Politics: Bernie speaks out for Hillary

by Bernie Sanders for the L.A. Times

In the primaries, I received 1,846 pledged delegates, 46% of the total. Hillary Clinton received 2,205 pledged delegates, 54%. She received 602 superdelegates. I received 48 superdelegates. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and I will vigorously support her.

Donald Trump would be a disaster and an embarrassment for our country if he were elected president. His campaign is not based on anything of substance — improving the economy, our education system, healthcare or the environment. It is based on bigotry. He is attempting to win this election by fomenting hatred against Mexicans and Muslims. He has crudely insulted women. And as a leader of the “birther movement,” he tried to undermine the legitimacy of our first African American president. That is not just my point of view. That’s the perspective of a number of conservative Republicans.

In these difficult times, we need a president who will bring our nation together, not someone who will divide us by race or religion, not someone who lacks an understanding of what our Constitution is about.

On virtually every major issue facing this country and the needs of working families, Clinton’s positions are far superior to Trump’s. Our campaigns worked together to produce the most progressive platform in the history of American politics. Trump’s campaign wrote one of the most reactionary documents.

Clinton understands that Citizens United has undermined our democracy. She will nominate justices who are prepared to overturn that Supreme Court decision, which made it possible for billionaires to buy elections. Her court appointees also would protect a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect the environment.

Trump, on the other hand, has made it clear that his Supreme Court appointees would preserve the court’s right-wing majority.

Clinton understands that in a competitive global economy we need the best-educated workforce in the world. She and I worked together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America. It will guarantee that the children of any family in this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less – 83% of our population – will be able to go to a public college or university tuition free. This proposal also substantially reduces student debt.

Trump, on the other hand, has barely said a word about higher education.

Clinton understands that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it is absurd to provide huge tax breaks to the very rich.

Trump, on the other hand, wants billionaire families like his to enjoy hundreds of billions of dollars in new tax breaks.

Clinton understands that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is one of the great environmental crises facing our planet. She knows that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and move aggressively to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

Trump, on the other hand, like most Republicans, rejects science and the conclusions of almost all major researchers in the field. He believes that climate change is a “hoax,” and that there’s no need to address it.

Clinton understands that this country must move toward universal healthcare. She wants to see that all Americans have the right to choose a public option in their healthcare exchange, that anyone 55 or older should be able to opt in to Medicare, and that we must greatly improve primary healthcare through a major expansion of community health centers. She also wants to lower the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs.

And what is Donald Trump’s position on healthcare? He wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, throw 20 million people off the health insurance they currently have and cut Medicaid for lower-income Americans.

During the primaries, my supporters and I began a political revolution to transform America. That revolution continues as Hillary Clinton seeks the White House. It will continue after the election. It will continue until we create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent – a government based on the principle of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.

I understand that many of my supporters are disappointed by the final results of the nominating process, but being despondent and inactive is not going to improve anything. Going forward and continuing the struggle is what matters. And, in that struggle, the most immediate task we face is to defeat Donald Trump



Politics: We can support Clinton

by Judy Ferro

After the Republicans spent their convention filling the airwaves with Hillary-bashing, I feel compelled to announce that I like Hillary Clinton. I may love Bernie and lament that a million Californians didn’t know they couldn’t vote for him in their primary while registered Republican. I will still be very happy to see President Rodham-Clinton inaugurated.

Like many Democrats, I am wary of those big fees Clinton got for a few speeches to the Wall Street crowd. Those billionaires managing Trust Funds have already bought enough of Congress to be paying a tax rate less than that paid by a school janitor.

I have a lot of respect, however, for columnist Jill Abramson who managed the Washington Bureau of the New York Times for years. Abramson says point blank that she has investigated Hillary for years now and found no instances “where Clinton was doing the bidding of a donor or benefactor.”   While Senator, Hillary did oppose a pro-Wall Street bill and later vote for it, but only after getting it amended significantly.

So Hillary choose to get the best bill possible rather than taking a firm stand on the losing side. I kind of respect that.

And I find the investigations, from Whitewater to Benghazi to e-mails, typical Republican “throw-enough-mud” strategy. They’ve found no grounds for charges, no crimes at all. Just unintended “negligence” which did not lead to harm.

What they have accomplished is proving themselves hypocrites. They were not concerned with Cheney’s revealing a covert CIA agent to reporters—and thus endangering all those agents who worked for the same cover firm. They remain totally unconcerned that 50 personnel were killed in seven embassy attacks during the presidency of George W. Bush. (You’d think that security breaches two years a row in the Pakistani embassy would bother some.) Nor were they concerned that the Bush White House “lost,” according to Wikipedia, between 5 million and 22 million emails.

I can’t respect Republican politicians who choose to be ignorant about the “beam” in their own eye.

And those who work past these negatives can find many things to like about Hillary.

She is strong. We’ve seen her grilled for hours by a team of Republicans and make the men look petty, childish and not too bright in comparison.

