Tag Archive | "Bernie Sanders"


In Event Honoring MLK, Bernie Sanders’ Comments on Race and Barack Obama Raise Eyebrows

By Anne Branigin, The Root

There’s a lot to appreciate about Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longtime public servant who’s helped propel truly progressive policies, like a $15 minimum wage and universal health care, into the mainstream political conversation.

But one frequent complaint is that the 76-year-old Sanders remains dusty on race matters, and critics of the Vermont senator have more evidence to cite in his latest appearance. 

The latest perceived misstep came Thursday, on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Speaking in Jackson, Miss., alongside progressive black Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (whose candidacy Sanders supported), Sanders honored the slain civil rights icon.

Here’s the quote in full, from BuzzFeed News:

“The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure,” Sanders started, responding to a question about the young voters who supported his campaign. “People sometimes don’t see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama, who won the presidency in 2008 and 2012.

“He was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy. But behind that reality, over the last 10 years, Democrats have lost about 1,000 seats in state legislatures all across this country.”

On the anniversary of King’s death, it would be the only reference Sanders made to the country’s first black president.

Critics of Sanders called the remarks tone-deaf, particularly given their timing.

But Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ top strategist, said that people had misunderstood the senator’s comments.

“What Bernie was doing last night was praising the power and significance of the Barack Obama presidency, while at the same time pointing out that the national Democratic Party has had a lot of failures over the last 15 years, as evidenced by our loss of state legislative and congressional seats,” Weaver said in response to the criticism, according to BuzzFeed News.

It should be noted that Sanders really didn’t talk about Barack Obama’s presidency, other than to say that it coincided with the failure of the Democratic Party. The plaudits Sanders gave Obama centered on his smarts and charisma as a candidate.

While the dustup over Sanders’ comments about Obama may seem like an unfair misreading, another, less-talked-about exchange seems to bolster a commonly held belief that the 2016 presidential candidate is still uncomfortable talking about race.

Take this, from the Washington Post:

Seated with Lumumba, the senator was asked about the marginalization of black LGBTQ citizens. He shifted the question to people “you didn’t talk about” like “people working two or three jobs” and “people who spend 50 percent of their limited income on housing.” He repeatedly turned discussion of fighting racism to fighting poverty.

Of course, the fight against poverty cuts across all racial demographics and is a pressing concern as economic inequality grows in the U.S. But any analysis of poverty that eschews race is incomplete and ignores very real and troubling trends—like how black and Latinx middle-class families are headed to zero wealth. It’s necessary to have targeted solutions to address this, and it’s necessary to have candidates comfortable with addressing this.

In his remarks in Jackson, Sanders also said that the Democratic Party “has got to be a 50-state party” and listen to voters all over the country, “including some of the poorest states.” Those presumably include Southern states, which Sanders had appeared eager to write off during the presidential primaries in 2016.

Sanders attributed his losses in the South to Democratic voters being more conservative in the region. If you want to know why that particular comment stung, just peep the map below, which shows America’s black population, in percentages:

Sanders’ latest remarks are undoubtedly another political Rorschach test: People inclined to distrust Sanders on race will remain concerned about his tone-deafness and inability to combine race and class analysis. Sanders’ supporters, meanwhile, will see another attempt from centrist Democrats to discredit a man whose support from young voters crossed racial lines.

The Vermont senator, who has shrugged off questions about a 2020 run, offers little in the way of clarity himself.

As BuzzFeed News reports, Sanders continues to frame civil rights and economic justice as two separate issues.

“Of course we need civil rights in this country, but we also need economic justice,” Sanders said backstage at the Jackson event.

But when asked by BuzzFeed about whether his presidential campaign had changed the way he talks about racial justice, Sanders affirmed that it had.

“It’s not a question of talking about it. It’s not phraseology. It’s what you’re gonna do about it,” he said. “Coming to Mississippi, coming to Alabama, to Flint, Mich.—did I learn something? Did I change as a part of that? Of course I did.”

