Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Is There Life After "The Bern"?

Is There Life After "The Bern"?
by C. A. Matthews

It's the question dancing around in many of our heads, I'm sure. Is there life after we've heard the wisdom of Bernie Sanders and cried "Feel the Bern!" to friend and foe alike? If there isn't life, what can we hope to enjoy after this most momentous time? How can we continue to exist as before we became awake and aware of what all is really happening around us in our country and in our world? Can we as morally healthy human beings ever close our eyes again to the injustices of our society and the blatant greed of our capitalist system once these failings have been repeatedly pointed out to us?

Your guess is as good as mine. My thought is that once touched and awakened by the wisdom of true progressivism we will never be able to lull ourselves asleep again. We may try--and succeed for a time--by throwing ourselves wholeheartedly into our jobs, careers, families, hobbies and activities, and possibly drowning the nagging voices in our head with overwork and/or mind-altering chemicals. But, in the end, we will always feel that niggling in the back of our mind that somehow things aren't quite right, and it's up to us to change them for the better.  

For instance, every conversation (digital or real world) I enter into nowadays which wanders to the topic of health care somehow becomes a chance to inform others about the cost savings and the moral imperative of implementing Medicare For All Americans. Every time someone brings up how disappointed they are in their elected representatives' performance, I make sure to note how the Citizens United ruling created a corrupt system. We now live in a time where "money is speech," and you and I as ordinary working slobs will never be able to compete with the "corporate persons" with endless wads of cash on hand unless we join forces through organizations such as Move to Amend to overturn this despicable ruling. 

Why are the rich always growing richer with every passing day and we poor folks never seem to get ahead? Income inequality, of course. Why are we at war constantly? Remember the Military-Industrial Complex President Eisenhower warned us about? Uh-huh. It's the billionaires of the M.I. C. pulling our corporate politicians' strings. (Photo: Meet corporate politician, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. He shook my hand in his D.C. office and actually said he'd think about not allowing the A.C.A. to be dismantled. We'll see. He's taken a goodly number of paychecks from the health insurance industry lobby and Big Pharma.)

I can't help myself. It's a sickness of sorts. I continually preach the good news of progressive ideals to everyone I meet regardless of whether they want to hear my spiel or not. My subconscious impels me to do so because this person needs to know this information and become aware of how things are truly operating in the world. What sort of friend would I be if I didn't divulge my knowledge on these topics in order to help them and their family out? 

Has it cost me friendships and networking opportunities? Oh, absolutely! I can personally attest to this by naming the old friends/acquaintances who have "unfriended" me on Facebook and in the real world because I once or twice mentioned I supported Bernie Sanders or supported a cause they didn't like or I told them I didn't appreciate their attitude toward causes I like and to keep it to themselves. I've had scoldings, rantings and actual death threats made by acquaintances and strangers via email, Facebook messaging and to my face.

Yeah, I can unequivocally state that my life hasn't been sheer bliss since May 2015 when I heard Bernie was running for the White House, and I decided to help him in any way I could. If anything, it's gone downhill. I now have a for sale sign on my front yard (instead of a Bernie or Jill sign) because I'm not comfortable living next door to a bully who's threatened to shoot me (twice) and around the corner from an idiot flying a Confederate flag beside his Trump signs.

So, is there life after "The Bern"? Yes, there is, but it's never going to be the same. We all have to take our lumps and accept it. For every lost "friend" on my social media accounts I've gain a hundred or more others who "feel the Bern", so you could say I've come out ahead. I've met lots of interesting, dynamic and helpful people these past two years writing and editing this blog, and I've traveled to other cities (including Washington D.C. and Philadelphia) to see other activists and politicians in action. I was never much into politics or big social causes before Bernie ran for the presidency, so this has all been quite illuminating and educational. I've come to know the Green Party and feel more at home with their philosophy and platform than I've ever felt with either establishment faction.

In a way, the gains have outweighed the losses. Still, we mourn our old lives passing and worry about the future. Will I still be here next year at the third anniversary of this blog? Will I still be writing about progressive topics, candidates and causes then? I hope so. And I hope you will be here working alongside me, too.

