Iowa show support there for him has increased [to] 15 percent among Democrats, up from 5 percent in February. This compares to about 60 percent backing for former secretary of state, senator and first lady Hillary Clinton. Senator Sanders is the longest-serving independent member of Congress in U.S. history, yet he is going to run in the Democratic Party for the Democratic nomination. He says he’ll run as Democratic Socialist.

Well, Juan González and I recently discussed Sanders’ plans with former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who has new book out called Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President, 2001-2015. We began by asking Ralph Nader, who ran several times as a third-party candidate, for his response to Sanders’ decision to make a bid for the Democratic nomination.

RALPH NADER: Well, that’s always been a dilemma he’s been deliberating for the last year or so. If he runs as an independent, he can go to November. If he runs as a registered Democrat, he’s done in April or May, assuming he doesn’t defeat Hillary Clinton or others, but he gets on the televised primaries. Where as an independent he could be marginalized, as a Democrat he’s going to get on quite a few debates and in the primary. But he will be asked—if not very soon, he will be asked, "Will you endorse the nominee of the Democratic Party if it’s Hillary Clinton?" And if he says no, he may be actually kept off the debates. The debates are controlled by a corporation, known as the Democratic Party. They kept Dennis Kucinich off some of the debates. It’s completely within their power to do that.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Did you have any discussions with him about that choice? And did you give him any advice? RALPH NADER: Bernie Sanders does not answer my calls. Fifteen years, he’s never answered a telephone call, never replied to a letter, never replied to a meeting that I wanted to go down and see him. I even had to write an article on this, called "Bernie, We Thought We Knew Ye!" One of the problems he’s going to face, other than his good graces in Vermont, is that he doesn’t have good political antennae. He doesn’t have political social graces. And he’s going to have to change that. A lot of his friends have told me that that’s a problem. But most progressive senators don’t really respond to any progressive group that tries to push him to do more than they want to do. I wrote nine letters to nine progressive senators, like Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and saying, "Look, you’re all lone rangers doing good things, but you’re going nowhere. So why don’t you get together into a caucus of nine, 10, 12 senators in the Senate and push a unified agenda on poverty, on labor, on the environment, on trade, on military policy? You might really get somewhere. At the least, you’ll raise these issues more prominently." Not a single response. Called up, said, "Would they respond?" Not a single response. I did finally have to go down and meet with the general counsel for Senator Warren. But by and large, that’s the problem with the left. That’s the problem of progressives. They don’t link with one another. You never see Heritage Foundation or Cato or all these right-wing groups tolerate members of Congress treating them that way who are supposed to be on their side.

Bernie Sanders' Great Response on Racism and Inequality He linked police violence against individuals to “the violence of economic deprivation” visited upon the same communities of color.

Sander was the first candidate to speak out against the arrest of Sandra Bland, who died in police custody in Waller County, Texas, earlier this month. In a statement released last Tuesday, Sanders denounced the “totally outrageous police behavior” recorded in the video of Bland’s arrest, and cited it as evidence of “why we need real police reform.”

U.S. Presidential Candidate Draws Army of 100,000 Volunteers to First Nationwide Organizing Event Over 100,000 people came together for Bernie Sanders' first nationwide organizing event on Wednesday. Sanders spoke to this army of volunteers via a video livestream, telling them they are needed if he is to overcome the power of what he calls the “billionaire class” – the tight group of the wealthy and corporations that own both the economy and political system.

Where are the Best and the Brightest When America Desperately Needs Them? Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running and Senator Elizabeth Warren who is not, would certainly qualify as being in the company of the best and brightest of Americans; they have been bringing a new and exciting message to Americans; a message that has the potential to ignite the massive power of the American people to demand that this government dramatically change its objectives and direction; yes this can happen if the people are inspired and led by strong courageous leaders who connect with them; who can relate to their growing anger and frustrations. If this power of the people is ignited and energized then this movement will become unstoppable.

