Bernie Sanders in Queens

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Even with a bad cold and a toothache, I wasn’t about to miss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorse Bernie Sanders across the street from the public housing project she saved from Jeff Bezos and Amazon back in 2018. So I got on New Jersey Transit in Westfield, New Jersey, then the 7-Train at Times Square, and road out to Queensboro Plaza in Long Island City.  I’m no stranger to Long Island City. My very first apartment away from home was in Sunnyside Gardens a few stops east on the 7-Train, but  I was shocked by the number of new glass towers that have gone up in the past 10 years.  Was I in Queens? Or was I in Dubai or Singapore. It was then that I realized that the Amazon headquarters wouldn’t have been the beginning of the gentrification of western Queens. It would have been the final nail in the coffin.

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After walking the 6 or 7 blocks from the 7-Train to Queensboro Park, I joined the line. To be more accurate, I tried to find the end of the line, which went on for so long that I finally despaired of ever seeing it this side of Greenpoint, so I did a very unsocialist thing and discretely cut. The wait wasn’t too bad, only about 20 minutes. Bernie’s security people seemed to know how to keep things moving. Just about the only thing not allowed into the event were water bottles. I’m not exactly sure why. In any event, I made it into Queensboro Park by one oclock and waited for the event to begin. To my disappointment, I also realized that the park was already three quarters full, and there was no way I’d ever get close enough to the stage to actually see any of the speakers. Oh well, I decided, I’ll at least get to hear them.

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First up was Jane Sanders. Her speech was short, and to the point. She did, however, make an interesting connection between her own ancestors (who fled poverty and the English genocide of the Irish) and her husband’s (who fled poverty and antisemitism). To me, it’s important to make the connection between what happened to Irish Catholic peasants in 1847 and what happened to Polish Jews in 1942. The Holocaust didn’t come out of nowhere. It was the culmination of the long history of European capitalism and imperialism, of using people as objects and discarding them when they were no longer of any use. The Irish were sitting on land English capitalists wanted. Polish Jews were sitting on land German Ayran supermen wanted. In any event, I’m drawing it out far more than Jane Sanders did. She merely remarked that her ancestors fled poverty and famine and Bernie’s fled poverty and antisemitism.

Next up was Michael Moore. Even with his famous girth, I was still too far away from the stage to make him out. His connection with Bernie goes back to 1990 when Bernie asked him to speak at a rally for his campaign to become Vermont’s only Congressman. “Couldn’t you have gotten any of the big stars,” Moore remembered having said, pointing out the shallow and ultimately disposable nature of celebrity, “like Crocodile Dundee, Milli Vanilli or Vanilla Ice?” It was the standard leftist stump speech Moore has been giving for years, but it was effective, and centered on Sanders’s being 78-years-old. “I’m glad he’s 78,” Moore said. “He can remember things the rest of us can’t, like pay raises, and pensions.”

Moore was followed by Tiffany Caban, who recently lost a bid to become the Queens District Attorney, and long-time Sanders’s spokesperson Nina Turner. Turner is a polished, and effective speaker, Caban a bit less so, but it was Alexandria Ocasio Cortez who really connected with her audience. Well, at least she connected with me. By the time she took the stage, my toothache, a molar with a gigantic old filling that finally came out and, was knocking on the inside of my skull like a sledge hammer. As she recounted her old job as waitress, I remembered having had a similar, low paying customer service job when I was exactly her age. I also remembered having a toothache I couldn’t afford to get fixed, a molar that finally abscessed and put me through days of torture before I was finally able to find a dentist willing to do a root canal and wait for payment.

