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Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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“Bernie Sanders invokes FDR in explaining socialism as ‘foundation of middle class'” – LA Times:

“The next time you hear me attacked as a socialist,” Sanders said, “remember this: I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own means of production. But I do believe the middle class and working class of this country who produce the wealth of this country deserve a decent standard of living, and their incomes should go up and not down.”

 

Should USPS be empowered again to offer banking services?

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

Speaking of underbanked Americans without access to safe, low-cost services for cashing checks and saving money…

Don’t miss “Bernie Sanders’s Highly Sensible Plan to Turn Post Offices Into Banks” – The Atlantic:

…only about 7 percent of the world’s national postal systems don’t offer some bank-like services.
[…]
The reason why this would be so useful in the U.S. is that somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of the population has to rely on check-cashing or payday-lending services, which in some places charge usurious rates that send people into spirals of recurring debt.
[…]
…in 1910, William Howard Taft introduced a postal-savings system for new immigrants and the poor that lasted until 1967.

 
Low-grade localized socialism we can believe in! (And a new revenue stream for our constitutionally mandated postal service.)

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The return of democratic socialism to middle America?

There was a period about a century ago (give or take a couple decades on either side) when democratic socialism was taking root in some of the rural, populist regions of the United States. Government by and for the people was the counterweight to corporate rule.

The fact that we now once again have op-eds in major newspapers in conservative states explaining to people why “socialism” isn’t necessarily an extreme word to be feared suggests a major sea change is afoot:

We often get too hung up over political labels and then reflexively dismiss the person. Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist,” but what he stands for is actually more mainstream than people realize.

He wants to expand Social Security, invest massively to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure, provide Medicare for all, make public college tuition free, break up banks that are too big to fail, and combat climate change, among other things.

If you follow the figures, large percentages of Americans agree with many of these positions.
In his words: “To me, socialism doesn’t mean state ownership of everything, by any means, it means creating a nation, and a world, in which all human beings have a decent standard of living.

“I think (democratic socialism),” he has said “means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship all of our people have health care; that as a right, all of our kids, regardless of income, have quality child care, are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big money interest. I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That’s all it means.”

 
I’m not saying this means everyone in the American heartland is about to run out and vote socialist (or even for Sanders necessarily) but let’s hope it does signify that the Reagan Revolution cycle in American politics is coming to a close. We need to end the great lie that portrayed government as the enemy, while corporations were supposedly by and for the people against it.

A few thoughts on free public college options for all

There are many ways that the very wealthy already benefit financially from U.S. government policies (which is frustrating to me), but opposing zero-tuition public colleges because rich kids might get to go to public colleges for free seems like a strange position.


What are the odds that Hillary Clinton’s implied scenario of a flood of ultra-wealthy students will suddenly decide to enroll in public universities because the tuition is free now? Won’t they overwhelmingly just continue to go to elite schools where tuition is still charged? (Just like how they tend to go to private school for K-12 even though it is freely available to them in public form.)

And, as a side note about her overall plan (means-testing plus work-study), why should the poorest kids who’ve probably had to struggle the hardest to get to college also then have to work on the side to qualify for tuition coverage under her plan? Why don’t we just make it so everyone, regardless of means, has the right to go to college for free without working in addition to concentrating on their studies — and let the chips fall where they may? Why do we have to make these policies so complicated for no apparent reason? Just offer them to everyone and whoever takes it, takes it. It’s not that expensive.

Sept 9, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 142

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: Are Blairites and Clintonites right about the center-left? What lessons can be learned from the 1820s and 1830s in US politics? Understanding the Trump bankruptcies better. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: September 6th, 2015.

Episode 142 (51 min):
AFD 142

Discussion Points:

– Corbyn and Sanders: Are centrist Blairites and Clintonites right about the left?
– US history: What lessons can be learned from the 1820s and 1830s in US politics?
– Trump bankruptcies: Not as negative as widely suggested? We compare and contrast.

Related Links

AFD: “The Only Way is Blair”
AFD: “When The Party’s Over: The 1820s in US Politics”
AFD: “Op-Ed | Trump’s Bankruptcies in Perspective”

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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video game blog of our announcer, Justin.

