Saturday, July 02, 2022

4th of July celebration

 By Steve Otto

I’m writing this on the second of July, just two days before our big celebration for the 4th of July—Independence Day. For leftist of all kinds, there are various views on this day. Some hate it and the US all together. Some like it as a date for an important historical revolution. Most Marxists I know of, hate the 4th. I see this as an important historical revolution celebration. 

In two days, I will pull out the bar-B-Q, for some chicken, hotdogs and hamburgers. I will stock up on beer. And I have a lot of fireworks I will light off. If I fly a flag, it won’t be the modern day Stars and Stripes. And it won’t be that snake flag, on the yellow background, that I used fly and I used to love before it was taken over by tea-baggers and right-wing jerks. 




Each year I write something about the US revolution.  As I’ve said in the past, it was a step forward for white males. We moved society from feudalism to capitalism, which goes along with Marx’s theories of historical materialism.

 Of course Afro Americans could not vote until the end of the Civil War. Native Americans were made citizens on June 2, 1924, which was four years after women got the vote in the summer of 1920. That was the 19th amendment. It was the Voting Rights act of 1965 that guaranteed the right to vote of all people, whether black, Indian or women. And today those rights are under attack once again. Republicans are looking for ways to make it harder for minorities to vote. Their motivation is simple. They think that the more white voters that vote, the more likely they are to win upcoming elections. As Hunter S. Thompson once said:

"I believe the Republicans have never thought that democracy was anything but a tribal myth."

So for a look at my earlier writings on the US Revolution see:

That (4th of July) is a holiday I have mixed feelings about. No doubt that there will be plenty of jingoistic TV shows and commercials on TV. There will also be radio spots promoting all the wrong things about this holiday. It was a great revolution for its time. The United States was created out of a change, based in part on the anti-feudalistic political movements in Europe and anti-colonialism in the Americas. A small group of colonies of the United Kingdom decided it was time for their own independent country. So they kicked the British out. They got rid of any form of feudal aristocracy. It all seemed good at the time. And let's not forget that this revolution was strictly for the benefit of white people of European decent. Black slaves and Native American Indians were not invited to this new world government.

 




For the rest click here.

 

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Trump —It's not just a riot—it was a coup attempt

 By Steve Otto

Donald Trump goes down in history as one president who actually thought he could create a coup and continue to be president. It has recently been revealed that Trump not only backed those who stormed the Congress building, but he actually wanted to go there and egg on his supporters on. According to Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House (CBS News):

"Among Hutchinson's extraordinary revelations was that Trump was told that the crowd at his rally at the Ellipse ahead of the Capitol riot had guns and other weapons. She testified that Trump said "something to the effect of, 'I don't effing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away,'" referring to the magnetometers, or metal detectors, used for security screening. 

Hutchinson also testified that Giuliani said to her on Jan. 2 "'Cass, are you excited for the 6th? It's going to be a great day.'"

Hutchinson said Tuesday that she asked Giuliani to explain the significance of Jan. 6. She said he responded, "We're going to the Capitol. It's going to be great. The president is going to be there, he's going to look powerful," and he encouraged her to speak with Meadows."

So the cat is out of the bag. We all now know that the putsch in the capital not only went on with Trump's blessing, he wanted to go there and take part in it. That makes it an out right coup attempt.

We already know he tried to get votes he didn't earn and he convinced many of his supporters that the election has been stolen. Again, from CBS News:

"Hutchinson also testified about how angry Trump was after Attorney General Bill Barr told the Associated Press in an interview after the 2020 election that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change its outcome."

Not since Former President Richard Nixon has such a leader contemplated using some kind of emergency powers to do away with an election and its outcome. This time Trump didn't just think about it, he wanted to take part in it. He is just as guilty as his followers and it looks like this was not a riot, it was his attempt to over-ride the election and make himself president for four more years.

 


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Local DSA chapter starts up again

By Steve Otto

Union activity and gay rights were discussed at last Sunday's Democratic Socialists of America's meeting.

Esau Freeman talked about union organizing a Starbuck's.

"The SIUE (Service Employee's International Union) is helping them" Esau said. "So far they have their own logo and don’t want to use the logo of the SEIU."

Freeman also said the baristas wont get machinist type wages as their union has gotten them. The baristas have had a vote and the union won. Starbucks has not reacted yet and some organizers are afraid that the company will simply shut down the shops that want to go union.

Russell Fox was the MC. He suggested that union organizing might be a good project for DSA. There is a union rally this Saturday. Anyone interested can to go https://seiu.org/.

