New Site Launch, Art Contest

This article is to announce the launch of the promised website intended to list protests and rallies nationwide. I had mentioned building this site not long ago. I just needed time to work on the back end functioning, which will be an ongoing project.

With this, I am asking for submission of original digital artwork to use for the banner on the website. I have a temporary banner in place, though when you see it, you’ll understand why I am seeking submissions from other people. lol! Unfortunately I cannot offer money or prizes for the winner. However, I will post the winner’s name on the main page winner announcement and permanently on the credits page. If the winner has their own web page, I will also link to their page.

This project, if successful, will wind up being the largest project of my life so far. Right now just the beginning stages are still a work in progress. Largest, not most difficult. Crap, I hope not!

The address of the new site is www.RallyAndProtest.com

Hope you join me there!

New BIG Project- Can Use Some Help

I am starting on a new project, just conceived. In this case, I could genuinely use some help. Mostly financial but later volunteer labor and maybe technical assistance.

I bought two new web domains last night for this project and they are intended to be permanent fixtures in the political landscape.

The concept is a centralized website where protests and political rallies can be listed, by state and city. If it gets off the ground, it may expand globally. 

My plan for now is that public access will be free of charge. There will be a charge for those listing the rally or protest. This does several things- 

1- By charging a fee to those listing an event, it decreases chances of fraud. 

2- It will allow me to have more time to maintain and moderate the site. 

3- It takes the financial burden off of me directly, so the existence of the site is better insured for the future. 

4- Future enhancements and developments will be easier to finance if they incur costs.

I am sure that this will involve more cost as time goes on. Initial plans are simply for the website. Over time, those plans will include email lists and text messaging to keep attendees current on events they have expressed interest in, such as cancellation or changes to location. 

True to form with the Issues Unite concept, this will be open to any party or political group. The exceptions being hate groups of any kind. Of course, once the page gets large enough, this will require the volunteer assistance mentioned, to confirm a group is who they claim to be. 

For cost, I expect to have tiered charge levels. The most expensive being for federal elections. Next would be state, then city government officials. The lowest tier would be for protests and local municipal officials such as school boards and such. 

I am debating whether to include message boards or not. Right now, it seems best to leave that out. It would take considerably more time, effort and risk of liability to moderate message boards. This decision will be reassessed as time goes on and resources allow. 

This really is a big project and will be time consuming. Up to now, most of my time has been spent writing articles and I have not had much time and energy left after working full time, writing part time, parenting part time and spending time with my gf. Have to sleep sometime. I may divert some time away from writing to work on this because with 2020 coming up, this is the right time to develop it, at least in some crude form. So any financial assistance is truly appreciated. 

As of right now, there is no such centralized database of protests and political rallies in existence. To keep up with these things is difficult and this limits public involvement in many cases, while favoring the candidates with the largest (typically corporate funded) budgets. For protests, there have been numerous protests I would have attended but never heard of them until after they were over. None of us can have a question that corporate media and corporate-funded candidates prefer things as they are. 

I am open to further suggestions to include in the concept at some point if you have any to offer. 

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — 

I am an independent writer with no corporate sponsors or backing. The only income I make from my writing comes from views. At least I have reached the point where it makes more than it costs me! lol! My writing is done in between full time (and overtime) nursing, shared custody of my brilliant daughter and mundane existence.

Please consider becoming a patron on Patreon. I try and average at least 20 articles a month, so a $1 a month donation would come down to 5¢ per article to support independent, non-corporate writing. My Patreon page is here.

If you care to share articles with those who do not have Medium or Patreon accounts, I also post most of my articles on my own website, which has no advertising and I pay for with income from writing. My website is here and all articles can be shared freely. You can always quote me, no attribution required. My goal is spreading information and awareness. The whole point is building a better, more peaceful, more equitable world for us and future generations.

You, Venezuela, The Draft and Armageddon

For at least 74 years, the US Empire has been on a non-stop push for global domination by any means. Any means can include the absolute decimation of the planet with everything and everyone in it.

This has been a push since at least the end of WWII. During WWII, the US and the USSR were allies. Check your history books and you will find the US president meeting multiple times with Russian leaders in solidarity against Nazi Germany.

After WWII ended, so did US government goals and tactics. Russia became an enemy by virtue of the fact that they were seen as a competitor and propagator of Marxism, which stands in complete opposition to capitalist desire to own all in it’s view and destroy anything that stands in it’s way.

Not about Communism or Socialism. It does not have anything to do with Communism or Socialism, exactly. The US also opposes vehemently any capitalist economy that stands in competition rather than cooperation with the goals of the kleptocracy. Russia and China have been competing with us on capitalism and largely winning in recent years using fully capitalist methods. Depending on what method is used to measure, China is already or soon will be the strongest consumer market on the planet. They are not just producing goods for export, they buy their own goods. Russia has improved their economy and become a major oil/gas and grain exporter. Hence, they become major threats, though neither country is Communist any more.

No loyalty. Make no mistake in thinking that this has to do with country or nationalism. The same competition was taking place before the US became the world capitalist leader. Think back to the British Empire, which attempted to dominate any country which had resources they could plunder. So did the Spanish at one time. Capitalists have no loyalty to country or ideology. Their ideology is greed and power. They have no other belief system and never will.

Willing submission of the populace. To dominate the entire planet, it is mandatory that they convince the populace of the strongest country, whatever country that is, that oppression, murder, destruction and theft of resources is not only necessary but the birthright of the citizens of that country. They must be convinced to fight and die for some vague ideal which does not profit them but benefits the owners of capital, holders of power. To not only embrace their own slavery, real or virtual, willingly but to enforce that system with any citizens who raise an opposing voice. In reality, those who turn against dissident voices are no better than Nazi sympathizers.

Modern feudalism. Prof Richard Wolff has stated that the most stable economic system in history was the feudal system. Today the feudal lords are corporations and we are the peasants serving the masters.

Female draft approval. In June of 2016, CONgress quietly approved females for the draft. Most Americans are still not even aware of this fact. There are several things to note about that decision. 1- This was the first time that CONgress had discussed the draft in over 40 years, since the end of Vietnam. 2- We are not formally at war with anyone. 3- This was decided at a time when the military had not been meeting enlistment quota for several years. This remains true now and many service members have been involuntarily extended for years. 4- CONgress does not discuss the draft in abstract. This was planning. It did not matter who won the 2016 election.

Increased international tensions. Since that time, the government and media have intentionally ratcheted up tensions and animosity against numerous other countries with a strong military presence or resources worth pillaging. Syria, Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela.

Military discharges. In the same time frame, the Trump administration has discharged and deported thousands of immigrant service members. Recently, they also managed to ban transgender service members from duty. In addition, there has been a strong push to discharge all service members who cannot be deployed to war zones for any reason. That accounts for tens of thousands of service members.

So, what do you expect to happen if we expand our military presence or our conflicts any further than they are now? Expanding that presence and conflict appears to be the goal of our entire CONgress.

Oblivious. Many Americans are oblivious to the fact that the US is currently bombing 8 countries, have armed forces in 50 of 54 African nations and are militarily threatening all of the countries mentioned above plus North Korea. Nor do most Americans do the math to realize that we have 1400+ military bases that are acknowledged by the government. We have no idea how many black sites we have.

That is a total of at least 28 military bases per US state. That is not even counting aircraft carriers, submarines and other warships spanning the oceans.

The draft is coming. To replace all the service members being discharged, those reaching retirement age, those injured and killed in the line of duty, the draft is coming. With the foreign policy which has been the same and expanding for decades, there will be no other choice if we, the people, do not stand in opposition to these policies. To do that means we have to see through the propaganda and we must rage against further invasion into other countries by any method, be it political, economic or military.

Allies? The US likes to speak of our allies. Yet because our alleged allies have been harmed in numerous ways by US sanctions and military actions, we no longer have true allies. In some cases we have accomplices but they will abandon us if there is no profit in the alliance for the “leaders” of those countries. Europe is resistant to US sanctions on Russian and Iranian trade. It costs Europeans more money to follow along with those sanctions. While some leaders follow like puppets, polls of the majority of European citizens show they do not feel Russia or Iran are threats. The same is true of Americans.

One must keep in mind that the UNSC never issued approval for the invasion of Iraq. Also that the UN has always considered US presence in Syria to be against international law.

Allied opponents. While we lack true allies, our opponents do not. Note that I do not call them enemies. That’s because they have legitimate complaints of our behavior and specific reasonable steps which would still ease tensions with them. Our government refuses to cooperate with those steps. When you look at the list of our opponents, you find they are all allied in one way or another. Russia and China are military allies. Russia has interests in Syria, where they have had a military base for over 40 years in addition to business interests. China and India trade for oil with Iran. China absolutely opposes any US presence in North Korea, right on their border. Both Russia and China have vested business and political ties with Venezuela which they will defend far more assertively than most Americans have any realization of.

There are more alliances beyond that. Turkey remains connected to the US only reluctantly. That can change, as it has before. Mexico and several South American countries only barely tolerate us. Other South American countries are only allied with us for monetary reasons. Pakistan wants nothing else to do with us. Nor do the Philippines.

Low consequences. With all of our military conflicts for well over a century, the continental US has not suffered domestic attacks. No civilians on American soil have died or been injured as a result of our military adventures. This makes Americans far too prone to supporting attacks on other countries. However, should we enter a major conflict with the opponents we are provoking now, that could very well change at a moment’s notice.

Lack of antiwar representation. Corporate media does not present the voices of Americans who oppose war. In the rare case they do, those voices are presented as less intelligent or not patriotic. At this point in time, we are likely to be called Russian trolls.

If you think this is a change, you’re wrong. Look back to how anti-war protesters were presented during Korea and Vietnam. They were often called Communists, portrayed as drug addicts prone to violence. Meanwhile most were college educated and protesting against violence.

With protests against later conflicts, the media has simply ignored us. If they do not present anti-war protests, people become disheartened and feel alone in their opposition. It is as if a protest does not exist and the entire country supports conflict.

The only choice we have is to engage in such massive protests and boycotts that they are undeniable. However, I do not expect to see this happen until a draft is announced. By then it may be too late and we will be in conflicts we can not back out of.

Government Of The People

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people..”

These words of Lincoln should stand tall and strong in the minds of Americans. Unfortunately, that is not true. Some will say any longer but I’m not sure just how much they ever truly sank in to the American consciousness.

Those words indicate that we, the people of this country are the true rulers of our own country. Yet too many in this country make reference to “our leader/s” when referring to elected officials. Elected officials are not our “leaders”. They are our employees. In voting, we hire them. If we are collectively unhappy with their job performance, the next election and sometimes even before that, we can fire them via recall elections or impeachment. Elections are really little more than performance reviews in which we determine as a group whether elected officials job performance merits their continued employment.

Consider the job title for them. Representatives. Not manager, not dictator, not supervisor. Representatives. Meaning they are supposed to be there to vocalize and act on what is best for our interests. Not the interests of their biggest donors. It is exceedingly rare that it works that way. This is what should be the part of Lincoln’s statement, “For the People”.

Merriam-Webster defines a congress as “a formal meeting of delegates for discussion and usually action on some question”. Discussion. Not argument. Meaning multiple sides should be represented in a rational manner. I typically refer to our legislative body as CONgress because too many members consider “con” to be the operative part of that word. The literal definition of the word from Latin means, “To act together”.

What amazes me is the fact that so many Americans believe elected officials are educated or endowed with some special knowledge or power. There is no special education, no specific qualifications to hold any office in our government. Any citizen of this country can run for elected office. If there were any special education necessary to hold office, that education should be not only available to all citizens but mandatory in basic education. Yet it has been decades since even Civics was required in our school system. Public understanding of the workings of our government being so illiterate at this point is a clear indication that we need to bring that part of our education back. However, civic ignorance was literally the goal when that class was removed from the national syllabus. So it is up to us to educate ourselves and one another on this subject. Happily, there has been a resurgence of interest in the subject for some.

Of the People.” As I stated, there is no special education, knowledge or power to hold office. Yet we elect people to office and then allow them to use powers and terms such as “executive privilege”, “classified” and “privileged information” to hold over us on a continual basis. This is absolutely wrong. In a government of the people, no such special privileges should exist. Elected officials are accountable to us. They should not have any right to refuse to answer any question which does not place human life in eminent danger.We, the people of this country should have access to most of the information generated by our government and especially elected officials. We should have the right and ability to check on what is allegedly being done “on our behalf” at any time. FOIA requests should not incur formidable costs for the press, leading to weighted access to only the most wealthy press sources, which are typically corporate. Any independent media should be able to file information requests and receive answers. That information has already been compiled under our own expense.

By the People.” Many elected officials refuse to hold town hall meetings. Even if they do, they are more likely to tell voters we are wrong, even with overwhelming support on a topic. Call them and you get automated systems or flunkies reading a script. Email or write and you may get a form letter in the mail or email in response, often not even addressing that specific topic. Try social media and you may get blocked.We have seen time and again other countries conducting public referendums on various major issues. We live in a time when we can access bank records securely online, we have block chain technology, a continuous push for voter ID and a national ID card. Yet we have no national referendum on anything. There is no valid reason that we, “the most powerful country on earth” cannot implement methods whereby each of our voices are heard. A system which recorded each individual’s choice on any issue could be recorded and identity verified. The problem is, if such a system were implemented, we would have concrete public records when officials went directly against the popular will and instead acted in favor of corporate donors.

Of course, the biggest problem with having a government of, by and for the people is the personal responsibility involved. It would mean we had duty and responsibility to be informed, a commitment to be involved citizens. Many Americans do not want that. They want “leaders”, without truly paying attention to where they are being led. They want to vote once every 2–4 years, hand power and control to their anointed cult leader and then passively-aggressively complain when things become worse. Find someone else to blame. Yet they will praise themselves excessively when anything improves, cheering how “we” had anything to do with it. Even though they exerted no additional effort than submitting a ballot. If they even did that.

If we want the way our government operates to change and be more reflective of our collective will, more responsive to what the people want, then we mustdo something to make it that way.

I’ve said numerous times, we have no heroes. We are our own heroes. It’s time for us to act like it. No more blame. No more excuses. No more whining.

Yellow Vest Protests- The Difference Between French And Americans

I already detailed in my last post a number of reasons that the Yellow Vest movement is not likely to spread to America any time soon.

Let’s say I am wrong and it does spread here. If so, how would it be different?

Most of all, mainland Europeans (do not include the UK in this) have a far different mindset than Americans do. Pay attention to interviews with most of the protesters. What do they state their demands are, individually? It is true that removing Macron from office is on the list but it is far from the first item on that list. Long before that, you will hear them speaking of actual issues regarding economics and social issues on which they demand policy changes. The main point being that they understand that the name at the top of the page is just another name at the top of the page. Without policy change, nothing positive will occur.

Contrast that with America. In America, look at the Women’s Marches. They had no definitive list of complaints, no specific policies they wanted changed. The same thing would happen if the Yellow Vest movement spread to America. There would be no focus on policies. No specific changes that protesters wanted to enact. There would be little or no solidarity as there is in France, where over 70% of citizens agree with what the protesters are demanding.

The long and short of it is that any such protests in America would be seized by political parties to force their own agenda. They would become “Impeach Trump” rallies, with no plans beyond that agenda. None that the public would be privy to, any way. If they actually managed to get Trump impeached, it would be called a success, even though no discernible change would follow. There would be big “we won” parties and speeches and then back to the same path we have been on.

Part of the reason for the differences between the countries is media. Many countries in mainland Europe have standards of public conduct, which includes their media and advertising. Take their advertising as an example. If you advertise a product in Europe, you can state the claims of benefits of your product. What you can not do is compare your product to your competitor. You cannot claim your product is best. You cannot claim there are flaws in competing products.

The same concept holds true with electoral candidates. You can state your policies and plans. You are not allowed to demean your opponent or their policies.

In each case, if you breach such conduct, you can be personally sued, censured, admonished, held accountable in numerous different ways.

This affects the national mindset. They focus on issues, plans, promises. They remember those promises and hold elected officials responsible far more than they are in America.

Here in America, attacking your opponent, being led by the media and already elected power-grabbing officials is the norm. Policies are not necessary, all you have to do is attack your opponent and make them look worse.

Another part of the difference is education. France and most mainland European countries have socialized adult education. More Europeans have advanced adult education than the American population. That advanced education leads to a populace that has greater critical thinking skills.

If these protests came to America, they would be inserted into a population that thrives on violence. Large numbers of people who worship the Second Amendment yet turn a blind eye to children tear gassed at our border, ignore our own unarmed citizens being shot down in the streets. This is a culture of reality show spectators, armchair quarterbacks, MMA and pro wrestling fans. We have subcultures that watch or actively participate in dog fights or rooster fights to the death. Aggression and force are our stock in trade. Hoarding wealth and possessions is idolized.

So, perhaps the real question should not be whether the Yellow Vest protests will make it to America. Perhaps the real question should be, “Do we want it to?”

Yellow Vest Protests- Could We?

The Yellow Vest protests in France and spreading to other parts of Europe have garnered very little attention in US corporate media. The only mention I have seen of them has been to make it seem as though the protesters are hooligans bent on destruction. Or trying to blame Russia for civil unrest. Never examining what the protests are about or who is involved. Not daring to mention that 70% of French citizens support the movement, including many police.

There is also the narrative that Socialists want “free stuff”, not mentioning the high taxes French citizens pay to support their social system. Not mentioning that taxes have been lowered for the rich, while attempts to increase fuel taxes on the poor were attempted.

Yes, the protests began as a protest against an additional fuel tax. However, it grew from there to include many other issues.

At this point, our media is attempting to make it seem like 70% of France are just unruly thugs wanting to remove the neoliberal Macron from office, while he is the “good guy”, defending himself. By having police fire tear gas at French citizens.

Of course, this must be Russia behind all of this. France has never had a popular uprising where they overthrew an overbearing power structure. Right?!

Many people in America are suggesting that we need just such an uprising in this country, with many of the same demands. Problem is, such an uprising is not going to happen here in the near future. It may happen but not yet.

For one thing, Americans are still sold on the idea that we are “free”. That any problems we have are the result of being victims of outside forces.

BLM was not a real movement, it was Russian propaganda. That’s why they were banned from Hillary’s rallies. Black men are not shot down in the streets or even their own back yards. In France, if one person is shot down or beaten, they face mass protests. Color doesn’t matter. Wonder what will happen with hundreds arrested and thousands tear gassed? Here, we just pass it off as “the price of freedumb”. The police were threatened. That wallet looked like a gun. That 6 year old was a threat to be dealt with by lethal force.

We are so “free” that we can sacrifice some of our freedom. We can censor our media, silence voices. It’s not the government doing it, it’s just the corporations that own the government doing it. That makes it all okay. If you do not agree with a particular voice, don’t turn the channel. Petition to have that voice removed entirely. Other voices that you have never heard of? Just trust the corporations to pass judgment and you’ll go along with it.

Americans listen to corporate media, neoliberals and right wing voices (same thing, really) telling us how great the economy is doing. That any suffering or lack is all because of Russian trolls, Chinese trade practices or immigrants. The numbers and evidence don’t add up.

We hear all the time that the US is the richest country on earth. Does it feel like that to you? Does it look like it when you hear of people dying because they cannot afford diabetes or heart medications? For proof, the media offers the stock market. Problem is, only a fraction of Americans actually have money in the stock market. Or a savings account. It’s hard to invest when you can barely pay rent and feed your family.

As a nurse, I have personally seen people die from dental infections. They could not afford a dentist. Most Americans have no clue of the relationship between dental disease and heart disease. I’ve witnessed people beg doctors for the least expensive medication because they could not afford the most effective medication for their condition. I have tried to comfort patients who would not be able to afford their medications after they were discharged from the hospital I worked in. All I could do was refer to the social worker, cross my fingers and offer what I knew were likely empty platitudes.

We are so wealthy that millions of Americans go bankrupt every year due to medical bills. That causes businesses to lose money and prices to rise. It causes people to lose homes and vehicles. Aside from the stress, health issues and shame which goes with it, as though it was a failing on their part.

I’ve written before that illegal immigrants account for only 0.25% of your entire income, at most. That’s a generous number. Of course, that number does not include the much higher expense of tracking them down, rounding them up, incarcerating them, feeding them, paying ever-increasing numbers of border patrol agents, more militarization of the border, building a wall which will be tunneled under, lawyers, legal challenges and lost labor or failed crops. Those numbers completely dwarf any social support they may have received at any point.

We are so wealthy that we go further in debt daily paying student loans, while French citizens can attend university without additional cost.

We are so wealthy that the majority of divorces in this country are due to financial issues.

We are so wealthy that many roads and bridges in this countries are tragedies in waiting.

We are so wealthy we cannot afford to fight forest fires which destroy hundreds of homes and tens of thousands of acres of forest every single year.

We are so wealthy our teachers must work multiple jobs to pay their own bills while parents must provide school supplies on top of paying property taxes, sales tax and income tax. It is the ultimate insult to pay sales tax on school supplies after paying all the other taxes that are supposed to provide our children with an education. Then stand by and watch as schools beg for donations of computer equipment from corporations who get tax breaks for sending jobs to other countries.

We are so wealthy that our government conducts trade at the end of a missile. We can afford to bomb countries that are no threat to us but cannot provide shelter to millions of our own people.

But you should be scared to death because maybe some Russian troll posted memes. Or because China may sell something at Dollar Tree you want to buy. Because those are our biggest problems.

No, protests on the scale of the Yellow Vest protests will not happen here yet. Eventually they will. When the oligarchy has sucked the last penny dry. When the dollar collapses to negative worth. When you can no longer afford to even watch network propaganda. When gun nuts are faced with the choice of using their guns to rob people or sell their guns to eat.

Because we value our “freedoms” so much, our country has chosen collapse over calling the rich and powerful to account.

Just don’t protest. Because that’s unAmerican.