Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why Bernie Sanders Will Win -- Part 1: Economics

Doc Brown has been to the future--and he knows who will be our next president!
 Why Bernie Sanders Will Win – Part 1: Economics
by Joe Brunoli
a.k.a. EuroYankee

The establishment political set and the mainstream media seem to be wholly fixated on writing off Bernie Sanders as an “extreme left” politician from a “small, mostly white state” and a “self-proclaimed socialist.” And because of these attributes, he has no chance of winning in the general election – this presumably because America is a “centrist-right” or even a “conservative” country.

They are overlooking some very basic facts of history and socio-economics, as well as politics. It is true that over the past 35 years, “liberal” has been become an epithet, while “conservative” has become an emblem that more and more Americans feel comfortable with. But why is that?

It Started with Reagan

Ronald Reagan embodied a strident, “conservative” persona, rejecting Jimmy Carter’s namby-pamby “liberal” identity. The so-called “Reagan Democrats” were drawn to Reagan because he was willing to tell then that they did not have to lower their thermostats, drive smaller cars, or switch to the metric system. America was a “shining city on a hill” whose best days lay ahead. America was perceived as weak in the world, and he, Ronald Reagan, would beef up the military and make America strong again.  He played on racial tensions, revving up the “Southern Strategy” that had worked for other Republican candidates since Nixon. And of, course, Reagan was the first one to propose a Constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

“God, Guns and Gays”

Since 1980, the idea of what makes a “conservative” has been framed in mostly non-economic terms.  Creationism, Christianity, Abortion, Gay Rights, Gun Control, Affirmative Action – these are the key issues that defined an American as a Conservative. It was never so much about tax cuts and small government, as far as the average voter was concerned. Sure, every conservative would automatically stand for cutting taxes, but that was an auxiliary, second tier issue that did not engender the type of fervor among the electorate.

For thirty years, Republicans won elections by putting gay marriage, abortion rights and other cultural “wedge issues on the ballot.  And they are still using that playbook. 
The Democrats, for their part, have also happily played into this game. The Democratic Leadership Council, headed by Bill Clinton, co-opted conservative economic principles and left the Democratic Party only a slim playing field on which to oppose Republicans on cultural issues. “Liberal” billionaire donors like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer give to Democrats to support cultural, social or environmental issues – not economic ones. These are smart men. After all, they know enough not to go against their own economic interests.

But for just how long can the American voter be asked to vote against his or her own economic interests in order to promote their positions on cultural issues?

Bernie Not Afraid to Speak about the Economy

In Bernie’s speech announcing his candidacy, he spent fully 45% of his time speaking about economic issues – more than twice as much as any of the other candidates, and almost three times as much time as Hillary Clinton did. Some Republican candidates didn't even mention economics in their announcement speeches.

Resentment at growing wealth inequality, the disappearance of the middle class, the harsh reality that most people are moving backwards economically compared to their parents – these are all issues that have been percolating, seething below the surface of the superficial political debate in America. But they are important issues, and when people say that Bernie is “touching a nerve” they vastly underestimate the power of his message.

As an Independent who refuses to take PAC money or billionaires’ donations, Bernie now occupies a unique position in American political history. I believe history will show that his is the winning ticket.

Bio: Joe Brunoli, a.k.a. The EuroYankee, is a US ex-pat with dual US-EU citizenship. Originally from Connecticut, Joe currently splits his time between his ancestral residence on Lake Como, Italy, and his apartment in Barcelona, Spain. He travels Europe extensively for his work and tries to find time to comment on trends, attitudes, politics and points of interest - especially as they may affect or regard the US. 

Have you been hosting debate watch parties, voter registration parties, etc., for Bernie? Have you been inputting them into the national site's event map? Please remember to do so in order to give them an idea just how many events are happening and how many Bernie supporters are out there. #FeeltheBern and keep spreading the word--Bernie Sanders for president in 2016!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Striking up the Band for Bernie

There are many ways to protest injustice and to showcase unfairness. Some do it with words and actions--and others through  music. Our Bernie supporters this week share their ideas of how you can make a difference in bringing about Bernie Sanders' political revolution.

Let's Strike!
by Sam Franklin

Bernie wants a political revolution but how do we revolt?  We can’t take up arms or just throw the bums out. 

