Monday, May 02, 2016

May Day event held in Wichita, KS

By SJ Otto
We had a small but enthusiastic gathering for May Day 2016. I gave a history of May Day, with the fight for an eight hour work week, in 1886. The whole world was supporting that effort. There was also the Haymarket affair, with a riot and bombing, in which four people were sentenced to death for giving speeches during the bombing.
Janice Bradley pointed out this it was struggles like this where Americans actually fight for our freedom.
"When the military says they are fighting for our freedom that is the biggest crock," she said.

Members of the group recalled a big May Day celebration with Mexican Americans, focusing on immigrant reforms, a few years ago, where the numbers were huge. 
Out May Day event was held at the Peace and Social Justice center in Wichita.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Come and celebrate worker’s solidarity—May Day 2016—Wichita KS

May Day is the holiday that working people around the world celebrate for international worker’s solidarity. The US is one of the few countries that do not celebrate this with a legal holiday. The US government moved our Labor Day to September, many years ago, hoping to kill its meaning. Although most Americans no longer celebrate this holiday, many of us still do. We realize that Labor Day is supposed to be a day set aside to honor the struggle for worker’s rights, including the hard earned fight for an eight hour work day, an end to child labor, a five day work week and the right to organize ourselves into labor unions. The US right-wing has worked hard to reverse most of these gains and this is one day we can come together and support our rights as workers.

 This celebration will be at the Peace and Social Justice Center, May 1st, 5:30pm, at1407 N Topeka St, Wichita, KS 67214, (316) 263-5886. 
Come and bring a dish. Or just come and join in.

-SJ Otto

Thursday, April 28, 2016

We need to adopt a “no growth” economy for future survival

By SJ Otto

Our capitalist economy is like a ponzi scheme. It requires constant growth and eventually that will cause our society to collapses. One idea that could change all of this is moving away from a growth economy to a maintenance economy. Many political activists call it simply the “no growth economy.”

While intellectuals have heard of it, for many common citizens is totally over their heads. I ran as a local town councilmember and I called for a "controlled growth economy" over the traditional "growth economy." I'm sure that those who read it were scratching their heads and wondering: "WHAT!"

It is time to bring about the debate over a maintenance economy vs. growth. To most people abandoning a growth economy seems insane. Who ever heard of such a thing? How can a local economy be healthy without growth?

And yet this debate rose up during the rise of the Green Party of Germany, in the late 1970s, with discussions on “Sustainable Living.”

The reasons to abandon growth based economies are really simple. Growth requires resources that have to expand, and keep expanding in order to work. That means more power (gasoline, electricity) more land, more building of structures, more water, more sewer, more roads, vehicles and everything else we need to live. It can't remain stable, it has to grow. The problem is that all these resources will run out eventually. And that day is probably sooner than most people realize.

One thing that needs to be looked at is population growth. For many Americans putting the breaks on population is the equivalent to devil worship. Many Christians will quote the Bible; "As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it." In Kansas and other parts of the Bible Belt people take that book seriously and would never hear of challenging it. But for those people who believe that science has a place in our lives, it is time to challenge the idea of unlimited population growth. Once again, we must consider all the resources needed for a growing population, including homes, food and jobs.

We have to share the world and if we grow beyond our means we will die out as a species, or we will end up in a barbaric war over simple resources. In some ways we see that through today’s imperialism. Much of our so called “terrorism problem” stems from the lack of basic needs of people in less developed third world countries. No growth is what we need. It is a lot like blowing up a balloon. If seeing the balloon get bigger all the time is the point of having it, eventually it will pop. There is no way I can keep putting air in a balloon indefinitely. That idea defies simple scientific logic.

The debate has already begun. For example from Population Matters: 


"On 19 April, an audience gathered in the House of Commons for the launch event of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Limits to Growth.

Speaking first, Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion and chair of the new APPG, discussed the group’s aim of bringing discussion of limits on economic growth into the political mainstream by hosting debates, generating new policy ideas for a post-growth economy, and commissioning new secondary research.

In essence, this is meant to be an insurgent think tank within Westminster.

