Thursday, July 30, 2015

How to Make DIY Bernie T-shirts

I have seen so many cool home-made Bernie shirts on Tumblr:

The only sad thing about these images is no one seems to post instructions on how to replicate their creations. I want in on these DIY shirts! How do I do it? Well, I did a little digging around the internet for how to make DIY shirts.

Not Recommended Methods

Feel free to try any of these. I just don't personally feel they are worth it.

T-shirt transfers - This is the only method I've ever tried in making my own shirt. You buy t-shirt transfer sheets, print out a design, and then iron them on. What could be easier, right? Well, I never like the way they looked. It's very obvious that you transferred something onto the shirt. I just doesn't look good. This guy seems to have the process all figured out. But I will tell you that my shirts never looked that good, and I never figured out how to prevent the image from fading after a few washes.

Design and Buy Online - Here's a site I found where you can design your own t-shirt, buy it, and have it shipped to you. That also sounds pretty simple. But it's $19 for the shirt (and who knows how much for shipping). There's cheaper ways to go about it.

Screen Printing - This one is way too involved and costly to attempt it. But you can do it, and have a great looking shirt at the end. You can even find screen printing kits on Amazon. But I believe there are simpler methods that can achieve similar results.

Fabric Paint

If you go with the fabric paint method, you want to make sure it's not the puffy kind, and you want to follow the instructions on the paint bottle for how to set the paint so it won't fade in the wash. Here are some instructions for using a stencil and fabric paint, and here are some instructions for making simple shapes and patterns.

I don't have fabric paint, and I'd hate to buy some when I have so much acrylic paint in the house. From what I found poking around the internet, you can use Golden GAC 900 to modify acrylic paint for use on fabric. Then follow the instructions on the bottle for heat setting.

Spray Paint

Very similar to the fabric paint method, though perhaps not as kid friendly. Here are instructions for using a stencil and spray paint, and here are some more simpler instructions for kid designs. The first set of instructions tells you how to heat set the paint so it won't fade in the wash.

Bleach Designs

This is by far my favorite design method since it seems the easiest and possibly the most cost effective since most people already have bleach in their homes. Though, again, you have to question the kid friendliness. Here are instructions for using a stencil, instructions with simpler stencils, and another set of instructions for basic shapes and letters. Though, I think my favorite method is the lady's pictured above, She just dipped a paint brush in bleach and hand painted the letters.

Tie Dye & Watercolor

Tie dye was a lot of fun when I was a kid. So this is definitely something you could and should do with your children. But keep in mind that to do something like the image above, you are going to have to tie dye the shirt and then use one of the other methods above to put a design on it.

OR you can use a t-shirt transfer (that method I mentioned I didn't like) and transfer a pattern you want to the shirt before dying. The dye won't be able to soak in to the fabric with the transfer. For simpler patterns this link recommends using Elmer's glue (a third of the way down the page under "Alternative Resist Methods").

If you do either of those resist methods (glue or transfer), you'll want your bindings on the shirt to be lose-ish for maximum color saturation. The girls in the photo tied theirs tight so they have a lot of white still, which means your resist pattern won't be as noticeable. Kids usually can't get their shirts that tight (if you let them do it themselves). But teens or adults certainly can, so it's something to keep in mind.

Here's tie dye instructions, and additional instructions for other patterns. If tie dying seems like a lot of work, you can also use watercolor paints to achieve an similar look. Here's how to set tie dye when you are done (the watercolor instructions explains the heat setting process). Wash cold.


You can use sharpies or fabric markers. You will want to heat set the designs, and wash cold.

Cut Out

This is probably the cheapest method (all you need is a shirt). But it might not be the easiest, and you have to have an undershirt to wear it with. Here's instructions (you don't have to do the sewing part) and here's some more.


Okay, so all these different t-shirt methods are great, but what kind of design should you use? For starters, take a look at other Bernie shirts out there. See if there's any designs you might want to imitate or combine. Check out the Bernie graphics reddit mega thread. And here's some Bernie stencils you can use. Go with the classic Bernie logo or get creative with freehand (#feelthebern).

I hope you find this helpful. If you read this post and make a shirt, leave a comment and if you can attach an image of your shirt. I have a trip to the Salvation Army I've been meaning to make, so I'm going to jump on the #diyforBernie bandwagon too. Let's see what fun creations come out!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How Does Bernie Sanders Plan to Pay for all this "Free" Stuff?

Bernie supporters know that all this "free" stuff isn't really free. Someone has to pay somehow. But is it true that all this "free" stuff means higher taxes? If you came here with questions, here are your answers.

UPDATE 1/13/16: Bernie's Campaign released a handy dandy chart on how his plans will be paid for and the revenue they are expected to bring in. Feel free to use the information there in conjunction of this blog post.

Tuition-Free College

Tuesday, May 19, 2015, Sanders introduced legislation to help make public 4-year colleges and universities tuition free, called the "College for All Act." You can view a newsroom article here, summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

The bill would provide $47 billion a year to states to reduce college tuition and fees:
"Today, total tuition at public colleges and universities amounts to about $70 billion per year. Under the College for All Act, the federal government would cover 67% of this cost, while the states would be responsible for the remaining 33% of the cost." (bill summary) 
The College for All Act also proposes to cut student loan interest rates in half, expand student work-study programs, and create a pilot program to eliminate a student's need to apply for financial aid every year.

Funding for this legislation would come from a 0.5% tax on stock trades, a 0.1% tax on bonds, and a 0.005% tax on derivatives. "It has been estimated that this provision could raise hundreds of billions a year."

Universal Health care

Monday, December 9, 2013, Sanders introduced legislation to provide health care to every American through a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system, called the "American Health Security Act." You can view a newsroom article here, a summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

The bill would establish a state-based health security program (and it looks like states can choose to opt out). The bill would also establish various organizations to develop procedures, evaluate quality, and perform research.

The bill would provide comprehensive health benefits (starting on page 17 of the bill) including preventative and long-term care. And as such, would eliminate health benefits under the Social Security Act (Medicare, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance), the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and TRICARE. It would also repeal health insurance coverage and exchange provisions under the Affordable Care Act.

Funding for this bill (starting pg 166) would be paid by a 6.7% payroll tax on employers a, 2.2% - 5.2% income tax on employees (dependent on income bracket from less than $200k a year to over $600k a year), an 5.4% tax on modified adjusted gross income exceeding $1 million, and a .02% tax on securities transactions.

It is also worth noting that with all the programs Bernie bill would eliminate, the costs of those programs would essentially transfer to Bernie's health program, providing additional funding.

UPDATE 1/28/16: Bernie released official details on his health care plan including saving and taxes.

Green Energy Initiatives

Thursday, February 14, 2013, Sanders introduced legislation, along with Barbara Boxer, in a two part proposal on Climate change, called the "Climate Protection Act" and the "Sustainable Energy Act." You can view a press release here and summary of the proposal here. You can view the first bill here and the second here.

The bill proposes weatherizing 1 million homes per year (creating jobs and saving households on energy usage and costs), tripling the budget for ARPA-E, creating a Sustainable Technologies Finance Program to invest in green energy initiatives, investing in domestic manufacturing, funding $1 billion a year in worker training, and creating a family Clean Energy Rebate Program.

Funding for this proposal would be paid on $20 carbon tax per ton of carbon emissions, rising by 5.6% per year over 10 years.
"This fee would apply to only 2,869 of the largest fossil fuel polluters, covering about 85 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Congressional Research Service. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this step alone could raise $1.2 trillion in revenue over ten years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions approximately 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2025." (bill summary)
Imported fuels would be charged the same carbon fee, unless the exporting country has a similar climate program and already charges a fee on carbon. The bill would also end fossil fuel subsidies. From this, "approximately $300 billion would go to debt reduction over ten years" (summary).

Sanders also introduced a bill on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 to make solar energy more accessible to low income families, called the "Low Income Solar Act." This bill would cost $3 billion spanning from 2016 to 2030. You can view a news article here, summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

Funding: This proposal gives the Secretary of Energy authorization to allocate an amount of funds ($200 million) each year from the Department of Energy for 15 years to provide low-income families with grants or loans (no more than 50% can loans, and they must meet certain eligibility requirements) to install solar panels on their homes.

Job Creation

Tuesday, January 27, 2015, Sanders introduced legislation to create 13 million jobs, called the "Rebuild America Act." You can view a press release here, a summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

The bill proposes to spend $1.6 trillion on rebuilding America's roads, bridges, railways, airports, waterways, ports, national parks, and electric grids from 2015 to 2022. Funding for this proposal appears to come in the establishment of a National Infrastructure Development Bank to give out loans.

Thursday, June 4, 2015, Sanders, along with Jon Conyers, introduced legislation to create jobs for youth, called the "Employ Young Americans Now Act." You can view a press release of the bill here, a summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

The bill proposes $4 billion in grants to state and local government to promote job growth and offer services such as transportation or child care to help eliminate barriers to participating in jobs. An additional $1.5 billion would go to local areas to promote jobs for low-income or disadvantaged youths. Funding for this bill seems to come from an allocation of funds within the U.S. Treasury.

Minimum Wage Increase

Wednesday, July 22, 2015, Sanders introduced a bill to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a period of five years, called the "Pay Workers a Living Wage Act." You can view the press release here, the summary here, and the full bill here.

This bill proposes the follow wage adjustments:
+ Minimum wage - $9 in 2016, $10.50 in 2017, $12.00 in 2018, $13.50 in 2019, and $15 in 2020.
+ Tipped min wage - $3.15 in 2016, then increased $1.50 each year until matching standard minimum.
+ Youth min wage - can be no less than $3.00 less the standard minimum.
Business are expected to adjust their finances to cover this cost.