We can protest, but protests rarely seem to produce positive change. Egyptians protested, and their government is no better. Syrians protested and got killed or became refugees. Remember Occupy Wall Street?  People get tired of protesting, and they can turn violent.

How about voting the bad guys out of office? The Republicans have gerrymandered districts so successfully the crazies in the Congress are supported by crazies at home. They are not likely to be voted out of office,  and if they stay in office, they will continue to block any progress toward justice and equality. 

Petitions are popular nowadays. However, do you think our Congress members pay attention to our signatures?  Like Bernie says they rather listen to the lobbyists and the wealthy, not to us.  

I remember many years ago when Lech Walesa, a dock worker, founded Poland’s first trade union--Solidarity. Walesa won a Nobel Peace Prize and eventually became the President of Poland. He did it with a strike.

Bernie is turning out thousands at rallies all over the country, and they will continue to turn out, at least for a while.  Suppose, just suppose, these well meaning people picked one day in December or January to stay home from work. That’s all--just stay home. You don’t have to carry a sign or go to Washington or even go out of the house. It’s not inconvenient; it’s not dangerous.  Some may even want to take to the streets peacefully to call attention to the strike. 

If millions participated in a peaceful workers' strike, it might stir the pot. It just might lead to negotiations and meaningful change.  If teachers didn’t go to school and grocers didn’t stock the shelves and gas stations didn’t open up and mail carriers "got sick"’ and airplanes didn’t fly... Congress might listen.  And if they didn’t, then on the first of the next month the strike would reoccur.  And if that didn’t work, then in two weeks another strike might go down and then another two weeks after that... Eventually the people might be heard, like they were so many years ago in Poland. 
Bio: Sam Franklin describes himself as "an old retired professor, grandpa, author, and friend of fairness."

A Socially Relevant EP
by Tim Nordstrom, LCSW, CCM

The purpose of this album is to support Bernie Sanders by encouraging the questioning of authority and helping to engage citizens in critical thinking about changing our society so that it benefits all individuals.   

I have been a social worker for 20 years.  The majority of the people that I have worked with cannot compete in this economy, and so they live in some form of poverty.  The vast majority of these people suffer from PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Psychotic Disorder, Alcohol and drug dependency, etc.  Sexual abuse as a child can change one's life forever, and it happens much more often in these environments.  Witnessing domestic violence and being tormented by verbal/emotional abuse can stop positive growth in it’s tracks, and it happens much more often in impoverished environments than in middle and upper class environments.  Now, not only do they fight the battle of their living environment, they fight the battle of mental illness.  The unstable and volatile environment of poverty can leave a person struggling with a mental illness, rendering them incapable of moving forward in a positive direction. These are the things that create our domestic wounded warriors.  I use the term “wounded warriors” because it is a constant battle, a struggle every-single-day, and they don’t get the same empathetic messages that our soldiers get.  

Continuing our laissez-faire mentality with respect to capitalism will only perpetuate victim blaming and further decrease the amount of empathy we as a nation have for these men, women and children.  These are the people most adversely effected by greed.  The middle class is shrinking. Where is it going? What is happening to them?  PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Psychotic Disorder, Alcohol and Drug dependency….

I have never lived in poverty, but I try to imagine what it would be like.  I have had the opportunity to work in shelters, day treatment facilities, and extremely low socioeconomic communities, and I will never fully understand.  I do know this: judging others and electing our leaders based purely on our own past experiences and current perspectives is wrong.  We have to become more empathetic as a nation.  We have to bleed the greed.

Free up the money!  I would like to make this music free to all who want to let it motivate their passion for this movement. Proceeds from the sale of the full CD will go to the Bernie Sanders campaign: timnordstrom.com

Bio: Tim Nordstrom is a native Montanan, who has lived in Denver Colorado and Nashville Tennessee working in the field of social work, all the while writing and performing his music.  Tim has worked with Grammy-winning producers, instrumentalists and is often heard on NPR.

Here's an insight into recent events concerning the recent Democratic Debate.

It Doesn't Matter
by George Oeser 

I am afraid that what I am about to write will upset a lot of people, but I think it needs to be said.

