Thursday, February 25, 2016


Political Mayhem Thursday: My Dad on Bernie

Continuing my string of Thursday guest-bloggers, my dad sent me this wonderful essay on Bernie Sanders. Very timely, as I (and many others) get ready to caucus on Tuesday!


However, we will be left with a fresh clean whiff of honesty hanging in the air and a memory of his hands waving over his free spirited hair.

This is the unfortunate truth. Bad timing. Hopefully his principles, integrity, decency along with his message will energize the nation’s youth who in the future will insist on taking real actions to address real problems. This is our reason to continue to support Bernie.

We know Bernie can’t fix everything himself. He is the only candidate that authentically uses the word “we”. He actually says that we all have to get to work, pay some taxes so we can then pay for the things that we have been putting off. I get excited when I see this old duffer surrounded by a sea of young faces. I get really excited knowing these young faces are being motivated to address our nation’s challenges with the principles and purpose expressed by Bernie Sanders. I will never give up on Bernie’s message that big money has too much influence.

Right off the bat I need to say that the cost of the programs Bernie is pushing are doomed in this period of government austerity. For this reason I believe he is unelectable based on the promises he is making at this moment in time.

His programs could increase government spending by as much as forty trillion dollars over 10 years. Hillary Clinton is the only candidate that has presented an economic plan that reduces our debt and finances her promises. Her programs however only prevent us from going in reverse.

The proposed plans of Trump, Rubio, and Cruz cut taxes so radically that that they would add from 8 to 12 trillion dollars to our debt over 10 years of prosperity. In Rubio’s plan Mitt Romney would pay no federal taxes. The plans do not address election reforms nor our serious national goals to curb global warming, health care costs, inequality, childhood poverty and hunger, etc. etc. We will not have funded our crumbling infrastructure and cities, education, medical and scientific resources, environment, and so many other needs. It does seem strange that in all the Republican debates none of these problems were discussed. We are promised an enlarged and expensive military,

privatized social security, corporately directed health care, and more billionaires.

In contrast Bernie’s plan actually starts to look pretty good when you start to think things through. Bernie’s spending does come with an increase in taxes for everyone. Long term we cannot continue not to have single payer universal health care, take the influence of big money out of politics, help with the burden of debt for young people starting out in life, and a robust government that provides jobs and opportunity while tackling our common challenges. Our citizens’ economic health will be better following Bernie’s ideas, if not his plans.

Non-economic differences between Bernie and the remaining Republican troika are very stark.

Unlike Donald he is not likely to delight in the thought of strategically bombing the families of enemy combatants.

It seems unfair to go on and use Rubio, Trump and Cruz to make a contrast for any legitimate candidate for our highest office. Bernie’s deportment should be a model for young politicians.

When Mark’s mother and my politic thoughts were forming, we were both Republicans. At that time Republicans, ideas of what works would be in many cases similar to what Danish socialists are currently doing .

Some things we believed:

Together we could make things better. WW2 proved this.

Greed causes a lot of harm. The depression proved this.

All things were possible. Look at our parents.

War was hell and should be avoided.

Some things we have learned.

Increase in taxes most often leads to increases in employment and wages. We think this a good thing. Postponing taxes leads to debt.

The GOP has shifted from standing up for business to standing up for wealth.

Money seldom trickles down. It goes up to power.

Both parties have not governed responsibly. They have not served posterity as well as they have served their group.

Imagine a time when the country was deep in debt from a world war. We were recovering with massive manufacturing capacity intact. The postwar world was still reeling. America took on the task of helping the world recover, including former enemies.

Racism was present in all communities Women were not considered equal with men. We were fearful of communists. We were fed up with war and the military establishment, but the four freedoms still rang in our heads. Freedom of Religion, Freedon of speech, Freedom from fear and Freedom from want.

Most Americans believed that a good life for their families was certainly possible. We could all afford health care and the doctor might even stop by your home and check up on you on his way home. We paid what we could afford. Medicine was more a profession and less a business. Free education was available that was sufficient to get good employment. College cost a little more. Employment most often was working for someone you knew. The job came with lifetime security and a retirement plan. You and your boss saw each other at PTO meetings where you discussed common problems. Coming out of the war men and women were used to working hard for the common good. They knew the importance of everyone doing their share and when they saw that there were some that where taking more of their share it made them mad.. Even Ike, our Republican President was outraged and thought 90% tax on profits wasn’t enough. We had a real distain for greed. Vast infrastructure projects were built to serve our expanding economy The political system worked to provide the funds. Those working for wages could own a home, some stocks and sometimes a cabin up north. One had a sense of confidence that a lifetime of security for one’s family was a real possibility.

So much has changed. We have had a slow erosion of our promise. Slowly we stopped including Freedon from Want and Freedom from Fear from the American dream.

Richard Nixon changed Phyllis and my political lives. His transparent appeal to our fear of others began with his callous political use of “the silent majority”. He governed better than he campaigned. Ronald Reagan was a master politician. He ran against all the Republicans ideas we had liked in our youth while deriding those in want. He also governed better than he messaged. Their rhetoric worked for their purposes and can still be heard in today’s GOP campaigns.

No wonder we were Republicans then and for Bernie now. He reminds us that we count for something

In the end Bernie will be able to hold his head up in a country that at this moment isn’t looking for such an authentic man. We kids noticed and have hope.

When the primaries are over there is only one candidate whom I could walk up to and say. “Well done.”

Thank you, John Osler. Like Bernie Sanders, you are a good and kind man--and a great American. It is somewhat ironic that you and I agree that we used to live in a better country but somewhere along the way our nation fell short of the glory of the Lord. And perhaps we also embody our tragic national conundrum in that we cannot agree on why we are broken, who broke US, and how to fix US.
Thank you, Mr. Osler, for giving us a lot to think about, in how we frame out political discussions and in taking the long view.

I like your frame of Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. I think it's the latter two which are tangling up people's thoughts right now, and which recent politicians have exploited most. Freedom from Want would be a great campaign slogan (and it's essentially Bernie's message). If people had freedom from want, they might also feel Freedom from Fear.

And if politicians would focus on Freedom from Want, we might get around to talking about Freedom from Fear.
Too much fear. Not enough freedom.

That's my problem with both parties in a nutshell.

I also think that the US is a remarkable place, and we live in a relatively peaceful and prosperous time.
Thank you John Osler for your insight…not just your angle on Sanders, but also on a piece of America I never got to witness. One thing to add, which was also brought up in the NY Times about Sanders and something I find refreshing is the fact he doesn’t talk about his faith or about religion in general. I think religion has no place in the affairs of running a democracy. Given my formative years in a communist dictatorship Karl Marx and his “religion is opium of the people” comes to mind every time religion is used for manipulating the electorate, a manipulation I find quite revolting…which brings me to another quote I came upon recently. It sums up with simple eloquence this faith driven political madness…Brian Sims, a Pennsylvania state legislator said: “Each of us put our hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. We did not place our hand on the Constitution and swore to uphold the Bible."
The Four Freedoms defined America's vision until it became unworkable for those that felt an individual's fears and wants should not be communal concerns. "Freedom from fear" and "Freedom from want" have been deliberately taken out of some conservative texts. Their thinking drives too much of today's politics.

I think it is time for young visionaries to swing the country back to believing that freedom from want and freedom from fear are worthy goals. This is the reason I still hope that Bernie wins it all.
I find it is useful to look harder at a candidates' backers than at the candidates themselves. I like what I see when I look at the young folks backing Bernie. I see Trump backing Trump.

Pandering to religion is the first thing that will put me off a candidate. I want to know the person is a good decent human being and I don't think one's religion is what makes a person a compassionate caring individual. Bernie and Hillary have checked religion at the door for this round and that makes it all the more palatable. Marta, your quote from Brian Sim is the most apropos. Thank you for sharing.

I really like Bernie, but my practical, pragmatic self doesn't see the reality.

I also like your defining the Four Freedoms although I would change Freedom from Want to Freedom from Need. My parents were strong in teaching wants and needs. They would take care of our needs (food, shelter, clothing, the necessary things of day to day living). We had to participate in fulfilling our wants.
Interesting. In my two survey of American history courses, in addition to our textbook and several monographs, we consider seven primary documents, which I think embody the evolution of the American soul:

1. The Declaration of Independence
2. George Washington's Farewell Address
3. The Gettysburg Address and Lincoln's Second Inaugural
4. FDR's 1941 State of the Union Address (THE FOUR FREEDOMS SPEECH)
5. JFK's Inaugural Address
6. MLK's Letter From the Birmingham Jail

In re the Four Freedoms, you cannot understand who we are, if you don't understand what FDR was getting at in 1941, how he got there, and where we were headed.

Thanks for bringing attention to the use of the word "want". The biblical and archaic meaning was the intended use of the word which means " to be without ... to suffer from the lack of.. food, shelter.... lack or to be short of something essential. This was understood at they time it was coined. I was six years old and it made my very Republican family proud of our country. To preserve these freedoms was used as a reason to go to war. Norman Rockwell's paintings made my mother cry.
Unfortunately it is today given the meaning which you refer to. To desire something you don't have ... desire to posses.
Unfortunately we have a country with too many citizens who lack food and shelter and too many folks who desire to own everything.

I'd certainly like to see the GOP blown up and have it select and elect candidates with philosophies more in the line of TR or Ike (or even Taft and Hoover who were far more progressive than history gives them credit for being).

And the ideals and philosophy of caring for the less privileged that Sanders espouses are certainly noble. But what I don't see here is a ringing endorsement of his real life candidacy. Nor is there any explanation of how he can govern when he has to deal with a strident obstructionist Republican Congress. The current imbroglio over a Supreme Court nomination just confirms how unwilling Congress is to be a partner with a Democrat. Any Democrat.

Mr. Osler does suggest that Hillary Clinton actually has the most realistic economic program. And I think he's right. The problem with Hillary is that she's a lot like George H.W. Bush (the father). She is trying to run for a third term of the of the current administration, embracing the incumbent, yet distancing herself from its failings. And like Bush41 she has no real program or platform. She's lacking in "The Vision Thing."

My only hope is that if Sanders is elected, his experience as a Senator and Congressman will give him an understanding of how to work with Congress and his experience as a Mayor will help him actually govern. Like Nixon and Reagan perhaps he will govern better than he campaigns.

But since Mr. Osler spends much of his post bemoaning the dreadful state of the Republican Party, I strongly suggest Robert Kagan's column in today's Washington Post. He compares Trump to Napoleon. Just as Bonaparte did not create the French Revolution, Trump did not turn the GOP into the obstructionist, strict Christian conservative club of purity, but he is going to reap the whirlwind.

And at the end of the day, as much as I wish the "Christian Conservatives" and gun nuts and economic fantasists (Gold Standard, Massive tax cuts for the rich)_who dominate the GOP would just go away, they're not. In a Democracy we can't tell them that their views don't matter. All we can do is try to change their minds. And their kids' minds.


The idea behind Bernie's call for a revolution is a call to have a victory so sweeping that he will have a mandate for change. That means that the obstructionist Republican congress goes away.
If the three candidates in the general election are Bernie, The Donald (as an independent) and a Republican(maybe Paul Ryan) Bernie will have a friendly congress and supreme court.
I'd love to see that happen, but the Congressional Districts are so gerrymandered that I doubt it will. If he was leading a movement and a bunch of independent candidates started running for Congressional seats, then it would be different.

I SUPPOSE Ryan could get the GOP nod if Trump is derailed and its a deadlocked convention, but barring an indictment I don't think that's going to happen. Rubio may have made his supporters happy, but Trump simply seems unstoppable at this point.

Same on the D side. I think the idea that DOJ will indict Hillary is silly. But if they really are going to start deposing her aides, I suppose anything is possible.

---Bernie supporters running for Congress
Thanks for your thoughts. I really think that Bernies' revolution is going to be a long haul, as it should be. It will take a lot of incremental steps that moderates in both party would find are in the country's interest. If Hillary or a moderate Republican is elected they will be aware of the force of the Berns' revolution call for change. I don't think his message will die. His authenticity is unique and therefor powerful.

The party will try to keep all the candidates in the race including Kasich through Ohio to prevent Trump from reaching 50%.

If Trump doesn't receive 50% of the delegates on the convention's first ballot he will be broomed. Rubio and Cruz will be damaged goods and they will be dumped. They will then insert a moderate messenger and the money will pour in. However, the money won't help as Trump will steal most of the crazies when he runs as the mad avenger.

One of the guys that were listed in the article about Bernie's supporters was John Fetterman from Braddock, Pa. He was the only serious candidate and has gotten Bernies' nod. John is a true hero of ours. You will hear from him in the future.

I just saw this. Chris Mathhews does his 'it will never work" bit on Bernie.
Bernie responds.

Please take a look.
"The Party" has very little control over the actual delegates on the Floor. And the people who get themselves elected as GOP Convention delegates think Rush Limbaugh is a squish.

"The Party" has no control over Kasich (or Carson, obviously). Kasich will drop when the money runs out, as have the others.

Squish? meaning admiring, wanting to know better?
I think Kasich would like to deprive Trump of winning the take all state of Ohio. All he has to do is hang around, he does not have to spend much money.

IPLawguy Who do you think would be brought forward if Trump fails to get the nomination?

I think an indictment in the email case is possible. If the facts fit the statute, why would that be silly?
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