The History of Antifa

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Antifa Thugs Facts
Antifa Thugs Facts

Although the term Antifa may be relatively new to many people in the U.S., as an organization its many composite factions stretch far back. All of these factions have contributed to the history of Antifa. They strive to project an image of being disorganized because that’s what has always worked for this type of organization. They do not wish to be seen as a secret society such as the Illuminati. Such would lead them to be seen as kooks rather than randomly angry youth.

The pro-Antifa website CrimethInc puts it this way, “This leaderless format has proven effective for guerrilla activities of all kinds, as well as what the RAND Corporation calls “swarming” tactics in which many unpredictable autonomous groups overwhelm a centralized adversary. You should go to every demonstration in an affinity group, with a shared sense of your goals and capabilities. If you are in an affinity group that has experience taking action together, you will be much better prepared to deal with emergencies and make the most of unexpected opportunities.” Swarming notifications are regularly transmitted on social media, who are glad to do their bidding.

Regardless of whether you believe that they have a kind of central organizing structure or not, one thing is certain — they have habitually convened en masse to protest, burn, loot, and beat up opponents, journalists, and bystanders. They may not be directly getting marching orders from Obama’s shadow government, but to some extent their goals are the same.

Early Origins of Anti-Fascism

They initially took form during during the street-fights of the 1932 Weimar Republic and called themselves Antifaschisitsche Aktion. The Stalinist Communist Party of Germany (KPD) formed them. This wasn’t the KDP’s first foray into this arena; various Communist “anti-fascist defense” organizations were associated with the KPD much earlier. Under the KPD their task was to fight other political parties to gain control of the streets in the revolutionary politics held by the rapidly failing Weimar Republic.

Ostensibly, their directive was to fight the Nazis but their role was malleable; they also sought conflict with liberals, conservatives, and any other opposition that presented itself. They were a tool of their masters. As today, the very definition of idealistic, useful idiots.

As that struggle floundered and the movement faded away and, these radicals also melted into the background. But in the early 1980s, they resurfaced Germany. This time they fashioned themselves in the image of Communist urban guerilla units of ’70s and ’80s like Red Army Faction and the Red Brigade who operated in Europe. The central ideology this time was autonomism. Autonomist Marxism focuses on the ability of the working class to impose changes to the organization of the capitalist system independent of the state, trade unions or political parties.

Antifa in the United States

When the Antifa movement came to America, it began as an effort of young punks to expel neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the music culture. This coalesced into the Anti-Racist Action (ARA). Surprisingly, it started in the Midwest rather than on the more liberal east or west coast, and once established, spread outward. Soon chapters formed in numerous cities, and regional councils and networks were conceived. Notably, one was called the Midwest Anti-Fascist Network (MAFN), founded in 1995.

Some members of the ARA were the remnants of the domestic terror group Weather Underground. Guiding the young anti-racist punks in the formation of the ARA were members from the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee (JBAKC). Some separate ARA units endeavored to put together one of the largest Antifa networks in the country called Torch Antifa.

JBAKC itself was conceptualized as a front for the May 19th Communist Organization (MCO). This organization was founded from what remained of the Weather Underground, Black Liberation Army, the FALN, and various other terrorist groups that formed in the ’60s and ’70s. How appropriate that the date May 19 was picked for the name. That was the birthday of both Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh.

The central philosophy of both JBAKC and the May 19th Communist Organization is the same which Antifa embraces today: at its core the belief that the U.S. was founded on white supremacy, and therefore needs to be destroyed.

The Antifa Movement Today

Earlier we mentioned Antifa’s loose but well-connected organizational structure. The primary units are called “affinity groups.” Moving up the structure, multiple affinity groups form “clusters” of affinity groups. A member of any one affinity group can be a member of other radical left organizations. Protocol allows them to call upon them for assistance. Antifa thugs are likely to have connections with political organizations that support Antifa committees. Examples are the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), The International Workers of the World (Wobblies), and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). Antifa accepts resources and recruits from them as needed.

Now that we know the history of Antifa, the question remains — what will its future bring? Already both Congress and local political bodies are assimilating their supporters. The Democrats have become so polarized that they have developed a tunnel vision of hate and rage, manifested by three years of trying to impeach President Trump rather that doing any meaningful work. Large capitalist companies have “taken a knee” to Antifa and removed their brand identities. The thugs are now in charge.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Know the Difference Between “Epidemic” and “Pandemic”

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Main differences between an epidemic and a pandemic
Main differences between an epidemic and a pandemic

The words “epidemic” and “pandemic” have been used interchangeably by many news outlets during the Corona Virus (CORVID-19) outbreak. The fact is that words matter and should be used more cautiously so that the population gets the correct updates. Since the primary difference between the two words is the geographical scale of the outbreak/illness, a confusion of perception is possible. You need accurate information since CORVID-19 is much more serious for those with pre-existing conditions, such as high blood pressure.

