Thursday, September 20, 2018

Kickbacks, bribes, slush money—It is just not enough for Kris Kobach

By SJ Otto

Republican Candidate for Governor Kris Kobach loves money, graft and cheating on elections in general. So he is pushing for a move to lift the limits a person can give to the candidate of their choice in Kansas. Kansans can give up to $4,000 —but he wants more.
The Republicans already have a financial edge during election time. Republican donors are rich. Most are corporate leaders and they get plenty back from their donations. They get rules that go against the common working man. And the common working man can't afford to give $4,000 or more to one candidate in an election. Wealthy heads of industry can throw $thousands, even $millions at an election and they often do—and it often helps their candidate win.
Even though it is perfectly legal to put so much money in a campaign, it isn't very fair. It is why our government is more of a oligarchy than an actual democracy. It's kind of like—one vote—one dollar. Their money doesn't always make them win, but it helps. That may be why all three branches of our government are run by Republicans. Who ever has the most money to spend on ads usually wins. It is usually Republicans.
That may explain why President Donald Trump gave a tax break to all this nation's $millionaires and $billionaires, but actually eliminated a lot of tax deductions for the working poor. Tax cuts for the rich—higher taxes for the poor. He demolished Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) which tried to give some health care to the working poor and the poor. The wealthy can afford their own insurance. But poor folks can't afford heath insurance and Republicans want to keep it that way. That is why this is a rich man's country and many of us know it.

“I would like to see some reforms regarding campaign finance contribution limits. It has been almost 30 years since the legislature last (updated) limits for statewide offices. They are very low,” Kobach said in a statement, printed in The Wichita Eagle.

So even though the Republicans, such as Kobach, spend as much as five times what their opponents spend, they want to take in and spend even more. This is going to be really important this year because Kobach is a terrible candidate and basically a terrible human being. To win this election he will need all the help he can get. He and his supporters are already spending way more than his opponent, Laura Kelly. The only way a bad candidate like Kobach can win is to raise more money and put his ads on TV, way more often than Kelly. He will also need to lie about Kelly and other things, but lying is what Republicans do best.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Young DSA chapter formed at WSU, Socialist Party USA members meet with DSA

By SJ Otto
We heard from a member of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, during the Wichita Democratic Socialist of America's (DSA) monthly meeting, last Sunday. We also heard from some members of the Socialist Party USA, who came there just to meet us and discuss possible activities which they may want to help out on.
I wrote a couple of week ago about some DSA students who wanted to start a chapter of Young DSA at Wichita State University (WSU). According to the WSU The Sunflower (student newspaper):

"Student Government Association introduced a bill Wednesday (Sept. 5) that would recognize a chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) at Wichita State.
YDSA is the youth and student section of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which was founded in 1982 by American author and activist Michael Harrington.
Alex Tackett, president of the current unrecognized YDSA club, spoke during the meeting.
'The goal of the organization is to help educate and organize young students on campus who like to participate in the democratization of all things, be it society, the economy, the government,' Tackett said."

The first meeting of YDSA, assuming they will be an officially recognized student organization will be this coming Friday. One of their first actions will be to canvas the dorms for a "Medicare for all" campaign.
Members of a local group of the Socialist Party USA came to the meeting to discuss some possible cooperation on various issues that the feel both parties have in common. The main difference between SP USA and DSA is that the Socialist Party does not endorse or work with the Democratic Party. The Socialist Party started as a Facebook group of local Marxist-Leninists who were interested in forming some kind of political organization to work locally. The group is interested in working on issues and campaigns here in Wichita. They will probably work with DSA on the issue of universal health care.
DSA is working on a campaign they call "Break Lights," where members who are good at fixing car problems can be called on in emergency situations to help poor people who need car repairs.
DSA will have a table at this year's Pride Festival, at the Mid-American Indian Center, Sunday, September 30, from noon to 6pm.
DSA is in the planning stage of an Ice Cream social to raise money.
DSA members worked with union members who held a strike, the union was represented by an IAM, Machinist local, against Jobbers, a company on the south east of Wichita. The strike is over now. A new CEO tried to lower pay, get rid of seniority and ignored issues of working conditions. The company tried to break the strike. Some truckers would not cross the picket line and at one point the CEO was unloading and doing his own dirty work. The strike ended when the company gave in on SOME of the union's demands. It was a partial victory to the union. Many of the  union members are planning to work elsewhere, but at least the union was not broken.

 DSA members at the meeting stressed the importance of supporting unions and working with them.  

