Monday, March 28, 2016

We Are The People...

#BirdieSanders became the trending hashtag online within minutes of this adorable moment at the Portland rally on Good Friday. A small yellow finch landed on Bernie's podium after he gestured at it on the platform. They enjoyed a moment of happy contemplation and then off Bernie's new birdie friend flew. "There's some symbolism here," Bernie said. "That little bird is really a dove, and he's asking for world peace. No more wars!" The crowd roared its approval.

The humble finch holds a lot of positive symbolism. You can read about it here.  The full clip of the encounter (taken from Bernie2016TV) is below. Let's hope our feathered friend is a good omen of happy days ahead for everyone in the Berniverse!

This week we hear from a very diverse group of Berners--men, women, veterans, entertainers--but we all have one thing in common: We want to see Bernie Sanders in the White HouseWe want a future to believe in for all Americans because we are the people, and it's time our government represents us and not just the billionaires!

We Are The People
by Carl Elderton

The tunnel vision of those inside the beltway is their undoing. As far as they are concerned, the Struggle is all about Power: which party will win, who will get the choicest appointments, how do we spin this or that story to our advantage.

The people whose lives and careers orbit DC are blind to the fact that since 2008 5.5 million homes have been lost to Wall Street fraud; the cost of housing is simply beyond the reach of too many people in this nation; poverty levels at 15% are back to where they were in 1965; 14% of people nearing retirement age have no savings, having spent them to survive the Great Recession where the banks were bailed out and we were abandoned. 56% of Americans have less than $1000 in checking or savings. That means no more buffers for any more Wall Street "shenanigans."

When the delusional Supreme Court defines money as speech, they silence 99% of the citizens of this nation.

When politicians tell us we have to be pragmatic, rather than boldly challenge the status quo, they're telling us we're helpless victims of the system--there is no hope.

By now, any one paying any attention knows that when you keep people hungry, homeless, helpless, and hopeless, you've created a breeding ground for extremism.Too many people in this nation are in that place due to the politics-as-usual crowd.

We Bernie supporters are not extreme in our demands, but we are not going to accept one more lesser evil. We are demanding a change from business as usual, politics as usual.

We are the Revolution you fear. We stand against you not with guns but ideas. Ideas we embrace with passion and determination. The Ideas presented and championed by FDR, JFK, even LBJ. We are sick of seeing the Democratic dream of the Great Society being crushed and eroded by neo-liberal Democrats who trample history while reaching for personal gain.

We are people of all the colors of the human race, all ages, the entire gender identity spectrum. We are compassionate human beings and Americans one and all. And we care about each other; we want to raise up one other.

We refuse to be defined by your demographics. We refuse to be played against one another by splinter issues for your personal profit and quest for Power!

Damn us to hell, belittle and demean us, claim gender opposition, do whatever you want, but we will not be fodder for your canons and profit machines one more cycle. We will no longer be herded into the slaughter stalls of corporatism by another Judas goat of any stripe.

Enough is enough!
Bio: Carl Elderton hails from the St. Louis area and feels the Bern.

Here's an excellent testimonial about why he's voting for Bernie Sanders from a veteran, Ed T., a.k.a. Bern Notice.

I just placed my vote for Alan Grayson's  super delegate voting page. On his page, he had a button asking why I back Sanders. Obviously, I couldn't pass the opportunity to send a message. I wrote:
 "I'm a person that was born and raised in Detroit and a veteran. I have seen what has been the result of bad trade deals manifested in the decline of my former home. I have seen the suffering of veterans and foreign nationals first hand when our so called leaders are so quick to vote for wars. I am disgusted with how much money we can spend to bail out corporations while they simultaneously say that we can't afford to address our domestic needs. I'm tired of big money and the powerful having more say and more benefits from the government that I pay taxes to while I get nothing. I back Bernie because for the first time in my lifetime I have a candidate that is not just talking about what's important to me, but has a track record to back it up. Government should be for all of the people, not just for the elites and corporations. I want Citizens United overturned and Glass-Stegall restored, and he is willing to do what he can to make that happen. I want a candidate who is backed and funded by people like me, so that they are truly answerable to people like me. I want a candidate with integrity--not someone who says one thing one moment then changes their rhetoric when it's politically convenient. I'm done settling for half measures. I want reform. That's why I support Bernie Sanders."
Well said, Ed. Veterans such as Hawaii US Representative Tulsi Gabbard and veteran groups such as the VFW have endorsed Bernie as well. Read more about these veterans and their reasons for supporting Bernie at Veterans for Bernie Sanders.

