Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trump’s bigotry could shut down government

From Amnesty International:

Five days from now, the government could shut down – grinding vital services to a halt. Why? Because President Trump could keep his campaign promise to close the U.S. borders to many people – including those who are desperately seeking to escape violence and persecution.

Trump wants $3 million for his abusive enforcement policies, including more than $1 million to put more families in detention even though they are fleeing here to seek safety.

Tell Congress: Fight Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda.

Right now, President Trump wants Congress to fund his hateful agenda on immigrants—or else he could hold hostage the entire government budget, which expires Friday.

If Trump won’t back down, neither will we.

No Ban, No Wall: Take action.

President Trump’s policies of bigotry and xenophobia show the true cost of fear but together we can stop them. Trump’s budget proposal can’t move forward without the support of your members of Congress. Before this moves forward, make sure your members of Congress knows where you stand.

Tell Congress: reject President Trump’s abusive enforcement agenda.

Together we can stop Trump’s anti- immigrant agenda.

Margaret Huang
Executive Director, Amnesty International USA

Monday, April 24, 2017

Estes to vote Trump's way—but only before happy hour

By SJ Otto
I went to a fund raiser for the Democratic Party of South Sedgwick County Saturday Night. It was there that I heard James Thompson, who ran as a Democrat for the 4th district for the US House of Representatives. It was that Republican slacker Ron Estes who beat Thompson.
I was enjoying the chili at this event and I paid a whole $6 over the admission price so I could help the local Democrats. But I was sitting next to Herb Herbenizer,[1] a local Democrat in the Kansas House of Representatives, who  then said:
"Oh Ron Estes!? Estes is a mid level Republican flunky and he is the Kansas State Treasurer, a job that Herbenizer said should be eliminated since it isn't necessary."
I told Herb, "Well it seems he is a real slacker. He didn't seem to want to work to hard to get elected to that seat."
"Ol' Ron is always the first to get in line when there is any kind of free food, such as a free buffet or a lobbyist sponsored dinner of some kind," 
Herbenizer said. "Ron may oppose Democrats getting free stuff, but he gets his share of free stuff all the time. That includes both food and liquor."
Herbenizer also said that Ron was a fan of the two hour work week, at least for himself, provided he can find enough to do in those two hours.
Suddenly I realise I have hit on an area of Ron Estes I never understood. He isn't just a slacker, he is also a mooch and a drunk.
"Now Ron can't be accused of having his own agenda," Herbenizer said. "He has never had his own positions on anything. He is a follower. President Donald Trump is gonna love Ron. He won't have to worry about a Kansas Representative who has his own agenda and ideas. Ron will always vote as Trump wants. That's how he is. He is a follower and a yes man. He will vote as Trump expects him to."
"Sounds like Trump has really got a good thing going here,"  I said.
"Well he does...sort of...!"
"Uhm what do you mean by that?"
"Well Trump needs to get his vote before 4pm. That is REAL important. I hope Trump realizes that."
"Well what happens at 4pm?" I said.
"Happy hour! Ron shoots for the door. Here in Topeka, when 4pm comes along you gotta have his attention or he's runnin' out the door."
"To go where?"
"Here in Topeka Ron has about four of his favourite dive bars on call at all times. He shoots out the door for his favourite drink specials. Ron's done with politics by happy hour. Then it's off to get his favourite drink specials. You didn't think a slacker like Ron was going to work into the evening hours with so many bars serving up his favourite cocktails with all those cheap prises did you now?"
"I never thought of it. Does he come back to the legislature or is he done for the day?"
"Are you kidding? I've seen Ron put down three pitchers of budwiser in just one hour. The man can drink. He is usually sober enough to get back to his home, but return to the Kansas State House? You're joking, right?!"
"You mean he gets drunk every night?"
"You should see what he looks like in the morning. Eyes puffy red,...sweating bullets in the middle of winter...But I got to hand it to him. He does pretty good all the way up until afternoon when his hangover lets up. By 4pm he's back to his old self. He's just sober enough to run out to the bar and get loaded all over again."
So after all of this the readers may be asking—"is this true? I mean it sounds a little far fetched."
Well, during the special election Ron ran attack ads saying that Thompson supported late-term abortions, spending people's tax money for abortion and suggested abortion when a couple got the wrong sex they wanted. Where those ads believable? I say they were as believable as this article is. That says a lot.

"I'm done with voting today—It's happy hour—gotta go!"[2] 

Estes brings a certain dignity to the office.


[1] That's not his real name. I used a fake name because he works with Republicans and didn't want to insult them.

[2] Not a direct quote. This is satire.  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Marched in Wichita- to support science and oppose science skepticism on climate change

By SJ Otto
People still believe in science and that was evident today as more than 2,000 people marched from the old Historical Sedgwick County Courthouse, here in Wichita, Kansas, to the Mid-America All-Indian Center for a March For Science- ICT, this morning and early afternoon.
People gathered about 11am to hear a number of speakers who talked about the need for science in today's world and politicians who believe in that science, such as the need to take precautions for global warming.
As many as 600 of such rallies have taken place across this country and the world today. These protests were sparked, in part, by President Donald Trump's executive order last month, which seeks to roll back Obama-era climate change and environmental policies.
Here in Wichita Kim Burton Lujan, electrical engineer, spoke of the need to have more diversity in those who enter into schools for engineering.
"I was the only woman in my electrical engineering class," Burton said.
She added that only 20 percent of those who go into engineering are women.
"We need as many different people and points of view as possible to get into the sciences," she told the crowd.
She encouraged people to resist government spending cuts to science education and spending that protects the environment, such as clear water.
Dave McDonald, biomedical researcher at Wichita State University, told the crowd that the US leads the world in Bio medicine.
"Half of the Noble Prizes for medical developments come from the US," he said.
He added that people today can expect to live a longer and better life.[1]
"There are some things to be excited about," he said. "In the future we can expect to better manage cancer care and rely less on chemo and radiation. There will be the growing of new organs for people."
He said that we should not expect to rely on just the private sector for research on medicines and medical developments.
"Eighty percent of medical research comes from universities," McDonald added. "There are calls for budget cuts for up to 20 percent and that can cause grave damage."
Former candidate for the US House of Representatives, in the 4th district, James Thompson, Democrat, addressed the crowd.
"We are building a movement," Thompson said. "My little campaign turned into a movement. The way we do that is to stand up. I ran for office because I was tired of what I was seeing."
He added that we need to get out and elect people who will listen to us and who agree that the science of global warming is real.
"It  doesn't matter whether Democrat or Republican," Thompson added. "Global warning is true whether it is believed or not."[2]
He encouraged the crowd to focus on local elections such as school board and city council. Thompson said there is a need to get people elected who believe in Science.
"Those who deny this science are making money from fossil fuels," he added. "Just follow the money."   
As many as 2,000 people or more marched for science in Wichita, Kansas.
It was good to see children get involved.
There were lots of good signs.

[1] The longer and better life is unlikely for poor individuals if the Republican Party continues with its plan to role back Obamacare and if states such as Kansas continue to prevent Medicaid expansion. See "New Republican health care plan—just like the old ways—before Obamacare."

[2] "Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people." -Giordano Bruno

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Idiot Trump vs. North (Democratic People's Republic Korea) Korea

By SJ Otto
Before he was elected Donald Trump said he would focus on America first and stop the obvious imperialism. Now we see that he is a liar and he has back tracked. Now he is "Mr. Imperialism" and he is one of the most reckless presidents since George W. Bush. Since he has been in office he has slammed missile into Syria and bombed a part of Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan he has pissed off local leaders. For example the former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said:

"Afghanistan's previous president said Monday that President Trump “committed an immense atrocity” in allowing the U.S. military to drop one of its most powerful non-nuclear bombs on ISIS tunnels in the country last week.
“My message to President Trump today is that he has committed an immense atrocity against the Afghan people, against fellow human beings,” Hamid Karzai told The Associated Press."

But the real medling that will mess the world up is in North Korea (actually known as Democratic People's Republic of Korea). Trump claimed he could negotiate a deal with the North before he won the presidential election, but now he has back tracked and thinks he can shoot his way out of giving any deals with North Korea.
According to The Los Angeles Times Mike Pence made statlements to insinuate that:

"The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready," Pence told 2,500 sailors wearing blue fatigues and Navy baseball caps on a sunny, windy morning aboard the carrier at the U.S. Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay.
"Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response," Pence said."

Next Trump sent a fleet of ships towards North Korea only to turn them around and send them south. According to Daily Kos:

"Because nothing comforts people and soothes international tension like reporting that you’re bringing in a fleet of warships. However, in this case, there’s an issue other than bringing in some ships to show the flag.
The problem was, the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the four other warships in its strike force were at that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula."

So what is Trump really doing? If he is bluffing it may or may not work. "The United States will not be negotiating directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un anytime soon," Vice President Mike Pence told CNN in an exclusive interview."
So will the real Prez. Trump stand up and tell us what he plans to do? So far he has rattled sabers and tried to intimidate the Kim Jong Un (김정은) regime. That leader is not the same as those people running Syria or Afghanistan. Kim Jong Un is very paranoid. He is not battling to save his regime as Bashar al-Assad (بشار الأسد) was. He does have working atomic bombs, even though he lacks long range missiles. He will probably retaliate if he is attacked. He has many options. He can try and sink one of the ships in the area for war games. He can strike a US or South Korean (Republic of Korea) military base. He can attack Seoul, South Korea. All of this could lead to nuclear war. It is already known that the US will win if a war begins. But what will the coast be? How many Koreans will die if the North actually believes it is fighting for its life. And it seems likely that North Korea will fight to its death to try and survive. Despite all the talk of  Kim Jong Un being crazy and unpredictable, it is likely that he and his government fully understand what is at steak.
Is Trump willing to listen to reason and try to find a diplomatic way out of the Korean conflict or is he just a complete idiot who doesn't care how many people he kills? We don't know. But we need to let our government know that this kind of recklessness is not acceptable to the American people.

Pix by The Guardian.

Trump hits lowest approval rating ever as per new Pew poll

Trump might have won the elections (which again is controversial), but he couldn’t win the hearts of the people. We believed that at least his supporters who voted for him would be happy with his performance, but a new Pew poll confirmed Trump’s low approval ratings.
Compared to Obama’s 61% during his first term, Trump scored 39%, which is the lowest approval rating for any president in his first term.

For the rest click here.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter —Pope Francis is one of the more positive aspects of Christianity today

By SJ Otto
Easter is the highest holy day in the Christian Calendar. It's been a few decades since I left the Catholic Church. I now consider myself an Epicurean. So I'm not even a Christian. One thing I do like is the Catholic Church's present day Pope Francis. He was a wonderful change from Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II. Those Pope had replaced Pope John XXIII, who was one of Catholicism more progressive popes. It was terrible to see such reactionary popes come, one after the other, to drive the church back to the middle ages.

I was raised a Catholic and went to a Catholic School from Kindergarten through 5th grade. I also spent a year at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School. So I understood the church and its teachings well. My Catholic teachers tried to tell us the Church was no longer a political establishment as it had been in the Middle Ages. As I found out, that was not really true. From the Nazi pope, Benedict XVI, to anti-communist activists, such as Pope John Paul II, and direct meddling in election contests over the abortion issue, the church has been up to its eyeballs in politics.
It's not that Pope Francis in not political, but he has some of that left-leaning criticism of capitalism and the political politics of greed. While Pope John Paul II tried to destroy liberation theology, Pope Francis seems to almost be a part of that. If it weren't for liberation theology I probably would have left the Catholic Church a lot sooner.
I like this quote by Pope Francis:

“It has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom”. 

