Friday, May 26, 2017

Trump in Europe- NATO is a major part of US imperialism

By SJ Otto
President Donald Trump was in Europe this week to face other members of NATO. Trump was right earlier in his campaign when he called NATO obsolete. He has back tracked on that, realizing how helpful it is to keep all his superpower subjugates under the wing of NATO.
But he did repeat his complaint that NATO members don't pay for their own protection:

"President Trump castigated the leaders of NATO allies to their faces during his trip to Europe this week, suggesting that many of them “owe massive amounts of money” to the alliance. Mr. Trump has a point, but he mischaracterizes the way it works," according to The New York Times.

NATO was originally justified as a deterrent against the Soviet Union, the arch enemy of the US at the time it was created. Today this great threat is gone. But NATO has been expanded rather than dismantled. So today, the alliance is used more to instill the imperialist order than it is at protecting anyone. There is the so called “Russian threat” but we really don’t need all the weapons in all those countries just for that. Small countries that were once in the Soviet Block now get real cheap weapons in some-what of a welfare system that gives small countries their cheap or free arms.
Many news media outlets have said: "NATO has been the world's most successful military alliance, period." But what does NATO really protect. To answer this lets look at the two top layers of the US Empire. That includes the US itself, the main military entity and the top military country in the world. The US runs the world. No one country dare try to oppose this massive empire. We only have to look at ISIS(Islamic State) to see what happens to a nation that goes head to head with the US.
But the US is not alone. The second tier to the empire is Europe. Thanks to both NATO and the European Union (EU) most of Europe today is just one country. These countries, being the most advanced behind the US, share in the spoils of the great and mighty US empire. That means they must also take part in many US military adventures, such as the war against ISIS. When the US leader, such as Trump, calls for a coalition or united effort by NATO, he knows he can count on NATO, because they are all part of the empire and they are subjects of the US Empire.
One thing that comes out of booth the EU and NATO is that no country can do things differently than the empire. The US and Europe are corporate states that always protect the interest in the corporate ruling class. No one dares step out of line. For example when Greece elected the Syriza government so that people could get relief from the austerity measures the EU inflicted on them, that government quickly learned that they are not a separate government and they can't just change the rules just because there people are sick of it. They had to go along with the austerity measures because they are part of the EU and that means they are not sovereign. No country in the world today is really sovereign, unless they are being threatened such as North (Democratic People's Republic of) Korea is.
So NATO is a real success as a part of the new world order, US-Europe empire. NATO and the EU prevent any changes. They prevent any kind of experiment with any kind of new form of government. They also keep the working class in step. Unions are losing strength and no real pro-worker country has any real chance of coming to power much less any chance of survival. This is what today's corporate rulers want and that is what they are likely to keep getting as long as this empire holds.
Next to the US and the European tier comes the bottom tier—all the third world countries that are expected to know their place—at the bottom. Then there are such countries as North Korea and ISIS which have been put on the path to total destruction by the two top tiers of the empire. and in North Korea they will have modest help from South Korea. Trump sees himself as the ruler of the US empire—a mighty empire that intends to rule over all other countries. NATO is the enforcer to that empire. And Trump is now learning that he needs NATO to help enforce his control over planet Earth and all his subjects.

Scahill & Greenwald: What If All Victims of War Received the Media Attention of Manchester Victims?

"What about the victims of US supplied bombs, weapons, "military actions" and wars?" -Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas

In Britain, police are expanding their investigation into Monday’s suicide bombing in Manchester that killed 22 and left dozens injured. Many of those killed were young girls. While the Manchester story has dominated international headlines, far less attention has been paid to other stories this week involving the deaths of civilians. In Syria and Iraq, U.S.-led or backed airstrikes have killed dozens of civilians in the last week alone. Meanwhile, in Yemen, the human rights group Reprieve says U.S. Navy SEALs killed five civilians during a raid Tuesday night on a village in Ma’rib governorate. To talk more about how the media covers civilian casualties, we speak with two of the founders of The Intercept: Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald.

For the rest click here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Another un-necessary attack on women's rights by conservative legislators

A report from Julie Burkhart, Founcer and CEO of Trust Women Foundation:

Legislators gutted SB 83 — a bill about propane safety — late last week, and they are subbing the contents of HB 2319, the "font bill" we've told you about before, in SB 83. I need you to call your state rep and senator and ask them to vote "no" on this bill. 
The so-called font bill requires clinics such as ours to disclose medically unnecessary information about our physicians, who serve our patients with compassion and high-quality health care. Mandating these disclosures do nothing to protect the health and safety of patients, but in fact could hurt the patient/physician relationship by instilling uncertainty in a physician’s credibility. Mandating the way in which the information is typed and printed isclearly an obstacle disguised as a safety measure. Kansas does not require this kind of disclosure for any other type of health care, and that should be evidence enough that this is just another attempt to stigmatize and single out abortion care. 
I’m also afraid that these mandates may cause further harassment and even violence against physicians who provide abortion care.
Women shouldn’t endure further obstacles in the path of accessing health care of any form, and physicians should not be singled out for providing a specific type of health care.

Please call your legislators to let them know you expect them to vote "no" against this bill because you #TrustWomen. Don't know who to call? Find your legislators by submitting your address here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Donald Trump visits Saudi Arabia—an absolute monarchy and absolute dictatorship

By SJ Otto
This week President Donald Trump visited a dictatorship where political power is handed down from the leader to his children. While that has been done in North (Democratic People's Republic) Korea. He could also focus on the lack of religious freedom, once again as in DPR Korea. But once again it is Saudi Arabia that has made Islam the only legal religion in the country.
As in the ISIS (Islamic State) territories, Saudi Arabia has people beheaded in public. Women can be beheaded for "witchcraft" or sorcery." In Saudi Arabia no political parties or national elections are permitted. It is a lot like the DPR Korea in the fact that it allows little political or religious freedom.
On DPR Korea Trump has said:

"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview ahead of his 100th day in office on Saturday."

But in Saudi Arabia, a nation with no more rights than in DPR Korea:

"Trump said it was a "tremendous day" and spoke of "hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs. So I would like to thank all of the people of Saudi Arabia."

On top of that Trump announced a $110 billion arms deal. So on an Asian country with a bad human rights record, he promises to attack. On a similar country in the Middle east, a country that has oil, he agrees to sell them arms.
If there own violation of civil rights wasn't enough, Saudi Arabia has led an illegal war on Yemen. According to the Washington Examiner:

"Saudi Arabia, armed with American weapons, fought a proxy war with Iran in Yemen, where the government was overthrown by a rebel group tied to the Iranians. Allegations that Saudi Arabia has bombed civilians and committed other human rights abuses compromised what would otherwise tend to be unanimous U.S. support for the conflict. A $1.15 billion arms deal last year turned controversial, but that pact is dwarfed by the $110 billion pact signed Saturday."

So he is in the Middle east sucking up to a absolute monarchy, a totalitarian dictatorship, and using the regime to bring jobs to Americans —jobs that would be brought to us by human rights abuses —blood money.
The US tries to overthrow one such absolute dictatorship in Asia and yet the US is fine with a different one in the Middle east. And in the Middle east it is a dictatorship that has used proxy armies to foment war. If DPR Korea did that it would be unacceptable. But it is being done by an ally so we look the other way.
I must point out that Trump is not the first or the only US President to honor this dictator. But it needs to stop no matter who is over there kissing the asses of these murderers.

Trump just pretends he's cutting off an opponent's head. Now that is funny! (for him) Pix by Business Insider.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Standoff in Venezuela

This is not a Marxist blog. We mostly cover liberal and Democratic Socialist movements, both at home and abroad. The government in Venezuela is a democratic socialist government. That is the kind of government we support here at The Idiot Factor. Further more we believe other countries have the right to experiment with their own ideas, free from interference from super powers as the US is. So we feel this article is entirely appropriate for this blog. -SJ Otto

From Telesur:

By: Federico Fuentes 
Venezuela has been rocked in recent weeks by almost daily protests and counter-protests, as right-wing opponents of socialist President Nicolas Maduro seek to bring down his government.
While the media portrays these events as a popular rebellion against an "authoritarian" government, supporters of the pro-poor Bolivarian revolution initiated by former president Hugo Chavez say the country is witnessing an escalation in what is an ongoing counter-revolutionary campaign seeking to restore Venezuela’s traditional elites in power and reverse the gains made by the poor majority under Chavez and Maduro.
Federico Fuentes interviewed Steve Ellner, a well-known analyst of Venezuelan and Latin American politics and a retired professor at Venezuela’s Universidad de Oriente, to get his views on recent events.
This interview was originally published at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
When it comes to the current turmoil in Venezuela, the media have been unanimous in their version of events: the Maduro regime is on its last legs due to the overwhelming opposition it faces from the people, including among the poorest sectors that previously supported the government, and therefore its only recourse for survival is violent repression. How accurate is this media narrative?
It’s hardly a far-gone conclusion.

There is no better indication of the deceptiveness of the mainstream media’s narrative than the spatial nature of the anti-government protests in early 2014 known as the “guarimba” and again this year.
The protests are centred in the middle and upper class areas whose mayors belong to the opposition. The strategy behind the protests is for the mass civil disobedience, confrontation with security forces and widespread destruction of public property to spread to the poorer areas.
Certainly, the popular sectors have a long tradition of street protests, particularly over deficient public services. But the popular sectors have remained largely passive, although with more exceptions now than in 2014. Obviously the opposition is banking on greater active popular support than in 2014.
Along similar lines, the Chavista United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has been more damaged by electoral abstention among disenchanted Chavistas than those who end up voting for the opposition. Such electoral behaviour is what explains the Chavista defeat in the December 2014 elections for the National Assembly.
But the Chavista leaders still have an impressive degree of mobilisation capacity, as was demonstrated in two recent marches, one on Venezuelan Independence Day on April 19, and the other on May 1.
The nation’s precarious economic situation as well as the complete political turnaround in the hemisphere strengthens the opposition’s hand. Whereas in past political crises, such as the coup attempt in 2002 and the general strike of 2002-2003, the Chavez government was able to count on backing from other Latin American nations including in some cases non-leftist ones.
Now Venezuela’s neighbouring governments, in spite of their considerable unpopularity and internal discontent, have explicitly taken up the cause of the Venezuelan opposition.
But at this point I would describe the political situation in Venezuela as a standoff, a far cry from saying that the government is on its last legs. Of course, given the political volatility over the recent past, predictions have to be at best tentative.
In an ultimate sense, the popular sectors have the last word. If they were to join the protests, then the statement that the Maduro government is, as you say, on its last legs, would be accurate. The situation would then be similar to that of the Soviet Union in 1991 when the miners began to march against the government, thus signalling the collapse of the regime.
Even some former supporters of the government today speak of an authoritarian turn on the part of Maduro. Is there any truth to this accusation?
To answer your question it has to be pointed out that Venezuela is not in a normal situation, with what political scientists call a “loyal opposition” that recognises the government’s legitimacy and plays by the rules of the game. Thus to talk about government actions without placing them in context – as the corporate media is prone to do – is misleading.
The opposition leaders of today are, for the most part, the same ones involved in the coup and general strike of 2002-2003, the same ones who refused to recognise the legitimacy of the electoral processes in 2004 and 2005 and consistently questioned the legitimacy of the National Electoral Council except in those cases in which the government was defeated.
They are also the same ones who refused to recognise Maduro’s triumph in the presidential election of 2013, resulting in about a dozen deaths, and then promoted the four months of protests in 2014 involving civil disobedience on a massive scale along with considerable violence, resulting in 43 deaths including six members of the national guard.
The current period commences with the opposition’s triumph in the National Assembly elections of 2015 when the president of that body, Henry Ramos Allup, immediately announced that regime change would be achieved within six months; subsequently the National Assembly turned down the executive’s budgetary allocations. All along the opposition has rejected the government’s call for a national dialogue, demanding concessions as a precondition for negotiations. The protests that have occurred in the last month are a repeat of the guarimba of 2014. Opposition leaders completely evade the issue of violence, other than declaring that they are opposed to it in an abstract sense.
Practically every day they call marches in the affluent eastern part of Caracas that attempt to reach the downtown area where the presidential palace is located. Government spokespeople have stated numerous times that downtown Caracas is off limits for the opposition marches; security forces commonly employ tear gas to prevent passage.
The reason for the government’s refusal is obvious. With a massive number of opposition people in the downtown area for an indefinite period of time, massive civil disobedience, the surrounding of the presidential palace and violence would all ensue, along with uncontrollable chaos.
The confrontations would be aggravated by the coverage of the international media, which has always spun their reports to favour the opposition. The fact that every day for the last several weeks the main leaders of the opposition have called for marches to reach downtown Caracas, even though they know full well that confrontations will occur, would suggest that their strategy for gaining power envisions street disruptions and combat.
The spatial nature of the protests is key. You may say that the government is justified in avoiding the protests from reaching the centre of Caracas. But the question may be asked, would the Chavistas tolerate peaceful marches originating from the affluent eastern half of the city marching though Chavista strongholds in the popular sectors?
The question is clouded by the fact that the opposition marches almost invariably involve civil disobedience and violence.
Would you say that both the Chavistas and the opposition are assuming intransigent positions?
Both sides are playing hard ball, but a description of the political setting is indispensible in order to appreciate what is at stake. The fact is that the democratic nature of some of the government’s decisions is questionable, two in particular.
A month ago, ex-presidential candidate (on two occasions), and governor of the state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles was stripped of his right to participate in elections due to charges of corruption.
In the second place, the gubernatorial and municipal elections which were slated for December 2016 have been delayed on grounds that other proposed electoral processes have pushed them into the future. Although Maduro has indicated that his party is ready to participate in those elections, a date has still not been set. If elections were held today, the Chavistas would very possibly suffer losses.
The hardliners in the Chavista movement headed by National Assembly deputy Diosdado Cabello are obviously calling the shots and they support an aggressive line toward the opposition. The most visible voice for the “soft-line” is former vice-president Jose Vicente Rangel, who favours gestures that would encourage negotiations and buttress those in the opposition who reject street confrontation.
Likewise, the radicals in the opposition are firmly in control. They have made clear that once in power, they would jail the Chavista leaders on grounds of corruption and violation of human rights. Their call for “No to Impunity” is a coded slogan. It means in effect a witch hunt against the Chavista movement and repression that would pave the way for the imposition of unpopular neoliberal policies.
Indeed, neoliberalism characterised Capriles’ platform in the two presidential elections of 2012 and 2013. There is a definite relationship between the radical tactics and intolerance displayed by the opposition, on the one hand, and the neoliberal program which would be imposed should the opposition return to power, on the other hand.
To sum up, the narrative that calls the Maduro government “authoritarian” is a blatant misrepresentation of what is happening. On the other hand, the Chavista leaders have on occasion distanced themselves from democratic principles. Their actions, however, need to be contextualised.
What has been the impact of interference by the US government and the Organization of American States, along with the changing attitude of certain governments in the region?
The foreign actors you refer to have failed to place themselves above Venezuela’s internal politics in order to promote a peaceful resolution to a conflict that could well degenerate into civil war. The statements issued by the White House as well as Luis Almagro, the OAS’ secretary general, coincide in their entirety with the opposition’s narrative and demands.
Rather than taking sides in Venezuela’s internal conflict, the OAS should have called for a national dialogue and named a nonpartisan committee to investigate disputed events. The decision of the Maduro government to withdraw from the OAS was a reaction to the organisation’s partisanship, which has served only to exacerbate the political polarization.
The OAS and other international actors reinforce the Venezuelan opposition’s narrative that conflates pressing economic problems and the alleged authoritarianism of the Maduro government. This line inadvertently strengthens the hand of the hardliners within the opposition.
The only way to justify regime change by non-electoral means and the intervention of foreign actors, such as the OAS, is to attempt to demonstrate that the nation is headed toward a dictatorship and systematically violates human rights.
But the moderates within the opposition – although at this point they have no visible national leader – favour emphasising economic issues in order to reach out to the popular sectors of the population, attract some of the disenchanted Chavistas, and at the same time accept dialogue with government representatives. The moderates therefore place an accent mark on economic issues more than political ones.
In this sense, the intromission of foreign actors who question the Venezuelan government’s democratic credentials only serves to bolster the position of the radicals in the opposition and to further polarise the nation.
In terms of the current economic problems: how serious are the shortages?
The problem of shortages of basic products is undeniable, even while media outlets like the Wall Street Journal claim that the nation is on the verge of mass starvation. Hunger is a scourge that afflicts the lower strata in other, if not all, Latin American nations. But the key index from social and political viewpoints is the contrast with standards in Venezuela in previous years. The deterioration has certainly been sharp with regard to the period prior to the sharp decline in oil prices in mid-2015.
What do you foresee happening in the immediate future? Is the Maduro government doomed? What do you think of the proposed Constituent Assembly?
Maduro’s proposal for a constituent assembly is a mixed bag with regard to the possibility of achieving greater stability.
On the one hand it is an initiative – something new – that is designed to break the deadlock the nation finds itself stuck in. A favourable scenario would be that the Chavistas are able to activate their base as well as that of social movements and achieve an important degree of electoral participation.
Furthermore, in the best-case scenario, constituent assembly delegates would formulate viable proposals to deal with pressing issues, such as corruption, and the Chavistas in power would demonstrate genuine receptivity to them. In short, a constituent assembly based on bottom-up participation could be a game changer.
In the case of the alternative scenario, the constituent assembly proposal will be viewed as a ploy to buy time and sidetrack the electoral process.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How I Always Win the Abortion Argument

From Daily Kos:

This past Friday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the deceptively named “Tennessee Infants Protection Act,” a bill that does nothing for infants but prohibits physicians from performing abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Tennessee Republicans blocked all efforts from Democrats to include exceptions for incest, mental health, or even rape. (After all, if a woman is raped, GOP lawmakers say it must be God's will.)
The “pro-life" movement has never been about "life," it has, and always will, be about control. Control over a woman's reproduction—taken from the individual and given to
GOP legislators, like Republican Billy Long (pictured).  The
entire movement has been a scam from its inception: it all began with a single disingenuous conference call to come up with ways to gin up support for segregationist Bible colleges. Up until that point, churches didn’t have any problem with it. Why should they? The Bible says nothing about it. Even though abortion was practiced way back in Jesus’ time, He never said one word about it. 
Yet when the Tennessee law was debated, among the countless other patriarchal attacks on women, I hear the same tired argument over and over again. I hear it in other statehouses, including my own, whenever the GOP tries to regulate women’s pregnancies. Unfortunately, I always see Democrats trying to argue on their terms, and falling for the same trap. So let’s talk:
As many of you know, I live in a conservative paradise: no services, few jobs, and guns—lots of guns. The same rednecks who brag about mowing down a family of deer or discussing their fantasies of killing folks they don’t like are always the same ones getting on their soapbox about the sanctity of life when it comes to abortion. One of my neighbors went on and on about “killing babies"—right after he made a joke about what to name a dead Syrian toddler. (I won’t repeat it. I couldn't even pretend to like him after that. )
A politician isn’t usually that blatantly crass. (Although the new Trump-era GOP politicians are really testing the waters.) But they all make the same argument that frames it very black and white: God makes the baby,  and the evil woman kills the baby. (After all, she is just an empty vessel.) The zygote, however, is no different to them than an infant. To them, terminating a pregnancy—even if the cells are smaller than a dot (.)—is exactly the same thing as strangling a newborn baby. It’s crazy, but that’s how they think. Arguing with any rightwing politician or supporter with this kind of framing is a losing proposition every time.

For the rest click here.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Housing Vouchers get blocked by a US disease—Classism

By SJ Otto
Just the other day I was listening to a piece on NPR, on my car radio, and they had an interview that really disturbed me. It turns out that a program the government runs to help low income people move into good houses usually doesn’t work at all because residence in the better homes won’t let poor people move in.
The program, for Section 8 housing vouchers, provides these poor people with vouchers to help them pay for apartment or housing rent until they can make enough income to pay it on their own. To begin with, this is one of those programs were the money is available, but for most of the people who need it, there just isn’t enough to go around. There is a waiting list. It can take up to six months to finally get the vouchers. The vouchers expire if not used in a short span of time.

"It took me six years to get my voucher but I got it," Farryn Giles told NPR. "You can best believe I'm going to utilize it."

But she won’t be using them. It turns out that getting these doesn’t accomplish anything. Few if any landlords will accept them. And even if they do, angry middle and upper class residence will stop her from moving in. It all comes down to America’s last great ism, next to racism, sexism and homophobia—classism.
Classism is still perfectly acceptable to a great many people here in this country. The NPR story is a testimony to that. Unlike racism or sexism, no one seems to rush in and defend poor people when they are a product of discrimination. This last ism may be America’s worst form of discrimination at this point in time. And as this story points out the damage is very real.

"I've been to Oak Cliff, I've been to south Dallas, I've been to Pleasant Grove," Giles said. "I've been way down south. Nobody wants my voucher."

And it is not that the money is no good. The government pays out. But prejudiced middle and upper class people run prospective renters, such as Giles, out of their part of town.
The NPR article gave the example of Developer Terri Anderson who ran into problems trying to build an apartment complex, with 13 units set aside specifically for voucher holders.

"The city actually called a public hearing for our property and about 250 angry residents showed up," she said. "Our superintendent has been threatened, issued a criminal trespass warning. Police officers blocked our entrance."

It seems that people who can pay their rent don’t want poor people moving in near them. Their reasons are nothing short of preconceived ideas about what poor people are like. They are reacting to stereo types that conservative forces have reinforced in their rhetoric for decades. They have implied or just came right out and said that poor people are lazy, dangerously attracted to criminal activity and most of all, they have different values. They lack the values the upper class people believe are responsible for their better lifestyle they can afford. And most of all, they just won’t fit in.
One thing that really stands out is that most of these arguments are the same that white people used to say about Afro-Americans back in the 1950s and 1960s when efforts were being made to wipe out racism in housing. In many ways this problem is simply an extension of plain old racism in housing. Such problem that goes back over the last century and the classism of today is really a product of past racist attitudes.
Nicole Humphrey, who lives a couple miles away from Anderson's development, provides us with an example of the classist attitudes that get in the way of a person, such as Giles, trying to make a better life for her and her son.

"I feel so bad saying that," Humphrey told NPR. "It's just not people who are the same class as us."

She continues:

"In this neighborhood, most of us are stay-at-home moms with young kids," she says. "The lifestyle that goes with Section 8 is usually working, single moms or people who are struggling to keep their heads above water."

When asked if others who did not have the same opportunities as her could live in her neighborhood, she says: "The problem with that is I hear a lot of the unfair of: 'Oh we haven't been given this or that, or we haven't been afforded things you have been afforded.' I don't look at multi-millionaires and think, 'Why don't I have a yacht?'"

Humphrey says the issue for her is not about race. She says her neighborhood – with rows of tidy new houses and with well-cut lawns — is diverse. The real concern, she says, is that the voucher holders won't fit in or they won't understand her life.
All of this is straight out prejudice and ignorance about what poor people are really like. Chances are good that Humphrey has never spoke with a poor person of the lower classes to see what these people are really like. And chances are even better that she goes out of her way to avoid talking to people such as Giles. This all reinforces the stereo types that keep these bigoted views alive among people of the middle and upper classes.
The US is guilty of ignoring this problem and conservative forces[1] are guilty of perpetuating the stereo types of the lower classes. People who defend the lower classes are often labeled socialist, communist or some other kind of nasty word that paints support of the lower classes as anti-American. But this housing problem demonstrates just how destructive these types of prejudism are. We are a society that values wealthy people and stigmatizes the opposite. We are bombarded daily with commercials that tell us how important it is to “make it.” The messages are very clear: “If you are not making enough money to afford the things you are entitle to, the things you need and want, you are a LOSER!”
Over the last half century, the cold war has allowed our society to ridicule anyone who dares to defend the culture of the lower classes. But now is the time to fight back and reverse that trend.
One part of this change is to fight against the stereo types and attitudes that devalue the lives of the poor. This means speaking out for such people publicly. We need to challenge the stereo types that imply that it is the fault of the poor for being poor. People don’t usually choose poverty. Many people are born into it. We can confront politicians at their town hall meetings. We can write blog articles and letters to the editor. Whenever such stereo types appear, public, in print or other media, we need to speak out. Let’s make classist attitudes on par with racism, sexism, homophobia and any other ism that discriminates.
We should encourage people to get to know persons who live in poverty. We need to challenge the middle and upper class people to talk to the poor. They need to find out what they are really like. It may be possible to hold events that will allow people of different classes to meet up personally.
We need to support political people and institutions that can challenge the stereo types against poor people. We can support Democratic Socialist of America and like-minded politicians and institutions. DSA promotes politics that oppose discrimination against poor people. Socialism means departing from the attitudes that we should worship the wealthy. Poor people have value. Their lives have value. We need political parties and people who respect that attitude.

Pix from Meme Generator.

[1] There are plenty of examples of liberals who are also guilty of looking down on the lower classes and perpetuating stereo types about them. See the “The Culture Of The Smug White Liberal,”

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

1970- Four dead in Ohio

On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a group of students who were demonstrating against President Richard Nixon’s Cambodian invasion Campaign. He had just ordered troops and bombers into Cambodia as part of his Vietnam War strategy.
The guards killed four people and wounded nine others. One student was permanently paralyzed. This song was written soon after:
-SJ Otto
Crosby,Stills,nash and Young Four dead in ohio  

4 dead in Ohio- no music:

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Privatised Affordable Housing Program Costs More, Shelters Fewer

Day after day I drive my wife to work and each day we pass a McDonald's. One thing I can always see are homeless people. I keep reading that our Kansas governor has cut back on welfare and most of those people are now working. But my suspicions are that these people represent the fruits of our conservative societythey are the people know one want to see, because they represent what does not work in our capitalist system.
And there are a lot of these people. They all looked leathered and weathered by the sun and the elements. I can tell they spend little time indoors. They often carry most of their possessions. They often change in the McDonald's bathroom. They dress poor. They are poor.
The system, especially conservative values, has failed many of our citizens. And another failure from the great ideas of conservatism are the ideas that a department such as government housing can  be turned over to private interests and they will do a better job than the government did. WRONG! And this article proves it. - SJ Otto

From NPR:

On the south side of Dallas, Nena Eldridge lives in a sparse but spotless bungalow on a dusty lot. At $550 each month, her rent is just about the cheapest she could find in the city.

"I'm tired, but I don't have nowhere to go and I don't have enough money to do it," she says, fighting back tears. But she adds, "I'm not living on the streets. I'm not homeless."

After an injury left her unable to work, the only income she receives is a $780 monthly disability check. So she has to make tough financial choices, like living without running water.

Every day, she fills bottles with water from a neighbor's house and takes them home. She washes her hands with water heated in an electric slow cooker. She uses a bucket to flush the toilet

Eldridge is among the 11 million people nationwide making these kinds of choices every day. The government calls them "severely rent burdened" — people paying more than half their income in rent.

Thirty years ago, Eldridge was the type of person Congress sought to help when it created the low-income housing tax credit program, which is now the government's primary program to build housing for the poor.

But the tax-credit building that's only a little more than 2 miles from Eldridge's house, where she might pay as little as $200 or $300 in rent based on her income, has a waiting list up to four years long. In Dallas and nationwide, many of these buildings don't have any vacancies.

In a joint investigation, NPR — together with the PBS series Frontline — found that with little federal oversight, LIHTC has produced fewer units than it did 20 years ago, even though it's costing taxpayers 66 percent more in tax credits.

In 1997, the program produced more than 70,000 housing units. But in 2014, fewer than 59,000 units were built, according to data provided by the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

For the rest click here.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Protesters stage a die-in aimed at the slacker US Representative Ron Estes

By SJ Otto
A die in was staged for our slacker US Representative Ron Estes, at 7701 E. Kellogg, here in Wichita, KS, on Friday Morning. More protests will be held against our slacker Representative in days to come, including a die in at his church, at 8am Sunday, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 600 N Greenwich Rd, Wichita, KS 67206.
Estes actually went to work Friday and helped President Trump pass his disastrous  health plan. Estes has turned out to be a real asset to Trump and the perfect yes man. He even got his vote finished before "happy hour." Estes is not the kind of politician who will spend any more time working than he has to. But in a pinch, Trump can count on him to stab his less wealthy constituents in the back.

