Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Buster Chats with Readers About “Socialism”

We wish you all a happy and healthful Thanksgiving Day.

When I talk about the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, many readers love to quote Margaret Thatcher who said, “Socialists are happy until they run out of other people’s money.” Margaret, bless her silly heart, clearly misunderstood the concept of “taxation.” Government is in the business of Spending Other People’s Money. They’re gonna take your money no matter what. That’s a done deal. The question is how do you want them to spend your money? Right now, most of it goes to war machinery and subsidies and tax breaks for the rich and the corporations who have bought our Congress. Is that okay with you?

It kind of makes sense to me that we take some of that money and put it toward rebuilding our infrastructure, which will create a ton of private sector jobs, investing to make sure our kids are educated for the jobs of the future, and asking profitable businesses and corporations to stop expecting the taxpayers to pick up the tab for food stamps and medicaid because they are not willing to give their workers a living wage.
“Socialism” is just a word that scares you because there are people going out of their way to scare you. This ain’t Russia or Cuba or China or Nazi Germany or even Greece. This is America, and the basic things that Bernie is talking about are things we all had in the “glory days of the 50s and 60s when America truly was exceptional. What’s wrong with that?

Buster Brown Town is a professor of odd human behavior at Dogville Academy. Buster blogs for Bernie, bites billionaires and will bark for food. His web sites:
Professor Town is also the founder of Dogs for Humanity, a not-for-profit with the motto: “We may not be human, but we are humane.  We asked Mr. 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.”

Watch Bernie Sanders describe what he means by democratic socialism and find out what other U.S. presidents have been labeled as "socialist in his talk to the students of Georgetown University. (Bernie's remarks begin about the 1:33 mark on the timeline.) Click on the You Tube video link below and feel the Bern! 
Bernie Sanders's New Deal Socialism is a very good article which also explains Bernie's position.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Why Bernie Will Win – Part 4: The Big Difference

Why Bernie Will Win – Part 4: The Big Difference
by Joe Brunoli
a.k.a. EuroYankee

This post is a very easy one to write, because it is, in effect, a simple question: Will Hillary Clinton represent the interests of the working people of America?

What do millionaires talk about?
Hillary is a woman who has “served” as first lady of Arkansas, then first lady of the U.S., then as a senator, and then as Secretary of State. Her professional life has, for all intents and purposes, been a purely political one. And yet, through her connections, her contacts and her skill in manipulating the system, she has managed to parlay this political career into a fortune worth up to $55,000,000 according to USA Today.

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has been a “real” political animal. During the same period that Hillary was amassing her fortune through an establishment political career, Bernie served as a city mayor, a congressman and a senator, all the while running on his famous Democratic Socialist platform. The result? According to the same USA Today article, Bernie has a net worth of just $330,000.

Bernie flies economy class when he travels.
So, here is the question: How is it that two candidates, who many claim have the same priorities and the same goals, could both dedicate their lives to politics, to “fighting for the working families” —and yet one ends up with a net worth of $55 million, and the other ends up with a net worth of just $330,000?

I think this is a big part of the reason that people do not like the Clintons. They are a political family. They have been making their living in political “service” to their state of Arkansas and then their country for virtually all of their adult lives, and yet they have managed to amass an incredible fortune while supposedly “serving” the public.

No one begrudged the Roosevelts their wealth, nor the Kennedys theirs.  Even Mitt Romney was generally considered to have “earned” his fortune. And Donald Trump has become famous almost solely for his success as a businessman. In other words, they “earned” their money the American way—in business.

But the Clintons? They are simply “America’s Political Family.” They have never done anything else. They travel in the same circles as the Trumps and the Bushes. Indeed, it is now widely known that the Clintons went to Trump’s last wedding, and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is best friends with Chelsea Clinton.

And this brings us to what I term the Big Difference. 

Bernie Sanders is a true believer. He is motivated by a genuine desire to help people, to speak truth to power, and as he says so often in his speeches, he wants to use his political position to “take on the billionaire class.”