Friday, September 14, 2018

Kobach wants to take us back—way back to a place no one wants to go

By SJ Otto
It is election season and the worst political candidate since Donald Trump is running lots of ads here in KansasIn fact he was endorsed by President Donald Trump. Yes it is Kris Kobach and he is trying to promote us back to the bad ol' days of Sam Brownback. For those who thought Brownback ruined the Kansas economy and the Kansas school system, "you ain't seen nothin' yet."
They tell me that insanity is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results. So if Kobach wins, we can easily say that the voters of Kansas are insane. Of course they use that cliché mainly when it comes to drinking, warning alcoholics that trying to drink and control it over and over again, without success is insanity. But drinking makes more sense than voting for Kobach.
Kobach says in his ads he wants to limit all school financing to 75 percent for class room use only. Schools need buss drivers, cooks, and janitors. Do the people of Kansas really want their children to use bathrooms that aren't cleaned very often? Kobach has probably never spent much time in an actual school. I work in a school as a substitute teacher so I could see the results of Brownback’s tax cuts when he was governor. Unlike me, Kobach doesn't know how schools operate. The reality of his policies will be disaster.
Kobach wants to return to all the tax cuts that had to be curtailed after Brownback instituted them. Kobach says that Brownback didn't implement spending cuts—wrong! That is exactly what Brownback did and he destroyed much of the states infrastructure. That includes the destruction of our schools.
Now is the time to remind people that Kobach wants to finish the hatchet job that Brownback only started. We don’t need to return to the bad ol’ days—or worse.

Pix by Rolling Stone.
President Donald Trump's stooge, Kris Kobach.

Here is what others are saying about Kris Kobach:

Kansas Republicans appear to have thumbed their noses at the party establishment on Tuesday in the primary for governor, failing to persuasively back the sitting governor, Jeff Colyer, and instead leaving room to elect Kris Kobach, the state’s secretary of state — and quite possibly the most pernicious public official in America.

Kobach is running for governor on a promise to “Make Kansas Great Again.” (#MKGA!) If it holds up, his primary election win, bolstered by a last-minute endorsement by Trump, will be another reminder that the political currents that delivered us this president still rage within the Republican base.

If Donald Trump has a Midwestern avatar, it is almost certainly Kris Kobach. A former George W. Bush official infamous for, among other things, toting a “shocking” fake machine gun in a city parade, Kobach made his name as an early opponent of illegal immigration, an issue he believes is closely tied to voter fraud. While G.O.P. veterans wrung their hands at the thought of Kobach becoming their gubernatorial candidate, Trump positively doted on Kobach, appointing him vice chairman of a commission to investigate the “millions of people who voted illegally” in 2016, thereby unjustly robbing him of the popular vote. The commission, of course, turned up jack squat, with several states ignoring Kobach’s (possibly illegal) demand for their voter I.D. rolls and the Social Security numbers of their residents.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It is 9/11 Day once again!

SJ Otto
Once again it is 9/11 that horrible holiday that reminds us that we can die at anytime due to terrorist attacks. After 15 years we are not any safer than we were in 2001. We can pretend that all of the efforts our government takes to prevent such attacks are working. In reality those determined to find ways to attack us will at some time succeed. 

This is an imperialist country that is heavily involved in shaping the lives and future of others. That task is impossible without someone getting upset and trying to kill us from time to time. 

I remember the day the planes hit the twin towers in New York. I was just getting out of bed. I was not working that day. I turned on the TV as the events began to unfold. I was watching when the second tower got hit. Then they began to crumble and New York City looked like the aftermath of a volcano eruption. 

As bad as it is to see almost 3,000 die in one disaster, what happened after that was just as bad. Every wing-nut in the country was out waving flags and promoting war with just about any country or group who ever had a tiff with the US. There were flags everywhere and on everything. 
Today we have a few tributes on TV, a few flags raised and we're done with it for a year. 

Since 9/11 we as a nation now occupy Iraq and Afghanistan. We aren't finished with these countries yet. With the use of drones we kill innocent people along with alleged terrorists who have never been on trial. This country can do a lot better than that. 

One other interesting thing about 9/11 is it just happens to be the date of the military coup in Chile that brought about the end of Democracy, under the gleeful eye of our then President Richard M. Nixon. Salvador Allende, the elected president of Chile was overthrown by the military. General Augusto Pinochet took control of the country, set up military rule and banned all political parties.Democracy in Chile was illegal for the next 10 or more years.

Santiago de Chile, 11 September 1973, 9:10 A.M.
This will surely be my last opportunity to address you. The Air Force has bombed the antennas of Radio Magallanes. My words have neither bitterness nor deception. They should stand as a moral castigation of those who have been traitors to their oaths: Chilean soldiers, titular commanders-in-chief, Admiral Merino, who has designated himself commander of the Navy, even more señor Mendoza, the cringing general who only yesterday manifested his fidelity and loyalty to the Government, and who also has named himself Director General of the Carabineros. In the face of these deeds it only falls to me to say to the workers: I shall not resign!
Standing at a historic point, I will repay with my life the loyalty of the people. And I say to you that I am certain that the seed we have surrendered into the worthy conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans, will not be able to be reaped at one stroke. They have the power, they can make us their vassals, but not stop the social processes, neither by crime nor by force. History is ours and is made by the people.
Workers of my Nation: I want to thank you for the loyalty you have always had, the confidence you placed in a man who only was the interperter of great yearnings for justice, who pledged his word to respect the Constitution and the law, and who did so. In this final moment, the last in which I will be able to address myself to you, I want you to take advantage of the lesson: foreign capital, imperialism, united with reaction, created the climate for the Armed Forces to break their tradition, that which they were taught by general Schneider which was reaffirmed by commander Araya, victims of the same social sector that today will be be expecting with an alien hand to reconquer the power to continue defending their profits and their privileges.
I address myself to you, above all to the modest woman of our land, to the campesina who believed in us, the mother who knew of our concern for the children. I address myself to the professionals of the Nation, to the patriotic professionals who continued working against the sedition overseen by their professional academies, classist academies that also defended the advantages of a capitalist society.
I address myself to the youth, to those who sang and who brought their happiness and their spirit to the fight. I address myself to the man of Chile, to the worker, to the campesino, to the intellectual, to those who will be percecuted, because in our country fascism has now been present for several hours; in the terrorist assassinations, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railways, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to behave.
They are in jeopardy. History will judge them.
Radio Magallanes will surely be silenced and the tranquil metal of my voice will no longer reach you. It is not important. You will continue to hear it. I will always be together with you. At least my memory will be that of an upright man who was loyal to the Nation.
The people ought to defend themselves, but not sacrifice themselves. The people ought not let themselves be subdued or persecuted, but neither should they humble themselves.
Workers of my Nation, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will go beyond this gray and bitter moment when treason tries to impose itself upon us. Continue to know that, much sooner than later, we will reopen the great promenades down which free men pass, to construct a better society.
Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!
These are my last words and I have certainty that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I have certainty that, at the least, I will be a moral lesson to castigate felony, cowardice, and treason.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

There are few real advantages to removing Trump from office

By SJ Otto
It is hard to figure out what the anonymous New York Times op-ed  writer actually thought he/she was accomplishing. Was it intended as a put down of  President Donald Trump? Was it a call for help? Was it just a warning to the country what might happen with such an unstable man as the president?
According to an article, by Jennifer Rubin, in The Washington Post:

"The president, we are repeatedly told by people close to him, is nonfunctioning, irrational and unfit to such a degree that he’s not fulfilling his job in a meaningful way." 

We have to make a few obvious assumptions. This anonymous writer is working with and for the President, so he is probably a loyal Republican. He/she must have had some loyalty to Trump at least in the beginning.
Despite the public being told that Trump is immoral and irrational, the president has promoted the Republican agenda and he has accomplished a lot of what his party wanted him to do. He has nearly destroyed Obamacare (Affordable Care Act or ACA), leaving millions of Americans with out insurance or health care of any kind. He has lowered taxes for the wealthiest $millionaires and $billionaires. As with Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and just about every Republican president, he has shifted much of the tax burden to the poorest Americans. He has trashed almost every law that protects the environment and he has protected some of the worst businesses in the country, including predatory lenders.  So what ever anonymous writer is worried about, it can't be the political environment. Creepy conservatives and crooked corporations have never had it better.
In foreign affairs, there has been some inconsistencies. At times Trump has hinted at nuking (Democratic People's Republic) North Korea. Later he actually defended North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. Trump threatened the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as obsolete, then negotiated a deal where European countries had to pay more for their share of NATO's cost. Up until then, NATO has acted a welfare system for small countries to get free or extra cheap weapons. It is possible that foreign affairs are a major concern for anonymous writer. Much of Trumps policies are just what Republicans want, such as his attacks on Venezuela (economic sanctions and CIA support to President Nicolás Maduro's opponents and enemies) and continued occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Ironically while former PresidentBarack Obama has been campaigning for the Democrats to win elections this fall and put some brakes on Trump, Democrat and Republican foreign affair policies are about the same. None of the things I just mentioned are policies that Obama didn't endorse when he ran the country.
The results of writing that article has been that Trump is going crazy trying to find out who is against him among his staff. He was paranoid before and now he is really paranoid. With other sources, such as the Bob Woodward book, "Fear: Trump in the White House" we have to assume there is some truth to anonymous writer's claims. Is the purpose of anonymous writer's article to suggest we remove Trump? If so, how much danger is really there and what would the results of removing Trump really be?
For those of us on the left, we have to consider that we have never been all that comfortable with past presidents. London Johnson was the last real liberal president we had and he was about the only president in the last 60 years to care at all about poor people or fighting poverty. At the same time he was an anti-communist and war hawk in foreign affairs. Jimmy Carter was the last president to have any morality or concern for human rights in US foreign policy. Carter mostly protected human rights in Latin America and he ignored the human rights abuses in Iran, under Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Ronald Reagan made a point of ignoring human rights abuses by US allies. Every president after him did the same thing.
America has never had a truly left-wing president (Franklin D. Roosevelt was an actual liberal and somewhat to the left). So how do we want a president to act? If Trump falls from power it is most likely that Vice President Mike Pence would be the new commander and chief. There is a lot of speculation as to whether Pense would be worse than Trump. In A Huffington Post article, by Neil J. Young:

"The American presidency has never been inhabited by the likes of Donald Trump. He constantly and increasingly imperils our system of democracy. His flouting of the Constitution sets hazardous precedents that weaken the rule of law. His volatile and irrational temperament, combined with his disregard for international alliances and friendliness with autocrats and dictators, jeopardizes the safety of all of us.
Pence’s politics, while thoroughly conservative, fall in line with the basic Republican orthodoxy of the last 40 years. That’s an agenda worth resisting, for sure, but it’s one that Democrats will be well equipped — even emboldened — to block, especially if they claim a majority in the House this fall, as appears likely."

Young admits that a lot of people disagree with him and believe that Pence would actually be worse than Trump. When Young writes "He constantly and increasingly imperils our system of democracy," Some of us are thinking that our system of democracy is not all that democratic, so there isn't all that much to imperil. The "rule of law" that Young shows concern for is designed to protect the wealthy ruling classes at the expense of the poorer, less wealthy classes.
Trump is a cruel, insensitive man, who disrespects women. He has waged a class war on America's poor and working poor. While he was championed as a working class president, he has never been a part of the working class. He has provided some jobs for the working class, but that is where his championship begins and ends. Republicans are right that he lacks any moral character. He is a con man.
He was an outsider and many people who voted for him, did so because he was not part of the political establishment. He was seen as the outsider. Many Republicans would be happy to see Pence in the White House.
For those of us on the left there really isn't much of an advantage to removing Trump from the White House. Pence would certainly not be a big advantage for us. His policies would be largely the same. He would be smoother and he may even accomplish more of what Trump wants to accomplish. What Pence wants is not what most of us on the left want. It is true that there would be some satisfaction to see Trump humiliated and removed, but there are few real advantages to removing him in the long run.
For most of us on the left, removing Trump is a non-issue. Trump is dangerous to the political establishment in Washington DC. That establishment does not serve us, so we have little or no desire to preserve it.
Image result for ​nixon trumpPix from HuffPost.

They both broke the law. Will they both be removed from office?

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

The Republican Party fails Kansas once again

By SJ Otto
Since Governor Sam Brownback came to office almost 8 years ago, The far-far-far-far right-wing of the Republican Party have made it clear that Kansas is trying to be the stingiest state in the union when it comes to child welfare.
The state government has cut the welfare department (Department for Children and Families) to the bone. There is little money given to ANYONE in this state and the requirements are tremendous. You have to be close to death to get any benefits and to get any cash, that only goes to women with children.
It is surprising that any funds go to people living in poverty in the state of Kansas. My guess is that there is only a welfare system so that Republicans can cut the funding for it each year and then brag at election time that they have "cut welfare funding."
When it comes to poor people, the right-wing Republicans show complete indifference to their suffering and much of what they do is just plain spite. To label them mean-spirited is more than just an opinionit is fact.
Therefore it was no surprise when I picked up the Sunday's The Wichita Eagle and saw the headline:

 "Kansas DCF[1] failed to meet 16 standards for child safety, well-being over past year."

Kansas Republican strive to give children the worst possible care in the country and according to this article they have succeeded:

"The Department for Children and Families this week disclosed a report tracking 30 performance measurements. On more than half, the agency’s performance didn’t meet federal and state standards.
The shortfall shows the agency still needs to improve after a year of intense scrutiny that led to changes in leadership and a push for
better performance." 

The DCF said it had implemented several initiatives to improve. For the most part the system simply hasn't put in what it takes to work. According to the article:

▪ Children had 8.9 homes for every 1,000 days they were in foster care — more than double the standard of 4.12.

▪ The agency assessed family strengths and needs within 30 days just 66 percent of the time. Standards call for timely assessments 95 percent of the time.

▪ Children were adopted in less than two years just 17.6 percent of the time. The standard is more than 26.8 percent.

The report “tells us we still have a long ways to go,” said Rep. Jarrod Ousley, a Merriam Democrat and member of a state child welfare task force. The DCF provided the report on Monday as the task force met but didn’t discuss it during the meeting.

We see that Republican's running of this system is far too inadequate to do the job. They are simply skimpy on the staff and skimpy on what it takes to run the system. We see the same lackadaisical inattention to the details of this task.
As with other systems Kansas uses to try and get things done, this one also didn't work.

Image result for ​Department for Children and Families

[1] Department for Children and Families.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Labor day and some Union Songs...

Tomorrow is fake Labor Day...that holiday the US Government came up with to lure workers away from the real Labor Day on May 1. Here are some fun union songs to sing today and an explanation of labor day from Wikipedia:
-SJ Otto

Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend and it is considered the unofficial end of summer in the United States. The holiday is also a federal holiday.
Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. "Labor Day" was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, which organized the first parade in New York City. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. statesofficially celebrated Labor Day.[1]
Canada's Labour Day is also celebrated on the first Monday of September. More than 80 countries celebrate International Workers' Day on May 1 – the ancient European holiday of May Day – and several countries have chosen their own dates for Labour Day.

Joan Baez- Bread and roses

Joan Baez Live @ Woodstock 1969 Joe Hill

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Young Democratic Socialists of America Chapter forming soon at WSU

I received this letter from Maria Svart, Democratic Socialists of America National Director. There are some students at Wichita State University (WSU), who are members of DSA and they are in the process of forming a Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) Chapter. The city-wide DSA chapter has been very active in local elections and other political activities for the last few years. Usually a local DSA chapter starts out as a campus student group, and then they branch out into the community around the campus. It is only logical that a strong DSA group will have a student chapter. There are a lot of advantages to being a student organization. YDSA will be a good opportunity for DSA members to make use of WSU’s facilities.  –SJ Otto

From Maria Svart,
DSA National Director:
Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), DSA’s youth and student section, had a great convention this month. I’m happy to tell you about their organizing plans for the fall semester. We’re fighting for education for everyone!
If you’re a high school or college student, read on for more about how you can start a YDSA chapter in your school during our Fall Drive. If you’re already a YDSAer, you can use the Fall Drive resources to start your semester strong. And if you’re not a student, but know someone on campus, please share these resources with them.
The 2018 YDSA Fall Drive is underway now! The 2017 Drive made us the largest youth socialist organization in the United States. But we’re not done yet. We want to build a mass movement to enact our democratic socialist priorities at a national level. So we need to be the largest and most powerful student organization in the country, period.
We can do that through the 2018 Fall Drive. You can sign up here. If you ran a Fall Drive last year, this year’s drive is an opportunity to develop new leaders and expand your chapter’s capacity even more.
Get started with our Fall Drive Campus Kits! The kits include buttons, stickers, organizing how-to pamphlets, and a YDSA banner. And you can order YDSA t-shirts here, including bulk orders. They’re perfect for tabling and rallies!
And YDSAers overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on YDSA to lead a nationwide College for All campaign. YDSA chapters will run local campaigns for education justice, from demanding tuition freezes, to pressuring local politicians to stop education funding cuts, to registering students to vote for free college for all.
We will be having a national College for All kickoff call Sunday, 9/9 at 9PM ET/ 8PM CT/ 7PM MT/ 6PM PT. If you are interested in running a College for All campaign, or if you’re already running one, please register for the call now!
I’m excited to tell you about YDSA’s great work. And there’s more to come. I’ll keep you posted!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Facebook calls it "weeding out fake news" — Let's call it what it really is — Censorship!

Image result for facebook censorship
By SJ Otto
Is there a difference between weeding out fake news sites and just plain censorship? This question needs to come up as Facebook and Twitter are doing what they call "weeding out" sites they believe are providing fake news, mostly from Iran and Russia. As Facebook said on its own blog:

"Today we removed multiple Pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram. Some of this activity originated in Iran, and some originated in Russia. These were distinct campaigns and we have not identified any link or coordination between them. However, they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing."
Those two countries are presently at odds with the US government and its foreign policy. It is convenient for the US government that these two countries just happen to be the targets of Facebook's investigation.
A major question might be: "How do we tell if a site is deliberately posting miss-information or is it at odds with our foreign policy?"
What is the difference between a bad opinion and deliberate miss-information? That also leads to other questions, such as "who has a right to their opinion on Facebook?" There are all kinds of pages and sites to display opinions from the far left to the far right. There are several Marxist pages. But Facebook has a policy against any kind of hate speech. That seems to allow them to close down pages by Nazis, little doubt because such sites are ​anti-semitic.
I'm rather amazed that they have allowed the page Democratic Kampuchea-កម្ពុជាប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ. The page has been in Facebook for several years. But we have to wonder how long it will stay?
Just recently Facebook took down accounts of generals and other military leaders from Myanmar, over their opinions defending their regime over charges that they have violated human rights.
According to The Washington Post:

"For the next 24 hours, officials went back and forth on how to respond to the report’s call for Myanmar’s commander in chief — an active Facebook user — to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
Without consulting the Myanmar government, Facebook on Monday removed Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s page from its platform, along with those of other top military brass, and preemptively banned others. The U.N. report “put a deadline on what they were planning on doing anyway,” the person, who was not authorized to talk to the media, added."
The problem here is that these military leaders are not doing anything different from other Facebook members. They posted their opinions. They may be wrong in their opinions. What ever they did they have done nothing different from anyone who post an opinion on Facebook. Violating human rights is a serious crime. But writing an opinion on it is not. It may be repugnant to write such opinions. This may seem as if this is a black and white issue. Myanmar’s military is committing war crimes. No one I know supports Myanmar's military in its participation of war crimes. But maybe it is in all our interest to hear what Myanmar's military leaders have to say about those war crimes. Every person has a right to a fair trial. That is what we have been told our democratic principles have always stood for. That is what we say, as if we really believe it. But if we follow Facebook principles, certain governments and people are not allowed the right to defend themselves when they are accused of wrong doing. With such rules we are devoid of democratic principles.
Today our modern foreign policy principles seem to reflect the Facebook principles. The right to fair trials, in the court of public opinion, are not automatic. Some people and institutions have been cut out of the loop. Judgment has already been decided and there is no appeal process. The leading institutions have been prejudged. People, governments and various institutions have already been judged as guilty. It's a lot like fascism. In fact it is fascism.  
Institutions, such as Facebook and Twitter are near monopolies. There are no real institutions as them, to go to if a person is displeased with them. They are like a government established medium. They act as one government institution, even though they are private. They represent an institution that acts as a branch of the news media. They have great power. They have the ability to create a great establishment of public opinion. As individuals we need to stand up to them and oppose their use of censorship. As time goes on, some of our own blogs and similar institutions stand in danger of being censored, blocked and shut down by these private institutions.

We need to stand up for our rights now before it is too late. Let's oppose censorship!

Pix by OffGuardian.

Obit Omit: What the Mainstream Media Leaves Out of John McCain’s Record of Militarism and Misogyny

Somebody needs to give us a more balanced view of  these leaders after they die. McCain has some positive attributes, but he was no saint. For a more balanced look at him (and one you won't get from most of the US mainstream news media):
-SJ Otto

Obit Omit: What the Media Leaves Out of John McCain’s Record of Militarism and Misogyny

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Once again the Democratic Party (most of them) stabs us in the back- over the military

We were appalled to see the US Congress, including most Democrats, fail to resist Trump's shockingly bloated military budget. In the Senate they all voted yes, except for Sanders, Warren, Harris, Durbin, Merkley, Wyden, Gillibrand. Republicans Lee and Rubio also voted no, with Rand Paul not voting. In the House the vote was 351 to 66, with 139 Democrats voting yes, 49 voting no, and 5 not voting.

No automatic alt text available.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Workin’ for the Democratic Man!—Book excerpt

Workin’ for the Democratic Man!- Chapter 3

The following is a chapter excerpt from Mark Spies is alive and well and living in the suburbs, by Steve Otto, a yet to be published book. This book is less about politics and more about entertainment. It is more of an insult than it is about serious politics.