Also discussed was attempts to outsource some workers for the Wichita School System, USD259, especially their attempt to destroy the janitors union. Also discussed was the City workers union.

There was a suggestion that DSA take up gay rights issues.

DSA member want to support the August vote against the new amendment, but they said they have to vote as individuals. The local DSA chapter does  not endorse elections directly.

DSA will meet the third Sunday of each month.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

In Florida- conservatives know better than scientists, Doctors or experts

 By Steve Otto

Now that we have Covid vaccines shots for children as young as 6 months, parents should be jumping for joy. But not in Florida. Their Department of Health led by state Surgeon General Joe Ladapo, an outspoken skeptic of the Covid-19 vaccine, has put the vaccine on hold. According to Politico:

“The Florida Department of Health, through a statement, said Wednesday that it did not place an order with the federal government for vaccine doses for kids five and under in part because it doesn’t advise all children get vaccinated. The deadline for placing a pre-order was Tuesday and 49 other states met the cutoff date.

And what does he base this belief on? The doctors and experts all agree that children should take the shots. But Ladapo feels he knows better than anyone what children’s health needs. After all he is a conservative. And conservatives know everything. They all have common sense opinions. People keep electing them. How could they be wrong?

All the doctors and experts have is careful study and knowledge they got by years of study in college. There are voters who look down on those kinds of people.

I once heard a commentator say that he could use Republican tactics and in a week, he could convince people that the opinion of a janitor makes more sense than a scientist. He was talking about global warming and how easy it was for Republicans to shoot down the idea that global warming is real.


Pix by cnbc.com.


Saturday, June 18, 2022

No one needs US mercenaries in their war

 By Steve Otto

The American Mercenaries caught by the Russians, in Ukraine, are taking part in a war they have no business being involved in. They talk about helping the Ukrainians, but they are simply adventurists who seem to love being in a war. Some of these people left their families to be mercenaries. That is irresponsible. A father’s main responsibility should be to his family and not the adventures of war. Now the families complain they want their relatives back and information on them. They should have stopped them from going at all.

These people are simply mercenaries. They should have stayed home and taken care of their families. Now some are captured, and they are paying the price for what they did.

Our government should stop wasting time on those who choose to get their nose into someone else’s war. We never need mercenaries.


Pix from Flipboard.


Friday, June 17, 2022

March For Our Lives in Wichita

 

Last week as a part of  March For Our Lives, members of Wichita organizations and local candidates for office met to denounce gun violence and call for changes in the law. This event was timed to take place with the national March four our Lives, which took part in major cities throughout the country, June 11.






Monday, May 30, 2022

Another look at Memorial Day- "Whom Will We Honor?"

 



From Zin Education Project:
 
By Howard Zinn

Published on June 2, 1976 in the Boston Globe and republished in The Zinn Reader with the brief introduction below.

Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.

In 1974, I was invited by Tom Winship, the editor of the Boston Globe, who had been bold enough in 1971 to print part of the top secret Pentagon Papers on the history of the Vietnam War, to write a bi-weekly column for the op-ed page of the newspaper. I did that for about a year and a half. The column below appeared June 2, 1976, in connection with that year’s Memorial Day. After it appeared, my column was cancelled.

* * * * *

Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land.

It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause.

It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President.

There was a young woman in New Hampshire who refused to allow her husband, killed in Vietnam, to be given a military burial. She rejected the hollow ceremony ordered by those who sent him and 50,000 others to their deaths. Her courage should be cherished on Memorial Day. There were the B52 pilots who refused to fly those last vicious raids of Nixon’s and Kissinger’s war. Have any of the great universities, so quick to give honorary degrees to God-knows-whom, thought to honor those men at this Commencement time, on this Memorial Day?

No politician who voted funds for war, no business contractor for the military, no general who ordered young men into battle, no FBI man who spied on anti-war activities, should be invited to public ceremonies on this sacred day. Let the dead of past wars be honored. Let those who live pledge themselves never to embark on mass slaughter again.

“The shell had his number on it. The blood ran into the ground…Where his chest ought to have been they pinned the Congressional Medal, the DSC, the Medaille Militaire, the Belgian Croix de Guerre, the Italian gold medal, The Vitutea Militara sent by Queen Marie of Rumania. All the Washingtonians brought flowers .. Woodrow Wilson brought a bouquet of poppies.”


Friday, May 27, 2022

With our culture of guns why are people surprised by gun violence?

 By Steve Otto

One more whack job shoots up a school in Texas and finally some people are beginning to rebel against the Republican Party's expansion of gun rights. Some people are calling for background checks.