Ms. Lucas emphasized the political challenge of convincing other politicians, and the public, who are so accustomed to promises of growth, that we as a society have enough already.  Beyond a certain level of prosperity, economic growth does not lead to greater societal or personal wellbeing. Moreover, economic growth is becoming uneconomic on its own terms, she argued, in that the cost of repairing its social and environmental side-effects, such as climate change, is greater than the primary value growth delivers.

Ms. Lucas argued that efficiency improvements alone will not be sufficient to cope with increasing consumption alongside a growing population; the economy needs to stabilize and maybe even contract."


So the idea is getting around. It is still in the discussion stage. And we see resistance to this all the time. An example of that is the present day capitalist thinkers the Koch Brothers, David and Charles. They funded a massive climate denial machine to help keep them and other industrialists from having to spend their money on changing the way they do business. Surely as educated as they are they realize that climate change is real. But, as I have often heard people say; "Why worry about that? You will be dead long before that becomes a problem." And there is a clear connection between a no growth economy and cleaning up the environment. Both issues include painfully needed changes in the way the economy works. Both may lead to smaller profits in the short run. However, without changes our economy eventually implodes and humanity is doomed. And some of us do care what happens to the people who live hundreds of years into the future after we are gone.

It is time to seriously discuss a “no growth” economy.


Sander’s revolution needs to drop the use of assassin drones

By SJ Otto

While Bernie Sanders is starting to realize he won’t be nominated for the Democratic candidate, it is time to seriously look at his “revolution” in American that he is pushing for. Continuing to push for change is a good thing. But his foreign policy is not so good. He has supported the “kill list,” a list of terrorism suspects that this country plans to assassinate using drones. There is not due process and no trial. If a person’s name is on the list they can be killed along with their family members.

This is a barbaric practice that no civilized country should undertake. It is ridiculous to accuse others of terrorism and then taking up a practice that actually is terrorism. This is one of the worst foreign policy ideas this country ever came up with. It is a disgrace to hear Sanders speaking in support of this, but that is exactly what happened the other day:

"Look. Terrorism is a very serious issue," Sanders told MSNBC's Chris Hayes. "There are people out there who want to kill Americans, who want to attack this country, and I think we have a lot of right to defend ourselves." However, the senator added, "it has to be done in a constitutional, legal way."

The New York Times revealed in 2012 that President Obama hosts a meeting every Tuesday at the White House where he decides which suspected terrorists will be added to a so-called "kill list." Those on the list can then be targeted for killing, typically with an unmanned drone.

"Do you think what's being done now is constitutional and legal?" Hayes asked Sanders, noting the existence of "a list of people that the U.S. government wants to kill."

"In general I do, yes," Sanders replied.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Former 'Religious Right' Republican to Obama: 'You're going to be vindicated'

I predict that in the future historians will judge the opposition from Congress to President Barrack Obama as pure racism. There will be no other logical explanations. He has been accused of being a far-left liberal, radical, socialist and communist. None of that is true. He was a center left politician. That only leaves racism as an explanation to the stiff opposition to his rule. –SJ Otto 
Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter, public speaker and painter. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He is also a self-proclaimed “former member of the Religious Right and Republican Party.”
On April 6, 2016, Schaeffer decided to make a video describing what made him leave the GOP and express his appreciation to Barack Obama whom Schaeffer now calls “a great president.”

In the beginning of the short video, (which would not copy to this blog. To see it, go to the original article.) Schaeffer blasts angry viscous racists... 
“...who are trying to get back at Obama who committed the faux pas of being a black man, who also brought our country back to economic health, ended two wars, kept our country stable and prosperous during a time when he inherited the worst situation possible from probably the biggest fool we’ve ever had for a president.”
The artist adds his son, a Marine, was sent to the Iraq war, which was “an unnecessary war.” Scheffer’s son made it back safe, but many of his son’s friends did not. Schaeffer says he left the party because he “couldn’t stand the hatred anymore, the anti-gay bias, the anti-black bias, the anti-women bias and the kind of bullshit Donald Trump is spouting.” Schaeffer in his tribute talks about how President Obama has forged ahead in spite of these obstacles.

For the rest click here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Upcoming May Day event in Wichita, KS

The Peace and Social Justice Center will be hosting a pot luck for May Day, May 1st, 5:30pm, at the Peace and Social Justice Center, 1407 N Topeka St, Wichita, KS 67214, (316) 263-5886. 
The P and SJ Center has a lot of progressive members who are interested in labor issues, democratic socialism or just interested in the history of May Day, the international workers holiday. Come and bring a dish. Or just come and join in.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Recall Ranzau committee is expanding their agenda

Recall Ranzau committee is expanding their agenda

From the RecallRanzau:

Thank you for your continued support – there was overwhelming approval to expand our platform beyond the Recall effort to a sustained, organized effort to make fundamental changes in local and state government. We will therefore continue to speak critically, and organize on a broad range of issues facing Sedgwick County citizens. We invite you to join us.   

As of this writing, there is no update yet on the legal proceedings to challenge District Attorney Marc Bennett’s questionable decision to block RecallRanzau in Sedgwick County District Court. But here is what everyone can do now, and even during any future court proceedings:
1.      Support the re-election of County Commissioner Tim Norton, and help defeat the re-election of Karl PeterJohn – this will dismantle the Ranzau-Peterjohn-Howell majority decisions that gave rise to our recall effort. With 100+ RecallRanzau volunteers, we can bring some people power to these campaigns.
2.      Participate in the growing grassroots response and movement to replace Republican lawmakers who too often have supported Governor Brownback’s policies to recklessly cut taxes, starve public education of funds, punish the poor, decline Medicaid expansion, threaten the independence of our judiciary, suppress our votes, and deny equal rights and protections for all – Please attend the rallies, the meetings, the events; donate time and/or money; like and share posts and announcements on Facebook, twitter and other social media to assist with publicity.
3.      We need responsible and common sense candidates so please consider running for office; talk someone else into running for office; and support the candidates who have decided to run.
In the words of former Governor Carlin, “With the entire legislature up for election—and the voting records clearly identifying those who backed the administration’s plans openly available—there is no excuse for the 70% plus of Kansans who are upset with the Governor not to throw out his partners in crime. Consistent with our founding and the power of We the People, it will take the support of citizens who are working hard to educate their neighbors and get them out to vote for quality candidates committed to leading us out of the wilderness…”

Again, please join us. And if you haven’t yet liked, shared or posted a comment on our Facebook page, please do so using the link below. 

Committee To Recall Richard Ranzau, Inc.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Bernie Sanders smashes the Israel status quo

It has been a long time since anyone disturbed the pro-Israel status quo as to the rights of the Palestinians. In the last 15 years, Israel has lunged towards the right and stayed there. Their present government has no intention of trying to make peace with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Finally we have a presidential candidate who has the guts to stand up to the Israeli lobbyists. -SJ Otto
From CNN:
Bernie Sanders is taking a sledgehammer to the political status quo on Israel.
Sanders refused to back down Thursday night from his claim that Israel in 2014 used “disproportionate” force to respond to Hamas rocket fire from Gaza while calling for the United States to stop being “one-sided” in the conflict there. In doing so, he upended a long-standing tenet of American politics: that unflinching support for Israel is non-negotiable.
Sanders’ unorthodox remarks at CNN’s Democratic debate came just days before voters head to the polls in New York, where Sanders is fighting to narrow the significant, but not insurmountable, deficit he faces against former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
For the rest click here.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Donald Trump is learning that the presidential nominating system is not really all that democratic

By SJ Otto
This may be a good time to focus on the US political system and the extremely phony elections we have all gotten used to here. That is especially important since Donald Trump is learning the hard way that wining the presidency is not really about the popular support of the people.
Trump tweeted:

The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!"

This year Donald Trump has discovered that the system of gaining delegates and the convention system can easily usurp the need to be elected by the majority of the voters. He has realized that he can win primary after primary but it his winning of the nomination that is actually in the hands of the delegates and party flunkies. Many pundits are telling Trump that he should have checked the rules out before he started his presidential campaign. For example, from WWLP:

"(Donald Trump (R) Presidential Candidate) “And because of all his shenanigans that goes on and this is…”
(Anderson Cooper, CNN) “But you call them shenanigans. Those are the rules.”
(Donald Trump (R) Presidential Candidate) “I do. I do.”
(Anderson Cooper, CNN) “Didn’t you know those rules?”
(Donald Trump (R) Presidential Candidate) “You know why the rules — I know the rules very well, but I know that it’s stacked against me by the establishment. I fully understand it.”

Most of the pundits are not willing to state the obvious: "The delegate system and the conventions are actually undemocratic."
The Democratic Party has also adopted undemocratic rules. They have superdelegates, people who are not elected by anyone, but they can help defeat a candidate who has won elections, but is considered unelectable by the party leadership.
 According to the Wikipedia version of the history of the Democratic Party superdelegates:

"After the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party made changes in its delegate selection process, based on the work of the McGovern-Fraser Commission. The purpose of the changes was to make the composition of the convention less subject to control by party leaders and more responsive to the votes cast during the campaign for the nomination. Some Democrats believed that these changes had unduly diminished the role of party leaders and elected officials, weakening the Democratic tickets of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. The party appointed a commission chaired by Jim Hunt, the then-Governor of North Carolina, to address this issue. In 1982, the Hunt Commission recommended and the Democratic National Committee adopted a rule that set aside some delegate slots for Democratic members of Congress and for state party chairs and vice chairs. Under the original Hunt plan, superdelegates were 30% of all delegates, but when it was finally implemented for the 1984 election, they were 14%. The number has steadily increased, and today they are approximately 20%."

 It is not hard to see that this process could effectively prevent a popular candidate from being chosen for the presidential race based on rejection by party leaders who don't like what he/she stand for, or they just don't like them for any reason. In other words there may be situations where the "common voter just isn't smart enough" to elect the right person and neither party really wants to chance that.
After all, if the primaries and caucuses are not designed to let the public vote on who they want as president, they  are being left out of a major part of the democratic process. In the early part of the primary and caucus system, there are several candidates to choose from. By the general election there is only two choices.
This country is supposed to be democracy at its best. But at its best it is not really democracy at all. It should be called an oligarchy. That is a system from Ancient Greece where a democracy was set up that favored older people and people with wealth. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has said recently that this country is an oligarchy. In response to the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision:

"It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we've just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. ... At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell."

Of course it has been a messed up system for a long time. For most of its existence US democracy has been about rich people using bribes to get what they want. The irony here is that Trump is just like one of the modern day "robber Baron."  He is wealthy. But this year he decided to take out the middle man and run himself rather than sit in the background and pump money into someone else's campaign as we see by such modern robber barons as the Koch Brothers, Charles and David. The  Koch brothers have a budget of $889 Million to spend on this year's 2016 campaign.

The name "robber barons" was a name given to industrial barons of the late 1800s and early 1900s.   Both political parties had a cosy relationship with them and not much has really changed since then. 

Continued- More on this later.-->

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bernie Sanders- In solidarity with the Verizon workers

From the Bernie Sanders campaign;
Yesterday the CEO of Verizon said that I was "contemptible." He doesn't like that yesterday I walked the picket line with striking Verizon workers, or that I think Verizon needs to pay its fair share in taxes.
Verizon's attack reminded me of what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in New York City in 1936:
"We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
"They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
"Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred."
Like FDR, I welcome the contempt of Verizon's CEO. I welcome the hatred and contempt of every Wall Street banker, hedge fund manager, pharmaceutical lobbyist and fracking executive trying to stop our campaign.
They know how powerful we are when we stand together. That's why I need to ask you directly.
I visited FDR's gravesite this week while I was campaigning in New York. I took the time to reflect on his presidency, and how he stood up to the powerful interests on Wall Street who wrecked the nation's economy and sent our country spiraling into the Great Depression.
FDR thought big. When people said that Social Security was impossible, he defied them and created the safety net we have today. When people told him that he couldn't rein in Wall Street greed, he signed the Glass-Steagall Act into law.
Today we are thinking big, and the billionaire class is telling us what we're doing is impossible. People keep underestimating us, and we keep proving them wrong. Let's show them again on Tuesday in New York's primary.
I'm going to be on stage for tonight's Democratic debate in a few hours, and I know that with your support, we can win.
Nothing is impossible.
In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders