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Bjorn Against

Bjorn Against's Journal
Bjorn Against's Journal
May 29, 2015

Check the links in the OP, he has been addressing these issues in the campaign

In fact he has been addressing these issues more vocally than any other candidate in the race.

The claim that he has not been addressing these issues in the campaign is clearly false as evidenced by the links in the OP, all of which are less than a year old.

May 29, 2015

No other candidate in this race has been as strong of an advocate for racial justice as Bernie has

There has been a lot of misinformation on this site lately suggesting that Bernie Sanders has been ignoring issues of race. I intend to prove in this post beyond any reasonable doubt that not only has Bernie Sanders talked about racial issues, but he has been a true champion for civil rights. Every example I am providing below of Bernie Sanders speaking out on racial issues is from the past year, I could go back to the 60's when Bernie was involved with the SNCC and marching with Martin Luther King but I don't need to go back that far. In recent months Bernie has spoken out far more than any other candidate on these issues, and here is the proof:

In the wake of continuing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday that he will introduce legislation to address the national crisis of black youth unemployment. In a letter to Senate colleagues, Sanders called for a thorough federal investigation of the Aug. 9 death of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb. “We also must recognize, however, that there is an economic crisis facing our nation’s youth, particularly young African-Americans,” Sanders said. In the St. Louis metro area, almost half of young African-American men are unemployed, Sanders said. Nationwide, the youth unemployment rate today is more than 20 percent and African-American youth unemployment is nearly 35 percent.

“If we are going to address the issue of crime in low-income areas and in African-American communities, it might be a good idea that instead of putting military style equipment into police departments in those areas, we start investing in jobs for the young people there who desperately need them.”

The legislation would provide $5.5 billion in immediate funding to states and localities to employ 1 million young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24.

Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Labor would provide $4 billion to states and local governments to provide summer and year-round employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth. The measure also would award $1.5 billion in competitive grants to provide work-based training to low- and moderate-income youth and disadvantaged young adults.


For those interested in reading Bernie's letter calling for a jobs program to benefit African American youth just follow the link below.


Just earlier this month Sanders spoke out on Baltimore as well...

And in April he spoke extensively about Civil Rights...

And in March he participated on the March on Selma...

Can anyone honestly look at these links and continue to claim that Bernie Sanders has been ignoring people of color?
May 28, 2015

Yes, Bernie can win.

I have heard many people say that Bernie Sanders does not have a chance, I am here to say that those people are wrong. I won't deny that Hillary is starting the race with huge advantages in money, name recognition, and polling numbers. If the election were to be held today she would easily win, I certainly can not deny that reality. While reality does tell us that Bernie would not stand a chance against Hillary if the election were held today, reality also tells us that the election is not being held today and a lot can happen between now and election day.

Here is what needs to happen for Bernie to pull off one of the greatest upsets in American political history.

First Bernie has to start closing the gap in polling numbers between himself and Hillary, a gap that is admittedly massive. The good news for Bernie however is that this gap is almost certain to shrink, Hillary's support has most likely already peaked. When you start out polling as highly as she did the pool of additional voters that she could win over is very small. Many of her current supporters are people who voted against her in 2008, if they voted against her before it is not at all unreasonable to think another candidate could win them over in this election.

It appears inevitable to me that Hillary's polling numbers will drop, of course they have to drop a huge amount for her to fall behind so there is no doubt that closing the gap will be very difficult but Bernie does have a couple of things going for him.

First Bernie's supporters are very passionate and he has a huge presence on social media. This is going to be extremely important because no matter how many small donors Bernie is able to receive assistance from he will never have the funds that Clinton has. With a committed group of volunteers and a big social media presence however it is possible to reach a lot of people without spending a lot of money, if Sanders and his supporters can really tap into social media they can overcome big money as you get far more bang for the buck when you can get volunteers to spread your message for you than you get from relying on ad agencies.

Bernie's history as an independent Senator who is widely respected by Democrats and even some Republicans puts him in a very good position to reach out to a wide range of voters. As much as the media tries to dismiss him as a fringe candidate the fact is he won his last election with 71% of the vote, I realize that it is Vermont but even in Vermont you don't reach 71% of the vote without winning over a broad range of people. Most Vermonters do not consider themselves socialist, yet 71% of them have shown that the word socialist does not scare them. The cold war is over and the word socialist does not carry the sting it once did, Bernie has already shown that by getting elected by huge margins while proudly calling himself a Democratic Socialist.

The fact is that most Americans are not super partisan, huge numbers of Americans consider themselves independents and Bernie's own history as an independent will be valuable in reaching out to these potential voters.

Speaking of reaching out to potential voters, let's face it Bernie has been doing far more to reach out to voters than Hillary has in this campaign. Hillary has not even been talking to the media, and while they try to claim she is bringing her message to voters directly that claim is really just a talking point with little basis in reality. My guess is that most people reading this are voters, I am also quite certain that most of you won't see Hillary reaching out to you directly. Sorry, but speaking to a small group of people in Iowa will not get your message out to the majority of voters.

While most of us have serious problems with the press, the fact is that the press does still play a major role in informing people about the election. Voters generally don't like to see candidates refuse to submit themselves to questions by the press and if Hillary continues to give the impression that she is running away from the press it will backfire on her.

Bernie on the other hand has handled the press beautifully, he has given numerous media interviews over the course of the last month and in all of those interviews he has answered all of the questions without letting the media bait him into focusing on gossip. He has clearly articulated his positions, and while he has managed to use the media to get his message out he has also taken the opportunity to call out that same media for their obsession with gossip over policy.

While I don't deny that Bernie Sanders has a huge mountain to climb, I also think that he is doing a far better job at presenting his message than Hillary is. I may be being optimistic, but I really believe that as long as Bernie can maintain a passionate and commited group of supporters who will help him get his message out he can win. If you want to see that victory then don't let anyone tell you that it can't happen, it may be a tough battle ahead but we can't bring about real change if we don't fight those tough battles.

May 17, 2015

What is silly is your attempt to ignore his actual vote

You seem to want us to believe that what Rand Paul says is more important than what he actually does.

Rand Paul may have given lip service to my side, but it was your side that he stood with when it came time to vote.

May 7, 2015

In this post-Citizens United world debates are essential to the survival of our democracy

In this post-Citizen's United world money can buy a lot of things. Money can flood the airwaves with 30 second ads, money can fill your mailbox with campaign literature, money can rent out stadiums to hold massive campaign rallies for a candidate, but there is one thing that money can not buy in elections.

Money can not buy a good debate performance.

In a political system that has been thoroughly corrupted by big money there are lots of inequalities in our elections, but when our candidates step on to the debate stage together we get to witness a moment in which our candidates are on a relatively level playing field. If a candidate is not able to show that they can grasp the issues that are facing America no amount of money is going to change that on the debate stage. Underfunded candidates can and often do win debates if they have good ideas, the debate stage is the one place in which an underfunded candidate can really compete against their big money opponents.

This is not just about Hillary, or Bernie, or O'Malley, this is about our democracy.

As money becomes further entrenched in our system debates are going to become more important than ever before and we need to be demanding more of those debates, not less.

I think that most of us should be able to agree that the election of our next President is more important than the election of our next American Idol, yet our American Idol contestants will get more time to compete against each other on stage than our Presidential candidates will. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

People are trying to tell me that six debates is enough despite the fact that we had more than three times that many in 2008. They tell me that we should be able to decide who the best candidate is within six debates.

I have to wonder what the public reaction would be if the NFL were to announce that they were cutting the season down to six games because we should be able to decide who the best team is within those six games. I predict that such an announcement would be met with howls of protest across the nation.

The Presidential race is far more important than the race for the Super Bowl, and yet the public reaction to the reduction in the number debates is far more muted than a reduction in the number of NFL games no doubt would be. Considering the election of the next President is so much more important than football, I don't think it is unreasonable to ask the candidates to spend more time on the debate stage than our football players spend on the field each year.

If we want our democracy to survive the onslaught of big money then we need to do everything we can to ensure that we give the underfunded candidates opportunities to compete on equal terms with the big money candidates and debates are one the very best ways to do that.

Debate is essential to our democracy and those who try to limit it need to be challenged vigorously.

May 5, 2015

No, a President Sanders could not work effectively with our corrupt Congress nor would I want him to

I have seen some people questioning whether or not Bernie Sanders could be effective at working with Congress if he were to become President.

I will be the first to admit that I know very well that our Congress is run by politicians who are pretty much completely sold out to the billionaires and they will have no interest in working with Bernie on much of anything.

I also know that Congress has approval ratings which make them roughly as popular as genital herpes. Nothing good is going to come from genital herpes, but maybe we can at least have a President that will not allow the herpes to infect more people.

I don't think I am alone when I say that I don't want a President who will play nice with a Congress that is as thoroughly corrupted as our own. I want a President who is going to fight for change, I don't expect that President to bring change immediately but I do expect them to fight against the status quo.

A President who embraces the status quo will have a much easier time getting their legislation through Congress. Bill Clinton got the Defense of Marriage Act, NAFTA, and welfare reform through quite easily by working with the Republicans in Congress. Hillary Clinton joined a coalition with Republicans in Congress to pass the Iraq War Resolution and the Patriot Act. The Clintons were on the winning side of all of these issues, Bernie Sanders joined the American people on the losing side.

You know what though? I am proud of Bernie for standing with the American people as we have suffered loss after loss. I know we will need him to stand with us through more losses in the future because I am well aware that the wealthy interests are not going to stop their assault on the people of our nation anytime soon.

I know that anytime a person like Bernie steps in to the establishment and tries to change the status quo the billionaire class is going to do everything they can to put roadblocks in his path, but I would rather have roadblocks in my path than to be steered on to a wrong path and end up driving off a cliff.

It is true that if Bernie Sanders were to be elected President the Congress would hand him many defeats, but he will also be able to hand them defeats using his veto pen. I am not worried about Bernie suffering defeats at the hands of an extremely unpopular Congress, I just want to see him get a victoy at the ballot box so I know we will have someone in the White House who will call that Congress out on their corruption.

May 1, 2015

Officer was shot and killed after filing whistleblower complaint alleging police corruption

I will probably be accused of spreading conspiracy theories for posting this, but I am not going to offer you any theories. What I am going to do is post some facts that were reported by major Minnesota news outlets and let you decide for yourself whether or not you think something smells rotten. I am not here to make any accusations, but I do think there are some serious questions that need to be asked about this case.

Last summer Officer Scott Patrick of the Mendota Heights Police Department was shot and killed in the line of duty. I live just outside of Mendota Heights and this shooting happened just a few blocks from my sister's house. Mendota Heights a quiet middle class suburban community just outside of Saint Paul. Police shootings are rare around here so Officer Patrick's murder got a lot of media attention but it was not until this week that some very interesting new details were revealed about Officer Patrick, a man who appears to have been a good cop in a very corrupt police department.

Months before he was killed in the line of duty last year, shot while conducting a traffic stop, Patrick filed a whistleblower suit against the city and its police chief alleging retaliation for reporting two officers he thought stole a picnic bench.

Michelle Patrick will now take her husband’s place in that lawsuit, which is scheduled for trial days before the anniversary of his death. In an order earlier this month, Dakota County District Judge Martha Simonett granted Michelle Patrick’s motion to substitute for her husband in a July 27 jury trial.

“We lost Scott even before he was actually killed,” Michelle Patrick said Thursday, describing the way her husband often brought his displeasure with the department home at night.

Scott Patrick’s original complaint, filed in February 2014 in Dakota County District Court, accused Mendota Heights Police Chief Michael Aschenbrener of retaliating against him for reporting a theft by two other officers in 2008. Patrick also alleged that the department failed to provide adequate written notice regarding the nature of an internal affairs investigation before a 2012 disciplinary hearing.


Officer Patrick's widow is continuing the fight her late husband started, she is working to expose the corruption in the department.

"I have come across some paperwork stuff and learned he was bullied at work,” Michelle said. "And it's really hard because I didn't understand beforehand. He kept a lot he didn't want us to know. I knew things weren't right at work, but I left it up to him to tell us."

According to the lawsuit, the trouble began 7 years ago, when Officer Patrick saw 2 fellow officers moving a picnic table to city hall from the old Lilydale Tennis Club, which was being demolished. Patrick reported what he considered to be a property theft by city employees to Mendota Heights Police Chief Michael Aschenbrener, who, according to the lawsuit, thought it wasn't theft but a "mistake in judgment." Patrick filed a complaint against the chief alleging "a pattern of questionable ethics and criminal violations."


Patrick documented the retaliation -- what he interpreted as payback. One day, his squad car was moved by a sergeant who parked it just inches away from another squad, keeping Patrick, who was admittedly overweight, from getting into his squad. There was also the time a label of rat poisoning was allegedly slipped into Patrick's locker. The officer didn't tell his wife about either incident. Same story with an email he received from the city shortly before he was killed. The city was offering him a settlement, early retirement, to leave the department.


And just days before he was killed, Patrick was suspended once more, for a day, for failing to turn over the audio recordings he'd made documenting his conversations with the chief.


Earlier this year Brian Fitch was convicted of killing Scott Patrick, it must be noted however that no were no witnesses who saw Brian Fitch at the scene of the crime.

ST. CLOUD – Brian G. Fitch Sr. was convicted late Monday for the murder of Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick, a verdict that condemns him to life in prison without parole.

A Stearns County jury of seven men and five women also convicted Fitch of attempted first-degree murder for shooting at three St. Paul police officers who captured him after a shootout.


In his closing arguments prosecutor Phillip Prokopowicz, standing at a lectern facing the jury, said “the time has come” for justice.

He acknowledged the weakest point in the state’s case: No one saw Fitch at the scene of Patrick’s shooting, and witnesses to the crime gave conflicting testimony about who was driving the Pontiac Grand Am that Patrick had pulled over.


As I said in the beginning I am not here to make accusations, what I will say however is that something smells very rotten in Minnesota.
April 28, 2015

It is easy to condemn rioting, it takes much more effort to fix the conditions that lead to rioting

As a person who has participated in literally hundreds of non-violent protests I absolutely hating seeing riots. I know that nearly all protesters are non-violent yet we will all be blamed for the actions of a few who got violent.

It is easy to condemn the violence as I most certainly do, but as we condemn the violence let's not pretend that we can ignore the societal problems that led to this violence.

Baltimore is a city that has suffered a great deal from violence throughout their community. When people are exposed to violence they are more likely to become violent themselves. If we have a society in which the police use violence against the community then we should not be surprised when members of that community respond with violence of their own.

You can say that is no excuse and I would agree with you, it is not an excuse. We should not be looking for excuses however, instead we need to start addressing the root causes of violence so that we can create a society in which people don't feel the need to riot.

I will condemn the violent protesters, but I will support the non-violent protesters as well and I will be joining them in the street in the near future just as I have many times in the past.

I would recommend that everyone who says they support peaceful protest but oppose violent protest to get out there and peacefully protest. If you want to show the rioters a better way then get out there and show them a better way, there are already many peaceful protesters showing that better way and many of us are more than capable of joining them.

March 31, 2015

Why I am standing by Trevor Noah despite his offensive Tweets

Comedy is often filled with offensive material, I don't know that there is a big name comedian out there who is both funny and consistently inoffensive. People have every right to be offended by certain types of humor and I don't think that we should be telling the people that are offended that they need to learn to take a joke. I am not here to defend Trevor Noah's tweets, some people are clearly offended by them and they have every right to be offended. What I am here to do however is to ask people to consider that we should not judge a comedian on the basis of a few bad jokes that were dug up by the media, instead we should look at that comedian's body of work in context and try to get an understanding of who the person really is.

Like most Americans I am just getting to learn about Trevor Noah, prior to yesterday I had only seen one of his segments on the Daily Show. Once I heard he had been selected as the new host I watched a few YouTube videos from him as well as a one hour stand up show that is currently streaming on Netflix. I watched his stand up before I saw the tweets and I am glad I did so because his stage act is far funnier and more insightful than anything you are going to find on a Twitter feed.

I encourage everyone to watch this video as it gives us a much better understanding of who Noah actually is than those Tweets do. This a man who grew up as a mixed race child in apartheid South Africa. Interracial relationships were illegal there at the time so he could never be seen with both parents in public, this is a guy who truly understands what it is like to face oppression. While he is able to joke about the horrors he faced living under apartheid it is also clear that behind his laughter is a guy who realizes that bigotry is deadly serious. In many ways that makes him the perfect host for the Daily Show, this is a show that makes jokes out of the worst things that are taking place in our society without trivializing the wrong doing.

It is easy to look at the tweets that have been dug out from Noah's Twitter account and think they represent his viewpoints, but I would caution against leaping to such a judgment without first becoming familiar with his particular brand of humor. Clearly the jokes in his tweets were unfunny and offensive, but every comedian has jokes that fail and those jokes often fail in ways that really get people upset. I know there were a few times in which I thought Jon Stewart really failed in his attempts at humor, but I can't judge him solely on the basis of the failed jokes he told.

I have heard many people say that these Tweets reinforce their opinion that Tina Fey should have gotten the job, and I will be the first to say that Tina Fey would have made a great host despite the fact that she is also facing accusations of bigotry right now. Yes, you read that right, Tina Fey is right now battling accusations of racism herself. There is a new show on Netflix called "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" which was written largely by Tina Fey and it is facing a lot of criticism for the racial stereotypes in the show. I just saw the first couple of episodes of the series and it is an incredibly funny show, but I can definitely see why some people might find it offensive. This is a comedy about a woman who kidnapped at age 13 and held prisoner for fifteen years by a cult leader who repeatedly raped her, when she escapes captivity she goes to live in New York with a flamboyant gay black man and then finds an Asian boyfriend named Dong. Just by reading that premise it should be clear that this show is going to spark some controversy. The show has received a great deal of critical acclaim and I am sure many people from the groups being stereotyped in the show will love it despite those offensive stereotypes, but there have been a number of people who have been very offended by Fey's writing. Those people are not wrong to be offended, but at the same time I am not going to pick out the offensive jokes that Tina Fey has made and pretend those jokes are representative of her work as a whole.

Al Franken has gone far beyond anything that either Trevor Noah or Tina Fey has said, while he was a writer for Saturday Night Live he made a joke about drugging and then raping Leslie Stahl. There was nothing funny about the joke at all, what he said was absolutely sick and disturbing. My mother and sister actually refused to vote for Franken in his first run for Senate because they were so offended by him. I tried to convince them that Franken should not be judged on the basis of a bad joke he told as a comedian, but they are still upset about that bad joke to this day. I believe that they did both vote for Franken the second time around as they are both quite liberal, but they still have not totally forgiven him for his bad joke and I can understand where they are coming from.

I can also understand where Noah's critics are coming from, but just like I felt Franken should not be judged on the basis of a bad joke I don't think Noah should either. All comedians who tackle controversial issues screw up some times and say things that they really should not say, but I think we do need to be somewhat forgiving and understand that we should not judge people on the worst things they have ever said. I know I have said some things that were pretty offensive in the past when I was trying to be funny and I would not want people to judge who I am as a person based on failed jokes that I have made, I think Trevor Noah deserves the opportunity to move on from his bad jokes as well.
January 17, 2015

Minnesota State Democratic Chair speaks in support of Black Lives Matter Mall of America protesters

Earlier this week ten Minnesotans including influential civil rights attorney Nekima Levy-Pounds and nine other organizers with the Black Lives Matter movement were informed that they facing criminal prosecution. Their "crime" was organizing a peaceful protest at the Mall of America, a building that was built with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and just accepted another $250 million in tax breaks to build a major expansion.

Despite the fact that the public paid for a big chunk of the mall a foreign corporation claims private ownership of it and has set very strict rules to ensure that free speech is not exercised there, they are fine with it when people gather in the rotunda to rally for their favorite sports team but speaking in support of black lives is strictly prohibited.

Bloomington Attorney Sandra Johnson says that the protesters created a "tinderbox" that could have erupted at any moment. Never mind the fact that the protest already happened and was peaceful by all accounts with no property damage or injuries, but Sandra Johnson apparently considers too many black people gathered in one spot to create a "tinderbox".

Sandra Johnson does not just want to charge peaceful protesters as criminals for speaking out in support of black people in a place where doing so is strictly prohibited however, she also wants them to pay for the costs of the riot police that were sent to shut down the mall and intimidate the peaceful protesters.

Charging protesters for the cost of the riot police sent to intimidate them would set a very precedent of course and that is why people across the nation are standing in solidarity with the MOA 10 and demanding the charges against them be dropped.

Today we got a major new ally when Ken Martin chair of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party issued a surprisingly strong statement in support of the protesters who have been charged. Here are his words in full....

On this eve of the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life I am reminded of some very simple but profound words from Dr. King who said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The recent decision by Bloomington City officials to prosecute organizers of the Mall of America protest is not only unjust – but frankly a threat to the very underpinning of our great democracy – the freedom of speech.

Thousands of Minnesotans from all walks of life gathered in a peaceful protest to bring awareness to the issues of inequity facing the African-American community, both here and around the country. Protests give people hope that in solidarity they can make their voices heard and be a catalyst for change within our communities. By charging the organizers of this protest, the City of Bloomington is, whether intentional or not, setting a very dangerous precedent that will have a chilling effect on non-violent protests. When you start to strip individuals of their right to be heard, you take away their hope that change is possible.

While the DFL recognizes that all lives matter, the alarming disparities which exist in our state for African-Americans is unacceptable and deserves acute attention by our community as a whole. The DFL strongly believes that black lives matter, and the short shrift that these growing disparities get by elected officials, community leaders, and the business community is not acceptable.

It is not acceptable that we have some of the highest graduation rates and test scores for white children yet some of the lowest graduation rates and test scores for African-American children. It is not acceptable that we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation as a whole, but one of the highest percentages of unemployed African-American populations. It is not acceptable that in so many quality of life indicators the white population in this state is faring better than communities of color. And it is certainly not acceptable that we charge people with a crime for trying to bring awareness to the inequities which exist in this country.

Dr. King’s march for justice did not end with an assassin’s bullet 47 years ago. While we have made many strides over that time, the recent events suggest that the issues of racial equality are as important as they ever were. So much work remains to reach that promised land that Dr. King so eloquently spoke of.

Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, “You should not separate the life you lead from the words you speak.” As elected officials, community and business leaders gather this Monday to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I urge them to not just speak of racial equality but to live those words and work deliberatively and thoughtfully to address the growing disparities which exist within our community effecting communities of color and specifically the African-American community. It’s not enough to say that black lives matter, we must see actions that provide opportunity for all.


While I always vote Democratic I have often found myself frustrated by the silence of the party leaders when it comes to showing support for those who engage in peaceful protest. Today I am not feeling that frustration however, today I am proud of my state party chair for standing up for free speech and racial equality.

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