29 February 2016

Political Revival: A Tale of Bernie Sanders and the Internet


One of my friends and fellow activists recently penned an essay personalizing his support of Hillary Clinton's candidacy. I offer the following not so much as a response but rather, to provide a similar tale of my own journey in supporting Bernie Sanders's presidential candidacy. Tif's writing inspired me to return to my writing roots by authoring an essay-turned-short-story, written more in a poetic prose than the usually journalistic-styled English of an article. I hope this narrative will inspire you while infusing hope into our collective efforts in supporting Bernie's political revolution.

Please keep in mind that while this narrative is sprinkled with many facts, much of it is my personal experience and opinion. I wish Americans were familiar with the differences between fact and opinion, including the varying degrees that exist between those two extremes. I also wish people were familiar with how to engage in civilized debate, which includes recognizing when there is a debateable issue. I fear very much that this election cycle is bringing out the very worst of our inability to agree to disagree, as well as engage with one another on an adult level. But I digress....

Chapter I - Due Diligence
Chapter II - Coming Out Republican
Chapter III - Resilience, Deferred
Chapter IV - Bern, Baby, Bern
Chapter V - It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over
Chapter VI - Onward and Upward

Find out when to vote for Bernie in your state's primary election.

Chapter I - Due Diligence

After learning of Bernie Sanders's intention to run for president, I began listening to the speeches and interviews he'd given. I watched video after video after countless video—probably more than a few hundred hours' worth—watching videos of Bernie giving speeches, talking with people, being interviewed, and, generally, just being Bernie.

I listened, and listened, and listened some more. Then, I began asking my friends (most of whom were supporting the pre-ordained Democratic party favorite, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) what the hell was going on. I was assured that Bernie was a "fringecandidate who had less than a snowball's chance in hell of winning a single election, much less the nomination or presidency. I essentially was instructed to stay the course and support the candidate who would make history by becoming the first female president of the United States.

Not being satisfied with that answer, my response was a firm and resolute, "why are you supporting Hillary instead of US Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been better and more consistent on our issues of LGBTQ equality, especially as he has been a leader in support of our community for decades?" They typically responded with the narrative Clinton has laid out: she would make a better candidate because she's better on the issues, more experienced, more electable, the only candidate who can beat the Republicans, etc. In essence, they provided mere generalizations that Clinton is the most qualified candidate ever to run for president, etc.

Being an incessantly and unrelentingly inquisitive pain-in-the-arse (i.e., PITA, which is how many of my New York friends intentionally pronounce my name), I pursued the matter with a drum-beating, "but WHY?" More often than not, they repeated their generic answers in response. I never was given a concrete reason to which yet another "but why?" could not be relentlessly raised in response.

And then there was Bernie Fucking Sanders, who provided all the "Whys" right out of the gate. Most often, by the time he was finished with his narrative, my questions had already been answered. There are numerous videos of Bernie participating in Q&A sessions with audiences, such as this one:

I continued this process over the course of several months during which I was accused of attacking Clinton and not keeping an open mind, simply for asking questions. Apparently, this is a "thing" with Clinton's supporters: no longer is one allowed to question actions or policy positions, nor is one allowed to compare or contrast such actions or positions with other candidates. Doing so is now defined as attacking candidate Clinton by her supporters.

Let me repeat: In trying to determine whom I should vote for and possibly support in the 2016 presidential election, during my routine due diligence, I was attacked by Clinton's supporters simply for asking questions. I was belittled and personally attacked nearly every time I raised an issue or had a question about her ever-changing positions. The energy was dark and clouded, almost frenetic.

The tone of the attacks I endured in trying to learn more about, and come to the truth, was along the lines of, "How dare you even question the supremacy of our anointed goddess!" The energy I felt was as if the slightest scratch at the surface of the juggernaut would completely unravel the candidate. There was no room for any sort of dissent. Indeed, those attacks have only worsened since declaring my support for Bernie.

Bernie's supporters, on the other hand (much like Bernie himself), gladly answered what few questions I had. They typically proffered, "OK, you want answers, here are answers." It was an entirely different energy, in an entirely different atmosphere. I was drawn to that more positive, more welcoming energy.

Chapter II - Coming Out Republican

From as early as my middle school years, I have been involved in politics. One of a few high school students who, with some regularity, showed up for village council meetings, I spoke up on issues I felt strongly about. I registered to vote on my 18th birthday, as a Republican, and haven't missed a single election since (except for board of education elections, often because they weren't well-announced).

