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Sat May 23, 2015 at 09:36 AM PDT

Bernie Sanders is for AMERICA

by StewartAcuff

I’m fixing to deal with some grown up truth right now and I’d appreciate it if you’d hear me out.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is my friend and my candidate for President of the United States. Even if I didn’t know him, he would still be my candidate for president.

He is as honest as the day is long. He says what he means and means what he says. He stands up for you and me every time he has a chance. He stands up for people who will never vote, because he believes in loving your brother and sister. He is fearless, honorable, and American to the marrow of his bones.

You will hear his enemies and those who are trying learn about who he really is call him a “socialist.” Bernie will not deny it.

Give me a minute to say what that means. EVERYTHING that has ever been good for average Americans has been called socialism, and those who promoted it were called socialists and often deported.

Dr. WEB DuBois

Dr. WEB DuBois was the first African-American to earn a doctorate from Harvard. He spearheaded the founding of the NAACP. His lifelong advocacy of civil rights earned him the title of socialist and deportation to Ghana in West Africa. The BULK of his IDEAS were incorporated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. All Americans speak of him with respect now.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was called a socialist by the entire Financial Elite for his policies that helped the American people, and lifted America out of the Great Depression.

Social Security was labelled socialism when first introduced.

Industrial Workers of the World

President Woodrow Wilson and Attorney General John Palmer arrested almost 4000 activists, most of them members of the Industrial Workers of the World and deported many of them for being socialists, because they went on strike repeatedly for the 8 hour day (we now call that overtime). They fought for the right to organize or join a union, which became law in 1935, and for free speech, the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The 8 hour day was once considered socialism.
All trade unionists were once considered socialists.

Dr. King was hounded by the FBI and called a socialist.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, which built a series of dams on the Tennessee River in the Depression to provide electricity to the Southern United States was called socialist.
The Rural Electric Administration brought electricity into the homes of Southerners — which is why my grandfather had electricity but no indoor plumbing — was called socialist.
Upton Sinclair and his famous novel about conditions in meat packing plants were called socialists.
• Health and safety for workers and consumers were called socialism.
Medicare and Medicaid were called socialism.
The Voting Right Act and the Civil Rights Act were called socialism.

Since Bernie entered the public fray as a political candidate for average Americans, we have seen passage of the Affordable Care Act which was called socialism, the Federal Medical Leave Act which was called socialism, and President Obama — who is often loudly called a socialist.

By the standards of the radical right-wing, Bernie Sanders is a socialist. By my standards he’s a great American who wants to improve the lives of all Americans, and in that way strengthen the core of America.

I reckon someone will call this Christian, Bible believing, Jesus worshiping, Tennessee poor boy who’s daddy was a Baptist preacher a socialist now.

Image sources: public domain, Labor411 and Bernie Sanders

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Fri May 22, 2015 at 07:55 AM PDT

Bernie is Running to Win

by StewartAcuff

“Today, we learn that JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and other huge banks were fined $5 billion for rigging interest rates and manipulating currency exchanges. Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Since 2009, huge financial institutions have paid $176 billion in fines and settlement payments for fraudulent and unscrupulous activities. The reality is that seven years after too-big-to-fail banks crashed the economy, fraud still appears to be the business model on Wall Street. Today the six largest financial institutions have nearly $10 trillion in assets, equal to nearly 60 percent of our gross domestic product. They control more than two-thirds of the credit card market and one-third of the mortgages,” said Senator Bernie Sanders.

Bernie’s solution is to break up the banks, and do what many economists said we should have done in 2007 when Wall Street crashed–if the banks are too big to fail, they are too big to exist. He is absolutely right. Institutions that big cannot help but rig the system.

Too big to fail. Too big to regulate.

They must be broken up so that they serve the nation and its people, not just gobble us up. After all the destruction their blow-up in 2007 has caused, not one individual has gone to jail, but let a man steal a loaf of bread and a can of spam for his kids and he is locked away. This system ain’t working.

Bernie is running on policy and on legislation he is introducing. He’s not running AGAINST anyone.  He claims Hillary Clinton as a friend, but he is doing what’s in the best interest of all of America.

As Bernie piles more issues on the table, the fantastically rich and their clown car of Republican presidential candidates will have more and more to answer for.

If they can’t answer a simple question about the Iraq War, what will they do with the issues Sen. Sanders brings forward?

Just the other day, Bernie put forward legislation to make state universities free, expand work study programs (I washed dishes), and lower student loan interest rates so that any kid with the grades can go to college.

You can’t say you believe in an opportunity society if you don’t believe any kid with the grades can go to college.

And Sen. Sanders has a way to pay for it–a small tax on speculative financial transactions. Why should the big boys gamble with our money and not have to pay a small tax?

Bernie is running to win. He’s already raised $4 million dollars for his campaign from people like you and me, and his list of supporters increases by the day.

Bernie isn’t a bet, he’s an investment in America.

Image sources: @BernieSanders and DonkeyHotey (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Discuss
Today I’ll be on “Your World with Neil Cavuto” on Fox News at 4pm ET talking about the #fightfor15 protest at the McDonald’s HQ in Oak Brook, IL!

Image source:@chifightfor15

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President Obama has been stymied by radical right-wing Republicans in the effort to raise the minimum wage. Of course, the $10 amount is not enough. We need the minimum wage to be doubled at the very least, and indexed to the cost of living so that the minimum wage would go up automatically as inflation increases.

While the President can’t raise the minimum wage for all Americans, he can attach requirements for federal contractors including labor standards.

Now Senator Sanders and 17 other senators have sent a letter to the President asking him to require several labor standards for all federal contractors.

The letter asked the President to require a living wage, paid leave, and collective bargaining rights for all employees of federal contractors among other standards as well.

The idea of requiring organizing and collective bargaining rights for all federal contractor workers has been around for several years.

This notion first was discussed about 2008 or 2009 when I was still Organizing Director of the national AFL-CIO. If I remember correctly, the idea of requiring organizing and collective bargaining rights for all federal contractor workers was first surfaced by the Service Employees International Union. Of course, organizing and collective bargaining rights should be guaranteed for all American workers, but those rights must be guaranteed by any employer paid by the federal government. Otherwise, the government itself is undermining good wages, the middle class, and workers’ rights.

Given that the Service Employees International Union first floated this idea and that they have been fighting so hard to double the minimum wage for all Americans, that union must be very glad of the efforts of Bernie Sanders and his 17 colleagues.

Image source: @SenSanders

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Something very disturbing and destructive to an active democracy is happening on the campuses of our colleges and universities. More and more of the teachers are not professors, but academics paid below the poverty level with no benefits and absolutely no job security.

Universities have been using graduate workers for this kind of labor for some time now, arguing when the grad workers have organized that the practically free teaching they provide is part of their education.

But now more and more universities have expanded this Walmart business model, practically eliminating tenured faculty with academic freedom, security, time for research and writing, and the charge to seek truth.

These universities have replaced professors with adjunct professors who are paid only by the class or classes they teach with no security from semester to semester, no benefits, no dignity, just other hands working on other types of plantations.

But there is a swelling of movement on these campuses as adjuncts and grad workers are organizing unions to change the conditions and wages of their labor. Several different national unions are working with the adjuncts and grad workers to form strong unions, and bargain for what was once taken for granted.

One of our national unions most committed to this work is the United Steelworkers of America.

They brought in one of our most famous intellectuals, Professor Noam Chomsky to speak to adjunct professors who are organizing, “That’s part of the business model. It’s the same as hiring temps in industry or what they call ‘associates’ at Walmart, employees that aren’t owed benefits. It’s a part of a corporate business model designed to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility.”

And it is an active threat to a citizen run democracy, because less and less of our information and knowledge comes from academics in search of truth and knowledge, while more and more comes from marketeers only in search of larger and larger profits and higher and higher stock value.

Image source: @SEIU  

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American democracy is no longer just under attack, our democracy and the institutions that support it are being decimated right now. The Koch Brothers are giving Scott Walker of Wisconsin $400 million, because he did all he could to destroy democracy and democratic institutions in Wisconsin.

The Supreme Court has made a mockery of our Constitution like trained chimpanzees saying corporations are people and money is speech, drowning our votes and our voices in waves of cash. After the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, 22 states legislated voter restrictions and disenfranchised legitimate voters.

The dismantling of American democracy is directly tied to the vast gulf of income and wealth inequality. The average worker hasn’t seen a real increase in wages in 35 years. All the increases in our GDP in the last 10 years has gone to the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent. Global corporations, which operate and make their money, take advantage of huge tax breaks, hide their money in offshore tax havens and refuse to create jobs in America.

Now comes Bernie Sanders, who wants to make the economy work for the American people and democracy to be restored and strengthened, and all the sudden the word socialism is big news.

CORPORATE SOCIALISM IS RIFE in America. Our economy works as socialism for the rich now.

Here comes Bernie Sanders for President with a real agenda for real change that average Americans need and all the sudden we hear all about socialism. Well, Senator Bernie Sanders is opposed to Socialism for the Rich.

What is Senator Sanders for? A healthier America and dignity for the American people and restoration of American democracy.

Senator Bernie Sanders is for what we need:

    - Taking care of our veterans
    - Rebuilding our infrastructure and giving Americans good jobs
    - Reversing climate change and listening to scientists instead of lunatics
    - Creating worker co-ops like the grocery store in my neighborhood
    - Growing the labor movement and making organizing unions and collective
      bargaining real rights for all workers
     -Raising the minimum wage
    - Pay equity for women
    - Trade policies that lift workers wages and protect the environment
    - Making college affordable for all
    - Tackling Wall Street
    - Healthcare as a right for all
    - Protecting “the least of these” as The Bible says
    - Real Tax Reform

So when a co-worker, nasty uncle or friend or Rush Limbaugh or Fox News starts raving about Bernie and socialism, just tell ’em, “I’m glad you brought that up, because Bernie is working hard to end socialism for the rich.”

That will strengthen America and all the rest of us.

Image source: Alternet

Discuss
By now, it should be apparent to all watching the Philadelphia Mayoral campaign that candidate Anthony Hardy Williams doesn’t believe in public schools. Instead, he believes in taking huge sums of money from the ultra-conservative Koch Brothers and the Republican American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to be a champion of private interest charter schools and an enemy of public schools and our public school teachers.

We all know that the vast majority of Philly’s children go to and will continue to go to public schools. So why is Anthony Hardy Williams taking money from the enemies of working families -- Republicans and advocates for charter and non-public schools?

For the money?

Anthony Hardy Williams got 5 million dollars, that’s right, 5 million dollars from a group funded by shady ultra-conservatives called the Susquehanna Group to take money from public schools to give to charter and non-public schools.

Politics USA wrote, “First it is beyond dispute that the charter school ‘industry’ that is wholly funded by taxpayer dollars at the expense of public schools is an abject failure. Charter schools typically underperform even the lowest performing and underfunded inner-city public schools… In a new report by the Center for Media and Democracy, ‘New Documents Show How Taxpayer Money is Wasted by Charter Schools,’ there is such incriminating evidence of fraud, corruption, pathetic results, outrageous spending on executive salaries, [and] outsourcing to for-profit corporate schools.”

But that’s not the whole Williams story. Williams’ wife is on the payroll of the oil and gas industry. She works for the industry group the Marcellus Shale Group that represents natural gas fracking, and wants to bring dangerous gas on trains through low income Philly neighborhoods.

Philly and our kids don’t need Anthony Hardy Williams and his Republican agenda.

Image source: strongschoolsohio.com

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Thu May 07, 2015 at 06:58 AM PDT

A Letter from Sen. Bernie Sanders

by StewartAcuff

Most of you know that Senator Bernie Sanders and I have been friends and cohorts in various worker struggles for over ten years.

We first became friends when the Senator was a very early and enthusiastic supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act to give workers a real right to organize and bargain collectively. The Senator and I worked closely with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to get better wages and working conditions for South Florida farm workers. I was honored to be with the Senator in his office when he brought McDonald's Corp. and the Coalition together to sign an historic agreement.

We also worked together when I was Chief of Staff of the Utility Workers to try to pass President Obama's climate change bill. I know of no other political leader who is more authentic than Senator Bernie Sanders, more loyal to everyday Americans, more committed to a more just nation and world.

Please take a hard look at this letter he is sharing with you today!

Friend --

I am the son of a Polish immigrant who came to this country at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket. My father was a paint salesman who worked every day of his life. He never made a lot of money, and we were never able to get out of our small rented apartment, but he and my mom were able to see my brother and me get college degrees. A pretty big deal for our family.

Ever since I was a kid I never liked to see people without money or connections get put down or pushed around. When I came to Congress I tried to be a voice for people who did not have a voice - the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. And that is what I will be doing as a candidate for president. I will raise the issues and fight the fights that most candidates will try to avoid.

Our movement needs people like you involved to help it succeed. Add your name now to say you support our campaign for president.

My father loved this country because of the opportunities it gave him, the same opportunities that millions of other working class families have enjoyed. My parents and your parents worked hard so that their kids could do better. That is what the American Dream is all about. I am determined to do all that I can to make certain that that dream, that vision, does not disappear.

Together we can accomplish great things: we can create jobs for millions of Americans by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; we can make healthcare available for all through a Medicare for All Single Payer system; we can protect our planet from the ravages of climate change; we can save our democracy and government from the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision and pernicious impact of billionaire money; we can end the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality; and we can use the great strength and power of this nation to achieve peace and real security.

Click here to join our campaign for president.

I believe that together we can change America, and breathe new life into the soul of our nation. That is what this campaign is all about.

Thank you for your support,

Senator Bernie Sanders

Discuss
On May 19th, Philadelphia voters will elect their party candidates for all city offices. 1199, led by the legendary Henry Nicholas, AFSCME, and almost all of organized labor are pushing as hard as possible for 1199 member and 23 year veteran of the City Council Jim Kenney.

The people of Philly know that the labor movement created the American middle class, and thus the engine of the most powerful economy in the history of the world. We know that the middle class is being eviscerated by the radical right-wing, a debilitated democracy, and out of control corporate power.

We are learning that the states with lowest wages and worse quality of life are the right to work (for less) states. That’s why we here in Pennsylvania wiped out our former Republican governor’s radical anti-worker agenda.

Here in the birthplace of democracy we know that democracy is being dismantled, and that a voter tsunami to the polls is essential.

All that is why we are supporting Jim Kenney, an 1199 member and former hospital worker, for mayor. He will rebuild our schools and reject the education apartheid of private, for profit education. He will help us win mandatory paid time off and double the minimum wage. Most of all, he will work with us to make forming a union and collective bargaining an absolute right of workers to rebuild our communities and our wages.
35 years of stagnant wages are more than enough. We need to dig out entrenched corporate interests root and branch. One of Kenney’s opponents, Anthony Williams, has already been bought by the private education scam artists and the fracking industry that is eating up our state.

That’s why we’re working round the clock for Kenney.

Image source: Jim Kenney

Discuss
I’m in a rage right now. Washington is not playing political games. They are destroying our country and our people. America is a world leader in child hunger, poverty, and homelessness. We are treating the most innocent and vulnerable amongst us worse than we would want animals to be treated.

UNICEF reported, ”[Children's] material well-being is highest in the Netherlands and in the four Nordic countries and lowest in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and the United States.” They also reported that one in five American children live below the poverty level. It is one in four amongst African-American children.

If you don’t think inequality and poverty are America’s biggest problems, check this. Paul Buchheit wrote, “America’s wealth grew by 60 percent in the past six years, by over $30 trillion. In approximately the same time, the number of homeless children has also grown by 60 percent.”

We must all own these facts. Cynical about politics? Then take responsibility for homeless and hungry kids. Don’t want to double the minimum wage? Then take responsibility for homeless and hungry kids. Think the federal budget and food stamp funding is too complicated? Then take responsibility for homeless and hungry kids.

Call yourself a person of faith? Then fight in this world for the least of these.

Image source: www.nokidhungry.org

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Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday passionately calling for “an agenda for America’s cities.” He said we as a nation must address the structural weaknesses in our economy. He referred to shipping jobs overseas, and the need to employ tens of thousands in infrastructure repair and development.

Unknowing, silly, racist and right-wing politicians and pundits have tried to blame O’Malley, who served two terms as Baltimore’s mayor more than a decade ago, for the reaction of Baltimore's people to the murder of another Baltimore resident.

Governor O’Malley called for structural change in our economy. He also said we have to stop offshoring our jobs, and begin investing in the repair and development of our infrastructure, which would put tens of thousands of people to work at good union jobs.

Governor O’Malley will not be blamed for the disinvestment of business and our government in our people and our country that has lasted for almost 40 years.

I’ve been in the back of many police vans. If your hands are cuffed behind your back and your feet are shackled, and the driver of the van intentionally drives roughly, that is street punishment, corporal punishment. The intent is to hurt you. In Freddie Gray’s case, he was killed.

My friend and once my neighbor, George Pelecanos, wrote the HBO series The Wire about Baltimore. One day when we were chatting on his porch, he said one thing they learned while creating and writing The Wire was how technology on the docks destroyed so many good union ILA jobs, leaving young people with no economic options other than drug trade. Too often the only investment in our cities are suburbanites cruising, looking for drugs and prostitution. A truly great country does not watch the destruction of good jobs and say oh well, technology is to blame. The market will fix it.

The market ain’t fixing shit for anyone except those at the tip of the top.
         

Discuss
“I am running for president. I intend to stand up and fight for working families all over the country.” -Bernie Sanders

My friend and one of my heroes, Bernie Sanders, is running for President of the United States–and I am very happy for it. We need a strong, loud, courageous voice with the platform and the megaphone of a presidential campaign who is unbeholden to the rich and powerful to tell the full truth about what is happening to our country and our people.

The Koch Brothers and their ilk, the radical right-wing Republicans with the assistance of the highest court in the land are quickly dismantling our democracy.  Money now outweighs the voice and votes of the people in elections. The aftermath of the Wall Street meltdown, recession, depression showed that. While our people lost their jobs, their homes, their pensions and, in way too many cases, their lives, those who caused the meltdown got more bonuses and more wealth.

The dismantling of our democracy has played hell with our lives. The evisceration of our labor movement and collective bargaining has led to 35 years of stagnant wages and a declining quality of life and insecurity for our families.

The dismantling of our democracy has destroyed an economy based on a large, deep, strong middle class. More and more our economy is based on obscene oppression of workers and the consequent impoverishment of workers.

Bernie will tell these truths and intensify his fight to change these truths.

I’ve known Bernie Sanders since 2003 when he and Vermont Jobs With Justice sponsored the first mass meeting on the just introduced Employee Free Choice Act. We held that wonderful event on the floor of the Vermont state legislature.

He is a loyal and true friend, a bold and brave political leader, and a man of his word. He is a man of old fashioned and old school values like working for the common good, integrity, honesty, transparency, solidarity, fortitude in struggle, and fighting for “the least of these” as the Bible says. He does not give up nor give in, he never loses faith. Bernie’s dedicated his whole life and being to the betterment of all of us, and we’re lucky to have him.

He and I both have worked to add power to the struggle of Florida fruit workers through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. I had the great privilege of sitting in Bernie’s Senate office when the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the McDonald’s Corporation signed an agreement giving the workers more pay and better working conditions in the fields.

- Do not dismiss Bernie. We must first make certain that he has the opportunities and means to speak loudly for social and economic justice. Listen to your better angels, to the light within, to the still, small voice that calls for your best.

- Do not dismiss a person speaking the truth of your life for the future of your kids and grand kids.

- Do not dismiss a person who will always fight for you and for us.

- Do not dismiss your friend and brother.

Image sources: Politicaltshirts on Zazzle

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