Bonus Veterans: An Army Without Guns

The Shoeleather History Project

imageIt was a warm Sunday night in Hartford on August 7, 1932. Several dozen men and women–exhausted, dirty, hungry– trudged into the city after a hard trip from Washington DC. They had just made history. Along with 45,000 other military veterans and their families they camped for several months to press the government for aid. Specifically, they wanted the immediate release of cash payments (the Bonus) promised to them after World War I. They failed: the so-called Bonus Army could not compel Congress to vote for the pay. But the fight was far from over.

These were the Depression years, with a 25 percent jobless rate and two million of men and boys walking the roads or hopping the freights in search of work. Many of the unemployed were workers-turned-soldiers who had expected jobs when they returned from European battlefields.

imageIt’s a historical fact we don’t care to acknowledge: when…

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Martin Luther King Democratic Socialism

“There must be better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. Call it what you may, call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

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Oh, OKlahoma: Budget Shortfall

With our state facing a huge budget shortfall of approximately $1.2 billion dollars, cuts to social services will likely be the mantra of the day at the state legislature as they begin a new session today. The governor in the state of the state message she will deliver will blame it on the drop of oil prices while still likely extolling how wonderfully low our unemployment is.

All of that is fantasy land crap because the hands that control our state government won’t do the right thing and cut us loose from an always volatile boom and bust economy tied to the oil and gas industry. The oil and gas industry for their part are simply greedy SOBs because when the profits are insanely high like they have been until recently they stick those profits in their pockets instead of diversifying into renewable energy.

They got our governor (arguably the second or third worst in the nation) to continue the tax cuts to their industry and with encouragement from greedy corporations our state legislature have passed draconian laws that make a mockery out of our state’s unemployment figures. The law that allows the state to deny unemployment benefits to those who are simply being laid off through no fault of their own is allowing our state to report low unemployment when that is actually not the case.

Now they are touting a sales tax to slap a Band-Aid on the state’s shortfall. They want a sales tax (arguably the most regressive tax possible) to fund teachers pay and provide much needed funding to DHS. A sales tax is a short fix to a long term problem and it places the burden of keeping our state afloat on those on the lower end of the economic scale. It will have little effect on the oil and gas industry nor the large greedy corporations who all suffer from sucking at the teat of state government for tons of tax breaks that allows them to pay almost no taxes whatsoever.

Will the governor and her cohorts in the state legislature do the right thing? You can count on one finger the times that has happened, in fact you don’t even need one finger because they haven’t ever done the right thing. What you can count is they will feed their hungry greedy oil and gas buddies and make sure they are full of all those rich tax breaks that the rest of us in Oklahoma will have to suck it up to pay for.

There will be no compassion present in our governor’s state of the state message today save that she reserves for her corporate welfare buddies. No brag just fact!

Bob Bearden

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Facism. Rascism. Corporatism.

There’s lots of talk about Fascism these days.

Fascism is an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.

Good. It’s good that people are talking about it.  However, the tendency to link fascism directly to the thing that is racism may need to be looked at a bit closer than has been done so far.

Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. And prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

Not all Fascist totalitarian bullshit governments have had racism as a trait, like the Peron government in Argentina. However, all fascist governments have had corporatism as a fundamental component of a populist movement.

Corporatism is the control of a state or organization by large interest groups.

If one looks for fascism in the US in our time and look for it all over in the US, one must look for forms of it both with peanuts and without; that is, with or without racism. A racist not necessarily is a fascist, just like Juan and Eva Peron were lovable fascists but not great racists at all.

Perón’s ideology was economic and political in character and did not have the racism we saw in Nazi Germany. Juan Peron was a big fan of corporatism that was influential among Italian nationalists led by Benito Mussolini over in Europe. The Peronists were sympathetic to Nazi Germany, however, and after the war Argentina became a refuge to a few Germans seeking refuge.

Not all Fascists are racist.

Folks should be talking about Donald Trump’s racism and talking about it a lot. But also they should be talking about his corporatism. That would be good. Folks should not stop with just Donald Trump. What if there are forms of non-racist fascism lurking about all over? Folks might need to point that out, too.  One can get rid of the Donald Trump’s and think the US has been saved from fascism. Folks can easily do away with politicians that say racist things and incite racist behavior in their followers but they might just miss the fascism that is saintly. Saintly fascism is all warm and fuzzy like a cute hug-able puppy–not Hitler-like at all. Yet, still pretty bad.