This political revolution can happen as the presidential candidacy of Senator Sanders is gathering steam and momentum and we are seeing his populist message resonate with many thousands of people who have desperately been looking for new leadership.

Bernie Sanders Takes His Populism to the Red States and Draws Huge Crowd

Why Bernie Sanders Got Twice as Much Applause as Hillary Clinton When He Spoke to La Raza Sanders' speech to the nation's largest Latino civil rights organization was notable because he confronted the "stain of racism," his father’s immigrant experience and his impoverished upbringing, and he went into greater detail than Clinton about what federal government could and should do to create more dignity and economic security for individuals and families.

The Nation: Bernie Sanders Speaks In his most revealing interview, the socialist presidential candidate sets out his vision for America.

Two months into the campaign, however, everything about this candidacy—the crowds, the poll numbers, the buzz—is bigger than expected. That says something about Sanders. But it also says something about the prospects for progressive politics.

Bernie: Do you know what real African-American youth unemployment is? It’s over 50 percent. Families with a member 55 or older have literally nothing saved for retirement. Workers are worried about their jobs ending up in China. They’re worried about being fired when they’re age 50 and being replaced at half-wages by somebody who is 25. They’re disgusted with the degree that billionaires are able to buy elections. They are frightened by the fact that we have a Republican Party that refuses to even recognize the reality of climate change, let alone address this huge issue.

?The other thing, to be frank, that does trouble me is that there is so little discussion about African-American youth unemployment. How do you discuss Ferguson and not know that, in that particular community, unemployment is off the charts? How do you discuss Baltimore and not know that, in that particular community, unemployment is off the charts? African-American youth unemployment in this country is 50 percent, and one out of three African-American males born today stands the possibility of ending up in jail if present trends continue. This is a disaster. So, of course, we’ve got to talk about police brutality; of course, we’ve got to talk about reforming our criminal-justice system; of course, we’ve got to make sure that we are educating our kids and giving them job training and not sending them to jail. But I get a little distressed that people are not talking about what I consider to be a huge problem: How do you not talk about African-American youth unemployment at 50 percent?

Sanders: Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, often criticizes President Obama, incorrectly, for trying to push “European-style socialism,” and McConnell says the American people don’t want it. First of all, of course, Obama is not trying to push European-style socialism. Second of all, I happen to believe that, if the American people understood the significant accomplishments that have taken place under social-democratic governments, democratic-socialist governments, labor governments throughout Europe, they would be shocked to know about those accomplishments. One of the goals of this campaign is to advance that understanding…. How many Americans know that in virtually every European country, when you have a baby, you get guaranteed time off and, depending on the country, significant financial benefits as well. Do the American people know that? I doubt it. Do the American people even know that we’re the only major Western industrialized country that doesn’t guarantee healthcare for all? Most people don’t know that. Do the American people know that in many countries throughout Europe, public colleges and universities are either tuition-free or very inexpensive?

I have always believed that the countries in Scandinavia have not gotten the kind of honest recognition they deserve for the extraordinary achievements they have made…. The Danish ambassador, whom I talked to a couple of years ago, said to me that in Denmark it is very, very hard to be poor; you really have to literally want to be outside of the system. Well, that’s pretty good. In Denmark, all of their kids can go to college; not only do they go for free, they actually get stipends. Healthcare is, of course, a right for all people. They have a very strong childcare system, which to me is very important. Their retirement system is very strong. They are very active in trying to protect their environment…. And, by the way, the voter turnout in those countries is much higher; in Denmark, in the last election, it was over 80 percent. Political consciousness is much higher than it is in the United States. It’s a more vibrant democracy in many respects. So why would I not defend that? Do they think I’m afraid of the word? I’m not afraid of the word.

...we have to push harder: We have to fight against this politics of division that seeks to divide working families, that disrespects hard work, that disrespects the contributions immigrant workers make to our economy. This politics of division doesn’t fix anything; it just makes it easier to exploit millions of workers who are vulnerable because of their undocumented status. We have to address that exploitation and end it. We also have to speak about who benefits from that exploitation: the same corporations that we see pushing these race-to-the-bottom policies. Instead of trying to divide workers, which is the oldest story in the book, we’ve got to be focused on uniting them, and the way to do that is by saying, “Look, the problem isn’t with this group of workers or that group of workers. The problem is with the corporations and the policies that make the exploitation possible.” We’re going to talk a lot about that in this campaign.

?Sanders: I did vote against the Patriot Act. I said at the time that it gave the government far too much power to spy on innocent Americans, and I believe I’ve been proven right about that. What frustrates me is this false choice that says the United States of America cannot pursue terrorists and protect people from harm while still respecting the Constitution and civil liberties. I didn’t believe that was the case in 2001, and I do not believe that is the case now. So I’ve raised these issues, and I will continue to raise them. And one other thing: I believe it’s important—vitally important—to recognize that it isn’t only what the federal government does that should concern us. We have to recognize that corporations collect huge amounts of data on us. There is no question in my mind that technology is outpacing public policy in this area, and I do not think we should be casual about this or say that it’s something we should let the corporations figure out. We should all be talking about this—about how we’re going to maintain our privacy rights in very rapidly changing times.

?I’ve been very involved in the fight to maintain net neutrality. This is about the free flow of information, the free flow of ideas, on the Internet. If we let corporations put a price tag on that, so that some ideas move more quickly than other ideas because a billionaire is paying for an advantage, that changes the debate in a way that harms democracy. This is common sense, and we’ve had some success in defending net neutrality—but we have to be vigilant. These fights over communication policy are really fights about how our democracy is going to function—if it is going to function—in the 21st century.

?I’m the ranking member on the Budget Committee. The Republican budget gave over $200 billion in tax breaks over a 10-year period to the wealthiest two-tenths of 1 percent—massive cuts in Medicare, massive cuts in Medicaid, massive cuts in education, threw 27 million people off their health insurance. That is the Republican budget. That is what they believe…. This is a fact. That’s exactly what their budget did.

?The Republicans get away with murder because what they do and what they want is not seen, is not understood by the American people, because it’s not talked about…. So I think the more that we can confront Republicans about their ideology of tax breaks for the billionaires and cuts to every program that is a benefit to the American people, and can expose them for their subservience to the billionaire class—I think that wins for us every single time.

?The most serious political problem facing this country is that we don’t discuss the serious issues facing this country. And the American people are becoming increasingly alienated from the political process; 63 percent of the American people didn’t vote last November. I’m looking for ways to bring them into a serious discussion about serious issues. When we do that, the Republican agenda will be exposed for the disaster it is.

5 'Radical' Bernie Sanders Ideas Many Americans Strongly Support 1. Health Care For All 2. Taxing The Rich 3. Tuition-Free College 4. Campaign Finance Reform 5. Same-Sex Marriage. Sanders’ willingness to call himself a democratic socialist may set him apart in American politics but as the polling shows, his views are hardly out-of-step with American voters.

Bernie Sanders' Platform:

Income and wealth inequality: In the United States today we have the most unequal wealth and income distribution of any major country on earth -- worse than at any time since the 1920s. This is an economy that must be changed in fundamental ways.

Jobs and income: In my view, we need a massive federal jobs program which puts millions of our people back to work. We must end our disastrous trade policies. We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And we have to fight for pay equity for women.

Campaign finance reform: As a result of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, American democracy is being undermined by the ability of the Koch brothers and other billionaire families. These wealthy contributors can literally buy politicians and elections by spending hundreds of millions of dollars in support of the candidates of their choice. We need to overturn Citizens United and move toward public funding of elections so that all candidates can run for office without being beholden to the wealthy and powerful.