But when pressed about how he changed, personally, Sanders again preferred to change the subject: “You’re asking about me. And I’m not important. What’s important are the kinds of policies that we need to transform this country. OK?”

Featured Photo by Getty Image.

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Bernie Sanders Pushes for High Voter Turnout to Win

By Ann-Marie Adams | @annmarieadams

HARTFORD – Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday called for “citizens united” in Connecticut to show up at the polls and vote for him.

“If voter turn out is low, we will not win,” Sanders said. “If voter turnout is high, we win.”

The Vermont Senator also noted that a Democratic Presidential Candidate is not going to win on brand loyalty. Each of the two candidates have to “reach out to independent voters.”

“I think I’m qualified to do just that,” Sanders said.

Sanders made his second stop in Connecticut after visiting New Haven on Sunday. On Monday he made a campaign stop at Riverfront Plaza in Hartford. At 11:00 a.m.

In his speech, Sanders pledged to repeal the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United, which is a conservative non-profit organization in the United States. It is best known for the U.S. Supreme Court case on campaign finance known as Citizens United v. FEC.

Citizens United’s stated mission is to restore the United States government to “citizens’ control,” seeking to “reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty.

Sanders for President Rally themed “A Future to Believe In” at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza drew about 1,000 people.

“It looks to me that Hartford is ready for a political revolution,” said Sanders, pledging to transform America: working class people, and others who are disenchanted with America. “When I talk about a political revolution, it’s not a complicated process.”

In other words, he said, a political revolution means everyone has a vote.

Sanders is among the five presidential candidates to visit Hartford and other parts of Connecticut.

Ohio Governor and GOP candidate John Kasich visited  Sacred Heart University two weeks ago and Glastonbury High School on Friday.

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump was in Hartford two weeks ago and returned to Connecticut on Saturday  at Crosby High School in Waterbury then in Bridgeport at the Klein Memorial Auditorium.

Also on Saturday, Hilary Clinton, who was in Hartford on Friday, campaigned in New Haven with Rep. Rosa DeLauro. She spoke about her plans to raise the minimum wage and fight for equal equality.

While in Hartford, Clinton held a discussion on gun violence with local residents and Sandy Hook victims at the Wilson-Gray YMCA. And her daughter Chelsea Clinton campaigned for her at Dunns River, a Jamaican restaurant in Hartford’s North End.

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Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Spar in Eight Democratic Debate in Brooklyn

By Ann-Marie Adams | @annmarieadams

BROOKLYN, N.Y.  — Sen. Bernie Sanders performance in the Brooklyn Democratic  debate with Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Thursday moved him closer to winning more delegates in the New York primary. But some political observers saidthe question of whether he can put a dent into Clinton’s lead in Tuesday’s primary is open for discussion.

Sanders, who began the 90-minute debate in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard on Thursday, was the only Democratic challenger left to contend with the formidable presidential front runner, who rests heavily on her husband’s brand loyalty.

In his fiery attacks against Clinton’s promises on the presidential campaign, he pledged bold and progressive goals for America, while responding to questions about Clinton’s qualification and credibility to be president.

“Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and the intelligence to be a president? Of course she does,” said Sanders, who has known Clinton for 25 years.

Sanders also made note of his trajectory from the beginning of his campaign almost a year ago, saying he was at 3 percent in the polls and about 70 points behind Clinton. Now, one day before the New York primary, Sanders is ahead in at least two polls. Of the last nine caucuses and primaries, Sanders won eight.

“The reason that our campaign has done so well is because we’re doing something very radical: We’re telling the American people the truth,” Sanders said after sustained applause. “And the truth is that this country is not going to move forward in a significant way for working people unless we overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. And unless we have real campaign reform so that billionaires and super PACs cannot buy elections.”

Sanders also said that if he were elected, he would tackle a rigged economy that prefers the 1 percent before he questioned Clinton’s relationship with Super PACs, which he said are collecting tens of millions of dollars from special interests, including $15 million from Wall Street.

Former President Bill Clinton’s influence on the electorate gave his wife a commanding lead with votes and delegates before what can be billed as the most contentious debate since last spring.