People are starting to call for some kind of gun control. As a Democratic Socialist I have always opposed banning guns. I have opposed a lot of the ideas that a lot of liberals propose and support. But the Republican Party has taken gun right to an absurd level. Over the last 15 years, we have seen nearly all states making it legal to carry and conceal guns. We have "stand your ground" laws that make it easy for someone to shoot can kill a person for frivolous reasons. Some states have lowered the age for the right to carry a pistol from the age of 20 to 18. This latest shooter was 18. Some of the other shooters were 18. Has anyone noticed that maybe letting 18 year olds to buy and own assault weapons and pistol just might not be a good idea?

Some states have tried to make it legal to carry a gun in a bar. Does anyone else this is a move of major stupidity?

Every time there is a shooting the NRA[1] keeps saying that we need more guns in more people's hands—for example- they want to arm teachers with handguns.

The majority of people want some restrictions on guns. But they keep voting in Republicans who not only resist any restrictions on guns, they keep expanding gun rights, making it easier to get and carry guns. Few seem to notice that the NRA and Republicans (usually the same people) are making it easier and easier for people of all kinds to get and buy guns. No one wants to point out that along with more guns in society, we also have more gun violence. It seems as if we have been having mindless and random shootings of people in grade, middle and high schools and public places in general. We have such a shooting almost every week. It's getting ridiculous. It should not be so easy for an 18 year old to buy an assault weapon or pistols. With all these shootings it is time to put the breaks on this stupidity. More guns have brought us more gun violence. That should not surprise anyone.

Guns should be legal, but there needs to be some common sense restrictions.





[1]National Rifle Association (It might as well be National Republican Association).

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Opioid crisis—Kansas legislators care more about controlling morality than saving lives

By Steve Otto

Once again we see the paranoia of anti-drug Kansas conservatives. The latest fiasco is the Kansas legislators refusing to lift a ban on strips that would allow a person to test recreational drugs for fentanyl. According to Kansas Reflector:

"Hutchinson Rep. Jason Probst pleaded with legislative colleagues Sunday to repeal a 41-year-old state statute defining test strips as drug paraphernalia to enable Kansans to more easily test illegal drugs for presence of fentanyl that has fueled a wave of overdose deaths.

The 2022 Legislature returns to Topeka on Monday for what typically amounted to a brief ceremonial gathering to close out the annual session. There is potential, however, the Republican-led House and Senate could be interested in taking up tax or transportation legislation, which could open the door to a longer day and consideration of other issues.

In April before the Legislature took a long break, the Kansas Senate blocked a bill decriminalizing fentanyl test strips. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine. Dealers can be blend it with heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine, but consumers of those drugs can’t visually discern contents of those substances."

Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous synthetic narcotic. The Kansas Department of Health Environment pointed to 338 overdose deaths in this state from Jan. 1, through June 30, of 2021. They estimated that 149 were linked to fentanyl. That is a 54% rise in overdose deaths from a similar period in 2020.

In my opinion that drug is responsible for the majority of opioid deaths since the so called “opioid crises” began.

For years now, politicians and the mainstream press have attacked all opioid drugs and have accused drug dealers (legal and illegal) of all-out murder. We keep hearing all the statistics of large amounts of deaths attributed to opioids.

I for one have suggested that people who use drugs like that should have some degree of freedom of choice over how they live their lives. There are people who use narcotics for pain relief and at times, self medication for a number of illnesses of both of physical and psychological needs. We don’t need the government to tell us what we can and can’t do in the privacy of our own homes.

Opioids have been around for most of my life time. There have always been some deaths attributed to their use—especially heroin. But the death statistics today seem much higher than in more recent years. The one element that seems to make sense is that fentalyn is much stronger and more dangerous than heroin or any other opioid. Fentalyn is 100 times stronger than heroin. It only takes a tiny pinch of pure heroin to get a person high and just a little more than that to kill a first time user. A fentalyn dose is as small is just two grains of salt. Normally, on the black market, both drugs are diluted by their dealers. It is hard to mix and dilute a drug like Fentalyn, since it takes so little to kill a person.

One problem with Fentalyn is that it is sold legally in hospitals for use to kill pain. Heroin, on the other hand, can’t be sold legally under any circumstances, even though it is the safer drug.

Several years ago, there were people proposing that addicts be given clean needles to stop such diseases as AIDS.[1] Conservatives blocked it and even admitted that they would rather see addicts die rather than take drugs. For a lot of us, such a sentiment is unthinkable and just plane cruel. People with a drug problem, or those who self medicate, don’t deserve the death penalty.

