Sunday, February 18, 2018

Will a complete ass hole—Kris Kobach—really be our next governor?

By SJ Otto

My own political scale goes left to right. That’s not unusual. But I have several categories of right-wing labels that go "conservative- very conservative- ultra-right conservative" and then "ass hole." At some point a politician just doesn't deserve a simple far-far-far far to the right conservative label. I like to call them as I see them.
We do have the Nazis, real Fascists and Ku Klux Klan. And they are in the "ass hole" position of my label system. But there are those who are not members of such fascist oriented groups and they are so reprehensible that they may as well be members of the aforementioned groups. They are the people who are against the common welfare of at least some segment of people in our society. Our former Governor Sam Brownback viciously attacked poor people and the programs they relied on. He denied them access to health care. He treated them about a good as Hitler treated Jews. Today The Wichita Eagle [1] had an editorial piece by Mark Peterson that explains how Secretary of State Kris Kobach could easily win the upcoming gubernatorial election to be our next governor. Peterson admits that Kobach is strongly disliked. And yet he may win. I can understand how that would happen. First there is a primary for both Democrats and Republicans. While there are many candidates to choose from on the Republican ticket, Kobach is the best known Republican running. While there are a lot of middle of the road Republicans who would never vote for such an obnoxious candidate as Kobach, the more repulsive "ass hole" Republicans will turn out in high numbers to put their candidate over the top. Most Kansas are too intelligent to vote for such a narrow minded "ass hole" as Kobach. But only Republicans can vote in the primary and that gives the "ass holes" a great advantage.
The next big advantage is Greg Orman who is running as an independent. This is how, as Peterson explained it, "that Bizarro World outcome could unfold." Orman is probably a fairly progressive candidate, at least compared to Kobach. But he is running against a Democrat. We don't know who that will be yet. But whoever wins the Democratic primary they are likely to be way more liberal or progressive than Kobach. Kansas is a Republican state but at times people here elect Democrat governors. As Peterson wrote: "electing an independent to the governor’s office has a July in Kansas blizzard's chance." What he is likely to do is split the vote. For a Democrat to win in Kansas, they have to win over a large section of Republicans —the kinds of Republicans that are able to evaluate the actual issues and not just continuously vote for Republicans for the sake of Republicans. And then there are the "ass holes" who willingly vote for the worst and most despicable people running.
There are the xenophobes who enjoy seeing all those anti-immigrant policies that Kobach has enacted. Then there are the racist (who are usually also) xenophobes who like the way Kobach has knocked these people off the voter rolls. And there are those who loved a governor who followed his right-wing ideology despite bringing the state closer to
ruination. And most racist people also hate poorer people and just about any other groups of minorities who are different from them.
I have to admit that calling a mainstream politician an “ass hole” is not very professional. It shows a lack of respect for the institution of journalism. But then again, I’m not a real professional politician or journalist. Blog writing is a kind of entertainment pass time where an unprofessional journalist can call them like he/she sees them.
I see a mean spirited ass hole who has shown a complete lack of professional behavior and an attitude of “if it works do it, even if it is just plain unfair.” Fair play and a sense of common decency is missing. So I just call them like I see them.

[1] Mark Peterson, "How Kobach survives his way to gubernatorial top," The Wichita Eagle, February 18, 2018, p. 4B

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Once again we have the insanity of the NRA