Sanders Seeks the South

As the Clinton Campaign continues to essentially refuse to campaign in the American South outside of South Carolina (and maybe Arkansas), despite how many Democratic delegates the Southern states will contribute early in the primary season next year, Bernie Sanders is ramping up efforts there. AL.com News from Alabama reported last weekend:

Earlier in the day, Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, said on “Face the Nation” that his Democratic campaign for president would be a grassroots effort that “will bring more people into the [political] process,” in part by campaigning in areas that Democrats have written off for decades, including the Heart of Dixie. “We’re going to go to Alabama, we’re going to go to Mississippi, we’re going to go to conservative states,” he said.

 
An organizing meeting/rally in Birmingham, Alabama also drew 300 people that day, without the candidate’s presence. It seemed to tap into exactly that “written off” segment Sanders mentioned:

the 40-year-old Blount County resident is no longer apathetic about politics, now that independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is running for president. Hewitt said Sanders’ platform on income inequality persuaded her to get off the sidelines in 2016.
[…]
Stuart said he never volunteered for a campaign before, but has donated to Sanders and plans on giving “a little bit each month.” He said Sanders’ democratic socialist views are aligned with his Christian beliefs.

“I think Jesus was a socialist,” he said, adding that Republicans “talk Christian values and family values, but they don’t do them.”

 
The Sanders Campaign is also planning major rallies (which he will be attending) in Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas, Texas; and Houston, Texas. Thousands are expected to attend each event.

In 2008, Clinton attacked Obama for gun control support

But in 2015, Clinton is attacking Bernie Sanders for insufficient gun control support. Let’s track the intense flip-flopping, solely meant to destroy rival Democratic nomination candidates, both times.

Now (Washington Post, July 9, 2015):

“I’m going to speak out against the uncontrollable use of guns in our country because I believe we can do better,” Clinton said Tuesday in Iowa City.

A few days earlier, she said in Hanover, N.H.: “We have to take on the gun lobby. . . . This is a controversial issue. I am well aware of that. But I think it is the height of irresponsibility not to talk about it.”
[…]
Gun control is one of the few issues on which Clinton has a more left-leaning record than Sanders, who represents a rural, pro-gun-rights state and has voted in the past for legislation to protect the firearms industry. Although Clinton has not attacked Sanders by name, by invoking guns she makes an unspoken contrast.
[…]
Despite his mixed voting record, Sanders did support the 2013 background-check bill and ­assault-weapons ban. And on the stump, he is trying to sound more forceful. He notes that “guns in Chicago and Los Angeles mean a very different thing than guns in Vermont and New Hampshire” but says — as he did two weeks ago in Bow, N.H. — that the next president must “come forward with a common-sense proposal on guns.”

In the Democratic field, former Maryland governor Martin O’Mal­ley has the strongest record in favor of gun control. He supported an assault-weapons ban as mayor of Baltimore in the early 2000s and then signed one into law as governor in 2013, along with a suite of gun restrictions that stand as among the nation’s toughest.
[…]
Howard Wolfson, for many years a top Clinton aide before going to work for Bloomberg, said Clinton’s avoidance of guns in 2008 should not be mistaken for a lack of interest in gun control.

 
Then:
In Indiana, “Clinton mailing attacks Obama on guns” – Ben Smith for Politico – May 4, 2008

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Hillary Clinton has re-opened her sharp attack on Barack Obama’s position on guns, with a mailer in Indiana that seeks to raise questions about him with both supporters and opponents of gun rights.

The mailing — perhaps the sharpest-edged of Clinton’s five negative mail pieces in Indiana — casts him as a typical politician, saying different things to different audiences. It also revives his damaging comments in San Francisco that small town people cling to guns.
[…]
The piece is particularly striking coming from Clinton, who has been seen for most of her career as a firm advocate of gun control, but more recently has emerged — without dramatically shifting her stance on specific issues — as a defender of the Second Amendment who fondly recalled being taught to shoot by her grandfather in Scranton.

 
So which is it?

Is she now the candidate who “told people” in conservative states she “was for the 2nd Amendment, in order to get their votes” as her 2008 mailer alleged of Sen. Obama?