Bernie Sanders on the threat of oligarchy and why we need to push Obama harder on reform

    I know I should be typing up my notes about last night’s 10th anniversary party, but I’m watching Bill Moyers interview Bernie Sanders, and I’m finding it difficult to work up the motivation to do anything more than just sob and gnash my teeth. You can find the whole transcript by following this link, but here’s my favorite quote from Senator Sanders.

    “What you are looking at is a nation with a grotesquely unequal distribution of wealth and income, tremendous economic power on Wall Street, and, now, added to all of that, is big money interests, the billionaires and corporations, buying elections. I fear very much that, if we don’t turn this around, we’re heading toward an oligarchic form of society.”

    I’ll share the video later in the post, for those of you who are interested in joining me in my despair, but, first, here’s a letter that Sanders distributed a few days ago, before President Obama was to address the Democratic National Convention.

    Given Mitt Romney’s business record as an outsourcer and tax avoider, and his desire to continue the failed economic policies of George W. Bush, President Obama should be 20 points ahead in the polls right now, not struggling to stay even. At a time when the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well, Romney’s plan to provide more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires is dead wrong.

    At a time when we have lost more than 56,000 factories and 5.3 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs since 2000, Romney is wrong in pushing for more unfettered free trade, which will make it easier for large corporations to throw American workers out on the street and ship American jobs to China and other low-wage countries.

    At a time when millions of Americans continue to struggle through the horrendous recession caused by the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, Romney is wrong to believe we need more deregulation of too-big-to fail financial institutions.

    In order to win support from the American middle class, it is absolutely imperative that the president provide a strong agenda that speaks to their needs, and that makes clear he will fight to win those proposals against the right-wing extremists who now control the Republican Party. Here is some of what the president should advocate:

    1) The president must make it clear to the American people that he will not cut Social Security. Social Security has not added one penny to the deficit because it is funded by the payroll tax. Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus and can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 21 years.

    2) Obama must tell the American people that he is not going to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. The deficit was largely caused by Bush’s two unpaid-for wars, tax breaks for the rich and the Wall Street-caused recession. The president must reduce the deficit by asking the wealthiest people in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes, by ending enormous corporate tax loopholes and by taking a hard look at wasteful military spending.

    3) Given that real unemployment is 15%, the president must propose a major jobs program to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure (roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports and railroads) and, in the process, create millions of good paying jobs.

    4) The president must accelerate his efforts to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and such sustainable energy sources as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. This would not only address the planetary crisis of global warming but also create jobs.

    5) The president must call for real Wall Street reform that ends the largest unregulated gambling casino in the history of the world, and that demands Wall Street invest in the productive economy.

    6) The president must support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, the disastrous Supreme Court decision that allows corporations and billionaires to buy politicians.

    I’ll have to go back and watch the President’s speech again, but, from what I recall, he didn’t say any of that… Maybe he didn’t get Bernie’s note.

    Now, here’s the video of Moyers and Sanders.

    Oh, speaking of Obama’s speech before the DNC, my favorite coverage came from The Onion… Here’s a clip:

    …“My fellow Americans and godless infidels, I command you to join me as we cast an endless pall of far-left evil across the hills and valleys of our nation!” Obama bellowed from the stage, as thousands in attendance moaned in compliance and gyrated their hips and groins in a lascivious dance. “Together, as a barbarian people forged by the wicked flames of irreligiosity and united by visions of a liberal dystopia, we will rise up as one to scorch the earth with boundless amorality.”

    “The streets shall run red with the blood of forced sodomy, performed daily upon every American man, woman, and child!” the commander-in-chief shouted, froth forming around his mouth as the crowd threw hundreds of aborted fetuses onto the stage. “Die, Christians, die!”

    Slamming his fists on the lectern until his hands began to bleed, Obama proceeded to lay out a “three-point plan of sin and lechery” for his second term. If reelected, the president said, he would begin by banning organized religion entirely—starting with Christianity—and burning all churches to the ground, preferably “with their wretched, Jesus-loving congregants still huddled inside like rats.”…

    And one last thing… I mentioned it a wile ago, but, as we’re now entering into the final leg of the presidential race, I wanted to bring your attention back to something that I’d written after hearing Van Jones address to the 2012 Netroots Nation conference, in Providence. I think it’s particularly poignant in light of something Moyers said to Sanders in the above interview. Moyers asked, “Do you think Obama will cave again as he did the last time?” Well, here’s what Van Jones had to say about that.