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has used her political positions and connections to become  part of that billionaire class.

That is, I think, why people in the U.S. don’t like her. She literally embodies all that is wrong with the corrupt and money-driven political system that is running America today.

She is, in essence, the poster-girl for why Bernie’s political revolution is needed, and that fact will come out over the course of the campaign. It has to.

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. 

 Letting "Our Side" Down

You know what really irks me about the recent Democratic candidates' forum? Rachel Maddow showed each candidate a photo from their early (supposedly) political years and had them describe it and asked what they learned from that experience. It's how Maddow handled each candidate that gets to me.

Martin O'Malley: Maddow showed a photo of him as a young man working on Gary Hart's presidential campaign. He said he learned a lot about campaigning and politics from that early experience.

Bernie Sanders: Maddow showed a photo of Bernie at age 21 leading a sit-in to desegregate student housing at the University of Chicago. Bernie said he learned a lot about forming coalitions and how to lead others to take a stand on moral issues that affect us all as Americans.

Hillary Clinton: Maddow showed a photo of Bill and Hillary getting married. Yeah, nothing to do with Hillary's political growth or holding an office or leading others--but a photo of her on her wedding day. They talked about her then-fashionable spiral hair perm and how Bill's hair was now all white.

Maddow didn't press Clinton to say anything about her early years being politically active (as Hillary Clinton supported Republican Barry Goldwater for president in the 1960s). No, they talked about Hillary's hairstyle. Why didn't Maddow show a photo of Hillary Clinton campaigning for Goldwater? What would Hillary have said she learned from that experience? It's better to switch parties?

The overall message I took away from the Democratic candidates' forum was this: If you are a female politician, it's all about your hairstyle and nothing substantive like forming coalitions and leadership. So, MSNBC (Maddow's network) is saying that Clinton is "ahead" in the polls because she has a great hairstyle and can talk eloquently around in circles without answering questions fully, if at all. 

(Really, who all was in on this "secret conversation" in 1996 that made Hillary Clinton say she was against gay marriage then? Are there any "witnesses" to this "secret conversation" and if so, why was Hillary allowed in a conversation with her husband's advisors at the time? She wasn't a senator then, only the first lady, so how did she get the clearance? Does that mean as "first husband" he'll be telling her what to do? Isn't that essentially giving Bill Clinton a third term?)

Rachel Maddow and Hillary Clinton have made women in politics look shallow, who must rely on their looks and marriage connections to get ahead, and aren't to be pressed hard to fully answer questions in a straightforward manner. Talk about reverse discrimination! Thanks for letting "our side" down, ladies!

Bernie Sanders has many intelligent and capable women currently working on his campaign. I know we will see many strong women working in his administration, women who can answer questions without talking in circles. Women who will make good role models for our daughters and granddaughters.

                                                                          * * *
"Bernie" from Econia

Want to learn about democracy in a "hands-on-smartphone" way? Check out a free open-source mobile game in development called "Econia" at  

What is Econia?
Our democracy is being sold to the highest bidder, and we’re too busy tapping on our phones to do anything about it. We want to help change that, but we can’t do it without you!

We’re making a game that will appeal to today’s casual audience, and help them explore the roots and causes of our democracy’s systemic corruption.

At first glance Econia is a simple tap-game, but there’s a lot more going on under the surface. Understanding supply and demand, the power of marketing, and using money to tip the system in your favor will be keys to success.

Players start as a farmer in a small frontier town, tapping on crops and struggling to survive. As the town grows into a metropolis, players will collect and sell food, hire other Econians to work their farm, help discover advances in agriculture and industry, and participate in the town’s democracy.

As the player grows he will discover how easy it is under the current system to use his wealth to bend the government in his favor.

