Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Taking Our First Stand

Taking Our First Stand 
(and it won't be our last)
by Cindy A. Matthews 
photos by Adrian Matthews

Mid-January in the Detroit area isn't exactly balmy.  To say it is "cold" would be putting it mildly. But, once again, my husband and I found ourselves standing outside in a line in the dead of winter in southeastern Michigan waiting for a Bernie Sanders rally to start.

After this past July, and the horrid reality of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, I never thought I'd ever say that again.

This time the rally wasn't about Bernie running for office, but about how our "Obamacare" (A.C.A.) health care programs are under attack by a hard-hearted Republican Congress. On January 15, under the hashtag #OurFirstStand, 70 official rallies, protests and related events throughout the country commenced to let these self-absorbed, bought-0ut politicians of corporate-owned Washington DC know we weren't taking this attack on our health care lying down. We were fortunate to have a variety of events in area to attend, but when we heard Bernie Sanders was heading up the bill in Warren, Michigan... 

Well, once a Berner always a Berner. Road trip!

We were fortunate it was a very pleasant winter's day, since the rally was held outside. The temperature stood around the freezing point, and the sun shone warmly upon the parking lot area where the stage and loudspeakers were set up between several large buildings of Macomb Community College. The crowd squeezed together close to the small stage, and that provided even more warmth and blocked any slight wind blowing. It wasn't until we returned home and watched the live stream video (above) that I realized just how many people were actually there--8,000 my husband estimated.  (Others have said the crowd was between 6,000 - 8,000.) Wow. 

This was truly a yuge event in the heart of blue collar, UAW union country. Senator Chuck "fighting mad" Schumer and Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow from Michigan headlined along with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, Congressman John Conyers, Congresswomen from Michigan Brenda Lawrence and Debbie Dingell and two trade union leaders. Two families shared their stories of how Obamacare helped them--including one woman who lost her leg in an accident but didn't lose her life or her life-savings because she had just received health insurance through the A.C.A.

Bernie was in fine form. He sounded a bit hoarse, but his message came across strong. He wore a forest green parka with no tie (unlike Senators Schumer and Peters dressed in suits and wool dress overcoats) and didn't feel the need for a hat and gloves. Bernie reiterated his message of how single payer health care is the best option and that we're among the millions of activists standing up and fighting back against those attempting to take health care coverage away from up to 20 - 30 million Americans. Our job is to tell the Republicans not to kick people off Medicaid, privatize Medicare, defund Planned Parenthood, and raise prescription drug prices--while giving tax breaks to the richest of the rich.

It was hard to get a clear photo of Bernie--too many tall people!
It was a exhausting day standing on the concrete in the cold, but it was worth it to see Bernie Sanders speak in person once again. We secretly wished it was just a Bernie rally without the others, but the excitement and enthusiasm was there. Bernie is cooperating well with the Senate Democratic leadership (obviously since Chuck Schumer was there). He's reminding at least some of the Dems of their progressive roots. After the recent "Pharma 13" scandal, let's keep reminding these Dems that we're holding them to their promises to put the people's needs first before their corporate donors' desire for mega-profits.

Over all, Our First Stand was a success. I think Bernie knew we all needed a little push to get us going this year. By bringing us together with a few thousand of our friends, we were able to revitalize our ardor for the progressive cause, able to reconnect with groups new and old that have actions planned for the coming days. We're that much stronger now to take on the "Tweeter in Chief" and show our fellow citizens how much better our country--and world--would be with a compassionate leader like Bernie Sanders in charge.

Senators Peters, Schumer and Sanders
"Sluffy" has shared some of his excellent photography of the Our First Stand event in Warren, Michigan. Many thanks to Sluffy for his generosity. A true Berner!
Sen. Schumer gives an animated speech.

Two graduates of James Madison High School, Brooklyn, NY

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards

Senator Stabenow of Michigan
Bernie takes the podium.

Bernie looks determined--determined we'll have Medicare for All some day soon!

Never forget these faces or names. These are the thirteen Democratic senators who voted against cheaper medicines being imported from Canada. They put their Big Pharma donors' profits above the best interests of their constituents. All have taken at the minimum $250,000 from the pharmaceutical industry and others have accepted almost $700,000. Their contact phone numbers and Twitter handles are below. Please contact them and tell them what you think about their actions. The following article link provides more background information on each of these senators: http://leftgear.co/2017/01/13/pharma-13/

And now, taking a stand against the corporate-owned Democrats as a whole...