I noticed on TV today that Pope Francis took his name from one of the few Catholic Saints I really admire. His birth name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Saint Francis of Assisi gave up his wealth and dressed as a poor commoner. He had little interest in personal wealth. I admire that. We should all look up to people who tried to be commoners rather than $billionaires who fancy themselves as presidential material.

I don't plan to return to Catholicism. I'm doing OK with Epicurus. But I'm glad some good has finally come out of the Catholic Church. For too long that church has been a refuge for the powerful and greedy. Now they are giving back to the common people. That's what is needed in politics and religion —a sense that we should serve the common people and help the poor. Not worship the rich and powerful. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Letter from James Thompson on the special election Tuesday

I received the following letter from James Thompson and I decided to publish it here on this site. –SJ Otto:

I am so proud, and you should be too. We may have come up short in this election, but in many ways, we started something bigger.

We have proven that every election in Kansas -- and anywhere in the country -- can be competitive. We’ve proven that when you fight for working people, you can build a movement. We have put our elected officials on notice that we are actively present, and they will be expected to answer to their constituents. We have proven that Kansas Democrats can run an incredible race that can shock the nation, and we have set the stage for more to come.

I could not be more proud of the incredible efforts of my amazing team, and I will forever owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I am also so grateful to you: for your commitment, trust, support, and hard work have been humbling. I will never forget what you did for this campaign.

While this race may not have turned out as we wanted, I am inspired, deeply committed, and absolutely optimistic for the future of our district, state, and our country. Much of this optimism is a result of your support, and I hope you share it. Make no mistake: our moment is coming. Our values that help working class people are too important to abandon. That's why we will keep fighting for America.

With heartfelt thanks,


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Slacker Ron Estes wins the battle—not the war—for Kansas’ hearts and minds

By SJ Otto
Not surprisingly, Ron Estes beat James Thompson, but not by as much as the Republican Party expected or hoped for.  Just before 10 last night, Estes finally made it to his election campaign party. Like all other events connected to the campaign, such as debates and public appearances, Estes put little effort into any of it. That slacker was late to his own campaign party. 
Thompson ran a real campaign and the Democratic Party mostly ignored him until the last minute. Despite that, he ran an extensive campaign and nearly won with 45 percent of the vote, compared with Estes’ 52 percent. The Libertarian got 2 Percent. Thompson’s people tried to go under the radar with their various efforts at shoring up their supporters.
Realizing what a slacker Estes is, the Republican Party pulled out all the stops. They spent lots of money on this race, at least $459,000, part of it spent running viscous and at times, misleading attack ads. They were running those ads every break on the major TV Stations the day of the election. Both President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence made robocalls to Republican constituents. Ted Cruz made a stop in Wichita to get out the Republican vote. In contrast Thompson spent $240,000 and most of that was money he and his staff raised, not money from the state or national Democratic Party. Much of that money was due to appeals from progressive grassroots organizations that were riding a wave of anti-Trump enthusiasm among Democrats across the country. On the other hand Estes got most of his money from the state and national Republican Party. He and his staff did almost nothing to raise money from individuals.
That vote last night was the closest vote since about 1992. Thompson said on KAKE TV last night, ‘this is just the battle and not the war.’ He plans to run again in 2018. Estes acted like he won by a landslide when he finally showed up for the TV stations. He ignored the difficulty of this race and acted as if he had a mandate to take to Washington to support Trump.

Republicans are right to be worried as to whether they will keep their grip on Kansas. In the last few elections, their support has gone way down and their candidates are now barely winning. Thompson may be right—that this is just a battle and Kansas Democrats, such as him, will win the war for the hearts and minds of Kansans.
Margin of victory in House races

Friday, April 07, 2017

The US is politically divided—right vs. left- we don’t need appeasement, we need political struggle

By SJ Otto
We hear a lot of talk about pulling the country together. We can all see how split apart this nation is. Conservatives and liberals have rarely been as divided as they are now. But joining together with people who make massive mistakes by putting their trust in repugnant government officials may not be such a wise idea. We may need to be a  divided country for some time to come.
The differences between left and right go deep. But there is also a divide between some leftists and liberals. They are not one and the same. On the left we have liberals—as well as liberal and moderate Democrats, but we also have democratic socialists, communists and anarchists. They have deep differences.
For example, according to Yahoo News:

