#BernieSanders News Roundup for 1/24-1/29/2016 | Blog#42

This is my Bernie Sanders news roundup for the week ending in 1/29/2016

Want to reverse sky-high inequality? Bernie Sanders is the pragmatic choice

In my nearly 50 years in Washington I’ve learned that real change happens only when Americans are mobilized. That’s more the case now than ever before.

The Democratic contest has repeatedly been characterized as a choice between Hillary Clinton’s “pragmatism” and Bernie Sanders’s “idealism” – with the not-so-subtle message that realists choose pragmatism over idealism. But this way of framing the choice ignores the biggest reality of all: the unprecedented, and increasing, concentration of income, wealth and power at the very top, combined with declining real incomes for most and persistent poverty for the bottom fifth.

The real choice isn’t “pragmatism” or “idealism.” It’s either allowing these trends to worsen, or reversing them. Inequality has reached levels last seen in the era of the “robber barons” in the 1890s. The only truly pragmatic way of reversing this state of affairs is through a “political revolution” that mobilizes millions of Americans.

Is such a mobilization possible? One pundit recently warned Democrats that change happens incrementally, by accepting half loaves as being better than none. That may be true, but the full loaf has to be large and bold enough in the first place to make the half loaf meaningful. And not even a half loaf is possible unless or until America wrests back power from the executives of large corporations, Wall Street bankers and billionaires who now control the bakery.

I’ve been in and around Washington for almost 50 years, including a stint in the cabinet, and I’ve learned that real change happens only when a substantial share of the American public is mobilized, organized, energized and determined to make it happen. That’s more the case now than ever.

The other day Bill Clinton attacked Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer health plan as unfeasible and a “recipe for gridlock.” But these days, nothing of any significance is politically feasible and every bold idea is a recipe for gridlock. This election is about changing the parameters of what’s feasible and ending the choke hold of big money on our political system. In other words, it’s about power – whether the very wealthy who now have it will keep it, or whether average Americans will get some as well.

Read the rest of Robert Reich’ op-ed at TheGuardian.com

Robert Reich holds weekly Facebook live chats. Like his page and turn on notifications to be alerted of upcoming chats

Robert Reich mentions me at about 26:30 in today’s Facebook broadcast.

Note to Hillary: Clintonomics Was a Disaster for Most Americans

Under Bill Clinton, Wall Street created a ruinous bubble, while workers lost wages and power.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters have yet to make a persuasive case that Sanders is too great a risk.

Bernie Sanders in the CNN Iowa Democratic Town Hall


Bernie Sanders: “We Will Raise Taxes. Yes We Will.”

By Luke Brinker

Breaking with decades of bipartisan political convention, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday night reaffirmed that he would raise taxes on middle-income Americans to fund his “Medicare for All” health care plan.

“Yes, we will raise — we will raise taxes. Yes we will,” Sanders said at the CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hallat Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

“We may raise taxes,” he added, “but we are also going to eliminate private health insurance premiums for individuals and for businesses.”

Read the rest of this article on Mic.com


Bernie Sanders on Meet The Press:



Interview segment from Doug Henwood‘s Behind the News, 1/21/16. Audio link here.

(Lightly edited for clarity.)

DH: We’ve got Ta-Nehisi Coates citing the call for reparations and finding Sanders guilty of hostility towards reparations. What do you think of his critique?

AR: I read the thing in The Atlantic and it’s so utterly empty and beside the point, I can’t even characterize it.

You can go down Sanders’s platform issue by issue and ask, “so how is this not a black issue?” How is a $15 minimum wage not a black issue. How is massive public works employment not a black issue. How is free public college higher education not a black issue. The criminal justice stuff and all the rest of it. So one head scratching aspect of this is what do people like Coates imagine is to be gained by calling the redistribution program racial and calling it “reparations”?

The charitable or benign interpretation of what he and others imagine the power of this rhetoric to be, is that there is something cathartic about it like Black Power. I’m thinking for instance of “say Black Lives Matter” or “say Sandra Bland’s name”. It’s like the demand to call it reparations which doesn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever. It doesn’t add anything to calls for redistribution if anything, it could undercut them. Since there’s nothing (less) solidaristic than demanding a designer type program that will redistribute only to one’s own group and claim that that group (especially when times are getting tougher and economic insecurity is deepening for everybody) it seems like it’s guaranteed not to get off the ground and seems almost like a police action.

DH: I’m not Ta-Nehisi Coates but I imagine he and others favoring reparations would respond by saying that it’s meant to address wounds that were specifically racial in their origin.

AR: The logic fails on its own terms. If you grant for the sake of argument that the injuries were highly and explicitly racialized, it does not follow from that that the remedy needs to be of the same coin. And I have not seen Coates or others who make that assertion actually argue for it-i.e. give a concrete and pragmatic explanation of how (the remedy is supposed to) work. That is to say, what the response, or atonement, I suppose, for past harms would look like and what they imagine the response would actually be.

Coates makes this stuff up as he goes along: by his own account, he read Baldwin and wanted to write like Baldwin and his editor would check him and say “Look, you’re writing these passages which don’t mean anything whatsoever” since he was so focussed on wanting to write like Baldwin absent having anything in particular to say.

So the first question for me has always been how can you imagine putting together a political alliance that would be capable of prevailing on this issue. And what you get in response is a lot of “What black people deserve” because of the harms that have been done to them. I just think it’s fundamentally unserious politically.

But I’ll say this and I’ll say this as a Sanders supporter-I’ll come clean on that. The idea that Bernie Sanders becomes the target of race-line activists now, and not Hillary Clinton, is just beyond me and it smells. It smells to high heaven.

Read the rest of this interview here.

Note: I’ve written three essays, matching Coates’ output this week. You can access them here.


Why Bernie Sanders doesn’t participate in organized religion

By Frances Stead Sellers and John Wagner  01/27/2016

Growing up, Bernie Sanders followed the path of many young American Jews. He went to Hebrew school, was bar mitzvahed and traveled to Israel to work on a kibbutz.

But as an adult, Sanders drifted away from Jewish customs. And as his bid for the White House gains momentum, he has the chance to make history. Not just as the first Jewish president — but as one of the few modern presidents to present himself as not religious.

“I am not actively involved with organized religion,” Sanders said in a recent interview.

Sanders said he believes in God, though not necessarily in a traditional manner.

“I think everyone believes in God in their own ways,” he said. “To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.”

Sanders’s religious views, which he has rarely discussed, set him apart from the norm in modern American politics, in which voters have come to expect candidates from both parties to hold traditional views about God and to speak about their faith journeys.

Every president since James Madison has made the pilgrimage across Lafayette Square to worship at St. John’s Church at least once, according to the White House Historical Association. Only three presidents, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, have been unaffiliated with a specific religious tradition,according to the Pew Research Center for Religion and Public Life. And President Obama and his predecessors have regularly hosted clergy for White House prayer sessions.

Read the rest at WashingtonPost.com

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