She is intelligent and informed. While others struggle to grasp the breadth of issues facing a president, she’s had years to explore them in the depth. She knows leaders in countries most of us couldn’t find on a map. Politifact has rated her the most truthful of the presidential contenders.

Hillary cares about our workers and our environment. She rejects policies such as a rapid increase in minimum wage and a carbon cap-and-trade program not because she doesn’t agree with their worth, but because she fears they would generate enough opposition to endanger programs with greater possibility of being enacted.

Hillary is a staunch advocate for women’s rights around the world. As Secretary of State, she worked to meet women activists in each country she visited. Not only did this give the women more visibility and credibility, it let their governments know that mistreatment of these women would not go ignored by the United States.

Hillary listens and learns. After originally supporting the Trans-Pacific Pact, she became a staunch opponent after listening to complaints about the provisions that extended patents for Big Pharma and the control it gave mega-corporations over U.S. labor and environmental laws.

It’s no wonder that even Idahoans who don’t plan on voting for Secretary Clinton see her as most likely to be our next president.

Politics: Big differences in party platforms

by Judy Ferro

Rumor is that the draft of the Republican National Platform now runs 33,000 words—about 300 pages or five times the length of the 2012 platform.   Is it possible?

I don’t know, but I have to chuckle thinking of the Republican Convention in Cleveland going quiet Tuesday as delegates struggle to read this important document before voting on it. Of course, unless they are all extremely fast readers, the quiet could carry into Wednesday. Imagine TV commentators trying to fill the dead air space as delegates hole up to read each and every page.

Equally amusing is thinking of the questions reporters may now direct at candidates.

“Do you see any difficulties arising from abolishing the Internal Revenue Service?”

“Do you support the position that food stamps are unconstitutional?”

“Do you know of any studies supporting the claim that coal is ‘clean” energy comparable to wind and hydroelectric power?”

Of course, candidates who have glib arguments for entrusting our social security funds to Wall Street can answer about anything. Expect to hear more about the Bible as a text in American history, overturning the Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage, ceding national forest land to the states, and building a wall across the Mexican border.

The draft that the Democratic National Platform Committee debated in Orlando this month started at 35 pages. Although some amendments were added, even moderately motivated delegates will be able to read it before they vote.

The question most commentators have addressed is how much Bernie Sanders influenced this platform. I have it from good authority that the answer is “enough.”

Nampan Jeff Hess was appointed Idaho’s delegate to the National Platform Committee. Although he is a newcomer to party activism, he was a logical choice. As a member of the state party’s platform committee, he demonstrated that he had faith that compromise was possible and the perseverance to work until it was achieved. Moreover, he was elected as a Clinton delegate to the National Convention in Philadelphia—a highly competitive honor since 80% of Idaho’s elected delegate positions went to Sanders’ supporters.

Hess represented Idaho Democrats well and managed to get two amendments concerning clean energy added to the platform. He observed, “In Orlando…most of the hot-button issues were skillfully negotiated between the two campaigns so there was not a lot of disagreement. However, there were a few issues that the HRC (Clinton) camp believed were too important for any more negotiations.

“This certainly disappointed a small minority of Bernie folks, but most understood that when you have the most votes, you win.”

Hess concluded, “And, from my upfront, literally front row, seat it was clear that Bernie and Hillary were working hand and glove together…contrary to what anyone may hear.”

Sanders himself has worked to make his approval of the platform clear. Not only did he endorse Clinton at a rally the next day, he emailed supporters a list of issues he was happy to see in the platform including, among others, a higher minimum wage (plank one), immigration reform, and the end of for-profit prisons and offshore tax havens.

During an interview on Democracy Now! Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison said Sanders’ delegates failed to get all-out opposition to fracking and TPP (Trans-Pacific Pact on trade) and endorsement of Medicare for All and a two-state policy for Israel and Palestine.

I’m willing to say that the Sanders’ supporters who do not now join him in backing Clinton act out of dislike for her rather than disappointment with her platform. Yet, Hillary’s choice of a running mate may yet gain their support.

Democrats: Sanders stays in the race

by Judy Ferro

Bernie Sanders won 22 state primaries and caucuses with over 11 million votes. It’s a major accomplishment. Yet, with only 20 more delegates to be allotted, he has 1816 pledged delegates to Hillary Clinton’s 2197. Also, 75% of the 751 superdelegates have declared for Clinton.

Ironically, those superdelegates that have been an obstacle to Sanders’ nomination are now making it possible for him to remain in the race. They are not pledged and can change their minds at any time so there is a slimmest of slim chances that Sanders could still be nominated.

Still, a Sanders victory seems so impossible that few would have surprised if he’d pulled out after Clinton’s California victory last Tuesday. He didn’t—and people are puzzling why.

Some say his ego won’t let him quit. The fact that the man waited until he was 73 to make a presidential bid makes that implausible, but not impossible; audiences of 10,000 and more may change a man.

