Tuesday, August 17, 2010

America's Senator 2

Republicans and their media outlets like Fox News scream and holler about socialism as much as possible. They want people to be deathly afraid of that word, though most don't even realize it is simply an economic system. They portray it as being the biggest evil on this planet, and for their adherents to run as fast as possible from any mention of any thing that hints of socialism. They don't want more equality in the country, they don't want universal heath care, they don't want powerful unions, or government regulation for things like oil companies, let's say. How could their buddies amass huge fortunes and continue to rape the economy of the United States, with socialist ideals flying around?
A for instance: there are 6.1 million uninsured residents in the state of Texas, more than in 33 other states according to the New York Times. Yet the Republican leadership in that state, including it's Governor, Rick Perry, have welcomed the new health care reform laws with open hostility when it will deliver billions of dollars from Washington to Texas to cover millions of low-income Texans. Gov. Perry vows to fight "on every front available," against a law that he characterizes as "socialism on American soil."
Perry doesn't care about "socialism," though he wants to throw the word out there in a derogatory sense as much as possible simply to advance his own political agenda (this guy thinks he has a chance to become President, like his predecessor, George W. Bush. He is insane), and because health care reform has been sponsored and created by President Obama, and according to him and his political ambitions, anything Obama advances (Anything! It could be a law mandating furry white puppies for blind children, and Perry would be against it because Obama advocated it, and, oh yes, this law would be socialist as well) will ruin the country simply because Obama advanced it. He wants everybody to be frightened by socialist programs. Well Gov, how do you like Social Security for the elderly and disabled? Oh, he's a Republican, so he probably is against Social Security for the elderly and disabled, unless it's administered in private Wall Street accounts. Well then, how do you like the Veteran's Administration? That happens to be a socialist institution, just like Medicare. How about your local fire department, or the police, or the highway system that runs through your state? All socialist (run by the government for the use of all).
He won't say they're socialist, but they are.
He wants his constituents, and everybody else to be afraid of a word, and not investigate or understand what that word really means.
Anyway, let's get back to "America's Senator," the democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders. What has he done for this country?
Bernie's lifetime legislative score from the AFL-CIO is 100%. Well that's not surprising considering he's a socialist and all. He supports unions (by the way, although for electoral purposes he identifies himself as an Independent, he caucuses with the Democratic Party, and has garnered support from the Democratic Party during his reelection bids. He thus is counted as a solid Democratic vote on almost every major issue put before Congress).
As a member of the House he voted against the so-called "marriage tax," and human cloning (human cloning, an issue one might think you're average socialist might support. No, that's something communists might support).
He voted against both resolutions authorizing the use of force against Iraq in 1991 and 2002, and opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, although he eventually went along with virtually everyone else in Congress in voting for the non-binding resolution expressing support for U.S. troops at the outset of the invasion.
In relation to the leak investigation involving Valerie Plane, on April 7, 2006, Sanders said, "The revelation that the president authorized the release of classified information in order to discredit an Iraq war critic should tell every member of Congress that the time is now for a serious investigation of how we got into the war in Iraq, and why Congress can no longer act as a rubber stamp for the president."
In June of 2005, Bernie proposed an amendment to limit provisions that allow the government to obtain individuals' library and book-buying records, a direct affront to Bush's Patriot Act, however the amendment was removed during reconciliation by House and Senate members and never became law.
He regularly admonished the Bush administration for cutting spending for social programs, and as far back as 2003 he criticized Alan Greenspan, telling him he was "way out of touch" and "that you see your major function in your position as the need to represent the wealthy and large corporations," and was against the repeal of Glass-Steagall which had removed the separation between investment banks and depository banks, and has been blamed for exacerbating the damage caused by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market that led to the financial crisis of 2007-2010.
Republicans have attacked Bernie as "an ineffective extremist" for passing only one law and fifteen amendments in his eight terms in the House. He responded by saying that he had passed "the most floor amendments of any member of the House since 1996.
As Senator he and our very own Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007. He was against the 2008 bank bailout proposal, and voted against the confirmation of Wall Street flunky Timothy Geithner to be Secretary of the Treasury, one of four majority members to do so.
He is a vocal supporter of gay rights, such as marriage, and of pro-choice legislation. Sanders has introduced a Senate companion bill to H.R. 1207 which will conduct an audit of the Federal Reserve. He is a staunch supporter of a single-payer universal health care system.
Just recently Senator Sanders was defeated in an attempt to add language to the Senate's jobless-benefits bill to repeal $35 billion worth of tax breaks for oil and natural gas producers. The amendment was thoroughly defeated in an attempt to add the language to the bill by a vote of 61-35, with senior members of both parties voting against him.
Both parties.
In Bernie's own words: "...it's not just wealthy individuals who grotesquely manipulate the system for their benefit. It's the multi-national corporations they own and control. In 2009, Exxon Mobil, the most profitable corporation in history made $19 billion in profits and not only paid no federal income tax -- they actually received a $156 million refund from the government. In 2005, one out of every four large corporations in the United States paid no federal income taxes while earning $1.1 trillion in revenue."
All of the above is to support the notion, admirably demonstrated, the Senator Bernie Sanders is his own man, and I wish to thank the voters in Vermont who put him in office and have kept him there. He is one of the few members of Congress I can actually trust to be consistently on the side of working families, the middle class, those who live in poverty, and myself.
Sometimes while contemplating writing about our current political situation, the sickness and huge resources of the Republicans, and the seeming temerity of the Democrats, I become somewhat depressed.
And then I remember what Senator Sanders once said during a "Breakfast with Bernie," hour one day recently when confronted with a similar situation by a caller. I paraphrase his response:
"I can understand that sometimes with all of the tricks, and hype the opposition is capable of that we at times feel like giving up. But we can never do that. We have a definite responsibility to carry on no matter what. To do otherwise would be nothing short of irresponsible. We must never stop in our efforts to improve the lives of everyone in this country. That responsibility lies with us, as our families depend on our doing so, our children, and their children..."
I have to agree with you Bernie, and you give me strength through your example.
Bernie Sanders. America's Senator indeed.

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