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US Citizens Do Not Have the Right to Take Up Arms Againt the US Government


Shays’ Rebellion

For until recently, the Court interpreted “militia” as being the privilege of the States– to put together as they see fit. Somehow, folks have gotten the idea that the signers of the Constitution meant that any contrarian with a fringe belief or grudge has the right to form a militia.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

More and more folks seem to interpret the second amendment as stating that anyone seeing the government as “tyrannical” has the right to overthrow that government. It has never been true in the past so how is it true now? How this new idea will play out is a worthy discussion.

For the original intent of the Constitution in regard to a militia, one need look no further than the Shays’ Rebellion. Four thousand people signed confessions acknowledging participation in the events of the rebellion. Eighteen men were convicted and sentenced to death, but most of these were either overturned on appeal, pardoned, or had their sentences commuted. Sad but even the Articles of Confederation did not grant those fellows the right to pick up a weapon and go march on Springfield.

Oh, almost forgot. Shay’s rebellion also helped influence the adoption of a more robust central government at the Constitutional Convention. Federalists argued for a more centralized federal government. Seems odd that those who called themselves Federalists wanted a more powerful central gov and those calling themselves anti-federalist wanted just a federation of States, but that’s beside the point. It’s also odd that folks think that this newly formed government intended to grant militia forming rights to everybody with an ax to grind (although the cause may have been just) What happened was that a deal was struck between the federal government and the states resulting in a Bill of Rights being added to the new Constitution. All this because of Shays’.

Let me get a show of hands. How many think that the government in Hamiltons’ and Washington’s world wanted their government overturned?

There have been other uprisings in the US; Shays’ was only one. I mention it because that set in motion the thrust of the Constitutional Convention. Dealing with rebellions like the Shays’ was on the minds of the Constitution signers. Yet, today there is a new twist to the second amendment about militias. The forefathers were clear in dealing with Shays’. Attempts to overthrow the US government would not be permitted and the States could pull together a militia as they saw fit to retain order. Shays’ Rebellion helped put the need to form a better Constitution–to put in place a strong federal government much like the one left behind in England. As far as the Law, militias were not for Daniel Shays; they are are not for everybody today, all willy-nilly.

Why would Madison and the gang send out an invitation for insurrection in a new Constitution?

In Oklahoma history, a militia was called up in 1923 to guard the State Capitol. The Governor called it due to the Ku Klux Klan becoming so bad in Oklahoma; they had to put the state under martial law. Anybody know other times a militia has been called up in Oklahoma? That’s the only one I can think of right now.

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Supporters Continue to Gloss Over Position of Clive Bundy

The supporters of the Bundy bunch continue to gloss over the basic philosophical/political position of the originator of this squabble. Cliven Bundy has been a contrarian and a parasite for years.
“In 1964, the Hammonds purchased their ranch in the Harney Basin. The purchase included approximately 6000 acres of private property, 4 grazing rights on public land, a small ranch house and 3 water rights. The ranch is around 53 miles South of Burns, Oregon.” Taken from a letter written by one of the Hammond family.
Bundy, on the other hand, owns about 160 acres in the Gold Butte area, about 75 miles northeast of Las Vegas up Interstate 15. But for two decades, Bundy has also allowed his cattle to roam about 150 square miles of federally owned desert surrounding his ranch. That area is about 10 percent larger than the entire City of Las Vegas.

Bundy has said he does not recognize federal police power over land that he believes belongs to the “sovereign state of Nevada”. Bundy also denied the jurisdiction of the federal court system over Nevada land and filed an unsuccessful motion to dismiss the Bureau of Land Management case against him by claiming the federal courts have no jurisdiction because he is a “citizen of Nevada, not the territory of Nevada”. Bundy also believes that federally owned land in Nevada actually belongs to the state. According to The Guardian, Bundy told his supporters that “We definitely don’t recognize [the BLM director’s] jurisdiction or authority, his arresting power or policing power in any way,” and in interviews he used the language of the sovereign citizen movement, thereby gaining the support of members of the Oath Keepers, the White Mountain Militia and the Praetorian Guard militias. The movement is considered by the FBI as the nation’s top domestic terrorism threat.

J. J. MacNab, who writes for Forbes about anti-government extremism, described Bundy’s views as inspired by the sovereign citizen movement, whose adherents believe that the county sheriff is the most powerful law-enforcement officer in the country, with authority superior to that of any federal agent, local law-enforcement agency or any other elected official. On April 12, 2014, Bundy “ordered” Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie to confront the federal agents, disarm them and deliver their arms to Bundy within an hour of his demand, and later expressed disappointment that Gillespie did not comply.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Bundy’s views as closely aligned with those of the Posse Comitatus organization, The Posse Comitatus (Latin, “force of the county”) is a loosely organized, far-right social movement in the United States starting in the late 1960s, whose members spread a conspiracy-minded, antigovernment and anti-semitic message in the name of white Christians to counter what they believe is an attack on their social and political rights and it has also asserted that such self-described “patriot” groups were focused on secession, nullification, state sovereignty and the principles of the Tenther movement. The Tenther movement is a political ideology and a social movement in the United States that espouses that the Federal Government’s enumerated powers must be read very narrowly to exclude much of what the Federal Government already does, citing the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.) The US Supreme Court has filed an opinion that disagrees with this narrow interpretation.

