Breakfast with Bernie

Let me be upfront, right out of the gate, in saying that I am not a Bernie Sanders supporter, and that this article is going to be very critical of the man’s politics. Let me also be clear that I fully believe Bernie Sanders is an honest man (albeit one who is not immune to personal corruption), who truly believes in his convictions. I truly believe that Bernie Sanders cares about our nation, and, perhaps more to the point, that he cares about the people in it.

I also believe – and in fact, I know – that the most dangerous of despots are true believers in whatever ideology they push. Only someone who is a true believer in something could do terrible things, trying to bring that something to fruition.

Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 8, 1941, and is 77 years old at the time of this writing. Should Bernie Sanders win the 2020 election, he’ll be 79 when he takes office.

Bernie Sanders’ father immigrated from Poland, just a few years after Poland was re-created from Prussia, Russia, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bernie’s father became a salesman. Bernie Sander’s mother was born in New York, the daughter of Polish and Russian immigrants.

One can only imagine what it must have been like to have been raised in a Jewish family, being 3/4ths Polish, during and immediately after WWII. My wife is from Poland, and we travel to Poland every few years. The last time I went, we went to Auschwitz, as well as to a number of the ‘ghettos’ where Jewish people had been held, prior to being sent to Auschwitz. Not only do European Jews have a long history of oppression, but so too does Poland, which from 1795-1918 did not even exist, and which was invaded by both Germany, and Russia, in 1939.

It is no wonder that Bernie Sanders has devoted his life to fighting oppression.

Bernie Sanders was a star basketball player in his Brooklyn public high school, and was also the captain of his high school track team. He attended Brooklyn College for a year, and then transferred to the University of Chicago, where he joined the Young People’s Socialist League (a youth movement of the Socialist Party of America), and studied Political Science. Bernie Sanders was also very active in the Civil Rights movement.

After graduating from college, Bernie Sanders wandered from job to job, first in Brooklyn, New York, and then in Vermont. He worked mostly as a carpenter. In 1971, Bernie Sanders ran for the Governorship of Vermont, on the Liberty Union Party ticket. He lost the 1972 election, and lost again in 1976. Sanders also ran for the Senate in 1972, and 1974, losing both times.

Bernie resigned from the Liberty Union Party in 1977, and took a job as the director of the non-profit group, American Historical People’s Society, where he wrote a documentary about Eugene Debs, the American Socialist Party leader.

In 1980, Bernie Sanders ran for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and served in that capacity for eight years. In 1987, US News and World Reports called Bernie Sanders one of the best mayors in the country, and in 1990, Bernie Sanders ran for, and won, a seat as an independent in the US House of Representatives, where he served until he became a Senator (also as an independent), in 2007.

Bernie still serves in the Senate, and though officially listed as an independent, he caucuses with the Democrat Party, and ran for the Democratic Primary in 2016, where he lost to Hillary Clinton, in a primary most people feel Bernie Sanders would have won, had the Democrats practiced anything resembling ‘democracy’ in their primary process.

Bernie met his first wife, Deborah Messing, in college. They had no children, and divorced in 1966, after two years of marriage. Bernie had a son (Levi Sanders) in 1969, with Susan Mott (they were not married), and in 1988 he married Jane Driscoll, his current wife. Jane brought three children into their marriage, which Bernie raised as his own, and they have seven grand children. It is worth noting that Jane Sanders (Driscoll) became President of Burlington College, in Burlington, Vermont, and ran it into bankruptcy, in a scandal where Bernie Sanders was accused of using his influence as a United States Senator, to help the college secure loans it could not repay.

When Bernie Sanders married Jane Driscoll, in 1988, they honeymooned in the Soviet Union. The honeymoon was billed as an official trip (Bernie was Mayor of Burlington, Vermont at the time), and was paid for by the city of Burlington.

Bernie and his wife have three houses, with an average value of over $650,000, and has a net worth of over $2 million. Bernie has the use of a private jet, paid for by the DNC, which he got in exchange for supporting Hillary Clinton, after losing to her in the 2016 primary.

Bernie Sanders announced his second candidacy for President of the United Sates, just yesterday.

Bernie Sanders lists himself as a Democratic Socialist, and calls for the means of production to be managed and operated by democratic processes, in the interests of the people. He advocates for Medicare for All (socialized medicine), and blames capitalism for the collapse of Venezuela, on the grounds that once Hugo Chavez (who Bernie Sanders strongly supported) eliminated profit as an incentive, those dirty capitalists stopped producing the goods and services Venezuela needed to survive.

Bernie has a mixed record on gun rights, voting against the Brady Bill, but supporting a ban on ‘assault rifles,’ as well as calling for gun companies to be legally liable for any crimes committed with their products. Bernie has also called for the CDC to study firearms as if gun ownership were a disease.

Bernie Sanders has a mixed record on immigration, being largely against high levels of legal immigration, on the grounds that legal immigrants compete with Americans for jobs, while also supporting the Dream Act, and various welfare programs (including free college and healthcare) for illegal immigrants.

Bernie wants to eliminate income inequality, wants all employees to be unionized, and wants employers to be forced to give parental leave, sick leave, and generous vacation benefits. He wants to remove the cap on the payroll tax, and use the increased proceeds to expand Social Security.

Bernie Sanders has been a vocal opponent of every free trade agreement he has seen, and heavily criticized Donald Trump for appointing billionaires into his cabinet – believing that billionaires should not be able to serve on Presidential cabinets.

Bernie is a supporter of Black Lives Matter, believing that police brutality is an epidemic problem, and he wants to dramatically reduce the number of people in prison. He considers himself a pro-choice feminist, and denounces the institutional racism he claims is ‘a part of the very fiber of our country’.

Bernie denies being a communist, in spite of the fact that during his 2016 Presidential run, he decried the number of brands of deodorant on the market, in a country that still has children starving, indicating that he either believes in central planning, or in feeding children deodorant (the exact quote was ‘You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country.’). Bernie also spoke of the Soviet Union in glowing terms, after spending his honeymoon there, at taxpayer expense.

Bernie supports the Green New Deal, and wants to break up our nation’s banks. He wants a $15 minimum wage, and wants women to make a higher hourly wage then men, such that women are paid the same amount as men in spite of working, on average, fewer hours.

Bernie Sanders is a vocal advocate of campaign finance reform, wanting to ban all private financing, forcing people running for office to campaign with government-provided funds only. This would also give government the power to decide who can, and who cannot, run for office…

There are some issues I actually agree with Bernie on. I don’t believe the government should carve up our banks, but I do believe we should let them fail, and like Bernie Sanders, I would like to see an end to private prisons. Other than that, I view Bernie Sanders as a well-meaning nut case, who, in his quest to help the downtrodden, would destroy our country.