Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Future to Believe In

A Future to Believe In

'Tis the season to enjoy caroling...


Happy #Bernie 2016 New Year!

Bernie meet up in Lakewood, Ohio.
I can hardly believe it... We've made it to the end of 2015 and Bernie Sanders is set to take on his Democratic challengers in the Iowa caucuses in just a few weeks. Who would have guessed so many millions would flock to Bernie when he first announced he was running for the White House in late April? I know I'm awestruck by the overwhelming enthusiasm expressed by Bernie supporters throughout the country and abroad. Everyone is looking for "a future to believe in" and Bernie Sanders gives us all a solid chance at obtaining that future.

Light up the night for Bernie!
When I came across Barb and others on Facebook back in the spring, I felt relieved to learn that I wasn't the only person in Northwest Ohio who admired Bernie Sanders. I wasn't the only one who thought, "If Bernie ever runs for president, I'm voting for him!" But little did we realize how many others in this mostly rural portion of the Buckeye State were also interested in learning more about the progressive senator from Vermont. We have held meet-ups and debate watch parties. We have phone-banked (I'm told this is a verb) and brightened the night with Bernie's Light Brigade. We have collected signatures to put Bernie on the ballot in Ohio and some of us (lucky me!) have volunteered to become Bernie delegates at the Ohio Democratic caucus on January 5. We have become involved in bringing about that "future to believe in" because we believe in it wholeheartedly, and it's all because of Bernie Sanders' leadership.

New Year's celebrations often revolve around making resolutions or goals to meet for the year to come. Have you made any detailing how you're going to help Bernie Sanders' campaign? Are you going to pass out flyers? Participate in a phone bank? Help people get to the polls on the primary day? Don't be shy. Tell us in the comments below what goals you've set to help bring a truly progressive agenda before your fellow voters.
Debate Watch Parties can be fun.

Do you have any predictions for 2016? Corporate media broadcasts at this time of year love to do "the best of" shows and make predictions of how events will unfold in the coming year. What predictions will you make regarding Bernie's run for the White House? What predictions do you have on how Bernie's run will affect your life in the coming years? Please feel free to share them with us in the comments section.

And as we close out the first seven months of The Bernie Blog and plunge madly forward into the new year--the election year, no less!--let's reflect back on some of those "best of" moments from our early efforts to support Bernie's campaign. Great rallies, great speeches, great debate moments, great promo events, great photos, great graphics, great memes, great articles, great haikus, great writers, great blogs, great instructional videos, great filks, great music videos... Oh, there are so many wonderful and original Bernie-inspired songs! Wouldn't it be great if there was an award called the "Bernie" (sort of like the Grammy, Emmy or Oscar) to bestow upon all the creative Bernie supporters who have enriched our year?

If you're interested in helping get an "awards program" together, please contact The Bernie Blog at thebernieblog2016@gmail.com We could ask for nominees in various categories and set up an online poll to allow the people to vote for their favorite song, photo, meme, blog, etc. Also, what would a "Bernie Award" look like? Should it be patterned after an Oscar statuette? Your suggestions are needed.

Keep feelin' the Bern, folks. It will be a happy 2016 for us all because we truly have a future to believe in once Bernie Sanders is in the White House.

Here are some possible nominees for the "Bernies". Can you think of others? Tell us! Email us or put them in the comments below. Thank you.

The second 100 days of Bernie's campaign in photos--awesome and inspirational! https://medium.com/@BernieSanders/photo-gallery-the-second-100-days-of-the-bernie-sanders-presidential-campaign-64ae88cf3121#.7hqk72qxn
Best original artwork?

A fantastic live streaming network for the 99%: http://live.bernie2016.tv

A info-packed article about how well Bernie's doing:

A respected pro-Bernie reporter, H.A. Goodman:

More catchy songs about Bernie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzgBkpY-6mE&list=RDdzgBkpY-6mE

Here's a potent short video that would make a great TV commercial:

Happy New Year from all of us at The Bernie Blog! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Why It's a Wonderful Life

A blessed holiday season to you and yours from all of us at The Bernie Blog.

Why It's a Wonderful Life
by Kara Post-Kennedy

As far as holiday traditions go, spending time with family and watching the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life have become fairly ubiquitous. There’s nothing like kin in close quarters to inspire in us a need to be uplifted!  Ha.  My family, like many others I know, boasts a wide variety of political views, which makes for spicy conversation.  Personally, I think a wide variety of political views is a hallmark of great parenting. If all the kids grow up to have the exact same belief system,  that’s something called “brainwashing”, right?  