It comes down to whether or not a small, vocal, potentially violent group of malcontents will be permitted to hold the larger majority hostage to get their way.

Don Nelson

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This Year’s Election

This year’s election for me is about not who is running against whom, but it’s about right and wrong. We have one candidate who wants to make, he says, ‘America Great Again’. I don’t understand that because with all its warts the USA is the greatest most envied nation on earth and it is true because even though we struggle at times to actually be the great nation we are, we keep trying to do the right thing and make a difference in the world for the betterment of all.

Right for me is about helping people and giving everyone a fair chance at being all that they can be (to borrow a phrase from an old Army commercial). It’s about making sure that what happened and what is still happening in Flint Michigan doesn’t happen anywhere again ever.

Building 50-foot walls won’t make things better for America. Making our nation into a theocracy won’t make things better for our people. We were founded on the principle of religious freedom for all and we were never meant to be forced to worship one religion over another. As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, “The reason we separate church and state is because the founding fathers believed a government should be guided by a balance of morality and reason, not blind religious faith. Practice your religion in freedom; just don’t make everyone else practice your religion.”

And oligarchies are not what America is or should ever be about. Candidates wanting to take the Koch brother’s lead and make us over into an Oligarchy doesn’t cut for me either. The very idea of being run and controlled by a cabal of cranky rich old white guys is as abhorrent to me as being forced to adhere to one specific religious philosophy.

None of the candidates running for president are perfect nor do they have perfect platforms to run on. They all have warts and they are all politicians of one sort or the other, but the gaggle that is the GOP Nightmares on Elm Street do not stand for the average American and nothing they say or do makes them any more palatable as a candidate, in fact the opposite is true pretty much every time they open their mouth to speak.

You have to be a politician to get elected and you have to do and say things that will make you look electable. But these GOPeers don’t just stretch the true they prevaricate it to the max (to use an old Valley Girl axiom). They lie long and often and without any compunction at all that they do. The media can call it not being totally honest, or stretching the truth, but no it’s just a lie that perhaps has been sugared coated to make it sound more edible. But no matter how you dress it up it is still a lie. And for the politicians inhabiting the GOP Nightmares on Elm Street gaggle of geese, lying has become a way of life.

But in the end for me, it is about what’s right and what’s wrong. For me, it is wrong to ramp up fear just to get elected. And that’s what they are doing ramping up fears because they know that if they can make enough of us sore afraid they have a chance to gain the prize they seek. They do their level best to make fear palatable because they know if enough voters take the fear they are selling into their hearts, minds and souls they will have accomplished what they set out to do.

But what they are selling is hate, bigotry and racism. They are selling division and that is just plain wrong. It’s not a new way it has been used in the past. It was used in Germany by Adolph Hitler. It was used in Italy by Benito Mussolini. If you give people someone to hate and despise, someone to fear and blame then they will begin to believe what you are saying is true. It is a despicable way to gain votes but, unfortunately, it often works.

The GOP Nightmares on Elm Street hate this nation and they hate its people and there is no way not to see that if you really listen to what they are saying. They have written off the last seven years as never having happened.

They refuse to acknowledge that more people have affordable health insurance than have ever had it before. They will not acknowledge that our economy sluggish as it is  has added over 12 million new jobs in those seven years. That’s the longest sustainable job growth in the history of our nation. They refuse to notice that unemployment is down to 5% the lowest figure in over 20 years. Our president despite the mountain of roadblocks their party has placed in front of him has accomplished more than any other president in his two terms in office except for FDJ and LBJ.

This election should be about making sure every citizen of this nation has the right to vote unencumbered by any restrictions save the fact that they are citizens. This election should be about making sure that the safety nets for those in need and those less fortunate are in place to keep them from falling through the cracks unnoticed. This election should be about love, peace, and compassion, not hate and avarice.

I am a proud veteran who served my country in time of crisis and I love this country, but like James Baldwin said,

“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

We live in the most diverse nation on earth. It has its warts and it isn’t perfect but it better than any other nation on earth. We don’t need some charlatan rising up to make America great again, America is great now and it has always been great. What we need is someone who actually cares about America and who won’t go about spreading fear as a way to govern.

Bob Bearden

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