Sunday, February 28, 2016

Vote Together... for "A Future to Believe In" on March 1st, 2016!


Bernie Sanders Political Record has been Consistent over the Years.

15 Points Outlined in my post on February 26th, 2016 are referenced with links. ~ JDHWB-R

Based upon the Huffington Post article "15 Fundamental Differences Between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton." Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-hanley/15-fundamental-difference_b_8845540.html

1. Sanders has served as an elected official for over 34 years.

Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from Vermont. He is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A Democrat as of 2015,[2] Sanders had been the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history, though his caucusing with the Democrats entitled him to committee assignments and at times gave Democrats a majority. Sanders became the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee in January 2015; he had previously served for two years as chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Sanders was born and raised in the New York City borough of Brooklyn and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1964. While a student he was an active civil rights protest organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. After settling in Vermont in 1968, Sanders ran unsuccessful third-party campaigns for governor and U.S. senator in the early to mid-1970s. As an independent, he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont's most populous city, in 1981, and was reelected three times. In 1990 he was elected to represent Vermont's at-large congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1991 Sanders co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He served as a congressman for 16 years before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006. In 2012, he was reelected with 71% of the popular vote.

Sanders rose to national prominence following his 2010 filibuster against the proposed extension of the Bush tax cuts. He favors policies similar to those of social democratic parties in Europe, particularly those instituted by the Nordic countries, and has built a reputation as a leading progressive voice on issues such as income inequality, universal healthcare, corporate welfare, parental leave, climate change, LGBT rights, and campaign finance reform. Sanders has long been critical of U.S. foreign policy and was an early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War. He is also outspoken on civil rights and civil liberties, particularly criticizing racial discrimination in the criminal justice system as well as advocating for privacy rights against mass surveillance policies such as the USA PATRIOT Act and the NSA surveillance programs. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Sanders

2. Sanders has supported gay rights since the early '80s.

32 Years Before Marriage Equality, Bernie Sanders Fought For Gay Rights

These days, you’d be hard pressed to find a Democrat with any sort of antigay platform — hell, even the Republicans are starting to realize that to be relevant in 2015 and beyond, you’ve got to move past the “gay issue.”

But these are only very recent developments. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may be champions of same-sex marriage now, but you don’t have to go far back to find a time when they weren’t. And hey, we’re happy to have their evolved support.

“A decade ago politicians ran against LGBT rights; today, they’re running towards them,” Obama said once in a speech, leaving out the fact that he is one of those politicians.

But you know who wasn’t? Well, assuming you’ve already read the headline, you’re right: Bernie Sanders.

Not only did Sanders vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, signed into law by then-president Bill Clinton — an unpopular position then — a look back at Sanders’ political career shows consistent support of the gay rights movement. Even when it was more than just unpopular, it was downright controversial.

In 1983, two years into Sanders’ run as mayor of Burlington, VT, local gay rights leaders planned the city’s first ever pride parade and called on the Board of Aldermen to designate June 25 Lesbian and Gay Pride Day.

Those opposing the designation were as committed as they were vitriolic. The Vermont branch of the Maranatha Christian Church wrote at the time:

“We will express our sympathy with the sick humanity that is involved in this sin but can in no way on God’s earth and in light of His scripture condone or even sit back and not voice God’s word.”

Sanders threw in his full support at the meeting, and the board voted 6 to 5 to pass the resolution.

“In our democratic society, it is the responsibility of government to safeguard civil liberties and civil rights — especially the freedom of speech and expression,” Sanders wrote later in a memo. “In a free society, we must all be committed to the mutual respect of each others [sic] lifestyle.”

The parade was a success, but not long after, Burlington resident Maikel Carder was beaten up on Church St. on the suspicion that he was gay. It didn’t matter that he was actually straight — the two events became linked.

“As morals keep slipping, will we eventually celebrate Murderer’s Day, Rapist’s Day, Alcoholic’s Day, Dope Day, Arsonist’s Day and Child Molester’s Day, or will a greater power give us The Day of Reckoning? Stand up, you weirdos, and give your brains an airing,” read one of the more colorful responses.

But Sanders was unfazed. The following year he signed a resolution recommending that all levels of government support gay rights, and the year after that in 1985 (the same year then-president Reagan finally said the word ‘AIDS’ in public), he wrote:

    “It is my very strong view that a society which proclaims human freedom as its goal, as the United States does, must work unceasingly to end discrimination against all people. I am happy to say that this past year, in Burlington, we have made some important progress by adopting an ordinance which prohibits discrimination in housing. This law will give legal protection not only to welfare recipients, and families with children, the elderly and the handicapped — but to the gay community as well.”

