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Bernie Sanders is the Only 2016 Presidential Candidate — So Far — That Gives Ordinary Working Americans — And the Planet — A Fighting Chance!

By Frank Byronn Glenn  – June 12, 2015 –The establishment press, corporations, and the wealthy are nervous about the young candidacy of Bernie Sanders – Presidential Candidate for President in 2016 and current Senator from Vermont.

The reasons are obvious: 

1) Bernie has already raised more money than corporations thought he would – certainly this early — and the election cycle has barely begun; 2) he is drawing sell-out and over-flow crowds virtually every place he goes because he is talking about things that are of great importance and urgency to the American people — even though in many cases the Main Stream Media does not even report on his appearances and events — and rarely, if ever, publishes his scheduled appearances sufficiently in advance that it could positively affect turn-out, attendance, or support;  3) and finally, of course, some of the ideas Americans support would cause the wealthy to pay slightly higher taxes, or stop destroying the planet — or at least destroy it a little more slowly – and limit some of their access to government pork, tax credits, and subsidies.

In a recent Progressive Change Institute poll of likely voters – which included Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, the poll revealed that  the majority of American people overwhelmingly support the policies and programs Bernie Sanders is calling for.    I list them below:

1) 75% support Fair Trade policies that protect workers;

2) 71% support debt free college educations for Americans;

3) 70% support expanding Social Security benefits;

4) 50% support raising taxes on the rich as a way to reduce wealth inequality in America;

5) 58% are in favor of breaking up the big banks;

6) 63% feel the current wealth distribution is unfair and is a problem

7) 52% feel that government taxation of the rich should be used as a tool to reduce unequal wealth distribution in the United States;

8) 55% favor a financial transaction tax

9) 51% want a single-payer healthcare system in America;

10) 70 + % support equality of marriage rights;

11) 70 + % want stricter gun control laws;

12) 70 % believe we need some serious and humane revision of immigrations laws, that

13) 70% believe that climate changes is caused by man and want our government to be doing something dramatic about it because it represents a life or death decision for our society and our civilization;

14) a majority Americans feel that something needs to be done to get money out of politics – and that the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme court Decisions should be over-turned or repealed;

15) a majority of Americans believe that the Transpacific Partnership will have a negative impact on American worker’s earnings over time;

And Bernie Sanders enthusiastically supports all of these positions, and says so in every speech he makes, every policy paper he produces, and every  bill he proposes or sponsors.

Americans need to commit right now to sending $25 to $100 per month to Bernie’s campaign and we need to do it every month until the Democratic candidate is settled on – because if you re tired of unresponsive government, politicians that don’t listen to us as Americans – and do not seem to care very much or bother doing anything about the things we care about – here is one candidate that does – and we need to scare the hell out of all the corporatists and wanna-be Presidential num-nuts who think they can take the billionaires “quid-pro-quo” money and run rough shod over all us because they think we re too gullible, too timid, too trusting, too patient or that we believe in the “American” idea too much to ever consider rejecting mainstream candidates the establishment media tells us over and over again are the best – in favor of ones that just might want the same things for America that we do. We need to show them by putting our money where our mouths are – and let them know that if you do not have the best interest of ordinary working Americans first and foremost in your campaign, proposals, and policy initiatives – then you are not going to be the nominee. Coincidentally, also, as I write, Hillary Clinton, the presumed prohibitive favorite for the 2016 Democratic Nomination — has an approval rating that is at its lowest point in 14 years.

Do it, and do it now. Let’s go for it America. Let’s all put our money where our mouth is –and scare the crap out of the corporate over-lords, the fat-cat rich, and the presumptuous political-hack candidates that think they can put one over on us — the American electorate — for the umpteenth time again in the last 30 years.

The Great Escape — By Frank Byronn Glenn — A New Short Story Inspired By A Visit To Earnest Hemmingway’s Grave in Ketchum, ID on June 9th – 2015

Frank Byronn Glenn – June 11, 2015 –  On June 4, 2015, my wife Marta and I left Olympia WA headed for Bozeman, MT to attend the high school graduation of my grandson, Even Victor Glenn.