The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. We're still in the front yard, and we've a long way to go, folks. Let's stop and take a deep breath and recommit ourselves to the journey of building a future we can all truly believe in. Then let's pack our knapsacks and get marching.
After reading this heartbreaking  article on "lunch shaming" and watching this video of our so-called Secretary of Education admitting she's willing to discriminate against minorities, I went ballistic and posted the following rant on Facebook. Join me if you feel similarly and together let's start a movement to inform the public to the horrors these people cause ordinary Americans. (Pardon the language.)
I’m so tired of watching the rich plow over the poor and “shame” us into silence… I've come up with a new organization called C.R.A.P.–The Committee to “Chastise Rich Arrogant Pricks.” We publicly shame and chastise rich a**holes for not paying their fair share of taxes and for cutting programs for the poor, elderly, disabled, minorities, women…hell, everyone except THEM. Join C.R.A.P. at The Mad as Hell Party: http://www.facebook.com/madashellparty
Memes, actions, photos, articles, blogs, etc., on the C.R.A.P. theme are gladly welcomed. (Email them to us at thebernieblog2016@gmail.com.) We'll blast them out on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and this blog among other places. Put on your thinking caps and get creative Chatising those Rich Arrogant Pricks today! (Feel free to start with DeVos or anyone who needs calling out. Thank you.)
Now for some excellent insight into why people don't run for office, even after "feeling the Bern." Do you agree with Sean's assessment? 

Testing Our Political Theories
 By Sean Nestor

The scientific method teaches us the importance of testing our theories. This holds true in politics just as it does everywhere else.

Much of what I do politically, I do in part because I want to test the validity of common theories. For example, I always liked the idea of having more than two political parties to choose from when I was young, so I took an interest in why they lack power in the US. Is it a lack of interest? Incompetence? Systemic repression? Implicit laws of our voting system? Some combination or something else? I heard lots of theories, but I wasn't satisfied with any of them. So, I've spent many years now participating in minor party politics and exploring the issue firsthand.

My experience in politics so far has led me to question a lot of dogma espoused by both political insiders and outsiders. A big one is in the relationship between elected officials and the public interest. People on the left and right, mainstream and underdog, all agree: No committed leftist could possibly hold elected office in this country today without completely compromising their values. The logic goes that because American politics is so irredeemably controlled by money, and because every politician must be terrified of losing re-election out of self-interest, well-meaning politicians must cut shady deals to stay in power, which will inherently be limited to attempts at pushing through minor reforms. The system is too corrupted by capitalism for a person of any virtue to stay in power.

My experiences lead me to think differently. I think it's a sign of how bad of shape the left is in, in the US that so many leftists have essentially given up on taking over formal power. They have subscribed to the popular misconceptions that whoever raises the most cash wins, voters are persuaded more by TV ads than direct contact, and the only way to win formal power is to make bargains for seats on legislative committees.

All of those things are patently false, and a committed observer of politics (international, domestic, and historical) could see that. From my own firsthand experience, you can get away with proclaiming whatever philosophy you want and sticking to it, provided you put in the work to meet people, talk to them, and address their concerns. I know that it is time-consuming and requires a lot of self-discipline, but it works, and, if I'm honest, I think some people insist that things are too corrupt as a way of rationalizing why they don't step up and put in that work.

Maybe this theory is wrong. But instead of debating it with people who disagree, I'm gonna test it out first and discuss the results later. That's the scientific way to do it.

Bio: Sean Nestor is an educator and activist from Toledo, Ohio. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Single Payer Action Network and Co-Chair of the Lucas County Green Party.


There is life after "The Bern." These groups prove it. Join and help their causes.
 From Move to Amend:
Corporate Franken-bots Roam the Earth Forever

Through the 1886 Santa Clara ruling, the franken-bot known as corporate personhood came to life. Giant corporations now have the power to oppress, exploit, and destroy communities and our planet from generation to generation.

It is a viscous and sickening cycle that is jeopardizing our right to a true democracy and threatening our communities and livelihoods.

If you haven't yet joined the #IMoveToAmend campaign,
please take a moment to do so now

It's time for corporate personhood to die, but we can’t drive the stake into the heart of the beast without your help. We're a grassroots organization in every sense of the word, including our funding sources. Help us secure a future without corporate franken-bots!

We're so grateful for the 27 new monthly sustainers who signed up since launching this campaign, but we still need 23 more to reach our goal of 50 before the end of the month. Please join the #IMoveToAmend campain now!

In solidarity,

Lydia Onimo
Move to Amend Development Coordinator

From 314 Action:

314 Action

It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily grind -- especially these days when it feels like the news coming out of Washington is almost always bad.