This photo was probably taken by James Lynch. I sure didn't take it. I just stole it without permission.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Trump and Republicans are determined to kill off health care for the poor

By SJ Otto
Once again President Donald Trump and his minions are attempting to gut and render useless the Affordable Care Act (known by most as Obamacare). The Republicans are coming up with changes to their own health care plan that will make Obamacare seem more and more like the system we had before Obamacare was passed. In other words, no system of helping poor and lower working class people to get the insurance they need to prevent them from dying of disease. The plan probably does not get rid of all the protections, but it will make them far too inadequate to do any good.
The latest glitch is a Republican plan to roll back the rules to force insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer. They already plan to eliminate coverage for some of the poorest Americans. Once they eliminate protection for pre-existing conditions, they really have no health care plan at all. We are back with the status quo before Obamacare was passed.
According to CNN:

“The bill would also significantly curtail federal support for Medicaid and allow states to require able-bodied adults to work. After 2020, states that expanded Medicaid would no longer receive enhanced federal funding to cover low-income adults, and those that hadn't expanded would be immediately barred from doing so.
And it would allow states to relax some key Obamacare protections of those with pre-existing conditions, which are among the health reform law's most popular provisions. States could apply for waivers to allow insurers to offer skimpier policies that don't cover the 10 essential health benefits mandated by Obamacare. Also, insurers would be able to charge higher premiums to those with medical issues if they let their coverage lapse. States requesting waivers would have to set up programs -- such as high-risk pools -- to protect insurers from high-cost patients.” 

While this new action takes a lot away from poor Americans it showers generous benefits on America’s wealthiest people and businesses. The Republicans have let everyone know whose side they are on. Money puts them in power and they take care of those moneyed interests:

“The GOP health care bill would eliminate Obamacare taxes on the wealthy, insurers and others, and get rid of the individual mandate imposed by Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act. Instead of the Obamacare subsidies that are tied to income and premiums, the GOP plan would provide Americans with refundable tax credits based mainly on age to purchase health insurance.”

One important factor in all of this is the so called Freedom Caucus. This group of Republicans is blatant in their attacks on the rights of poor people. The name “Freedom Caucus” seems more like a sick joke. The only freedom they care about is the freedom for rich people and businesses not to have to pay for any taxes or suffer any inconveniences from our government. For poor people, especially the working poor, they want no freedom at all, unless they believe the poor have freedom do die early and freedom from health care.
They talk about people’s choices, but for the less wealthy there is no freedom. A better name would be the Fascist Caucus.
It amazes me how nasty these Republicans are towards our poorest citizens. Many of these poor people work full time, or more. They contribute to the economy and yet they don’t have the basic rights to health care. Their lives are meaningless to the Republican Party, especially the so called Freedom Caucus.
The rest of the civilized western world provides health care to their citizens. Many nations consider health care a human right—but not here in the US. Here in this country the right of profiteers—insurance companies that profit off of the suffering of the sick and dying, are the only ones the government cares about. The Republicans are running a pogrom to kill off poor people in this country. Each day we watch the Republicans on TV finding new ways to help insurance companies make money at the expense of our less wealthy citizens and each day they find new ways to kill off poor people.
Each day the drama goes on. The bill should be called “The Republicans Don’t Care!”

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Buy I Am Pol Pot for summer reading

Want something interesting and challenging to read this summer? How about a I Am Pol Pot. Here is an historical interpretation of what the former dictator of Kampuchea might have been like if he had written his own auto biography. Written as a series of journals and news articles, this book will let the reader see Pol Pot’s Cambodia from inside.

From Amazon; this book is a steal at $19.16.
But for those who need something a little cheaper try buying it as an i-books, for $8.99.

Just click on those hyperlinks and the book is yours. Buy it for your own library.