Saturday, March 19, 2016


What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding? - Elvis Costello and the Attractions

What's So Funny 'Bout Democratic Socialism?

“We are socialists because we reject an international economic order sustained by private profit, alienated labor, race and gender discrimination, environmental destruction, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.”
~ Democratic Socialists of America

If we must label ourselves – and normally I dislike labels – just call me a Democratic Socialist.

The term’s been kicked around a lot lately, no doubt because Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders identifies as such. While it didn’t scare or disappoint me to learn that he’s embraced the concept like it did some capitalist millionaire wanna-bes, I realized I couldn’t really define it for my kids (who already think I’m undoubtedly the dumbest human being ever to walk the face of Planet Earth). So I looked it up. Turns out it’s exactly what I am and we all should be.

I visited the Democratic Socialists of America’s website and learned a lot. (Note to readers: I’m not guilty of plagiarism because I’m clearly stating that I obtained this information from another source, which I’ve named, and I don’t feel like rewriting/paraphrasing my source’s words.) I learned that Democratic Socialists are committed to democracy and support reforms that decrease the influence of money in politics, restructure relationships to be more equitable, and give more power to ordinary people relative to their workplaces and our economy.

I learned that Democratic Socialists don’t want to enlarge government bureaucracies; they (we) in fact favor decentralization. We just want social and economic decisions to be made by those affected by these decisions, not corporate bigwigs, puppet politicians and special interests.

I learned that Democratic Socialists want our resources to be used to make life better for the average Joe and Jill, not to make more money for greedy capitalists. (The Koch brothers and Donald Drumpf, anyone?)

I learned that we think the present system undermines what this country is supposed to stand for, e.g. opportunity for all, freedom of speech, civil rights, fair wages for work, a separation between church and state, a commitment to the rights and dignity of all people, gender equality, and the right to organize and bargain collectively and to be protected from greedy, unscrupulous or short-sighted businesses, among other core values.

I learned – I really already knew this but I’m sticking with my format – that the status quo prohibits the viability of third-party efforts. As the Democratic Socialists of America states, “Winner-take-all elections instead of proportional representation, rigorous party qualification requirements that vary from state to state, a presidential instead of a parliamentary system, and the two-party monopoly on political power have doomed third party efforts.”

And I learned that if the Swedes can provide comprehensive public assistance to its citizens, France can advance a nationwide childcare program, Nicaragua can offer literacy programs and Canada can create a national health care system, we ought to move toward these same achievements here at home. (The DSA website also references the government-created health centers of the 1960s that provided community decision-making opportunities and quality family care services.)

How anyone could object to these tenets is a mystery to me, one that I’d like to solve right after I figure out how 15-seed Middle Tennessee beat 2-seed Michigan State University in yesterday’s NCAA basketball tournament.

Now that I know what the term means, I’m jumping on the bandwagon. Call me a Communist. Call me a Johnny-Come-Lately. Call me a bongo drum-playing hippie. Call me a complete and utter dumbass (like my children do behind my back). Just make sure to also call me a pro-choice, universal health care-supporting, Earth-defending, LGBTQ-embracing, anti-nationalist, anti-police brutality, anti-war, anti-racist, anti-sexist, people before profits-believing, Bernie Sanders-loving Democratic Socialist.

If you must label me, that is.

Sources: Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Party USA.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Damn, Misty Copeland!

Everything Must Change - Rachelle Farrell and George Benson

Why I'm Voting for Bernie Sanders

“Choosing to spend our tax money on building our nation instead of endless war is not magical thinking. Magical thinking is when you believe bombing strangers makes you safe.”

~ Bernie Sanders

So I’ve been collecting Sanders memes from my Facebook newsfeed for months. Some are pro-Bernie, some are anti-Hillary and some are informative, providing information on Bernie’s votes and positions on a myriad of issues. If I were to share all of these, “What’s the Diehl?” would surely collapse from the sheer weight. So I’ve decided to share just a few and focus on the guy’s platforms and positions.

But before I do, I want to address this anti-Hillary thing that’s divided friends and families. I’ve respected but opposed Secretary Clinton for a long time – see “Why I’m Not Voting for Hillary Clinton” from last April – because of her positions on issues (chief among them her support for the Iraq war) and because she seems to think her gender makes her deserving of a big desk and comfy chair in the Oval Office. I am NOT a Republican troll working for the GOP and I’m sick of people insisting that if I don’t support Hillary, that means I want Donald Trump to win. I don’t. And I resent being marginalized and labeled a “Bernie bot” because I happen to express, albeit adamantly and repeatedly, my desire to see Sanders behind that big desk on January 20 of next year.

I’m voting for Bernie Sanders in three days because I think the “He’s not beholden to special interests” thing is true and important. If you look at his donors, it’s easy to make the case that he’ll do more to rein in Wall Street. (Nine of his top ten donors are labor unions, not banks, and he’s raised over $10 million from small donors.) And that, to me, is extremely important. That in my mind makes Sanders not the “status quo candidate” but the “change candidate.” And I want change.

I like how Sanders voted against the Iraq war, the Patriot Act and bailing out Wall Street (TARP).

I like how he supports gay marriage and clemency for Edward Snowden.

I like how he doesn’t think we should bomb Syria – my own opinion on this issue has changed, which clearly indicates I don’t have a problem with people changing their positions per se – or censor the Internet.

I like how he supports Glass-Steagall and opposes the death penalty.

I like how he flies coach, rivals Albert Einstein in the hair department and was the poorest U.S. Senator as of last May. (His personal net worth is less than $350,000; his Democratic opponent is worth more than $21 million). These seemingly meaningless tidbits convey to me and many others that the guy’s focus is on work and issues.

I like how he freely identifies as a “Democratic Socialist” – click here to read, “What is Democratic Socialism, Q & A” by the Democratic Socialists of America – and how he’s opposed to for-profit prisons and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

I like how he thinks Arab nations and wealthy Gulf states should lead and finance the fight against IS, supports the noteworthy deal we struck with Iran and has called for reforming the U.S. Defense Department’s budget to reduce waste.

I like how he’s opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline from the beginning, is against offshore oil drilling and proposed a carbon tax to fight climate change.

I like how he supports raising taxes on the super-rich, expanding Social Security and raising the minimum wage to $15/hour. And he opposes a border fence, is pro-choice and wants to demilitarize the police.

I like how he supports free and affordable college, medical marijuana and single-payer health care. (Click here to read, “A Single-Payer System Makes Economic Sense.”)

I heard a tape of Donald Trump – who, as I said in a recent Facebook status, is undoubtedly the biggest jackass I’ve seen in almost 54 years on Planet Earth – ridiculing Sanders for the way he responded to the two Black Lives Matter activists who interrupted his campaign rally in Seattle last August. Trump insisted that he would not have allowed the women to speak or appear weak like Sanders did by doing so.

Back when it happened I criticized the activists – and lost a few Facebook friends – for doing a disservice to the movement they supposedly represented by being so aggressive. But I thought Sanders’ decision to step back and let them speak showed strength, not weakness. People of color are too often silenced by whites and white privilege in this country – as Sanders clearly knows, having become active with the University of Chicago chapter of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) a year before I was born; participating in Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington in 1963; and getting arrested after protesting segregation at a school on the Windy City’s South Side. (He also supported Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential run but I forgive him.) It’s beyond laughable that Trump would chastise Sanders for doing the right thing, fighting the good fight, when Trump was busy being captain of the baseball team at a private boarding school. (Click here to read, “Draft dodger Donald Trump seeks job of U.S. military commander-in-chief” by journalist Nate Thayer.)

Because this clip is so compelling – Killer Mike is near the top of my “People I Dig” list – I’m interrupting my post to share it with my readers:

This is why Bernie Sanders gets my vote. He’s not the lesser of two evils; he’s the candidate that I’ve been waiting for. I don’t think he’ll capitulate, give away the store to conservatives or stoop to the childish, ill-advised, self-serving level of today’s Grand Old Party.

Is there anything I don’t like about the guy? There are two things: I don’t like receiving 27 e-mails each day from him or his surrogates asking for money, and I don’t like how he supports Israel’s “right to defend itself” which, unfortunately and tacitly, is an endorsement of Israel’s excessive – if not criminal – military action against Palestinians. (He does support a two-state solution and has publicly denounced Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu). Other than that, I’m behind the guy 100 percent and hope I don’t have to hold my nose and vote for Ms. Republican-lite in November.

It’s a load of crap that only Hillary can work with Congress to get things done. (It’s true that a change in the composition of Congress is important to the Sanders Revolution.) It’s crap that he lacks the political experience to navigate the waters of D.C. (He was mayor of Burlington, Vermont for eight years and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years; he’s been a U.S. Senator for almost a decade.) It’s tedious to repeatedly hear and read that there’s little difference between Sanders and his Democratic opponent relative to the GOP’s presidential prospects. It’s b*llsh*t that he’s only in this race to force the Democratic party to the left. And it’s just not true that he’s unelectable and people won’t show up at the polls. (Hundreds of thousands have attended Sanders rallies.) If people vote for him, he can win. And that’s what I’m going to do.

For a cool photo essay of Sanders’ early years, click here.

Sources: The New York Times,,,,, Democratic Socialists of America, Brookings Institution, Natural Resources Defense Council.