And all with super-cute graphics!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why Bernie Sanders Will Win - Part 3: Foreign Policy

Why Bernie Sanders Will Win - Part 3: Foreign Policy
by Joe Brunoli
a.k.a. EuroYankee

No one needs to discuss the differences on foreign policy that exist between Bernie Sanders and the Republican candidates. Those should be treated as a given. What has not been discussed publicly, however, and what bears real examination, is that these same policy differences exist between Bernie and Hillary Clinton.

Hillary often boasts that she had wide and deep support from Republicans when she served as Secretary of State. Given the reactionary and militaristic views of the Republican party when it comes to foreign policy, such a claim should immediately raise red flags for any Democratic voter. 

In addition, it is well-known that Hillary voted to support the Bush Administration’s disastrous invasion of Iraq.  She has since admitted that this was a mistake, and that she had been fooled like so many others. But what if Hillary’s Iraq vote was not a lapse in judgment but rather an expression of her deeper convictions, specifically her support for the neo-conservative interventionist policies of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and others? What if Hillary voted “yea” not because of possible WMD, but because deep down she thought that the U.S. had the right – indeed the responsibility – to invade Iraq and install a “friendly” government that would serve America’s strategic aims in that region?

Robert Kagan, a well-know neocon and one of the architects and proponents of the Iraq war, was one of the principal adherents to the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). This is the organization that called for the U.S., as the sole superpower, to pursue an aggressive program of military intervention and to project “hard power” everywhere to secure America’s preeminent place in the world.

Kagan is a real fan of Hillary, and he speaks glowingly about her willingness to pursue interventionist policies. In a 2014 interview with the New York Times, Kagan said of Clinton: "If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue …it's something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else."

Indeed, whenever there has been a choice between diplomacy and war, Hillary has pushed for a military solution. She was the one that urged the U.S. attacks on Libya; she was for being more militarily involved in Syria, arming the so-called “moderate” rebels and even putting in American “advisers.” More recently, she has called for a “No Fly Zone” over Syria – and we know from our experience in Iraq that such as step usually ends up being a prolonged lead up to war.

There were also other telltale votes in the Senate. When a bill came up to limit the use of cluster bombs in heavily populated civilian areas, she crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans against it. She also joined Republicans in voting against transferring Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. so that the prison could be closed. (Bernie voted for it.)

Likewise, she voted to set policy to "combat, contain, and roll back" violent Iranian activities in Iraq – a major increase in military operations in Iraq. (Bernie opposed it.)

And, of course, Hillary voted for the $500 billion Defense Spending Bill in 2008, which Bernie opposed so eloquently and vehemently. (See video: http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4544002/sen-bernie-sanders-defense-spending-national-priorities )

Let’s make no mistake--Hillary has as much as told us that she would be to the right of Obama on foreign policy. She has opposed him numerous times, not just on Syria but also as regards Israel. Hillary has condemned Jimmy Carter’s assessment that the occupied territories represent a new apartheid. She has also worked to block Palestine’s recognition as a state in the U.N.

I don’t know if Clinton’s bellicosity arises from a fear of being perceived as weak on foreign policy, or whether she is just another neocon who believes that the U.S. should intervene wherever it wants to. But one thing is sure,  Hillary is always the first to push for a military option, and in this way. she is a true student of neo-conservatism. If she is president, it is most likely, as Kagan says, that she will pursue what the PNAC called a “Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.” 

President Obama recently announced that he will not be bringing the troops home from Afghanistan. The next president will thus need to decide whether or not to leave a permanent military presence in that country or indeed to double-down on our commitment with even more troops. There is no doubt also that Iraq will continue to be a cauldron of violence and instability. How would Hillary Clinton as president handle these situations? Unfortunately, if the past is any indication, we know that Hillary will listen to the other war hawks and choose the military solution, bringing about the “quagmire” Bernie is warning about.

When it comes to foreign policy, Bernie can always be expected to give the line that he delivered in the Democratic debate: "I happen to believe from the bottom of my heart that war should be the last resort.”