I have remained in the Republican party and have always considered myself a progressive, following the paths of the philosophies of Republicans such as Lincoln, Hayes, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Rockefeller. I was involved in my local committees and elected to political office as a district leader, a position I held for many years. I volunteered in the county's Young Republicans and eventually was elected as its Secretary and then its Vice Chair. I helped out on a number of campaigns, both at the village/town, county, and state level, as well as some presidential races.

During the 1990s, I began the process of coming out of the closet as an openly gay male. A friend and I co-founded a local chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, with the full support of the county's party leadership and prominent elected officials. That, in and of itself, was impressive as this was the 1990s, a time when being openly gay was not well-received and even most Democrats were opposed to LGBTQ equality in any form at the time, let alone Republicans. The thought of running for public office at some point in the future was starting to be discussed.

Peter C. Frank at the 07.01.2012 NYC
Vigil for Mollie Olgin & Mary Chapa
Not only was I deeply entrenched in the GOP and someone who was becoming known within the local and state party leadership but I had become a fierce activist on LGBTQ, mental healthdisability, human rights, and various other issues.

Chapter III - Resiliency, Deferred

Shortly after the turn of the century, I was involved in an automobile accident with fatalities. I have no memory of being in that accident and spent close to one year in hospital recovering from my injuries. I survived but was broken. I withdrew from the world, stopped living, and scarcely existed. I let the terms of the offices I held expire and withdrew further into myself.

As I withdrew from the world, I saw how truly good people running for office were dismissed by an uninformed electorate ill-equipped to wade through the political morass of campaigning—an electorate who voted strictly along party lines. I saw the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of friends dashed as they lost election after election. I saw authentic and honest people of great integrity have their characters attacked and careers maligned by some of the most loathsome people I'd ever encountered in my life.

Those who were able to retain their elected positions did so at great expense. I vowed never to return to politics, having realized how disenfranchised and demoralized I had become with the process and the people involved in it. I was giving up on everything else; it only made sense to give up on one of the greatest of my passions, too.

Over the ensuing decade I spent more than four years total in hospitals, continuing the healing process: when I was in the depths of despair, when I was homeless, when I was not able to get proper treatment for my double-depression due to myriad reasons, when the struggle was real...

I found myself on the precipice of a platform waiting for an express train going fast enough to put an infinite end to the sinewy suffering suffocating the atomized vapour of life from my very essence of being. It was a form of positive energy—friendship—that rescued me and brought me back into the folds of life, of mother earth, of the healing and nurturing energies of #love.

Radiant in positive energy, I began to heal beyond the physical. While I'm not fully healed—and never will be—I now can at least (on some days) relish in the joy of life, the hearth of humanity, the dreams of actualized living. I feel that positive energy flow through me. What's more, I once again can feel positive energy emanating from me, perhaps moreso than I ever had.

Toward the end of that painful decade, I slowly began emerging from my "waking coma" and set foot into my community once again. At a pace that would make a snail seem like a Ferrari, I  resumed my role as an activist, often at the behest of friends. My activism was conducted mostly online, although I did venture out every now and then.

Chapter IV - Bern, Baby, Bern

While I've followed the careers of a few elected officials such as Senators Sanders and Warren, I'd managed to steer relatively clear of politics and keep my vow never to return. I of course continued to vote in every election and the upcoming 2016 presidential election was, in my mind, to be no different. As I've done for quite some time, I figured I would vote for a third-party candidate, voting my conscience instead of the "lesser of two evils."

I remained vigilant not to return to politics, having seen the past three presidential elections deteriorate further down a superhighway of increasingly amoral political machinations.

And then this grumpy, old curmudgeonly grandfather-like person announced he was going to run against the pre-ordained Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. I'd first heard about him on May 12, 1995 after reports in various Internet usergroups of an essentially unknown lone cowboy of a representative from the State of Vermont did the unthinkable: he challenged a fellow member of the House, specifically to defend LGBTQ individuals:

And there he was, standing up on the floor of the House, chastising a fellow member for his slur against our LGBTQ community. Again, this was a time when most Democrats did not support our struggle for equality. In my thinking, the fact that he was an independent made him better than being a Democrat but not quite as good as being a Republican.