Compare that to the fact that 32 years later there are many parts of the country that still have no such housing protections, and we aren’t surprised Sanders has been able to stir up the grass roots for his 2016 bid. Source: http://www.queerty.com/32-years-before-marriage-equality-bernie-sanders-fought-for-gay-rights-20150719

3. Sanders wants to end the prohibition of marijuana.

Senator Bernie Sanders Wants to End Marijuana Prohibition

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is currently fiercely gnawing on the back of the neck of former first lady Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, has become one of the leading candidates in the eyes of marijuana policy reformers across the United States. This is mostly due to his willingness to overhaul the criminal justice system – wanting to prevent minor drug offenders from seeing the inside of prisons – and his desire to bring down more than forty years of decay brought forth by President Nixon’s extreme prejudice against the average stoner.

Although Sanders originally launched his campaign for the presidency with a toe-in-the-water approach to the concept of legalization, saying only that it was time to “rethink the so-called War on Drugs,” his attitude towards the issue quickly flourished into a full throttle hammer of domination. In 2015, along with the submission of a bill aimed at ending private prisons, Sanders took a bold leap with the introduction of a bill in the Senate aimed at doing what no other U.S. Senator in American history has dared to do – eliminate cannabis from the DEA’s Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and legalize marijuana in all 50 states.

The proposal entitled the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act” was crafted similar to another bill introduced in the House in early 2015 by Representative Jared Polis of Colorado. Essentially, the proposal was designed to allow states the freedom to legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes without catching heat for participating in activities deemed illegal by the federal government. The language indicates that “marijuana” would be deregulated from the confines of the CSA, which in turn, would prevent the DEA from crashing in on businesses and individuals participating in pot-related affairs because all of the regulations pertaining to these matters would exist solely in the hands of individual states.

"It's a state and a federal issue,” Sanders said in an interview with CNN. “The federal issue is that we should remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act. That's a federal decision. The state decision is that we live in a federal system of government where issues like tobacco and alcohol are significantly regulated by the states. And I think that is a province of the states."

Unfortunately, there has not been any action on Sanders’ proposal since it was referred to committee at the beginning of November. But the effort remains a testament to the level of reform this presidential hopeful is interested in putting on the books.

But if Bernie Sanders becomes the next President of the United States – couldn’t he just sign an executive order and effectively legalize weed for the entire country, once and for all?

While that would be nice, even a President Sanders would not have the authority to walk into the White House in 2017 and put an end to marijuana prohibition in one fell swoop. In fact, the most Sanders could do from the Oval Office is to initiate the process to have the herb rescheduled under the Controlled Substances Act.

Contrary to what some might believe, only Congress has the power to enact legislation to amend the language of the CSA – moving marijuana to a different Schedule or removing it from the Schedules altogether.

According to the Brookings Institution, before even a modest downgrade from a Schedule I classification could take place, Sanders would need to submit a petition to reschedule cannabis with the Attorney General. It would then be forwarded to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to be evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and likely the DEA. Those agencies would take several factors into consideration, such as the potential health risks associated with marijuana, before offering a recommendation, of any kind, for a Schedule reduction.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees a positive recommendation would even result from this course of action – not even with a president standing over the shoulders of federal officials.

At best, it is possible the authority of a President Sanders could lead to marijuana being moved from a Schedule I to a Schedule II, but this is not likely to happen because a change of this magnitude would be considered a violation of international drug treaties. And as John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, said in a recent press briefing, the U.S. Government is “firmly committed to the three UN drug conventions.”

Some people refuse to accept that the UN has any control over the legalization of marijuana in the United States, but legal experts argue the treaties are more binding than most think.

“The United States is actually very limited in what it can legally do vis–à–vis its international treaty obligations, regardless of what policy changes make sense for its own citizens,” according to a committee with the New York Bar Association specializing in international law.

Despite the potential hang-ups with the UN, it will be crucial for the next president to make further advancements in the realm of marijuana reform than the Obama Administration has throughout the past eight years. Hopefully, these changes involve concrete policy changes rather than meaningless memos and half-assed restrictions built into the federal budget. The consensus among so-called policy experts is that regardless of outcome of November’s presidential election, the federal government is going to continue to allow states to legalize the leaf without any major issues. Yet, we anticipate the most growth under the leadership of a President Sanders.

The Iowa Caucuses, one of the most important stops along the 2016 presidential campaign trail, are February 1. The outcome of this event should provide us with a relatively good indication as to whether Sanders has a fighting chance at being selected to take part in the big race later this year. Source: https://www.merryjane.com/news/senator-bernie-sanders-wants-to-end-marijuana-prohibition

4. Sanders wants to end the death penalty.

Sanders wants end to death penalty

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called on Oct. 29 for an end to the death penalty, a day after rival Hillary Rodham Clinton stopped short of saying the United States should end capital punishment.