Climate change: Climate change is real, caused by human activity and already devastating our nation and planet. The United States must lead the world in combating climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainability.

College affordability: Every person in this country who has the desire and ability should be able to get all the education they need regardless of the income of their family. This is not a radical idea. In Germany, Scandinavia and many other countries, higher education is either free or very inexpensive. We must do the same.

Health care: Shamefully, the United States remains the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people. The United States must move toward a Medicare-for-all single-payer system. Health care is a right, not a privilege.

Poverty: The United States has more people living in poverty than at almost any time in the modern history of our country. I believe that in a democratic, civilized society none of our people should be hungry or living in desperation. We need to expand Social Security, not cut it. We need to increase funding for nutrition programs, not cut them.

Tax reform: We need real tax reform which makes the rich and profitable corporations begin to pay their fair share of taxes. We need a tax system which is fair and progressive. Children should not go hungry in this country while profitable corporations and the wealthy avoid their tax responsibilities by stashing their money in the Cayman Islands.

And these are just some of the issues that we will be dealing with.

Stand with me and endorse this platform for our campaign.

The struggle to create a nation and world of economic and social justice and environmental sanity is not an easy one. The struggle to try and create a more peaceful world will be extremely difficult. But this I know: despair is not an option if we care about our kids and grandchildren. Giving up is not an option if we want to prevent irreparable harm to our planet.

This country belongs to all of us, not just the billionaire class. That's what our campaign is all about, but it cannot be won by me alone. That is absolutely for sure. To win this campaign, all of us must be deeply involved.

In the coming days, weeks, and months we need to hear your ideas as to what issues are most important in your communities. We need to hear your thoughts about how we can mount the effective campaign we need to win. We need your help in spreading the word so that your friends, neighbors and co-workers become involved in the effort.

Many Are Shocked by the Size of the Crowds Bernie Sanders Is Drawing The Presidential hopeful is generating impressive turnouts around the country.

4 Subtle (And Not So Subtle) Ways the Media Undermines Bernie Sanders Despite traction in the polls and huge crowds, the media still treats his campaign like a sideshow.

[Bernie] Sanders to File Global Warming Amendment on Tar Sands Pipeline Bill

25 Things You May Not Know About Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders' Economic Agenda for America

10 Crucial Issues Most Politicians—Except Bernie Sanders—Lie About From too-big-to-fail to TPP, Sanders' entry into the race is sure to elevate the conversation.From too-big-to-fail to TPP, Sanders' entry into the race is sure to elevate the conversation. 1. Too Big to Fail; 2. Healthcare Reform; 3. The Trans Pacific Partnership; 4. Growing Income Inequality; 5. Raising the Minimum Wage; 6. The Makeup of the Supreme Court; 7. Crippling Student Loan Debt and the High Cost of College Tuition; 8. Protecting Social Security and Medicare; 9. Reforming U.S. Drug Laws; 10. Rebuilding the U.S.’ Decaying Infrastructure.

20 Big Ideas From Bernie Sanders to Reverse Inequality, Expand Safety Nets and Stop America's Plutocrats

Bernie Sanders' Facebook Page

Why Sen. Bernie Sanders should run for President as a Democrat

PDA on Bernie Sanders run for President

Facebook: Run Bernie Run

Email from Bernie Sanders:

It's time to break up the banks.

The greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street drove this country into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Their casino-style gambling has helped divert 99 percent of all new income to the top one percent. And it has contributed to the most unequal level of wealth and income distribution of any major country on earth.

In the midst of all of this grotesque inequality sits a handful of financial institutions that are still so large, the failure of any one would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans and send the world economy into crisis.

If it's too big to fail, it's too big to exist. That's the bottom line.

I introduced legislation in Congress that would break up banks that are too big to fail. Can you sign on as a citizen co-sponsor of my bill to show your support?

Youth Flocking to Sanders Because 'You're Right, Bernie, You're Right!' If you're wondering why the campaign continues to build momentum and attract big crowds, one person among the many thousands in Portland shouted his answer.