Some—mainly FOX viewers—say Sanders persists in case Clinton is indicted for not telling President Obama about her e-mail server. I’m betting that Sanders—like most Democrats—doesn’t pay attention to the smokescreens that Republicans spew. It’d be more likely that Clinton asked Sanders to stay in so the media pays some attention to the Democratic race rather than giving Donald Trump all the headlines.

Certainly, Sanders is seeking concessions from Clinton. Maybe he wants to name the vice president or have Clinton pledge to work for a Wall Street tax or free junior college. His 11 million supporters give him leverage, and Sanders won’t waste it.

I’m betting that the convention itself is a reason Sanders is still in the race. His delegates will get to meet him and to cast their votes. Just as important, he will be able to address voters across the nation in his concession speech.

Education is a major part of Sanders’ mission. He wants people to know they do not have to accept business as usual, but that, acting together, they can change the system. His non-concession speech rang with the message which 78% of Idahoans who attended Democratic caucuses supported.

“The vast majority of the American people know that it is not acceptable that the top tenth of 1 percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent; we’re going to change that. When millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, we will not allow 57 percent of all new income to go to the top 1 percent. We will end a corrupt campaign finance system.

“Democracy is not about billionaires buying elections. We will end a broken criminal justice system. We will break up the major banks on Wall Street. We will join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people as a right. We will bring about real immigration reform and a path toward citizenship. We will tell the billionaire class and corporate America that they will start paying their fair share of taxes…

“Whether Wall Street likes it, whether corporate America likes it, whether wealthy campaign contributors like it, whether the corporate media likes it, together we know what our job is. It is to bring the American people together to create a government that works for us, not the 1 percent.”

Will Sanders then declare himself a third-party candidate? Not likely. He doesn’t want to throw the election to Trump. Yet, at 74, it is unlikely that he will be a nominee in the future. Sanders has lit a torch that others must carry.

Idaho Politics: Idaho Dems Caucus for Bernie, Hillary

by Judy Ferro

Did you hear that Idaho Democrats had a caucus last week?


The event not only got a front page mentions in the Idaho Press-Tribune and coverage from local TV stations, but several mentions on CNN. Favorable coverage for Idaho on national TV—gotta love it!

Overnight the jokes about Democrats meeting in a phone booth were replaced by complaints that planners were daft to think our most enthusiastic could fit in two middle school gyms. Those who attended will remember the blocks-long line and sitting elbow to elbow with hundreds of people who want leaders who will fight for the middle class.

So many contributed to the caucus—volunteers who were veterans of the 2008 event and those who prepped for their first caucus and those who stepped forward Tuesday night when they saw a need; volunteers who led sub-caucuses, spoke out for their candidates, and championed issues important to them; volunteers who acted as emcees, played in the band, helped set-up tables and made signs, and directed the foot traffic.

Thank you to all who came and waited and cheered and voted and cheered some more.

Thank you all for keeping the chaos organized and the spirit alive.

Thanks to all who came and waited and cheered and voted and cheered some more.

And special thanks to those who ran as delegates to the state convention and to the ballot counters who worked diligently until 1:30 a.m.

The outcome was a surprise to many: 83% for Bernie Sanders and 17% for Hillary Clinton. Statewide the numbers were 78% and 21%. Only Sanders’ home state of Vermont has given him a higher percent.

Canyon County will be sending 28 delegates pledged to Bernie and six pledged to Hilary to the state convention. They will join Democrats from around the state to select 17 delegates pledged to Bernie and give to Hillary to represent us at the national convention.

Idaho has four super delegates. One had announced for Hillary prior to the caucuses. Two, including party chair Bert Marley, announced for Bernie soon after. On Thursday, one remained uncommitted.

This year’s presidential caucuses may be the last for Idaho Democrats. Many–especially veterans of Ada County’s largest-caucus-in-the-nation–are pushing for us to join Republicans in holding a primary. There is another option—Democrats could caucus by legislative district or county, whichever is smaller. It would be a serious undertaking. For Canyon County, it would not only mean renting four venues but also prepping four emcees and eight or more sub-caucus leaders.

A month ago, I would have fought for that option. Now I’ve talked to dozens of Democrats who could not physically attend the caucus. Caucusing involves speeches, discussion, and not just one, but a series, of ballots. Idaho’s rules have been that one must participate for his or her vote to count.

I have friends who gave up vacation plans or a day’s wages to attend; others drove 15 miles to get to the only caucusing site in the county. Some chose not to make those sacrifices. But maybe it’s okay for the enthusiastic to have a greater say than others.

But I’ve also heard from Democrats who are blind, suffering from cancer, or recovering from an operation. I’ve talked with elderly who don’t drive at night as well as working parents who only see their kids in the evening. They need absentee ballots.

Very likely, the presidential caucus of 2016 will be the last for Idaho Democrats.

It’s great that so many share the memory of this crazy, heartwarming event.