I've previously written about how social media transformed my life and helped me in ways unimagined, especially after my accident that left me a broken, metaphysically fractured equation in a decompiling tree graph of linear algebraic branches searching for its operand: in a word, it's connected me with even more positive energy—friends I otherwise never would have met nor encountered.

Each step I take throughout my continuous recovery brings with it more positive energy, more friends. I've experienced the amazeballs wonderfulness of truly connecting with people on a submolecular, subquantum level, in radiating the positive energies throughout our universe.

Last September, I followed all of this wonderfully positive energy to a new-found source: Bernie Sanders. I threw my support behind his candidacy, disavowing the hopelessness, despair, and alienation I'd felt in my previous political dealings. I haven't been disappointed since, as I continue to bring positivity, hope, love, and light into my life.

Chapter V - It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

It was one such new friend, MonsieurKagen Aurencz Zethmayr‎, who fashioned the following epistle over the weekend when I was at the very verge of fickleness in a déjà vu denouement of escapism to yet another precipice panged with ancient ties to some form of transient dark matter. He created a massive infusion of positive energies into what is being portrayed by all media accounts as a crushing, crumbling collapse of the political revolution:
Okay, hardcore mental guerrilla here... Nevada isn't just merely one battle in this war, but an unfinished chain of events. The stronger and more efficiently we pull together for Bernie Sanders and the principles which have brought us all together, the better our chances - far better than a coin toss or a drawing of cards - that unpledged delegates will sense the strength of our Sanderstorm and join with us. The winds are in motion, and it is our task to spread them into every corner, no matter how small the deed or interaction, and keep our energies positive and firm.

Resist the gaslighting - and if you don't know what the term means, look it up, 'cause it's pretty damn relevant. Every form of mental and emotional manipulation is being thrown our way,
plus obstructionism - and caucuses show this at its very worst. We fight the good fight, and keep fighting for the rest of the primary process. Our ability and our voice as voting citizens does not lapse between our own states' primary dates and the general election. Every one of us is needed to keep on keeping on, to fight with honour, and to strengthen the resolution of those who have yet to vote.

We have truth and integrity on our side....the opposition has a corrupt campaign machinery that runs on cognitive dissonance, a cult of personality without principle. Focus on our values as responsible, articulate, politically-engaged citizens who don't need parties to define us to ourselves, and truth itself will be our light - and cannot be extinguished once it's lit.

Good fight - recover balance - strive again. We're all in this together.

‪#‎VoteTogether‬ ‪#‎AmericaTogether‬ ‪#‎WeAreBernie‬ ‪#‎FeelTheBern‬
The positive energy emanating from Bernie has a name: #hope. There is hope, when we stay together. There is hope, when we relay the positive energy that exists between and among us. There is hope, when we radiate our hopes to the world, when we reflect and grow the hope that Bernie started with this political revolution.

And I know this to be true from a deep level of personal experience. It was hope that brought me out of a living grave and back into fighting for a political revolution. And that's something the opposition doesn't have, as has been most clearly evidenced by their latest tactics.

It is with this hope that—finally—I am able to answer the agonizing question Simon Le Bon poses. One cannot read or listen to the poetic justice of lyrical cacophony as the establishment is falling apart at the seams and question who—or perhaps what—is needed and missing from their campaigns: the #HOPE that Bernie's political revolution is bringing to tens of millions of people around our great nation.

As Le Bon so eloquently cries out in his seductively haunting, alluringly melancholic voice:

Who do you need? (We need Bernie, for the love and hope he give us)
Who do you love? (We love Bernie for what he represents and stands up for)
When you come undone. (Bernie's political revolution will be the undoing of the establishment)

Chapter VI - Onward and Upward

For you see, when we stand together, there truly is nothing that we cannot do. And when we do stand together, things begin to look differently than the narratives the establishment is attempting to force-feed down our throats.

As someone who had lost all confidence in the political system, Bernie inspired me with so much hope that I changed my political party affiliation for the very first time in my life, just so I could vote for him in the upcoming primary election. I'm not the only person he has inspired to do this. Bernie draws support from across the political spectrum and is providing hope to hundreds of thousands of supporters. He is the leader we need for our time, who will bring about the political revolution to return our nation to a democratic form of government.

It is Bernie's hope that we carry forward, bringing people together. This is the political revolution. Instead of the same-old, same-old corrupt political methodologies, #hope is Bernie's new way that fuels the political revolution. Hope is why we who #FeelTheBern know in our heart of hearts that Bernie will lead the #UsNotMe political revolution. Hope is why we know that Senator Bernie Sanders will become the 45th president of these great United States of America!

In the immortal words of Killer Mike,
Stay encouraged, stay invigorated, stay bold, stay confronting bullshit at every turn. Make sure that wherever you go, you take the name, the ideas, the philosophy, and the ideology of Bernie Sanders there and you make sure when you leave, they are on fire because they have felt the Bern!

Disclaimer: I am an active supporter of Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign.

The Absurdity of Suing the Supreme Court Over Gay Marriage

Guest Blog by

I wonder if Supreme Court Justices laugh. They must when they realize that five of them are being sued over gay marriage. Most people when served with a lawsuit utter an expletive of some sort or an “Are you kidding me?” I feel like in their chambers, one of them, maybe Justice Sonia Sotomeyer (she looks like she has a sense of humor), opened a bottle of fine brandy and started telling young lawyer jokes. She and the other four justices on the complaint, Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kegan are probably stringing together puns about the Alabama lawyer, Austin Burdick.
Apparently, he seeks to be compensated $6,000,000 plus punitive damages for their majority decision allowing same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. He is basically alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and violations of the 5th and 14th Amendments (which together provide that the federal and state governments will not deprive individuals due process of law). He complains that they have nullified the Constitution by making bad law. 
[As a result] Plaintiff’s livelihood is dependent on his ability to protect his clients’ constitutional rights. If the Constitution is no longer a charter of liberty that guarantees the rights of U.S. citizens then Plaintiff has lost all income that he would have received had the Constitution not been destroyed. Without the Constitution Plaintiff’s law license is greatly diminished in value if not ruined entirely.

I taught constitutional law to high school students in law school. There was nothing in the textbook about suing the Supreme Court judges if you didn’t agree with them. However, I did have the flu and missed one class. Maybe my co-teacher went over it.
To my knowledge, unless someone brings you before the disciplinary board you get to keep on practicing with your law license.
As he is the only attorney listed on his website, I imagine Burdick is a solo practitioner. He got his license ten years ago. Since a JD (Juris Doctor) takes three years to earn after college, he is probably at least 35 years old. He probably has 30 years left in his lawyer life assuming he plans to retire at 65. If gets the $6,000,000, that works out to $200,000 a year in lost salary. He must be a really good lawyer if he makes that. 
To pump out $200,000 in net profit, he needs two legal secretaries and maybe a marble statue of blind Lady Justice. Assuming he skips the art deco but pays for an office, two secretaries, insurance, utilities, a photocopier, and one of those nifty Kuerig coffee makers where you insert the little coffee pods that also allow you to brew hot chocolate, his expenses must run at least $200,000 a year. So he would need to earn $400,000 a year. If he bills 2000 hours a year, his rate must be $200 an hour. I don’t know if that is reasonable in Alabama. I think he is shooting a bit high.
Then again he did allege mental anguish and that's compensable.  Maybe he is sensitive. That’s ok, the world needs metrosexuals. (Note: I am not saying he is a metrosexual. I don’t want him to sue me for libel).
While I appreciate his moxie and the amount of interest he has generated (24,000 hits on his complaint), he doesn’t have legal authority or precedent to make this stick. Personally, I believe that he doesn’t like judges. Maybe he is not a people-person. (Note: again, this is just speculation. I still don’t want him to sue me for libel. He’d probably throw in slander too).
Burdick has tried some of the arguments before when he sued Alabama Judge Robert S. Vance, Jr. The case was dismissed with prejudice.The Supreme Court case is different because he is not just the lawyer but also the plaintiff.
And you know what they say about lawyers representing themselves in court, they foolishly get a lot of free advertising. This article is case in point.

What is the Worth of a Disabled Professional?

Guest blog by Sarah Dubinsky, Esq.
What do you do for a living?
That’s the first question asked at any networking event.  It’s the second question potential in-laws ask after the pleasantry of “where did you two meet” has been resolved. Work status comes up on Facebook. Your friends of friends want to know.  Heck, I want to know.
Am I defined by my disability or my career?
I used to work full-time as a lawyer, advocating for impoverished individuals with disabilities seeking public benefits.  Due to a relapse of schizoaffective disorder last year, I became one of them. I didn’t earn a dollar for 14 months.  In irony, my sympathy curdled into empathy.
Every interaction with neighbors, former colleagues, people I met at weddings became a self-judgment. A simple “how are you?” internally turned into “what are you doing with your life?” Well, I was being sick.  I couldn’t decide between shrugging off the question with a quick smile and a “fine” or telling them that I just spent 10 more days in the psych ward. I wanted them to know, I couldn’t work. I hoped they wouldn’t judge me more than I was judging myself.
As my symptoms lessened, I took an adjunct professor position teaching social welfare policy.   One of the recurring themes was valuing the worth of the poor. Given limited funds, you make choices of whom to help. In health care, historically, veterans have gotten a lot of support.  Nationwide, poor children have the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid.  Unemployed adults, including many disabled individuals, at the same level of poverty may not get health coverage, entirely based on the state they live in. But why?
Often, it comes down to work.  Veterans provided a unique service defending the country.  They earned their right to care. This once was a covenant that has been degraded in budget cuts.  Children, on the other hand, cannot work but will grow to be productive members of society, so they get some financial nourishment.  They will be taken care of until their 18th birthday when they turn into “able-bodied” adults and are expected to get a job.  If they can’t find one, depending on where they live, society may turn them out to the wolves of uninsured status.   Unemployed people are expected to have jobs somewhere, somehow. Even people determined disabled by the United States government might not have Medicaid or Medicare depending on which loophole they fall through.  Though there is a Medicaid program that might help if the disabled person works part-time.
Given that society has already categorized my worth, it makes sense that I would have too before my relapse. Mental illness is invisible. I look able-bodied. Shouldn’t I be working always? Well, if you can’t...don’t. There shouldn’t be shame. Yet I saw and see it coming from everywhere, including from the advocacy community that stresses inclusion in most things.  It seems, for me, that too often the focus is on providing disabled individuals more access to the workforce than raising Social Security benefits.  The average amount of Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits is only $1,165.76 a month. It is hard to pay rent on that, nevermind the basic necessities of multiple medications, endless co-pays, quasi-nutritive food, the non-plush toilet paper, and the dollar store brand of coffee filters and shampoo.
I am a big supporter of inclusion but I wonder about the focus on employment. Is a disabled person defined by his/her work? I know I am sometimes.  Though, that may be largely my own perception.
And this just scratches the surface of value. Give me a few more blogs and I'll flesh it out and make your time worth it.

23 February 2016

Is the Clinton Campaign Buying Superdelegate Votes?

Ed Schultz, former host of The Ed Show on MSNBC (who now has his own web site and also is a host on The Ring of Fire alternative media network), talks with Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) about his decision to let the people decide what he should do with his Superdelegate vote.

Ed Schultz (l) and Congressmember Alan Grayson (r)
During the interview, Schultz first asks Grayson why so many superdelegates have made a decision to back Clinton "before the people have spoken through the primary process." His response is an honest but very unsurprising, "it shows that the system is rigged."

Grayson worries about a situation where a candidate could still be the party's nominee even if they received 59% of the popular vote due to the superdelegate situation. He called this "a betrayal of democracy" and explained, "That's why I've done what I've done here and told people I will follow their advice. Let the people rule," referring to his web site asking people whom he should cast his superdelegate vote for.

Schultz probed Grayson about rumors Clinton was inking deals with some superdelegates to raise money for them so they would get re-elected, in exchange for their vote. "Does it work that way?" he asked.

Confirming Schultz's suspicions, the Congressman responded, "It's interesting to see how Bernie Sanders rejects that entirely. I haven't seen Bernie make any promises like that." Grayson laments the state of politics today but offers a ray of hope, "The public, our voters, are not going to be fooled by that sort of thing. They well understand that the party politburo has performed horribly for the past several election cycles." 

Adding that Democrats stay at home and don't vote if they feel cheated, Grayson offered a possible explanation for the poor performance Democrats around the nation suffered, with the loss of several governorships and state legislative majorities, "We're not delivering enough for our people and if we take away their vote, take away their right to determine who our nominees are, then all is lost."

Responding to Schutlz's question about whether allowing the public to decide his superdelegate vote instead of obeying the party's establishment will have repercussions for him, Grayson responds,
If enough people come to the web site and give me their input, then that will show that the people united can never be defeated. I want to be on the side of the people, not the bosses not the politburo and if there are consequences to that, consequences be damned.
When asked why he believes so many superdelegates have already committed so far in advance of the people having a say through the primary process, Grayson offers, "I think that they never thought that somebody like me would never bother to consult the people. Think about this, 712 superdelegates and I'm the only one who's bothered to ask the people."