Epidemic

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) specifies an epidemic as occurring at the level of a region or community.
  • As a metaphor, an epidemic is “a rapid spread or increase in the occurrence of something,” according to dictionary.com.

Pandemic

  • As opposed to an epidemic, “a pandemic is prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world,” according to dictionary.com. As such, the consequences can be devastating to both populations and intertwined economies, as we are seeing with CORVID-19.
  • A pandemic is what an epidemic becomes once it reaches a far wider number of people, especially across continents or even the entire world (reference the image at the top of this article).

Related Definitions to Know

As you try to understand what local officials, the talking heads on TV, and the gaffe-master Joe Biden are telling you keep these other terms in mind.

  • Outbreak: a sudden breaking out or occurrence or eruption of illnesses. With respect to an infectious disease, an outbreak is specifically a sudden rise in cases, especially when it is only or so far affecting a relatively localized area so it is more applicable to an epidemic than a pandemic.
  • Epicenter: a focal point of activity. If you are told a country, city, or region is called the epicenter of a pandemic disease, that means more or an accelerating number of cases are being confirmed there than other places in the world.
  • Hotspot: roughly equivalent to an epicenter but on a more localized scale such as a particular nursing home. The good news is that medical insurance companies can be more responsive in these cases.
  • Bubonic plague: ravaging Europe in 1720 and 1920, the bubonic plague was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The bacterium is found in fleas and wild rodents such as rats, squirrels, chipmunks or prairie dogs. Hopefully this one is behind us with effective methods of flea control.

Politics in Pandemic Names

  • The China virus: The WHO has issued guidelines for labeling diseases and called on scientists, journalists, and elected officials to follow the rules “to minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies, and people.” Since the WHO is affiliated with the UN it is not surprising that their take is politically correct. That hasn’t stopped President Trump from calling it the China virus. Because that’s what it is. Let reality prevail over hurt feelings.
  • The Spanish Flu: This pandemic, one of the worst ever, most certainly did not start in Spain. They got the name because of wartime censorship. Spain was not involved in WW1 and so their press reported on the flu whereas the combatant countries did not in order to boost morale.
  • Hong Kong flu: A pandemic of influenza A (H3N2) in 1968-69. This virus was first detected in Hong Kong in early 1968 and spread to the United States later that year.

Do you feel sick? There is some evidence that the same way you manage cold and flu symptoms may help with the Corona Virus. While this is not a proven cure if you suspect COVID-19, it can lessen the pain. Meanwhile, see your doctor.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan–a Book Review

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Roasted coffee beans and coffee cherries
Roasted coffee beans and coffee cherries

Coffee, java, a cup o’ joe, or sniff, sniff, the afternoon tea and scones. The world runs on the caffeine molecule in coffee and to a lesser extent, tea. Tea is the more ceremonial elixir and coffee the more blue collar but underlying of both is… caffeine. And this is the focus of Michael Pollan’s book. As a self-confessed coffee-fiend I found the historical and social angles of his story fascinating. And this is my book review of Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World.

Whether you make a daily pilgrimage to Starbucks, have a drip coffeepot, or indulge in the slow-motion popular cold-brewing coffee process, you are mainstream if you indulge in coffee or tea. You are an addict but socially and legally benign.

A Brief History of Coffee

Pollan traces the history of coffee and tea consumption from their roots to how they transformed economies, cultures, and the workplace. Coffee as we know it today can trace its heritage back centuries to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau.

Coffee was a social beverage. It was not only enjoyed in homes, but also in the many public coffee houses, called qahveh khaneh, which began to appear in cities across the Near East. The popularity of the coffee houses was unequaled and people frequented them for all kinds of social activity. European travelers to the Near East brought back stories of an unusual dark black beverage. By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe and was becoming popular across the continent.

In the year 1714, the Mayor of Amsterdam presented a gift of a young coffee plant to King Louis XIV of France. The King mandated that it be planted in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris. Then in 1723, a young navy officer, Gabriel de Clieu, secretly obtained a seedling from the King’s cherished plant. In spite of a difficult voyage, complete with horrendous weather, a saboteur who tried to destroy the seedling, and a pirate attack, he was able to transport it safely to Martinique.

From there, it couldn’t be stopped. Once planted, the seedling did not only thrive, but it’s credited with the spread of over 18 million coffee trees on the island of Martinique in the next 50 years. Even more incredible is that this seedling was the parent of all coffee trees throughout the Caribbean, South, and Central America. You’re welcome Juan Valdez, you imaginary Madison Avenue caricature.

Michael Pollan, an Experiment of One

To research and write this book, Pollan shunned coffee so he could write and document caffeine as, yes, a drug, albeit less harmful than say, meth. He also relates his experience of re-acquainting himself with it at the end of the experiment.