Kansas Reflector provided this example of such an opinion by a Kansas Republican Senator:

"Sen. Kelli Warren, a Leawood Republican seeking the GOP nomination for attorney general, said passage of the bill could appear as if Kansas was creating a haven for consumption of illicit drugs. She said people should take personal accountability and shouldn’t take illegal drugs."

She is one of those who would rather see an drug user die than get high. Those who hold such views are no better than Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who has made the murder of drug users not only legal but a national policy. Surely we can do better than that.

Those strips do not make it easier to use hard drugs. They can save a lot of people’s lives. It is about time we start focusing on saving people’s lives rather than trying to control personal morality.

America does not need a form of fascism to control drug epidemics. It is time to get rid of those out-dated and destructive laws that prevent us from living in a free society.



Pix by Why fentanyl is deadlier than heroin. 

__________________

[1] acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

Thursday, May 19, 2022

No debate on sending $40 billion to Ukraine

By Steve Otto

When Joe Biden was running for president against the former president Donald Trump, he said of health care for all: "imagine the cost of that!?"[1] Sure it cost money. But many poor people die much earlier than necessary since  they have no access to health care. They can't afford it so they don't see a doctor until it is too late. As a result—They die—pure and simple.

But now the US is strategically at war with Russia over Ukraine. And just recently the entire congress voted to spend $40 billion on weapons to be sent to Ukraine to counter the Russian invasion.

How much debate took place—ZERO—NONE. Both parties agreed to spend that money. That was money that could have been spent to provide healthcare to OUR OWN PEOPLE!

But instead it went to save other people in a foreign country. And now we see the expansion of NATO[2] to include Finland and Sweden.

According to NBC News:

 

"Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul defied leaders of both parties Thursday and single-handedly delayed until next week Senate approval of an additional $40 billion to help Ukraine and its allies withstand Russia’s three-month old invasion."

 

So the only Congressman to oppose sending all that money to Ukraine was a Republican. Not one Democrat opposed sending all this money to a foreign country.

The Democrats are selling out the American people. Spending money should come to the US people before spending all that money on arms for the people of Ukraine. Both US parties are addicted to war. Poor people in the US are treated as last class citizens and their lives mean less that foreign people in a country a long way off from this one. Also the idea of expanding NATO is the last thing this country, or any country, needs to do.



[1] "Many Democrats to his left, starting with Bernie Sanders and his “Medicare for All” proposal, called for scrapping the Affordable Care Act entirely in favor of a more sweeping government-financed single-payer health system. Biden resisted. He instead pledged to build on the existing law — a position that kept him in the center of the debate, while reminding Democratic voters of his role in passing the biggest health reform since Medicare."

[2] North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Action on abortion rights

 From Daily Kos (click her to sign the petition):


The ultra-conservative majority on the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

A draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito leaked on May 2, 2022. Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett reportedly all voted in agreement.

The decision to overturn Roe stems from a Mississippi case challenging the state’s law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has yet to be decided—however, this leaked opinion is an unprecedented window into the majority court’s thoughts.

This isn't the final opinion or word on abortion access. This is a time to mobilize for our lives.

Despite Roe being the floor, not the ceiling, and much of the South already in a post-Roe environment, a negative outcome upholding Mississippi’s ban—or throwing out Roe entirely—would throw huge swaths of the country into abortion deserts.

Now more than ever before, we must demand abortion justice for all: abortion must be free, accessible, and available everywhere, in every state, for everyone.

If you're with us—ready to march, rally, volunteer, vote, and loudly demand abortion for all—add your name today.

Sign the petition: I support abortion justice!



Friday, May 06, 2022

This May Day seems to be more dismal and demoralizing than in many years past, here in Kansas

By Steve Otto

Of all the years I can remember, this May Day has been the most quiet in my life-time. Most years someone here in Wichita, does something, whether it is Democratic Socialist of America (DSA) or the Peace and Social Justice Center-- Kansas or on rare occasions, a Marxist Leninist group (which are extremely rare here in this part of Kansas). But this year, May 1st came and went and I barely noticed it.

But I have not seen much action this year—a lot less than most years. It is almost as if most members of the left are in disillusionment. There almost seems to be a sense of frustration and demoralization. It seems universal among most members of the left.

Supreme Court Ruling against Roe v Wade demoralizes the left!

Especially demoralizing is the new US Supreme Court Ruling that is expected to over-turn Roe vs. Wade.

Social conservatives have out maneuvered the centrist US Democratic Party, which has failed miserably to win elections and protect not only abortion rights, but now gay marriage and other types of protections for transgender and gay people. At present the US has nearly no actual leftist representatives in the US House of Representatives or the Senate. We now have The Squad. That is just four people and until they got elected, the US had no socialist or anti-imperialist representation.