It doesn't matter if Bernie won the debate or not. The pundits said he didn't, but pundits aren't terribly reliable. The online polls said he did, but they are terribly unreliable. The people who answer the questions in online polls tend to be the people that are most passionate about the questions being asked. Guess what? Sanders supporters are more passionate than Clinton supporters, and so we participated in the polls in larger numbers. This shows that the online polls are meaningless.

Of course complaining about what the pundits said is also meaningless, at best. It could actually be harmful to Bernie as many will see the onslaught of complaints peppering social media as an indication that Bernie supporters are sore losers or conspiracy nuts. This doesn't just make us look bad, it makes Bernie look bad as well.

Bernie's support is growing, but he is still an underdog, and so we need to help him keep gaining supporters. There are tons of democrats out there who like his ideas and policies but who won't for him because they think he isn't electable. Instead of telling them that he won the debate, tell them about all of the elections he has won while facing extremely tough opponents. Some say they won't vote for him because they don't think he will be able to accomplish much as president. They don't need to hear how the media isn't giving Bernie enough coverage, they need to hear about the times he has worked with political opponents to get things done. 

Bernie is currently lacking in support from African-Americans. Maybe instead of seeing us post over and over about a plot against Bernie we should tell them about Bernie's civil rights work, or how Dr. Cornel West is a Sanders supporter, or maybe we should mention that Bernie was the only candidate in the debate who said that black lives do matter and who promised to fight institutional racism.

The Sanders campaign is positive and talks about the issues facing America. Even though we may not have signed up as official volunteers, every time we post about Bernie on Facebook or tweet about him we are acting as the face of Bernie Sanders' campaign for the presidency. Bernie's positive, issue-oriented campaign is undercut when we stray from the real issues or go negative and so we have to try and remember to not let our emotions get the best of us in public. This isn't just a campaign, it is a movement, and we are all part of it, almost as much as Senator Sanders himself. Let's stay on track and help make Bernie Sanders the next president of the United States!

Bio: George Oeser is a photographer, born and raised in Tennessee but currently living in the Netherlands. He spends much of his time thinking about how much he misses good Southern food.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Raise Your Voice--Blog Action Day 2015

Raise Your Voice Before It's Too Late

October 16, 2015 is Blog Action Day, a day when bloggers around the world speak out on one topic. This year's topic is Raise Your Voice. Here at The Bernie Blog we raise our voices a lot--mostly about how great Bernie Sanders is and how much we want to see him elected as president of the U.S.A. But today we're going to take time out and raise our voices about a serious issue that affects all of us, whether or not we're Bernie supporters.

We're going to raise our voices about Freedom of Speech and how important it is to protect it for future generations.

This week, Freedom of Speech was abridged for one of our friends, Bernie2016TV.

Bernie2016TV covered the Democratic Debates using a raw feed, showing the debate as it happened.  Then their You Tube channel was shut down by CNN who wants only their edited version of what happened at the debate to be seen by the voters. CNN edited out things like the audience's cheers and applause for Bernie, because they wanted to skew the public's perception of how their favorite candidate performed. (Their favorite candidate has received about a half a million dollars from Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. One wonders what sort of "favors" Time Warner will expect if their candidate is elected.) Of course, thousands of protest comments have flooded CNN's Facebook page and Twitter feed and were taken down as fast as possible. What big corporation wants to be seen as a "bully" to the little guys?

CNN took down their poll because it showed Bernie won.

The brave  broadcasters of Bernie2016TV once again find themselves marginalized and bullied by the corporate media establishment who want to silence their voices. But they won't give up. They will find a way to broadcast news about the Sanders campaign no matter how tough the odds or what billionaires they tick off.  They realize what is at stake for us and for our children and our children's children. If the oligarchs silence us now, we may never regain our rights to speak out. So, Bernie2016TV will continue to raise their voices!

The Revolution may not be televised, but it will happen all the same. Feel the Bern! And raise your voice!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Let’s Exercise Our Brains for Bernie!

Barb's "Bernie Bush"
Are you feelin' the Bern? Don't forget that Tuesday, October 13, 8:30 p.m. ET, is the first Democratic Debate on CNN. "Berners" (Bernie Sanders supporters) are sponsoring Debate Watch Parties all over the country. Go to the national events map and type in your zip code to see where there's a Debate Watch Party near you that you can attend. Can't find one or want to host your own? Even if it's just you and your family, please register your party at the site so Bernie's campaign can see just how many supporters he has. And if you take photos and want to share them with others, feel free to email them to us at thebernieblog2016@gmail.com and we'll post them on The Bernie Blog. Thanks.