If you are like most of us, you take coffee, tea, soda, and the essential ingredient, caffeine, for granted. But a close reading (or in my case, listening to) of this book will educate and surprise you. From a war-time tie manufacturer who increased production via “coffee-breaks” to how London-coffee houses became the places to be for stock tips, you will be amazed how this caffeine molecule transformed the world. Without you noticing.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


A History of American Medical Insurance

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Medicare health insurance card and benefits
Medicare health insurance card and benefits

Today we are surrounded by so much high-tech medical apparatuses and procedures that we take them for granted. For example I recently had laparoscopic inguinal (groin) hernia surgery. No scalpel slashing, just 3 punctures. All the work was done microscopically and I was on my feet withing 3 hours.

But it wasn’t always that way. More than 90% of commonly-accepted medicine did not even exist in the 1950s. One of the consequences is that people, average people, not just the monied upper-crust, are living longer. A greater understanding about things like controlling high blood pressure adds years and quality of life.

The Cost of Modern Medicine

It should come as no surprise that all this progress comes with a cost. In fact, it has been rising faster than any other expenditure when looked at on a national level. Flash back if you will to 1930–we spent $2.8 billion on health care. That equates to 3.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) or only $23 per person.

In 2015 that rose to $3 trillion. That’s $9,536 per person or 15% of GDP. During the 1980s medical expenditures rose by 117%. Of that, 43% can be attributed to inflation. 10% can be attributed to the rise in population and longer life expectancy. 23% was due to new technology, medicines, and treatment innovations. The remaining 24% is due to another instance of inflation that resides totally within the medical community. This last number tells us that there is a lack of oversight and cost transparency. There is no financial propping up as with the banking, agricultural, and auto-building industries.

The Transformation of Hospitals

It was only in the 1850s that the medical community realized that diseases were caused by microorganisms. This became known as the germ theory of disease and it was indeed revolutionary. It led to research that was to begin to focus on preventative rather than just curative treatment. Rabies was banished from human population in 1885. Diphtheria and whooping cough were brought under control. When milk began to be pasteurized the death rate of children went from 125.1/thousand to 15.8/thousand in 1925.

In 1873 hospitals, of which there were only 149 in the country, were more like hospices; the poor and and deathly-ill went there to die; those institutions were little more than petri dishes, not at all sanitary. But that changed because of the changes brought about by germ theory.

By 100 years later the number of hospitals had increased to over 7,000 and their role had morphed into medical research and clinical medicine. Exciting times. But… they cost a lot to operate and the number of patients could not be reliably estimated. The solution? Late in the 1920s hospital insurance was introduced in Dallas, Texas to stabilize cash flow. For a premium of $6 per year Baylor University Hospital would provide 21 days of care to subscribers.

Soon other hospitals adopted this model and formed confederations so that patients could choose a treatment facility. This was the business model for Blue Cross which launched in California in 1932. These were rudimentary insurance plans; they did not include co-pays or deductions, just fixed premiums meant to stabilize cash flow. One consequence is that patients gravitated toward hospital stays (expensive) rather than outpatient treatments (cheaper).

This insurance was paid directly to the hospital and not to the individual. This eliminated any opportunity to “shop around.” Since the money was not coming itemized out of the patient’s pocket, why should he or she care what the price tag was?

The Government Fails to Regulate Medical Insurance

During the mid to late 30s Blue Cross was spreading rapidly. The states moved to try to regulate them to the same standards as other types of “insurance.” But the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association lobbied to be exempt, claiming an exception due to operating on a non-profit basis. The IRS agreed and ruled that they were also exempt from federal taxation. Blue Cross and other insurance companies emerging in the field operated on a cost-plus basis. Now there was zero incentive to control costs an strive for efficiency.

Hospitals began to compete not on price but by wooing doctor referrals. Doctors were being paid “reasonable and customary” charges. If Dr. C began charging a bit more, Dr. A and Dr. B would follow suit and the standard of “reasonable and customary” inched up. No oversight.

The Modern Medical Insurance Paradigm

When World War II drew us in, two things happened. One, the labor market got tighter since more workers enlisted in the military. Two, price and wage controls were implemented. In order to attract the best employees, companies began offering employer-paid health insurance as a fringe benefit which the IRS recognized as a business expense.

The National Labor Relations Board imposed collective bargaining on health insurance plans so unions began to demand more and more, driving prices up. But a consequence was that the patient became further distanced from the medical system and they lost many choices; one must take what is offered.

In 1965 the government waded into the medical market with Medicaid and Medicare. Initially, hospitals and doctors resisted but when they began to reap the dividends they quickly changed their tune. Now state governments largely controlled the purse strings of most major hospitals and thus could influence policy.

More recently a major factor in driving up medical costs is litigation. Medical malpractice suits have exploded. Cases have increased by a 1:300 ratio in the years from 1969 to 1990 alone. A special class of lawyers have even emerged to take advantage of this low-hanging fruit; these are your ambulance-chasers and your class-action law firms where actual plaintiffs make pennies while the lawyers walk away with the bulk of the settlements.