Here is Tulsi's video on why she as a veteran supports Bernie Sanders as her commander-in-chief.

This Woman is Bernie Strong! 
A weekly commentary from Bernie Sanders' female supporters

This week we offer the third and final part of Allison's Dear Mrs. Clinton letter.

Dear Mrs. Clinton:

See, Mrs. Clinton, as much as you wouldn’t like us to talk about it, we can grasp the differences between right and wrong. We can see what you did wrong when you tried to cover up Benghazi and play down the disaster that ensued. We can see the problem with sending (and then lying) about sending emails from a private server. We can see the problem when a senator's voting record doesn't match what they say they stand for.  When a person lies to the government, it’s called a felony. When the government lies to the people, its called politics. Quite frankly Mrs. Clinton, we’re sick of your sort of politics. 

Simply putting a vagina into the office isn’t going to solve the world’s problems. It isn’t going to make women equal. In fact, having you, Mrs. Clinton, in office would probably damage the prospect for any female president for several years afterwards.

I agree that we need to put a female president in office. I agree that this should happen, but it needs to happen when it is meant to happen. Pushing Hillary Clinton into office will not promote a feminist agenda. In fact, it would presumably result in the opposite.

You’ll never read this. That’s fine. That’s not the purpose. What sort of clarity could you obtain from reading a 19-year old girl’s blog post? Hopefully none. But what I want to make clear is this: We have brains and we are capable of using them. Quite frankly, I think the sh*t spewing from Ms. Albright's and Ms. Steinem’s mouths astounds the vast majority of young feminists. So, do as you will in your trajectory to the presidency. I’m not worried because I intend to use my brain.

Sincerely yours,
 Bio: Allison Place says this about herself:
    "I am 19 years old; I am a Media Studies major at UC Berkeley; I have worked in social media brand management. I am from Redding (the most conservative county in California). My support for Bernie and my interest in politics took off once I came to UC Berkeley for school. Ever since Bernie started running, I have been considering a minor or double major in political science. I usually write comedy articles for my blog, but since getting more involved in politics I do a mix of both comedy and political pieces now." 
 You can find Allison's complete Dear Mrs. Clinton post at her blog:

Yet another talented Bernie supporter sings us a pep song that tells us what we need do--Vote Bernie, of course! (Please feel free to share the video below.)

And for you NE Indiana Berners: A new campaign office will have its open house on Monday, March 28 at 6:30 pm in Fort Wayne. Check it out at 1137 N. Wells St., Fort Wayne IN 46808, in the old Jack and Johnny's pub. It's time to get out the vote for Bernie in the Indiana primary on May 3. Feel the Bern!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Amber Gets To Vote

Editor's note: Little did I know when I wrote about voter suppression in Ohio on March 15 that we would see such blatant voter suppression in the Arizona primary the following week. Here is a succinct article that explains what happened in Arizona's most populated county:

There are petitions circulating online demanding an investigation into the voter suppression/voter fraud which occurred in Arizona. Here are two links where you can sign:

Voter suppression isn't funny--it's downright ugly. It smacks of racism and discrimination against the poor and minorities, the young and disabled. Speak up and speak out about abuses in our elections! Sign the petitions and share the links with others.  The vote you save may be your own.

You can contact Arizona Governor Ducey About your concerns about   #ArizonaVoterFraud  at the link below:

Amber Gets to Vote
(This Woman is Bernie Strong)
words and photos by Cindy A. Matthews

After a long week of coordinating canvassers in your small Ohio city, heading to your local precinct on primary day to vote for Bernie Sanders is something you’d look forward to, isn’t it? So, imagine your frustration when once you arrive at your polling place you’re told you cannot vote because you don’t have proper ID so go on home and forget about it. This is Amber’s story.