This week on The Bernie Blog we hear from a rather unique perspective. A canine perspective...

Buster Brown Town is Professor Emeritus, Department of Odd Human Behavior, Dogville Academy, and Founder of Dogs for Humanity, a not-for-profit with the motto: We may not be human, but we are humane. We asked Professor Town to tell us why he’s supporting Bernie:

“That’s easy! I’m a dog. We’re Man’s Best Friend. We don’t care if you’re rich or poor.  We don’t care if you’re white or black or brown or yellow or red; we don’t care if you’re straight or gay or male or female or young or old; we love you all.  Also, we’re pack animals. We want everyone in our pack to do well because that’s how the pack survives. Bernie is the only candidate who thinks like a dog.  We refer to him affectionately as Saint Bernard.”

Let’s Exercise Our Brains for Bernie!  
 By Buster Brown Town

Time to get in shape for the elections! Let’s start by exercising some Good Old Yankee Common Sense.

Today’s question is: Why do so many everyday working people vote Republican? Why don’t they like Bernie Sanders?

Here are some things Republicans voted for in recent years (and Bernie voted against): Tax cuts for the rich. More benefits for multinational corporations. More spending for the military (not to be confused with more spending for vets, which they oppose).

Here are some things Republicans voted against (and Bernie voted for): Paid sick leave, paid vacations, maternity leave, overtime, healthcare, workplace protections, collective bargaining rights, quality education, decent paying jobs, clean air and water, safe food and drugs, veteran benefits, student loan debt relief, voting rights, sensible gun control laws, fair housing, protections from consumer fraud and predatory lenders, freedom of religion, unemployment insurance, retirement benefits, birth control, child care, equal rights.

So unless you’re rich, a multinational corporation or a military contractor, why would you vote Republican?

Ever since the robber barons wrote their own script for the American Dream and hired Ronald Reagan to play the role of president, you’ve been lied to, hoodwinked, bamboozled and bombarded by razzle-dazzle, misinformation, scare tactics and all kinds of brainwashing schemes. All of this is brought to you by the oligarchs who own all the major media, most of the economy and a large number of your so-called “public servants.”

So, when someone like Bernie Sanders comes along and lays out a common sense case for getting back to the same policies that made postwar America great, that created a booming economy with a strong middle class, he’s accused of being a commie or a Soviet-style socialist. Forget about that! He’s got two basic ideas:

  • 1. Make the rich pay their fair share of taxes.
  • 2. Invest our tax dollars to help every day, hardworking people like you.

Does that make sense?

If your answer is “No,” you may have a Common Sense deficit. In that event, take Groucho Marx’s advice: “A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.”

Bio: Mr. Town is a professor of odd human behavior at Dogville Academy. Buster blogs for Bernie, bites billionaires and will bark for food. His web site and his Facebook page can be found at the following links:  Busterbrowntown.com

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President, Part 2

Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President, Part 2
By George Oeser

To recap:  I have been living in the Netherlands. The time I have spent here has allowed me to see, first hand, what happens when a country takes a different path than America: To see the results of certain policies and programs with my own eyes instead of just watching what one talking head or another with a particular agenda has to say on TV. I have been surprised by many of the things I have seen here, and my mind has changed on several issues. It has affected who I will be voting for. I hope you can find this information valuable to your own decision making process. 

People in the Netherlands work hard and take risks, not because of a lack of a safety net but because a strong safety net exists. In America, if you start a new business and it fails, you can lose everything. This prevents many people from starting a new business or trying to turn their ideas into great new inventions. The rewards may be great, but the risks are just too high. In Holland, you know that if your business fails you at least will still be able to feed and house your family and send your kids to college. This makes taking risks much more worthwhile. The entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive and well in Holland.

In Holland, almost everyone speaks English extremely well, along with their native Dutch and often times German and French as well. This allows the Netherlands to be very competitive in the global market. This is only possible because the Dutch place great importance on education. Schools are well funded; teachers are well paid; higher education is kept affordable. All of this allows the Netherlands to be a center of high tech industry and a world leader in innovation. 