I wondered why I had put off going to the dentist for so long for the current toothache, even though I have the money to pay for another root canal out of pocket and I realized that it comes from the same kind of paranoia that leads people with broken legs to refuse an ambulance. There is always the fear that a simple medical procedure will become an endless sinkhole that swallows your savings, that it won’t be a few thousand dollars to get a tooth fixed, but twenty or thirty thousand dollars. I realized why Bernie’s call for Medicare for has become so popular, even with people who do technically have “good” insurance. The health care, or to be more specific, the health insurance industry is not about healthcare. It’s about wealth extraction. My mother, fortunately, and yes I use the word “fortunately” tongue in cheek back in 2017. Had she lingered on for years physically and mentally disabled, long term nursing home care would have destroyed several generations of family savings. That’s the cruelty of the current American health care system, a wealth extraction monster that leaves you feeling relieved your mother died now rather than later.

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As far as Bernie’s health is concerned, don’t listen to the media. He spoke for over an hour with a great deal of force and passion, a man old enough to be my father wearing out my ability to stand in one place with my tooth pounding away inside my skull. I don’t know if it was a great speech, but it was a necessary speech. Everything Bernie proposes would, in any kind of sane country, be considered common sense. End cash bail, stop police from killing innocent people, forgive usurious student loans, bring our health care system up to the same level as Canada’s or the UK’s, bring back the kind of free public higher education we had at the University of California or City College back in the 1950s, tax Wall Street at the same rate we tax Main Street, all Bernie is really proposing is to bring back New Deal America, the kind of society we had when American wealth and power was at its height. Trump may say the words “Make America Great Again” but Bernie has an actual plan for us to get there.

Will we listen?

14 comments

  1. I thought I would enter my writing from today here, not actually a “comment” on Bernie but my usual diatribe against USA imperialism. And by the way, I have a lot of “friends” who are USA citizens, so although I make terrible sweeping statements, my good will is much brighter in personal relations as opposed to this political screed..

    October 19, 2019 RE: USA Malfeasance and Media That Accepts Unbearable Sieges by USA against nations around the world

    “Democrat presidential nominee trades barbs with Hilary Clinton over Russian meddling allegations”, AP October 19, 2019 on CBC news the same day. Note that Clinton name appears in headline but name of Tulsi Gabbard does not). So, we know that Republicans and Democrats are the 2 major parties with candidates for President, and with primaries resulting in a single candidate from each party.

    Mention is made, in the article, of a “third-party candidate” Jill Stein, who ran for the Green Party of USA in 2016 – take NOTE: “Third Party Presidential Candidate Gets a mention in Mainstream Media” Truly REMARKABLE, when the MANY “other” parties running presidential candidates are NEVER mentioned, AND the whole idea of being a “third-party candidate” seems to be the “entertaining idea” of:

    “Anyone Can Run For President” –

    A list of “other parties” running for President in USA, 2020:

    https://www.politics1.com/p2020.htm

    BUT, just like Hollywood and Disneyland, it’s all just for show, because many candidates apparently do not have “ballot access” in ALL states.

    It’s all USA FAKE, USA is Fake Democracy full of flaky fakes, preposterous “game-players” either at the casino or putting on the ritz, just for kicks, just for kids…

    You got it, USA – you are a faking disease and a scourge upon this poor planet, why not pretend some space force and send the hole country (not misspelled, a country full of holes of the same sort) and GET OFF THE PLANET!!

    Until USA enthusiastically joins the rest of the planet in dealing seriously with climate I am wholeheartedly DISMISSING all of USA as Negative Force Number One, and I am going to criticize mercilessly the ignorance that reigns supreme in condemning nations around the globe to be monstrously assaulted, like the Kurds, presently, suddenly “dismissed” from where they might be living, to be interred in designated reservations made by Erdogan and Trump without Kurdish input, like North American Indian Disposal System of Glorious USA.

    But it’s all just “Cowboys and Indians” another adventure in imagination, being sold like America sells everything, fake, fake, fake..con men, snake-oil salesmen, gamblers, real-estate salesmen, used car salesmen, it’s all for sale, all the time…

    September 28, 2019, Cuban speech at UN Is non-violent protest any answer to ALL the USA aggression?

    I cannot accept the blockade of the heart that Canadian media displays, about Cuba, as NO reports about the Fantastic Abuses of USA!!!!!