Anyhow, this Thanksgiving the “spicy” topic of Donald Trump came up. No surprise as there is no escaping the man, even at your own kitchen table.  Turns out the view that Donald Trump is nuts was the consensus from both sides of the aisle.  The possibility that his actual intention is to undermine the Republican Party by making them look like a bunch of intolerant extremists was floated without argument. The only point of contention that arose, in fact, was when the opinion that Bernie Sanders is also “crazy” was introduced.  

 My reaction? When did having high-minded ideals and dreams of a strong and thriving middle class become a “pie-in-the-sky” proposition in this country?  With Donald Trump doing well in the polls, I have to ask:  When did the paradigm shift happen that allowed so many people to start rooting for Mr. Potter instead of George Bailey?

For those of you unfamiliar with the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey is the hero, a man who sacrifices his dreams to run a family building and loan company, the only thing standing between the middle class families of his town and a selfish, greedy miser named Mr. Potter.  Because Bailey Building & Loan is cutting into his bottom line, Mr. Potter tries to lure George away from his humble life with grandiose promises of wealth and freedom from the weight of what George sees as his moral responsibility to his fellow man.  Potter tells George, “We’ll have so much winning, you’ll get bored with winning!”  

 Oh wait, no… Donald Trump said that.  

What Mr. Potter said was, “You wouldn't mind living in the nicest house in town. Buying your wife a lot of fine clothes, going to New York on a business trip a couple of times a year...”  George’s response to this offer is unselfish and wise: “You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money.  Well, it doesn't, Mr. Potter!”  

Donald Trump has said, “I’m really rich. And by the way, I’m not saying that in a bragging way; that’s the kind of mindset you need for this country.”  Lionel Barrymore, who plays Mr. Potter, even scrunches up his face into the same weird scowl Trump does.  Role model alert!
The crux of the conflict between Mr. Potter and George is that Mr. Potter believes that giving the middle class a break will result in “a discontented, lazy rabble”.  Donald Trump has said, “If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable.”  

But Americans work longer hours for lower wages, take less vacations and retire later than the citizens of any other developed country on earth.  Do you supposed the burn-out and discouragement the middle class is feeling right now might best be solved by “whistling while we work”?   

Bernie Sanders thinks that raising the minimum wage might actually be somewhat more helpful.  He has said, “In the year 2015, no one who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty.”  Does that really seem like a crazy ideal?  

 In the movie, the first time Mr. Potter tries to shut down Bailey Building & Loan, George is incredulous that the man is actually against his father’s goal of helping middle class families realize their dream of home ownership.:  “Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers?” George asks.  Donald Trump says “having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country” and has no plans to raise it.  Do you want to know who having a low minimum wage is great for?  Corporations and business people like Trump that can increase their wealth on the backs of men and women living in poverty.  

 Is this the wonderful life we dreamed of as Americans?

The climax of the clash between George’s high ideals and Mr. Potter’s self-interest comes when George’s forgetful Uncle Billy loses an $8,000 bank deposit, effectively destroying the business that both George and his father fought so long and hard to maintain.  When Mr. Potter swoops in like the vulture that he is, the people of the community rally behind George. Everyone contributes as they can to save the day.  

Oo, that sounds a little socialist, doesn’t it?   

Bernie Sanders calls himself a “Democratic Socialist." He says  it means, “We must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy”.  He proposes universal health care and free college tuition, things that are working in other thriving societies like Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. 

Here’s the question we should be asking ourselves:  If we have successful working models in wealthy countries of Democratic Socialism, what exactly is our objection to it?  Are we afraid we’ll have so much winning we’ll get bored with winning?  Why are we so moved when everyone contributes what they can to save George (and their town as well) but so offended by the idea that the rich can afford to pitch in more to save their fellow citizens (and country).   

Perhaps you're saying to yourself, “Well, that is just a movie and this is real life!”  And I will say to you, "Why can’t real life be wonderful, too?" Not just for those from privileged backgrounds but for all of us?  Why is a man (Mr. Potter) who keeps the $8,000 he doesn’t need that could save his neighbor considered a villain in a movie--but a similar man (Trump) is a contending presidential candidate in real life?  