"We are all shocked and disgusted by some of the horrific murders that we see in this country, seemingly every week," said Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont. "And that is precisely why we should abolish the death penalty. At a time of rampant violence and murder, the state should not be part of that process."

Clinton's remark a day earlier to take a "hard look" at abolishing capital punishment gave Sanders an opening to distinguish himself from the former secretary of state, who is the party's frontrunner in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanders also called for reforming the criminal justice system, which he said puts more people in jail than any other country on Earth and makes it harder for Americans to get back on their feet once they're out of jail.

"A criminal record stays with a person for his or her entire life-until the day he or she dies," Sanders said. "If a person has a criminal record, it will be much harder for that person later in life to get a job. Many employers simply will not hire somebody with a criminal record. A criminal record destroys lives."

Clinton said she thinks there are certain "egregious cases" in which the death penalty should be considered, "but I'd like to see those be very limited and rare." Source: https://wisconsingazette.com/political/sanders-wants-end-to-death-penalty.html

5. Sanders wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Sanders Introduces Bill for $15-an-Hour Minimum Wage

WASHINGTON, July 22 – Addressing hundreds of low-wage workers who have gone on strike for a living wage, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said legislation he introduced today would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“It is a national disgrace that millions of full-time workers are living in poverty and millions more are forced to work two or three jobs just to pay their bills,” Sanders said at the outdoor rally near the Capitol. “In the year 2015, a job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it.  The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised to a living wage.”

Sanders said he was proud to stand with Good Jobs Nation and the Fight for 15 organizations, groups which have put a spotlight on the need to raise the minimum wage and helped make the push for better pay a cause that most Americans support.

Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus sponsored a companion version of the bill in the House to phase in increases in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.  Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) co-sponsored the Senate bill to more than double the $7.25 an hour required under current law and close a loophole that has let employers pay tipped workers just $2.13 an hour.

Sanders also renewed his call for an executive order by President Barack Obama to increase the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15 an hour and make it easier for them to join a union.  In April, Sanders co-signed a letter with Sen. Richard Durbin  (D-Ill.) calling on the Senate to require Senate contractors to provide a living wage, affordable health care and other benefits to all workers.  

The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.  Increasing the minimum wage would directly benefit 62 million workers who currently make less than $15 an hour, including over half of African-American workers and close to 60 percent of Latino workers.  If the minimum wage had kept up with productivity and inflation since 1968, it would be more than $26 an hour today.

Despite resistance by the Republican-run House and Senate, most Americans favor raising the minimum wage. A Hart Research Associates survey in January found that 63 percent of the American people support increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

State and cities are acting on their own. New York’s Wage Board today is expected to approve a new $15 minimum hourly pay for the state’s 200,000 fast food workers. Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Missouri, are considering raising the wage. Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco already passed ordinances raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Twenty-six states already enacted minimum wage increases.

Ahead of the rally, more than 200 economists and labor experts released a letter endorsing Sanders’ legislation.  The letter was signed by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich; Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts; James Galbraith of the University of Texas; Howard Stein of the University of Michigan and others. Source: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-introduces-bill-for-15-an-hour-minimum-wage

6. Sanders wants to break up the biggest banks.

Bernie Sanders Vows to Break up Nation's Largest Banks Within His First Year

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders vowed to break up the country’s largest banks and insurance companies within the first year of taking the oval office in a speech in New York on Tuesday.

During a speech in downtown Manhattan, Sanders said that within the first 100 days of his administration he would direct his Secretary of the Treasury to compile a list of financial institutions that were “too big to fail.” Within the first year of his presidency, he would move to disband the companies, whose potential financial collapse is deemed too risky to the nation's economy.

During the course of his remarks, the presidential candidate specifically named several companies when talking about what he sees as reckless and monopolistic behavior on Wall Street, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and others.

"I will rein in Wall Street so they cannot crash our economy again. Will the folks on Wall Street like me? No,” he said unmistakably referring to a moment during the last debate when Secretary Clinton said everyone, including big business should love her. “Will they begin to play by the rules if I am president, you better believe it,” he added.

Sanders also used this policy speech on Wall Street reform to aggressively hit his primary opponent Hillary Clinton. He argued that Clinton was not willing to take dramatic steps needed to make changes in the industry, though Clinton has argued that she would and released her own plan on the issue.

“Secretary Clinton says we just need to impose a few more fees and regulations on the financial industry," he said. "I disagree.”

Democratic candidates have pledged to reform the financial and banking industries if elected, though Sanders continually points to the issue as one that distinguishes him from Clinton. In 2008, when both were serving in the U.S. Senate, Clinton voted in favor of the so-called Wall Street bailout, authorizing the federal government to provide cash to the nation’s largest banks to prevent them from collapsing. Senator Sanders voted against it.

“My opponent says that, as a senator, she told bankers to “cut it out” and end their destructive behavior,"he said. "But, in my view, establishment politicians are the ones who need to “cut it out.” Sanders added to the delight of his friendly crowd.

Sanders has focused his campaign message on what he calls the “greed” and “recklessness” of Wall Street. He regularly accuses big banks for what he sees as “illegal” behavior and he speaks with vitriol about the fact that no major banking executives went to jail after the collapse of financial and mortgage markets in 2008. He continued with these ultimatums and harsh rhetoric Tuesday at the Townhall theatre, saying: “So, to those on Wall Street who may be listening today, let me be very clear. Greed is not good. Wall Street and corporate greed is destroying the fabric of our nation.

"Here is a New Year’s Resolution that we will keep: If Wall Street does not end their greed, we will end it for them,” he said in his speech. Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/bernie-sanders-vows-break-nations-largest-banks-year/story?id=36101481

7. Sanders voted against the Wall Street bailout.

Sanders: Stop the Wall Street Bailout

WASHINGTON, November 17 - Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today he will introduce legislation to stop the release of a $350-billion second round of the Wall Street bailout.

Sanders, who voted against the $700-billion package Congress approved in October, said he has serious concerns about how the Bush administration and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson are spending the bailout money that was already released. He also said it was unacceptable that the oversight provisions in the bill were ignored.

"I have very serious concerns as to how the Bush administration is spending the first $350 billion they were provided. The second $350 billion tranche must not be spent in the same way," Sanders said.

"The administration's plans as to how the money should be spent appear to be changing on a daily basis. Meanwhile, they are operating in secrecy, ignoring the oversight provisions of the legislation and, with dubious legality, are changing long-established rules by providing huge tax breaks for the banking industry above and beyond the bailout.
"I also strongly object to any of this bailout money being used for executive bonuses, dividends, mergers or acquisitions," Sanders added.

"Instead of continuing to bail out Wall Street, we should focus on economic actions which will directly impact the middle class and working families of this country.

"We should use the second $350 billion tranche to create millions of good paying jobs rebuilding our crumbling bridges, roads, culverts, schools and water systems. We can also create millions of jobs by moving away from foreign oil and fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energies," the senator said. Source: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-stop-the-wall-street-bailout

8. Sanders introduced legislation to overturn Citizens United.

Constitutional Amendment Sponsors Renew Push to Undo Citizens United

WASHINGTON, March 12 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted, secret campaign spending by corporations and billionaires. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) filed the “Democracy is for People” amendment in the House.

The 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission undermined democracy by opening the campaign spending floodgates. Already 11 states including Vermont and more than 300 cities and towns have passed resolutions calling for the ruling to be overturned.

As a result of the controversial decision, a record $7 billion was spent in the 2012 election cycle. The secretive billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch reportedly steered at least $400 million into campaigns.

Said Sanders, “What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to tell billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, ‘You own and control Wall Street. You own and control coal companies. You own and control oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we're going to give you the opportunity to own and control the United States government.’ That is the essence of what Citizens United is all about. That is why this disastrous decision must be reversed.”

“The Democracy is for People Amendment will stop corporations and their front groups from using their profits and dark money donations to influence our elections while reaffirming the right of the American people to elections that are fair and representatives that are accountable,” Deutch said.

The amendment would make it clear that the right to vote and the ability to make campaign contributions and expenditures belong only to real people. The amendment would effectively prevent corporations from bankrolling election campaigns. Congress and states would have specific authority to regulate campaign finances by, for example, limiting donations, requiring disclosure of donors or creating public-financing systems for campaigns.

A similar constitutional amendment introduced by Sanders and Deutch in the last session of Congress would have addressed spending by for-profit corporations in elections. Much of the “dark money” funneled through nonprofit organizations in 2012 would not have been restricted, but would be covered by the new version of the amendment.

An amendment originating in Congress must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate in order to be submitted for consideration by the states. Ratification by three-fourths of the states is required to amend the Constitution. Source: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/constitutional-amendment-sponsors-renew-push-to-undo-citizens-united

9. Sanders refuses to accept money from super PACs.

Bernie Sanders: I Won't Accept Super PAC Funds

Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday he will not accept super PAC money in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he also declined to criticize his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for doing so.

"I understand where she is coming from," the Vermont Senator told "Face the Nation," but added, "I will not have a super PAC.

Sanders serves in the U.S. Senate as an Independent, but is running in the Democratic presidential primaries because he says there is "massive dissatisfaction in this country today with the corporate establishment." He said believes that could give him a chance to beat Clinton.

"I don't think we're going to outspend Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush or anybody else, but I think we are going to raise the kinds of money that we need to run a strong and winning campaign," Sanders told host Bob Schieffer.

Should he be elected president, Sanders said his litmus test for Supreme Court nominees would be their support for overturning the Citizens United case that allowed unlimited campaign spending by nonprofit organizations.

"That decision is undermining American democracy," Sanders said. "I do not believe that billionaires should be able to buy politicians."

Sanders, who describes himself as a European-style socialist, told Schieffer he is likely the "most progressive" member of the Senate.
He said he is running against Clinton because he wants to tackle "wealth inequality" and the "the fact real employment is 11 percent," among other issues.

"I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I respect her and I admire her," Sanders said. "But I think we're living in a very strange moment in American history." Source: http://www.newsmax.com/Politics/sanders-accept-super-pac-money/2015/05/10/id/643748/

10. Sanders supports a single-payer healthcare system.

Sanders advocates for single-payer health-care system on Medicare anniversary

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Thursday that he would introduce legislation “in the very near future” that would make health care a right. (Molly Riley/AP)

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders highlighted his support for a single-payer health-care system — a position that separates him from his rivals for the Democratic nomination — during a Thursday rally on Capitol Hill celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare.

Sanders (I-Vt.) said he would introduce legislation “in the very near future” that would make health care a right, a goal he touts on the campaign trail and one that he has fought for unsuccessfully in Congress in the past.

“The time has come to say we need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman and child as a single-payer national health-care program,” Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, said at the rally, which was organized by National Nurses United and attended by members of an array of other labor unions.

Medicare, which is available to those 65 or older, as well as younger people with disabilities, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. Events across the country were staged Thursday to commemorate its launch.

Although Sanders’s position is not new, it helps explain his appeal to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and it is likely to factor into ongoing deliberations at the AFL-CIO over whom to endorse in the Democratic presidential primary.

As Medicare turns fifty, the politics of the plan are as hotly contested as ever. For Republicans, it's created a wedge among the presidential candidates. (Pamela Kirkland/The Washington Post)

Sanders appeared before the organization’s executive council on Wednesday in Silver Spring, and Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton was scheduled to make her pitch Thursday. Labor leaders reportedly are torn between the two candidates and might wait to make a decision. Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley also met with the AFL-CIO on Wednesday.

At the Capitol Hill rally, Sanders was introduced by RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the 185,000-member National Nurses United and a national vice president of the AFL-CIO.

DeMoro referred to Sanders as a “rock star” and said he impressed labor leaders with his advocacy of a single-payer system during the closed-door appearance on Wednesday.

“I have to tell you, he is one of us,” DeMoro told the crowd.

Sanders was a supporter of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act but has said that it did not go far enough in providing universal coverage.

He said Thursday that supporters of a single-payer system should not be discouraged by pundits who say it has no chance of being embraced by Congress.

“All of the pundits always tell us what we cannot accomplish until the day after we accomplish it,” he said. Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/07/30/sanders-advocates-for-single-payer-health-care-system-on-medicare-anniversary/

11. Sanders refrains from waging personal attacks for political gains.

Sanders: I won’t wage personal attacks on Hillary Clinton

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders drew contrasts between himself and Hillary Clinton ahead of the former secretary of state’s official campaign kick off over the weekend.

On msnbc Friday, Sanders spoke with Andrea Mitchell on the main focuses of his campaign. “People are deeply concerned about the disappearing middle class, wealth and income inequality, the fact that their young kids can’t afford to go to college,” Sanders said. “Those are the issues that we are talking about.”

He added that there was a “need to transform our economics and politics so that millionaires and billionaires can’t buy elections.” His biggest difference from Hillary Clinton? Sanders points out that he does not have a super PAC and won’t be soliciting donations from wealthy campaign contributors.

Instead, Sanders said that average Americans make up the backbone of his campaign donors. “Working families all over this country are saying, Bernie, we want to stand with you,” he said. Sanders’ website even boasts that it is “paid for by Bernie 2016, not the billionaires.”

Sanders has also made clear that he will run a positive campaign focused on the issues. “I’ve known Hillary for 25 years. I am not going to be waging personal attacks against her. We differ on issues, and those are the areas that I’ll be focusing on,” Sanders said. Source: http://www.msnbc.com/andrea-mitchell/sanders-i-wont-wage-personal-attacks-hillary-clinton

12. Sanders considers climate change our nation's biggest threat.

Bernie Sanders: Climate Change Is The Biggest National Security Threat

All the Democratic candidates for president were asked during Tuesday's debate to list what they consider the biggest national security threat to the United States. While most focused on the Middle East or China -- anticipated responses -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) chose climate change.

"The scientific community is telling us if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we're going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable," Sanders said. "That is a major crisis."

Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland governor, mentioned the unrest in the Middle East, but also pointed to climate change as an issue that exacerbates existing concerns about resources and migration.

"Climate change makes cascading threats even worse," O'Malley said. He has specifically discussed how it may be influencing the Syrian crisis on the campaign trail.

The Pentagon has said that the effects of climate change act as "threat multipliers." Climate, the Department of Defense said last year, aggravates the conditions of "poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence." Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-climate-change_us_561db3bbe4b0c5a1ce610f4c

13. Sanders opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline since day one.

Bernie Sanders Is Against Keystone XL. Hillary Clinton Was 'Inclined' to Approve It. Why the Difference?

The Sierra Club calls Keystone XL a "climate disaster." Therefore, when a presidential candidate once "inclined" to green-light the pipeline hires someone who was also a "major Keystone lobbyist," Democrats should inquire as to the reasoning of such a curious decision. In addition, while Republicans focus solely on jobs and energy independence, questions should be asked regarding the long-term economic cost of spills. An article earlier this year titled Yellowstone Pipeline Spills Fuel Arguments Over Keystone XL Line highlights the long term economic consequences of ignoring oil spills:

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- Oil pipeline accidents have become increasingly frequent in the U.S...

The Montana pipeline breach temporarily fouled a city's water supply and emerged as the latest in a string of spills to highlight ongoing problems with maintenance of the nation's 61,000 miles of crude oil pipelines.

An Associated Press review of government records shows accident numbers growing steadily since 2009, reversing a decade-long decline...

Keystone would move up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day. A break in the line could dwarf the recent Montana accident, on a line with a capacity of just 42,000 barrels daily.

Therefore, if a Keystone oil spill "could dwarf the recent Montana incident" and ruin water supplies, then why are Republicans and some Democrats supporting Keystone?

It's important to note as well that the Keystone pipeline will go from Alberta, Canada, and then through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, all the way to refineries along the Gulf Coast. The Wall Street Journal states that for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, "Settlement of all federal and state claims brings total costs to nearly $54 billion." Because of its size, there's a real possible that a spill from Keystone could easily exceed such costs; communities from Montana to Texas would be affected for decades, both economically and environmentally from a devastating oil spill.

While the debate rages, some people have taken a firm and bold stance on the environmental disaster in the making. Perhaps the biggest opponent of Keystone XL in Congress is Senator Bernie Sanders, who says, "The idea that we would give a green light for the transportation of 800,000 barrels of some of the dirtiest oils all over the world makes no sense to me." In addition, Bernie Sanders has openly questioned the sanity of Congress, declaring that "it is totally crazy" to think Keystone won't adversely affect the planet and states the following:

With the scientific community telling us loudly and clearly that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels if we are to combat climate change, it is totally crazy for the Congress to support the production and transportation of some of the dirtiest oil on the planet.

Clear and direct, Sanders isn't ambiguous on his stance pertaining to Keystone.

Others, however, are more nuanced in their views.

One big question for Democrats in 2016 will be Hillary Clinton's 'inclination' to support Keystone. In an article by The Christian Science Monitor titled Hillary Clinton has a Keystone XL problem, Clinton's ambiguous position on the biggest environmental controversy of recent years is analyzed:

As Secretary of State, Clinton said she was 'inclined' to sign-off on the pipeline, which would carry emissions-heavy oil sands from Alberta to US Gulf Coast refineries. Since then, Clinton has remained silent on Keystone XL...

'We all remember when Clinton said she was 'inclined' to approve Keystone XL. If the pipeline goes through, she'll shoulder part of the blame, and this protest today will be just a small taste of actions to come,' Jamie Henn, spokesperson for 350 Action, told the Monitor in an email Monday. 'Clinton is saying many of the right things on climate - Keystone XL is an easy way to start doing the right thing.'

'That unwillingness to take a position on something, it's significantly more indefensible when you're a declared presidential candidate,' 350.org spokesperson Karthik Ganapathy told Business Insider last week. 'It's even more indefensible when Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have taken a position on it when you, as the Democratic front-runner, have not.'

Therefore, a statement like, "If the pipeline goes through, she'll shoulder part of the blame," doesn't bode well for a Democrat who is supposed to counter Republicans on this emotional debate. Being "inclined" to support Keystone at one point only strengthens the GOP's hand in the Congressional battle.