    …We have to be smart, (Jones) says. We have to support Obama, but we also have to hold his feet to the fire. “We have to be as sophisticated at the machine we’re fighting.” It’s going to be hard, but we have to be twice as passionate as we were in 2008. We have to do two difficult things. We have to reelect the President, and we have to hold him accountable. You need two things to get real change, he says. You have to have a President willing to move, and you have to have a movement that’s willing to move him. We haven’t had both at the same time. Under Bush we had a movement, but he was unwilling to move. And, under Obama, until the Occupy movement came along, we weren’t pushing him. It was the Tea Party that was in the streets. We let them have almost three years. Thankfully, Occupy Wall Street came along and started changing that dynamic.

    We have to win two main battles. We have to stop the Tea Party in November, and we have to win the budget battle in December. That, he reminds us, is when the Bush tax cuts expire. That’s also when the Pell grant money runs out for poor kids seeking to go to college. All of the cans that we’ve been kicking down the road need to be addressed in December, and that’s when we’ll have our opportunity for change, assuming we’ve been able to keep Obama in the White House. Regular Americans, he says, have paid our share. It’s time for the rich to pay their share. No more “ham and egg” justice. Asking a chicken for an egg and a pig for his leg, he says, is not equivalent, and we need to keep pretending that it is…

    I think we need to start planning now for an Inauguration Day protest, regardless of who wins. Who wants to start planning a January 19 road trip to DC?

    This entry was posted in Media, Politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

      21 Comments

      1. dragon
        Posted September 9, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        1) You are aware that Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat?

        2)With the exception of #5 in Bernie’s list, Are willing to argue any of his 6 points?

        3) Tell me how Romney will be better in any of these proposals (mostly #5).

        4)Do you think Obama is the only thing holding us back from a Chomsky revolution?

        Yes we get it, you are pure in your ideology, but believe it or not there are a few steps between G.W.Bush and Bernie Sanders.

        For Fucks sake.
        Please tell me:
        I think we need to start planning now for an Inauguration Day protest, regardless of who wins. Who wants to start planning a road trip to DC on January 19?
        is snark. Please.

      2. dragon
        Posted September 9, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

        P.S. Endless promoting of the largest Washtenaw County contributors to the Snyder campaign really lend authenticity to your rant.

      3. Posted September 10, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        We (the people) have confronted oligarchs and plutocrats and tamed them in the past. For my leveler and Luddite friends stories and songs from our past.
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0112y4d
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b0112y4d

      4. Edward
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        It’s depressing to me that Bernie Sanders, one of the few real Democrats in the Senate, has to call himself a Socialist. It demonstrates how far to the right everything has shifted in American politics.

      5. Mr. Y
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        I can understand why Democrats would be angry with Matt and Rene Greff. While they have good track records when it comes to progressive politics, they did support Rick Snyder, a Republican, for Governor. Some, I’m sure, think that they did it for self-serving reasons. Snyder has, after all, rewarded their support by placing Matt on the Liquor Control Advisory Rules Committee, where he’s helped to craft legislation that benefits their business. Others, I suspect, believe they did it because they knew that a Democrat was highly unlikely to win in Michigan, given the state of the economy, and that they knew Snyder would be better on social issues than his Republican opponents. (Would Hoestra have vetoed the voter suppression legislation that Snyder vetoed earlier this summer?) Regardless of their motivations, I don’t see the logic of your comment, Dragon. Are you suggesting that because Mark occasionally mentions the Brewery that he’s unfit to mention Bernie Sanders? I can see, maybe, calling him out as a hypocrite if he had supported Snyder, but I don’t think that he joined the Greff’s in their support. In fact, I think the anti-Snyder material on this site has outweighed the pro-Snyder material by at least 100 to 1. And, even if Mark is an asshole for not burning all bridges with the Greffs, why chastise him for sharing quotes from Bernie Sanders? Unless I’m reading this wrong, you support what Sanders is saying, correct? If that’s the case, why wouldn’t you encourage the sharing if his ideas? Would you really prefer that Mark, because he drinks beer at the Corner Brewery, only post pro-Republican material? How would that help the cause? I get that you have a bug up your ass because of how the Greffs voted, but do you really think that stopping Mark from writing about Bernie Sanders is going to help turn things around. My advice to you, my friend, is to write a nasty letter to the Greffs, and move on with your life.

      6. Knox
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        I generally appreciate your comments, Dragon, but why is it snark to suggest that we mount a march on DC the day of the inauguration, making it clear to Obama that we expect for him to end the Bush tax cuts once and for all, protect Social Security, and start governing on behalf of the middle class?

      7. Tambo
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

        Here’s a clue on what will “push” Obama (to scramble for his bougie comrades like Rahm Emanuel): what’s happening in Chicago TODAY.

        THIS is what it means to organize independently of the Democrats. No amount of calls for “civil debate” in Congress and the media with the enemies of workers’ democracy will do any good to advance any progressive agenda. We do need more people like Bernie Sanders, but even moreso we need the organic intellectuals engaging with their kin and fellow workers to get asses in the street. That’s the central goal.