Bio:  I am a Mom, writer and blogger at Your New Best Friendhttp://karapostkennedy.blogspot.com/ 

Bright Lights for Bernie Shine Over Toledo 

 December 18th may have been the new Star Wars movie premiere, but it was also the debut of Bernie's Light Brigade in Toledo, Ohio. These brave Buckeye Bernie supporters donned lots of warm clothing (temperatures were well below freezing after dark) and stood on a busy overpass bridge at Monroe Avenue and I-475, as well as a few other street corners in the area. They report that they got quite a few honks and "Go Bernie!" thumbs up from drivers and passers-by.  Don't their signs look awesome? Click on this link to learn out more about how you and your friends can become members of Bernie's Light Brigade today. Feel free to email photos from your events to The Bernie Blog so we can share them with others. Thank you.

Bernie's Light Brigade--brightening the world and sharing the love and hope of the Bernie Sanders Revolution.  Enjoy the lights and #FeeltheBern everyone!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Top Ten Reasons Why I Support Bernie

If you're out at the Star Wars premiere this weekend, you might see members of Bernie's Light Brigade with lighted signs. Tell them you support Bernie, too, and share your thoughts with others in line who may not have heard about him yet. Feel the Bern and may the Force be with you--always!
Now, to quote Julie Andrews from yet another movie classic (The Sound of Music): "Snowflakes and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodles, brown geese that fly with the moon on their wing...These are a few of my favorite things!" 

This week our blogger tells us his favorite things about the senator from Vermont. Read on and see if you don't agree with him. What other things do you like about Bernie? Share them in the comments below. Better yet, write us a blog article and submit it. We'd love to hear from you.

Top Ten Reasons Why I Support Bernie
by Terry Pensel

10) Equality
Bernie Sanders has supported equality and has been active in the civil rights movement from the sixties. He wants everybody to have an equal opportunity at an education, a decent standard of living, and a secure dignified retirement. He believes no one in a country as great as ours should work 40 hours or more a week and still live in poverty.  He is against discrimination by race, gender, sexual orientation, origin, age, and creed. If you don’t believe that all people deserve an equal opportunity, then to me you don’t believe in democracy.

9) Infrastructure
Unlike his opponents, Bernie wants to rebuild this country's infrastructure. We need to repair our bridges, highways, railroads, dams, levees, and schools. This is a function of government to develop municipal projects that improve the well-being of everyone. Even the former Speaker of the House, John Boehner, stated, “We badly need infrastructure improvements, but we have no money for it.” The problem is that Republicans won’t raise taxes on the corporations that pay nothing in federal income tax, or on the top 1% who pay a lower percentage of tax than ordinary people like teachers, truck drivers or electricians. 
8) Free Post-High School Public Education
This is a way of life for people in Europe.  Many countries pay for college students to go to school. The return on higher education investment is about six times for every dollar spent. Other countries have done this and continue to do it, and they are reaping the benefits with more high tech jobs, less social problems, better economic conditions and less poverty. The US, on the other hand, has the highest post-high school educational costs, the highest student debt rate, as well as lower paying jobs and less benefits.

7) Tax Code Fairness
Whether you use the Warren Buffett example, or a corporate welfare example, anyone who studies our tax code with any scruples at all can see it’s designed and written to benefit the very, very wealthy.  At least 57% of the new wealth is going to the top 1%, which means people who are making $231,000 per year are making even more and paying a lower percentage of their income in federal taxes.  If we increase just their tax rates, eliminate corporate welfare, offshore tax havens, and other tax loopholes, we would have enough money for all the infrastructure improvements, free health care, and free public higher education we collectively need as a society.

6) History of Progressive Politics
Bernie has a history of progressive politics. You can look at his voting record and what all he has fought for and his principles. You'll find he is very consistent and taken principled stands on the big issues and has been a leader in progressive politics for years. He stood up against the Iraq War. He promotes the single payer plan for universal free health care. He stands up for free public higher education, and daycare and paid family leave for new and parents of young children. All these benefits are a regular part of socialized democratic countries in Europe as well as Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

5) Integrity
This is a big point that everyone needs to consider when selecting any candidate. What do they talk about, and what won't they talk about. Many of the presidential candidates will not talk about tax code changes, exporting/outsourcing jobs overseas, offshore tax havens, for-profit prisons, monopolized industries, big pharma price gouging, out-of-control CEO salaries, huge billion dollar trade imbalances, or police brutality. 

Bernie knows what people are concerned about, and he fights for their interests.  If a candidate starts talking about Planned Parenthood, illegal immigrants, welfare people living high on the hog, takers, totalitarianism, losing your liberty and freedoms, Muslim Sharia law takeover and religious freedoms, they are really trying to make you surrender to fear and scapegoating the poor, so they can continue the economic/social relationships they have helped to create. 

Many of the candidates running don’t want any real or fundamental change in society. They are comfortable being the lackeys of the top 1% who want to take away what little social benefits we have fought for such as minimum wage laws, overtime, benefits, OSHA laws, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, environmental laws, food stamps, and unemployment benefits. Who do these candidates represent, the American public or their rich campaign donors? They want to extend the exploitation and servitude of workers to the status quo.

4) Truth 
I have reviewed Bernie’s numbers on various social and economic issues such as wealth inequality, poverty, unemployment, factories that have moved or shut down since 2001, prisons, pharmaceutical prices, health care costs. The media has not really questioned his numbers. I have vetted the numbers, and I have had no serious challenges on statistics on social/economic relationships Bernie talks about. We are on a downward spiral as a government, a people, and a society. Bernie has a plan and wants genuinely do right by the working people of this country. He stands for their collective interest. He is not afraid of the truth and promotes it everywhere in everything he does. 

3) Medicine/Big Pharma/Health Insurance/Big Money Hospitals
One of the biggest differences between Bernie and everyone else in the field running for president is his stance on health care.  Every major industrialized country has health care as a basic right. Bernie calls the U.S. health care system a national embarrassment. He wants a single payer system like many other countries have. 

The biggest problem with our health care system is it is based on a for-profit model. Health Insurance companies provide no medical services, but take one-third of every dollar spent on health care. Before Obamacare, there was no regulation with regards to profit. No other country spends as much per citizen on health care than the U.S. We spend the most on prescription drugs--anywhere between 3 to 20 times more than other countries for the same drugs made by the same drug manufacturers. We have non-profit hospitals that have CEO and administrators receiving mid-six to seven figure salaries. We need health care as a right, not some privilege only for the elite.  

2) Democracy 
This has been forgotten, but it is worth understanding who Bernie really is. He wants everyone to participate in the political process. He wants everyone to vote, debate and work out the problems of our society and come together to find collective solutions. He talks how Republicans are working hard to shut down early voting, absentee voting and late evening voting. 

Secondly, he is against the excessive stringent ID requirements that keep working class people from getting a voter ID card. Example: A former Speaker of the House, Jim Wright, could not register to vote with his expired driver license and his TCU faculty ID card. The purpose of these new voter ID laws is to keep minorities, working class and poor people from voting, period. Voter fraud is so low that it does not constitute even half of a percent of the total vote, but denying people access to the vote pays huge benefits to the party that does not have the majority to win an election. 

 Bernie is for honest democratic elections and automatic voter registration at age 18. Even more importantly, he wants to eliminate Citizens United that allows a billionaire or large corporation to donate unlimited sums of money to a political candidate. Big money has ruined our democracy, and we have to stand up against the richest and powerful people and organizations that subvert our regulations, our standard of living, and our economic rights.

1) Big Issues

Finally, Bernie wants to talk about the big issues: universal health care, free public higher education, paid family leave, excessive student loan debt, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, poverty, exporting jobs overseas, tax code fairness, inner city youth unemployment, infrastructure repair and improvements, trade deficits, and police brutality.  

Just listen to what other presidential candidates don't talk about, and ask yourself why are they not talking about the big issues. The big issue for other presidential candidates is to maintain the status quo.  One in eleven corporations pay zero federal income tax. Corporations get tax breaks to export jobs overseas. Sixty thousand factories since 2001 have moved overseas or shutdown.  Multi-national companies move their headquarters overseas to elude U.S. tax laws. Corporations overseas don’t have to follow environmental laws, OSHA laws or labor laws such as a minimum wage, overtime or pay benefits. 

The world climate is changing for the worse, and we have wrestle control of this country away from the ultra-rich or we will all suffer. Bernie is fighting for our interests. We need to help ourselves and fight on the big issues with Bernie.

Bio: Terry Pensel says: "I have been a progressive political activist since the late 1980's. I have been championed universal health care, free higher education, and decent living wages. I have a AAS in Electrical Engineering from Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo, Iowa. I have attended University of Illinois at Chicago, and DePaul University in Chicago. I do some web development, and IT support. My hobbies include playing the ukulele, teaching the ukulele, and biking. "

This weekend is twice as special. First, there's the Star Wars premiere and then on December 19th is the next Democratic Debate. Are you throwing a debate watch party/rally? Awesome! Want to attend one? Go to http://map.berniesanders.com/ and type in your zip code to find a party near you. Bring your spouse, significant other and/or a friend along. Introduce them to the best candidate running for the White House--Bernie Sanders!