    It strongly suggests that “keeping up with the news” is ridiculous nonsense when the news bends over backwards to please the USA regime, and fills us instead with Hollywood and Disneyland junk candy to distract us all from the evil all around us, bashing away, here and there, the animosity of adversarial politics, when one is full-tilt “beating the competition” with whatever deadly weapons at hand, and on and on we go, spinning the constant web of “other” and the hate that is needed, because you know, life is a battle for survival, screw your neighbor before they screw you. As if “civilization” ever prospered when everyone was an enemy of everyone else.

    If you have “individual politics” and collective religion, it’s dog eat dog. If you have individual spirituality and collective politics you have a chance at peace.

    Damning collective action by trashing socialism is an evil plot against civilization by psychpaths.

    So, dear media worker bees, what will it be, misinform through omission, supporting evil regimes becoming more Fascist and overbearing each day, or rejecting this great difficulty of new Napoleons, wielding power as a weapon against others, instead of using power for positive changes (USA in Paris Accord).

    My Single Focus rests on Trump accepting Paris Accord and becoming Environmentally Responsible. I don’t know how that gets done, can we “unite behind the science” and have a number of nations/leaders propose sanctions against USA? There seems very little actual anti-Trump dynamic in UN, are people overwhelmed by USA “Power”, as if the whole world is being bullied? Aren’t we all responsible for ganging up against bullies? I see clearly, I think, but understand nothing. Some silly “facts of life” you can’t fight USA??? Why is this MESS created by USA NOT being addressed????

    I just don’t understand.

    I am privileged to speak, perhaps, because I have only my senior’s life to lose, which isn’t all that much, and so I am free to tease the lion all I want.

    You can grind me to bits between stones and feed me to a fish farm, I have no fear of attacking USA and its ridiculous foreign policy – only ONE policy – USA Number ONE, largest military, keep a hand in countries around the world to protect the Empire by disrupting all foreign governments. The world is in a mess, and it’s not only USA, but all the other “Power Trippers” who long ago abandoned collective altruism and concentrate on battles against everyone to win, win, win – NO “agreements” NO compromises, NO civilization, which cannot and was not built without tremendous collective efforts by millions over millennia.

    I’m begging that society can be socially responsible – it may be too much to ask…

    Bawb Cawx, A Medium Of Witness And Expression,

    coxrobert9@gmail.com

    Montreal, QC, Canada

    438 375 7199

    On Sat, Oct 19, 2019 at 8:51 PM Writers Without Money wrote:

    > srogouski posted: ” Even with a bad cold and a toothache, I wasn’t about > to miss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorse Bernie Sanders across the street > from the public housing project she saved from Jeff Bezos and Amazon back > in 2018. So I got on New Jersey Transit in Westfield” >

  2. Hope your toothache’s better, but I wouldn’t have gone to the rally. In the first place, I believe the government is the problem, not the solution. Bernie, like the rest of them, have these pie-in-the-sky notions of how the government is going to ride to the rescue of the American people the government has crushed under its excessive rules, regulations, taxes, and, especially, its bloated bureaucracy, replete with cushy government job security, benefits and retirement plans, comfortably invested on Wall Street.

    I know from the inside how brutal the “health care industry” is, and you’re right. It’s all about wealth extraction, including treating people to death or until their insurance and assets are exhausted, whichever comes first. Medicare isn’t “health care.” It’s insurance, mostly Blue Cross, and the insurance companies profit by denying claims and rationing treatment. None of the “Medicare for All” advocates tell us who the “single payer” is, but I guarantee you the government doesn’t do its own work. It contracts its work out to private war contractors and private prisons and private friends all around the world.

    As long as Congress is practicing medicine, the US will remain fat, sickly, and broke. Bernie may be a nice guy, but “Medicare for All,” or abolishing student debt doesn’t guarantee quality of health care or of education.

