Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Rep. Elijah Cummings eviscerates GOP chairman for Planned Parenthood salary hypocrisy

The hypocrisy ran rampant during the congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood funding. The disrespect shown to Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards bordered on misogyny.
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chair Jason Chaffetz should be ashamed of the entire hearing. The congressman's attacks on Cecile Richard illustrated that, in fact, his party's war on women is real. It is not made up.
Rep. Chaffetz attacked Cecile Richards for her salary. Richards is the president of a very large organization that services over 2.6 million citizens every year. She travels extensively throughout the country, ensuring that those that would attempt to bring down Planned Parenthood based on false premises are kept in check.
For the rest click here.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

More publicity for Kansas' most racist politician- Kris Kobach

by Otto

Once again a non-deserving politician, Kris Kobach, got a lot of free publicity from The Wichita Eagle, "Kris Kobach, his views spark intense reactions – from supporters." However, they also printed an article about the difficulty of registering to vote and the thousands of people who's registration has been suspended, "Young voters, Wichitans top Kansas’ suspended voter list."
Not since the days of the civil rights movement has any politician tried so hard to keep people from voting, especially Hispanics. All the experts agree that the anti-voter/anti-fraud laws pushed by Kobach or designed to stop blacks and other minorities from voting. It also works against poor people.
The first article takes a look, mostly at his supporters of Kobach who are mostly white and older. There is little doubt this guy really depends on the angry white vote. His anti-immigrant credentials are well known across the nation. Almost any state that is trying to curb the rights of immigrants and restrict voting can be tied to Kobach's help. He barely has time to do his actual elected job as secretary of state.
That he has so much support in Kansas should surprise no one. Kansas use to be segregated and a major civil rights battle was actually fought in this state, right here in Wichita, the Dockum Drug Store sit-in. It's not surprising we still have racism here and it doesn't surprise me that racist can get a man elected, as they can with Kobach.
Now this man thinks he is governor material. If I have to chose between a very right-wing dumb ass and a very right-wing smart ass, Ill take the dumb one. Governor Sam Brownback is a dumb ass and most Kansans can tell. Still, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker followed almost the same economic strategies as Brownback, but he was able to win re-election with more than 50% of the vote. That he could seriously be considered for the president is disgusting. This is what happens with a smart ass.

The only place that Kobach belongs is in the dumpsters of history, along with racism and anti-immigration fear mongering. If he tries to run, we need a special effort to make sure he doesn't win.

Friday, September 25, 2015

In defense of Wichita’s only abortion clinic

I received this letter from Julie Burkhart and I am posting it here. -Otto

Julie A. Burkhart, Founder and CEO, Trust Women and South Wind Women's Center: 

Each of us put our intentions and actions into the world everyday.  What we do has consequences and shapes the world around us. Our actions may be large or small, but they make a difference.  Even choosing to do nothing is an action in it's own way.  Some times our most profound actions, the ones that change the course of our lives or of someone else's life, come when we answer a call and say yes.  Dr. Tiller became an abortion provider because his father's patients asked him for help.  He became a later abortion provider because patients asked him for his help.  

I know that each of you have answered a call at some point to join this movement. At Trust Women, we are all here because we said yes.  We opened South Wind Women's Center so that people who needed care would have a place they could turn to when they need it most. In most cases, we only know a few facts about our patients' lives. We know they need our help.  That's enough for us.  We know that whatever happens later in our patients' lives, this moment was one where they received help, one when they were able to ask for assistance and be told "yes, we can help you."   This is why we continue to work to provide the best care possible; why we fight each new restriction; why we speak out and share the truth about abortion.  Even when it's hard, even when our allies don't defend us, even when we're threatened. It's worth it. It's worth it to be able to say yes for once. 

We all have the capacity to do what we know is right. We all have the ability to answer the call to help others even when it's hard or scary.  Even when it seems like our small actions won't change anything, they matter.  Your help, and your willingness to stand with us are what have allowed us to help over 4,700 patients since we opened.  Together, we are able to "say yes."  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

High Across The Prairie- "Memoirs Of A Drugged-Up, Sex Crazed Yippie" - Review

by Tim Pouncey

Kansas in the late 1970's was so different from today; the Sunflower State might as well have been located in Holland.

Remember what it was like to share drugs with close friends and complete strangers? Remember when casual sex was so casual you didn't even know your partners name? Remember when the political climate of Kansas came down squarely on the side of tolerance? Remember when your personal philosophy of life was defined by rock lyrics and not a mission statement?

You don't?

Well, Steve Otto does.

In his latest semi-fictional novel, Memoirs Of A Drugged-Up, Sex Crazed Yippie (Authorhouse Press/2005), Otto excavates 1970's counterculture like an archeologist loving dusting off a Mastodon tusk. In a brisk 349 pages, Otto gives us a lucid look at a Kansas few people remember --- or can't remember due to a plentiful supply of "controlled substances" that were constantly and cheaply available. Characters romp through Wichita, Lawrence and even Sedalia Missouri when a cheap thrill was worth what you paid for it and pleasure was just the flipside of danger.

But to dismiss this book as just another nostalgic stoner reminiscing about the last days of the counter-culture would be a major mistake. Although there is a certain "back-in-the-day" wistfulness about the time before political correctness was a mantra, Otto tempers his dreamy history lesson with brutal honesty.

The narrator of the story --- a composite of just about every old druggie you ever met --- may graphically describe the bliss of mainlining MDA, he also reminds us that brief moment of pleasure most often occurred in a squalid apartment at broken kitchen table next to sink full of dirty dishes.

Like all good storytellers, Otto takes the reader places they've never been before. Like William Burroughs and Charles Bukowsky, Otto sometimes takes you to places you've never really wanted to visit. Yet, Otto makes it worth the trip by including generous portions of political discourse, Cyrenaic philosophy, post-adolescent lust and near-suicidal thrill seeking to keep the narrative moving along like a junkie careening through a police roadblock.

Otto's work is always provocative and this book will undoubtedly draw the wrath of both solid conservatives and neo-feminists. Otto's characters never mask their contempt for the right-wing agenda and Otto's narrator never hides his obsession with female anatomy. However, criticizing Memoirs because it baits conservatives and objectifies women is missing the point. Filtering 1970's Kansas counterculture through the sensibilities of a naive middle-class, catholic school educated, twenty-something is no easy trick but Otto mostly pulls it off. He has a good ear for times-past and tries --- often successfully --- to make his prose read like it would have been written by someone experiencing these situations 30 years ago. Trying to be simultaneously innovative, entertaining and honest is a juggling act on a unicycle, but Otto is generally at his best when everything's up-in-the-air and he's peddling frantically. When the narrator's budding Marxist politics and his discussions with Iranian nationalists clash with his dawning awareness that Kansas politics has taken a sharp turn to the right, Otto makes it work.

Is Otto's look into the rear-view mirror a true reflection on the 70's, or do the objects simply appear bigger than they were? Ultimately, it doesn't matter. Memoirs resonates with characters buckling under the weight of the America Dream with redemption harder to find than next snort of Cocaine.

Memoirs costs $18.95 to $12.95 on sale can be found at these sites:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Wichita still feeding off the teats of the Koch Brothers

Once again our local newspaper, The Wichita Eagle, has supported the two most dangerous people in the US today Charles and David Koch. They have pursued a pro-business, anti-worker agenda. Worst of all they are destroying the democratic practices in this country by throwing $billions into our elections to buy off candidates and make them win.
These destructive people spend some of their $billions trying to win over the city by donating to building construction. But that is not without big benefits. Their name is now on a large number of buildings all across Wichita, a city that have locked up tight.
From The Wichita Eagle:

"The Kochs and the arts have a proud, long-running partnership in Wichita, in part because visual art was such a passion of the late Mary Koch. Now Liz and Charles Koch and the family foundations are giving $10.5 million in land and funding for a new home for the Wichita Center for the Arts, on a prime open site at 13th and Rock."

In The New York Times article calls Wichita "Kochville," and lists buildings that contain the Koch brother's names on them;

"...Not far away is the Koch Community Plaza and Koch Scouting Center. Then there is the Koch Orangutan and Chimpanzee Habitat at the robustly Koch-supported Sedgwick County Zoo. Stop off for swimming lessons at the Koch Aquatic Center at the North Branch Y.M.C.A., or a learning experience recognizing the ecological interests of Fred Koch and his wife, Mary, at the Great Plains Nature Center’s Koch Habitat Hall..."

And we could add the Koch Arena at Wichita State University where the Koch brothers have bought a lot of influence and can now get their rivals kicked off the university and they have.
Their contributions are made to make sure they get a positive public image, free advertising and they can made demands on any institution that may cross them. It's no different from prostitution the money is good, but there is also the shame and degradation. When a billionaire has his name all over the city on buildings honoring him it becomes obvious that he is trying to buy up the town and own it. At leas we wish more people would see that. -Otto

Hulse's article tries to look at both sides in the Koch brothers buying up Wichita:

"In Wichita, Koch Influence Is Revered and Reviled"
WICHITA, Kan. — In national politics, playing in Charles Koch’s arena can mean saturation advertising against vulnerable Democrats, calls for tax cuts, demands to roll back government regulation and bitter clashes over climate change.
Here in the windswept hometown of the Koch family and Koch Industries, playing in Charles Koch Arena means something else entirely."

For the rest click here.

The New York Times article mentions the film "Koch Brothers Exposed:"

Scott Walker may be through- Good riddance!

By Otto

Yahoo News has noticed that GOP favorite Scott Walker got little notice at the recent debate. He didn’t get to say much:

“Indeed, according to data from Google Trends, the third- and fourth-most-asked questions about Walker at one point during the debate were, "What happened to Scott Walker?" and "Where is Scott Walker?" Walker was the least mentioned candidate on Twitter. He lagged behind most other candidates on Facebook as well.”
And as well as doing poor in a badly needed debate night, he may eventually lose his corporate funding he needs to make a serious run for president. And to that I say “It couldn’t happen to a better candidate.”

Of all the candidates Walker has got to be among the worst. He is squarely in the pockets of the Koch brothers. He has carried out the same kind of reforms we have seen in Kansas from Governor Sam Brownback. He has successfully “knee capped” (as the Koch brothers like to say) all the public unions. He has attacked teacher’s tenure, not unlike Brownback who in Kansas has stripped teachers of any due process if they are fired as a result of any complaint by parents. In Kansas teachers are leaving the state in droves. They are probably leaving Wisconsin as well. And as in Kansas, even though Walker has deeply offended most public workers, he was re-elected by sheepish Republican followers.
Today, in both states and elsewhere, the trend is to get rid of benefits, seniority, healthcare and a livable wage. They seem to want workers they can fire at anytime. They don’t want workers to get comfortable on the job nor earn more than a beginner’s salary. When the workers gets a little older and starts to wear out they are to be thrown to the street and easily replaced with younger more eager ones. What I don’t understand at all — is why any working person would vote for such people.
Walkers message is not all that different from others in the GOP. But each time a truly evil and despicable politician goes down 'an angle gets its wings' (at least in my imagination). Most of the GOP are corporate stooges out to make life miserable for workers and poor people. The good thing about Donald Trump is that he acts like a buffoon and yet the established suites of the GOP look even worse for having set him up to win the nomination.
To Walker I say "Good riddance" and I seriously hope we have hear the last from him and anyone like him. I hope he gets so discouraged he goes home with his tail between his legs and learns to STAY HOME. We don't want him.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Britain’s Labor Party turns to a democratic socialist

There are some similarities between what is happening in the British Labor Party and the Bernie Sanders Campaign in the US. Of course there are differences between Bernie and Corbyn. Still I am posting this article for all to read. Maybe we started something in the US. -Otto

By the end of the campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party, it was no surprise, even for his most stubborn and malevolent critics, that Jeremy Corbyn would win the election. But the scale of his victory, 59.5% in the first round, was a resounding shock. Despite the dire warnings of a string of Labour Party pro-imperialist grandees, 49.6% of party members supported Corbyn, as did 83.8% of registered supporters and 57.6% of affiliated union voters. The Blairite and openly ruling class candidate Liz Kendall was utterly trounced, obtaining a miserable 4.5% of the vote. Together, the other two establishment, pro-austerity candidates, Yvette Cooper and the one-time favourite to win, Andy Burnham, shared 36%.

The reactions were immediate. Within hours, the Conservative Party was presenting Corbyn’s politics as a threat to national security. The ruling class was outraged. Eleven shadow front bench members resigned, refusing to work with Corbyn. Their passing will not be mourned: among their number were Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper, the openly reactionary shadow Works and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt and shadow business secretary Chuku Umunna, who had been a leadership candidate for 24 hours before passing the Blairite baton to Kendall. Good riddance to them. Most Labour MPs, an unprincipled bunch of frauds and self-serving careerists intent only on feathering their nests, were horrified at Corbyn’s success. 178 of them abstained in a parliamentary vote on the vicious benefit cuts announced in the July budget – they have only contempt for the plight of the poorest sections of the working class, despising them as scroungers and shirkers.
For the rest click here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The myth of “individualism” in the economy

The idea that we can choose to be "individualists" in our economy and we don't need collective thinking is part of the “free-market” capitalist, ideology. This ideology is a tool of the Republicans and conservatives, in and outside of this country, to co-opt or dupe workers into supporting their agenda. And that agenda is the pro-capitalist, pro-business and anti-worker policies we get today from the Republican Party. But why do workers support this? Do they really want to be fired at any time without any warnings? Do they really want to cut out all benefits from the work place including health care? Quite often we are told that conservative workers see themselves as individualist who opposes any kind of collectivism.
To put it clearly R.J. Saulnier said:

“What Republicans stand for derives from their adherence to individualism, the philosophy that perceives of the individual as a self-disciplined, basically self-reliant person who has rights and freedoms that it is the duty of government to respect and protect, who respects the rights and freedoms of others, and who feels an obligation to attend so far as possible to his/her own individual and family welfare. It is this embrace of individualism that sets Republicans apart from those who favor government that is big, centralized, intrusive, and increasingly paternalistic. What Republicans stand for is precisely the opposite–government that is limited, noninterventionist and decentralized.”

When he said “self-reliant person” what does that really mean? Do they make their own clothes? Do they build their own cars from scratch? Do they grow their own food? Chances are they consume products every day that requires a work force to make. Even a small business person has to acknowledge that. Each business creates a piece of the economy and the only people in the country who don’t buy and consume those goods are the hermits that live off in caves and never see another human being. But that’s not what we have here in Kansas or anywhere else.
There is little doubt that by “self-disciplined” Saulnier does not mean the people on welfare or other government assistance. The American worker has learned to hate those people as un-disciplined people who they believe are just lazy and lacking in moral character. Some Republicans have a tendency to insult supporters of the Democratic Party by insisting they are all on government assistance waiting for handouts.
Most people on assistance have paid some taxes at one time or another. Most have worked at least some time in their lives. Many people on assistance, such as food stamps, are working and they are earning minimum wage. Few people are on assistance their whole lives, especially with all the new rules both national and state-wide, that place limits on welfare.
Welfare recipients and those on assistance also spend money which gives back to the government in the form of sales tax and they add to the economy. Working people have to make the products that those on assistance buy. Without consumers such work provides products which can’t be purchased.
In this way we are all interconnected. Most Republican workers will accept un-employment if they are fired or laid off.  In this modern economy few “individualist” conservative workers can afford not to take unemployment.
What this all means is that economic “individualism” is just a myth. Perhaps a person can be an individualist in arts or culture but not economically. Anyone has the right to be responsible for him/her self, but that does not have anything to do with economic individualism. We are all dependent on those who provide the things we buy with our money. If we are sick we go to a doctor. Trying to cure yourself because of your individualism is foolish and can lead to death. Almost no one can really claim to be completely free of anyone else’s help. We need others to survive and that is fact. Whether we always work or whether we get our income another way, we all depend on each other.
It is time to expose the “individualism” myth.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Don’t miss “I Am Pol Pot” for fall reading

This is a good time to buy books for fall reading and “I Am Pol Pot,” by Steve Otto. It is the best way to learn of the Indo-China war, of the 1960s and 1970s, especially the rise of the Khmer Rouge (actually called the Communist Party of Kampuchea before and during the Pol Pot years and Democratic Kampuchea after they were driven out of Cambodia in the late 1970s).
 This book provides an inside look at the regime. Pol Pot is recreated using real CPK documents. This is a chance to see what really happened inside that government and how it was actually perceived by those leading it. This is also a look at the turmoil of Indo-China and the liberation movements. The rise of the Khmer Rouge actually came before the fall of Vietnam.
It is available in both print and e-books.