Maybe this is a wake-up call to the next generation. Many will grow up and grow old with less Medicare choices in their old age as well as way less or even no Social Security to retire on.

If conservatives hold on to this country, the future looks dim indeed. One thing that needs to change is for the Democratic Party to become more progressive and left-wing. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and all the members of The Squad have all been elected and re-elected proving the progressive candidates can get elected. As Bernie Sanders said in the last election, socialists as himself are electable.

 


Monday, April 25, 2022

Democrats meet to plot for elections and oppose culture wars—such as phony Critical Race Theory

 

By Steve Otto

Democrats of Sedgwick County met to chart out their future in the upcoming elections. The theme all night was to get people away from culture wars, which the Republicans were doing, and focus on governing Kansan’s people.

“Critical Race Theory?” said candidate Chuck Schmidt, for Kansas Representative, “It doesn’t exist.”

He and other candidates spoke to the audience who had met there for a fundraiser to help local democrats win, this last Saturday evening. Schmidt explained that he worked in the school system and never saw anyone teaching CRT.

Kelli Grant is running for Sedgwick County Commission. She is concerned about the lack of workers for many of the counties programs. She said the programs are poorly funded and workers are not paid enough to keep.

“Some programs may be shut down due to a lack of funding and lack of workers,” she said.



The Rev. Mark Holland is running for the US Senate.

“Let’s let the crazies go,” he said. "Don’t waist time with the crazy uncle who is convinced that Donald Trump won the election.”

He said The Democrats need to focus on their base supporters. Many Democrats say the vote in every election, but they mean the presidential elections.

“We need to get them to vote in primaries and the mid year elections, to elect representatives and senators,” he said.

Holland continued the theme that people want work with dignity, not attacks on the public school system or attacks on gay rights.

“Roger Marshall has never voted to raise the minimum wage,” he said.

Democratic officials were surprised at the size of the crowd that came out that night.



Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Medicare for all...just common sense!!!

 

From Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

When I waitressed, I had to pay hundreds of dollars per month for the privilege of paying thousands in deductibles each year for insurance that didn’t really cover prescriptions.

It was cheaper and the best option financially to just go uninsured and pray nothing happened.

I remember vividly one day, I decided to walk around and ask everyone I worked with – waiters, bussers, cooks – what insurance they had. Everyone had the same answer: none. It made more sense for us to save up the money we’d otherwise pay on premiums and spend it on actual medicine and care.

That’s one reason why I support Medicare for All.

To this day, I work so my campaign staff is better insured than I am. But as an employer, I hate that their healthcare is tied to employment. When people get debilitating diagnoses, why does our system force us to stress about care ending with employment rather than getting better?

If we had a universal system, the huge sums employers pay for insurance could go into employees’ pockets in other forms (like raises). The answer can’t continue to be subsidizing the Affordable Care Act more and more as premiums go up and up.

The answer is single payer healthcare: Medicare for All.

Having to choose between bankruptcy or your life is a choice that people shouldn't have to face. It's possible to treat everybody more affordably with higher-quality care than they ever could get under our current privatized for-profit system.

Thanks for reading and together let’s transform our healthcare system for working families.

-Alexandria (AOC)



Monday, April 11, 2022

Elections in France today- boy do they suck!

 

By Steve Otto

In France today we see what we have seen every where in the western world. We have seen the equivalent of the US Republican Party. We have seen that in England, with the constant re-election of the Conservative Party, and all across Europe and in the US. We see the election of bourgeoisie conservative parties, such as what we see in France.

Also we see far-right parties such as the Party of Marine La Pen. We see parties that seem to resemble the Republicans under Donald Trump, even though La Pen is closer to pure Nazism than Trump was.

As with any trend we see a few positive signs, such as an anti-NATO response. According to CNN World:

 

"Her previous aversion to NATO -- Le Pen's 2017 campaign platform included pulling France from the alliance -- could also be a liability. Recent polling from IFOP shows that 67% of the French public do not believe France should leave NATO."

 

Just as with Trump's useless American first policy, we can assume that Le Pen's nationalist policies will only go so far and not far enough to defend US adversaries such as the socialist  government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. So there may be a few positive programs in the short run, but in the long run, none of that will help us. Just as with Trump, there will be few if any benefits.

So I see very few reasons to even vote for Frances' next government. There is nothing on the left, not even the middle left. If I lived in France  today, I would see no reason to vote at all,     NONE!!!!!