Thursday, February 25, 2016

Disappeared Warriors

Sorry to say, our nation has a long history of neglecting those who serve in our military. 

From the days of the American Revolution, when Congress neglected to pay veterans, finally deciding instead to grant them American Indian land in Ohio as payment for service during the war; to post World War I, when Pres. Herbert Hoover ordered Gen Douglas MacArthur to ride-down thousands of “Bonus Army” veterans, along with their wives and children, who were camped in a “Hooverville” on the Anacostia Flats. The U.S. Army attacked the Vets, killed two, beat others, destroyed the Vets’ shelters and burned their belongings. (1.)

Today, the military does not beat most Vets when they ask for just compensation. Instead, the people making the decisions, just assign the Vets to the legions of the “disappeared”… no longer visible… and no longer due benefits.

It’s just another disconnect - one more way we have disconnected our heart from our society.

Joshua Kors: How to Uncover a Military Conspiracy

1. Many of the war veterans had been out of work since the beginning of the Great Depression. The World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924 had awarded them bonuses in the form of certificates they could not redeem until 1945. Each service certificate, issued to a qualified veteran soldier, bore a face value equal to the soldier's promised payment plus compound interest. The principal demand of the Bonus Army was the immediate cash payment of their certificates. See:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Our Society is Simply Not Working

Many people I know are having a hard time of it.

They are going paycheck-to-paycheck; struggling with overwhelming debt; hate how they are being treated at work; lost all their savings in Depression.2; and suffering from illness, too.

Add in a terrible feeling of foreboding and we have a perfect storm brewing. People are upset and getting more forlorn by the day.

It’s painfully obvious now that both the Tea Party Republicans and the Progressives are actually leaning together (toward Trump.... Oh, My!). Everybody knows there is a terrible disjunction between our society – I call it American Predatory Capitalism – and the wellbeing of us all. Said another way, the American Dream is not there or fading away, except a very select few.

What is particularly sad is that our leaders, as well as the “corporate media”, are still laying blame on the victims of our dysfunctional society for the inherent, appalling failings of our society.

For example, recently I listened to a Michigan State Representative lecture a WUOM reporter about the Flint water crisis.

State Representative Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, said the $30 million recently approved by the State for Flint residents to pay their water bills was a “fair” amount.

Pscholka pontificated: “Yeah, maybe you couldn’t drink it, you couldn’t cook with it,” he said, “but there’s other things, there were other uses, the water was used, so there should be some payment for that.” (1.)

The reporter didn’t ask the most obvious follow-up question:

Since the water was, and still is, poisoned with lead (among other things) and the lead has corroded the residents’ water heaters, clothes washing machines and dishwashers to the point of dysfunction, to say nothing of the pipes and service lines to their homes, when is the State of Michigan going to replace all of the household appliances in Flint, MI?

Replacement is “conservatively” estimated to cost about $4,000. (2.) That’s four grand per household.

About 100,000 people live in Flint... Peoplejust like the rest of us… even though they call Flint home. They are the victims. They will never... never... regain their health due to a screw-up by the State of Michigan.

When the next crisis comes to light, will the Al Pscholka’s of the world find fault with those victims as well and bill them for unknowingly using their poisoned water?

1. Mich. House poised to adopt funds to help Flint with water bills, Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio, WUOM, 17 Feb 2016.

2. Costly repairs to water heaters, pipes may fall to Flint homeowners, Mark Guarino, The Washington Post, 23 Jan 2016.

More, Here:
Flint volunteer: "The joke is, 'We're not from the government, we're here to help you.'", Josh Hakala, Michigan Radio, WUOM, 18 Feb 2016.

More, Here, Too:
The Movement
We are the local, world non-movement of all living things... Really.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

About Those Chickens

Chickens Talkin' Amongst Themselves. (Apologies to Chicken Run.)
Chickens do come home to roost.*

If you're one of those obstructive-type people in Congress, this year is not a good time to keep do' what you been doin'... that is obstructing.

This time, those chickens will come home to roost... if you don't do your job and honor your sworn duty.

The People are watchin' and they are already not a happy lot.

Come this November they get to vote their unhappiness.

So, Congress people, take care of your chickens... let America Work Again by fillin' that empty job on the Supreme Court.

*Bad deeds or words return to discomfort their perpetrator.

For more go here: See: Why Is the Empty Supreme Court Seat Such a Big Deal?,
Eric Ravenscraft, 15 Feb 2016,

Friday, February 12, 2016

Leverage to Help

It's Friday! Time for Random Acts of Kindness.11

There was no requirement. No one was forcing her. Yet, she did it.

She helped.

Ellen Degeneres used her position and friendships to leverage more than $500,000 in computers, building materials, skilled labor and cash to help one Detroit school.

Ellen, you have made a difference again.

Please go here for the video, and here for the story.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What's the Challenge?

By Ron Baker

I recently discovered a photo which underscores a challenge that is coming into focus. It's not that the challenge is new. In fact it's been confronting humanity since the beginning of time.

It's just that now the looming U.S. Presidential election has put it into a spotlight of sorts.

Is it fear of the “other”, religious fundamentalism or just plain old stupidity reeking from this photo? Regardless, the candidates have become adept at playing these cards when it comes to getting votes and media attention.

The challenge is: will we, the voters, accept or reject these centuries-old "misinformation" tactics in this election?

Above photo first posted in 2014:
Holly Fisher, aka "Holly Hobby Lobby," a Christian mother from West Virginia
In the meme, that photo is side-by-side with an image of Sherafiyah Lewthwaite, an international terrorist known as the White Widow who is part of the Al-Shabaab Islamic militant group. The meme, which shows Lewthwaite in a similar stance while holding a gun and a copy of the Quran, says: “Explain the difference.”

Difference? I can kill you without having to kill a bikini...while eating bacon...and having a margarita.

— Holly Hobby Lobby (@HollyRFisher) July 6, 2014

Who Is Holly Fisher? ‘Holly Hobby Lobby’ Now An Internet Meme Called The ‘American Taliban’, by Nadine Deninno

“A Christian mother from West Virginia is receiving equal parts hate and support for her controversial views online and is now the subject of a widely shared Internet meme."

“Holly Fisher is a newly minted Internet celebrity famous for speaking out about her political beliefs about guns, abortion, health care and other hot button political issues. Nicknamed “Holly Hobby Lobby” for her support for the the Supreme Court’s controversial decision last week, Fisher is now the face of a Twitter meme many are calling the “American Taliban.”

“The image making the rounds on Twitter shows Fisher standing in front of the American flag holding a gun and a copy of the Holy Bible. (Fisher herself posted the photo.)"

“Biggest complaint I'm getting about my #HobbyLobby pic is there's no gun, bible, or flag. Tried to make up for it — Holly Hobby Lobby (@HollyRFisher) July 4, 2014"

“In the meme, that photo is side-by-side with an image of Sherafiyah Lewthwaite, an international terrorist known as the White Widow who is part of the Al-Shabaab Islamic militant group. The meme, which shows Lewthwaite in a  similar stance while holding a gun and a copy of the Quran, says: 'Explain the difference.'"

“Difference? I can kill you without having to kill a bikini...while eating bacon...and having a margarita.

— Holly Hobby Lobby (@HollyRFisher) July 6, 2014

“My new nickname is ‘American Taliban’ it seems. You know how I know the lefties don't really think I'm a terrorist? They hate me,” Fisher wrote on Monday in response to the backlash.

“In other tweets, Fisher wrote to her 34,000+ followers:  “Jihad Barbie. That means they think I'm pretty, right?” and, ‘I'm not a terrorist, but my husband has killed a few. #ftw.’”

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Will Fascists Take the U.S. this Election?

by Ron Baker

Personally, I've tried to ignore Donald Trump.

But, for me at least, his win in the New Hampshire primary now makes him a legitimate Republican candidate. Why? Because 97,188 (53%) of Republican voters chose him.

Much to my dismay, I am now forced to consider him what he rightfully has become - a viable candidate for the Presidency of the United States. This man can actually win the election.

So, what does he believe?

Noting his speaking style, lack of substance and pandering to basic fears, Trump seems to be more akin to past Fascists than recent American politicians.

Dr. Robert Paxton, Professor Emeritus of History, at Columbia University, the leading “Fascism expert”, recently described Trump as a self-indulgent demagogue speaking on behalf of oligarchy rather than a Fascist. He listed the determining characteristics for the Fascist label as: "drawing openly upon Nazi symbolism and employing physical violence".*

Unfortunately, all we have to go on is Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his personal “style” - his “mobilizing passions”, as Dr. Robert Paxton calls them.

Another leading expert on Fascism, Dr. Richard Steigmann-Gall, Associate Professor of History at Kent State University, points to Dr. Paxton’s work and concludes differently:

“In spite of his recent insistence that he’d need to see “identically colored shirts” to take the question of Trump seriously, Robert Paxton has been one of the most persuasive advocates for taking a deeper view. Weary of the “bestiary” approach of describing fascism by its appearances, in his magnum opus from 2004 The Anatomy of Fascism, Paxton seeks instead to explain how fascism understood itself; the social traction of fascism as a political movement; and what kinds of political and economic conditions were necessary for it to grow and eventually succeed. Rather than presenting a series of unalterable criteria that read like a check-list, Paxton shows how fascism develops in context, embodying and taking advantage of a series of “mobilizing passions” to build and maintain a following.  The leading of these passions include:

  • An overwhelming sense of crisis that cannot be solved by traditional methods; 
  • The subordination of the individual to the group and the maintenance of group purity; 
  • The group’s belief that it is a victim; 
  • The need for the authority of a natural chief, whose qualities and instincts rise above abstract reason; 
  • The use of exclusionary violence as part of an effort to reverse perceived decline. 

“In all of these ways, Trump not only reveals that he is indeed fascist, but perhaps even more importantly that his followers – even as some of them are in the habit of describing their own enemies on the left as “fascist” and who have loudly professed their disinterest in a caudillo – are actively seeking fascist solutions to problems that ail them.”

Following his New Hampshire win, Mr. Trump has become the exemplar of the 21st Century American Fascism movement. The question remains, Will Fascists Take the U.S. this Election?

*Is Fascism Back?, Robert O. Paxton, Project Syndicate, 7 Jan 2016
Dr. Paxton is Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University, the author of The Anatomy of Fascism, Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944, Parades and Politics at Vichy, and Vichy France and the Jews.

**One Expert Says, Yes, Donald Trump is a Fascist. And It’s Not Just Trump, Richard Steigmann-Gall,, 5 Jan 2016 
Dr. Richard Steigmann-Gall is Associate Professor of History at Kent State University, where he served as the director of the Jewish Studies Program from 2004 to 2010.  He has published widely on fascism, Nazism and antisemitism.  His book, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, came out in 2003 through Cambridge University Press.

Historical Perspective

Rachel Maddow (12/9/2015) Donald Trump policy ideas, with fascism. Video not accesilbe. Please go here for the story: Is America ready to use the term “fascist” in our political discourse? Rachel Maddow explores how Donald Trump has mainstreamed extremism
America is slowly coming to grips with Trump's flirtation with fascism VIDEO, Sophia Tesfaye, Salon, 9 Dec 2015. Stay with Maddow a couple of minutes to see the historical connections.

Monday, February 8, 2016

How are Your Tools?

Proverb Story: A Bad Workman Blames His Tools.  
By Gail Albin
There was a little girl named Aaina who was seven years old. She lived with her parents and three brothers on a sheep ranch about one hundred miles from Melbourne, Australia. She liked to play with the baby lambs. If the mother sheep had trouble nursing the lamb, Aaina would feed them with a bottle and nipple. Sometimes Aaina would braid long grasses and make a nice hat for the baby lamb.

Aaina’s ranch was hundreds of acres. Sometimes her brothers would shepherd the sheep just like Moses from the Bible. They had to get grasses to eat. Australia is a dry continent and does not get a lot of rain.  The brothers would bring the sheep back at night for water and for safety. There are wild dogs in the Outback who are always looking for a nice meal.

Aaina’s oldest brother Malcolm was told by his father that his job was to keep all of the fences mended. Malcolm did not like to work. He was more interested in playing footie (football) with his mates (friends). Sometimes he would hurry with his work so he could meet his mates at the hotel (tavern) and have a few beers.

One night the sheep got out through a hole in the fence. Aaina’s father was very upset with Malcolm. “How did the sheep get out, you are supposed to keep the fences mended, what happened?” Malcolm said that his fence mending tools were old and starting to rust and that must have been the problem. He blamed poor tools on his poor and hurried work.

O.K., I know most of us don't literally mend fences and don't have the tools mentioned above. But, we all use tools - computer skills, software, etc. Perhaps, it's time to checkout the most recent version... clean off the "rust" and discover that you can really shine. - RB

Saturday, February 6, 2016

What's American Socialism?

We have a choice when we live in this world.
We can help each other, fight each other, or remain out of the game, until one of the other groups interferes with our lives.

As I see it, it’s most often that the “fight each other” people have interfered with my life. On the other hand, the “help each other” people have given me, or ensured that I could have, a chance to live my life so that it is worth living - that is happy, reasonably secure and fulfilling.

In fact, it has been the result of their help I’ve received throughout my life that I’ve recently launched a nonprofit organization, The Movement – The Non-Movement, under the “prime directive”: We are All Partners in This Life. First, We Agree to Help Each Other. I believe that for the rest of my time on this earth I must devote my energy to "paying forward" to others the help which I received.

With that thought in mind, the other day I read disparaging comments made by several presidential candidates against Sen. Bernie Sanders because he declares himself to be a Democratic Socialist.

Honestly, I didn’t know what a Democratic Socialist believes. For that matter what is American Socialism?So, I sought to enlighten myself.

I discovered that I’m more akin to Democratic Socialism than to the American-Style Predatory Capitalism which has been in charge of my life, especially during the past Depression.2, which some call the Great Recession of 2008.

Here’s the article I discovered: 75 Ways Socialism Has Improved America
75 Ways Socialism Has Improved America, 
By TheNewDeal00, 29 Mar 2012, Daily Kos.

This is a repost of a blog I wrote last year.
You can see the original here. It's exactly the same except the original has photos!

I just wanted to bring this back in hopes of sparking a real, rational conversation about socialism.
I feel the narrative around common sense, Democratic Socialism is constantly negative and too many liberals are afraid to associate themselves with the word.

Socialism is not a bad thing. It benefits each and every one of us in one way or another.
"Below the Fold" shows 75 ways socialism has improved, shaped, and built America.


There is nothing more feared and hated in America.

The word alone sends shivers down the spine of the American people.

Those three syllables conger up images of Big Brother Government ruling over us all, telling us what to eat, wear, buy, and think. Our children in national uniform being indoctrinated with propaganda in government education camps that use to be schools, turning them into little slaves. While their parents work twelve hour shifts in the concentration camp that slaughters rich successful billionaires, as the poor and needy get a million dollars a month in welfare. A murderous government waging a war against freedom and liberty to gain complete control over everyone and everything.

You know, the way things were under that socialist Bill Clinton. And the way things are now under that socialist Barack Obama.

They imagine the USSR and how Democrats are turning America into it because our government will give money to poor people so they don't starve to death. (Giving money to billion dollar corporations is NOT socialism somehow. You would be a communist and a hippie to think otherwise.)

This is scary stuff!

And it's about to get scarier, because I have some terrifying news for you....

Socialism is alive and well in America and it has been here for a very long time!

Oh, that's not all. it gets much worse! I hope your sitting down...

As it turns out, You love socialism and you use it everyday, and you may not even know it! It may have even saved your life. I know, this is bad...

Now relax and breath. It's going to be okay! We are going to get through this.

You see, we are still a capitalist nation. In America, you can still make a billion dollars, get a giant tax cut, and pay your employees barely enough to survive while you sail in your yacht to escape any guilt that might inconvenience you. So don't freak out just yet!

The thing is, socialism is all over America and people actually like it. Even you... Yes you!

I know, I know. You're a conservative that believes in freedom and the constitution. You hate handouts and believe in hard work and the individual. You think government should get out of the way and let you live your lives and allow you to prosper on your own. You know that all rich people must have worked hard and all poor people are lazy. There is no other reason why they could be poor considering life is completely fair and all people are born into situations and environments that allow them to have all the opportunities and blessings that you had. There is no fathomable way they could have 2 or 3 jobs they work very hard at but still can't make ends meet. You got it all figured out.

But still, even you get your kicks from a little socialism every now and then.

Don't think of this as an intervention, think of it as a coming out of the closet party. We know you are a closet socialist. It's okay, you are amongst friends and we support you. Besides, we always knew...

Socialism is taxpayer funds being used collectively to benefit society as a whole, despite income, contribution, or ability.

Sounds horrible, huh?

Well I hate to be the one to tell you, but Socialism, which you have been told to fear all your life, is responsible for all this...

1. The Military/Defense - The United States military is the largest and most funded socialist program in the world.  It operates thanks to our taxpayer dollars and protects the country as a whole. From the richest citizens to the homeless who sleep under the bridge. We are all protected by our military whether we pay taxes or not. This is complete socialism.

2. Highways/Roads - Those roads and highways you drive on every single day are completely taxpayer funded. Your tax dollars are used to maintain, expand, and preserve our highways and roads for every one's use. President Eisenhower was inspired by Germany's autobahn and implemented the idea right here in America. That's right, a republican president created our taxpayer funded, national highway system. This was a different time, before the republican party came down with a vicious case of rabies that never went away.

3. Public Libraries - Yes. That place where you go to check out books from conservative authors telling you how horrible socialism is, is in fact socialism. Libraries are taxpayer funded. You pay a few bucks to get a library card and you can read books for free for the rest of your life.

4. Police - Ever had a situation where you had to call the police? Then you have used a taxpayer funded socialist program. Anyone can call the police whether they pay taxes or not. They are there to protect and serve the community, not individuals. This is complete socialism on a state level, but still socialism all the same. Would you rather have to swipe your credit card before the police will help you?

5. Fire Dept. - Hopefully you have never had a fire in your home. But if you have, you probably called your local taxpayer-funded fire department to put the fire out. Like police, this is state socialism. You tax dollars are used to rescue your entire community in case of a fire. It use to be set up where you would pay a fee every month to the fire dept. for their service. If you didn't pay, they let your house burn down. Sadly, a man from Tennessee had this exact situation happen to him in 2011 because he didn't pay his $75.00 fee. I guess that small town in Tennessee would rather let people's houses burn down that resort to evil socialism. So don't take for granted the fact that you have a 24/7 fire dept. to put out your burning home thanks to socialism.

6. Postal Service - Like having mail delivered directly to your front door and paying next to nothing to send mail anywhere you want? Well it's all made possible by socialism.

7. Student Loans and Grants - Did you go to College? If you did, you family might not have been rich enough to pay your way through. So you got your education anyway through student loans and grants from the federal government at taxpayer expense. Of course you have to pay back the loans, but if not the government, did you know anyone else who was going to lend you tens of thousands of dollars? Probably not. So the taxpayers lent you the money and you paid it back with slight interest. The government grants you accepted were gifts from the taxpayer and the federal government that you did not have to pay back. Socialism got you through school.

8. Bridges - Along with our highways, our government used your taxpayer dollars to build bridges. This allows the public to travel across rivers without having to sail or swim.

9. Garbage Collection - Like having your garbage collected once a week instead of having to drive it to the landfill yourself? Thank socialism.

10. Public Landfills - Taxpayer dollars are used to have places to dump all of our garbage that is collected by taxpayer funded garbage men.

11. War - That's right! War would not be possible without socialism. Your tax dollars are used to fight wars for your country. This is Big Government at it's biggest. Private companies don't attack other countries, at least not yet. Government is the only entity in America that can defend us from foreign enemies and our tax dollars are used for every second of it. Socialism has brought down Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Bin Laden. War may very well be the most socialist thing on this list.

12. Farm Subsidies - Our government uses taxpayer funds to pay farmers and businesses to provide their income and keep them growing food for the public.

13. CIA - The Central Intelligence Agency is vital to America's security. The CIA is completely taxpayer funded to protect the public from enemies.

14. FBI - The Federal bureau of investigations is a taxpayer funded government agency.

15. Congressional Health Care - As Republicans in congress warn us of the evils of government-run health care, most of them are covered by taxpayer-funded government-run health care. You literally pay for their health care while they tell you that paying for your neighbors health care through a public option or single-payer system is socialism. They are 100% correct, it is socialism. They're just not telling you that they like their socialist health care, they just don't think you should have it. They are afraid you might like it better than the private insurance you have now that funds their campaigns and gives them money to push what is best for them and not for you. Members of congress are free to opt out of their evil government health care, but most of them don't because deep down, they like socialism too.

16. Polio Vaccine - In the 1950's polio ravaged the United States. Until Dr. Jonas Salk invented a cure, finally ridding America of this terrible disease. Dr. Salk could have sold his vaccine in the free market and made millions and millions of dollars. Instead he gave it to the federal government to begin eradicating polio. He said that he made plenty of money as a scientist and felt it was too important to try and profit from or create a business around.

17. EPA - Republicans hate this taxpayer-funded government program because they have the nerve to tell corporations that they may have to follow environmental rules ad regulations for the greater good of the earth and the people who live on it. But if you don't like breathing mercury, drinking dirty water, and breathing in chemicals, you should like this example of socialism working for the people.

18. Social Security - You pay a tax to help ensure that our grandparents and senior citizens of America have money to live off of when they are retired or too elderly to work. I love hearing rich people bitch about this one because the truth is that they do not pay a social security tax, like most payroll taxes. This little piece of socialism helps prevent our senior citizens from sinking into poverty and starving to death.

19. Museums - Many museums are privately owned by organizations and groups, but many are also taxpayer-funded state, national, and federal museums.

20. Public Schools - Can't afford to send your children to an expensive private school? Thanks to socialism and government, you child can still get an education. Public education has been under attack for decades in this country by the radical right because public schools don't teach Christianity to your children and it enables people like Barack Obama to work hard, gain scholarships, and eventually become President of the United States.

21. Jail/Prison System - Many murders and criminals are behind bars right now and not out on the streets because of our taxpayer-funded, federal and state run jails and prisons. Taxpayer money is collected and used to help protect all of society from murders, molesters, rapist, etc. I know there's a lot of disagreement and controversy about how to handle our prison system, but I think we can all agree that serial killers should not be freed into society. There are also many private prisons in the United States. However, they have a higher escape rate than their socialist counterpart. Besides, don't you see the bad incentives in having a private prison system that profits from having people in prison? Since a business's  top goal is to make more money than the year before, the only feasible agenda would be to get everyone in prison.

22. Corporate/Business Subsidies - This is the type of socialism that is acceptable in the Republican party. You tax dollars are given to big corporations to do things they should be doing anyway out of morals and ethics. Like not sending jobs overseas and hiring people. Wouldn't you like a nice big check just for not breaking the law? To be fair though, many businesses do earn their subsidies by advancing green technology and practice, donating to charity, helping communities, etc. They aren't all bad. People just get mad when big billionaire oil companies get billions of their taxpayer dollars while they're paying $4 at the pump. For the corporations that don't earn their subsidies other than donating to their very own political party, it's merely welfare. Though however you look at it, it is socialism.

23. Veteran's (VA) Health Care - Our soldiers bravely go to foreign countries and risk their lives at the request of their government and the American people. For those who survive, we as a country feel committed and obligated to ensure that they have everything they need for the rest of their lives for their service to us in which we could never fully repay. So we the taxpayers fund their health care in a government-run single-payer system for veterans. Many soldiers return with mental and/or physical health issues that would cost them thousands in a private health care plan. Socialism funds the military, the overall war, and also takes care of our troops when they return home.

24. Public Parks - Like going to the park on a sunny day? Just being able to walk right in, or at the worse pay a small fee? This is once again the work of socialism. If it were private, it wouldn't be a park, it would be someones back yard. That small or non-existent fee will turn into a $15 fee faster than you can say "No Trespassing".

25. All Elected Government Officials - From the Supreme Court, to the President of the United States and all the way down to the County Dog Catcher, taxpayers pay their salary and provide the funding for them to do their job. We pay for every aspect of their job. So in a sense, I guess you could say our whole country is run on socialism.

26. Food Stamps - Republicans fill with bitter contempt knowing that our government at the expense of the taxpayer is giving poor people money to buy food they couldn't otherwise afford. This, like welfare, is what the right thinks socialism is all about, along with mass murder. However, just like corporate welfare, welfare is socialism. I'll just end this one with a quick story. I have been down and out in periods of my life and sought assistance via food stamps. Even though I was what anyone would consider poor, I was not poor enough to get food stamps. Which means people who do get them, must really, really need them. As far as my personal experience, they weren't thrown around like candy the way the right would have you believe.

27. Sewer System - Do you like having a sewer system to remove waste and prevent pollution and disease from seeping into our environment? Thank the taxpayers of America and the socialist system it operates in.

28. Medicare - Medicare is one of the most liked socialist programs in America. Most of us don't mind paying taxes to provide our senior citizens with health care and hope the next generation will do the same for us. If you don't believe me, just look at almost any poll. Most seniors would not be able to afford private health care. So this form of socialism is a life saver for this nation's grandparents and senior citizens.

29. Court System - Whether it's the murder trial of the century or a case in a small claims court, the taxpayers of America fully fund our courts and legal process. You may pay for your own lawyer, but the courtroom, judge, and jury is paid for through socialist means.

30. Bird Flu Vaccine - You don't have bird flu right now and probably aren't worried about it because our federal government used taxpayer funds to pump vaccines all over America.

31. G.I. Bill - The G.I. bill allows veterans to pursue an education by using taxpayer dollars to help them pay for most of their schooling. It also helps them with loans, savings, and unemployment benefits.

32. Hoover Dam - Remember when our country use to build things? Our government built the Hoover Dam using taxpayer funds. It is now a vital source of power for the west coast.

33. State/City Zoos - American families have been going to the zoo for generations. A place where kids and adults can have fun seeing creatures and animals from all over the world and learn at the same time. Many zoos are ran by the state and/or city, using taxpayer funds to operate and even bring the animals to the zoo.

34. IRS - I know, the IRS is about as popular and well liked in America as a hemorrhoid, but think about it. The IRS is the reason that we have anything. The IRS collects taxpayer funds for the federal government. The government then dispenses these funds to our military, states, and social programs. If there is no one collecting taxes, no one will pay them. If no one pays taxes, our country shuts down. Without money to operate, nothing operates. This may sound like a good thing to some radical republicans, but for those of us with sense, we know this means anarchy in the USA. The IRS gets a bad rap because if you don't pay your taxes or owe them money, they can be ruthless. Like everything else, the IRS is not perfect, but without them we literally have no country or no means to run it.

35. Free Lunch Program - Some children are living in poverty by no fault of their own. I'm not saying it is even their parents fault, but you surely cannot blame a child for the situation they are born into. In most if not all states, there are programs where children who live in poor households can receive school lunch for free. The taxpayers of the state pay for this. Sounds like socialism to me, and also the moral and Christian thing to do.

36. The Pentagon - Our defense system in America is a socialist system from top to bottom. We as taxpayers fund the pentagon completely.

37. Medicaid - Our government uses taxpayer funds to provide health care for low-income people. Republicans, the compassionate Christians that they are, absolutely hate this program. What they fail to understand is that when people can't afford to pay their outrageous medical bills, they don't. This bill does not disappear. The loss that the insurance company, doctor's office, or hospital takes gets passed down to everyone else. So covering people and giving them a low-income option reduces costs for them and everyone else. This is the main argument behind a health care mandate. It's not to force you to buy health care out of cruelty. If everyone is covered, costs drop for everyone. If you have no compassion for the uninsured, you can at least understand the rational in a selfish sense.

38. FDA - The Food and Drug Administration is far from perfect. It is infested with corporate corruption and they have been wrong many, many times. Countless times they have approved things that they later have to apologize for and have banned things that would have helped people. However, they have also stopped many harmful foods and products from being sold to the public and protect us everyday from poisons being disguised as products. While not perfect, they are needed to prevent harmful food and drugs from being sold to you and you family. Without them, corporations can send whatever they want to your supermarkets and drug stores without any testing or evaluation. I don't mind my taxes going towards a middle man to inspect the safety of the products we are being sold everyday.

39. Health Care for 9/11 Rescue Workers - After beating back GOP obstruction, Democrats finally passed a bill last year to allow government to help 9/11 rescue worker's with their health care after many came down with horrible lung diseases from the toxins they breathed in rescuing people from smoldering buildings. These brave citizens risked their lives and health to help complete strangers. They deserve more, but covering their health care is a good start.

40. Swine Flu Vaccine -  Do you have swine flu right now? Then thank government and the socialist structure.

41. Disability Insurance (SSDI) - For those who are disabled and cannot work, our government provides an income for them via taxpayer dollars as opposed to the other option of letting them starve to death.

42. Town/State Run Beaches - Like going to the beach? Like it when the beach is clean and safe? Like having lifeguards on staff in case of an emergency? Then once again, thank the taxpayers and the socialist structure that makes it all possible.

43. Corporate Bailouts/Welfare - The whole point of this post is to prove that we ALL use, benefit from, and like socialism. This example is a form of socialism that the republicans not only like, but fight tooth and nail for. They don't like it when socialism is used for working/poor people, but when it's for millionaires and their corporate donors, socialism becomes as American as apple pie. The middle/working class who are the majority of taxpayers pay for welfare for corporations and people who have more money than all of us combined. When our government bails out a bank or gives a subsidy to a billion dollar corporation, you are paying for it.

44. State Construction - Ever see those construction workers in your town fixing potholes, erecting buildings, repaving highways and roads, and fixing things all over town? They themselves and the work they do is taxpayer-funded state socialism.

45. Unemployment Insurance - All your working life, you pay payroll taxes. Some of these taxes go toward a program that temporarily provides for people who lost their jobs until they can find another one.   You pay for others, others pay for you. Especially these days, you never know when you might lose your job. You may need temporary assistance until you get back on your feet. The government recognizes this. UI also keeps the economy moving in times of recession because people still have some money in their pockets to buy goods and promote demand.

46. City/Metro Buses - If you lack transportation, you can catch a city bus. Taxpayer funds and the fee you pay to take the bus make it possible for millions of people to go to work.
47. WIC - WIC is a federally funded program to assist women, infants, and children. WIC helps low-income families by providing funding for nutrition, education, and health care for children.

48.  State Snow Removal - Even though sometimes it may take them longer than you like to get to your street, do you like having snow plow service to clear our roads and highways in the winter? This is a state socialist taxpayer-funded service.

49. PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) - PBS operates on donations and government funding. The provide non-partisan news and information to the public. They are the home of Sesame Street, Masterpiece Theater, and The Antiques Roadshow. Surveys show that they are literally the most trusted name in news. I wonder how Fox feels about that?

50. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - The CDC helps promote and enact the health and safety of the public along with helping to prevent and control illness and disease. The CDC is a government program that operates on taxpayer funding.

51. Welfare - Is there anything the republicans hate more? Of course I'm talking about the welfare that goes to poor people. Corporate welfare is not only accepted in the republican Kabul, but it's mandatory that we give our tax dollars to billionaires and not question the logic of it. Though if you look at it realistically and not through the red scare glasses in which the right sees the world, welfare helps the economy. As I've said many times, when poor people have money in their pocket, they buy things made and sold by companies. This creates a demand. To keep up with demand, businesses must hire to keep up. If you yanked everyone who is on welfare off of it tomorrow, the economy would take a blow and lose jobs due to the down tick in consumer demand because we just took what little money they had away.

52. Public Street Lighting - Like being able to see at night when you walk or drive? Thank Socialism.

53. FEMA - If Disaster strikes, FEMA is there to help pick up the pieces. As a part of homeland security and an agency of the federal government, they use taxpayer dollars to help cities, states, and towns recover and rebuild. I don't know to many private companies that could assist in disaster relief and ask nothing in return. Thank God for socialism.

54. Public Defenders - Ever been in trouble and couldn't afford a lawyer? Well the taxpayers and the government make sure you still get representation.

55. S-CHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) - S-CHIP is a program that matches funds to states for health insurance for children in families that cannot afford insurance but make too much to qualify for Medicaid. Your tax dollars go towards covering uninsured children, is that so wrong?

56. Amtrak - Amtrak transports tens of millions of passengers a year in 46 states and three Canadian Providences. It is owned by the federal government and your tax dollars are used to fund it. All aboard!!

57. NPR - National Public Radio operates on private and federal funding along with public donations. NPR has been one of the most trusted news sources in America for over 40 years.

58. The Department of Homeland Security - Created after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, this heavily federally funded department of the U.S. government helps protect us from future terrorist attacks. This is the third largest department within the United States government.

59. OSHA - Do you have a safe and healthy workplace that provides training, outreach, education, and assistance? Thank OSHA! Brought to you by the taxpayers of America and socialism.

60. State and National Monuments - The Lincoln Memorial. Mount Rushmore. The D.C. National Mall. All brought to you and maintained with your tax dollars. Socialism is patriotic?

61. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - The USDA enforces regulations on the farming, agriculture, and food industries to ensure food safety, natural resources, and hunger worldwide and in the United States. Your tax dollars are used to help keep what you are eating safe and even feed those who are not eating.

62. Government Scholarships - if you work hard in school and show true potential, our government will give you a scholarship towards college so you can advance your education. Your tax dollars have been used to send future doctors, lawyers, scientists, and even presidents of the United States to college.

63. Department of Health and Human Service - The overall goal of HHS is to promote, implement, and ensure the health of the American people. Your tax dollars are used to do this. Government looking out for the well being of it's people, imagine that!
64. Census Bureau  - Every ten years, our government collects data about our people and economy, to better serve and represent us. From the forms that are sent to your home for you to fill out and send back in and to the census worker who shows up and kindly asks you to fill out the form if you don't send it in, all taxpayer funded socialism. The information collected is used to better understand the economic situation and population in your area. Not to enslave you in a FEMA camp.

65. Department of Energy - This taxpayer funded cabinet of the federal government oversees nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors, energy conservation, radioactive waste disposal, and energy production. To those of you who care about our environment and would rather not witness a nuclear holocaust might consider this money well spent.

66. Customs and Border Protection  - the CBP is the largest law enforcement agency in America. This is big government that republicans actually do like because they don't like Mexicans immigrating to our country like our ancestors did. However, this taxpayer funded, socialist agency of the federal government regulates trade, imports, and immigration.

67. Department of Education - This cabinet of the federal government is actually the smallest. They administer and oversee federal assistance to education. They also collect data and enforce federal laws and regulations involving education. Even though the right thinks that this department is indoctrinating your children, they actually have no control over curriculum or standards.

68. Secret Service - Your tax dollars are used to provide highly-trained, skilled professional bodyguards to protect the President of the United States.

69. Peace Corps - The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the government that helps people outside of the US to understand our culture as well as helping us learn about other cultures. However they are more well known for their work with economic and social development in less-fortunate countries. Sounds very Christian for being a socialist program, huh?

70. Department of Justice - The DOJ is responsible for enforcing the law. Socialism keeps our civilization intact.

71. National Weather Service - Like knowing when a storm, tornado, earthquake, or snow is coming? Socialism makes this possible and available to everyone.

72. The White House - Our taxpayer dollars through a socialist means pays for the house that the president and his family live in during a presidents time in office.

73. Government - Like it or not, our country would not be a country without a government. Every single day, government on state and local levels serve us in ways we simply take for granted. Government as an entity operates and functions on our tax dollars through a socialist structured funding system. From the military down to the county dog catcher, socialism turns the wheels that make our society function.

74. Law - Laws and rules make our democracy possible. Remove these laws and you have sheer anarchy. Laws do not appear out of thin air. To have law, you need a government. You need elected lawmakers to make the laws and a government to implement and enforce them. Socialism is responsible for every law in this country. Without our government and lawmakers which exist thanks to socialism, there would be no laws. So the laws themselves, are enforced and implemented thanks to socialism.

75. Civilization - As an American citizen, you enjoy freedoms that many in other countries do not. Like anything else in this world, our government is not perfect, but you should be thankful everyday that your country has a government that feels an obligation to serve the people and protect their rights and freedoms. This is completely possible because of government, taxes, and socialism. Do you think the private sector would do a better job of governing our country? Do you think corporations would enact laws to help protect and serve you and your family or them and their profits? The reason you can read this blog and the reason I can write it whether you agree with it or not is because of the freedoms we have here in America enforced and protected through socialist means. Our entire civilization depends on us being a people united. Socialism is a glue that binds us together and makes possible the things that we could not accomplish as individuals working against each other.

I don't care who you are.

Rich or poor. Teaparty Republican or Liberal Socialist.

You benefit from at least one or more of these 75 American Government-Run, Taxpayer funded Socialist programs, agencies, and laws.

My overall argument is not for a completely socialist nation. This would not work. A completely capitalist nation would not work either.

I'm just simply saying that I, as a Democratic Socialist, feel that the two can co-exist. I know this because they always have. Socialism and capitalism have always co-existed in America.

I also believe in freedom. I believe options are a form of freedom.

Right now in the United States of America, I can send mail through the public postal service or I can choose a private option like FedEx. I can send my kids to public school or private school.

As liberals, we don't want a government takeover, we want options. We think we should have the freedom to be able to choose to have government health care if we don't like our private plan.

If we are 18-64, we have no options or freedom over our own health care. I don't understand why this isn't viewed as a corporate takeover of health care.

Socialism is not a bad thing. It is a foundation in this country of ours. Claiming socialism is bad because of radical and non-factual comparisons to Hitler and Stalin is like saying all guns are bad because of the Columbine killers and Jared Loughner.

National socialism and communism are very, very different from Democratic Socialism here in America. I'd explain further but this topic is for another post, this one is long enough. Besides, socialism defeated Hitler.

So let's just stop the madness and have a serious discussion about socialism and the role it plays in America.

"Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country" - FDR

Friday, February 5, 2016

Have Pipe Wrench - Will Travel to Flint

It's Friday! Time for Random Acts of Kindness.10

Here's the story about modern day Paladin Plumbers:

"Everyone wants to see the city of Flint swim rather than sink -- including plumbers."

"More than 300 union plumbers from all over Michigan flooded Flint to install free filters for residents, this past weekend."

"According to ABC12, not all the faucets in Flint can fit a filter, which each resident of the city desperately needs in order to get rid of lead in their drinking water. Some of the faucets are older and oddly shaped, making the installation of a filter nearly impossible."

"Local plumbers with United Association Local 370 in Flint have been going door-to-door making sure that faucets are filter ready since October, reports Michigan Radio. And last weekend, they got a boost from hundreds of union volunteers."

Go here for more - 
300 Plumbers Poured Into Flint, Michigan, To Install Water Filters For Free, Elyse Wanshel, 
The Huffington Post, 2 Feb 2016.

Remember Have Gun - Will Travel?
Richard Boone starred as Paladin in the late 50s TV series about "a gentleman gunfighter who travels around the Old West working as a mercenary gunfighter for people who hire him to solve their problems for them. Paladin may charge steep fees to clients who can afford to hire him, typically $1000 per job, but will provide his services for free to poor people who need his help." Paladin took his name from the foremost knight warriors in Charlemagne’s court. The people of Flint - and all the rest of us - need a Paladin, too. - RB

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Coyote Visitors

This past Sunday morning, about 8am, we were surprised to find two large coyote visitors waiting for us to take Carli for a walk.

Carli is our 85lb, rescued, mix shepard/lab.

A couple of months ago she successfully survived major surgery to repair the ligaments in her rear knees.
Each day has been a challenge just getting her walking / running strength back. But she is making good progress.

Needless to say, I was not thrilled with the prospect that our two coyote visitors would take advantage of our not-yet-up-to-strength companion.

As coyotes become less fearful they are fast becoming a daily challenge in search of a solution.

Here's a recent WDIV report about our Grosse Ile coyote visitors

Monday, February 1, 2016

Pee in my Helmet

It was the summer of 1971.

It was dark — very dark — and, hot, sticky and very buggy.
But then, Louisiana was always that way. That night was especially hot, sticky and buggy. Maybe because we all were soaked with sweat and drenched in disgusting swamp rain.

Still, as soon as we got the word that we could set up “shelters” for the night, 90% of my platoon disappeared. I remember the sergeant saying, “Now you boys stay away from those snakes and gators. Just let them be… and Baker you and Jacobs stand guard first.”

Next thing, Jacobs and I were standing alone as most of the platoon disappeared looking for reptiles and other swamp things.

I remembered thinking: It is pitch-dark and I can’t see my hand in front of my face. Snakes and gators, you have got to be kidding! I’m leaning against this tree for a while — where it’s safe — and not the least interested in sloggin’ about in the muck lookin’ for crocodiles and other slimy things.

While the rest of our company was sacking out, another unlucky guy and I were supposed to stay awake, watch for bad guys sneakin’ up on us in the early morning murk. We were dog-tired after our 20-mile forced march from nowhere to nowhere. It was near the end of our training cycle at the Tigerland part of Fort Polk, LA. We had to endure the forced march to prove to somebody that we were all ready to travel to our next vacation location; Vietnam.
Photo from Tigerland, the movie... see below

Later that night Jacobs and I were relieved from guard duty and allowed to set up our shelter and get some rest. I leaned my M16 on a convenient tree and put my helmet down next to it so I could find them in the dark. Jacobs announced that he needed to relive himself and walked a few feet away to complete the chore. Paying no attention to which direction he’d wandered off to, I completed my work and retrieved my rifle and helmet.

I put the helmet back on my head and instantly suspected something was different as the smell of urine filled my nostrils and warm fluid covered my face and ears.

A college graduate with two years as a night orderly for my hometown hospital, it dawned on me that Jacobs had managed to miss-target all of Louisiana but direct-hit my helmet. It was an amazing accomplishment, given the darkness and the fact that he could hardly see in the daylight.

I’m not a violent person, but that night I was empowered by the gods of urine to find Jacobs and let him know how it felt to have a urine bath. However, our sergeant intervened, he held me down and drained his canteen over my head. He didn’t let me go until my normal, docile personality returned.

Jacobs, returned, too — when it was obviously safe — and my military colleagues’ laughter had subsided.

(Editorial note: Jacobs and I were friends before the “incident” and became even closer friends later on.)

Tigerland was the name of a U.S. Army training facility during the mid-'60s to early '70s located at Fort Polk, Louisiana. as part of the U.S. Army Advanced Infantry Training Center. Tigerland was “often the last stop for new infantrymen on their way to Vietnam”. The Army chose Ft. Polk as the location for Tigerland because the “environmental conditions are similar to South Vietnam (That is, absolutely miserable. - RB) Tigerland, the film, is “loosely based on this training camp”.