Clinton articulated her platform on big banks, gun control and minimum wages with confidence against the Vermont Senator  Sanders. Clinton also fended off criticism about her ties to Wall Street, her taxes and her speeches at Goldman Sachs. She said when others release transcripts of their speeches, she will release hers.

Responding to questions about her qualification and judgment to be president, Clinton said:

“Senator Sanders did call me unqualified. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life. That was a first…. President Obama trusted my judgment enough to ask me to be secretary of State for the United States.

Clinton also outlined her plan to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $12, while Sanders firmly pledged to raise it to $15 if they were elected president.
Both candidates seemingly have the same vision with nuances on how to reach their goals. However, the former New York senator has a double digit lead in New York.

But Sanders “has the message and the plan that lifts all of us and speak more to people of color and the poor,” said Former Ohio Sen. Nina Turner.

New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz (Bronx–D) countered that sentiment, saying: “Hilary has a track record on all the issues that speak for us. Unfortunately, what Bernie does is talk about the issues, not solutions.”

Just five days before New York’s primary, Thursday’s debate was likely Sanders’ only remaining opportunity to cut into Clinton’s growing lead in the Empire State.

When asked by CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer whether he owed the Sandy Hook families an apology, Sanders didn’t hesitate with a response.

“No, I don’t think I owe them an apology,” he said.

The exchange came just hours after a ruling by a Connecticut judge not to dismiss a lawsuit by families of the Newtown massacre victims.

Former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Ben Jealous said he will vote for Sanders because Clinton is not a political friend to black people.

“Hilary Clinton is not a political friend because she helped to champion lifetime limit on welfare. Since her husband’s 1996 welfare reform bill, we have twice as many people living on welfare,” Jealous said. ” She will be carrying on the agenda of her husband rather than Obama. Also, her relationship with Wall Street is complex at best.”

Gov. Andrew Cumo said Clinton will win.

“Her advantage here is New Yorkers know her. She was a New York Senator for many years. They watched her. She delivered,” Cumo said. “She has produced for this state and New Yorkers know that. She delivered for new York. I think New York will deliver for her.”

The latest RealClearPolitics average of polling in New York shows Clinton leading Sanders 53%-39% in the state.

Currently, Clinton has 1,758 delegates to Sanders’ 1,069, including superdelegates. New York’s 291 delegates will be allocated proportionally, based on the election results.

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The Media and the Corporate State

By Kevin Carson | @KevinCarson1

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In an interview with Cenk Uygur March 23, Bernie Sanders noted, “The media is an arm of the ruling class of this country,” going on to point out its concentrated corporate ownership (for example, Disney’s ownership of ABC, Comcast’s of NBC, etc). This corporate media have a vested interest in not covering real news in a way that examines the root causes of problems. Such coverage might lead to radical threats to the power structure. Of course he’s quite right. And it’s not a situation that came about by accident; the state played a central role in bringing it about.

The mainstream media — network news shows, cable news networks, major newspapers and wire services — are part of an interlocking set of governing institutions that also includes government agencies, large corporations, and universities, think tanks and charitable foundations. These institutions share a common organizational style — top-down hierarchies and enormous managerial bureaucracies, Weberian rules, million-dollar executives — and tend to shuffle their personnel back and forth from one such institution to the other.

This whole interlocking complex of institutions goes back to the rise of such institutions in the late 19th century as the dominant organizational form — a top-down transformation of the American economy and society that the state and the plutocratic interests controlling it imposed on the country.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionFrom the beginning of radio, the state’s regulatory approach fostered a cartelized system of nationwide media networks. The FCC licensing system permitted a limited number of radio stations compared to what the spectrum permitted. Had the full spectrum been opened up on a first-come first-served basis, with something like the common law of riparian rights preventing new stations from broadcasting on frequencies that might disrupt broadcasts of existing stations, there would have been many more stations. And had the spectrum been open to all homesteaders, there would have been a variety of participants including amateurs and hobbyists, and community and labor groups. For that matter the FCC itself might have awarded its licenses to such a variety of groups; but instead it awarded them almost entirely to commercial interests. And given a limited number of salable licenses, they inevitably appreciated in value just like taxicab medallions, so that only plutocratic interests could afford them.

But before the mass broadcast media ever came into existence, there was already a nationwide advertising market in place fostered by the corporate centralization of the economy, and a complex of corporate and government institutions to influence the content of media.

The existence of a nationwide advertising market, coupled with “intellectual property” in content and rebroadcast rights, further reinforced the concentration of broadcast media into nationwide networks.

And the pre-existence of an interlocking system of corporate, state and civil society institutions into which the media could be assimilated, created the systemic pressures and filters behind what Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman called the media’s “Propaganda Model.” This doesn’t just mean the cruder forms of influence like direct advertiser vetoes of stories, or even editorial fear of offending advertisers — although that obviously plays a real part in filtering content. More important is the common class background and affinity, and common social ties of those in charge of the media and governing institutions, and the symbiotic organizational structures of the institutions themselves.

Network executives, talk show hosts, and newspaper publishers and editors travel in the same social circle as the powerful state and corporate figures whom they’re theoretically supposed to serve as watchdogs over. So you have “responsible” and “patriotic” news organizations refusing to report on government war crimes, and people like publisher Katherine Graham of the Washington Post telling an appreciative audience of CIA spooks that “there are some things the public doesn’t need to know.”

You have a “professional” journalistic culture, since Walter Lippmann’s time, dominated by the same managerial ethos as other governing institutions, seeing their job as simply reporting “objectively” what “both sides” say without regard to facts. And given the limited (and dwindling) resources for actual reporting, you have the majority of TV news anchor scripts and newspaper column inches taken up either by quotes from public figures or the output of public spokespersons and corporate and state PR departments. You have wire service correspondents in countries where the U.S. is backing local death squads or military coups, sitting in hotel rooms writing their copy directly from U.S. embassy handouts.

The cumulative effect of all these filters, without much central direction, is a sort of “invisible hand” mechanism with exactly the result Chomsky and Herman described: a corporate media that reports news from the perspective of the state and the corporations in control of it almost the same as if they were officially censoring it.

So Sanders is right: the media is an arm of the ruling class — and the state is at the heart of it.

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Bernie Please Disavow Sarandon, And Do It Now

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The worst part is that Bernie won’t open his mouth quick enough or at all to smack down their words. This was never more glaring than with the latest to have loose jointed lips and a thought process. That’s Susan Sarandon.

Yet a private cringe is no substitute for a public denunciation. This is what Sanders should quickly have done. While Sarandon almost certainly would never vote for a Trump in a millennium, and said such in the next breath, still the reason for a quick, fast and in a hurry disavowal of her remarks is obvious. Bernie is a Democrat; that’s Democrat with a large “D.” Though he publicly pledged to back Clinton, if he doesn’t get the nomination, that’s was almost unnecessary. His loyalty is to the Democratic Party and that means a full throated, unabashed, unambiguous support of whomever the party’s presidential standard bearer is. His obligatory endorsement and support doesn’t end things for Sanders. He’ll also be called upon and expected to implore his supporters to back Clinton. This means squashing any notion among his most fervent, dogged supporters of writing in his name. This is tantamount to a vote for Trump or Cruz. This is a horror that Sanders or any other Democrat should dread worse than the plague.

Now there’s the logic that Sarandon used to tout a Trump win; a logic, which by the way, that has been heard on the streets and bandied about by more than a few Sander’s supporters. The logic says that if not Bernie better to get someone like a Trump in the White House who is so reactionary, retrograde, offensive and destructive that his assaults on civil rights, liberties, Muslims, Hispanics, and women would be so grotesque that he’d provoke a firestorm of reaction from progressives. In other words, the devil will do the job that the angels can’t do and that’s organize them. Presumably this means his efforts to roll back the 20th Century would grow the progressive movement by leaps and bounds.

This is so patently absurd that it almost needs no rebuttal. But I’ll give one anyway; one that even the most blinder leaden progressive can understand. 1932 Germany. There were many German hard-line Communists who followed Moscow’s i.e. Stalin’s line that the German Communist should go easy on Hitler and the Nazi Party in the streets and in the voting booth, and instead wage political war against Germany’s social Democratic parties. The thinking being that you get the devil in power, namely Hitler, and he will make things so bad that this will grow the numbers and power of the Communists. Well we know how that worked out.

The historic evidence is just the opposite. That is that a repressive regime isn’t the best tool for organizing, but rather a liberal democratic one is. This gives progressives and reformers the needed breathing space to fight for and win reforms. Having a Lenin in power, which is the analogy that the MSNBC host who interviewed Sarandon used and that she grabbed at to further make the point that a fight back will best occur in a totalitarian run state would have sent both to the dunce seat in any high school history class.
The Clinton camp has gently chided Sanders for Sarandon’s intemperate remark. And has lightly suggested that she might want to walk back her seemingly nonsensical hyperbole Trump advocacy.

Clinton should not have had to say a word to Sanders about her. Sanders should have seen the real damage that this did. Bernie please disavow Sarandon, and do it now.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is From Sanders to Trump: A Guide to the 2016 Presidential Primary Battles (Amazon Kindle)

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Hilary Clinton Leads in Polls After South Carolina Democratic Debate

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
CHARLESTON, S. C. – After a contentious debate between the two leading Democratic presidential candidates, Hilary Clinton emerged as a leader in the polls, pushing back an insurgent candidate from Vermont.

Clinton sparred with the Sen. Bernie Sanders, who brands himself as a Democratic Socialist. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley came in a distant third after the fourth debate in Charleston, South Carolina. The debate was moderated by NBC News’ Lester Holt and Andrea Mitchell.

According to polls released on Sunday by NBC News/Wall Street Journal, the former secretary of state received 59 percent support from Democratic primary voters, while 34 percent support the Vermont senator. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley received 2 percent support.

Before the debate, another poll two weeks before the first votes in Iowa, 79 percent of Democratic primary voters say they would support Clinton. And of those same pollers, 66 percent say they would support Sanders.

Historically, the South Carolina primary election has been more important to the Republican Party’s nomination process, used to eliminate serious contenders facing the party’s frontrunner.

Clinton challenged Sanders on his policy shifts on universal health care, one of President Barack Obama’s signature achievements. Sanders said he would also build on Obamacare and tweak it to be Medicaid for all who are eligible, instead getting rid of Obamacare.

Positing herself as someone who can do “all aspects of the job,” the second-time presidential candidate also questioned Sanders policy shift on gun control. She also labeled Sanders as a fringe candidate, saying he would be unelectable.

Sanders pushed back with poll numbers, which puts him closer to Clinton before the South Carolina debates.

“When this campaign began, she was 50 points ahead of me,” he said. “We were all of three percentage points. Guess what? In Iowa and New Hampshire, the race is very, very close.”

He also cited his close tie in a general election against Trump.

Sanders beats Trump by 54 percent to 39 percent. And Clinton polled with 51 percent to 41 percent.

The two candidates took center stage because of Sanders gains in the polls before the Iowa caucuses. They also argued on who would be best to build on Obama’s legacy on healthcare and gun control, two hot-button issues fought vigorously in the Republican-led House and Senate.

Clinton proposed to build on Obama’s legacy and Sanders said he would be the right candidate that appeals to the current sentiments of the Democratic Party.

Sanders tried to present himself as the bolder choice to build on Mr. Obama’s legacy.

Despite the impressive showing by Sanders in these polls, one thing is clear: Clinton is leading Sanders.

O’Mally got feisty in the last democratic debate before the Iowa caucus, criticizing the two leading and “tested” candidates and show his support for privacy rights.

In response to the YouTube viewer about his stance on privacy versus security.

“I believe whether it’s a backdoor or a front door that the American principle of law should still hold our federal government should have to get a warrant, whether they want to come through the backdoor or your front door,” O’Malley said.

South Carolinians are expected to vote on Feb. 27.

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