Tag: Bernie Sanders

Sustaining the Bernie Revolution

Those of us who began the 2016 Presidential campaign as supporters of long-shot Bernie Sanders have now come face-to-face with the reality that he will not be the Democratic Party nominee for the White House. He and his followers will undoubtedly be conducting extensive postmortem analysis of the campaign and the mechanisms of the nominating process for many months to come.

But I want us to move beyond those moribund discussions and consider how we may help keep the revolutionary spirit Bernie engendered in so many millions of our fellow citizens alive, productive, and influential. Beyond the question of who we choose to support in November, the movement itself is too powerful and important to allow it to dissipate as has happened so often in the past with progressive causes.

move_to_amendI want to commend to your attention a movement of which you are probably aware called Move to Amend. This organization is dedicated to the sole purpose of overturning the worst Supreme Court decision perhaps of all time: Citizens United. By a number of different mechanisms and means, this rapidly growing group is attempting to establish the principle that corporations are not people, that they do not have “human” rights. That they are not entitled to unfettered free speech in the form of political contributions.

I’ve been a member of Move to Amend for quite some time, but I’ve decided to step up my visible involvement as a result of the now-concluding Presidential primary season.

At a minimum, I would request that you go to their website and sign the petition there. While you’re on the site, consider the possibility that you might be able to entice other friends or even gather petition signatures from strangers, in an effort to boost this cause.

If you feel so inclined, I’m sure they would appreciate you volunteering, donating, or otherwise promoting the cause.

Thanks for listening. Let’s keep Bernie’s great revolutionary work alive well beyond the upcoming election!



Bernie in My Home Town

Monterey, California, seldom has seen a Presidential candidate from a major party visit in the last few decades. First, thanks to the way primaries are run in this country (aka chaos), California’s votes hardly ever count. Second, even those candidates who do come to California typically don’t do public events; they’re here for the rich veins of fund-raisers in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Finally, Monterey is well off the beaten path located as it is all the way on the coast.

But there was Bernie. My friend MaryAnn Boylan took this picture at the rally. She had a great spot near the candidate, as you can see.

Bernie Sanders Comes to Monterey May 31, 2016

Bernie Sanders Comes to Monterey May 31, 2016

Several of my friends — some of whom remain convinced of Bernie having a remaining long shot at the Democratic nomination — found the rally refreshing. “Most of the people up front near me,” MaryAnn said, “were millennials. It was really great to talk to them and get their take. Most of the ones I talked do said if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, they won’t vote for Hillary.”

Almost 8,000 people attended the event, four times the campaign’s forecast to local authorities.

Big News! More Jobs in Clean Energy Than Coal & Oil for First Time!

Global-Climate-ChangeThere was some great news for those of us advocating on behalf of Planet Earth today, as the United States reported that, for the first time, employment in the solar energy industry is greater than the number of jobs in oil and natural gas extraction. That incredibly important milestone, which flies in the face of many of the Right’s economic arguments against environmentalism, took place last year, but the numbers have just been released.

Anyone with one eye and half sense already knew this would happen. As the public becomes better-educated about clean energy and its myriad benefits — benefits which transcend the critical impact on global climate change — the demand for solar, wind and other renewable resources will simply continue to grow by leaps and bounds. The fact that those industries are now less profitable than their long-established dirty energy counterparts is due only to the fact that a great deal of research and development and marketing ramp-up has to take place before the economies of scale kick in.

This news gives great additional credibility to the Presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein as they attempt to convince the American voting public of the viability of an economy based primarily on these emerging energy markets and products.

Go tell that to your cynical conservative friends.

Listen to a Real Journalist on the American Political Scene Today. Chillingly Insightful

john_pilgerLong-time Australian journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger released a piece a few days ago that qualifies, in my mind at least, is one of the clearest and most insightful takes on the American political scene.

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am extremely cynical about journalism in the Western world today. Clouded as it is by sensationalism, confused as to what constitutes “news”, and wandering around a rapidly changing landscape brought about by the Digital Revolution, the state of affairs in my chosen profession is sad to say the least.

Still there are shining lights. One of those is Pilger. The producer of almost 60 documentary films and the author of a large handful of books, he has over the years maintained a steady, jaundiced eye in his role as a well-informed arbiter of what’s important in the world. His view is summed up in the heading of his blog: “It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of true message and myths that surround it.” Amen.

His latest piece is headlined, “Silencing America As It Prepares for War.” The thrust of the article is to point out that all of the current political leadership in the United States is cut from the same neoliberal cloth. They all agree on and support the necessity of one degree or another of constant war. He is particularly harsh with president Obama. “One of the more violent presidents, Obama gave a full rein to the Pentagon war-making apparatus of his discredited predecessor.” He continues, “No American president has built more nuclear warheads than Obama.”