“Multiple fights broke out and at least one Trump supporter was doused with pepper spray when pro-Trump demonstrators marching along Bolsa Chica State Beach encountered a small group opposed to the Republican president who had gathered to denounce the rally.
Four counter-protesters were arrested, three for illegal use of pepper spray and one for assault and battery, Kevin Pearsall, a spokesman for the California State Parks Police said on Saturday evening. (Reuters)”

However these protesters were not really liberals, as many conservatives have said. They were dressed up in black block clothing and those are used exclusively by some anarchist and a few communist oriented groups. So these anti-Trump protesters who used pepper spray were not liberals at all.
Many conservatives either didn’t know the difference or didn’t care. Many conservative trolls have written in the comments section of that article condemning the anti-Trump protesters.
Here is an example:

More "tolerant" liberals doing what they do best. Attacking and trying to destroy anybody who does not agree with them.
This was predicted to happen. KTLA Channel 5 News told the world about this Trump Rally, the exact location, hours before it began... KTLA is officially supporting liberal terrorism.
Liberals always resort to violence because their positions lack logic, therefore they lose all debates.

And there are those comments that show the complete contempt for those who are not going along with the conservative views of Trump and his supporters:

Liberalism is one of the most terrible diseases known to mankind. We must find a cure

Once again the anti American democrat politicians in California try to shut down our freedom of speech These democrats are America's enemies!!

And from a recent Yahoo News article about Trump’s bombing of Syria:

Reading all of the moronic liberal comments if becomes clear that you socialist buffoons have no clue how government works. Trump had all his military generals giving him intel, the CIA head, .... The list goes on and on. Why don't you hate filled liberal POS just get over the fact that you lost. You are pathetic excuses for Americans. The US is trying to help and all you liberal idiots are concerned with is "now we have grounds to impeach him". Hate filled #$%$ from the Democratic party of hate.

It's about time ! Obama was so scared of taking action that many had to die from our cowardice. The only thing the Middle East understands is military strength. During President Bush's two terms there was little if any terrorist activity if you remember. The Libs of course will raise a ruckus, but they wouldn't be happy with free ice cream ! Liberal riots during the 70's caused the Vietnam War to be extended several years due to Democratic leadership being scared to death of taking affirmative action like bombing Hanoi or Haiphong Harbor. Also they literally advertised targets beforehand and had insane policies like not allowing pilots to destroy enemy planes on the ground until they took off or destroy missiles until they lit their radar. Insane !

These last comments are an example of how bringing these different political sides together are nearly impossible. When such people consider a person’s politics a disease and when another call Democrats anti-American enemies, there is not much hope for bringing such people together for a constructive dialog.
Until some common ground can be found, we will have to operate under the assumption that some people are just plain unreachable and dangerous. The only reaction to such people can be a sharp struggle against them and not an attempt to seek harmony. 
There is nothing wrong with political struggle against politically backward ideas. That is normal. We may be more divided today than years past, but that can’t be helped. More people today get their news from biased political news sites. We live in a time when some conservative people are waging a war-like campaign on the entire left—everything from liberalism to communism and anarchism.
On one hand we keep hearing that communism is dead gone and buried. But we also hear from the right that we must fight against such dangerous ideas. The trend on the right is to eradicate all sympathy for the left. That means that we on the left must fight back to prevent the conservatives from achieving their goal.
We must fight the good fight!