Unfortunately, Amber’s story parallels other voters’ stories as well. Young and/or never-voted-before voters were actively discouraged to take part in the political process on March 15 in  North Carolina  and Ohio--and more than likely elsewhere.  (Read about Illinois' solution to ballot shortages.) The “political machines” of the two “major” parties don’t encourage big turnouts because lots of new and idealistic voters like Amber could lead to radical change in the established system. In other words, the two major parties teach their polling staffs to turn away anyone who doesn’t quite fit their mold. Amber, a young woman who hasn’t voted before, didn’t fit their mold. 

The story begins: When I returned to  Amber’s home with my turf sheets from canvassing, I noticed something amiss. Amber acted very sad and angry. Her boyfriend Chris said while he was able to vote Amber couldn’t because she didn’t have the proper ID according to the poll workers. Her driver’s license had expired, and she had only a medical bill to prove she lived in her new home since the utilities were still in her mother’s name. Amber did have her Social Security card and birth certificate, so she could prove she was a citizen, but the poll workers wouldn’t accept a non-utility bill as proof of residence. I asked Chris had the poll workers suggested Amber vote a provisional ballot instead? Chris said they hadn’t. I said we should contact the Ohio Secretary of State’s office for information.

Knowing that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted had recently tried to deny the rights of 17 year old eligible voters to vote in the primary, I had a feeling his office wouldn’t be too helpful. They weren’t. Chris told me the person on the phone said, “Oh, well…” like the poll workers had earlier in the day. The polls would be closing within 90 minutes, so we didn’t have time to waste. I called one of the Bernie campaign organizers who had helped set up the canvassing in our area, and we got the number of a voter protection hotline staffed by volunteers

Chris made a quick call to the hotline and explained Amber’s situation. My thoughts were confirmed: Amber should be allowed to vote on a provisional ballot. She shouldn’t have been turned away. We piled into my car and drove back to Amber’s precinct. There we watched as she requested a provisional ballot and finally talked to a poll worker who was willing to give her one and show her how to mark it. Amber got to vote.

While this story has a satisfactory ending, the lessons we Bernie volunteers learned on primary day were clear: You should never take your voting rights for granted. Those in positions of authority can deny you your rights either at their own volition (they’re lazy or can’t be bothered) or because they were told to discourage new voters by their party officials. Chris said the people on the hotline were grateful he’d called back to tell them of the outcome of Amber’s situation. They'd heard from others in Ohio having difficulties voting, and Amber’s experience added to the growing body of evidence of deliberate voter suppression. 

I hate to think of all the others who were turned away at the polls on March 15 and at earlier primaries. How many of those discouraged voters were young or without a permanent address or without one of the usual forms of identification such as a driver’s license or utility bill? It's quite telling how some poll workers can’t be bothered to help new voters exercise their right to vote. No, these politically-motivated poll workers prefer to turn voters away. This behavior demonstrates just how little the rights of the 99% mean to establishment party politicians. They’re more concerned with their big-ticket corporate campaign contributors than their actual constituents.

More than ever, Amber’s experience at the polls demonstrates how much we need a political revolution. We need to make sure that voters like Amber are never turned away and discouraged from voting ever again. We need to elect a person who has ordinary voters’ rights in mind and not the rights of the corporate-owned, super PAC-dominated establishment. We need to elect Bernie Sanders--the candidate funded by ordinary people and not super PACs--as President of the United States.

Because every vote, every ballot counts--including a provisional one. Amber’s smile after she voted proves it.


Welcoming Bernie to the Glass City
photos by Adrian and Cindy Matthews

What happens when you get an email with less than 24 hours notice that Bernie Sanders is arriving in your area and volunteers are needed to help out at the rally? You drop literally everything and do whatever it takes and then some.