By SJ Otto
Once again we have a school shooting. We had 17 known students killed by a former high school student who got mad and decided to "shoot up the school."
People will wring their hands and complain that we should pass some kind of gun laws. Maybe we need better background checks? Maybe stop guns from being around a school? Maybe put restrictions on what kind of guns people can buy?
But we all know that any new gun laws are "dead on arrival." The NRA (National Riffle Association or as I put it, National Republican Association since this group almost always supports Republicans) will oppose any new gun laws and no politician will dare to oppose what they say. Oh sure... a few Democrats will bravely stand up and propose new gun restrictions, but the NRA will win in the final count and nothing will change. For example, just look at all the other school shooting that have taken place in the last 20 years. There was quite a bit. Or worse yet, let's look at the school shootings in the last year. There have been 18 school shootings in the first 45 days of 2018. That seems like a lot.
So what does the NRA and their finely tuned leadership say about these shootings? "Good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns," According to such right-wing jerks as Todd Rokita, Member of the US House of Representatives from Indiana's 4th district. We hear that refrain over and over again from both the NRA and Republican politicians.
I don't want a lot of restrictions on guns. I oppose gun control in general. But the NRA and the Republicans have supported gun rights and the right to conceal and carry to the point where they have gotten ridiculous. Should we change the law to the point where 18 year olds, rather than being 21 years of age, are allowed to carry guns? Such changes have been in the works and the NRA supports that. Is there an age where people are just too immature to own dangerous hand guns or assault riffles? According to the NRA the answer is no. Any one of any age should be able to buy a hand gun or any kind of gun.
There is a way to defend the right of adults to own guns and there are common sense ideas as to keeping such weapons from children. If the NRA gets their way, their new motto will be "good children with guns (hand guns or assault riffles) can stop bad children who have guns. The NRA support insanity and the rest of the country needs to wake up and stop this ridiculous organization.   

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Martin Luther King Jr. reduced to pedaling trucks—Super Bowl Ad

By SJ Otto
I hate commercials. They annoy me. At times they try to pretend they are entertainment. Other times they pretend to be news updates. But their aim is always to try and get us to buy something. Larry King says he likes to connect people with things that work. He is simply trying to sell us clam oil pills to stop pain. If I could get rid of commercials I would.
This year, as with many years past, the Super Bowl ads are now looked forward to as if they were real entertainment. I see news people showing us the most interesting and anticipated ads for the Super Bowl. But now the ads have hit an all-time low as Dodge uses part of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech to sell us their trucks.

“Amid the commercial miasma swirling around Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast, one advertisement actually stood out as something of a cultural and social event. It was an ad for Dodge Ram trucks, featuring the uplifting words of none other than Martin Luther King Jr.
The ad provoked immediate comment on social media – none of it, as far as we can tell, positive. It was seen as a landmark in crassness. That was true not least because in the speech excerpted for the ad, a 1968 sermon entitled “The Drum Major Instinct,” King spends some considerable time excoriating the advertiser-driven quest for material acquisitions, including cars.
“We are so often taken by advertisers,” he declared. “They have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying…. You’ve seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don’t earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford.” Those words weren’t in the script for the Ram truck company (which is owned by, yes, Fiat Chrysler). The ad just stuck to King’s exhortation to become great by serving others.”

Apparently the King family gave permission for Dodge to use this speech. So what were the King family members thinking when they allowed a speech by one of our most beloved social commentators of the 20th century? I can only guess— $$MONEY$$!
This ad takes a speech that was meant to inspire people to think about the meaning of our lives and our relationship towards others and gave it a new meaning—to buy our trucks. The seriousness of such a speech is lost on the crass commercialism and materialism that has soaked in to every fiber of our collective being. The message is simple—buy lots of stuff, whether you need it or not, and contribute to the economy. Such crass commercialism seems to be a form of cultural pollution. Ads are everywhere we go—TV radio, our computers. They are in every public place imaginable. The message is always to buy something. As a culture I would like to think that Americans have more to say about life than buy something and try to find happiness through the ownership of material things.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Mike Pence avoids handshake with North Korea delegate ahead of Olympics Opening Ceremony

It is not surprising that a hard-line ass hole Republican like Vice President Mike Pence would avoid shaking hands with members of the North (Democratic People’s Republic) Korean delegation at this year’s Winter Olympics. It is to be expected that the up-runner to US Imperialism would be rude to those who live under his adversary. Everyone who came from other countries acted civil, but Pence is an embarrassment to those of us who believe in respecting international law. -SJ Otto

South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a reception for international delegates ahead of Friday’s Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in PyeongChang.
Vice President Mike Pence, the leader of the the U.S. delegation, was among 12 leaders invited to sit at the head table, where he was expected to sit across from Kim Yong Nam, the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and representative from North Korea.
That did not happen. Pence made a brief appearance and left early to meet with U.S. athletes prior to the Opening ceremony, South Korean officials told Reuters. He did not take a seat, but met and shook hands with other leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to the report.
He left without interacting with Kim Yong Nam, although Moon did shake hands with Kim Yong Nam.
Pence did, however, sit near Kim Yong Nam and Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong at the Opening Ceremony, thanks to a seating arrangement that was out of his control.
For the rest click here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Good bye and good riddance Governor Sam Brownback

By SJ Otto
We are finally rid of Governor Sam Brownback. We do have a Republican governor, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and he may be as bad as Sam Brownback—but there is a chance that he is an improvement, and it wouldn’t take a lot to be an improvement over the governor.
Brownback barely won re-election and in the six years he has reigned over Kansas, he has cause massive damage to our educational system, brought a massive deficit and flooded the state with unnecessary far to the right, conservative policies.
Brownback admitted he was running an experiment in Kansas and that experiment has failed and failed miserably. He slashed taxes for wealthy businesses, and as most conservatives he tried to balance the budget on the backs of working people. Kansas's budget has for years resembled a wallet with a hole in it—every time the state's bookkeepers peek inside, they find less money than the government thought would be there. He took a lot of money out of our education system as if it had no value.
Brownback treated poor Kansans as if they were some kind of enemy. He has slashed the welfare system until it barely exists at all. He has come up with some of the most draconian and humiliating rules for public assistance that have ever been conceived.
He has refused to take part in any part of the Obamacare and he actually sent back federal funding for that program, which cost the Kansas taxpayer’s money and services that were already paid for. He refused to increase Medicaid spending for poor people and that has caused a lot of poor people to die from lack of health care needlessly.
It will take years to fix all the damage this man has done to our state. His leaving is a welcome breath of fresh air. He is going off as an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom around the world for President Donald Trump. Brownback’s selection was criticized by Equality Kansas, the state’s leading LGBT rights group that has repeatedly clashed with Brownback on the issue of religious freedom.

“Governor Brownback is unsuited to represent American values of freedom, liberty and justice, whether at home or abroad,” said Tom Witt, the group’s executive director. “His use of religion is little different than that of a bully wielding a club. His goal is not to use religion as a way to expand freedom, but to use a narrow, bigoted interpretation of religion to deny freedom to his fellow citizens.”

Brownback leaves as one of the most unpopular governors in the history of Kansas. And he deserves that.  

Good Bye and Good Riddance!

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

We don’t need conservative Democrats!

There is no advantage to having a conservative Democrat in office. If he opposes abortion rights and Obamacare he may as well be a Republican. The label of Democrat means nothing if Lipinski isn’t supporting policies that help the average working class and working poor Americans. We need people to counter the disastrous President Donald Trump. He and his party are destroying working people, poor working people and poor people in general. The Democrats need to be on the side of the working class. There is no room for those who straddling the fence. They are either with us or against us—no middle ground. –SJ Otto

From Daily Kos:
Businesswoman Marie Newman seemed like a longshot to dislodge anti-choice, anti-gay Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary when Daily Kos first endorsed last summer. But a powerhouse campaign and a groundswell of grassroots support have Team Lipinski sweating bullets.

Look at the support Newman has earned since we first endorsed:

·         Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
·         NARAL and the Human Rights Campaign
·         Illinois Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez
·         EMILY's List
·         The SEIU Illinois State Council
·         The Illinois Federation of Teachers
·         Planned Parenthood
This is what a winning team looks like.

Lipinski has been a thorn in the side of progressives since he was first elected in 2004. He is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, voting against key legislation like Obamacare and siding with Paul Ryan and House Republicans to ban abortion after 20 weeks. Marie Newman is our best shot ever of taking him out and electing a real progressive in this solidly blue district.

Please stand up for women and chip in $3 to help Marie Newman beat anti-choice Dan Lipinski today.

This will still be a tough battle for Newman. Lipinski has turned back progressive challengers in the past and he still has a great deal of labor support, with much of it coming from the more conservative building trades unions.

But Lipinski's hurt himself with more liberal unions like SEIU, which represents often lower-paid workers like home healthcare aides, janitors, and bus drivers and is a leader in the fight for a $15 per hour minimum wage. SEIU specifically cited Lipinski's refusal to support a $15 wage as a key reason for siding with Newman, to which Lipinski responded by whining that the union's decision 

Saturday, February 03, 2018

US Freedom- conform to it or else!—

About Three years ago I wrote this article; "This is American freedom—conform to it or else!," for another publication. That is why I especially like this cartoon. I don't know if anyone has a good solution to the problem of conformity, but at least we can see what it is. I recognize it, without offering any real solution to this problem. -SJ Otto

Kansas legislators move backward on marijuana, trying to ban an oil users say is life-changing, illegal in the Sunflower State

While the rest of the country is rolling back outdated marijuana laws Kansas legislators are moving in the opposite direction. The dim-witted backward hicks that run Kansas as if we are still in the decade of the 1950s, are trying to make a medicine that is a by-product of marijuana illegal. Kansas is the one state that tries to ban any plant[1] that can alter a persons consciousness in any way. A person in Kansas can buy alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine products, but any other herb a person might use to relax or make their lives better gets banned. This attitude is ridiculous. Just recently the people of Wichita voted to lessen the penalties for possession of Marijuana. Our elected representatives just don't get it. The people of Kansas are rejecting these archaic rules, not asking for new ones. We need to let all those who run for office in Kansas know that they are working against the will of the people if the continue to try and deprive Kansans of herbal medicines, such as CBD. -SJ Otto

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- It's not a high. It's a matter of health. That's what hemp oil users in Kansas are saying, at least.
Prominent lawmakers in the Sunflower State have asked the state to declare cannabidiol illegal. But the owners and customers at one hemp store say their advocates deserve better.
The oil is known as CBD, but users of the popular hemp oil call it a life-changer. County attorneys from two areas of the Sunflower State -- Johnson and Shawnee counties -- are asking Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to declare CBD illegal because they say the ingredients are too close to the ones found in marijuana.
On Monday, a bill was introduced to the state legislature in Topeka, which would make the penalty for possession of CBD the same as it is for holding pot.
“Taking this out of the hands of the public is really kind of criminal,” Brian Pitts, store owner at Phoenix Natural Wellness in Overland Park, told FOX4. “I’m angry. I'm frustrated.”
Pitts is a believer, too. His 17-year-old daughter, Cecilia, registers on the autism spectrum and is prone to drift into a distant, catatonic state. Pitts said using CBD has transformed her into being a productive person.
“To catch her catatonic is really upsetting,” Pitts said while fighting back tears. “We put her on CBD, and she became a new kid. I'd catch her singing in the other room.”
However, on Monday, the shelves in Pitts' store were bare. He's been threatened with a raid, which could potentially land him in jail. Pitts said he’s shipped his entire CBD inventory to a safe location out of state in order to avoid confiscation.

For the rest click here.

Image result for ​kansas making hemp oil illegal
Pix from Fox 4.

[1] The DEA is as bad as the state of Kansas. Two years ago they tried to ban the use of  a harmless herb called kratom. Kansas legislators like to follow that lead and ban such herbs.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union Speech

By SJ Otto
As much as I wanted to ignore President Donald Trump and his state of the union speech, I eventually had to look over the transcript and I have had to comment on it.
To be fair, Ronald Reagan and both George Bushes held political views that are almost identical to Trump's. They were just as conservative and obnoxious. If there is one thing we can say for Trump, he follows his precedent Republicans with out cluttering up the political landscape with new ideas or original thoughts. Trump has none of that. Also with the new modern Republican ideology,  Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford seem like flaming liberals compared to those other presidents.
There is something obnoxious about Trump. Not only does he hold on to a lot of bad policies and ideas, he is a crude, undignified brute.
I looked at a few highlights of his speech.

On Health care:

"We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year -- forcing them to pay tremendous penalties simply because they could not afford government-ordered health plans. We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare -- the individual mandate is now gone."

This man had a look of glee on his face when he gloated about killing the "disastrous
Obamacare (AKA Affordable Care Act)." The reality is that for the first time, many poor and working poor Americans had health care. The didn't have to worry about dying off early because they can't just go to the doctor when they are sick. Obamacare was inadequate, but it was better than nothing. So Trump is bragging that he cost many working Americans their health care. They had it for a while and now they will die early because they have inadequate health care.  It is almost like listening to Jack the Ripper brag about killing women.
Originally Trump and company said they would "repeal and replace." The replacement never came. Trump and his buddies lied.

On his tax cuts:

" Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses -- many of them thousands of dollars per worker. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers.
This is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream."

He is proud of his new tax cuts. He and his supporters brag about these cuts when ever possible. But these cuts went mostly to the people at the top of the political ladder. It is wonderful for the 1 percent of Americans who own almost half the country's wealth. Those folks came off like bandits. But middle class workers got a temporary tax cut. Many people at the bottom of the economy actually lost deductions and their taxes will go up. This is typical of the Republicans over the last 40 years today as they seem to take and take and take benefits from poor people. As with many of their policies they seem to want to punish people for being poor.

On the "me too" movement:

Trump was strangely silent on the women who have come forward to complain of sexual harassment. That is not surprising since he was accused of sexual harassment while he was running for president. It is as if being president protects a man from being held accountable for his wrong doings.

On foreign affairs:

" When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent. America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.
I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.
My Administration has also imposed tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.
But no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.
North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland.
We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.
Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.
We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and our allies."

He accused Venezuela of being communist. That shows us how ignorant he is politically. That country has an elected socialist, not a communist. The system has not radically changed that much, it has simply gone to the left. Trump and the Republican Party equate any kind of leftist leaders, elected nor not, to be a communist dictatorship.
He has almost been obsessed with North Korea (AKA Democratic People's Republic of Korea). His latest antics are very dangerous and just plain reckless. According to Business Insider:

"Both The Telegraph and The Wall Street Journal have reported that President Donald Trump's administration is weighing a "bloody nose" strike designed to batter and humiliate North Korea as it illegally advances its weapons programs. The strategy calls for a limited strike on North Korea in response to a provocation like a missile or nuclear test."
What could be more dangerous than launching a military attack on a nation that can launch a nuclear attack on the US or an ally such as South Korea or Japan? The world should be terrified. This is the same Donald Trump he authorized military aid to Saudi Arabia, one of the world least democratic governments- an absolute monarchy.

"So today, I am keeping another promise. I just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay.
I am also asking the Congress to ensure that, in the fight against ISIS and al-Qa'ida, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists -- wherever we chase them down.
Our warriors in Afghanistan also have new rules of engagement. Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies our plans."

Another part of his foreign affairs agenda is his plan to throw out all vestiges of civilization and all rights to prisoners of war, especially at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Torture and mistreatment are the modern rule of US imperialism. No more caring about the rightist of prisoners or the accused. Trump is a brute and this attitude proves it. There may be one problem for him. In the war against ISIS, Iraqi troops don't take prisoners. They execute them after they surrender. Where is Trump going to get any prisoners?
As I said before, I'd rather not hear from that obnoxious President Donald Trump. He is one of those far-far-far-far-far to the right presidents. He is clearly a punk for the wealthy elites who rule the US. He has served them well. He has destroyed life for the poorer Americans. The economy may be picking up, but I already have a job. I need health insurance. Trump is an enemy of the working people. And on top of that, he seems to relish it when his opponents get screwed over. Few people are as despicable as Donald Trump.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Another useless address by our useless president

By SJ Otto
Once again we are given the chance to hear our president’s state of the union address. This president is probably the least qualified president we have ever had. Anyone can run for president and now we know that ANYONE can win and actually be president. This guy is from game show stardom and that is what his presidency runs like—a really bad game show. The winners are the 1 percent of Americans who own most of the wealth and the losers are all the rest of us.

This is good time to see out a really bad sitcom to watch, because our president will be on all the major channels. I really don’t care what Donald Trump has to say because he is a president to the 1 percent and not me or people like me. So let the 1 percent watch him. The rest of us have “The Facts of Life” and “Different Strokes.” And don’t forget “Gilligan’s Island.”

Early 20th century TV test pattern.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Bernie Sanders Just Sidestepped Corporate Media to Promote Medicare for All to 1 Million Viewers

This article is a breath of fresh air in a political landscape where the Republicans take delight at removing health care from the working poor. On the other side, the Democratic Party is ignoring the healthcare issue altogether to go for their "Jobs and good government" style of corporate politics that offers most voters nothing at all. Bernie Sanders and those who either support him or have taken inspiration from him, represent the only positive high lights of the Democratic Party. With out him and his allies on the Democratic Party, the up coming elections offer little for voters to get exited about. In Kansas we have James Thompson who does not call himself a democratic socialist, but he is a Sanders ally. He is working hard to flip the fourth district representative seat, now held by Ron Estes, to blue- Democratic. If he wins it will mean a real change.
-SJ Otto
So we are glad to see this:

The democratic socialist senator’s town hall on universal healthcare marks a new phase in the political revolution.

The revolution will not be televised, but it might be live-streamed.
“It ain’t gonna be on CBS, it ain’t gonna be on NBC,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Tuesday evening, near the end of a “Medicare for All Town Hall” that was streamed to an estimated audience of more than a million people over three social media outlets—Now This, Attn: and The Young Turks Network (YTN). Sanders was referring specifically to serious debate about our healthcare system, but his words spoke to more than that.
Sanders’ town hall showed the senator—currently the most popular politician in the United States—freed from the confines of traditional mainstream media and able to dig in to issues ranging from healthcare to campaign financing to the corruption of our political system.
Earlier on Tuesday, CNN released a poll showing Sanders with a 57 percent favorability rating. Among Democrats that number was 82 percent. It also showed that Sanders would defeat Donald Trump in a hypothetical presidential race, winning 55 percent of the vote.
The democratic socialist senator took advantage of this popularity to spread his message directly to viewers without, as Sanders’ pointed out, the interruption of ads from pharmaceutical and insurance companies. And in the process, he planted four distinct flags.     
One flag was in the media landscape. Sanders’ cry for “political revolution” has always been more about process than specific policy—multiplying and opening up the channels of information and fostering robust democratic engagement.
On Tuesday, Sanders noted that the event was the first nationally broadcast town hall taking place outside the corporate media. “This is, I think, kind of revolutionary, is it not?” he said to YTN host Ana Kasparian in a pre-town hall interview. “This could be the very first step in bringing millions of people into serious discussion about the serious issues facing our country.”
It’s a common lament that the Right has been brilliant at creating an alternative media ecosystem—through Fox News, Breitbart, conservative radio shows and Donald Trump’s Twitter account—while the Left has struggled to get its message into the mainstream media or to develop alternative outlets.
The Medicare for All town hall may have been but a small step, yet it confirmed that Sanders—who has about 7.5 million Facebook followers, hosts a podcast, and regularly creates polished and shareable video content—recognizes the promise of the burgeoning new media infrastructure and is moving quickly to take advantage of it. Which is a wise move if you say you want a revolution. YTN has nearly 3.6 million YouTube subscribers. Attn: has nearly 5.6 million Facebook followers. Now This has about 13 million Facebook followers.
By engaging these audiences directly, Sanders is reaching a large pool of potential voters who seek their news outside of traditional outlets.  
Sanders’ second flag was planted in the single-payer debate.

For the rest click here.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Code Pink has a morale problem: It’s called Democrats


Anti-war protesters are objecting to military action in Syria, but their efforts pale compared to the crowds that came out against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — and Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the women’s anti-war group Code Pink, blames the Democrats,
“We’ve been protesting Obama’s foreign policy for years now, but we can’t get the same numbers because the people who would’ve been yelling and screaming about this stuff under Bush are quiet under Obama,” she said.
Code Pink has seen a decrease in membership and, as a result, isn’t able to plan as many events across the country. Ms. Benjamin also said they are getting less attention from reporters, which means less visibility.
“We’re smaller. We lost a lot of people who didn’t like us criticizing Obama. But we still got our feistiness,” Ms. Benjamin told The Washington Times as she waited outside Wednesday’s House hearing, where administration officials made the case for striking Syria.
Ms. Benjamin and fellow Code Pink members arrived to stand in line outside the House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting room just before 10 a.m., securing a spot that allowed them to take prime seats behind Secretary of State John F. Kerry.

For the rest click here.
Image result for code pink
Pix by Wikipedia.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Subject to Discussion: "WHITHER THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT?"

This is a good article and it is timely. I can’t remember when the peace movement was in worse shape than it is now. I’m not sure I agree with everything in this article. What’s more important than the mistakes of the past is the plan of the future. A lot needs to be done. Some polls tell us that as many as 80 percent of the population have a lot of faith in the military, although that number varies from poll to poll with some as little as 67%. At any rate the military is very popular with most voters, especially young ones.  
We are fighting wars all over the Middle east. The US has invaded and still occupies Iraq and Afghanistan.  The US now plans to keep troops in Syria. The US is now deploying troops to Africa. Most of this is being done under the disguise of “fighting terrorism.” But it is really a case of this country making sure that no nation can turn against us, as happened in Iran.
Articles I’ve read point out that only about 1 percent of US citizens are joining the military.
DAVID ZUCCHINO and DAVID S. CLOUD, writing for the Los Angeles Times, have pointed out:

The U.S. military today is gradually becoming a separate warrior class, many analysts say,  that is becoming increasingly distinct from the public it is charged with protecting.

This may open opportunities for us to point out that we have become reliant on a class of people who are continuously and permanently at war. People also need to be aware of the imperialist nature of our wars.  -SJ Otto

Whither the Anti-war Movement?
By Daniel Martin

“Imagine there’s no heaven…and no religion too.”

A more useful line when it comes to our current wars may be “Imagine there’s no duopoly.” It’s hard to fault John Lennon for his idealism, of course. In his day, many blamed religion on the wars of history. But a much bigger obstacle right now, at least in the U.S., is partisanship. The two major political parties, in power and out, have been so co-opted by the war machine that any modern anti-war movement has been completely subsumed and marginalized—even as American troops and killer drones continue to operate in or near combat zones all over the world.

Aside from the very early days of the Iraq war, the anti-war movement has been a small, ineffectual pinprick on the post-9/11 landscape. A less generous assessment is that it’s been a bust. After liberals helped elect the “anti-war” Barack Obama, the movement all but disappeared, even though the wars did not. By putting a Nobel Peace Prize-winning Democratic face on his inherited wars, Obama expanded into new conflicts (Libya, Syria, Yemen) with little resistance,ultimately bombing seven different countries [1] during his tenure. By 2013, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin lamented [2], “We’ve been protesting Obama’s foreign policy for years now, but we can’t get the same numbers because the people who would’ve been yelling and screaming about this stuff under Bush are quiet under Obama.”

It’s easy to blame the military-industrial complex, the corporate media, and the greed and malleability of politicians. But what about the anti-war movement itself? Why has it failed so miserably, and can it revive as President Donald Trump continues the wars of his predecessors and threatens new ones?

The rallies and protests in the early 2000s attracted significant numbers but they were weighed down by far-left organizations like the World Workers Party, which brought with them myriad other issues beyond war like global warming and poverty. There was also long-held and fairly broad skepticism [3] about the intentions of United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, which organized most of the big protests over the last 17 years. This was due to the “big tent” affiliations of some of their steering committee members, which critics say led to a dilution of the message and drove the anti-war movement further from the mainstream.

Perhaps the movement’s biggest weakness was that it shied away from directly attacking its own—the liberal Democrats who voted for the war in Congress.

In a sense, Democrats did emerge as the de facto anti-war party during the Iraq war, but that was only because a Republican—George W. Bush—was commander-in-chief. And what of the Democrats who voted for the war and continued to fund it? Out of 77 senators who supported the resolution authorizing military force against Iraq in 2002, 20 are still in office and roughly half are Democrats, while out of the 296 votes in favor in the House, 90 are still in office and 57 of them are Democrats. Some of them, like Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, went on to become party leaders. Two others, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, went on to become secretaries of state and their party’s nominees for president in 2004 and 2016 respectively. All went on to support new military interventions and regime changes, albeit under a new, liberal interventionist, Democratic banner.

Conversely, steadfast non-interventionist Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who voted against the resolution, failed badly in both his 2004 and 2008 attempts at his party’s presidential nomination. Bottom line: Support for the war was hardly a deal-breaker for voters, any more than opposition to it was a dealmaker.

Reaction to war is just a microcosm of the political landscape, a manifestation of partisan-driven, short-term memory. Sure there might have been momentary disapproval, but when it came time to decide whether supporters of the war stayed or went, the sins of one’s party leaders meant very little in the zero-sum game of electoral politics. Parties outside the duopoly be damned.

The same thing happened to the anti-war right, as the Ron Paul movement took off in 2008 with an immense level of grassroots energy. One of the singular successes of his movement was the ability to reach people on an intellectual and practical level about the folly of our foreign interventions and the waste, fraud, and abuse of tax dollars. Paul didn’t shy from criticizing his own party’s leaders and actions. He explained the Federal Reserve’s relationship to the monetary costs of war.

Ultimately, media blackouts and distortion of Paul’s message (for example, conflating his non-interventionist foreign policy views with “isolationism”) helped kill his campaign. After Paul’s 2008 defeat, conservative political activists seized upon the Texas congressman’s libertarian-leaning revolutionary momentum and channeled it into the Tea Party—while leaving the non-interventionist impulses behind. By 2011, national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin acknowledged [5], “On foreign policy probably the majority [of Tea Party Patriots] are more like [hawks] Michele Bachmann or Newt Gingrich.”And don’t underestimate how the escalation of drone warfare during the Obama presidency muted the anti-war effort. Drone attacks made fewer headlines because they supposedly caused less collateral damage and kept U.S. troops out of harm’s way, which was portrayed by administration officials and the war establishment in Washington as progress.

What the drone program did, in essence, was to create the illusion of “less war.” Nevertheless, studies [7] showing an increase of terrorism since the beginning of the “war on terror” indicate precisely the opposite: Civilian drone deaths (not always reported) create more enemies, meaning more of our troops will be put in harm’s way eventually.

So where should the anti-war movement go from here? Perhaps it should begin by tempering its far-left impulses and embracing its allies on the right who have been made to feel unwelcome. They could take a lesson from right-leaning places like and TAC that have long been open to writers and activists on the left.

Meanwhile, flying “Resist Trump” signs at rallies not only misses the mark by suggesting that our needless wars aren’t a bipartisan, systemic problem, but creates a non-inclusive atmosphere for anti-war Trump voters. Ironically, not much “resistance” was heard when Democrats recently helped pass Trump’s $700 billion 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and failed to repeal the original post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force, as was advocated for by Senator Rand Paul this year.

In addition, the few on the anti-war left who oppose war based on pacifist or religious reasons need to acknowledge that the majority of Americans believe in a strong national defense as outlined in the Constitution. Most people are willing to accept that there’s a big difference between that and the terrible waste and tragedy that comes with waging unnecessary wars overseas.

They are also averse to their lawmakers doing favors for special interests. Focusing on the money and influence that giant defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have on Capitol Hill—essentially making war a business—makes the anti-war point by raising the issue of crony capitalism and the cozy relationship between politicians and big business, which increasingly leaves the American public out of the equation.

These corporations, along with Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, have accounted for $42 million in contributions to congressional candidates since 2009, with $12 million in the 2016 cycle alone. The majority of these funds have targeted Armed Services Committee [8] members, such as perennial war hawk John McCain. In addition, influential neoconservative think tanks have received millions in grants over the years from “philanthropic” organizations such as theBradley [9] Foundation and the Olin [10] Foundation, which have corporate backgrounds in the defense industry. The conservative Heritage Foundation is reportedly considering the vice president of Lockheed as its new president. [11]

Furthermore, mantras and slogans like, “you’re either with us or against us” and “support our troops” have been used as powerful psy-ops to create a false dichotomy: you either support the war policy or you’re not patriotic. Debunking this by pointing out how these wars profit the elite while serving as a pipeline that puts more American military servicemembers—often from working-class backgrounds—into harm’s way should appeal to the current populist spirit on both sides of the political fence. In fact, it could begin to draw new, disenchanted voters into the movement.

Americans today are tired of war, which is good, for now. Unfortunately, without a strong anti-war movement, there won’t be much resistance when the next “big threat” comes along. The two major parties have proven to be false friends when it comes to opposing war—they only do it when it suits them politically. Moving beyond them and becoming stronger with allies and numbers—imagine, there’s no parties—is the best way to build a real opposition.


Daniel Martin is an anti-war activist, musician, and rock journalist from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter @MartysInvasion.


Excerpt from a speech (in sexist male language) by then ex-President Teddy Roosevelt, given in Paris at the Sorbonne in 1910. The speech was called . . .

"Citizenship In a Republic." 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.