Taking a Stand Against Hypocrisy...
We're not with you, Mr. Brock
by Bern Notice

Mr. Brock,

I would like to take a few moments out of my day to reply to your letter to Senator Bernie Sanders, which is referenced here:

Reference: https://medium.com/@DavidBrock/dear-senator-sanders-im-with-you-in-the-fight-ahead-ffd42ae989bb#.kj1k711p9

I could join the legions of people who are likely putting their responses to this letter in reply of a paragraph or less, but I don’t think that format would do justice to just how appalling the idea of “you” being on the same team as “us” is.

I, and countless others, already knew you were on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. There is no sin for supporting an opponent. The problem lies in how you support an opponent--or more to the point, how you treat the opposition.

Over the last year you, and the entities that you own or run, have gone to great lengths to try to discredit and undermine and demean those who supported Bernie Sanders during his presidential bid.

“If you study what’s being said in social media, the media that millennials are consuming, it is filled with misinformation and vicious lies and sexism in terms that you can’t even repeat from his supporters, from other trolls,” you have said, Mr. Brock, as well as:
“And you wonder why there’s such a gap in the millennial preference for Sanders over Hillary. I think if people took a look at what they’re seeing, that would account for some of [the deficit]—the fact that they have a misimpression of her.” --David Brock
Reference: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/david-brock-bernie-sanders-218954

This statement makes a number of assumptions. First, it makes the assumption that the reason Sanders supporters did not support Hillary in the primary was they were sexist. Supposedly those who voted for Jill Stein in the general election and the numerous women who did not support Hillary, but did support Bernie, were sexist? That’s not a smart way to make allies. I hate to break the bad news to you, but it had nothing to do with sexism.

It had everything to do with lack of focus on issues that affect the working class in this country. It had a lot to do with concern about how a person who claims to want reform Wall Street and rein in big business was constantly tied to or being funded by those same entities. See the following links:

References: https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cid=N00000019&cycle=Career


It had everything to do with lack of consistency, and lack of honesty. Feel free to dismiss the bit about the e-mail  if you wish, but note the rest.


Then Brock's PAC, Correct the Record, paid people to “troll” the internet.

“This explains why my inbox turned to cancer on Tuesday,” wrote user OKarizee. “Been a member of Reddit for almost four years and never experienced anything like it. In fact, in all my years on the internet I’ve never experienced anything like it.”

Correct the Record, which has received $5 million this campaign season and has spent almost $4.5 million of it according to OpenSecrets.org, outlined its strategy against “swarms of anonymous attackers” in a press release:

Reference: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/21/hillary-pac-spends-1-million-to-correct-commenters-on-reddit-and-facebook.html?via=mobile&source=twitter

The tactics that you employed were bad enough that it made some Clinton supporters say the following: “David is well meaning but I think perhaps like a zealot. He should keep it in check a bit. I don’t think this needs to be about tearing Bernie down. …It’s getting nasty and it doesn’t need to be.”

Reference: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/269791-david-brocks-hardball-tactics-worry-clinton-supporters

Still even after everything that has transpired, you seem to think that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with how the Democratic Party has operated for the last eight or more years. You claim that the “Democratic Party isn’t suffering from an identity crisis”.

Reference: https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/david-brock-democrats-are-not-facing-an-identity-crisis/2016/12/05/8c3521ba-bb1e-11e6-ae79-bec72d34f8c9_video.html

If the last election should have told you anything, it should have told you that working Americans of all stripes are tired of both parties doing “business as usual.” While you and other Washington insiders have fattened your wallet and enhanced your power base, the rest of America (the working class) has suffered under increased costs of living and decreased buying power.

At the beginning of the campaign, no one in the beltway or the media thought that Sanders or Trump had a snowball's chance in hell. They, and people like yourself, thought that it was going to be Bush or Clinton all over again until the voters told you otherwise. But somehow, you still can’t seem to accept that people want more than talk--we want action that helps us.

And you think that by penning a letter that you can simply get back in our good graces. There is a saying, "Be careful whose toes you step on today. They may be connected to the feet you have to kiss tomorrow."

What Senator Sanders chooses to do is obviously his prerogative. As a person who you and your PACs went out of your way to insult, I would like to be one of many to tell you that you may claim to be with us, but we sure as heck aren’t with you.
BIO: A fighter in the political revolution, Bern Notice takes a stand every time he sits down at his keyboard. You can find him on Google+ and on his new blog, Seeing Through the B.S., on Medium.com.


 We're still feelin' the Bern, too! There are so many good causes and issues that need our support. It's time to crawl out of our shells and put on our winter coats (if necessary) and pick up a sign or banner and get out there. Come on! Take a stand like these brave Berners are doing, and we'll be seeing you on the front lines. (Please feel free to share your photos and stories with us here at the blog, too: Email us at thebernieblog2016@gmail.com)

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