Jim Browning was a short stocky man about as tall as I was and that wasn’t very tall. I don’t often work for members of the Democratic Party, but this guy was local. I knew him and I knew his politics. Although he wore a suite, he also had a slight beard, his hair had just a touch of gray and he had a laid back look about him. 
His desk was a meager looking plain wooden table with drawers. His office was small and rather plain except for all the election posters he had on the wall. I was sitting at a table full of information pamphlets that I would soon be giving away door to door.  Browning was running for the Representative to my district and he was running as a Democrat.
He was running against a far-right-wing Republican. His name is Mike O’Connally, a true Tea-Party Yahoo. This young twerp looked as yuppie as it was possible to get. Always in the three-piece suit and tie, with his boyish looks, he couldn’t have been much over 25. He had short crew-cut style hair and he was clean shaven. He looked like a Jehovah’s Witness travelling around on the bicycle. But he would have none of that. The chamber of commerce and had just backed him, along with the Koch brother’s fake think tank Americans for Prosperity backed O’Connally against a moderate Republican who had served the business community well over the last 20 years. But now, The Chamber and the Koch brother stooges decided they could get a better deal. In fact, they owned this guy, lock, stock and barrel. O’Connally was also tied in with ALEC so he could get free speeches he didn’t have to write.
Sitting next to me was a friend of mine, a free-lance writer named Hector Helious. He was about my age, dressed rather business casual and he started laughing when he told us he had heard O’Connally giving a speech at an economic forum put on by our local Chamber of Commerce. He recorded the speech and to his surprise, it was word-for-word identical to a speech he had taped by a politician who spoke at a similar event in St. Louis.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Hector said as he stroked his short goatee. “I didn’t realize you can get elected knowing nothing at all. Both O’Connell and this other guy, Gibbs, had pulled up ready-made speeches from ALEC. All you have to do is parrot what these ass holes tell you to say. Talk about an easy job!”
One thing we all noticed was that O’Connally won the primary election where only 19% of people voted. Surely when we explain that O’Connally had used the low primary turnout as a “dirty trick” to try and flush out a moderate Republican, it wouldn’t be that hard to convince people to vote for Browning as a reasonable alternative—or would it?
I started walking door to door in Browning’s district and already I knew we had problems. I went up to this normal looking middle class house, with blue wooden framing on the outside and the guy inside literally gave me the creeps.
Out walks this old fart wearing overalls, a john Deer hat, with white hair and crooked teeth. He told me; “Them thar libaruls want to take all our guns away and make ever-body gay. I never vote fer nun them thar Dem’crats. Ahm a Kanzen. I always vote Republic'n.”
The next guy I came across called himself Ray. He also described himself as a Republican. He’s a 40 something, not that old with dark hair, wearing blue jeans and a clean shave and he looked like a good ol’ boy as far as a nice open minded guy. But he wasn’t.
“People vote Democrat because they want a welfare check rather than working for a living,” he said. Apparently he believed only Republicans hold jobs.
“Do you seriously believe no one who votes Democrat holds an actual job?” I asked rather astounded that anyone would actually say that, much less believe it.
“Some uh them thar people work at government jobs in one form or another,” he said. “Those are just another form uh welfare. Dem’crats get ‘dem a job where they only work a few hours a day and get what amounts to a government handout.”
A few minutes later this same jackass was bitching because there is only one place to renew a person’s driver’s license.
“It took me three hours of waiting and there is only one office left in town!” he said.
I thought to myself; “You dumb-ass! Did you really think all these people working in government offices didn’t really do any work?” Then there is that annoying belief that poor people are just lazy and chose to live that way.
“Those people could get jobs if they really wanted them,” Ray said.
“Do you have a job?” I asked him.
“Of course ay do. I always had a job. You think Ay’m one them thar lazy poor Dem’crats?”
“So you never had to look for work?”
“So you haven’t actually had to look for work in a long time?”
“I keep my job. That’s cuz ay’m not lazy. I work hard and don’t lose my job. People who aren’t working’ choose to live that way. They make a choice. That is why I never vote for those lazy people who vote Democrat.”
I decided that I would attach my Republican opponent at his weak spot, his corrupt relationship with the Koch Brothers and the Chamber.
“Did you know that Mike O’Connally is finance largely by the Koch Brothers and their PAC Americans for Prosperity?” I asked Ray. “So the Koch Brothers are actually trying to buy this election. They used dirty tricks to get O’Connally to beat a moderate Republican in the primary so he could win the general by just beating a Democrat. The Chamber of Commerce was behind him also.”
“What do you have against the Koch Bruthas? They are producers. The Democrats err supported by parasites who just want to get free money from our gove'ment, while people like the Koch Brothels are producing the wealth in this contra.”
Well, I finally decided that talking to Ray was a lot like talking to a wall. Surely I would have better luck with one of the other working class voters in this largely working class neighborhood. Surely there was someone in this neighborhood who was bothered by the idea of a corrupt politician running for the benefit of a few moneyed interests over the interests of the workers.
So I walked a few blocks to a large pale red house and knocked on the door. This balding guy with glasses came out to talk to me. He looked smarter than the last two. Would that turn out to be true?
“I’m Mark; I’m canvassing on behalf of Jim Browning, who is running for this district’s House of Representatives.”
“I’m Phil,” the man quickly answered. “Is he a Republican?”
“No,” I answered.
“I can’t vote for a Democrat.”
“He might be pro-union. “
“Unions aren’t supporting Democrats anymore.”
“I can’t take a chance. It isn’t fair that they make all that money and the rest of us just make a little over minimum wage. Do you know how much more those Boeing Union guys make than I do?”
“But their unions earn them that money. They pay dues, go to meetings give up their incomes when it comes time to strike. It takes a lot of work being in the union.”
“I think they are all just lazy and want an easy pay check. They don’t want to work too hard so they join a union.”