On our return,  I knocked off the top and longest standing item on my bucket list– a bucket list item for 52 years — since I was 16 — when we stayed in Hailey, ID, the night of June 8, 2015, and on the following morning we visited the grave-site and memorial of my favorite writer of all time — Earnest Hemmingway, outside of Ketchum, ID, on Sun Valley Road east of Ketchum.  I don’t know why, but for some reason it was a very emotional experience for me — shocking and surprising both me and my wife.  And for some reason, it put me in touch with — and re-connected me to my muse — and I have been writing as furiously as if possessed by the demon ever since.  I am enjoying it.  It’s great fun — and a great release — and a pleasure to be sharing.  This is  my lastest – a short story about the Vietnam war — which I served in as a door-gunner on a combat assault helicopter in 1968 and 1969.

The Great Escape

 

Johnny Tudor was different from the rest of us – the American soldiers in Vietnam in 1968. He had studied Vietnam at Ohio State University. He had studied the political history of the Indo-Chino Wars. He knew many of the details of the events that led up to the decisive defeat of the French at the battle of Dien Bien Phu on May 7, 1954.  He had received his undergraduate degree in American History — and planned to attend graduate school when he got out of the Army — and ultimately teach at a small college or university.

He also saw the steady ramp-up of the public relations campaign and the political posturing and rhetoric that set the stage for the gradual involvement and eventual build-up of the American forces in Vietnam after the French defeat and withdrawal.

But more than anything, he knew — and understood — to the extent that an outsider could — the long and tortured history of the Vietnamese people. The periodic invasions throughout their history, and their nature and culture and the great pride they took in their commitment — their defiance – over hundreds of years long struggles — to rid their country of the invaders – their oppressors.

Once he got to Vietnam in person, though, he quickly fell in love with the Vietnamese people themselves. And his blue, twinkling eyes, his bushy thatch of straw blond hair, and his ready smile, drew the Vietnamese to him as well.

Johnny Tudor was quick to laugh, and his dancing, mirthful eyes and broad smile made him a favorite of almost everyone. He almost seemed to enjoy and revel in life — for life’s sake – in and everything Vietnamese. He loved their food, he loved their culture – and he learned the language so quickly it was almost as if he were born Vietnamese.

Underneath it all, he was as decent a human being – and man — as I have ever known – in Vietnam — or anywhere else – at any time in my life.

The old mama-sans watched over him devotedly, and followed his every move with pride and enjoyment – as if he was their own son. The young girls were all crazy in love with Johnny at some level or another — but he playfully, sweetly and tenderly rebuffed them at every turn – and continuously turned their devotion to him into opportunities to spend time with them – and continuously refocused their feelings and energies onto themselves and each other – and took advantage of their rapt attention to him to coach and assist them in learning to read and speak English, study, and learn skills and competencies that would improve their lives in the immediate – or prepare them for more opportunity — or more independence — in the future.

One young Vietnamese girl in particular, a young girl from a formerly well-to-do Vietnamese family fallen on hard times — Bui Ti Bui – took a particular liking to Jonny. Not a romantic interest so much, although there was certainly a spark and a chemistry between them – but more of a soul-mate, kindred spirit – almost favorite sibling kind of a relationship.

She, too, was quick to laugh, had dancing eyes, and was quite mischievous in nature. She loved playing pranks and teasing, and, with some help and careful, patient coaching from Tudor, even learned to tell American GI jokes in half-way decent English – to the shock, surprise, and amusement of Johnny’s GI buddies sometimes – and to the great amusement, delight – and pride – of Johnny — each and every time she pulled one off. They were joyous co-conspirators.

Johnny would listen to the stories the Vietnamese told – of their pain and their suffering – in the war. Their loss of lives of loved ones –through indiscriminate bombings – and the decentigration and destruction of their culture and their way of life — the loss of their sense of self-respect through the indignation and humiliation of living in a country occupied by the Americans.

The overwhelming influx American dollars that came with the arrival of the Americans, had destroyed the local economies of many of the small towns and villages of Vietnam and for the people who lived in them. Bui Ti Bui’s family had been broom makers for their cash subsistence needs. They grew a little rice and a lot of vegetables like most Vietnamese peasants, but for generations they had built a reputation as one of the exemplary broom- making families of Vietnam. Their community found their brooms useful and of good value – so they liked them and they used them – and over time they bought a lot of them. The broom sales provided the family with enough income to be considered prosperous – and had supplied all the money the family needed to provide for the little things that make the difference between a subsistence living and a life of security and quality.