Here are some of our photos from  A Future to Believe In Rally at the SeaGate Center in downtown Toledo  on March 11, 2016. Even with such short notice, there was quite a turn out in the Glass City--an estimated 2400 people attended. We were treated to speeches from many great speakers including former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, Hawaii  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Rep. Michael Futrell of Virginia and farm labor activist Baldemar Velasquez. And Toledo was the first to hear long-serving Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur's official endorsement of Bernie as the next President of the United States. The jam-packed convention hall roared its approval!

The lines started at the front door and went around the building...and then around the block and then around the next block. Everyone waited patiently.  We were blessed with mild weather with temps in the 50s, quite warm for Northwest Ohio in mid-March. The whole gamut of humanity was there--all colors, all creeds, young, old, families with kids and babies and a couple of protesters with "Socialism is Evil" signs across the street. I heard people went over and chatted friendly with them later that morning. I hope they were invited in to listen to Bernie's speech and learned more about what "democratic socialism" really means.

 The hall had quite a different lay-out to the previous rallies we attended at E.M.U. in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Baldwin-Wallace University south of Cleveland, which were held in basketball arenas. The SeaGate Center is basically a big concrete box, and even as volunteers, you're not guaranteed a special place to sit or stand. After we'd helped take contact info from Berners standing in line and at the door, we squished into the hall and stood on the floor near the back. Seeing Bernie from a side angle across a mass of people (a lot of whom are taller than you are) takes some doing, but the acoustics and sound system in the hall were good, so we didn't miss a word of what any of our speakers said. 

I'm waving my sign for Bernie.
I'm glad we had a variety of speakers before Bernie talked, especially our own Kristin Robideaux (who runs the Toledo Bernie Sanders campaign office) and  Skip Angles, a UAW member who  worked at the now famous Autolite spark plug factory in Fostoria. NAFTA and other disastrous trade policies took a heavy toll on many NW Ohio communities such as Fostoria. From 1300 good-paying union jobs in the early 1990s to less than 70 jobs today, the Autolite facility has become practically empty as jobs and machinery were shipped off to Mexicali, Mexico. Poor Fostoria possesses the sad, resigned air of a town that once thrived but is now barely alive--and for how much longer? Bernie's message of putting American workers' jobs first before the billionaires' personal profits resonated well with Northwest Ohioans. Our corner of the state gave him a significant number of votes last Tuesday.

If you ever get a chance to help out at a Bernie rally, grab it. You won't regret it. Each of us is just one small cog in the machine that is the political revolution our country desperately needs if we want to live in a democracy and not under the power of the oligarchy. Bernie Sanders brings ordinary Americans together and preaches tolerance and compassion to all, as he says, "Love trumps hate." Compassion will be the order of the day when Bernie is in the White House. Government #OfThePeople, #ByThePeople and #ForThePeople will be restored once more.


Here's a story that I hope will inspire us all to become more active in phone-banking for Bernie. Tobey shows us how to get it done!

Sing along with the following song while you're promoting the political revolution. And remember all you voters in Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Hawai'i and Alaska this week--Vote Bernie, Be happy!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Team Bernie Brings America Together

This week on The Bernie Blog we take a look at some intriguing opposites in the "Berniverse". We have a male's perspective and a female's perspective. We have the perspective of a Big Ten college rivalry tradition.  We have the heartfelt commentary and photo of those who heard Bernie speak in Toledo this past Friday. The Ides of March are upon us... Come on Team Bernie, we can do it! We can bring America together for a future to believe in!

Why America Should Elect Sanders 
 by Dirk Droll 

Note: The original and far longer article appeared on Beantock's World.

Bernie Sanders has stood for what is right throughout his 34 years in elected office and even before. He knows the system inside and out and doesn’t in the slightest seem to have been corrupted by it. Now, as America desperately needs a true people’s candidate for its presidency, he makes the sacrifice to run for the office instead of taking a well deserved retirement. He has lived a full life and may not even survive his presidency. Thus, he can boldly stay his course on the issues.

 Sanders has little reason to be as timid as Obama has been, a man who promised us so much but delivered so little. Obama had huge popular support. He was our first black president; his very existence improved our record of racism in the eyes of the entire world. He also had promised real health care reform and vowed to close the great shame of our nation, Guantanamo Bay. On neither of these he delivered. Instead of wheeling and dealing and giving in, Obama could surely have shamed his opponents, named them publicly every time they were blocking him. We would have supported him. His opponents would have felt our anger. We loved Obama then and would have done much at his behest.  But he didn’t have the guts to challenge the establishment. He didn’t dare.

 Sanders is known to dare, and he can afford to dare greatly – having little left to lose at his age. Bernie Sanders was an independent most of his years in public office. This alone takes balls in the American political system where the two big parties monopolize access and rising to national political office without party support is nearly impossible. This fact speaks for an enormous dedication to the people’s issues and an adamant resilience against being bought by the establishment. It also speaks for Bernie's loyal voters who knew what they had in him. Only for this presidential race, so as not to be blocked by the monopoly, nor to risk ushering in an outlier from the far right by splitting our vote, has Bernie Sanders joined forces with the Democratic Party. It used to marshal common people’s issues in the past but needs renewal like our whole system does. 

This move proves Sander’s political acumen. He knows what he’s doing and when to do it. I can’t believe our luck that we have one like him stepping up to the plate at this critical time. We better take advantage. It may be a while before another like him comes along.

Bio: Dirk Droll, aka Beanstock, has had a long string of careers and writes in his spare time about life, the universe, and everything, both seriously and in jest, sometimes even both.

This  week's  "This Woman is Bernie Strong!" takes a look at how women have been unnecessarily polarized in our current political discussion.

This is Not Progress
Generational Polarization of Women 
in the Political Debate
A perspective
by Suki Liebow

I have recently read about, and personally experienced, women from older generations, prior Secretaries of State and acclaimed feminists alike, attacking younger women for their choice to support Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election. 

"There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support Hillary,” said Madeleine Albright. Gloria Steinem stated (and later apologized for saying) that “Young women support Bernie Sanders because they want attention from boys”. 

I have been accused of being unsupportive of women and ignorant to the history that made it possible for women to vote because of my choice to support Sanders over Clinton.

In light of these recent disturbing attacks on women of younger generations by (some) self-proclaimed feminists, let’s visit the meaning of the word feminist, shall we?
 Feminist: advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men
Interesting that “feminist” does not, in fact, mean "anti-man." Nor does it mean voting exclusively for women. 
The statement, “Young women support Bernie Sanders because they want attention from boys,” implies that young women aren’t smart enough to think for themselves when it comes to politics, and that their political motivations are not based on information and education but on their desire to have sex. It is a sexist and demeaning statement to all women of younger generations, and it seems remarkably similar to the despicable arguments used to keep women from having equal rights in the first place.

If there is, in fact, a “special place in hell for women who don’t support women,” wouldn’t there be one for you, Madeleine? Isn’t your statement expressing a blatant lack of support for young women to exercise the very rights that you fought for them to have? In an attempt to understand why older women would attack younger women in this way, I came up with this speculation. 

It seems the older generation feminists feel invalidated by younger women in their fight for equal rights. Perhaps the older generation, having fought for the right of a woman to even run for president, take offense to the choices of younger women to vote for anyone other than the woman who made it on the ballot. The fact that there is a woman on the ballot being enough reason to gain the vote of the generation who fought specifically for her right to be there.
I can see why things could get a little heated.

While the mere thought of a female candidate was seen as a far cry from reality in generations past, in current times, many of us have surpassed the novelty stage of "a woman in office." Therefore younger generations have the luxury of focusing on the issues, character, and agenda of the candidates without regard to gender. Believe it or not, this is progress!

The younger generation thinks less about this critical fight for women’s rights, not because it doesn’t matter, or because we’re a bunch of ignorant, uneducated snotbags, but because we now have this right. Since we have the right, we are no longer focused on fighting for it. This is not intended to be dismissive of the very real struggle that took place in order for us to gain this freedom. It is simply the natural progression of taking action on the issues that are present now

The irony is this: The very platform from which the younger generations are speaking from was built by the older generations. Think about it. This fight wasn’t fought so that women would be obligated to vote for women alone. It was fought so that women could partake in the political process. 

Well, We Are! 

As a woman of the younger generation to the older generation, I’m asking you, please stop criticizing us for standing on the platform that you built. Isn’t this why you built it? Stop berating us for speaking our minds and voting our conscience. You taught us to do just that. 

Stop insulting us with sexist comments about our political motivations. All your efforts are wasted if we become our own oppressor. 

Stop accusing us of being unsupportive of women simply because our opinions don’t always agree with yours. We have a different view of the world, and it is valuable, too. Instead of berating us for taking advantage of the liberties that your efforts afforded us, let’s celebrate the significant progress and accomplishment.

This is the freedom you fought for. Not the freedom for all women to have one opinion. Not to dictate whom she should vote for, but to have the freedom to vote in the first place. To be a part of the political process in the way we, as individuals, feel morally compelled to. 

While you had the issues of your time and faced them with determination and steadfast resolve, the younger generations have a whole new set of issues to contend with. Because of the progress you made in the fight for women’s equality, we can now face the fight on the broader issues of the world by educating ourselves and voting our conscience, the way you voted yours by fighting for our rights in the first place. 

Regardless of who we vote for, the point is that we have the freedom to vote. We, as American women of all generations, are standing up to do so.

Bio: Suki Liebow has been writing on the topic of emotional processing for over 20 years, and is preparing the release of her first full length book. Suki founded a unique method of emotional processing that facilitates productive communication leading to more successful relationships.

After a childhood wrought with challenges, Suki’s perseverance and dedication to this development have yielded a great many successes and admirable accomplishments. Through her Emotional Processing method, Suki brought herself from being alone on the streets as a thirteen year old girl, to founding multiple businesses, speaking as an invited guest around the country, and teaching classes. She continues to develop practical tools for personal development.

Suki lives in San Francisco, California.

Ohio Bernin'!

Ohio Bernie Supporters have been issued a challenge--we must turn out in record numbers and beat Michigan's voter turn out. We can't allow this challenge to go unanswered, so answer the call and tell all your friends and family to come out and vote for Bernie in Ohio on March 15. We can't let Team Bernie down! 

Illinois, Missouri, Florida and North Carolina--get out and vote, too. Everyone else--keep phone-banking, Facebanking and canvassing. We can do it! Team Bernie has a can do attitude!

My husband and I volunteered to help run  the extremely last minute Toledo rally for Bernie on Friday. Our photos are coming soon, but here's our friend Tim who got to shake Bernie's hand and snap a photo with our next president. Exciting, isn't it? #FeeltheBern Buckeyes and get out and vote!

And here's a great commentary on the rally by Theresa Williams:

BERNIE SANDERS RALLY, TOLEDO, OH I wanted to say something about the Bernie Rally today to hopefully counteract a lot of the negativity surrounding Bernie's campaign and his supporters. I was so proud of Toledo. 

The rally was supposed to start at 3:30 with doors opening at 1:30. Allen and I got there at 12:30 and the line was already very long. It turned a corner around the building and kept going beyond. Everybody was patient, spending their time in small groups discussing the issues. When we finally rounded the corner, we saw two protesters on the other side of the road holding up signs, one of which said, "Socialism is not the answer." No one jeered or screamed at them. No one made rude gestures. Instead, one of the volunteers crossed the street, smiling, and engaged them in conversation. Both sides were listening to each other. 

We got seated in the bleachers by 2:30. Bernie didn't speak until 5. It was a capacity crowd, but everyone was patient, yet excited. These were attentive, informed people. Bernie's speech was powerful and had all the things in it you've come to expect from Bernie but my take away was a sense of togetherness. Bernie brought us all together in a common cause, to make life better for everyone. He was completely inclusive. 

I have had the pleasure of voting in many elections, but I have not felt so strongly about a candidate since I was 13 and following Bobby Kennedy. This man is authentic. He cares. He will make a great president. #BernieSandersToledo