“You mean they’re lazy like the poor people on welfare and the people who work for the government?”
“That’s right!”
“But if they are so lazy, how do they get those benefits?”
“They buy off our elections through the Democrats. It’s all about corruption.”
“What about the Koch Brothers and their PACs, the Americans for Prosperity and their use of ALEC. They give way more than unions to buy elections. Did you know that O’Connally is solidly in the pockets of the Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers? He’s in debt to those people for a lot. Whatever they ask for he will have to give it to them. He won’t have to pay any attention to your needs or those who work as you do. He can put all the tax burden on you, while giving his rich friends all the tax breaks.”
“But they are rich and this is America where you earn all that wealth and power. If I ever get rich, and I hope someday I do, I want to be able to count on the political system to protect my rights. People who don’t like the Koch Brothers are just jealous that they don’t have all that money.”
“But Browning would defend you and your rights right now. Don’t you want a politician who cares what happens to you now, before you ‘get rich?”
“If I’m not rich it’s my own fault. I’m not going to blame the Koch Brothers or any other rich people because I don’t live the way I want to. The answer is to get rich.”
By now I realized I was just talking to another wall. Throughout the neighborhood, I was running into weird ass yahoos who didn’t seem to have a lick of sense between their ears. It was nearly the end of the day and it was at a rather large house and maybe this guy made a little more money. Of course I didn’t know if they would make any difference.
“Hi! I’m Bob,” the enthusiastic tall thin man said.     
I thought maybe this guy might be a little different. So I decided to go straight at the environmental argument.
“People here don’t like them tree-huggin’ enviermenalists,” Bob said. “And there ain’t no global warmin.’ That’s just a scam by them libaruls who just want to control us with all their socialism and communism.”
“Why would they want to do that?” I asked in amazement. After all, I was a socialist and I couldn’t see any clear cut link between socialists and liberals—accept on some social issues. Most socialists and Marxists I knew hated liberals almost more then they hated conservatives. I have to admit that I was one of the exception to the rule. 
“It’s all about control,” Bob explained. “That’s what the Democrats is all about. They just want to control us and tell us how to live. I’m an individualist. I don’t depend on anyone for anything. I’m completely self sufficient.”
“An individualist?  Do you make your own clothes, build your own car, and grow your own food?”
“Well that doesn’t matter. Modern man uses the pay check rather than the bow and arrow for his food. I just don’t believe in taking hand-outs.”
“Most people who have taken government handouts have paid into the system at one time or another.  Even the few people who haven’t ever held a job pay taxes and spend their money on the economy. So everyone is interdependent in one way or another—unless you live as a hermit in a cave.”
“Oh! That’s ridiculous. People on welfare are bums and I’m not one of those. Those people are ignorant. The reason Republicans win in this state is because people in Kansas are better educated. Ignorant people vote for Democrats.”
“Since I’m working for a Democrat, you must think I’m very ignorant.’
 “You don’t understand simple economics that much I can say for sure. If you understood how economics work you would never vote for a Democrat.”
“I guess I just need more education,” I said sarcastically.
“You need a job, that is for sure.”
“I have a job.”
His jaw dropped and he gave me a look of surprise as if he had never heard of a working Democrat before.
Finally—done with canvassing for the day. And if I had seriously given it any thought, I would never do it again. After a hard day on the campaign trail, it was time to kick back and relax in my black leather chair with a cold Magnum Malt liquor can. The TV was on and one of our esteemed City Councilmen Cal Brewhaa was on TV talking about a new airline coming to Wichita, known throughout the city as the “Air Capital.” Brewhaa talked about all of the great jobs it would bring here.
“We hope to have the AA-Hole Airline moving to Wichita next month,” said Brewhaa. “This will provide lots of aircraft jobs.”
Yes it would, I thought to myself. But what kind of jobs? Will there be minimum or near minimum wages! Or will there be any union jobs that pay an actual living wage. This town was good at finding low income jobs for the little people who lived here. Many, just like those I had talked to while canvassing were likely to work at such low paying jobs and then bitch because they can barely get by—then vote Republican!
Make no mistake about it. This is a one-horse town. It’s the air capital of the Mid-west.
Of course those who don’t want to build air craft can blow it out their asses, as far as our city leaders were concerned. Most people with significant talents, which did not go well with building aircraft, left this town—those who were smart.
Finally the day had come to reap the rewards of our hard fought campaign labor. It was campaign night. It’s a great time to mingle with political folks and swill cheap boos while watching to see if any of our candidates actually win. On those rare occasions when a Democrat does win in the Wichita, it is a big celebration. I was wearing my business casual duds and sitting at one of the many folding chairs around the folding tables covered with all kinds of nifty snacks, cheese, crackers, finger meets, etc. Then there was a bar that served all kinds of soft drinks, coffee, a few types of beer and wine. This was a large building which used to be an old theater and had lots of meeting areas. It had lots of homey decorations and real furniture.
What I liked best about these events were all the cute Democrat women. Some were quite sexy looking. That is one thing the Republicans did not have was really sexy women. And their women were as dull as they come.
I stood with Browning by the TV all night as the local news reported one district’s results after another.  By now I figured that losing this election was a foregone conclusion. But what I didn’t expect was the percentage of votes Browning did get. By about midnight, with more than 90% of the votes in, Browning got 43% of the popular vote. Was that possible?!
Could some of the voters actually grown tired of Brownback’s[1] personal punk boy? Were there some voters who actually took the time to look at issues and the blatant corruption of the Republican Party in this coup they used to gain control for their corporate greed? Apparently I got to a few voters. I don’t know who they were, but not every voter in this state is an ignoramus. Some can actually think for themselves and that was a great revelation for me that night.  
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Pix by Flickr.

[1] Governor Sam Brownback,