      8. Romney Watcher
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        From Mother Jones.

        On national TV on Sunday morning, with millions of people watching, Mitt Romney told David Gregory that there were parts of Obamacare he actually liked. In fact, he said, one of the goals of his healthcare plan “is to make sure that those with preexisting conditions can get coverage.” A few hours later, with approximately zero people listening, a spokesman quietly “clarified” what he meant:

        In reference to how Romney would deal with those with preexisting conditions and young adults who want to remain on their parents’ plans, a Romney aide responded that there had been no change in Romney’s position and that “in a competitive environment, the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for. He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features.”

        As it happens, we already have a competitive market for individual insurance. In addition, we already have demand for coverage of preexisting conditions. And yet, the marketplace doesn’t make policies available to people with preexisting conditions.

        Why? Because policies that cover preexisting conditions are big money losers unless you charge premiums high enough that no one could afford them. Because of that, nobody bothers to offer them in the first place. That’s how the free market works. It would be nice if Romney could explain how he intends to square this circle.

      9. anonymous
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        The best quote from the Sanders/Moyers exchange:

        http://imgur.com/pfZU5

      10. Meta
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Ralph Nader won’t be voting for Obama.

        “Obama has violated federal statues, international treaties and the constitution –sending drones all over the world, killing people he wants to kill, violating American laws. He still has surveillance without judicial approval. Guantanamo is still going on. And yet people will vote for him because there’s nowhere to go? There comes a point when they’re both so bad. …Obama has done everything Bush has done and worse. He’s sending drones anywhere in the world, killing American citizens. Bush has never done that.

        The ‘least worst’ believes they have to vote for Obama. If you don’t have a breaking point, and this is the question that baffles the progressive intelligence, how bad does it have to get before you say No More? So some will just sit out the election. Vote Green, vote Justice Party or write in a vote. I don’t believe in staying home.”

        Read more:

        http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/what-ralph-nader-thinking-about-2012-election

      11. John Galt
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        We all know that Obama is godless. Just because it’s in the Onion, doesn’t mean it’s not the truth. Everyone knows he hates God as much as he hates the United States. Romney said as much today.
        “If I become president of the United States,” Romney said, “I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square and I will not take it out of the platform of my party.”

        http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/09/10/823311/in-new-stump-speech-romney-suggests-obama-is-anti-god/

      12. dragon
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        @knox

        Obama, more than likely, will never run for public office again, so how will a demonstration after the election hold his feet to the fire? Also too, the national media would eat this up; ‘Democrats in disarray’ would be the headlines. Republicans would use this as proof that the ‘american citizens’ disagree with Obama’s policies and are behind them in the Grand Bargain, which will already suck, but can become much worse.
        I think a much better choice would be putting pressure on our two Senators to not cave, and winning back the house.

      13. dragon
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        @Mr. Y

        Are you suggesting that because Mark occasionally mentions the Brewery that he’s unfit to mention Bernie Sanders?

        Occasionally? That’s funny.
        I’ve have no problem with Mark’s fitness in mentioning Sanders, but if you can read, you can plainly see he did more than mention him.

        I can see, maybe, calling him out as a hypocrite if he had supported Snyder, but I don’t think that he joined the Greff’s in their support.

        I think he did.

        In fact, I think the anti-Snyder material on this site has outweighed the pro-Snyder material by at least 100 to 1.

        When vetoing voter suppression laws is the best thing you can say about him, it’s not surprising.

        And, even if Mark is an asshole for not burning all bridges with the Greffs, why chastise him for sharing quotes from Bernie Sanders?

        As stated before, he’s doing a lot more than “quoting Bernie Sanders”. He said that the President hasn’t spoken to these issues, or at least didn’t in convention speech. His speech did contain energy issues(#4):
        __
        “OBAMA: You can choose the path where we control more of our own energy. After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.
        (APPLAUSE)
        We’ve doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines, and long-lasting batteries. In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by one million barrels a day, more than any administration in recent history. And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last two decades.
        ___
        Also a short mention to Citizens United(#6)
        –”If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: the lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election, and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should be making for themselves.”
        Also (#2):
        –”I want to reform the tax code so that it’s simple, fair, and asks the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000, the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was president; the same rate we had when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history, and a whole lot of millionaires to boot.
        Now, I’m still eager to reach an agreement based on the principles of my bipartisan debt commission. No party has a monopoly on wisdom. No democracy works without compromise. I want to get this done, and we can get it done. But when Governor Romney and his friends in Congress tell us we can somehow lower our deficits by spending trillions more on new tax breaks for the wealthy, well, what’d Bill Clinton call it? You do the arithmetic, you do the math.
        I refuse to go along with that. And as long as I’m President, I never will.
        I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut.
        I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, to eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, and elderly, or disabled, all so those with the most can pay less.
        OBAMA: I’m not going along with that.
        (APPLAUSE)
        And I will — I will never turn Medicare into a voucher.
        (APPLAUSE)
        No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and the dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care, not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it, not by turning it over to Wall Street.”
        ___
        President Obama has also had a Jobs bill in congress for over a year(#3) and has unambiguous in opposing citizens united “”Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”

        Unless I’m reading this wrong, you support what Sanders is saying, correct?

        correct.