In February, President Obama sided with progressives like Bernie Sanders and took a direct and unwavering stand on the Keystone XL pipeline, vetoing the Keystone XL bill and blocking what 350.org describes as a "pipeline that would connect Alberta, Canada with Gulf Coast refineries that would carry 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil across the United States to be refined, exported and burned." Like Bernie Sanders, who vehemently opposes the pipeline and believes it will lead to a "significantly less inhabitable" planet, Obama listened to the concerns of Greenpeace and others regarding "how disastrous the tar sands oil industry is to the climate."

However, the debate will still continue with the next president, and a POLITICO piece titled Greens divided over Hillary Clinton and Keystone explains one presidential candidate's silence and the impact of this communication style:

Hillary Clinton is maintaining her years of silence on the Keystone XL pipeline -- and environmental groups are increasingly divided on how hard they should push her to take a stand.

It's a further sign that the never-ending pipeline drama will remain one of the biggest policy minefields facing Clinton's White House campaign...

'Activists who are the ones that will turn out for her events and donate money are the ones who will also see the gap of her talking about climate change and yet (if she does) supporting tar sands and fracking,' said Jane Kleeb, founder of the anti-Keystone group Bold Nebraska. She added that Clinton 'needs to visit with us and hopefully not listen to some of the DC lobbyists who I just know are saying 'they will vote for you anyway, what other option do they have?''

Similar to Clinton's silence on the Trans Pacific Partnership and other controversial topics, where ambiguity is favored over a clear-cut stance that could lead to political backlash, Clinton's viewpoint on Keystone seems to still be mired in "years of silence." One telling observation from the POLITOCO piece is the quote referencing the mentality of many voters: "They will vote for you anyway, what other option do they have?"

From Keystone, to Iraq and gay marriage (up until 2013), it seems that many progressives are resigned to simply accept silence, or overt flip flopping on controversial topics. In lieu of principled and straightforward dialogue, some people favor a reverence for the $2.5 billion campaign machine that's expected to win the White House simply because it's received the most donor money. Like Eric Zuesse writes in Hillary Clinton's Bought-And-Paid-For Favors for Keystone XL Deal, "But of course, this isn't to say that she's any worse than other Republicans; it's merely to note that, like with Obama, her calling herself a 'Democrat' doesn't make any difference, other than to fool a different group of suckers."

However, there is a person in 2016 who embodies the Democratic and progressive principles (like gay rights, when he voted against President Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act) that Democrats were supposed to always uphold; even when polls went in a different direction. His name is Bernie Sanders and he is vehemently against Keystone XL, while others have been "inclined" to support it. In 2016, Democrats can accept silence on the future of a "climate disaster" in the making, or vote for Bernie Sanders, a candidate who clearly states "it is totally crazy for the Congress to support the production and transportation of some of the dirtiest oil on the planet."

Finally, the word "why" will be an important issue of its own in the upcoming election. If the GOP supports Keystone, and Clinton was "inclined" to support it, then why does there exist a difference on Keystone between Sanders and Clinton? Why is one person overtly against it while the other is silent? The answer to this question, and to several others, could dictate who wins the 2016 Democratic nomination. It's also an answer that might enable Bernie Sanders to win the presidency. Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/bernie-sanders-is-against-keystone-xl-hillary-clinton-was-inclined-to-approve-it-why-the-difference_b_7830214.html

14. Sanders voted against the Patriot Act.

Bernie Sanders: It’s Time To End Orwellian Surveillance of Every American

I voted against the Patriot Act every time, and it still needs major reform.

I welcome a federal appeals court ruling that the National Security Agency does not have the legal authority to collect and store data on all U.S. telephone calls. Now Congress should rewrite the expiring eavesdropping provision in the so-called USA Patriot Act and include strong new limits to protect the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.

Let me be clear: We must do everything we can to protect our country from the serious potential of another terrorist attack. We can and must do so, however, in a way that also protects the constitutional rights of the American people and maintains our free society.

Do we really want to live in a country where the NSA gathers data on virtually every single phone call in the United States—including as many as 5 billion cellphone records per day? I don’t. Do we really want our government to collect our emails, see our text messages, know everyone’s Internet browsing history, monitor bank and credit card transactions, keep tabs on people’s social networks? I don’t.

Unfortunately, this sort of Orwellian surveillance, conducted under provisions of the Patriot Act, invades the privacy of millions of law-abiding Americans.

The surveillance law originally was passed by Congress in 2001 in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I voted against it. I voted against reauthorizing the law in 2005 when I was still in the House and voted “no” again in 2011 in the Senate when Congress passed the most-recent four-year extension of the law. I believed then and am even more convinced today that the law gave the government far too much power to spy on Americans and that it provided too little oversight or disclosure.