Before the Americans came, the brooms Bui Ti Bui’s family made had the equivalent value of a bushel of rice — enough rice to provide Bui Ti Bui’s extended family food to live on for almost a month – and there was even a little extra available for friends and neighbors, occasionally. Or for a community dinner together. After the Americans came, it was not long before one of the family brooms would barely buy a small cup of rice. And not long after that, no one would even part with a small cup of rice for a single broom.

Most poor Vietnamese families were forced to do extraordinary things to keep their families alive during these times. Many were forced to send their daughters into a life of prostituting themselves to the American and Australian soldiers in order to get enough money to live. Some had sons that went into the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and they used their meager pay to help support their families. If they were lucky, one or more of the old mama-sans and the young girls would get jobs on the American military bases and earned eight dollars a month for working eight hours a day, seven days a week, for a month – sweeping hooches, doing laundry, simple mending and repairs, and then ironing soldiers’ uniforms and hanging them neatly for work the next day. They also shined the soldiers’ boots, shined their belt buckles, and washed their linens and made their bunks each day.

When the price of brooms collapsed shortly after the arrival of the Americans, Bui Ti Bui’s family had fallen on terribly desperate times. They had no choice but to force Bui Ti Bui’s older sister Lia, a well-educated, sweet, tender-hearted, French-speaking soul and a local Vietnamese – and French language poet of some renown, into a life of prostitution in Saigon. They used the dollars she earned from the American and Australian soldiers to keep the family alive.

On her sixteenth birthday, Lia pulled a .45 caliber pistol from the holster of the American Major she had just prostituted herself to, and put it to her head, pulled the trigger, and killed herself.

Bui Ti Bui’s family never sent another daughter into prostitution – but the oldest two sons had both been conscripted into the ARVN army when they were teenagers – and their pay helped support the family. Both of them were killed — at the same time — in the same place — on December 25th, 1968, by an errant American air-strike intended for some unfriendlies a short distance away.

Johnny Tudor really loved the Vietnamese people. Not only their histories – their long struggles – but the people themselves. He felt he understood their hearts. He understood them because he spent many long hours with them, in off duty time – hearing of their joys – their sorrows—their hopes and dreams – and their deep longing for that peaceful, normal kind of life that they hoped to have when the Americans had finally gone home and the long healing process was complete.   A time many of them believed they, themselves, would never live to see.

One morning in late February in 1969, Johnny Tudor returned from his early morning guard shift and stopped by his hooch to drop his weapon off before he went to chow.  Bui Ti Bui was standing on the backside of his bunk, watching him enter across the bed. He winked at her —  and smiled. She smiled back — and shot him her trade-mark single-pinkie wave — and a giggle.   Johnny  tossed his AR-16 assault weapon up onto his bunk. The weapon discharged on impact, and fired a .22 caliber high velocity ammunition round into the forehead and out the back of the skull of Bui Ti Bui – killing her instantly.

Johnny ended up in the psyche ward somewhere over on Long Binh Post for a few weeks – before he came back to the company and resumed his duties. He was different, though.  He was just a shadow of his former self when he returned. It seemed as if the light had gone out of his eyes – and the joy out of his life.  The once robust thatch of yellow hair now hung limp and lifeless down the side of his head. He was thinner. His face was gaunt – and his eyes had a haunted, hollow look to them.  He moved slowly – trance like — at times. He never laughed and he never smiled again — that I ever saw.

He still showed up for work at his job at Signal Corp each day. He still went to the mess hall and ate, though sometimes just once a day. And he still pulled guard duty when his turn came up.

One night in early spring, the day after pay day, one of his guard duty comrades for the night found me playing Acey-Deucey in the hooch a little after mid-night – and said that Johnny was down at Guard Post 3 with his assault rifle to his head, saying he was “taking the AR-16 special to Never-Land tonight.”