Pix from No Film School.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Ron Estes—major slacker- and he’s a Brownbacker

By SJ Otto
A song years ago, called The Way, by Fastball sang; “An exit to eternal summer slacking.” Well, if they needed a role model for slacking, Ron Estes is their man. Until just recently he has skipped public forums, refused debates, and ran a campaign that says: “I win by default.”
That seems to be his motto. He’s the Republican so he is going to win.
And Estes is a man who doesn’t believe in working too hard for that office. While his opponent, James Thompson, Democrat, is leaving no stone unturned, Estes is out fishing. Thompson has made all the debates and forums. He has been out meeting people. And he is just now starting to run commercials.
Estes, on the other hand has spent a lot of Republican slush money, from all their bribes and kick-backs, on lots and lots and lots of ads. And he’s gone negative, telling people that Thompson is running on behalf of Nancy Pelosi, who today is no longer relevant to anything in congress, so they can tax the middle class. He also mentions his opposition to Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) which has suddenly grown much more popular since the Republicans started ripping it apart. Some people may not want Obamacare repealed. After all a lot of working poor people don’t favor dying early because they lack health care.
And Estes has avoided telling us how closely he has worked with our governor, Sam Brownback. Brownback has endorsed Estes. So Estes plans to take those same failed economic policies that Brownback has forced on Kansas and try to apply them at the national level.

If you want an easy going politician who doesn’t plan to work too hard, Estes is your man. For the rest of us, let’s tell Estes we don’t need a slacker representing us. Oh…wait. He will probably be out fishing. As they say: “slackers gonna slack.” We can still vote against him, April 11 or earlier.

“I’ll take care of business later after I’m done fishing!”

“What’s so bad about Sam Brownback!?”
“Work hard!? I’m gonna win by default. This election’s a cake walk!”

Pix by The Topeka Capital-Journal, (The quotes are satire, not direct quotes.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Peace Movement of the 1980s was part of our history—future generations need to know that!

By សតិវ​អតុ
I work for the school system here in Wichita. I am a substitute teacher. I don’t have my own class room. And from time to time I take a look at the books that are used to educate our young people here in Kansas. Just the other day I was looking at a history book being used for a class called; History I. The book was called American Anthem, Modern American History.[1] In looking through it I found some items quite biased. The thing that really stuck out in my head was the book’s treatment of the peace movement here in the US. The book had a big chapter on the Vietnam War and it also included a large section on the Vietnam War protests.

Why was that significant? Because later, there is a chapter on the conflicts in El Salvador and Nicaragua with a lot of information on the struggle between then US President Ronald Reagan and the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. It was factual, but one important thing was left out—the US peace movement of THAT time.
I was a member of the peace movement of the 1980s. It may not have been as big as the anti-Vietnam protests, but there were organizations in place and they were substantial.
There was the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, or CISPES. That group still exists. It was a major organization support the struggle in El Salvador, especially the  Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). There were many chapters nation-wide and I had one on the Wichita State University campus. I was even spied on by the FBI for that.
There were also groups to support the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua. People across the country supported that revolution and its government. Witness for Peace was just one of such organizations.
I actually went to a major anti-contra aid march in Washington DC. It was a national march, in April 1987, and was the largest march I ever went to in my life. I remember walking in front of the march for a while because there were some celebrities, such as Ed Asner and Jesse Jackson. The March was backed by several unions here in the US although some of the Union leaders tried to dissuade their member from taking part out of their old cold war reactionary beliefs. At one point I trailed back farther in the line of marchers. At one point I climbed up on a light pole and could not believe my eyes. I could not see the front of the line or the back. All I could see was a long trail of marchers in both directions. The march went for blocks. I had never seen such a march. It turns out that the march had almost 100,000 people in it.
A lot of celebrities came out against Reagan’s war on the Sandinistas including Bonnie Raitt. There were also celebrities who played a concert at the end of the march including Jackson Browne.
Across the country people had smaller marches from city to city. This event was a major high point in the peace movement of that time. And this was just one event. There were a lot of other marches, meetings and discussions. There was pressure being put on members of congress. All this was in opposition to then President Reagan. Don’t our young people deserve to know that a vibrant community within the US was working against the president and his foreign policies?
Another important point is that Reagan was living out the cold war, while the Sandinistas were one of the more modern “western style” Marxist organizations. They were more like Salvador Allende rather than East Germany. Reagan ignored that. But a lot of US progressives noticed the difference.
The important point here is that the history of solidarity movements of the 1980s was our history. Young people today need to know about it. There aren’t many books written on that subject today. Maybe we need to change that. We need to let today’s youth know that we were a part of the political landscape of the 1980s. That information is missing today.

[1] Edwards L. Ayers, Robert D. Schulzinger, Jesus F. de la Teja, Deborah Gray White, American Anthem, Modern American History, (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Orlando), 2007.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Don’t let the lack luster and Brownback flunkey Ron Estes waltz in and win

By SJ Otto
Voting has already started for the April 11 special election to see who will win the seat vacated by Republican Mike Pompeo, the war monger who President Donald Trump chose to run the CIA.
On the Republican side we have Ron Estes, Kansas State Treasurer. Estes is a lack-luster candidate, who has been a Republican flunky of our unpopular governor Sam Brownback for much of the last 20 years. He doesn’t stand out much and is a pretty flimsy candidate. He is not aggressive and he has no real leadership capabilities. But he has one thing going for him that his opponent, James Thompson, doesn’t have. He’s a Republican and he has a lot of Republican money to spend on ads. And that is all he has really done for his campaign. According to the Daily Kos:

“Ron Estes, the Republican opponent and state treasurer has taken the race for granted, assuming he will walk into office with very little contest. Estes is so confident that he’s skipped public forums, refused debates, and ran a campaign that says: “I win by default.”
Thompson, on the other hand, is trying an outreach campaign, hoping to build community support behind his goals, and his campaign believes that those things will pay off in the end.” 

Estes knows he will get a lot of votes just because he is a Republican. A lot of Kansas voters refuse to ever vote Democrat. If Estes was a convicted child molester and a convicted heroin dealer, he could still win the election just because he is a Republican.
However Thompson is running a hard campaign and many people believe he can actually win.

"Kansas Democrats have an opportunity here to win for the first time in 23 years now and it feels like from the campaign’s perspective that a lot of the current establishment of the KDP is sitting on the sidelines," (campaign manager Colin) Curtis told The Wichita Eagle.

Estes is still ahead in the polls. But he is being arrogant and assumes he will just walk right in, since he is the Republican. Thompson is running a serious campaign. At present the polls show him behind by 56 percent to 32.
Again Daily Kos said:

“A veteran, Thompson made inroads in the Democratic convention by putting himself out there as the progressive candidate in the race, touting his Bernie Sanders bonafides. That paid off today, with the endorsement of Our Revolution, who has chosen to back Thompson in his quest to take the seat.”

This will be a tough race to win, but we need to do all we can. Thompson is just now starting to get his commercials out there and that will help. Let’s wipe that smirk off of Estes’ face. Let’s elect Thompson.

“Look at me—I’m a Republican. I gotta win. What ‘er ya gonna do? Vote Democrat?!” Pix by (AP): U.S. Elections - Associated Press.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wichita State University Student Government Association rebels against a bought-out and negligent President, John Bardo

By SJ Otto

The Wichita State University Student Government Association, the elected student body, has delivered a vote of “no confidence” to the school’s President, John Bardo. This vote passed by a 20-4-7 vote, according to The  Sunflower, WSU’s student newspaper.
The resolution defines a vote of no confidence as “A motion made when most of the members of a parliament or other organization say that they feel that their leader is no longer competent to lead.”
The reason for this vote includes cases in which reports of rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault were allegedly covered up or ignored by the university, the perceived neglect on the part of the administration regarding issues of black, trans, gay and Muslim students and Bardo and his administration of failing to participate in shared governance of the institution and not providing adequate student representation to decisions for the university.
On the last issue the students cites the issue as an example of the administration placing the will of private business over that of students. The Idiot Factor has reported on the encroachment of business influences and interference, including that from the Koch Brothers, on the WSU campus, citing articles from The Sunflower, most recently with “Koch brothers helped create a “culture of fear” at Wichita State University”.
Evan Pflugradt, Editor-in-Chief of The Sunflower, wrote, “Concerns of outside influence on university decisions threatening the academic freedom and a lack of coordination with student government fed their case.”
This action was promoted by a group known as We The Students. This group recently staged a sit-in outside of Bardo’s office and presented a list of demands. Clearly this was more than just outside influences and business interference. Bardo has shown a lot of insensitivity to the desires and needs of the students. He has also ignored concerns of safety regarding sexual assaults and rape. And he has been negligent of minority needs. In the SGA actual resolution, a lot of statistics were given to show just how badly WSU has neglected the needs of minority students.
Right now there are a lot of factional bickering going on at the WSU campus. Associate VP of Student Affairs Christine Schneikart-Luebbe resigned this week right after the resignation of Eric Maki, director of campus recreation. Student Body Vice President Taben Azad was removed from his role as Election Commissioner.
The WSU administration has taken its students for granted and they are not taking it. The big test is what the University will do in response to the “no confidence” vote. Will they remove Bardo, as they should, or will they just ignore the students and try and sweep this under the rug? I don’t think the students will just sit back and allow him to sweep this issue away.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mary Harren, longtime peace activist, socialist and anti-imperialist- dies

By SJ Otto
I first moved to Wichita sometime in 1980. One of the fist political activists I met was Mary (McDonough) Harren. She was the go to person involved in the local peace movement here in Wichita. Back in Lawrence where I came from, the big issue was the war in Latin America, supporting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and opposing military aid to the government of El Salvador. Mary was involved in that also. She was involved in other issues, such as the movement for a nuclear freeze. We lost Mary last week to cancer. She was 91 years old. She lived a full life and was a major player in the anti-war, anti-imperialism movements.

She was arrested several times for trespassing with people who were using civil disobedience against nuclear weapons. She was arrested in August of 1982 at Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha.
 She was a member of Democratic Socialists of America. She believed in socialism and a world where the needs of the common people were not more important than the needs of the greedy wealthy people who profited from making and selling weapons.
“The peace movement,” she said, “is holding out a vision, a hope of a better world for human kind, other than spending your life building arms, that this is not the most creative thing, that this is not what were meant to be doing with our lives, is to defend private or personal property at the expense of the rest of the world.”[1]
Mary and I have worked off and on with the peace group here in town (Wichita). The name has changed many times, but she stayed with it and so did I. Today we have the Peace and Social Justice Center of Kansas. I remember when they added on "social justice", several years ago, so we could work on some local social justice issues. Today’s Wichita peace group is located in the house that used to be Mary's.
I used to visit that house when Mary lived there. Her, other friends and I would visit, drink wine and discuss foreign policy issues. Even before she turned it over the Peace and Social Justice Center, she had many political events there.
When I first met Mary, both of us were Catholics. At some point I got tired of the Catholic political shtick. Both of us had problems with many of the church’s positions, such as being anti-abortion and the churches’ position on Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua. Eventually John Paul II came out strongly against Liberation theology, which both of us supported. I finally had enough and dropped out of the religion.  She stayed in and refused to give her faith up. 
She stood by her catholic beliefs, even when the local church did everything they could to dissuade her. The local Bishop of Wichita excommunicated her for supporting abortion rights. She was a member of Catholics for Choice.
She once told me "What are they going to do? Arrest me for going to church?"
Mary has been politically active going all the way back to the Vietnam War. Other issues she has taken on include speaking out about the use of the atom bomb in Hiroshima. Over the years she has worked with The Catholic Worker, Pax Christi, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Code Pink.  Mary raised seven kids and her husband Donald Harren died before I moved back to Wichita, in 1980.
Mary slowed down a lot as she got to her 80s and beyond. Still, she was always a part of the peace movement here in the Wichita area. She will be missed.

Mary accepting a reward from the Global Learning Center.

[1] Bill Hursch, “Wichita Woman Wages Own War To Ensure Peace,” The Wichita Eagle, February 1, 1983.