The law expires at the end of this month, and Congress already has begun to debate how to revise and improve the law. We should give intelligence and law enforcement authorities the strong tools they need to investigate suspected terrorists, but the law also must contain strong safeguards to protect our civil liberties. Under legislation I have proposed, intelligence and law enforcement authorities would be required to establish a reasonable suspicion, based on specific information, in order to secure court approval to monitor business records related to a specific terrorism suspect. In renewing the surveillance law, Congress also should reassert its proper role overseeing how intelligence agencies use, or abuse, the law that our intelligence community has operated in a way that even they knew the American public and Congress would not approve.

We should strike a balance that weighs the need to be vigilant and aggressive in protecting the American people from the very real danger of terrorist attacks without undermining the constitutional rights that make us a free country. Source: http://time.com/3850839/bernie-sanders-usa-patriot-act/

15. Sanders voted against the war in Iraq.

Flashback: Rep. Bernie Sanders Opposes Iraq War

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from New Jersey for yielding me this time.

Mr. Speaker, I do not think any Member of this body disagrees that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant, a murderer, and a man who has started two wars. He is clearly someone who cannot be trusted or believed. The question, Mr. Speaker, is not whether we like Saddam Hussein or not. The question is whether he represents an imminent threat to the American people and whether a unilateral invasion of Iraq will do more harm than good.

Mr. Speaker, the front page of The Washington Post today reported that all relevant U.S. intelligence agencies now say despite what we have heard from the White House that ``Saddam Hussein is unlikely to initiate a chemical or biological attack against the United States.'' Even more importantly, our intelligence agencies say that should Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he might at that point launch a chemical or biological counterattack. In other words, there is more danger of an attack on the United States if we launch a precipitous invasion.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the President feels, despite what our intelligence agencies are saying, that it is so important to pass a resolution of this magnitude this week and why it is necessary to go forward without the support of the United Nations and our major allies including those who are fighting side by side with us in the war on terrorism.

But I do feel that as a part of this process, the President is ignoring some of the most pressing economic issues affecting the well-being of ordinary Americans. There has been virtually no public discussion about the stock market's loss of trillions of dollars over the last few years and that millions of Americans have seen the retirement benefits for which they have worked their entire lives disappear. When are we going to address that issue? This country today has a $340 billion trade deficit, and we have lost 10 percent of our manufacturing jobs in the last 4 years, 2 million decent-paying jobs. The average American worker today is working longer hours for lower wages than 25 years ago. When are we going to address that issue?

Mr. Speaker, poverty in this country is increasing and median family income is declining. Throughout this country family farmers are being driven off of the land; and veterans, the people who put their lives on the line to defend us, are unable to get the health care and other benefits they were promised because of government underfunding. When are we going to tackle these issues and many other important issues that are of such deep concern to Americans?

Mr. Speaker, in the brief time I have, let me give five reasons why I am opposed to giving the President a blank check to launch a unilateral invasion and occupation of Iraq and why I will vote against this resolution. One, I have not heard any estimates of how many young American men and women might die in such a war or how many tens of thousands of women and children in Iraq might also be killed. As a caring Nation, we should do everything we can to prevent the horrible suffering that a war will cause. War must be the last recourse in international relations, not the first. Second, I am deeply concerned about the precedent that a unilateral invasion of Iraq could establish in terms of international law and the role of the United Nations. If President Bush believes that the U.S. can go to war at any time against any nation, what moral or legal objection could our government raise if another country chose to do the same thing?

Third, the United States is now involved in a very difficult war against international terrorism as we learned tragically on September 11. We are opposed by Osama bin Laden and religious fanatics who are prepared to engage in a kind of warfare that we have never experienced before. I agree with Brent Scowcroft, Republican former National Security Advisor for President George Bush, Sr., who stated, ``An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken.''

Fourth, at a time when this country has a $6 trillion national debt and a growing deficit, we should be clear that a war and a long-term American occupation ofIraq could be extremely expensive.

Fifth, I am concerned about the problems of so-called unintended consequences. Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed and what role will the U.S. play in ensuing a civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the region who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists? Will the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority be exacerbated? And these are just a few of the questions that remain unanswered.

If a unilateral American invasion of Iraq is not the best approach, what should we do? In my view, the U.S. must work with the United Nations to make certain within clearly defined timelines that the U.N. inspectors are allowed to do their jobs. These inspectors should undertake an unfettered search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and destroy them when found, pursuant to past U.N. resolutions. If Iraq resists inspection and elimination of stockpiled weapons, we should stand ready to assist the U.N. in forcing compliance. Source: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/video/flashback-rep-bernie-sanders-opposes-iraq-war

A Future to Believe In... Vote Bernie Sanders for President on Super Tuesday! ~ JDHWB-R

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