When I got down to Guard Post 3 Johnny still had the weapon to his head. He was leaning back against the bunker, the stock between his boots with the barrel right in the middle of his forehead, two inches above his eyes.  I sat down on the steps in the doorway leading down into the bunker beside him and we talked for several hours. A little after 5:30am he finally took the AR-16 away from his head and leaned it up against the outside bunker wall. The early morning light was splaying softly across the top of the bunker.

Johnny said he realized that what had happened to Bui Ti Bui had just been an accident. A horrible accident. He said that he knew that it wasn’t his fault – technically – that Bui Ti Bui was dead. Because it wasn’t intentional. He knew that. He said he recognized that war was horrible – and that sometimes things just happened that way. That war itself was just that way. That sometimes things just happened that way in war — and there’s was no real understanding it. They just happen. And there’s no reason for it.

He said he felt better now. He said that he really appreciated me coming down to the guard post and talking with him. He said I was a good friend – his best friend in all the world. He said he loved me. He said we were going to be all right – we were going to get through this –and get back to the states– and get on with our normal lives.

I went back to base-camp and went directly to the mess hall for breakfast. I got my morning ration of S.O.S. and a stiff, thick, black strong cup of coffee.

Guard duty officially ended each day at 6:30. At 6:31am the Officer of the Day came into the mess hall and walked directly over to the table where I was eating.

“Johnny Tudor just put a “16” bullet though his brain — and he’s dead as a door-nail down at Guard Post 3.”

I didn’t say anything. I just sat there looking down at my hand on my coffee cup – staring at the faint puff of steam wafting up from it.

“Poor son-of-a-bitch”, the Officer of the Day said, shaking his head. “Sorry, Greer.”  He about-faced and walked stiffly away from me across the mess hall the way he had come in  and back out the door and into the company street.

I sat for a few minutes after he was gone. Just not thinking. I don’t know how long I sat there because I didn’t keep track – and no one bothered me.

I guessed that was it, then, for Johnny Tudor. Johnny Tudor –big, beautiful, happy, smiling – wonderful Johnny Tudor – had finally done it. He finally figured it out. He finally found a way to tell the United States Government — the mighty American war machine – the politicians – he had finally found a way to tell them all – all of them – to kiss his ass!

Johnny Tudor was out of here. He was finally out of this god-forsaken, blood-sucking, soul-killing – joy snuffing — war – world – and life — he had been born into.

Johnny Tudor was gone. Going, going – gone. Johnny Tudor was free at last.

Joni Ernst Should Go Back To Castrating Hogs!!!

By Frank B. Glenn  — Joni Ernst speaks proudly about how growing up in Iowa farm country and learning to do things like castrating hogs helped make her the woman she is.  I submit that the women she is — is not much — unless “crackers” count as something special.  Maybe she found her calling long ago — maybe she should go back to Iowa and castrate some hogs — “make them squeal”,   she giddily and proudly proclaims.

To “Extinctionist” Republicans Desparately Denouncing President Obama’s Plan To Help Save The Planet — I Say Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish!

By Bifford Caulfied — It’s not like we have been able to count on Republicans to come up with anything sensible in politics, business, tax policy, the middle class, or foreign policy for years, anyway  –— so I don’t know why it continues to surprise us when these knuckle-dragging troglodytes vehemently denounce a plan to make our planet a tiny bit more sustainable.

And when they cry out, “Hey, I’m not a scientist,  I don’t know”,  I distinctly hear, “I am just too dumb and too bought and paid for by the Koch Bros and their “ilk” to dare care about something like the health or sustainability of the planet.”  It’s hard to tell what they really think — or if there actually is any signs of life in those seemingly inert brains — but Republicans for some reason believe it is their designated mission (probably Koch Bros assigned) to protest that anything that might extend the life of the planet a week is inherently evil, European socialist with a twist of Obama-Kenya-ism, anti-jobs, and bad for the national debt — and therefore must be fought to the death and defeated.

I guess after watching the “extinctionists” for a few years now — I have just one question.  If you guys are so bound and determined to kill the planet and life on earth as absolutely “fast and furiously” as you can — why don’t you all form a Jones-town like cult — all of you go to an Alex meeting presided over by the Koch Bros on some scantily populated South Sea island — and all of you drink the poison cool-aid and kill yourselves.  Then you have achieved your goals (at least for yourselves) of ending life, you’re out of your collective misery, and the rest of us can go about the sensible business of trying to sustain life on earth for ourselves and our children and grandchildren.  Plus — what a relief to be rid of all of you Republican and Tea Party losers and your plutocratic boyfriends!

Or — as we used to say when I was a kid:   “Good riddance — to bad rubbish!”

 

Eric Cantor’s Money Couldn’t Buy Him Love!

By Frank B. Glenn — Despite the fact that Eric Cantor spent 10 million on his house race and David Brat spent less than $100,000, Cantor got soundly whipped in his Virginia Congressional race — and was quite surprised by the fact, apparently.  That Cantor lost was pretty surprising, because he had promenaded himself around town as a Tea Party advocate, champion, and cheerleader.  The truth of the matter was more that he pretended to be an authentic “tea partier”, but all he actually was in reality was a tireless advocate for the interests of the wealthy — wall street, big business, and corporations, in general.

 

Either he thought that by cozying up to business working as a tireless “tool” for their interests, he could use their substantial political contributions to overcome any trivial grass-roots protests, or he thought that because he was the Republican majority leader in Congress he was an untouchable —  money and connections didn’t matter  — and therefore he just  couldn’t lose.    The “punditocracy”  tirelessly beat the “immigration” drum, saying that Cantor had gotten out of step with his constituents on immigration and that that was what did him in.  They quoted showed video of, or quoted David Brat railing on Eric Cantor’s views on immigration almost exclusively  — but the reality was that David Brat’s entire campaign was based on the fact that Eric Cantor was out of touch — or didn’t care about the everyday people in his district — that all he was was an over-acheiving and predictable advocate for the interests of “big business” and not ordinary Americans.

 

In fact, surveys taken in Cantor’s district immediately before and immediately after the election showed that more than half of everybody — including Republicans — favored some kind of sensible immigration reform.  The only thing immigration related that they objected to with regard to Eric Cantor was that the way he talked about immigration was in the same way that big business and corporations talked about immigration — and that he was simply representing business’s position on immigration, not his the people in his Congressional district in Virginia.

 

Then, of course, there was the on going insult and disrespect evidenced by Cantor toward his district  –– in that as time went on he spent less and less time in his district communicating with voters about their concerns — ones that he might have spoken out for — or represented them about in Congress.

 

In short, I think Eric Cantor had served as a faithful “tool” or money and power — and obviously thought that with “money and power” his side, he didn’t have to worry much about the pointy headed professor running against him.  In fact, Cantor actually mocked David Brat for being an elitist college “professor” type — and implied that therefore Professor Brat could not be taken seriously by the voters.  It appears, Mr. Cantor, that you were wrong on that one.

 

In an interesting political twist, however, we suddenly see the potential for “real” political change emerging as the anti-corporate tea party views and the liberal progressive views coalesce around the ideas of reigning in the power of business in politics and trying to create an economy in which their is a more level playing  ground and more income equality.

 

 

The “Old” Indiana Pacers Returned On Sunday! But Was It Just A “Cameo” Appearance?

By Ritchie Totten — For most of the regular season this year, the Indiana Pacers were clearly the best team in the East — and maybe in the entire NBA.  They were rolling.  Players even compared the way they played defense to the way the World Champion Seattle Seahawks in the NFL played defense in the Super Bowl.  It was their “schtick”.  Their particular excellence!  Then came the Danny Granger trade.

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Now all things considered, Danny Granger had a pretty tough early part of the season with the Pacers.  He was injured for most of the first half of the season — but he was nevertheless considered to be an important part of the Pacers teams and mentality.  He was supposedly a team member who provided veteran stability.  He was talked about as being a locker-room leader — a force.  And — he was a force to reckoned with on the court — when he was healthy.  But when he went — and Even Turner came in — the Pacers went south.  I’m not saying that trade was the cause — necessarily.  Sometimes it gets to be a long season — and teams who are winning big — and steadily — lose focus a little and get tired of waiting for their “real season”.  Their play gets a little sloppy — the intensity and motivation for individual games drops off a little.  Then time goes on and playing that way kind of becomes a habit.  They fall into the “waiting for the play-offs” state of mind — and uninspired, unmotivated style of play becomes a habit — and it becomes a hard habit to break.

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It seemed at times that that was what happened to the Pacers.  Then the play-0ffs came, and it was a little like the Pacers thought playing that great Pacer style of defense-driven basketball would just return again — because it was the play-offs.  The  result was that the Pacers would look pretty good in one game — and lackluster and unmotivated the next game.  Roy Hibbard was criticized –then cat-called — and finally benched for inexplicable and extended minutes in key stretches  of play-off games.  Long story short, the Indiana Pacers did just enough in their first two series to get by — and move on.

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And then came the Miami Heat.  Even though the Pacers suffered a late season collapse, they had enough built-up mojo from the early part of the season to end up the Eastern Conference top seed.  So Miami rolls into Indiana and the “old” Pacers re-appear.  They absolutely “maul” the Heat. — winning 107-95 in a game that was never that close.  All the Pacer stars — young and old  — showed up and played like it was last November – December all over again.  Roy Hibbert dominates.  Indiana ended up winning by nine points — but the game, like I said, was never really that close.  The Heat’s best efforts by their “big three” could never get closer than eight points as the game rolled into the home stretch.  And for most of the game, the Pacer lead was in the high double-digits.  The Miami Heat had no answers — and no response.

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As Miami Heat coach, Eric Spoelstra, said after the game on Sunday,  “We’re just going to have to figure this out.”  My question is — is this just another flash in the Indiana Pacer’s pan — or has the part of the season Indiana has been waiting for all year finally arrived — and they are fully engaged again?  Or have they satisfied themselves that they can beat the  Heat now — and they can just relax again — Mission accomplished?

Swiss Vote to “Work For Less” in Sunday National Referendum!

By Frank Byronn Glenn — I was wrong.  I was very wrong.  I said in an article a few days ago that the American people should follow the lead of the Swiss, and use a national referendum to vote in a $25 an  hour minimum wage.  I both “denouce and reject” that headline.

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In one of the more puzzling event in the world Sunday, the Swiss people voted overwhelmingly  — by a 76% – 24% margin to defeat their national Minimum Wage Initiative.  In most countries, just getting such an initiative on a national ballot would have been a  modern day political miracle — but to get it on the ballot and then stomp it to death with such gusto defies the intellect.

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Why, I ask, “Once you have the corporate over-lords clearly in your sights — would you ever back away and let the opportunity slip away?”  I mean, the initiative going down to such a huge defeat is tantamount to the Swiss people saying, “No, we don’t want a significantly  higher standard of living.  We’re just not worth it.”

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As I said  in my earlier article, I talked to everyday Americans that shocked me by saying that $25 an hour was just too much money for entry-level workers to make.  Where, I ask you, would they ever get that idea?  I could (almost) understand a person making $18 to $25 per  hour in a low-end,  semi- professional  or white collar job worrying that suddenly a fast-food worker, a household domestic or nanny — or an agriculture field worker — would be earning as much per hour as they were — and that they might not like — or even feel a little threatened about their status in society because of it — but to outright resoundingly reject defies logic.  They have got to believe that because of the type of work they perform — they just are not worth it.  And it’s pretty hard to imagine that they just deductive came up with that opinion all by themselves.

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There was even a story circulating  about a Swiss citizen working as a household domestic making approximately  $3250 per month saying that she was going to vote against the initiative because if her employer was forced by law to increase her monthly pay from $3250 per month to $4300 per month, she would most certainly lose her job.  What could possibly have made her think that unless her employer had told her on no uncertain terms — that that was the case?

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But I can tell you one thing.  If a nation’s citizens, when given the chance, soundly reject an opportunity to take control of their own destinies and create a better life for themselves and their countrymen — an opportunity which is rare enough in and of itself — then the odds of their duly elected representatives in government — beholding, as they generally are, to financial contributions by corporations and wealthy individuals — ever passing significant, standard of living changes upwards in the minimum wage and closing the income inequality  gap — are probably “slim-to-none”.

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So — Americans — don’t do it.  Don’t take my advice.  Do not — under any circumstances — follow the lead of the Swiss.  Keep fighting for a minimum wage upwards of $15 per hour!  And if the opportunity comes  — seize it — and never look back!

 

Americans Should Follow The Swiss Example and Demand a $25 An Hour Minimum Wage!

By Frank Byronn Glenn –– The Swiss vote in a national referendum on Sunday, May 18, 2014 on whether to raise the national minimum wage to $25 an hour or not.  Meanwhile the American Congress diddles and dithers in angst — mostly over whether or not their corporate overlords will disown them if they raise the minimum wage to $10 dollars an hour in the United States.   Congress people who make around $90 an hour for a forty hour week — plus another amount equal to that in perks, franking privileges, expenses and other political largesse.  And we’d be lucky if  Congress worked even a 20 hour work week, so their pay is actually closer to $200 an hour for actual time worked. And they are worried they will anger their masters, like Sheldon Adelson  and other billionaires, who could spend $100,000 per day until the end of time and never deplete a dollar of their starting capital.  And the politicians, primarily Republicans — are so dug in that raising the minimum wage can’t even be debated on the floor of the House, much less voted on.  It is political anathema –and political poison for them to even acknowledge the issue would warrant an honest debate.

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And then there is progressive  old “left coast” Seattle, which has the gall to talk about the possibility and viability of a $15 dollar per hour minimum wage — an idea that right wingers predict would be the beginning of the end of the modern era —  as we know it.  It will “kill jobs” they say.  It will collapse the economy — increase unemployment.  Like they even cared about that.  These “out-sourcing” kings, queens, princes and princesses and their political lackeys have already sent every job minimum wage or above that they possibly can — out of the country —  where they are paying 30 cents to 2.50 an hour to make things like an inhaler at a cost of 15 cents that they turn around and sell to chronically ill people  in the U.S. for $75 dollars a pop.

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Help in easing the income discrepancy and the wealth inequality for the working poor and middle class in the United States will never originate or come from the House of Representative or the Senate in these United States.  Politicians are too dependent on donations and financing from the rich to further their careers and maintain their life-styles to ever do anything meaningful on behalf of the American people. In Switzerland, the $25 minimum wage increase applies to entry level jobs like house-keepers, nannies, fast-food workers, agriculture laborers, and other entry level and menial jobs.  The Swiss have a really stream-lined method of getting good ideas, programs, and policies onto the ballots so the whole country can vote on them as a national referendum.  Americans should learn from the Swiss.  If average, working-class Americans are going to ever improve their lot economically in this country, it is not going to come from the House of Representatives or the Senate — and probably not even the Presidency.  It is going to come because Americans have taken to the streets by the millions — demanding fairness —  and suddenly politicians are more afraid of losing their jobs — and maybe their heads — than they are of disappointing or displeasing their corporate and individual wealthy “sugar-daddies” and “over-lords”.  Anybody that thinks the politicians in the House and the Senate will — of their own volition — do anything significant to improve the lives of everyday Americans are smoking one too many of those funny cigarettes you hear about.  It just is not going to happen.  The politicians have too much of a vested interest in placating the rich people who finance their campaigns — and ultimately — their cushy jobs and luxurious life-styles.  Most of them are in the same economic class as the rich people they fall all over themselves to pass laws, policies and programs to benefits anyway.  So it’s win-win for them.

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And the weirdest part,  is  that corporations, rich individuals, their PR men, corporate-owned media, and their political “yes men” have been so successful in pushing the idea that only the rich are entitled to have a decent life-style — that I have even heard working class people say they think $25 per hour would be just “too much” for everyday working poor and middle-class Americans to get paid.  Too much for what, I ask?  It’s like the abused house-wife syndrome — where an abused spouse thinks that the beating she gets from her husband is her fault.  Is what she deserves.  And that what she should do is just try and work to harder not displease him — not rile or upset him so often.  The sad plight of Americans –economically — will not improve  — until everyday Americans value themselves highly enough to do  what the Swiss have done — demand to be paid enough money for their labor that they can live a reasonable worthwhile and secure life.  Raise their children — send them to college, take vacations once in a while — enjoy affordable, available quality health care — and retire with a modicum of dignity and security at the end of a long working life of dedicated and committed service in their country — and in their communities! Good for the Swiss!  You deserve it, too — Americans!

OKC Thunder Project Power and Depth — Eliminate The Clippers!

By Ritchie Totten — On a night when the Oklahoma City Thunder’s dynamic duo were off their game early — their tenacity — and the contributions of their big men bench when Serge Ibaca left the game revealed why the Thunder just might be the team to be reckoned in this years NBA Finals.  On a night when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook weren’t hitting early — they showed their tenacity and basketball savvy — just kept moving the ball — and grinding — and pushed thru to victory late in the game.  It was almost an act of basketball will and tenacity not basketball savoir faire that won the night for the Thunder in  the end.  And, of course, the sleeping dragon – Durant — reared its  head when it was “money” time in game six of the Western Conference Semifinals and pushed the Thunder up, over, and thru the Clippers — and to victory.

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And once again the Thunder, playing in their fourth Western Conference Finals in five years — meet their old nemesis – the San Antonio Spurs — for the opportunity to play for all the marbles in the NBA Finals — yet again. The Spurs — who can play with tempo — play big — play half court grind it out basketball —  shoot you out of the game from three-land — or just beat you with slash, opportunism, hustle, and finesse — await the Thunder now.  Something does seem to have changed in the dynamic between the Thunder and the Spurs this year.  The Thunder went 4-0 against the Spurs int regular season — and ever since the Spurs went up on the Thunder 2 – 0 in the Western Conference Finals a couple of years ago — only to lose the series 4-2 to the Thunder — the Thunder has seemed to have had the edge against perhaps the best-coached, most solidly fundamental basketball team in the NBA.

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In their games in the regular season — it did look like something was different between these two teams this year.  I think it is partly the match-ups.  The Thunder bigs — particularly rookie Stephen Adams and the aging warrior Nick Collison –are not only wider, nastier, and more bone-jarring in the paint — but Serge Ibaka  has added a reliable mid-range jumper and power and authority in the paint close in — that was lacking in prior years.  Ibaca, drawing attention from defenses when he sets up in mid-range jumper territory — has shown a new facet to his game — the power dribble-drive to the bucket from anywhere on the court.  And whether it is that the Thunder bigs are a touch faster — a touch nastier — good, quick passers and reliable as scorers around the rim, it seems like the Thunder wears San Antonio down as the game progresses.  And in several cases this year the well-coached, savvy, opportunistic Spurs succumbed to the high energy, high octane, up-tempo play of the Thunder dynamic duo — and their supporting cast.

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The entire play-offs this year has been one for the ages — and the Western Conference Finals — on paper — looks like it will be no exception.  The well-coached and savvy Spurs — representing old age and treachery — will test their will and aging bodies against the exuberantly high octane and athletic youth and dynamism of the up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Western Conference Finals between these two “best of the West” teams — should, past predictive of future, be one for the ages, also!  Bring the pop-corn and let’s get it going!

 

OKC Thunder “Snakebites” LA Clippers!

By Ritchie Totten –Oklahoma City Thunders, down 13 points with four minutes and change to play — down 7 with 50 seconds to play — use miracle finish and Clipper miscues to squeak by LA and go up 3-2 in the Western Conference Semifinals.  Durant, having trouble hitting his shots early, responded to score six points in a flourish when all the chips were on the line — and Russell Westbrook continued to streak and soar and defend and closed out with three straight free throws with six seconds left to win the game for OKC, 105-104 — capppng off a 38 point other-worldly night.

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The Thunder were up 16 points with 9 minutes left in a superb 3 and a half quarters in Game 4, only to falter down the stretch and lose the game to the tenacious Clippers.   In something of a reversal of roles tonight, the Thunder not only kept their push to the Western Conference Finals alive, but went up 3-2 and showed grit and uncommon opportunism in continuing to play against all odds — and came up winners.

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Man for man, the Thunder are probably as talented at all positions and the bench as any team in basketball.  But they play brilliantly for periods of time in games — and look  unbeatable  — then suddenly and inexplicably seem to lose their focus and their rhythm — and look average, sloppy, and careless with the ball for stretches.   The only real question for the Thunder this year seems to be — will they mature enough to get up and stay focused and finish in games that they should clearly win going away.