This short history of American medical insurance should serve to put things into perspective as we have a national debate over how it really should be handled. Should we stay on our present course or model our system on Britain or Canada? Should we believe in a socialist “free for all” system as Bernie Sanders advocates? (Hint: there’s no such thing as free.) Should we adopt an Obamacare model complete with a Jacobin death panel? This will continue to be an evolving national debate.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Was Obama the Worst US President?

The Obama Presidency. Hope and Change?
The Obama Presidency. Hope and Change?

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Simply put, there are supporters and detractors of the work Barack Obama did during his two terms as president. The matter is extremely polarized. But it’s the facts that matter, not dogma or personal opinion. It takes a while for all these facts to come out. After all, his administration was never as transparent as he pledged it would be. President Obama’s legacy is fairly well fleshed out at this point. Let’s look at the hard facts.

The White House Transparency Issue

Obama told the American people, ” My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. “

One of his campaign promises to meet this goal was to post all bills online for a full five days for review by citizens before he signed them. Sounds good, yes? But it only took nine days in office to break this “promise.” January 29, 2009: Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. No online posting.

Next up? February 4, 2009: Obama signed the S-CHIP law. Again, nothing online. Reporters understandably were beginning to ask why not. The White House response? It’s “too difficult,” they said, but they were working on the issue. Apparently, the high-tech whiz-kids in the administration never could solve the mysteries of cut-n-paste or HTML or even user-friendly platforms like WordPress because NO legislation was EVER posted for the promised five day citizen reviews of any bill that passed the Oval Office desk. There was never even an attempt to allow citizens to participate in the process.

As Sergeant Schultz Would Say, “I Know Nothing!”

This was one of Obama’s most notable evasion of personal responsibility ploys, played over and over again. Despite the fact that he has access to all manner of classified material and daily briefings, he claimed to be unaware of things that happened that he had personal responsibility for and an obligation to be aware of.

The list is impressive. The VA waiting list scandal? Fast and Furious? The Clinton email server? His DOJ stealing Associated Press phone records? His NSA spying on other world leaders? The IRS targeting conservative groups?

Here is one embarrassing quote, “I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this,” Obama said in June 2013 when he was asked about the IRS scandal. “I think it was on Friday.”

Living the Lavish Lifestyle on the Taxpayer Dime

Nobody would deny that the job as the president is extremely stressful and demands some downtime. But there’s reasonableness and then there’s reasonableness. Whereas President Bush took time out to play golf about one hundred times, Obama treated himself over four hundred times!

As long as we are making this distinction, it is important to note that Bush took trips to his personal property in Crawford. Almost always he continued to work while relaxing. Obama, on the other hand, tapped the taxpayers (many unemployed in a very down economy) to lavish retreats in places like Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii. That’s thirty eight vacations just by March, 2015.

According to judicialwatch.org, “The known total expense to the American taxpayers thus far for all Obama travel is now $70,880,035.78! And of course at times it wasn’t even Obama himself decompressing. In 2010, Michelle Obama entitled herself and her entourage to a luxury vacation in Spain. The cost for that one trip alone ran up a taxpayer tab of $467,585. Thank you, Mr. and Ms. unemployed taxpayer.

Then there was the “African Safari.” That one was $424,000. The twenty-day Hawaii vacation alone set the taxpayers back $4 million dollars. In 2013 alone? Obama averaged over one vacation every month. This included a trip to make an appearance and yuck it up on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. That’s a total of $7.4 million dollars for one year alone. And nothing was being done about creating jobs for citizens who were footing the bill. Nothing says, “I’m entitled” like this kind of narcissistic behavior, typical of the new breed of democratic socialists in America today.

Questionable Ambassador Appointments

It is no secret that in the world of politics ambassador appointments are made as a type of “reward.” The problem is that Obama took this practice to an unprecedented level and used it as his personal campaign cash-cow machine.

In fact, prior to his second campaign, he took time to make up a special set of rules so big donors and bundlers would be clear about the process (if you expected an appointment after the election). Qualifications did not matter. Cash is king; show me the money.

The rules were simple. Express your interest in more than one country. Ambassadors may only serve for only two years because there were so many big donors and jobs had to be found for all.

The list was embarrassing. George Tsunis: nominated for Norway but didn’t even know what system of government they had. Max Baucus: nominated for China; admitted that he was “no real expert on China.” Caroline Kennedy: nominated for Japan; couldn’t speak Japanese, no foreign policy experience, knew absolutely nothing about the country. The list of incompetency goes on and on. Even a less-than-astute observer would suspect a thinly veiled game of job-selling.

So was Obama the worst US president? That’s for each person to decide; I simply point out facts as they happened. We know that he gamed the system, circumvented the constitution many times, and treated the office as a permanent vacation while not getting any real work done. Even though the economy was stagnant under his administration, he blamed it all on Bush. He “inherited” it. But now that Trump’s economy is roaring, he takes credit, claiming that he laid the groundwork. He demonstrated a penchant for dismissing any sense of national sovereignty. His “apology tours” were embarrassing and cost us international credibility. History will judge.

About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.



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10 DIY New Year Projects to Tackle–Part 2

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See the Previous 5 DIY New Year Projects

Install a Pre-hung Door

An Exterior  Pre-hung Door
An Exterior Pre-hung Door

Some things in life just get easier. Hanging doors is one of those things thanks to the pre-hung doors available at home improvement stores. No mortising, no muss, no fuss. To make things even easier, hardware clips called The Quick Door Hanger are available to eliminate shimming the door jamb in the rough opening. Basically, all you need is a 4′ level or plumb bob, a measuring tape, a pencil, and a cordless drill with a Phillips bit. I’ve gotten to where I can hang a door in about 15 minutes. Life is good.

Frame Out Your Basement

Wood framing in a basement
Wood framing in a basement

Basements are often basically unused, wasted spaces. This is really a shame because framing and finishing it out expands your living space and boosts your home equity. I mean, that space is included in your property taxes anyway, right? This is a great project that can be put on your schedule for any time of the year. Learn the basics of framing a basement and some of the options that are available to you. Yes, this is a DIY project but you might need to pull some building permits. Always check your local building code.

Dieting is One of the Most Popular New Years Resolutions

Healthy food for weight loss
Healthy food for weight loss

Exercising, putting down the cigarettes, and going on a diet; these are the big 3 New Years resolutions. But there are a plethora of choices when choosing a diet. Which one is right for you? Which one can you realistically stick to? Inform yourself with these 10 most popular diets today.

Give Your Walls a Face Lift On a Budget

Colorful walls & energy efficient windows
Colorful walls & energy efficient windows

Upgrading the look of your walls is a great way to give your living space a fresh look on a shoestring budget. You can add a bolder texture, hang wallpaper, or choose paint colors that give the illusion of more space or higher ceilings. You can even paint over that dark paneling that looked so cool back in the 60s. Which wall improvement is right for your home? Learn about wall options here. Some people hate painting but that’s the wrong way to look at it. It is one job where you can see the results of your labors in a very short time. Some BEHR paint has the primer built in which basically cuts your time in half.

Install Radiant Barrier Foil in Your Attic

Energy Q Radiant Energy Barrier Foil In the Attic
Energy Q Radiant Energy barrier Foil In the Attic

Sure, everybody knows about maxing out the recommended amount of insulation in the attic (according to location) but that only represents about half the money you could be saving on energy costs. Why not install radiant barrier energy foil over the insulation? The savings are two-fold–it keeps the heat out in the summer but keeps it in during the winter. I can tell you from experience that the colder months are the perfect time for this project. I did mine in March a few years back and it more than paid for itself during the first summer. If you use your attic and it has flooring, there’s no reason you can’t tack it to the underside of the roof sheathing. Or conversely, use the radiant barrier paint.

I certainly hope these 10 DIY New Years projects (the first 5 are on this page) have inspired you. If so, I would appreciate you sharing these pages with your friends. Have a great New Year and thanks for visiting!


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Why Trump’s Border Wall Must be Built

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Trump's Border Wall
Trump’s Border Wall

This post was updated on 12/29/18.

The proposed border wall between the southern border of the United States and the Northern Border of Mexico has enjoyed a back-and-forth history. For the most part, the Republicans favor it and the Democrats waver one way or the other depending on the political wind of the moment. At the moment the vacillators are against it. Why? Because President Trump is for it, of course. For them, it’s all about political posturing, not national security.

Nancy Pelosi has gone so far as to cal the wall “immoral.” This from the supposedly Catholic woman that champions abortion on demand? That’s rich. And consider Chuck Schumer. Factcheck.org has this to say of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, “Sen. Chuck Schumer and then-Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton were among a bipartisan majority that voted in favor of the legislation, and it was signed into law by President George W. Bush.” Uncle Chucky just can’t seem to be able to think for himself; not consistently, at least.

But let us not forget that the wall is for the benefit of the average taxpayer, not these high-and-lofty politicians that live in crime-free gated (and with WALLS!) communities. They don’t have to scrabble with illegal immigrants for social services, healthcare, and public schools like the mass of taxpayers. The American Royalty can afford to poo-poo the wall and national sovereignty but there are a plethora of reasons for building it.


Open Borders are Dangerous

The Department of Homeland Security tells us that it apprehends an average of 10 known or suspected terrorists every single day that are entering the United States. And despite claiming to support border security, Democrats in practice have blocked all efforts to secure our southern border and protect our communities.

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FBI Data Shows Terrorists are Sneaking in Through Mexico

Leaked FBI data obtained by Breitbart Texas has revealed that there were 7,712 terrorist encounters in the US  in just the past year. In the time between July 2015 and July 2016, the majority of terrorist encounters (defined as interactions with known or suspected terror watch list suspects by law enforcement) unsurprisingly happened in the southern border states. Texas, California, and Arizona ranking among the highest.

A Wall is a Physical Barrier that Hinders Human Trafficking and Drug Smuggling

Although there are some portions of wall constructed, huge gaps in other areas act as funnels through which illegal aliens, drugs, and other forms of contraband pass unhindered.

