Friday, February 22, 2019

Coming soon to our US Congress? –debate US Imperialism!

By SJ Otto
For most of the last 30 years, foreign policy in US Congress and the presidency has been treated less of a series of foreign policy issues and more of a set of religious tracts—policies that absolutely have not been debated or discussed in any way, shape or form. Unlike the days of Ronald Reagan when that president was challenged for his meddling in Central America, no one from either party, Democrat or Republican, have dared to challenge US imperialism. The generals have run our foreign policy and they have not had any challenges to their designs for world conquest and control—until now.
A number of new members of congress now challenge foreign policy edicts, including the really big one, criticism of Israel. That has been done by Representative Ilhan Omar. The Minnesota Democrat was accusedof anti-Semitism after asserting that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, was buying lawmakers.
As I posted earlier this month: Anyone in Congress, who criticizes Israel in any way shape or form, is labeled anti-Semitic. There are those who support a boycott of Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. Supporting that position is being labeled anti-Semitic. It should come down to a position of freedom of speech. Democrats and Republicans can label anyone anti-Semitic for just criticizing or suggesting a boycott of Israel. There are lots of reasons for opposing Israel and those reasons have nothing to do with being against Jews. For years people have been debating the Palestinian issue all across the nation and in schools and colleges. But in Congress all those in office treat the nation of Israel as a sacred cow. That nation practices a form of Apartheid. Its people have been electing fascist like war mongers who seem to be OK with endless war against their neighbors and constant persecution of the Palestinian and other Arabs. But Congress listens to Jewish groups that insist that Jews need Israel as a homeland and anyone who dares criticize that sacred cow is anti-Semitic, hating Jews.
The Fox News article, that accused Omar of being anti-Semitic also accused her of having had “attended a travel delegation to a South American country sponsored by a radical anti-American and anti-Israel organization that supports countries opposed to the U.S. and calls for the return of Guantanamo Naval Base to Cuba.”
That “anti-American” group is called Witness for Peace. Fox made the accusation that group “opposed America’s actions in South America aimed at stopping the spread of communism.”  It sounds as if Witness for Peace is some kind of front for communism, but it isn’t. It is actually a religious oriented group that tried to stop Reagan and other US right-wing leaders of supporting right-wing murder squads and other acts of violence against legal protesters in various Latin American countries.  Other conservative news outlets have shared this exaggerated news story, such as Flipboard.
The big news story today is in Venezuela. As with Israel, to not support the US policy of absolute control of the Latin American governments is something no one is supposed to question, that is not in the mainstream press and not in Congress. The military establishment has decided that Nicolas Maduro is a socialist tyrant and to disagree with that is the equivalent of an act of treason. Again Fox News:

“She also grabbed headlines after first accusing the U.S. government of leading a coup against Venezuelan socialist tyrant Nicolas Maduro and then attempting to grill Elliott Abrams, the Trump administration's new special envoy for Venezuela.”

She is not the only member of Congress who has opposed the anti-Maduro bandwagon. Politico reports that Bernie Sanders has also been Critical of the US meddling in Venezuela and much of his condemnation is from his own party, the Democrats:

“Florida Democrats are denouncing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for refusing to call Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro a dictator — a politically explosive issue in the nation’s biggest swing state.
Sanders also would not say whether he considered Venezuela’s assembly leader, Juan Guaidó, as the nation’s interim president, which is the position of the United States and a majority of Latin American countries European countries.”

Imperialism in Latin America is a Sacred Tenet.  Both parties have gone along with blatant meddling in the affairs of Latin America. All of Latin America is treated as if it the entire continent is just one big colony. Sovereignty means nothing to the members of either US party. There is absolutely no respect for any kind of debate on this issue. The military complex has decided that Maduro is a dictator and he must go.  
There is a positive side to this. With more minority people getting elected, there are more people holding office who can, and will, challenge our imperialistic foreign policy. We have Sanders and Omar, along with Rashida Tlaib, the freshman representative from Michigan, who was also critical of Israel. 
We hear such clap trap from such publications as The Atlantic:

 “AIPAC’s influence, which does not include payments to politicians, is only a small part of why the U.S.-Israel alliance is almost universally supported in Congress. Her comments, and the backlash they provoked, show how fractured the American debate over Israel has become. Omar is the new face of anti-Israel criticism on the left, and yet her use of anti-Semitic tropes undermines her credibility.”

In other words, it is implied that such people as her are just ignorant and hateful.
We also have Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is challenging the greatest pillar in US conservative politics and that is capitalism itself. One thing we have to do is to support these new politicians as much as possible. Send them cards of encouragement. Donate to their campaigns. This is the first time in decades that we have had people in congress who are actually debating the issues that the right-wing and centrist politicians have avoided. This could be our time to shine. Let’s not miss this opportunity.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Bernie Sanders launches second presidential campaign

Bernie is running again. I plan to support him. I'm tired of being told either not to vote at all or vote for some meaningless corporate Democrat because Democrats and liberals that I know think that is the only way to win. I now live without the health care I need, thanks to both parties selling working people like me out. I'm tired of being told that we have to support conservative Democrats because they are the only ones who can beat Republicans. I'm voting for someone who might do this country some good. So screw it! I will not support any Democrat who does not support health care for all, and not some convoluted garbage or some plan to make sure insurance companies get their cut. If the next Democrat running for Prez’ isn't going to do me any good—screw them—I'd rather have Trump. –SJ Otto

From CNN:
After months of deliberation, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced Tuesday that he is running for president again in 2020. It will be Sanders' second consecutive bid for the Democratic nomination after losing to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
"I am asking you to join me today as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least a million people from across the country," he wrote in an email to supporters following an interview on Vermont Public Radio.
Sanders enters the 2020 race as one of the frontrunners  a remarkable turn for the democratic socialist who, three years ago, was viewed as a protest candidate from the political fringe. Today, Sanders is one of the most popular politicians among Democratic voters and his policy agenda  a suite of progressive proposals to expand health care, broaden the social safety net and make higher education free has been embraced by many of the Democratic party's leading figures.

For more on this click here.

House Democrats Hoping to Stifle Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Are Only Hurting Themselves

Considering how conservative our Congress has been over the last 30 years, I’m not surprised at the flack that new Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is getting. Of course she is being ridiculed by Republicans who scoff at the idea of socialism, which is a dirty word to them. Bret Baier, the host of “Special Report with Bret Baier,” on the Fox News Channel blasted Ocasio-Cortez for celebrating the canceling of Amazon’s plans to put a factory in her district. Many conservatives are livid that she was glad to have helped push Amazon away from putting their plant in New York. After all, they can’t imagine not wanting a new factory in that area, even though it is anti-union. That alone is a good reason to keep them out. Amazon had demanded a lot of tax incentives and give-aways in exchange for bringing in all of those wonderful jobs that conservatives kept harping on.
Amazon wanted 3 billion dollars in tax incentives. I have written many articles in the past with testimony from experts claiming that such tax give always don’t always pay off.
Many conservatives have accused her of being economically ignorant.
Even worse is the criticism coming from her own party. Baier was quick to point out that New York’s own Andrew Cuomo criticized her. Ocasio-Cortez has been critical of the Democratic Party and she should be. The Democrats have run terrible campaigns that ignore important issues and they have lost, until the last elections, all three branches of the government to the Republicans. Moderate Democrats have complained about her treatment of them, but they are guilty of attacking her as well. That is why I’m posting the following article. –SJ Otto

The 116th Congress has only been in session for a week, but some senior Democrats are already dismayed by one new kid on the block. In a Politico report published Friday, several members criticized Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the record – an unusual choice, especially when the target is a freshman who’s had little chance to establish herself as a lawmaker. “I’m sure Ms. Cortez means well, but there’s almost an outstanding rule: Don’t attack your own people,” said Representative Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri. “We just don’t need sniping in our Democratic Caucus.” Ocasio-Cortez has publicly criticized the party, often on Twitter, for what she sees as its entrenched centrism.
Politico went on to explain that senior Democrats are put off by more than Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter account. Some Democratic representatives objected to a grassroots campaign to put the congresswoman on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, and were affronted by her opposition to new House rules that include pay-as-you-go or PAYGO restrictions. PAYGO requires the House to match any new spending with proportional cuts, and critics generally consider it an obstacle to the welfare expansions that left-wing Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez are likely to favor.
For the rest click here.

50 countries join Venezuela support group to back Maduro

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Glenn Greenwald Defends Rep. Ilhan Omar: Criticizing Israeli Lobby & AIPAC Is Not Anti-Semitic

By SJ Otto
For many years the Israeli lobby has gone uncontested. There have been almost no politicians to defend the rights of the Palestinians, in Israel. In fact Israel has gotten ridiculous support for ridiculous positions. Anyone in Congress, who criticized Israel in any way shape or form, has labeled anti-Semitic. That has now changed, especially with the new Moslem Congress people elected. As more socialists and people of different religions get elected in the future, there are bound to be those who support a boycott of Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. Supporting that position is now being labeled anti-Semitic. It comes down to a position of freedom of speech. Such position is sure to be labeled anti-Semitic by both Democrats and Republicans.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Trump is no working class hero—crude and vulgar, does not make him a champion of working people

By SJ Otto

When Donald Trump ran for president, a lot of people claimed he was the candidate of the working class. This was said by a lot of his supporters and many of them actually are working class people. To those of us one the left, who have studied Marxism and the various “working class” related theories, calling Trump “working class” seemed absurd. For one thing he is a $billionaire. He has never been poor enough that he needed an actual working class job. He never worked in a factory. He never worked as a fast food person. He was born into money and he has had plenty of it his whole life.
According to MATTHEW CHOI, writing for Politico Trump’s attitude towards working people:

“This really does have a higher purpose than next week’s pay,” Trump said during a news conference…..
…….. When asked whether there would be any safety net for federal employees who don’t get paid because of the shutdown, Trump said: “Well, the safety net is going to be having a strong border because we’re going to be safe.”

And in a different article in Politico:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump told Democrats on Friday that he was willing to extend the shutdown for “months or even years” to get the funding he wanted, an account Trump confirmed during the news conference.
The president said a resolution could come soon, though, and he added that he believes federal employees are fine with the shutdown continuing.
“I think if you ever really looked at those people,” Trump said, “I think they would say, ‘Mr. President, keep going.’”

His words speak volumes for those who believe he stands for working class people. He has no idea how hard these weeks without pay can be. People lose a lot from being denied their pay. Many of these people have had to barrow money just to survive. Much of the damage is irreversible. Some of these people have sold their prized possessions to survive this. And if most or all of these people were to quit these government jobs, the effects on society would be catastrophic. Trump has no clue as to what it is like to be without an income. He has never experienced what it is like to be working class.
Many working class people can identify with his crude, shoot from the hip remarks. I constantly hear working class people say “he talks the way I do.” Maybe he does. But that only proves he can regurgitate vulgar unrefined speech. He is vulgar and unrefined. Just because he can speak like the working class doesn’t mean he understands what it is like to be working class. He is a $billionaire. He has never had the problems of a working class person and his attitudes toward those who work prove that well.
Those who believe he is a working class hero need to learn to distinguish between a vulgar oaf and a person who seriously knows what working class people go through to survive. Working class people would be better served to look into the career of such people as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She actually knows what working class people need to survive here in this country. She can better serve working class people. Trump hasn’t a clue!?
Any working class person who identifies with Trump is seriously misguided. And that is a major problem with this country today—working class people who just don’t have a clue. Ignorance is a dangerous thing in today’s world.

Pix by

Maduro: U.S. manufacturing ‘humanitarian crisis’ to justify its military intervention in Venezuela

Monday, February 11, 2019

The US is spiraling out of control with its love affair of war

By SJ Otto
If there is one thing I detest politically, more than anything else, it is this country’s (USA) addiction to war. Over the last 30 years there has been nearly NO discussion on US foreign policy. That means no politician; neither Democrat nor Republican in Congress have discussed alternatives to the endless wars this nation is involved in. The mainstream press, which is The Wichita Eagle here in this part of Kansas, has also ignored any dissent of the US military industrial complex.
During the presidency of Ronald Reagan there was a powerful peace movement to oppose his intervention in Central America. That included Reagan’s attempts to topple the Marxist oriented Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and to stop his attacks on the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) guerrilla movement in El Salvador. Despite all the variations of Marxists and left oriented groups in Central America and the Caribbean, Reagan treated all those nations as part of a cold war strategy that was by now obsolete. He treated his strategy of war in Central America as if he were fighting in Eastern Europe. Reagan was delusional about the cold war and no one close to him made any effort to change any of that. Many US conservatives played along with Reagan’s delusions that Central America leftist movements were nothing more than an extension of Eastern Europe and satellite nations of the Soviet Union.  Before Reagan left office he invaded Grenada, a small Island nation that had been run by the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop. Bishop had come to power through a revolution (or coup),  in 1979. He was overthrown by another Marxist, on the 19th of October 1983 Bernard Coard. Reagan invaded the country on the flimsy excuse that there were nearly 1,000 Americans in Grenada at the time and they were in danger from the Coard Government. Many of the Americans were students at the island’s medical school. Reagan claimed that the invasion was needed to protect those students. Nearly the entire world condemned the invasion of Grenada, but the US simply ignored world opinion and did what was popular with US conservatives. Before the invasion Reagan had included Grenada in his cold war agenda of destroying all Marxist governments in Central America and the Caribbean. Now it was clear that the US had no respect for international law.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the US took on a new role, now that this country saw itself as the winner of the Cold War. That lead to the idea that the US was now the only super power and Marxist regimes were abandoning their Marxist, anti-imperialist ideology for that of European Democratic Socialism. With the Soviet Union out of the way, the US began to flex its muscles, making invasions common place in combination with the idea of world conquest. Reagan’s follow up, President George Bush, invaded Panama, about 1989, to remove Manuel Noriega and replaced him with a US puppet regime. Communism was no longer the reason behind the conquest of nations. Noriega was accused of being a drug dealer. In the later part of his term in office, Bush began the first war in Iraq, on the 28th February 1991. In many ways this was the beginning of what Bush himself called “the new world order.” Since that time the US has invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. Today the US is involved in about 7 wars, including the two occupied nations just mentioned Yemen, the Korean Peninsula and Syria. We can also include Venezuela, a nation we may be at war with soon. 
This country has become the major military power. By now most leaders realize that invasion by the US is no contest. Losing is a sure thing by all those who dare stand up to the US Empire. And the invading warier is now a part of the American culture. We see army personell honored as “heroes” even though many have not done anything that heroic. Army people are constantly on television, in commercials, TV shows, news shows, as they surprise their loved ones, such as their children, after coming back from conquering and plundering other nations. We see them in the movies and TV dramas. The US warrior is now a part of the American psyche. No nation spends more money on their military than the US. Nearly half the US budget goes to the military. Unlike the days of Ronald Reagan there is virtually no opposition to the US war machine. That includes the US Congress, all US presidents since Reagan and the overwhelming majority of the US mainstream media.
Some activists blame Barack Obama for the end of an active peace movement. A lot of political activists believed Obama would put an end to the endless wars the US was fighting.  Most were disappointed when he made no effort to rein in on this country’s many wars. It was as if this country just gets into one more endless war after another one. Since that time many anti-war activists have become disillusioned as well as just plain overwhelmed with this country’s militarism.
National Public Radio (NPR), usually considered to be a liberal source of news, has been very supportive of the military, covering its “warier heroes” and US’ wars.  
Here in Wichita I have written to The Wichita Eagle,[1] with a letter opposing this country’s meddling in Venezuela. It has not been published. But they ran a pro-war editorial column Sunday by Marc A. Thiessen,[2] “Great nations don't quit wars before they prevail.” While complaining that we have endless wars, his way of fixing them is to try and win all of these un-winnable “anti-terrorism” wars:

“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” President Donald Trump declared in his State of the Union address. It was a line that could have been delivered by President Barack Obama, who in 2015 memorably said, “I do not support the idea of endless war.”
Just a few days before Trump’s address, his own party delivered the president a stinging rebuke when Senate Republicans passed a resolution opposing his Syrian and Afghan withdrawals by an overwhelming bipartisan 68-to-23 vote. Trump’s defenders say: That’s just the foreign policy establishment advocating “forever war.” When, they ask, will these wars end? When will we be able to declare victory and go home?”

His article is full of contradictions. Just how many materials, assets and how many lives are we supposed to sacrifice in order to win these wars? How do we know when we have won such a war? Will we ever consider ending these wars? We have had 30 years of people running around with those giant styrofoam hands yelling “we’re number one,” as if we were simply at a football game. Enough is enough. A country dedicated to the conquest of others can never feel safe. Such attitudes erode civility and lead to a false sense of security. And for those who want to bring about change in this country, how will that be tolerated when change is not tolerated in our puppet regimes or of those democratic countries we are supposedly installing around the world. Change will not come easy to a nation that has forged a culture of force and coercion.

Tulsi Gabbard: US Taking Dangerous Path on Venezuela

[1] I sent this Letter to the Editor of The Wichita Eagle—and a week later it hasn’t been posted—so here is the un-published letter finally published, here at my blog:

I am sick and tired of living in a country where hypocritical leaders believe they have the right to tell every other leader in the world what they can and can’t do and decide who should lead in every country in the world, including Venezuela.
One of the biggest hypocrisies of our country is that our president, Donald Trump, who was never elected by a majority of the people, can claim that he is trying to defend democracy in Venezuela. Originally Nicolás Maduro was elected by a simple majority of the people. Donald Trump has never been elected by a majority.  If Trump and Mike Pence are so concerned with spreading democracy, why did they turn a blind eye to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, of Turkey, when he changed the system to strip congress of most of their power, leaving him as a powerful dictator? Trump and Pense did nothing.
When the two of them talk of returning Venezuela to democracy, what they really mean is capitalism. Socialism does not automatically mean dictatorship. It is an economic system. Trump has sanctioned Venezuela and sabotaged their economy so he can say the socialism doesn’t work. No system works well when they are sanctioned and sanctioned just because Trump and his ilk simply don’t like socialism.
We, in the US, are supposed to have a free and open press with open debates. But the main stream press today seems to completely ignore Maduro’s supporters, who are mostly poor and working class, and side solidly with Maduro’s opponents, including Juan Guaidó . In foreign affairs, today in this country, there is NO debate and no looking at both sides. Maduro’s opponents are mostly upper class and middle class people who traditionally had the support of the government and they ignored the poorer classes and their needs. Now the US has convinced the opposition that there is no need to care about the plight of the poor. They can take over the country and go back to ignoring poor and working class people and neglecting them as they have done traditionally.
This is not something I take pride in for my country. This country needs to let the people in these countries solve their own problems. The US, Trump especially, need to but out. Let the people in Venezuela solve their own problems and stop treating socialist leaders as if they are all dictators simply because they have chosen not to follow capitalism.
Steve Otto

[2] Marc A. Thiessen, “Great nations don't quit wars before they prevail,” The Wichita Eagle, February 10, 2019, p. 21A.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Woman’s child nearly taken from her over a failed drug test from eating lemon poppy seed bread

By SJ Otto
We live in the freest country in the world (USA), our leaders, school teachers and media pundits constantly tell us.
"We live in a country where we are protected from tyranny and oppression, at home and abroad," they keep telling us.
And yet a person can lose custody of his/her children because they don’t pass a drug test.
So in My Twin we read a story of a women, Jamie Silakowski, of RochesterNY, who almost lost her child because of a messed up drug test result. According to My Twin  

 “A doctor came into my room, that was the first time a doctor had come to my room and said, 'Just so you know, you failed your drug test, is there anything you took?'” Silakowski recounted.
That's when Silakowski, of Depew, remembered driving through Tim Horton's before going to Mercy Hospital of Buffalo.
“(I told the doctor) I did have a lemon poppy seed bread, just throwing that out there. And he laughed and said, 'That's from Seinfeld, that can't be,' and I said, 'That's where I heard it, that's why I'm just bringing it up,'” Silakowski said.
What happened next had no one laughing.
“I didn't know what to do, I had nowhere to turn, I didn't know what questions to ask,” Silakowski said. “I offered to retake the drug test, I asked if I could do another urine sample, a blood test, a hair sample and they said no.”

The fact is that a person can get a bad drug test from eating poppy seeds. She said she would never eat poppy seeds again:

“Silakowski doesn't know where she'll go from here with all this, but she is certain of one thing, she'll never eat a poppy seed again.”

 So what kind of society do we live in where a person can’t eat poppy seeds because a bad drug test can cost her (or maybe a guy) her child?
After all the abuses of police power under the so called “war on drugs” we still live in a society where the choice to use chemicals for any reason can lead to loss of a job and a loss of a child. From Legalzoom:

“When a parent struggles with drug addiction, his parental rights may be affected. In some cases, child protection agencies may remove a child from a parent’s care if that parent abuses drugs. Likewise, during a divorce, a court may deny a parent custody if he has untreated drug abuse or addiction issues or terminate his parental rights entirely if he does not address his drug abuse problems. Therefore, treating the underlying illness is often key to protecting custody and parental rights.”

We are living in a time when people are seriously questioning the last 30 years of a drug war that has put more than one and a half million people in jail as well as costing people their jobs and custody of their children. According to The Atlantic:

"America is a world leader in incarceration. The U.S. locks up more people than any other country, the University of London’s Institute for Criminal Policy Research reports. An estimated 1.6 million individuals were held in state and federal prisons at the end of 2014, while roughly 1 out of every 36 adults fell under correctional supervision, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics."

So people are waking up and beginning to see how ridiculously it is to lock people up just for possessing chemicals they want to use, for either their own entertainment or for self medication. Both conservatives and liberals within this government system realize there is something wrong with these statistics.
No matter what the reasoning is behind punishing people for taking drugs, the results has led to a country that is very far from being "the freest country in the world." It just doesn't add up.
When looking at all these statistics there is often something lost in the various arguments for drug laws. Most of us agree that drug use and abuse is unhealthy and medically dangerous. Narcotics, such as heroin are potentially addictive. Some people really do overdose and die from using them. And yet people who are often aware of these dangers use these drugs anyway.
Most of us note a difference between those who sell drugs and try to profit off of a person's personal flaws and those who simply use them. While a user may have a "drug problem," dealers may not have any personal problems with drugs at all. They are simply supplying users with the drugs they need or desire. There are small time dealers who sell just enough drugs to supply their own personal habits and there are those who make anywhere from about $100 a week, up to a $millions or more a week.
Few of us sympathize with those who make a plush life for themselves by selling drugs. Many such people belong in jail. But for many of us, there is no reason to put a small time user in prison.
There are those who have favored putting users in jail for religious reasons.[1]Others are concerned about the health of people in our society. Many people have feared that their own children may get caught up in drug addiction.
There are many of us who believe that people in this society deserve to have the right to choose how they want to live their lives. We don't jail people for smoking cigarettes, or for drinking alcohol. Both of those choices are destructive and both can cause addiction and death.
All across the country states are legalizing marijuana. For years, politicians, religious ministers, media pundits and others have all tried their best to keep marijuana illegal. The efforts of those who want that plant legal are just now starting to win.
According to Citizens Count:

New Hampshire is surrounded by states that have legalized possession of marijuana: MassachusettsMaine, and Vermont. Adults over age twenty-one can legally grow a small amount of marijuana at home in those states. Maine and Massachusetts also allow commercial sales of marijuana, with a license.
Marijuana laws in other states
Six other states have legalized marijuana: AlaskaCaliforniaColoradoNevada,Oregon, and Washington.”

That is just one drug that may soon be added to tobacco and alcohol as a legal high. However, just being legal doesn’t mean that a person’s job can be protected. Some employers may not allow an employee to smoke plot just because it is legal. Drug laws cover a long list of illegal substances that people like to use and some of them are not popular with anyone who doesn’t like to use them.[2] That would include such drugs as heroin. Add to that a growing list of herbs that are suddenly illegal as soon as legislators find out that people are getting high on them, such as K2. While the rest of the country is trying to wind down the war on drugs, Kansas is trying to do the opposite by illegalizing a long list of herbs as soon as their use is discovered.
That brings us to the issue of child custody when a parent (or both parents) has a drug problem. Generally, courts determine custody at the time of a divorce. Likewise, the court may take away a parent’s legal custody—or right to make decisions for the child—if the parent does not seek substance abuse counseling or make other efforts to achieve sobriety. If the parents have joint custody the court may modify its order and give the parent without a drug problem sole custody.
What we really need to ask is how the courts affect the parents and their rights. A parent should have the same rights as any other person when it comes to drug use, except how it affects their children. I don’t think many people disagree that an unfit parent should lose their child if there is real abuse. But such abuse needs to be verified. Silakowski should never have had her child taken on such flimsy evidence. Her doctor was arrogant and violated her privacy. As it turned out she wasn’t even using drugs. She nearly lost her child for eating a snack.
There is something seriously wrong with a system that takes people’s children from them over flimsy evidence of possible drug use. If this country were truly free, people would be able to choose how they live, without the dangers of being jailed, losing their jobs or losing their children.
This country has a long way to go before it can be called “the freest country in the world.”

[1] Steve Otto, War on Drugs/War on People, (Ide House, Las Colinas) 1995, pp. 37-38.
[2] Steve Otto, Can You Pass the Acid Test? (Publish AmericaBaltimore), 2007, pp. 120, 121.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Trump’s State of the Union Address makes him the perfect spokesperson and buffoon for capitalism

To see the video that goes with this click here.               Pix by Pngtree.

It is not surprising that President Donald Trump would criticize socialism during State of the Union Address. He said that capitalism provides us with freedom. Yeah—freedom for ultra rich men as he, to exploit the rest of us and deprive us of our freedom. Capitalism is a terrible system and no one makes a better spokesperson for it than him—the grubby political buffoon who resembles the system he so dearly loves. He and other capitalist love their system so well; they have sent troops out in the world killing people who oppose it. -SJ Otto

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) responded to President Trump denouncing socialism in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. In an appearance on MSNBC shortly after, Ocasio-Cortez said Trump is "losing on the issues" and that is why he made an "ad hominem" attack on socialism. She said he attacked socialism and tied it to Venezuela as a way to "confuse the public."

"What did you make of the president's aggressive statement about Venezuela tonight, and he talked about being a socialist country and how we're never going to be a socialist country. It was pretty truculent but it tied the notion of socialism to that particular regime. What do you think about the president, why he did that?" MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked.

For the rest click here.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Politico spells out the game plan for Justice Democrats to develop a REAL American left-wing

By SJ Otto
The web site has been covering the actions of a new sub-Democratic Party organization called Justice Democrats and their relations ship with the new rising star in the US House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a member of Democratic Socialist of America (DSA) and she unseated incumbent Congressman, Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley. She is now the Representative for New York’s 14 congressional district.
 Justice Democrats actually put up about 12 candidates they were trying to get elected in Democratic primary battles. The other 11 didn’t win.
As the article explains progressive political activists inside and outside of the Democratic Party wants to push the Democrats to the left. As Activist Cenk Uygur explained to Politico:

“After the election, was I mad at Donald Trump? I guess, kinda,” he said, who ended up leaving the group when a series of previously deleted misogynistic blog posts were unearthed. “But mainly I was mad at the Democratic Party for blowing it. How could you lose to this guy?
I came to realize Democrats are never going to learn,” he added, “and that the only way to make a difference is to defeat the corrupt corporate Democrats. They get paid to lose. The corporate donor pays them to be weak, and pays Republicans to be strong.”

I have to admit that I have felt about the same way about the Democratic Party. The mainstream of the party complains that this group, Justice Democrats, are destructive towards the party as a whole and especially the “so called” moderate Democrats.
The author of this article, DAVID FREEDLANDER, wrote in a headline kicker:

‘There Is Going to Be a War Within the Party. We Are Going to Lean Into It.’
The Justice Democrats helped get Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez elected. Who are they after next?

And in the article:

“I am talking about the radical conservatives in the Democratic Party,” said Saikat Chakrabarti. “That’s who we need to counter. It’s the same across any number of issues—pay-as-you-go, free college, “Medicare for all.” These are all enormously popular in the party, but they don’t pass because of the radical conservatives who are holding the party hostage.”
Not long ago, this would have been an outlier position even among American liberals. Today, it’s the organizing principle of a newly empowered segment of the Democratic Party, one with a foothold in the new Congress.

Another important quote from this article:

“Chakrabarti is chief of staff to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the closest thing to a new celebrity Congress has had in years—a 29-year-old former activist and bartender who, on the most recent Martin Luther King Day, sat on the same New York stage as the rapper Common, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler and MacArthur “genius award” winner Ta-Nehisi Coates.”

And the article points out that much of these changes came from just a few people, who were able to make major changes to the present political atmosphere:

“Sen. Bernie Sanders’ cannonball run in 2016 and united by their superprogressive politics and a millennial disdain for the establishment.”

All of this is good news for DSA members (at least the true leftists) and real socialists and progressives who are sick and tired of corporate Democrats and their lack luster, meaningless campaigns with such useless slogans as “we’re the party of jobs”—big deal. Who is going to be against jobs?! No one is, of course.
Many Democrats are yelling “foul” at the idea of using primaries to try and unseat career Democrats who have sat on their asses and done nothing.
Right now many of us want medical care for all. The problem that most moderate Democrats have, as well as their Republican counter-parts, is that they want to preserve the jobs of all the insurance companies, while providing some kind of healthcare for the poor and working poor. What we really need is to get rid of the insurance companies and provide a government health care system for all people in the country. It may be painful for the moderate Democrats to swallow that, but they need to either get on board or get voted out of office. We need a serious left-wing push, to knock out the conservative politicians, their hacks and years of stupid ideas and beliefs. America needs some socialism and the time to go after it is now.

To see the article in whole click here.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

It’s another Super Bowl Party again—crass consumerism

By SJ Otto
It’s Super Bowl (LIII, 2019) Sunday. This day is like an unofficial holiday. People get together and throw Super Bowl Parties. This is a lot like Black Friday. It is a chance for companies to sell a lot of food and liquor. It is also a prim time to advertize. As with Black Friday, the event is an orgy of crass consumerism and capitalist commercialism—to the max. The advertizing is so pervasive that many news outlets post their favorite Super Bowl commercials, either before the event airs or after.

It's finally Super Bowl Sunday, and for fans across the world, that means tuning in to CBS or our free live Super Bowl stream to watch the Patriots and Rams go head to head to see who will be crowned champions. But while they go toe to toe, some people will be waiting in anticipation for the halftime show. And still others will be watching Super Bowl LIII for the commercials.

For the rest click here.

There is also the controversy over the half time show. Many entertainers have planned on boycotting the Super Bowl over the treatment of Colin Kaepernick over his apparent ban from the league for being the initial leader of the kneeling movement. Kaepernick’s apparent ban from the league was for being the initial leader of the kneeling movement.
Adam Levine and his group the Maroon 5 have decided to ignore the boycott and cross over the line to sell themselves out for the money and the glory of the Super Bow. –The traitorous traitors!

What would a Super Bowl half time be without a game between beer bottles?

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Why We Celebrate Black History Month—And What We Still Need To Learn

Statement by NOW President Toni Van Pelt and Christian Nunes, Chairwoman of the Racial Justice Committee

Every February, we observe Black History Month as a way of celebrating, honoring and absorbing the lessons of the African Americans who have contributed so much to our culture, our communities and our nation. This year, we are witnessing a transformation in our politics, with more women of color running for office, getting elected and making a difference than ever before.

While Donald Trump and his overwhelmingly white, male Administration wage a mean-spirited, discriminatory and racially divisive campaign to undermine civil rights protections, we need to remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King said, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there 'is' such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

Black History Month reminds us of the “fierce urgency of now.” That’s always been the watchword of the National Organization for Women. As part of NOW’s core principles, we see human rights as indivisible, and we will continue to stand in solidarity and follow the lead of 
African Americans across the country, working together to overcome the barriers to justice and equality that have been imposed by racism.

Venezuela Gold: Bank of England ‘no longer neutral player’ – Richard Wolff

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Hawkins provides lies as he writes “let’s start with the facts”

By SJ Otto
Kansas Representative Dan Hawkins felt he had to defend the far-right Republican position where they all seem determined to keep poor people from getting Medicaid/ health care. He called his editorial column, “On Medicaid expansion, let’s start with the facts,” but his article played loose with the facts. He also uses wording to imply that the people Medicaid would go for are free loaders:

“It’s important to look at what Medicaid expansion would actually do. Medicaid expansion provides taxpayer-funded health coverage to able-bodied adults between the ages of 19 and 64. These are predominantly childless adults in their prime working years. In fact, if they were to work at least 31 hours a week they would be eligible for Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) and would have no need for free health care from the state of Kansas.”

For one thing, most of the people that Medicaid would go for are working poor. They work minimum wage. Most politicians such as Hawkins actually oppose such minimum wages protections. Just being eligible for Obamacare does not matter; it is still too expensive here in Kansas for such poor people to afford. This is a state that tried its best, under Governor Sam Brownback, to resist implementing Obamacare. I have Obamacare and all I can afford is catastrophic coverage that would pay for my medical bills if they go over $2,000. It’s not real insurance and it provides almost nothing. I have a friend who retired early with a pension of $1,040 a month. He could not afford the expensive medicines he needed to live. He was 61, not eligible for Medicare. He put off going to the hospital and he later died. Who knows how many other poor people have died due to a lack of affordable health care.

“To put it bluntly, Medicaid expansion will not solve the financial issues facing rural hospitals. Politics and special interests ensure that Medicaid expansion consistently is put forward as the only answer. But it’s simply not true.”

Until we actually implement Medicaid expansion we can’t know how much this would help rural hospitals. Again, Hawkins is playing loose with the truth.

“Vulnerable Kansans such as the elderly, low income parents, low income pregnant women, children in low income families, the disabled and many others are already covered. Medicaid expansion is a system that provides taxpayer funded healthcare to able bodied adults between the ages of 19 and 64, that is it!”

What is wrong here is that few if any low income families or people are covered. In the last eight years, Kansas law makers have made it harder and harder for any low income people to get any kind of assistance.
One thing that becomes very obvious is that Hawkins and others like him have nothing but contempt for poor people. He keeps referring to them as “able bodied adults” who he feels should work. But there are many reasons a person may not be working or may be working for such little income they can’t afford any healthcare. The government page for Medicaid and KanCare Eligibility Guidelines does not even mention coverage for those males that Hawkins talks about. Medicaid expansion would cover some of those people who Hawkins clearly does not favor getting any assistance or health care.

“The other reason Medicaid expansion is presented as the only way forward is politics. Digging deep into health care policy and crafting solutions is boring. It’s much easier to create political talking points and label anyone who opposes your agenda as a cold, heartless person. If Medicaid expansion were to become law, it would fail. Its supporters will find a new political solution to tout, likely placing all healthcare under the control of the government. “

The reality here is that conservatives always talk about “crafting solutions” but in reality they don’t do anything because they like the system as it is. Money grubbing parasites siphon money off of the healthcare, driving prices of such care through the roof. Then he brings up the big ugly boogie man; “government.” There is nothing wrong with government running healthcare. Only conservatives see government as this evil entity that will destroy our society.
Hawkins has a lot of nerve writing such article that provides unfactual information to mislead the people of Kansas. Most of us know what needs to be done and those holding us back or intent on letting poor people die—because they don’t value such people.

Pix by Medical Daily.