Bernie Sanders also has proposals to reduce the deficit. These include:
+ End offshore tax havens
+ Establish .03% tax on Wall Street speculators
+ End tax breaks and subsides for big oil, gas, and coal companies
+ Establish as estate tax on inherited wealth over more than $3.5 million
+ Tax capital gains and dividends the same as work
+ Repeal 2001 and 2003 Bush tax breaks for the top two percent
+ Establish a currency manipulation fee on China and other countries
+ Reduce unnecessary spending at the Pentagon
+ Require Medicare to negotiate for drug prices
+ End mass incarceration (costs billions of dollars a year)

None of Bernie's proposals will raise taxes for average Americans, except for the health care bill. I don't know many people who make more than $200,000 a year. So consider that 2.2% income tax alongside what comes out of your paycheck for your employer's health insurance and what an average visit to the doctor's office costs (and then imagine what it costs for x-rays and surgery and things of that nature, and heaven forbid you have a medical emergency). Is 2.2% really that high? I've been told Briton pays 10%.

The top 2% of Americans will have some higher taxes. Taxes and fees will go up on large oil, coal, and fossil fuels companies. And Wall Street has a minuscule tax on its transactions.

When someone asks you how Bernie plans for pay for things, give them this article. And when someone tells you electing Bernie Sanders means higher taxes or increasing the deficit, tell them they're wrong.

UPDATE 09/19/15: various updates to funding info

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bernie Sanders on Civil & Human Rights

There been a lot of talk about Bernie's Civil Rights record, but I haven't found a good source that has it all in one place. So here you go.

African Americans

In the 1960s, Sanders organized sit-ins to protest segregation, marched on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr, and was present for his "I Have a Dream" speech. In March of this year, Sanders made a statement that the civil rights struggle continues in America.

He endorsed Jesse Jackson for president in 1988, and worked to sway predominately white voters in Vermont.

He has worked to combat youth unemployment, which effects African American youth the most.

Bernie has spoken out against police brutality (before Netroots).

After the shooting in Charleston, SC, Bernie Sanders took the Senate floor to speak in favor of taking down the Confederate flag. See the 2016 presidential candidates on the issue.

Bernie has said that as a nation, America should apologize for slavery.


Sanders has called for an end to deportation, and has worked to amend Summer Work Travel programs. He has spoken in favor of immigration reform and a national conversation on the topic.

He has called for immigration polices that untie families and supports the DREAM Act.

See Bernie speak on Immigration Reform. Also, view Bernie's political summary on Immigration.

See the 2016 presidential candidates on immigration (note that this site does not provide a full list of voting records, but should have a enough to give you a general overview).

From Students for Bernie
Sanders has spoken in favor of gay equality since the 1970s. In 1983, when Burlington, Vermont had its first gay pride parade, Bernie Sanders (mayor at the time) gave his support.

More recently, Sanders urged Obama to support marriage equality in 2011. This year, in April, as the Supreme Court took up cases on gay marriage, Sanders urged the court to recognize the right of all American citizens to wed.

Sanders voted in favor of ENDA, which outlawed employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He voted to end DADT and against DOMA.

See Bernie's political summary on sexual orientation and gender identity.

See the 2016 presidential candidates on gay marriage back in January, and their reactions to the Supreme Court ruling in June.

Senior Citizens

Sanders is a chair of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, through which has recently worked to investigate soaring prices of drugs. In 2013, he introduced legislation to strengthen and reauthorize the Older Americans Act.

Sanders has spoken on senior hunger, and earlier this year addressed congress on senior hunger regarding the recent Government Accountability Office report.

He recently introduced legislation to strengthen and expand Social Security. He insists that is unconscionable to consider any cuts to Social Security and that anyone who says the program is in danger is not telling the truth.

You can watch Sanders talk on Social Security. Also, view Sanders' political summary on Senior Citizens.

See the 2016 presidential candidates on civil rights (note that this site does not provide a full list of voting records, but should have a enough to give you a general overview).


Bernie Sanders serves on the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. In 2014 he introduced comprehensive legislation for veterans, addressing issues such as restoring benefits, providing health care, ending backlog, addressing sexual assault, etc.

Sanders has spoken against cutting veterans' benefits, and voiced the need for expanding funding for veteran health care. He voted against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has worked closely with veterans of those wars and beyond.

Read how Bernie has fought for veterans. Watch Bernie fight for veterans on the senate floor. View Bernie's political summary on Veterans and Military Personnel.


I've done a whole post on this topic, which (in interest of preventing this post from become longer than it already is) you can view here.

Poverty & Children

Bernie's fight for a federal $15 minimum wage is one way he is working to combat poverty. Bernie recently introduced a solar energy bill to help low income Americans.

In 2014, Bernie Sanders called on Barack Obama to work on reducing childhood poverty.

Read Bernie's statement or watch his video on the war on poverty. Also read his article or watch his video evaluating poverty as death sentence. See Sanders' political summary on Unemployed and Low-Income.

Watch Bernie speak on Childhood Poverty. See Bernie's political summary on Minors and Children.

See the 2016 presidential candidates on civil rights (note that this site does not provide a full list of voting records, but should have a enough to give you a general overview).

Indigenous Peoples

Sanders' solar energy bill also sets aside funds for solar arrays in Appalachia, Indian tribal lands and Alaskan native communities. One of Sanders' worries regarding our country's continued use of fossil fuels is its effect on native Alaskans.

View Bernie's political summary on Indigenous Peoples.

Mental Health

Bernie Sanders has recognized the lack of mental of health care in the Unities States and the need for greater access. See Bernie speak on mental healthcare.

See Bernie's political summary on health care.


Bernie spoke out against our country's mass incarceration problem back in 2008. He continues to speak against it today. His campaign links incarceration rates with issues of class and race.

He is against the death penalty.

See Bernie's political summary on Crime and The Death Penalty.

Foreign Aid

Bernie has stated that he doesn't believe the US should lead the war against ISIS but should support military efforts in the Middle East. He also favors a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

See Sanders' political summary on Foreign Aid. See the presidential candidates on Foreign Aid.


See Bernie's political summary on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights.

See the 2016 presidential candidates on civil rights (note that this site does not provide a full list of voting records, but should have a enough to give you a general overview).

20 Examples of Bernie Sanders' Powerful Record on Civil and Human Rights Since the 1950s

UPDATE 7/23/15: Added Indigenous Peoples, Foreign Aid, and more candidate comparison links.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bernie Sanders on Protecting Our Planet

Bernie Sanders has called for the United States to lead the world in combating climate change and converting to green energy. In September 2014, Bernie marched among thousands on New York streets to draw attention to climate change. You can see pictures from the event here and video here.

Over the years, Bernie has introduced legislation to combat climate change and invest in green energy. Sadly, many of these bills did not pass.

From Huffington Post
Climate Change

Bernie Sanders introduced the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act in 2007 that would work to cut down on green house gasses.

In 2012, Sanders addressed congress on the reality of climate change.

Fossil Fuels

In 2012, Sanders introduced legislation to end fossil fuel subsides, In 2013, he introduced a two-fold piece of legislation to tax carbon emissions and use those funds to sponsor green energy initiatives.

He has spoken out against fracking and the Keystone pipeline. He has backed the EPA for fighting to curb power plant pollution.

You can read this article written by Bernie Sanders in 2014 on why a carbon tax is important to combating climate change.

Green Energy

Recently, Bernie introduced a bill to make solar power more accessible to low income families. You can read a summary of the bill here and the entirety of the bill here. You can also show support for the bill here.

In 2010, Sanders authored a bill to fund solar energy initiatives across the country.

You can read an article written by Bernie Sanders in 2012 on the war against green energy here.


Protecting our planet also means protecting the critters that live on it. Bernie sponsored a number of animal rights legislation in 2014, from big cats to farm animals to puppy breeders.

Voting Records

You can view Bernie's voting record on the environment and animal welfare here. Also more environmental votes here and here. More votes on animals and wildlife here and energy here. And Bernie's record on energy and oil here along with quotes.

Other Candidates

There are a number of articles comparing the views of presidential candidates on global warming. Sadly, none of them include all candidates.
+ Bustle - Sanders, O'Malley, Clinton, Pataki, Graham, Fiorina, Cruz, Rubio, Huckabee, Carson, Paul, Santorum
+ Huffington Post - Rubio, Cruz, Huckabee, Paul, Carson, Clinton, Sanders
+ News One - Clinton, Rubio, Cruz, Paul, Carson, Bush, Walker, Christie, Huckabee, Santorum
+ Washington Post (GOP) - Paul, Christie, Cruz, Jindal, Walker, Bush, Pence, Ryan, Santorum, Huckabee

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bernie Sanders at Netroots Nation: "Black Lives Matter" and "Say Her Name"

Yesterday, I found myself in a discussion over the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movement and the "disruption" by protesters at Netroots Nation. My initial research on the matter took me to this Times article that painted the event as an onslaught of chants, boos, and questions that presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley couldn't get through.

Thankfully, I dug a little deeper. You can see a video the protesters' takeover of the event here (starting at 19:38).

"It really boils down to the fight for black and brown lives," one of the women says. "It really boils down to not what you have done, but what you will do. What will you do to stop police unions battering our names after their law enforcement kills us? I want to hear concrete actions."

O'Malley opened up his response on a statement regarding "all of the lives that have been lost to violence," which was met by angry and persistent shouts from the protesters.

"Do not generalize this shit!" one of them yelled.

O'Malley finally answered that all police departments should be required to report police shootings and discourtesy and brutality complaints. He also said that all police departments should have civilian review boards and that they should be staffed. As president, O'Malley said he'd be rolling out a criminal justice reform package. However, he fumbled in his closing statement, "Black lives matter, White lives matter. All lives matter."

Someone shouted back, "The system is set is up for white people. We don't need to hear that [...]. We already know white lives matter. [...]on black people, on brown people, on immigrants, on trans people. We want to hear that[...]!"

At that point, O'Malley's time was up and he left the stage.

When Bernie Sanders took the stage, he requested the opportunity to talk before addressing questions. However, his speech on right-wing controlled media and income inequality was interrupted by chants of "say her name" and insistent shouts that he address "black lives."

Bernie Sanders continued his speech, and the protesters continued their yells and chanting. After sitting down, Sanders addressed the question of racial injustice by saying, "Black people are dying in this country because we have a criminal justice system that is out of control, because we have a system in which over 50% of young African American kids are unemployed, are out in the streets, and where we have right now - it is estimated that a black male baby born today stands a 1 in 4 chance of ending up in the criminal justice system."

Protesters shouted, "What are you going to do about that?"

"I'll tell you what we're gonna do!" Sanders shouted back. "We're going to transform economics in America so that we create millions of decent paying jobs. We're going to make public colleges and universities tuition free. We're going to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. We're going to transform our trade policy so corporate America invests in this country and not low income countries around the world. That's some of what we're gonna do."

Protesters continued to shout, asking for specific proposals.

"For a start," Sanders said. "You create an economy where people have decent jobs at decent wages, and that's why we are talking about a trillion dollar program to create thirteen million jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. That's number one."

The shouts from protesters died down as Sanders finally spoke on criminal justice reform.

"Number two, when you talk about the criminal justice system, we need fundamental reform in police departments all over this country. I was the mayor of the city of Burlington. And what we moved toward was community policing. Where police officers are part of the community and not seen as an oppressive force. We've got to do that as well."

Protesters took up shouting again.

At the end of it all, it's hard to say which candidate, if either, satisfied the crowd.

Supporters of Bernie Sanders are quick to point out his civil rights record, having led sit-ins against segregation and marching with Martin Luther King Jr. on Washington. But what those supporters fail to grasp is what Bernie did fifty years ago does not address the issues of today.

How does witnessing King's "I have a Dream" speech provide concrete plans for what Bernie will do regarding the injustice of Eric Garner who was strangled to death by an illegal choke hold performed by police officers? How does it speak to Walter Scott who was fired upon eight times while running away from a police officer? How does it speak to Sandra Bland who was pulled over for failing to signal while changing lanes and later found dead in a jail cell?

It doesn't. And continuing to flaunt it as though it does only upsets the African American community that we would love to see take up Bernie's banner.

Most African Americans who know of Bernie Sanders also know he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. They don't care. Or perhaps, more accurately, they do. They want to know if he's willing to take the civil activism he showed fifty years ago and revitalize it today.

His speech at Netroots Nation wasn't promising. Though I can respect Bernie's desire to avoid phraseology, reiterating his usual speech on income inequality and speaking to its effect on minorities does not go far enough to address the issues the black community wants addressed. At Netroots Nation, the discussion on immigration shifted to college affordability, and Bernie's talk ended to chants of "stop deportation."

Bernie's message that is said to be for all Americans is falling flat with minorities. If he wants their vote, he's going to have to address the issues important to them. And current Bernie Sanders supporters need to be understanding in the voice minority groups are asking for.

The fact is, we are all frustrated. The reason Bernie Sanders has been so popular is because he speaks to a majority of the American people who are tired of being beat down by large corporations and billionaires who corrupt our political system. We want our voice heard, and Bernie has given us a voice. Is it so wrong for Immigrants and African Americans to call on Bernie to be their voice too?

Many Bernie Sanders supporters have criticized the Black Lives Matter movement at Netroots Nation. But if this had been a Koch brother's speech and they got on about the rights of corporations, would we not have shouted and chanted at them? And would that not have been championed among us? It wasn't that long ago that Hillary had a heckler who was championed by some Bernie supporters for asking Hillary's stance on an issue she hasn't been transparent about and for asking questions when Hillary refused to take any.

These "protesters" at Netroots Nation were no different than the rest of us. They simply demanded a voice. And they might have succeeded, albeit in small steps. Both O'Malley and Sanders said the phrase "black lives matter" and Bernie later tweeted #sayhername, though the post was later taken down and reposted without the hashtag. After the Netroots Nation event, Sanders reportedly canceled other events he'd scheduled for the day and reappeared at a fundraiser for the Latino Victory Project where he asked for help in combating racial injustice.

It would seem the protesters at Netroots Nation shook something loose. The next day when Sanders spoke in Dallas, TX, he mentioned Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray by name (at 52:50).

But a mentioning of police brutality and racial equality (here and here and here) will only get Bernie so far. The protesters at Netroots Nation called for concrete action plans, and I don't think Bernie's method of rolling these issues into his fight for income equality and unemployment is what they want to hear.

"Black lives matter" is a call to recognize the injustice African American's face in this country. It goes beyond income equality and unemployment. It speaks to racism, police brutality, white supremacy, and the fact that even though we elected an African American president, we still have a long way to go. Until Bernie Sanders or another presidential candidate takes up the call and gets serious about combating these issues, the African American community may just stay home when it comes time to vote next year.

UPDATE: 7/21/15

This post was reblogged by dermoosealini on tumblr, and I couldn't agree more with her statement:
"Exactly, except I also think this is less about votes and more about white liberals taking a step back to give a necessary platform to the black community on issues that directly effect them. So let them speak because what they have to say is important for all people to hear.
By all means, Bernie is doing well but this is a welcome push for his campaign and supporters to do better and don’t just stop at being critical of Bernie. This is a real opportunity to really get into the thick of politics and hold the entire system to account." 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

5 Attacks on Bernie Sanders and Why They're Bogus

Attacks on Bernie Sanders are to be expected in the presidential race. But that doesn't stop them from being ridiculous. Maybe we should all take a feather out of Bernie's hat and focus on the real issues instead of slinging mud everywhere?

Here are five common attacks (in no particular) order that just need to die already.

The Notorious "Rape Essay" (and all the others)

I've explain this before. But just in case it needs explained again, I'll reiterate. Bernie Sanders does not believe women fantasize about being raped. The essay was a badly written dark satirical article on the dangers of male and female gender norms. You can find the explanation here and more in-depth here.

And while we are on the topic, here is the rest of Sander's Freeman essays, written in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I expect the media to go a whole round with these. The most popular I've seen recently is Bernie's essay on how cervical cancer meant you weren't getting enough orgasms. (Side note: there have actually been modern studies that conclude orgasms may be a factor in reducing the risk of prostate, cervical, and breast cancer.)

We need to realize that these essays were written 40 years ago by a youthful and rebellious Bernie Sanders. How many dumb things can you remember doing or believing when you were young and rebellious? Anyone who actually thinks Bernie Sanders believes all of that stuff today is clearly lacking in the realm of human experience. People do dumb things. Then people learn. They change, and then they grow.

Ready to drop these essays yet? Because I certainly am.

Bernie voted against Amber Alert

Yes. He did. Though not for reasons people like to think.

Bernie has stated that he is a strong supporter of the Amber Alert program. The reason he voted against the bill was because it had unconstitutional riders attached, particularly the sentencing provisions that Bernie felt took power away from the judiciary branch.

This shows one of the great things about Bernie Sanders. He can support a piece of legislation, but he will vote against it if he feels certain provisions take away the rights of the people. You will find this is the case in a lot of legislation that Bernie is criticized for voting against. If only we could hold the rest of Congress to such a high standard.

Bernie is Pro Gun

No, he's not. It has been said Bernie is actually considered a "moderate" when it comes to guns as he walks a middle line. He's voted for background checks and bans on automatic guns. He's also voted for concealed carry in national parks and Amtrak trains and against the ability to sue gun manufactures.

One of the bills that comes up a lot in the media is the Brady Act, which mandated a 5-day waiting period for gun purchasers that Sanders voted against. What articles sourcing the vote never tell you is that Sanders voted against it because he was against a federal mandated waiting period. As a representative of Vermont, which has a very low gun crime rate, Sanders didn't think the federal mandate was fair for his particular state. So he did his job as a representative and voted the bill down. He did vote in favor of an amendment to the bill that mandated background checks.

You can read a full explanation on the Brady Act and see Bernie's votes on gun issues here.

You can also watch a video of Bernie talking about gun issues here.

90% tax on the rich

I have seen this video passed around a lot. People don't seem to realize that it's 30 seconds of a 3 minute and 50 second interview. Which means it's been taken completely out of context.

Here is the actual interview. In it, Bernie Sanders mentions Dwight Eisenhower, who taxed the rich at 90%. John Harwood asks Sanders if he thinks 90% is too high. And Bernie says, "no."

At no point during the video does Bernie say he intends to tax the rich at 90%. He only says that he doesn't disagree with Eisenhower's policies. There is a difference.

Here is an interview with Katie Couric where Bernie shuts down the 90% rumor.

Bernie is pro-Israel

Some people feel that he's pro-Israel because he's not what they consider to be pro-Palestine. But not being one thing does not make him the opposite. There is middle ground, and that's where Bernie stands. He would like to see a peaceful two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, believing that both sides have a right to exist in their own state.

You can read a statement Bernie gave in 2009 on the issue here. And a video from this year where he spoke on the subject.

Also, Sanders does not have Israeli citizenship. Can we just end that here and now? Or are we going to insist on it, even when given evidence to the contrary, like we did with Obama's birth certificate?

Seriously people. We have more pressing issues to deal with in this country. It's time we focused on them.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Academic Journals Study Socialism in Burlington, Vermont

Here's something really cool I randomly ran into last week (as cool as academic nerd goes, anyway). There's a number of academic journal articles I've found dealing with socialism in Burlington during Bernie's time as mayor (and few books).

Unfortunately the articles require subscription access, so I have no idea what they say. But maybe there's some academics out there who would like to read them (and tell me about it after, please?).

+ Who Votes for a Socialist Mayor?: The Case of Burlington, Vermont

The Burlington Community Land Trust: A Socialist Approach to Affordable Housing? (if you'd like something accessible on the Land Trust, I talk about it here)

+ Socialism in Burlington, Vermont: Implications for Social Welfare

+ Challenging the Boundaries of Reform: Socialism in Burlington (book version)

+ The Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington Vermont (is a book, not article)

And this seems to be an article about Bernie's time in the House:
+ The belly of the beast: Bernie Sanders, congress and political change

Seriously, I'm really frustrated I can't read these. I want to know!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Conversation on Gun Control

I run a facebook page supporting Bernie Sanders. It's outreach is currently small, just below 50 likes, but growing. When I post something, I can see the post gets shared, but no one ever comments. The other day, I posted a video involving Bernie's stance on gun control. People commented.