Of course Trump’s wall won’t stop everything; nothing will. But it will create such a hindrance that the Border Patrol can more easily manage the situation. Augmenting the scenario with drones and wall-mounted cameras will help to round out border security.


Rising Cost of Illegal Immigration

Border wall deniers (such as the current crop of Democrat Socialists) love to wail about the cost of construction but perhaps it is time for a reality check. Estimates vary but it is safe to say that $70 billion would get it done. Is this too much? The Center for Immigration Studies says, “if a border wall stopped a small fraction of the illegal immigrants who are expected to come in the next decade, the fiscal savings from having fewer illegal immigrants in the country would be sufficient to cover the costs of the wall.”

Currently, Illegal immigration is estimated to cost the United States millions of dollars, and according to President Trump, $113 billion each year in lost income tax revenue. Illegal immigration is recognized as a strain on government spending by overburdening social welfare, health, and education programs.

Another thing to consider is remittances, that is, money sent back to Mexico from illegal aliens to family and friends. Much of these wages come from under-the-table jobs (untaxed) meaning that these individuals are taking these jobs out of the American job pool. The inherent greed of some employers is denying jobs from some U.S. citizens while at the same time denying revenue to the government to pay for defense and public services.

But the end result is that although these illegals are consuming public services, they are taking their wages out of circulation rather than contributing back to the system. Those that think the amount of money is a pittance might be surprised.

nbcnews.com says, ” Mexico’s central bank reported Mexicans overseas sent nearly $24.8 billion home in 2015, overtaking oil revenues for the first time as a source of foreign income. Remittances were up 4.75 percent from 2014 when they totaled $23.6 billion, the Bank of Mexico said. They had never before surpassed petroleum since the Bank of Mexico began tracking them in 1995.”

In other words, American hard currency that should have been at least partly spent here is going to support the infrastructure of Mexico. The next time you go to the polls and the open border-types are soliciting your vote, remember that those they are inviting with open arms are building roads, bridges, and hospitals in Mexico while yours crumble.

These are just a few reasons why Trump’s border wall must be built. There are many others. The problem is that although the Democrats supported it when it was politically expedient to their careers, they have been on the fence since 2006 as they try to reshape America, Mexico, and Canada into a facsimile of the EU. We know how well that’s working.

End of 2018 Border Update

The assault on our border by Central American invaders seems likely to continue. A new caravan originating out of Honduras is planned for January 15, 2019. At the outset is is estimated to be comprised of 15,000 people with more expected to join as they make their way north.

This puts Mexico in a bad position. They have always been content to get flush and fat with all the money generated, both legal and illegal, counting on former U.S. administrations to just open the floodgate that is our mostly unprotected border. The fly in the ointment now is That President Trump is having none of it. That puts the onus on Mexican authorities to feed, house, and provide social services and possibly work for the invaders.

Now that their social services are being stretched and their jobs are going to invaders, the Mexican citizens are getting fed up with the situation. “Well, now the government does something. That work is for Mexicans that need it,” said Anna Pérez from Palenque, Mexico, on Facebook. “Opportunistic people who just want to take advantage of the Mexicans.” That reeks of sour grapes to U.S. citizens that have lost their jobs over the years due to the opportunistic policies from the likes of Pelosi and Schumer.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government remains in a state of partial shutdown as the Democrats refuse to protect our borders. And rather than doing her job to work on a solution to Trump’s wall, Nancy Pelosi continues to party down in Hawaii. For shame.


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How to Improve Your Credit Score

A range of credit cards
A range of credit cards


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One of the best things you can do to to improve your odds of purchasing big-ticket items such as cars and a home is to improve your credit score. It is also essential to be in good standing when applying for loans, mortgages, credit cards, and even some jobs. A minimum target is a score of at least 720, while 850 is the highest you can go.

Credit Bureaus Determine Your Fate

Three credit bureaus (the Big Three, as they say) tabulate Americans’ credit scores: Equifax, Experion, and Transunion. You might assume that these are government agencies, but you would be wrong. They’re independent companies in the business of calculating and reporting your score. The methods they employ to come up with your score and how to improve it are closely guarded secrets.

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A Strategy to Improve Your Credit Score

Raising your credit score does not happen overnight; you have to work at it. How to go about it? There are various thoughts on the matter but Phil Tirone, author of the book 7 Steps to a 720 Credit Score, hits on 3 key points that everybody can agree on. Don’t fall for online scams that promise to magically raise your score. Rely instead on these principles.

  1. “Aim to have three credit cards—not just one or two—but never more than three. If you have more than that, pay them off and cancel them as soon as you can.”
  2. “Never use more than 30 percent of your credit limit. In other words, if you have a $10,000 credit limit, do not borrow more than $3,000.” To do so would be unwise in any event.
  3. “Have one paid revolving account—the kind you can maintain at a furniture store. Purchase something like a sofa and then pay it off. Use it every so often, and be sure to pay it off every time.”