        If that’s the case, why wouldn’t you encourage the sharing if his ideas?

        He’s adding in a bunch of misinformation to those “ideas”, that’s why.

        Would you really prefer that Mark, because he drinks beer at the Corner Brewery, only post pro-Republican material?

        No

        I get that you have a bug up your ass because of how the Greffs voted, but do you really think that stopping Mark from writing about Bernie Sanders is going to help turn things around.

        I just wish he would quote Bernie Sanders’ plan for the inauguration day protest.

        My advice to you, my friend, is to write a nasty letter to the Greffs, and move on with your life.

        I think I just did.

      14. Andy Cameron
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        Nader made himself useless and irrelevant after 2000.

      15. James Madison
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        Ralph Nader may be faulted for many things, but this much is true: He was the only candidate for president in 2000 whose work had saved the lives of many thousands of Americans. Indeed, that’s an achievement that I think nobody who was actually president can claim. Not for me, or anyone else, unless you start counting ‘not blowing up the world’ as an achievement.

        Al Gore’s defeat in 2ooo can be blamed on many things, but it’s unfair to blame Nader. Gore’s absolutely stupid election strategy, and his idiotic legal efforts after the election, on the Florida election counting, were far, far greater reasons for Gore’s defeat and the evil, Satanic Bush’s tainted victory, than was Nader’s campaigning and wining votes of citizens who agreed with him.

        Gore is a good man but he did run the stupidest campaign in modern American history of any presidential nominee.

      16. Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        I did not campaign for Rick Snyder, I did not contribute to Rick Snyder’s campaign, and I did not vote for Rick Snyder in the general election. I believe I may have voted for him in the primary, however, as I didn’t like the Republicans that he was running against. (To be honest, I can’t remember, but I think that I may have voted for him in the primary. At least, I have a vague memory of walking into a school somewhere and voting in a primary, and I don’t think I voted for Bernero.) When I have the time, Dragon, I’ll come back and give you a more complete response, but I wanted to make sure I cleared that up for you.

      17. dragon
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

        Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy traveled to Vermont to campaign for Bernie Sanders during the Congressman’s successful 2006 U.S. Senate race.

        According to Democratic Socialists of America’s Democratic Left, Spring 2006, page 4;[32]

        “The Democratic Party is not mounting a serious challenge, although a candidate may occupy the Democratic line. A number of prominent Democrats, including Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, already have campaigned with Sanders.”

      18. dragon
        Posted September 11, 2012 at 12:49 am | Permalink

        Ralph Nader may be faulted for many things, but this much is true: He was the only candidate for president in 2000 whose work had saved the lives of many thousands of Americans.

        Iraq Coalition Military Fatalities By Year
        Year US UK Other Total
        2003 486 53 41 580
        2004 849 22 35 906
        2005 846 23 28 897
        2006 823 29 21 873
        2007 904 47 10 961
        2008 314 4 4 322
        2009 149 1 0 150
        2010 60 0 0 60
        2011 54 0 0 54
        2012 1 0 0 1
        Total 4486 179 139 4804

      19. Bob
        Posted September 11, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        I’ve been as vocal as Dragon or anyone else about the Corner Brewery people and their financial support of the Tough nerd. Whenever it dies down something manages to stir the vat again. Yesterday a FB post from some Michigan business organization, with a video of Rene Greff bragging about their green energy efforts, got a few very tame comments regarding their support for Snyder. Comments were quickly deleted and it was eventually removed altogether.

        I still can’t articulate exactly what it is about this story that bugs me so much. They are obviously far from the worst people in the world. But I’m with Dragon on his view of the confusing support shown by Mark and the other regulars here towards the Corner Brewery. I really don’t get it. I’m still not rooting for them to fail or anything but I think there is something phony about the whole affair. I have more respect for full-blown Republican business types. At least you know where their heart is.

      20. I spy Occupy!
        Posted September 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        Please guys, don’t bring up Obama’s increasement of troops around the world and his illegal killings of people with no trial. Also, don’t talk about how he has shit all over the constitution. That is only ok to talk about when a guy you don’t like is in office. Lets all put our heads in the sand! OBAMA 2012! VIVA THE M-I COMPLEX!

      21. Greg Pratt
        Posted September 12, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

        heheh. increasement

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


      two − = 1

      You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

        Connect

        Hut-K ad Vault of Midnight ad Sabor Latino ad BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative Jeff Clark