That’s why I want to share with you a quick rundown of the ways our movement is crushing it:

  • True to our mission, 314 Action has already trained over 400 scientists and STEM professionals to run for office. And some of those amazing folks are even starting to launch their campaigns.

  • That’s garnered a lot of attention from the media -- Time Magazine, PBS Newshour, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, and several others have all jumped in to feature the efforts to help scientists run for office. The headlines have been fantastic -- here's one of my favorites:
This Group is Trying to Replace the Most Anti-Science Members of Congress with Actual Scientists
  • In more than 31 states, we’ve identified 160 people from STEM backgrounds who’ve raised their hands to run for school boards -- where critical curriculum decisions get made.

  • Over 90 college campus chapters of 314 Action have gotten off the ground, encouraging young STEM-oriented individuals to think about public service at the outset of their careers.

  • Partnering with a number of science-friendly organizations, we helped plan the March for Science, which saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in cities all over the world.

  • We delivered over 12,000 petition signatures to call for climate action from Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Lamar Smith -- and we’ve got a whole lot more planned for Congress’ leading climate deniers. (Stay tuned.)

  • Finally, in the recent push to keep the United States in the Paris climate agreement, we drove over 2,000 calls to the White House, produced and aired a targeted TV ad on the President’s favorite cable shows, and reached out to key CEOs to put pressure on President Trump to stay in the Paris climate accord. Just the other day, Elon Musk replied to let us know he had done his part -- and that he was “cautiously optimistic.”
We’re at the stage when the initial legwork is painstaking, and our desired outcome is still a long way down the path.

But what I’m seeing all around us are signs that we’re on the right path, that we’re making progress, and -- thanks to supporters like you -- our movement is growing every single day.

Look forward to seeing what we can do together from here on out,


From March for Science:
March for Science
This week, the Trump Administration released its full, proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018. Just like the preview issued in March, the full proposal makes huge cuts to Federal research and development funding, cuts that would seriously threaten the United States’ scientific enterprise.

This proposal kicks off the budget process in Congress, and NOW is the time to let your elected officials know that investing in science matters.
Check out these resources to learn more about the budget proposal, process, and potential impact on science funding:

  • Watch our video explaining the budget process and where things go from here.
  • Learn more about the proposed budget with analysis from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Next week, Congress is in recess. That means YOU can use this opportunity to take action in your communities!

  • Share why you think funding science is important on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ScienceBudget
  • Let your elected officials know that investments in science are a priority. AAAS has helpful resources tips and resources if you want to:
Don’t miss the chance to let your elected officials know that cuts to research funding threaten progress in areas like clean energy, public health, and American innovation. 

-- The March for Science Team
From Open Media:

Just when you thought the Net Neutrality fight couldn’t get any uglier, it has: shadowy anti-Net Neutrality forces have been recruiting dead people to do their dirty work for them.

We’ve been fighting for Net Neutrality, the fundamental principle of the web that has enabled the diversity of everything we love online, for years. We need your help to keep this principle alive, and in recent weeks the fight to keep our Internet safe has blown up as the U.S. government considers removing its protected status.

Right now, millions of people are submitting comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) consultation on Net Neutrality. And in a shocking recent report it was revealed that comments signed by dead people are showing up on the record.1

You read that right. People who aren’t even alive are somehow submitting comments to the FCC against Net Neutrality — the result of bots used to flood the FCC’s website with pre-written statements. It’s a huge controversy, and an open letter has been sent to FCC chair Ajit Pai demanding he investigate.2

These are the sorts of unethical and unfair measures the enemies of Net Neutrality are willing to take. And that’s why we need every ounce of help we can get to fight them.

These types of tactics are not going to stop. Net Neutrality opponents will clearly stop at nothing to rig this consultation, and drown out the genuine voices of people like you and me. If we let these fake comments outweigh the real ones that are calling on the FCC to protect the open web, then Big Telecom wins.

But we’re not going to let that happen. Instead, we're going to do everything we can to fight back, and ensure millions of Americans can make their voices heard.

Help us show the FCC what the public really thinks about Net Neutrality, before it’s too late.

Thank you for standing for an open web.
— Katy, on behalf of OpenMedia

[1] Dead People Are Posting Anti-Net Neutrality Comments to the FCC Website: Motherboard
[2] People who were impersonated by anti-net neutrality spammers blast FCC: artstechnica

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