One caveat here that he didn’t mention is to never be late on a payment. That will poison your attempt to raise your credit score. Automatic withdrawals are perfect for this. Set and forget.

A Higher Credit Score will Save You Money

For example, if an average consumer owns one credit card, one car loan and a house mortgage of $150,000 and raises his credit score by 50 points or so, he could save as much as $700 a month. Now why would that be? Because that makes him less of a risk. He can secure better terms and interest on a mortgage and more favorable car financing.

Consider what a benefit that $700/month is. The consequences are far-reaching. Typically Congress favors American taxpayers with about $700 every few years in the form of a tax rebate, and the economy gets a good bump. Imagine if every american were saving $700 a month and could use that to recharge the economy!

So now you know how to improve your credit score. The question is, “When?” The answer of course is, “Now!” 


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Do Social Networking Sites Have an Agenda?

Social Networking, a Blessing and a curse.
Social Networking, a Blessing and a curse.
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This post was updated on 8/12/18.

Social networking sites have come to have a huge impact on the lives of most everyone who is connected. In the grand scheme of things this digital behemoth is a relatively new phenomenon. And yet we have come to take it all for granted and until recently we assumed it was all benign. Perhaps it is time to rethink that.

Facebook Betrayed Our Trust

Facebook is the big guy on the block. It hosts 2,230,000,000 monthly visitors. In 2017 it generated 40.65 billion dollars in sales/revenue. Friends, this is big business. Very big business.

These are not just the culmination of small-time hustles. As we recently found out, in 2014, the U.K. affiliate of U.S. political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica employed a Soviet-born American researcher, Aleksandr Kogan. His task was to gather profile information of Facebook users along with what they chose to “Like.”

All told, 300,000 Facebook users, some of whom were paid a small amount, downloaded Kogan’s app, called This Is Your Digital Life, which presented them with a series of surveys. Kogan harvested data not only of those users but also on their Facebook buddies. As it turned out, 87 million users were misled and their personal data was exposed. The data was never meant to be used for “research” purposes as claimed. It was used to influence politics.

Alex Jones of Infowars Banned

Alex Jones is the head honcho at Infowars, a commentary/show known to advance some kooky conspiracy theories as well as hawking supplements. He is not a dangerous fellow and not many people take him seriously; they see him as the internet version of the National Enquirer.

However, the problem is that Social platforms such as Facebook, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube are decidedly left-leaning and saw him as a threat. They have banned him for violating their hate speech policies. Fair enough. 

Patriot Depot

Where things get dicey is when the shoe is on the other foot. Not a thing is done, for example about the YouTube video of Maxine Waters inciting mob violence targeting conservatives and those working in the Trump administration. We could go on and on about the double standard, even to the point where the coddle Democratic Socialism.

YouTube Puts its Boot On Dennis Prager

Do you know who Dennis Prager is? Besides being a syndicated radio talk host and best-selling author he is also one of the world’s leading scholars on the Torah (the Old Testament for you gentiles). He also produces a collection of videos called PragerU. These videos are a combination of opinion, historical facts, and corroborated research.

Although these videos are not hateful nor an incitement to mob violence as Maxine Water’s are (her liberal rantings are sacrosanct to YouTube), YouTube continues to censor more and more of this material because it is (hold your breath) conservative.

This is how Ben Shapiro explains it, “For more than two years, YouTube has continued to restrict access to more and more of PragerU’s educational videos – simply because they present a conservative point of view. There are currently over 80 PragerU videos that are restricted – more than double the amount of restricted videos since filing our lawsuit against YouTube. Silicon Valley giants like YouTube continue to censor the ideas they don’t agree with. They promote their Leftist ideology and restrict conservative speech.”

I don’t really care which side of the fence you are on; is this really the America you want? Where some millionaire purveyors of social media (that makes them a BIG part of the 1%) decides what we can see and what we can’t? Not the government, not your HOA, not your mommy and daddy, not Antifa, but citizens like you and me?

Social Networking Driving Political and Cultural Change

Given the way the social networking machine silences the right and hands a bullhorn to the progressive left, it is not a huge leap to conclude that they are using their platforms to effect political and social change.

Journalistsresource.org tells us, “The largest and perhaps best-known inquiry into this issue so far is a 2012 study published in the journal Nature, A 61-Million-Person Experiment in Social Influence and Political Mobilization, which suggested that messages on users’ Facebook feeds could significantly influence voting patterns. The study data — analyzed in collaboration with Facebook data scientists — suggested that certain messages promoted by friends “increased turnout directly by about 60,000 voters and indirectly through social contagion by another 280,000 voters, for a total of 340,000 additional votes.”

This is what it has come to. The Democrat party is floundering and without fresh ideas and fresh faces they feel compelled to use the censorship vs promote game to keep some skin in the game.