I don't know if these commenters are people who follow my page or if they saw the video shared and traced it back to the source. In any case, they were very pro gun:
"'...guns are used for recreation - hunting, target practice, shows and collection.' - NONE of these activities are why the 2nd Amendment is in place. Sorry, no 'but'. No 'in the middle' either. It's either freedom or tyranny. The latest buzz words from the gun-grabbers is 'common sense', so the video title is pretty clear where he truly stands. Hint: It's NOT on the side of freedom."
I was interested in forming a discussion, so I asked why the commenter felt they should have guns. The commenter continued to site the second amendment, stating that owning guns is not a matter of "need" but a matter of rights. The Bill of Rights grants them the right to own guns, so they should be allow to have them. End of story.

Thing is, the rights granted by the Constitution are not so simple. Laws are being upheld and struck down all the time based on whether or not they are judged constitutional. Amendments to the Constitution are added. The rights granted to the people in the Constitution have always been and will continue to be open to discussion - as distressing or encouraging as that may be.

And while we are talking about the Second Amendment, here is the text relating to guns:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
The founding fathers had just declared a new independent state and knew they would face repercussions from the British. The people were guaranteed the right to bear arms because it was "necessary to the security" of the State that the people were able to fight back. Americans need guns to fight the British who would soon invade their borders.

What use do we have for this law today? How is owning guns necessary in 2015? The security of the State is under more threat by nuclear bomb than armed soldiers. Perhaps the Second Amendment no longer applies.

I can both make and buy that argument. But I don't stand by it. Why? Because there are good, law abiding citizens who own guns, and I don't believe they should have their possessions stripped from them due to the actions of a few.

And my commenter friend made a very good point:
"The very definition of tyranny is when the government is allowed to have things that the citizens can not." 
I was about to write him off as paranoid when I realized for a blog that has spoken about plutocracy and billionaire control of our government, is it really so much of a stretch to see the dangers of the government having guns when the people don't? Scenes from V for Vendetta played across my mind.

Our government is messed up. That's what this blog and Bernie campaign is all about. Maybe people having guns isn't a terrible thing.

But I was never for taking away all guns, just implementing stronger background checks and banning semi- and automatic guns. That seems sound until you break down the fact that gun control laws don't seem that effective.

The background check on Dylan Roof failed, not because of a loophole but because of shoddy paperwork that meant the investigator didn't find the drug conviction within the three-day wait period. And even then, possession of drugs is not an indicator of violence. The kid had been on white supremacists groups online and he came to the conclusion that he had to act because no one else would. How do you screen for when a person reaches that kind of mentality? How can you judge when person who wants to buy a gun wants to use it to kill? A background check might be able to keep guns out of the hands of suspicious people, violent or no, but if someone with no criminal history is planning a murder spree... we don't have methods to detect that.

Adam Lanza stole his mother's guns. The gun laws in place couldn't stop him from killing 26 people. The Columbine shooters weren't old enough to buy guns, so they had someone else buy the guns for them. While I'm for stricter background checks and banning all automatic weapons, the evidence suggests that this won't solve our problems. And it's been reported that most guns used in mass shooting were obtained legally (though no exact details are given).

It would seem that the only solution would be to ban guns entirely (which I am against). And even then, it wouldn't solve our problems. It would reduce gun deaths, for sure. But would it drop our murder rate? I doubt it. People who want to kill people will find a way to do so, with or without guns.

When I asked my commenter what ideas he had for ending these mass killing, he replied:
"Certainly not to disarm good people. When you figure out how to neutralize evil, please, let me know friend."
Another valid point, though not particularly helpful.

But, I'm reminded of the Patriot Act, which I thoroughly despise. Like Bernie, I understand that terrorism is a real threat to this country. But we both agree there are better ways of combating it than stripping American citizens of their rights.

And that's all gun owners are asking. Yes, mass shootings in this country is a problem, but figure out a way to combat them without taking away the rights of the rest of us. I have to admit I have no idea what that solution would look like.

But that's the point. Bernie calls us to discuss. Peaceful, law abiding citizens like those in Vermont and the commenters on my Facebook page need to understand the plight of those who have been effected by the mass shootings across our country. And the people who have been effected need to realize the validity of peaceful, law abiding citizens who don't want their rights taken from them.

We are all in this together. We shouldn't be fight each other over banning guns or keeping guns or enforcing stricter gun laws. Instead, we should come together in discussion over how do we prevent or protect ourselves from these mass killings? How do we come up with effective measures? How can we achieve our goals without infringing on our civil rights?

Have to be open with each other. We have to listen to the other side. We have to find a middle ground. Because until we do these things, there can be no solution.

UPDATE: If you are interested, there's a useful article explaining Bernie's vote against the Brady Act and his mixed voting record on gun issues.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Bernie Sanders Supporter's Debate Kit

It's hard to change people's beliefs. People don't want to let go, even when presented with hard, cold evidence. With that thought, I believe our efforts in promoting Bernie Sanders are best spent getting the word out to people who haven't heard of him rather than trying to convince someone who is against him to come to our side. But, sometimes you can't help finding yourself in a debate. On social media especially it can become inevitable, and nothing is more frustrating than not having sources to back up your claims. Here's some common arguments I've come across and resources to refute them.

This is a pretty long article. My suggestion for using it would be use a (Ctrl+F) function or a (Command+F) and type in a key word. That will help you find the section most useful to you without having to scroll through the whole article. If you don't find anything the first time, try a few other key words. And if you read through this article and still can't find what you are looking for, leave a comment.