But his interest is less on blaming Obama then on fretting about the future of the United States in the hands of any of the three current major political party candidates for President. None of them, he points out, has mentioned any of Obama’s war-like record. Indeed, even Bernie Sanders supports Obama’s drone war. Nobody, he points out, is talking about the provocative ways in which the Administration pokes and provokes Russia and China over issues that are of little or no strategic importance to our country.

I urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to read this analysis. It is chilling, but it is more important than anything I’ve read in the last few years that wasn’t about global climate change.

Why Voting Green Isn’t a Wasted Ballot

Green Party USA Logo

Green Party USA Logo

As you know if you are even a casual reader of this blog, I am committed to Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency as long as he remains in the race. If and when he drops out, I plan to work for, support and vote for whoever the Green Party nominates; I presume that will be Dr. Jill Stein, who was the 2012 nominee of the party, but whoever garners the nomination will get my vote in the event Sanders doesn’t make it.

I have elsewhere explained my reasons for making this choice. These include, in brief:

  1. I do not like or trust Hillary Clinton. She is a defense hawk at a time when world peace needs to be near the top of the agenda. Her late conversion to opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline tells me all I need to know about her sensibilities on global climate change. None of her ideas are fresh.
  2. While I am loath to vote for a candidate from either major party (more below), Sanders is only a Democrat in name for the purposes of this campaign. His policy positions go well beyond the present and recent Democratic Party platforms and align somewhat closely (though not as closely as I’d like) with the Greens, whose platform meets with 90% approval.
  3. The Green Party is the only global political party worth the title. In a world where problems transcend national and cultural borders, that approach to politics must be the future if the planet is to survive, let alone thrive.

Many of my friends, when they find out my voting plans, are aghast. “A vote for a third party candidate is a vote for the Republican!” they say incredulously. “Why would you want to waste your vote like that plus taking a chance you’ll help elect a Cruz or a Trump?”

Fellow political blogger John Uebersax has done an excellent job of explaining the rationale behind a decision to vote for a third-party candidate. I encourage you to take time to read at least the summary of his thinking that occupies the first part of that post. Briefly, here are my primary points.

  1. The two major political parties are Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum in their broadest policy positions. With Sanders out of the equation, the Democrats differ from the Republicans basically only in degree on the major issue of the day: global climate change, the economy, income inequality. The differences seem huge because of the way they are painted by media dedicated to upholding the Establishment power structures on which they feed. While it is certainly the case that the Democrats have a better record on civil and human rights, those issues are not existential in the same way global climate change, e.g., is.
  2. Voting for the lesser of two evils still results in an evil outcome. (I don’t really believe in evil, but I use the terminology because it is commonly understood.)
  3. While it may be true that in 2016 voting a third party ticket isn’t going to result in a win, it can hasten the day — which I expect will come within 20-30 years — when the United States becomes a multi-party nation in which all parties are dedicated to governing rather than destroying.
  4. If ever there was a year when voting outside the two major parties was likely to make sense, it’s 2016. Whether the GOP nominates Trump (which I suspect they will) or Cruz (a worse alternative in my view), Hillary will bury them. Not only will the Democrats hold the White House, they’ll probably regain control of the Senate and significantly weaken the Republican majority in the House. Down ticket races will also go heavily Democratic as conservatives are tarnished by the outrageous positions and behaviors of the GOP slate. The chances that a couple of million people voting for what they’d really like to see instead of what they’ll settle for will throw the election one way or another is patently absurd. In a close election year, that view might not hold water but it certainly does in 2016.
  5. If the Greens and/or other third parties gain sufficient numbers of voters, the mainstream parties will be forced to shift their policy positions in order to increase their competitiveness. The net result will be a government that comes closer to modeling my views instead of one where the differences on the issues that matter most to me are all but negligible.
  6. By voting Green, I may contribute to the party receiving enough support in 2016 that it will qualify for ballot access in all 50 states and matching FEC funds in 2020, both important steps to the establishment of a viable third party.

I’m not unrealistic. I know the Green candidate won’t win in 2016. I have predicted that the GOP will nominate Trump, which will fracture them badly and open the doors wide for a massive victory by HRC in November as well as significant gains in Congress. But in much the way that Bernie has caused Clinton to shift to the left and to discuss important issues she’d rather not focus on, a significant showing by the Greens in 2016 can begin to shift the major parties in directions that I will find more palatable and more likely to avoid the catastrophic future that awaits my beautiful children and grandchildren if either of the mainstream parties’ platforms hold sway for another 4-8 years.

Isn’t it better — more moral, more in integrity — to vote for what you really want rather than waste a vote on someone with whom you will never be truly satisfied as your leader?

Why the Kerfuffle Over Hillary’s Speeches is Mostly Fluff. Probably.

The media and the Bernie Sanders campaign are going bat-crap crazy because she won’t release transcripts of the 92 speeches she’s given since leaving her post as Secretary of State for which she bagged $21.7 million.

I think this is a non-issue. This despite the fact that I’m one of the majority of voters who don’t trust HRC any farther than I could throw a nunlearn missile.

First, all recent former Secretaries of State have almost certainly earned millions in speaking fees. It’s one of the perks of the position. Probably other former Cabinet-level officers have also become highly paid speakers after leaving office.

Second, the whole issue of the content of these talks is naive. Companies don’t hire Clinton — or any other name speaker at her level — for their special knowledge or for what advice they might offer. They do it for the prestige and sometimes for the “draw” value of their name. Let’s face it, Hillary is unlikely to have such deep, unique insights into a subject of business value that these same companies couldn’t hire in the form of multiple consultants with real cred.

In this case, the allegations seem to pertain to pay-for-access, but since she’d already left her post, it’s hard to imagine any intelligently run company would see a direct link between paying her for access she no longer officially had. Of course, she remains a colleague and, by some accounts, friend of the President. I suppose there might be some perceived tit-for-tat play there somewhere. But hundreds of thousands of dollars worth? Seems doubtful to me.

Finally, the fact is that her clients almost certainly demanded confidentiality and intellectual property rights to her speeches as a matter of ordinary course of business. This would give them the ability to share recordings and transcripts of her talks with other audiences within their circle for whatever value they might provide.

All this said, I still don’t trust the woman. If it turns out there is a scandal lurking here, I won’t be too astonished. On the face of it, though, I just don’t see this as a substantial issue.

It’s Been a Great Run, Bernie, But It’s Time to Go Green

As regular readers of this space know, I’ve given up on the Democratic Party in recent elections. Independent Bernie Sanders, running as a Democratic “outsider”, got my attention and I’ve been a rabid supporter since he announced. I absolutely prefer him as my next President.

But from the perspective of the issues, the Democratic Party no longer closely embodies my values. Hillary Clinton is not acceptable to me. The reasons are myriad and this column isn’t about that subject. I will stay with Bernie all the way to the convention if he stays in.

But, Bernie, please do this favor: seek and accept the nomination of the Green Party while still fighting for the Democratic nomination. There is precedent for a candidate to appear on more than one party’s ballot. As an Independent, you don’t owe fealty to the Democratic Party. The Green Party platform aligns right down the line with your policy positions. Equally or more important, your backers are as disaffected by the Democrats and HRC as anyone. They don’t feel any loyalty to the Democrats either.

By adding the Green Party to your cred, you might pick up some votes. But importantly, you’d be broadening your reach and appeal and taking your message global.

Besides, you’d give me a nice out!  I could keep my promise to back you until you drop out and then switch to the Green candidate.

Go Green, Bernie!! Please?

Gotta Love Bernie’s Positive Thinking!

Bernie Sanders is drafting is inauguration speech.

Not his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination, mind you, His inauguration speech.

I love that.

One of my core beliefs is that we co-create our own experience of reality. I practice affirmative prayer. I even wrote a book about it. So when I read today that Sanders is writing his inauguration speech, I gave him a virtual standing ovation. “Acting as if” is one of the most powerful spiritual practices, though it is often misunderstood.

Get that talk polished, Bernie. You may need it yet!

Feel the Bern!!

My Quick First Take on Democratic Debate

I thought:

  • Martin O’Malley helped himself the most
  • Jim Webb did himself the most damage
  • Lincoln Chaffee was oratorically unimpressive
  • Hillary Clinton did what the front-runner needs to do: avoid mistakes and not take any hard direct hits
  • Bernie Sanders was Bernie Sanders, which is just fine, but I don’t think he helped or hurt himself much
  • Anderson Cooper did a very credible job moderating

The debate was far more substantive and watchable than either of the GOP debates, by a pretty long way.


Polls and Ratings. Who Cares is Not Interesting

Two news bits related to polling and popularity ratings crossed my desk in the last couple of days that my fertile imagination connected.

First, it was reported that Democratic Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders (my personal choice) doesn’t pay for, commission, or follow political polling. When he was asked about it, he replied, “I believe in making decisions based on what’s right, not what’s popular.” We’ve had far, far too much governance by poll outcomes in this country over the last quarter century or more. A leader doesn’t check with the public to see how people across broad spectra of demographics “feel” about something before making a policy decision. S/he consults his or her inner guidance, spiritual or moral principles, then does what is right. Sanders is so spot-on with this.

Second, a new Gallup poll was announced today indicating that Pope Francis’ popularity among Americans of all faiths has dropped from 76% favorable to 59%. This kind of polling is nonsense. Who cares how popular an unelected leader is? Does anyone at Gallup seriously think anyone anywhere cares, least of all the Pontiff? The WaPo story about this result speculates and hypothesizes all over the place about why Francis might be in decline among Americans. It concludes that the outcome is “largely driven by conservatives who often disagree with Francis on the causes of environmental and economic problems.” In other words, this world leader (who happens to be a trained scientist in the bargain) is making their hobby horses look bad by trotting out actual scientific and spiritual Truth, so they don’t like him.

It is refreshing that two of my very favorite personalities of the present era are both immune to the question of “What’s popular?”, a question that deserves asking only in the context of plans to increase peoples’ spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need.