Many may be tempted to dismiss this statement as simple oratory or expressing a sentiment rather than arguing a position. But in reality, when Bernie Sanders is compared with Hillary Clinton, we must realize that it is not a platitude but rather a serious declaration of a major difference in their approach to foreign policy. That simple belief that “war is a last resort” may seem axiomatic to Bernie and to us, but it is by no means a given with Hillary Clinton.

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.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why Bernie Sanders Will Win -- Part 2: Morality

Original poster art by Jaeil Cho
(I plan to donate 5% of all profits made from the Bernie poster at the end of each month to his campaign.)

Why Bernie Sanders Will Win – Part 2: Morality
By Joe Brunoli
a.k.a. EuroYankee
There is another aspect of the Bernie Sanders campaign of which the establishment political set and the mainstream media seem wholly unaware: his direct and persistent appeal to people’s morality.

Bernie’s full-throated attacks on what he calls “the billionaire class” are widely described as a populist message, designed to appeal to working class moderates on an economic level and liberal intellectuals on a philosophical level.  The media frame the Sanders message and the Sanders campaign as straddling these two demographic groups, and they constantly express doubt as to whether Bernie can expand his audience beyond these two cohorts.

What neither the establishment media nor the establishment political class have grasped, however, is the extent to which the Sanders Message is an ecumenical call for a return to morality.

Bernie is addressing economic issues that have not been tackled openly and honestly in over thirty years. The novelty of such a thematic is part of why he has such appeal among voters looking for a fresh dialogue and new ideas.  What gives Bernie the ability to win over voters of all stripes, however, is his willingness to ”call out” the ultra-wealthy and the corporations for their rampant greed.

The 1980s saw a rise in the perceived importance of wealth and financial power, or what Niall Ferguson, the noted Harvard economist, has described as “The Ascent of Money”. The Reagan Revolution brought with it the idea that our purpose was to become rich, to win, to beat out our competitors not only in our professional lives but everywhere. The 1980s of Ronald Reagan was the time of the first banking crises, the first bailouts, and the birth of America’s fascination and obsession with the wealthy. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous debuted in 1984. Dallas and Falcon Crest, the fictitious depiction of two powerful family dynasties, dominated prime time

TV. Everyone wanted to be rich.  And that was okay because, as Gordon Gekko assured us, “Greed is good.”

In the 2015 of Bernie Sanders, greed is definitely not good. As a matter of fact, greed is evil. Avarice has once more regained its place among the Seven Deadly Sins, and it is perfectly okay to condemn – on moral grounds - those who are fabulously wealthy yet aspire to even more wealth.

The quasi-religious nature of the moral opprobrium Bernie heaps upon the wealthy and the corporations is no accident, and in his economic jihad Sanders has one incredibly powerful and yet seemingly improbable ally: Pope Francis. Whenever he gets a chance, Bernie gives a shout out to the Pontiff, telling anyone who will listen that Francis is one of his “heroes”. Bernie cites the Pope whenever he is talking about income inequality, climate change, unbridled capitalism, the need to take care of the poor, and what Francis calls “the cult of money.”

And so we have the Sanders recipe for success: a “political revolution” that is fueled not just by economic themes but by moral dicta. And it is resonating. The Reagan 80s saw the rise of the so-called “Moral Majority” that quickly turned Americans’ attention away from economic issues and focused them on what Pat Buchanan called the “Culture Wars” over abortion, equal rights, gay marriage, and so on. Bernie is, in many ways, appealing to that same cohort of people who are ready and willing to vote their moral conscience, but he is turning them back to the morality of a massively unfair economic system. Whether he can actually cobble together a majority with this moral message remains to be seen, but so far he seems to be hitting the right chords.

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. 

Are you attending or hosting an event to promote Bernie this week? What's holding you back? Get out there! Go to the national events map page and type in your zip code and see what's going on in your neck of the woods. Go Team Bernie!