You can add your voice and let Congressmember Grayson know whom you think he should cast his superdelegate vote for in the Democratic presidential primary race by visiting http://graysonprimary.com/. On a side note, while you do not have to donate to his campaign in order to submit your vote, you will be asked three times to donate.

Grayson has launched a bid for Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) seat in the US Senate. Rubio is seeking the Republican presidential nomination and pledged not to seek re-election should that bid fail.

Disclaimer: I am an active supporter of Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign.

19 February 2016

Sanders Shatters Clinton's Paid Speech "Smear"

At last night's (Feb. 18th) MSNBC Democratic Town Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, Secretary Clinton was asked, once again, whether she would release the transcripts of her $250,000-per-hour paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, in the interest of being transparent. Clinton responded as she did during the last debate:
I am happy to release anything I have whenever everybody else does the same, because everybody in this race, including Sen. Sanders, has given speeches to private groups. Everybody else does the same because every other candidate in this race has given speeches to private groups, including Sen. Sanders.

Sanders's Response:

Late last night, Senator Sanders sent the following tweet out on Twitter:

Bernie Sanders's campaign tweet (click the image to view a larger version),
posted at 10:51pm EDT on Feb. 18, 2016 reads:
This is what a paid @BernieSanders speech looks like:
Don't worry. The $500 payout was given to charity.
Here is a live version of this tweet:
Judging by the timing of this tweet, it appears Sanders was live-tweeting during Clinton's portion of the town hall. In his tweet, which responds directly to Clinton's vow to release her transcripts "when everybody else has released theirs" including the Senator, he didn't just release a transcript but rather published the video of a speech he, like Clinton, was paid to give.

In this paid speech, Sanders talked about his December 10, 2010 filibuster on the Senate floor that lasted an epic eight-and-a-half-hours. Sanders was critical of President Obama’s extension of the Bush administration's tax cuts for top earners and diminished estate tax rates. He also lamented the disappearance of America’s middle class. In addition to discussing the the filibuster, which was published into a book, Sanders responded to questions from audience members.

During the same hour he tweeted about the above video, Sanders also tweeted something that's a bit of a curiosity: a tweet that consisted simply and entirely of a URL (web site): iwilllookintoit.com. In the Twitterverse, one usually puts a little something along with the URL to explain what it is, as URLs don't auto-expand to show a preview of the web site being tweeted:
When one visits the web site Sanders tweeted (I know, it's clickbait, but it's pretty genius), one is greeted by a simple message, with a running clock:
Screen capture of iwilllookintoit.com taken at 7:06 am EDT
on 2/19/2016. (Click the image above for a larger version.)
Unfortunately, the video Sanders linked to, which is found with relative ease by searching C-SPAN2's BookTV program's YouTube account, contains only 10 minutes from his hour-long speech. This is not Sanders's fault, though. He linked to a recording of his speech on C-SPAN's own YouTube account (or an account under their control). After a lot of digging, however, I was able to find the entire, hour-long speech, which you can view and see for yourself what Sanders said:
In two quick, back-to-back tweets Sanders effectively removed the obstacle Clinton claims would be overly burdensome and unfair for her in releasing the transcripts of her paid speeches. He also completely obliterated her charge that he, too, has been paid large sums of money to deliver speeches.

Disparities Exacerbate the Issues

Additionally, Sanders voluntarily disclosed the amount of, as well as what he did with, the ginormous payment he received for making that speech: He took the whopping, jaw-dropping total of $500 (that's five-hundred dollars) that he was paid for his one-hour speech, and he donated it to charity.

Contrast that to the $250,000 Clinton made per hour (and we don't know what she did with that money). That's a 50,000% difference in their rate of pay. Most Americans can only dream of making even $500 per hour (which is what Sanders made for his speech). Clinton makes 500 times that amount.

Clinton says she'll take Wall Street money but not let it affect her.
I say I was born at night, but not last night. ~Dr. Cornel West

To be fair, let's compare Clinton's pay versus others who've held the same position of Secretary of State. Yahoo News did some digging and found that Clinton's fees were about four to five times higher than any of her predecessor's speaking fees. And yet, she doesn't believe the federal minimum wage should be increased to $15 per hour.

Let me repeat: someone who makes as much money in one hour as the average middle-class family makes in five years does not believe that the federal minimum wage should be raised to $15 per hour, because that is thinking too big.

The stark contrast in pay that Clinton and Sanders receive for their paid speeches is not the only difference that deserves attention. Sanders's paid speech was given in a forum that was open to any member of the public. Clinton, on the other hand, delivered her speeches in private spaces, behind closed doors, with an invite-only guest list consisting of the who's who of the Wall Street wealthy.
While plenty of the paid speeches the former secretaries have given were either streamed or have since been made public, the content of Clinton’s talks at Goldman Sachs has been a tightly guarded secret.
~Dylan Stableford,
Senior editor, Yahoo News Politics

Truth, Transparency & Time

"There can be no faith in government if our highest
offices are excused from scrutiny - they should
be setting the example of transparency."

~Edward Snowden
Since there is now full disclosure of at least one of Sanders's paid speeches, wouldn't it be fair for Clinton to do the same for at least one of the speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs—including showing what she did with the two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) she received for giving it? Undoubtedly, she will continue to obfuscate the truth, remain opaque in her operations, and continue to spin this story, as is her modus operandi.

Government, after all, is supposed to be open and transparent. One must question why Clinton is so resistant to release the transcript of any of her paid speeches—transcripts we know actually exist because for once, the media actually did its job, given that she is seeking to fill the seat of the world's most powerful leader. Could it possibly be that Sanders's truth to power claims of the political system being beholden to campaign contributors might carry some weight and Clinton does, in fact, have a much cozier relationship with Wall Street than she has been claiming?

The public deserves a right to know what was said in those speeches, and why she is so reluctant to release the unredacted transcripts. The ball is now in Clinton's court, and truth has a way of coming out, in time...

I'd like to thank my very good friends Xander, Lorraine, and David, who've assisted me with proofreading my articles lately. Xander, a native of the Netherlands, knows four languages, and English was not the first one he learned. There's something to be said when a non-native speaker knows "our" language better than a majority of native-born Americans.

You may also be interested in:
No More Fleecing in Flint
Did Sanders Smear Clinton or Is This A Bait-and-Switch?

Disclosure: I am an active supporter of Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign.

Clinton's Conundrum: Truth-Telling

CBS's Scott Pelley
In a segment on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, Clinton was asked, point blank, if she would pledge, as presidential candidate Jimmy Carter did, to tell the truth (as well as whether or not she has ever told a lie). One would expect a fairly simple, and straight-forward answer to this question, consisting of exactly one word that has three letters in it. This, however, was her response:
Well, I have to tell you I have tried in every way I know how literally from my years as a young lawyer all the way through my time as secretary of state to level with the American people.
~Hillary Clinton
She has always tried. On seeking clarification, Pelley followed up by asking her if she's always told the truth. Again, Clinton repeated that she has "always tried." When pressed by Pelley, she again stated that she has always tried, and then gave the following response, which was I guess what she believed was supposed to allay the disbelief he was showing (as was apparent as he asked her the question about three different times):
Well, but, you know, you're asking me to say, "Have I ever?" I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever will.
~Hillary Clinton
I have worked for some of the top global law firms for over fifteen years as, among other things, a paralegal. I also successfully completed two years of law school, and I was the second-youngest student my school ever admitted in its 125-year history. To my trained ears, Clinton's response is lawyer-speak, which makes it appear as though she's answered the question when, in fact, she has not.

There is one thing that I've heard people say about Clinton, and that is that she's a very good lawyer. Some, however, might consider that to be more of an insult than a compliment. The fact that she could not answer such a simple question—"Will you pledge to tell the truth?"—with the simple, one-word, three-letter answer anyone running to be POTUS would use demonstrates, to me, how much Clinton continues to think—and act—like an attorney and not a President. Watch her respond to Pelley's questions and judge for yourself:

Clinton's response here continues the pattern of how she answers questions. To me, she basically is coming up with ways to not answer questions so that she can backtrack on what she's said at some point in the future. The pattern of her responses essentially is, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is" all over again (and again, and again). And in my view, America just doesn't need another President who employs such legalistic tactics in their everyday speech.

Ray Bradbury quote: You can't TRY to do things,
you must simply DO them.
Here's another way to look at it. In therapy, I'm constantly being told to stop saying "I'll try to do so-and-so" or "I'll try to get such-and-such done." Instead, I'm told to just say it. Compare "I'll try to get to work on time" with "I'll get to work on time." The former sets us up for failure while the latter already has us succeeding; it's essentially a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If Clinton is always trying to tell the truth, doesn't it follow that she's really just setting herself up to fail at doing so? As Ray Bradbury says, "You can't TRY to do things, you must simply DO them."

I'd like to thank my very good friends Xander, Lorraine, and David, who've assisted me with proofreading my articles lately. Xander, a native of the Netherlands, speaks four languages, and English was not the first one he learned. There's something to be said that a non-native speaker could know "our" language better than a majority of native-born Americans.

You may also be interested in:
No More Fleecing in Flint
Did Sanders Smear Clinton or Is This A Bait-and-Switch?

16 February 2016

No More Fleecing in Flint

Democratic Presidential Candidate and US Senator Bernie Sanders's (I-VT) voice was raw in conviction as he detoured from his standard stump speech and began an hour-long, impassioned oration with a radical suggestion for bringing accountability to the Flint, Michigan water crisis:
If the local government cannot protect those children, if the state government cannot protect those children, then the federal government better get in and do the right thing.
Shortly before his address on Monday, February 15, 2016, Sanders met with seven individuals from Flint, Michigan who continue to be hurt by lead poisoning as a result of the water crisis in their city. During his first campaign visit to Michigan, he questioned whether we should settle for small ideas or whether we have the courage to stand up for "Yooooge" ideas.

The impact of that meeting was voluble as he delivered a commanding speech to a standing-room-only crowd of 9,400 at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The line to get into the venue was so long that one person drove for 2.5 minutes before coming to its end:

While big crowds are nothing new for Sanders, the fact that thousands of people stood for hours in the freezing cold just to see him is a testament not only to the success of the political revolution he is building but also for the support he engenders. In viewing and listening to Sanders's delivery last night, one cannot help but feel his outrage, his discernable disbelief, and his heart breaking over this tragic situation.

As with his other proposals, his emotional pleas were followed by practical solutions. In the case of the Flint, MI water crisis, Sanders called for the resignation of Governor Rick Snyder when news of this tragedy first entered the public discourse one month ago. Last night he moved beyond accountability and offered a sensible solution to a problem that was incomprehensibly exacerbated by the choices and inactions of government officials who, instead of taking care of our citizens, caused them egregious harm.

While having the federal government intervene seems so common-sense, it is quite radical in today's political climate that focuses on ceding power to the states, balking at any mention of "big government." In a pre-emptive move, Sanders criticized a government that has money for war but not for Flint.

The implications of a greater federal role in Flint extend beyond Michigan. Republicans would be quick to condemn an increased role they claim would result in over-regulation by the federal government. However, because sacrificing a poor, mostly minority community might be fiscally acceptable to some states, the federal government must protect the interests and well-being—and in this case, the very lives—of all its citizens. Erin Brockovich joined Sanders in his call for environmental justice and a "government [that] work[s] for ordinary people, and not just the largest corporations that contribute unlimited amounts of money to fund political campaigns."

As has clearly been exemplified by the unrelenting reporting of Rachel Maddow, giving the states more autonomy in deciding the health and welfare of its citizens could result in fueling certain political agendas that have shown to cause harm to our citizens. A greater federal role is a dam in keeping these waters of such local governments contained.
The Sanders campaign HQ in Flint, MI
gives out free water to anyone in need!
This practical solution is the very reason that Sanders will succeed with his political revolution. He will deliver on his proposed programs and plans, which will restore America's democracy while bringing greater prosperity to the marginalized, rebuilding the middle class so that working families can thrive once again.

Bernie Sanders in Ypsilanti, Michigan on February 15, 2016
If you have an hour or so to kill, here is Bernie's full speech from the EMY rally in Ypsilanti, Michigan on February 15, 2016. I urge you to view it and judge for yourself whether Sanders is a single-issue candidate as Hillary Clinton repeatedly suggests.

Special thanks to my dear friend Sarah Dubinsky, Esq., who contributed greatly to this article.

You may also be interested in:
What Is Sanders's Single Issue?
Clinton Campaign Contorts LGBTQ History to Attack Sanders's Record

Disclaimer: I am an active supporter of Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign.