You Are Worthy of Dreaming Big

Encouragement from Tim Robbins tonight that despite fear and warnings in favor of pragmatism over progress, we “are worthy of dreaming big.” If I can get my hands on the transcript I will add it to this post. It’s a very solid speech, and below is a whole 3 plus hour coverage for you to scan through, including music by Vampire Weekend (one of my favorite bands) and of course Bernie’s speech. What is so impressive to me here is this crowd. The Bernie Sanders website says there were 27,000 people in the Washington Square Park, but if you include people just outside the park and lined up in building windows all around, the estimate was 30 to 40 thousand.

UPDATE: I haven’t been able to confirm this yet, but numerous tweets are reporting that the NYPD is estimating 48,000 people including overflow.

And the full event:

You Can Vote FOR Someone

It’s a shame that for most of this primary season the corporate media has framed the narrative as a fight to stop Trump. As worthy a goal as that is, it misses several very important realities.

  1. Trump might not be the nominee.
  2. Despite Clinton’s latest claim of being “the only candidate tough enough to stop Trump,” the polls still show Sanders doing better than Clinton against every Republican nominee, and Clinton possibly losing to Cruz, and overwhelmingly losing to Kasich (the Republican outsider).
  3. People like me (not just young voters) are tired of voting “against someone.” And why should we when we have a candidate who we trust, and who polls strongest against every other?

The superdelegate system makes it seem like the deck is stacked in Clinton’s favor, but after Sanders’ 8 primary and caucus wins in a row, the media is starting to wake up and recognize this is a movement, not just a “symbolic” candidate. We don’t want to “send a message,” no we actually do intend to elect Bernie Sanders as our next president. And uphill climb or not, we are indeed closing the gap.

This past week or so I found myself responding to a lot of crazy things in the news, but when you have a strong candidate who has been fighting for middle, working class, and poor Americans for his entire career, you really don’t need to defend his reputation. And funny isn’t it? It’s puzzling to be honest, that feeding the poor, taking care of children, the sick and the elderly, investing in jobs and education, taking back government from Wall Street and special interests, it’s just a damn shame that we live in a country where we feel these are values that need to be defended.

It’s equally sad when people who are supposed to be fighting for our interests think that we are reaching too high, dreaming too much. Be reasonable, we are told. Yet everything I want our great nation to be is both reasonable and achievable. And after so much has been accomplished, I’m not willing to settle for a slightly better country. I’m content to stop now. And I shouldn’t have to be.

So in this post and the next one, I’m just going to present some of these values to you, rather than allowing myself to feel pushed to defend them.

How to Call Someone Unqualified without Using the Word

Sam Seder has a point

I don’t think Seder is the first or the last to point out that this whole he-said-she-said-who-said thing is all really kinda silly. It’s frankly sad that any of us feel the need to respond to this at all, but this is what everyone from the “professional” media to twitter talked about for 24 to 48 hours, so let’s look at it. I actually disagree with Seder on  one point: you don’t have to say a word to make your meaning clear.

But what if . . .

English: This is the long form birth certifica...

The long form birth certificate showing that the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born at 7:24 pm, on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Indulge me a moment, will you? Imagine, please that it’s 2008 and a major news personality asks Hillary Clinton, “Do you think Barack Obama is an American-born Citizen?”

Now imagine that she replies by saying, “Well, he hasn’t released his birth certificate yet, and that certainly raises a lot of questions.” Notice, in this made-up scenario that Clinton does not say, “Yes, of course he’s a U.S.-born citizen!” She could say that, and decide to keep the debate focused on “the issues.” But what is the overwhelmingly obvious implication of her failing to directly reply to the question with an affirmative, but instead give a nod to the birther movement?

In that hypothetical situation you can bet that major news organizations like CNN and the Washington Post would immediately begin publishing headlines like, “Clinton Says Obama Not a Natural Born Citizen” and “Clinton Agrees With Birthers.” Such headlines would be a certainty if on the night of her seventh state loss in a row her campaign was reported to be out to “disqualify” Barack Obama.

In the real world of the 2008 campaign

In reality, while it had nothing to do with the birther movement, Clinton did question Obama’s qualifications more than once in the 2008 race, and I don’t remember people getting picky about whether or not she used a specific word. Do you remember the “3:00 am Phone Call” ad? What was that if not an outright statement that only one candidate in the race was qualified to be in the White House? She also credited only herself and McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee with the “experience” needed to be President when she said that McCain “will put forth his experience. I will put forth my experience. Sen. Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.” What is that statement other than a direct dismissal of Obama’s qualifications to be president?

What’s this got to do with news this week?

So flash forward eight years to this week. Sure, if you want to nit-pick, Hillary Clinton did not say, “Sanders is unqualified,” but as Sam Seder in the clip above, and even Jane Sanders in her interview with Rachel Maddow, neither did she answer that he was qualified. Clinton was crafty. We give her credit for that all the time, and I have no problem giving her credit for that now. She was crafty. While seeming to dodge the question, she answered that he “hadn’t done his homework,” which infers what? That he is not qualified. And remember all of this was after this announcement that I’ve shared in a previous post this week:

“Disqualify.” Notice root word there, and if your mission is to disqualify someone, by definition, you are out to prove that person “unqualified.” So whether she said the exact word is completely beside the point. We knew from what she said and what she didn’t say. CNN knew, and though they tried to deny it later, The Washington Post knew exactly what Hillary meant, and that it was all part of what Clinton’s campaign had just reported that they were out to do. In fact, the articulation of the new slash and burn strategy from the Clinton campaign is obviously the only reason that next day Joe Scarborough used that word when asked Clinton in the first place, “Do you think he is qualified?”

As Sanders himself has said, “I do respect Hillary Clinton.” But this “qualification gate” is a bit puzzling and silly in light of how vitriolic other campaigns have been (Mr. Krugman, you’re over-stating the case again), including her 2008, “Shame on you Barak Obama!” The astounding thing about her craftiness in all of this is that so many of you bought it. And that has to make the Clinton camp very satisfied with themselves.

Why are we acting like school kids about this? And if she does become the nominee I hope she’s ready. I hope she doesn’t try to twist words and play the victim, because they will eat her alive. We all know that this response from a gentleman, who you know could be attacking you in ways he has refused to, is nothing next to the way the Republicans will tear her apart.

What qualifications was Joe referring to?

So let’s look at the claims that Secretary Clinton was making. Did Sanders bungle a New York Daily News interview? The New York Times, Democracy Now and and Huffington Post all soundly debunk that claim, and show the crooked journalism of the New York Daily News. Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks lay this all out very well:

What has Bernie got to say for himself?

But how does Bernie Sanders himself respond to the qualification accusations? Does he really think Hillary Clinton is unqualified? Why did he say that? And speaking of disqualifying him, what about the other Clinton campaign tactic in play now, criticisms of his gun control record? Friday Senator Sanders was a guest on The View, so I’ll let him have the last word here tonight as he spoke for himself on these issues.

Bernie and Black Voters

Back to Bill Maher’s question

Listen. Who am I to speak with authority on black voters? What do I know about systemic discrimination? Sure, as a gay man I could say a great deal about LGBT discrimination–how I lost my job over my sexuality, how marriage to my partner wasn’t even possible until very recently, and exactly why I think that Bernie Sanders has better represented my cause than the other Democratic candidate. But I said in my last post that we would talk about that answer that Sarah Silverman didn’t have for Bill Maher, and like Silverman, I’m not the best source for information on the black vote.

I have real advantages in being a white man, advantages that make it impossible for me to understand what it must be like for a black father to explain to his sons how to carefully act and present themselves when pulled over by police. My own sons are very aware of the unfair privilege they have just by virtue of their skin color. So instead of my writing at great length on this, let’s talk to people who can speak to the issue of racism personally.

Two Guys From Brooklyn: some serious talk

First, I’d like to present the following video from an video from Wednesday’s Hollywood Reporter, a discussion between Senator Bernie Sanders and American film producer, director, actor, and writer, Spike Lee:

Early on in this Democratic race I had speculated that part of the reason for Bernie’s apparent lack of votes among blacks was possibly a southern issue more than a race issue, but it should be noted that whether it be among blacks, older white Democrats, or gays, Hillary’s success could also be attributed significantly to “brand recognition” and celebrity status. I’ve already made the point in previous posts that corporate media long ago decided that the most obvious contest would be the one that would sell the best, the strong feminist woman Secretary of State versus the racist, misogynistic blow-hard billionaire.

Slow to get on board the Bernie train

A lot of gay people like me can say, as Shaun King did recently, that we were “slow to get on board the Bernie Sanders train.” With our enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton’s new (as of 2013) support for gay marriage we felt confident that continuing strides would be made against marriage discrimination, and it was hard for us to imagine a better candidate to beat the Republicans to the White House, and secure the next liberal judge in the Supreme Court. She was strong, smart, experienced, qualified, and incredibly well-connected. Hillary Clinton seemed the obvious choice, and so it seems that’s how the narrative went for most Democrats. We were with her.

But as many of us got to know Bernie Sanders better, we began to gravitate more toward a candidate who we believed had a longer and stronger record of supporting gay rights, civil rights, and the interests of the working and middle classes. Many of us came to have a great deal of respect for the candidate who pledged to take no money from super PACs and who had for decades consistently stayed true to his words and his message for a government that worked for all of us. We also began to read the polls and see figures that we were not hearing about from the news personalities on our Televisions.

Required reading

Please read Shaun King’s recent article from the New York Daily News, “Destroying the Myth that Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Address Race or Racism,” in which King says:

Not just comfortable to analyze the problem, Bernie Sanders is the only candidate left in the presidential campaign who is against the death penalty, which disproportionately impacts people of color. He has called for an outright ban on for-profit prisons, while Hillary Clinton was actually receiving donations from their lobbyists.

King also mentions activist and author Michelle Alexander:

If America had a required reading list, “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander would have to be high on the list. In it, she unpacks how after the Civil Rights Movement, a very concerted effort to replace the old systems of our country with new systems of oppression and criminalization took place.

If you haven’t read the book yet, click here for a good summary by Alexander herself when she was interviewed a few years go about the The New Jim Crow by Bill Moyers. Michelle Alexander endorses no candidate as of yet, but this week she said she “endorses the political revolution” that he represents, and explains (especially about the 5 minute mark to 6:50), why she thinks that many black voters have been supporting the Clintons, despite the their role in the system of mass incarceration that has so damaged their community.

This “emotional blackmail” that the Democratic party has held over black voters, Alexander says, needs to come to an end. And she’s right, the black vote is taken for granted, as can be seen by Bill Clinton’s actions this week, deciding to lash out at Black Lives Matter Protesters in defending his own record.

In the interview with Alexander, Chris Hayes looks worried. Maybe that’s just my interpretation, but as I’ve said before people like him in the media, even from the so-called liberal media, have had it in their heads, not only that it would be an inevitable Clinton/Trump contest come November, but that Hillary Clinton was hands-down the best bet to keep the White House occupied by a Democrat. If I had to interpret his reaction to Michelle Alexander’s words here I’d say that he starts out trying first to persuade her that a Hillary ticket is the best way to achieve that, before resorting to his familiar shouldn’t-we-all-support Hillary argument that he tried on Susan Sarandon. But in the end he just seems to give up and let Alexander make her case. I think she owns this interview, as she obviously knows her material and has done her homework far more thoroughly than Hayes. So in the end, he relents, letting her have the last word. To me, that’s a hopeful sign.

It’s a hopeful sign that corporate media will not be able to continue dismissing Bernie as a white-only candidate. Remember when Hawaii became a mostly white state? It happened when Bernie Sanders won there and folks at the big networks tried to pretend that it didn’t matter, despite the fact that the state of Hawaii is comprised of more than 75% non-white voters. I do hope that I am right that big media is waking up to see that there is more happening on the Democratic front than Hillary Clinton’s press releases.

There is so much more to discuss about race and this election, and as I said I am not the best person for the job of saying it. So in posts coming up this week I’ll present more articles from others who have already made the case for Bernie Sanders. I’ll also share more videos with Bernie supporters Rosario Dawson and Michael Render (“Killer Mike”). For today, let me wrap this post up with the words of former NAACP president Ben Jealous:

“I recall the words of the late, great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus . . . And that brings me to why I’m here today. Bernie Sanders has been a principled, courageous, insistent fighter against the evils that Dr. King referred to as the giant triplets of racism, militarism and greed . . . In short, Bernie Sanders has the courage to confront the institutionalized racism and bias that stains our nation.”

Sarah’s Move to Bernie

“I don’t know who in her campaign comes up with these brilliant ideas.”

Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I started thinking about creating this blog I was imagining mostly posting my case in a very simple way with a few videos like Robert Reich’s 6 Responses to Bernie Critics, along with a bit of personal testimony about why I have chosen to support Bernie Sanders for President over Hillary Clinton. But the news has been getting so crazy this week, especially since Clinton’s campaign decided to go deeply negative after her Tuesday loss in Wisconsin, marking the 7th loss out of the last 8 contests, a fact that MSNBC personalities like Joe and Mika on Morning Joe seem to be still ignoring. See the video at the end of my last post for the announcement, in which her campaign was reported to say that their new strategy would be “disqualify him, defeat him, and . . . unify the party later.”

Does she remember how going negative worked for her in 2008 (“Shame on you Barack Obama!”)? I’ve already mentioned her “artful smear” of attacking the other candidate while trying to appear to be the victim. It seems that now she is at it again with what started as a frankly ridiculous attack on Bernie’s banking knowledge, and though she dodged Joe Scarborough’s question, and didn’t say directly that he was “unqualified,” what she did say was close enough for the Washington Post to print that Clinton lodged the claim. Sanders explains well enough for himself, so I’ll leave that to him.

Now Thursday afternoon her husband Bill Clinton made the unfathomable decision to attack Black Lives Matter. Like I said, crazy, right? It’s almost as if they don’t know that they still need votes. Bernie’s words from the link in the above paragraph seems appropriate here as well: “I don’t know who in her campaign comes up with these brilliant ideas.”

So, yes, unfortunately I feel compelled to spend some time responding to the craziness of the Clinton campaign as well as the cluelessness of the corporate media, but I’ll try to do it by quoting sources, providing links, and showing videos to keep things in context. Above all I will make a serious effort, despite the news, to try to stick to my simple message, as illustrated in the videos below: Why I am voting for Bernie Sanders.

Sarah Silverman speaks for me . . . well, mostly

Sure, she’s a comedian, but like good comedians, she’s also damned smart. And aside from the bush and cat food comments, one a joke, the other a hyperbole, she comes very close to saying exactly what I want to say about Bernie Sanders. I’ll include a second video of her being interviewed by Bill Maher, a guy I can’t say I always agree with. In the end of that video he asks Sarah about Bernie’s “problem” with the black vote. She doesn’t have an answer, but we’ll look at some videos and articles from other writers about that question coming up next.



Why Doesn’t Big Media Get It?

There seems to be a reality block . . .

When Anderson Cooper (finally) looked at the polls that showed Senator Sanders faring better in Republican match-ups than Secretary Clinton, instead of asking, “Are you worried?” he asked Hillary Clinton, “Are you buying it?” Doesn’t that seem just a bit off? When Chris Hayes asked Susan Sarandon about her experience travelling around the country with Bernie’s historical campaign he did not ask her how exciting an experience that must be. No, he said, “What do you get out of that?”

Are they living in the same world we are? Is there some sort of mental blockage preventing these people from registering the reality that is right before them? I’m beginning to think that must be the case.

Though it’s fair to question the motives of corporate networks who benefit from advertising revenue, especially when they might see that profit threatened by the effort to “get the money out of politics,” I don’t think it’s a media conspiracy. Some Sanders’ supporters will make that argument, but it can’t just be about advertising revenue, or how would you explain all the free air time given to Donald Trump? Well, drama, train-wrecks, I guess it makes good TV. And maybe the gentleman maverick who is trying to buck the establishment just gets lost behind the loud blow-hard “reality” TV host.

It’s less likely to be a planned corporate coup than it is a kind of sheltered egotism. These “news” personalities have become out of touch with your life and mine, as detached from life outside their world as Washington is detached from life outside the Beltway. Maybe they trust their own assumptions and created narratives so much that they fail to see polls, numbers, and the hard evidence of giant crowds.

Meme (in the original sense) and the media

We see lots of what have come to be known as internet “memes” flying around with Bernie’s face on them. But memes are not simply photo-shopped pictures with a message sent out in hopes that they will “go viral.” The word meme was originally used by Richard Dawkins as a shortened version of a root word that basically means to mimic. Note the similarity to the word “mime.” A meme by Dawkins definition is a behavior, or a pattern, often linguistic in nature that gets passed along in a culture. The meme may be true or false, but it’s thought to be “successful” if it catches on.

I suggest to you that statements like “Bernie is too old to be president,” and the other myths about his electability, which Robert Reich talked about in his video in my last post, have been successful memes, so successful that even the news casters who probably made the assumptions in the first place just accept them as truth. From the beginning they set up the idea in our heads, maybe because they thought it would be such a great drama that it just had to happen, that the final fight for the White House would inevitably be Clinton against Trump. And ever since then, the most common theme among democrats and media pundits had to do with “preventing” a Trump presidency.

Could it be that this is why so many in corporate media are still convinced it’s going to be Clinton against Trump, even though the actual possibility could be Clinton and Cruise, Sanders and Trump, or even John Kasich against either Clinton or Sanders? And remember according to the polls if it’s Clinton against Kasich, she could very well lose in November.

But that’s not the narrative, so many in the media simply cannot imagine things going off script. But what if the American voters go off script, instead of just repeating the memes?

In an article in the Huffington Post on Thursday former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains:

The real reason the major media can’t see what’s happening is because the national media exist inside the bubble of establishment politics, centered in Washington, and the bubble of establishment power, centered in New York.

As such, the major national media are interested mainly in personalities and in the money behind the personalities. Political reporting is dominated by stories about the quirks and foibles of the candidates, and about the people and resources behind them.

Within this frame of reference, it seems nonsensical that a 74-year-old Jew from Vermont, originally from Brooklyn, who calls himself a Democratic socialist, who’s not a Democratic insider and wasn’t even a member of the Democratic Party until recently, who has never been a fixture in the Washington or Manhattan circles of power and influence, and who has no major backers among the political or corporate or Wall Street elites of America, could possibly win the nomination.

Oh but he could. He actually could.

It’s Not Just Corporate Media Who Are Out of Touch

Some are trying to explain away his win in Wisconsin Tuesday. And apparently the Clinton campaign strategy is one of slash and burn. Thankfully at least CNN reported on this change of “tone.” The lack of foresight from Clinton here astounds me, as I doubt very much she will be able to re-unite the party later. Instead, I fear she’ll alienate millions of voters, and not just young white “bros.”

If she does that she will hand over the presidency to the Republicans and she will have nobody to blame but herself. Ignoring and and treating a large number of the democratic electorate is simply not wise. What I am saying, of course, is nothing new. Politicians who are not in touch with the working class in their own parties have become cliché. Hillary Clinton’s blind spot here is not surprising.

NOTE: Although I hadn’t hit the “publish” button yet, more has happened since I wrote the above. I must say that while she has more than once accused Sanders of an “artful smear,” she seems to be proving that she is indeed the queen of that negative tactic. I’ve seen it happen in the debates. Attack the other candidate while claiming that you are being attacked. It’s disappointing, Secretary Clinton. To be honest, I’m glad that Senator Sanders is fighting back. More on that coming soon.