When someone criticizes Bernie for running as a Democrat:

Use this article.

When someone says Bernie wants to tax at 90%:

They are usually citing this video. If they are, remind them that video is out of context. Then give them the full interview. Then follow up with this interview where Bernie shuts down the 90% rumor.

If they aren't citing the original video, just give them that last one.

When someone mentions Bernie "rape essay:"

Tell them it was a bad dark satire essay on the danger of gender norms. And then give them this.

When someone says we don't want another old, white man as president:

Ask them what's more important, someone's looks or their polices? And give them this.

When someone argues raising the minimum wage would destroy the economy/increase unemployment raise prices/cost small businesses/cost jobs/aren't deserved by unskilled workers:

Check out this myth buster master list.

Show them this video of a billionaire arguing that raising the minimum wage is a good thing. Also, here's the same guy confessing that billionaires are not job creators, the middle class is.

Here's another video you can share.

And a study by EPI

Just look at this.

Also remember that when minimum wage was first enacted by FDR, it was meant to start a living wage standard for American works, not be "starter wage" for teens or unskilled workers.

This blog post is also from the perceptive of a small business owner, who says that raising the minimum wage can be done without hurting small businesses if it's done right.

When someone says Bernie doesn't pay his interns $15 dollars an hour.

Traditionally, interns are paid nothing. From what I am aware, Bernie is the only presidential candidate paying his interns. Further more, Bernie's minimum wage bill phases the $15 an hour wage over 5 years, $9 in 2016, $10.50 in 2017, $12 in 2018, $13.50 in 2019, and $15 in 2020. If the raised minimum wage were in effect today, Bernie would be paying his interns MORE than the minimum.

Also, ask them why they are harping on Bernie for paying his interns $12 an hour and not any other candidates for paying their interns nothing.

When someone says Bernie's economics don't work:

Just give them this whole playlist.

When someone claims social security is bankrupt and dragging down our economy:

Tell them these are lies that have been passed around to get people to favor privatizing social security. Then show them this video.

When someone claims Bernie is a gun nut or wants to take away guns:

Tell them Bernie is for background checks and banning assault rifles. Then give them this video on Bernie's "Common Sense" gun control.

When someone claims Democrats did nothing during Obama's terms and that it's an obvious reason not to trust them again.

Tell them Democrats couldn't get the laws they wanted passed because the Republicans blocked them. Then give them this article.

When someone claims the rich already pay somewhere between 50% to 90% of taxes:

Give them this article on 2015 tax brackets that also includes a link to view other tax brackets.

And also this list of tax brackets from 1913 to 2013.

And then ask them where they got that tax percentage for the rich.

When someone says something incorrect on Bernie's stance on guns:

Give them this article and direct them to the handy chart.

When someone says Bernie is pro-Israel:

Tell them Bernie has stated a number of time that he believes in a two-state solution, that both sides have a right to exist in their own state. You can give them this article with video links on the subject.

When someone says socialism destroyed Greece:

Remind them that Greece failed because it had a huge debt they refused to acknowledge and kept adding to (give them this article). And then ask them if that reminds them of any other country they know of.

When someone mentions Venezuela:

Give them this article.

When someone claims no one wants a Socialist for president and that Bernie will never win:

Tell them most Americans agree with his views and give them this article.

When someone claims socialists "steal from the rich and give to the poor" or support "big government:"

Remind them that we're just asking everyone to pay their fair share and put money into social programs that are beneficial for everyone. No one is asking for the government to own or control anything. Give them this article.

When someone asks you to provide examples of successful socialism:

Remind them of our fire stations, our police force, our libraries, and national parks. Or just give them this list of 75 examples.

When someone says Socialism will destroy this country:

Just give them this list of 75 examples of socialist programs we all ready have.

When someone starts talking about Communism:

Remind them that socialism and communism are not the same thing. Give them this link.

When someone asks how Bernie plans to pay for everything he wants to implement or says electing Bernie means higher taxes:

Give them this.

When someone is disputing Bernie's stance on immigration/women/civil rights/LGBT/Veterans/elderly/poverty/children/mental health/incarceration/indigenous people/Foreign Aid:

Everything you need is in here.

When you just need a snappy photo at the right moment:

Go with this or this.

When someone cites the Wall Street article that says Bernie's proposals cost $18 Trillion: 

There's been a number of articles posted, so I will link them for you and you can pick from them.

No, Bernie Sanders is not going to bankrupt America to the tune of $18 trillion
An Open Letter to the Wall Street Journal on Its Bernie Sanders Hit Piece
Wall Street Journal’s Scary Bernie Sanders Price Tag Ignores Health Savings
 What ‘The Wall Street Journal’ Gets Totally Wrong About Bernie Sanders’s Agenda

UPDATE: Added source for Bernie's stance on guns.
UPDATE 7/22/15: Added source Bernie's stance on Israel-Palestine
UPDATE 7/24/15: Added another minimum wage link, economics, "rape essay," Venezuela, and white man as president
UPDATE 9/15/15: Added wall street article
UPDATE 10/14/15: Added minimum wage links