The conclusion? Social networking sites have an agenda. Do not be fooled into thinking that they are providing some kind of altruistic public service. They serve their masters on the left and sheeple are buying into it.

#metoo? Google Coddles Perps

And now, slightly off topic, Google’s troubles are expanding. is alleged to be rewarding Andy Rubin, the creator of Android in the wake of some sexual shenanigans. As reported b y the New York Post, “Google is about to pay Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, the last installment of his ­­$90 million exit package — a golden parachute he received despite his being credibly accused of coercing a female employee into performing oral sex, it was revealed on Thursday.”

The Post goes on to say, “In addition to claims the legendary software developer coerced a colleague to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room, Rubin had multiple ­extramarital affairs with colleagues — and had bizarre “ownership relationships” with other women to whom he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to an explosive report. 
Google is shelling out a $90 million exit package to Rubin — despite the fact that the search giant had investigated the woman’s claims and found them credible, two company execs told The New York Times.”

Now I for one remain skeptical of the #metoo movement, if only because in many cases it is a political tool rather than a vehicle for justice. To wit, consider the testimony of Dr. Ford during the Justice Brett Kavanaugh nomination hearings for the Supreme Court.

In addition to none of her witnesses remembering what she remembered, it now turns out that she also perjured herself on that “two front doors” thing. Under oath she claimed she had the second door installed during a remodel to deal with her Kavanaugh trauma but it turns out that the door was there long before that. It was a separate entrance when part of the home had been used as office space and apartment rental.


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Democratic Socialism in America



The economic fallacy of Socialism and redistribution
The economic fallacy of Socialism and redistribution

This article was updated on 03/04/20.

Recently there has been a surge in Democratic Socialism in America. Bernie Sanders may have run against Hillary Clinton as a Democrat but in reality he is a self-described Democratic Socialist. He campaigned hard and gained an impressive following but was sabotaged by Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The election is over. Bernie faded back somewhat but he is a loyal trooper and has done his job for the movement. Not a whimper of complaint about how the DNC through chicanery gave his campaign the boot.

Enter Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary on June 26, 2018 in New York’s 14th congressional district. In doing so she defeated the incumbent, Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley. This victory has been described by some as the biggest upset victory in the 2018 midterm-election season. She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and has been endorsed by a number politically progressive organizations.

As of this writing she is the darling of the Democrat party in general. Coming up on mid-terms though, the old hands are realizing that she is a liability. They are torn though because she is energizing the base which to a large extent consists of low-information millennials who are suckers for the mantra, “free health care, free university, high pay for flipping burgers, more safe spaces.” Many of these individuals, although not all, are more likely to be members of Antifa rather than productive society which is supposed to pay for their freebies.


How Can They Make the Give-Away Nanny State Work?

In an interview on “The Daily Show,” with host Trevor Noah, Ocasio-Cortez basically trotted out the tired, boring, unrealistic party lines. “If they pay their fair share; if corporations and the ultra-wealthy, for example as Warren Buffet likes to say, if he pays as much as his secretary paid, a 15% tax rate…”

She then goes on to say, “raise the corporate tax rate to 28%.” I suppose to hell with all the job creation and repatriated corporate cash that the Trump tax cuts have created.

Next she goes after the military budget. She drones on, “Just last year we gave the military a $700 billion budget increase which they didn’t even ask for. They’re like ‘We don’t want another fighter jet; they’re, like, don’t give us another nuclear bomb’. They didn’t even ask for it. And we gave it to them.”

Tell that to the USAF jet mechanic on the flight line patching up jets with “gently used” replacement parts.

This is the very same Ocasio-Cortez that tweeted that the GOP is weak on national security. So come on Alexandria, which is it? We all feel better knowing that under your Socialist party you can achieve strong national security without funding the military. How will that policy ensure our national sovereignty? Sounds a bit like unicorns and rainbows.

History of Socialism in America

In the United States Socialism found its beginning with utopian communities in the early 19th century. A good example is the Shakers. Labor activists who were usually British, German, or Jewish immigrants founded the Socialist Labor Party in 1877.

The Socialist Party of America was established in 1901. It is interesting to note that anarchism also established itself around the nation. At this time socialists of different stripes were involved in early American labor organizations and struggles. One thing led to another resulting in the Haymarket affair in Chicago which started International Worker’s Day.

This evolved into the main worker’s holiday around the world except in the US, which observes Labor Day on the first Monday of September.

The Socialist Party of America presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs was opposed to World War I and his influence led to the governmental repression we know as the First Red Scare. The Socialist Party declined in the 1920s, but nonetheless often ran Norman Thomas for President. Fast forward to the 1950s; socialism was affected by McCarthyism and in the 1960s it was revived by the general radicalization brought by the New Left and other social struggles and revolts.

The socialist movement has always had its adherents on our soil but has never been able to sway the majority of the population. For one thing, many hard-working Americans are well informed enough to know that socialism does not work.

Democratic Socialism in America is also hampered by the freedom of citizens to participate in a capitalist system where hard work pays off.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.