...at that moment, a young man in the crowd shouted: "Because you're right, Bernie, you're right!"

To which Sanders smiled and continued, "The answer, I think, is pretty obvious. From Maine to California, the American people understand that establishment politics and establishment economics is not working for the middle class."

And the American people, he continued, "understand that the greed of Wall Street and the greed of corporate America is destroying this country and people from coast to coast are saying, 'You can’t keep getting away with that.'"

Barney Frank's Biggest Bombshell: His Shocking Anecdote About the Financial Crisis Barack Obama refused to extract foreclosure relief from the nation’s largest banks, as a condition for their receipt of hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money... The Bush administration, still in charge during TARP’s passage in October 2008, used none of the first tranche on mortgage relief, nor did Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson use any leverage over firms receiving the money to persuade them to lower mortgage balances and prevent foreclosures.

What is Democratic Socialism, American-Style? by Peter Dreier. Published on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 by CNN

In the early 1900s, socialists led the movements for women's suffrage, child labor laws, consumer protection laws and the progressive income tax. In 1916, Victor Berger, a socialist congressman from Milwaukee, sponsored the first bill to create "old age pensions." The bill didn't get very far, but two decades later, in the midst of the Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded Congress to enact Social Security. Even then, some critics denounced it as un-American. But today, most Americans, even conservatives, believe that Social Security is a good idea. What had once seemed radical has become common sense.

Much of FDR's other New Deal legislation -- the minimum wage, workers' right to form unions and public works programs to create jobs for the unemployed -- was first espoused by American socialists.

Socialists were in the forefront of the civil rights movement from the founding of the NAACP in 1909 through the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Socialists have long pushed for a universal health insurance plan, which helped create the momentum for stepping-stone measures such as Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s and Obamacare today.

In the 1890s, a socialist Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy, wrote "The Pledge of Allegiance" and a socialist poet, Katherine Lee Bates, penned "America the Beautiful." Throughout our history, some of the nation's most influential activists and thinkers, such as Jane Addams, John Dewey, Helen Keller, W.E.B. DuBois, Albert Einstein, A. Philip Randolph, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King, Paul Robeson, Eugene V. Debs, and Gloria Steinem, embraced democratic socialism.

King believed that America needed a "radical redistribution of economic and political power." In October 1964, he called for a "gigantic Marshall Plan" for the poor -- black and white. Two months later, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, he observed that the U.S. could learn much from Scandinavian "democratic socialism." In fact, he told his staff, "There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism."

During the Cold War, many Americans confused democratic socialism with communism. In fact, democratic socialists opposed the totalitarian governments of the Soviet Union, China and their satellites. That's because democratic socialism is about democracy -- giving ordinary people a greater voice in both politics and the workplace.

Although Sanders says that America needs a "grassroots political revolution," he is actually a reformer, not a revolutionary. His version of democratic socialism is akin to what most people around the world call "social democracy," which seems to make capitalism more humane.

This is why Sanders says that the U.S. should learn from Sweden, Norway and Denmark -- countries with greater equality, a higher standard of living for working families, better schools, free universities, less poverty, a cleaner environment, higher voter turnout, stronger unions, universal health insurance, and a much wider safety net

Sounds anti-business? Forbes magazine ranked Denmark as the #1 country for business. The United States ranked #18.

European social democracies put greater emphasis on government enterprise, but even most Americans favor government-run police departments, fire departments, national parks, municipally-owned utilities, local subway systems and public state universities.

Because the word "socialism" has been demonized, few Americans call themselves socialists or even social democrats. But public opinion polls -- including the Pew Research Center, Hart Research Associates and The New York Times/CBS -- show that a vast majority of Americans agree with what Sanders actually stands for.


Send comments to co@dadbyrn.com, Colby Glass, MLIS, Ph.D.c., Professor Emeritus