The Dutch education system is amazing. Children go to schools that are funded by the government but normally run by private organizations. Often times these are religious organizations or civic groups that are required to meet government regulations while at the same time being allowed to bring their own culture into the educational process. Higher education is also funded by the government through a series of exceptionally high quality universities and technical schools. Higher education is not free, but costs are regulated so that everyone can afford to get an education if they choose to. 

You need well-educated people to compete and lead in the world today. America is falling behind in this area. Sure, we have of the best paid college presidents and coaches in the world, but many students can’t afford college or are forced into crushing debt to attend, and our country has suffered as a consequence. 

In Holland, seeing your primary physician never costs you a penny. This means that people are willing to go to the doctor sooner, which means a simple problem can be kept from turning into a serious condition. This also means less sick days and a more productive workforce. Adding to the high productivity levels are a minimum of four weeks paid vacation per year, paid maternity leave, and higher wages that make employees willing to work harder because they don't feel like they are being cheated every time they see one of their pay stubs. This allows more families to have a parent who is able to be at home with the kids at all times, which of course is better for the children who become the next generation of well-educated, well-paid, and highly motivated workers and entrepreneurs. 

Workers in the Netherlands are pretty much just as productive as workers in America, but American full time workers put in an average of 46.7 hours a week while Dutch workers average just 29 hours per week. Think about overtime pay and regular pay combined—are American companies really saving money by paying their employees less and offering them fewer benefits?

I know what many of you are thinking: “What about taxes?” It is true that taxes are considerably higher in the Netherlands than in the United States, no doubt about that. But to stop the conversation there wouldn't tell the entire story. You have to compare the cost against the benefits. For example, if someone could move into a city and be closer to work, have more free time and spend less on fuel because of a shorter commute, spend more time with their family, get an extra hour of sleep every day, and generally live a higher quality of life, but they refused to do so because their rent would go up by 10%, something they could easily afford, you would think they were crazy. Americans should think the same way about taxes. 

Yes, taxes in the Netherlands are higher, but they result in lower healthcare costs, lower educational costs, lower transportation costs, a higher quality of life, and many other benefits that greatly outweigh the higher tax rates. The problem isn't high taxes—the  problem is feeling like you get nothing in return for your taxes. In America, we could lower our taxes by 90%, but if we didn't feel like we were getting anything for our money we would still think our taxes were too high. This is why the higher taxes aren't a big problem in the Netherlands. They feel like quite a bargain. 

While the national government of the Netherlands is quite strong, it does not hold all of the power. Local governments, the sections of the government closest to and most connected to the people, have considerable power. The national government may provide funding to local governments that has to be spent on roads or on education or on cultural initiatives, but the municipalities get to determine how those funds are specifically spent in their areas. This allows tax money to be spent in the most effective ways possible so it can benefit the largest number of people. 

As I mentioned earlier, I believe that we could learn a tremendous amount from a country like the Netherlands, but so far in the presidential race it only seems one candidate has paid attention to these lessons. Bernie Sanders has stood up for workers and American families. He supports policies that will benefit the middle class and help the poor work their way out of poverty. He is the only candidate who is not being supported by billionaire donors who want to maintain the current policies that are benefiting them in the short term but destroying America over time. This means he is the only candidate who can act on these lessons because he isn't beholden to the 1%.

Bernie  Sanders sees the ripple effects of policies.  Fight poverty and you can't help but be fighting racism at the exact same time. Increase educational opportunities and you increase business opportunities as well. Creating a better public transportation system creates more jobs and gives people more access to opportunities. All of these things could happen in America. All of these things could benefit everyone in America, even the wealthiest among us. Bernie Sanders wants to combine the best ideas from countries like Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands with the drive and ambition of America so that the United States can work better, be more efficient, and make opportunity available to everyone.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who wants to help America live up to its potential, and he is the only candidate who will be able to do anything other than simply serve the desires of the wealthy. Bernie Sanders is the one candidate who really understands and supports the American dream. That's why I support Sanders for president.

Bio: George Oeser is a photographer, born and raised in Tennessee but currently living in the Netherlands. He spends much of his time thinking about how much he misses good Southern food. His web site: George Oeser Photography