    1. I believe the government is the problem, not the solution.

      This is worth listening to.

      1. I listened to a few minutes of it but then decided to post a blog I had drafted on vitality and human capital. I will try to watch the rest of that YouTube within the next few days, but must warn you I’m suspicious of economists and Brits so don’t expect to learn anything new.

        1. I’ll sum it up. The idea that “government is the problem” is ruling class propaganda. The rich consider it a problem because, unlike the private sector or the market, it’s an arena where we all get to vote. But since the rich own the media they’ve got us all parroting that Reaganite quote –“government isn’t the solution. It’s the problem” –without thinking. And the rich don’t even believe their own propaganda. They use the government as the solution all the time (e.g. bank bailouts). They just don’t want the rest of us to have the same opportunity.

          1. Voting for two (or three) pre-selected candidates is an empty gesture. What you call “the ruling class” only thinks it rules by buying politicians and lobbying to get favorable legislation. Governments are tools of the ruling class and usually consist of the ruling class (or ruling class hopefuls).

            Laws are not enforced equitably, and the little guy always gets the brunt of the law.

            1. Governments are indeed tools of the the ruling class (as Marx pointed out) but the solution isn’t to reject government altogether. It’s to democratize it, and I believe part of the reason Americans have been so ineffective over the years in seizing control of their own government is because there’s so much ruling class propaganda telling them “no you can’t. Government is bad.” Well if government is so bad why does the ruling class use it so effectively? Maybe the reason they’re always telling us that government is bad is because they’re afraid of what we the people might do with it if we had any real political power. The government we have now is bad, certainly, but an actual democracy would be great. Bernie and AOC are only the first steps forward to that goal. The demand for single payer is a GREAT first step. Let’s spend our tax money on caring for Americans instead of killing people overseas.

              1. A democracy might work in a society of free-thinking individuals, but the US is nowhere near that. Herd mentality rules, with vast numbers of people identifying with particular groups and not ideology. Scratch below the surface of their views, and you will find empty space.

              2. And part of the reason herd mentality rules is propaganda, among which is the constant demonizing of “government” in the corporate media.

              3. Well, Stan, I came to my views on government on my own, from being thrust in the midst of it in the medical field. Doctors are among the most highly regulated professions, but I found the overseers don’t know how to do anything except tell others what to do, and their rules are often preposterous and dangerous.

                Also, I don’t follow corporate media, such as TV, and keep my computer time to a minimum. I do a lot of reading, though, and have read a great deal about American history and economics.

                I think to understand where we are today, it’s important to know the progression to this point. It seems many people are unfamiliar with anything prior to the Great Depression. A surprisingly few people even know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and they surely haven’t read either one.

              4. A surprisingly few people even know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and they surely haven’t read either one.

                They’re both trash documents. One institutionalized slavery. The other advocated for genocide against the Native Americans. Problem is we didn’t have a genuine revolution. We had a seccessionist movement led by slave owners. In the end, they locked us into an elitist constitution with an elitist Supreme Court that prevents any real democracy. The FRENCH, they had a genuine revolution.

  3. Appreciate your conclusion on Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy.

    When I was little, I always heard that WWII ushered in American prosperity. Now I understand that FDR’s New Deal made it possible to build a middle class. Two related, but separate things.

    Bernie gets it. #Bernie2020

    1. I grew up listening to my grandparents whine about how poor they were during the Great Depression. Yet they had a 5 bedroom house, two cars, good health insurance, savings and investments. They never explained how the New Deal made that all possible. Just the opposite. My mother would wag her finger and scold me whenever I asked too many questions. “We don’t talk about politics or religion in this family.”

      I think my family was pretty typical. They were consciously apolitical after Vietnam and the 1960s. Wouldn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. So when Reagan and the Clintons came along to take the New Deal away, none of us didn’t put up any resistance. If only everybody had understood, like Michael Moore, how fragile that “middle class” lifestyle was and just how much it depended on militant political activism and labor organizing.

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