Friday, June 23, 2017

Sign the Petition to investigate Donald Trump

Posted By: Common Cause (campaign leader)
President Donald Trump is refusing to adequately address his 
unprecedented conflicts of interest and put his assets into a blind trust. And Republicans in Congress are abandoning their responsibility to serve as a check on the executive branch.

Especially given the dark cloud already hanging over this administration and its potential ties to Russian election meddling, it's critically important that the American people know if our President is receiving money from foreign governments.
That's why we must call on the House Oversight Committee, and its Republican leader Trey Gowdy to use Congress's oversight role to fully investigate the President's conflicts and overseas business ties. The Democrats wouldn't have to sue if Congress was doing its job -- and we should use this moment to push them into action.
Americans agree that strong oversight is necessary to ensure that public servants look to their time in government as a way of contributing to society, not a way of enriching themselves and their friends.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Daily Kos tries to stop Trumpcare (AKA Don't care)

From Irna Landrum, Daily Kos:

Mitch McConnell will force a vote on the as-yet-unwritten, super secret Trumpcare bill this month, come hell or high water. 

There is internal strife among Republicans senators, and some are urging McConnell to delay the vote. However, he will cancel the next recess and work senators until every item on the Senate calendar is complete—unless he gets a vote this month. 

This is part of McConnell's continued pressure on Senate Republicans to fall in line and pass Trumpcare, a bill most of them haven't seen yet.Secrecy and bullying are not how we pass major legislation! 

Call Senator Jerry Moran at (202) 224-6521 and Senator Pat Roberts at (202) 224-4774. Using this sample script, tell them to stand up to McConnell's bullying and reject Trumpcare now.

Hello. My name is steve calling from 67101 in Maize. I'm urging you to reject Trumpcare. Don't bow to Mitch McConnell's pressure to vote on this bill no one has seen and your constituents DO NOT WANT. If McConnell forces a vote, vote NO on Trumpcare. Thank you.

Pix from

Sunday, June 18, 2017

It's Father's Day—This one is special for me!

By SJ Otto
It's Father's Day. I'm a father myself, with a son who is almost 40. He lives in Portland Oregon. I still have my father, but I won't have him much longer. He has lung cancer and has about six months to live. He is 91. So today we can celebrate the three generations in my family. I have no grand kids.
This is likely my father's last Father's Day with me. I hope to make the best of it. Mao Zedong once said:

"Living is transformed into dying, lifeless matter is transformed into living beings. I propose that when people over the age of 50 die, a party should be held to celebrate, for it is in inevitable that men should die- this is natural law."[1] 

I think that is appropriate for my father. My mother died a day before her 80th birthday. Both my parents have had fine long lives. I'm sorry to see my dad go, but I'm grateful for the years we have had together.
My Dad and I have had our differences over the years. My Dad used to be a Republican, a kind of Dwight Eisenhower Republican, so the far-far-far-far-far to the right Republican Party political trend has turned my Dad off the Republican Party for now. I have always been more to the left so we used to argue about politics a lot in my younger days. Now we argue a lot less and agree a lot more. I'm still farther to the left than my Dad, but that seems to matter a lot less than it used to. Today my Dad and I have a real good relationship. I don't remember it ever being better than it is today.
So today, my brother, my Dad and a few other relatives will get together to Bar-B-Q some meat and sit around the back yard talking about the good ol' days. My son will probably call me on the phone this afternoon to say "hi" and "happy Father's Day." From what other men about my age told me the other day, "getting a phone call from your son or daughter is about the most you can expect out of Father's Day." And for me that is just fine. I'm always glad to hear from my son.
My wife, Cam Gentry has already lost her father several years ago. Cam really looked up to her father, even though he was a lot more conservative than her. Her Dad landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, during World War II. He was one of the lucky survivors. I know my wife still misses her Dad every year on Father's Day.
Father's Day is one of those little holidays. But this year I will make the best of it. Next year it may just be me and my sontwo generations, of the men in my family. I do have five living brothers, so for all of us the Father's Day situation is the same except for the one other son and the three daughters two of my brothers have. And those two brothers have grand kids.
So to all of you who have a father, or grand father, or great grandfather, etc., be sure and make the best of it. It doesn't matter how long we and our fathers live, it matters most what we do WHILE they are alive. 

My Dad and some of his sons and grand sons.

[1] "INSTANT WISDOM: BEYOND THE LITTLE RED BOOK," Time, 20 September 1976, Vol. 108, No. 12, p. 38.

Scalise shooting is the latest in US political violence—it's the "chickens coming home to roost"

By SJ Otto
The latest shooting of Republican House Whip Steve Scalise is a logical reaction when a political party simply pushes certain classes of people to their edge. The Republican Party now runs both houses, the presidency and the Supreme Court. And they are using all their power to punish the poorer classes- even to the point of letting them die from medical neglect.
So to some extent the Republicans are reaping what they sow. They follow an agenda that amounts to giving US corporations everything they want at the expenses of the working poor.
The shooter, at the Republican baseball practice, in Alexandria, Virginia, was James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, who died following a shootout with authorities. He was a supporter of Bernie Sanders' progressive politicsand he hated President Donald Trump. That alone is not unique. A lot of us like Sanders and hate Trump. But few, if any of us, want to go as far as actually shooting Republicans. That's not to say the temptation is not there. It is. But most of us have the will power to hold off of on such actions. Hodgkinson was that one person who simply went over the top. He shot at several Republicans and he hit at least six people, but only Scalise was seriously wounded enough that he is still in the hospital.
One thing the Republicans can not say is that their side is the peaceful one. Just a few weeks earlier Greg Gianforte, who won Montana’s special election, was charged with assaulting a journalist one day prior. Many of us found the election results infuriating. However there have been conservative pundits such as Susan Stamper Brown, who wrote in an article: "I thought Gianforte’s response was kind of sexy. Before the snowflake generation evolved, that’s how manly men resolved their differences. And still do, in places like Montana and Alaska, where men aren’t ostracized for being men." Her column was picked up and ran in our local newspaper, The Wichita Eagle
So there is plenty of blame for Republicans for uncivilized behaviour that has taken our country by storm.
There are those who say we should agree to disagree. But the policies at stake have never been greater. The repeal of Obamacare (Affordable Care Act or ACA) was a real hit for many working poor who relied on that for health insurance. With that repeal many of the working poor will now be without health insurance coverage and as a resultsthey will lack health care. With a lack of preventative treatment, many will now die early in life, because they will only see a doctor after they can no longer ignore the symptoms and it is then too late and their once preventable diseases will now become fatal. When people are facing unnecessary death they have good reasons to feel angry.
And many Republicans are just mean-spirited about it. Governor Scott Walker wants to make Wisconsin the first state in the country to require able-bodied, childless adults applying for Medicaid health benefits to undergo drug screening. He and other Republicans want this move to serve as a national model. On one hand this amounts to a death sentence for people with drug problems. It also amounts to potentially killing off poor people because Republicans don't approve of their life styles. In fact Walker also wants to charge Medicaid recipients with a lot of money if they, as he puts it, smoke or engage in other unhealthy behaviour.
This is both mean-spirited in that the drug users will need some kind of health treatment and it is arrogant to let some one die because their personal habits are unpopular. There is definitely reasons to be angry about this.
There is hostility on both wings when it comes to protesting. Anarchists (or antifas, short for anti-fascist, as they are sometimes called) have gone to attacking Trump supporters and conservatives love to brag when one of their thugs hurt an anarchist. A site called Heat Street  bragged that man from Patriot Prayer, at a Portland political rally, "knocked an antifa guy to the ground." There are many YouTube videos showing antifas and Trump supporters fighting.
We are living in a time when people are fighting over the nation's resources and the fighters are not interested in fighting fair. The country has plenty of resources and keeping those from the lower classes is both an act of selfishness and mean-spirited. There is reason to be angry.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Slacker Ron Estes wants to let the banks swindle us

By SJ Otto
It's hard to say if slacker US Representative Ron Estes wrote his own article that was carried in the The Wichita Eagle or if he had some one else write it for him. Estes avoids any real work. But his article appeared and it was the usual pack of lies that Republicans print and put forward as if they were truth.  He said in his Sunday article:

"It’s clear to most Kansans how Obamacare has harmed their families (doubled their premiums and taken away medical choices)."

He has never met with his constituents to see if that is true. He is a cowardly man and is not likely to do that. But I already know how many of my friends are in trouble over his vote to repeal Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act or ACA). I don't know anyone who is having a problem with "taken away medical choices)." I'm sure some wealthier folks may have problems with higher premiums. But many of my friends have the problem of loosing their health care altogether. The premiums, if they can get them, are so high they have to go without health care. Not having any kind of health is the worst problem of all and the Republicans have brought poor working people to this place once again. That means that poor working people will now die earlier than they planned on, because if they get sick, they can't do anything until they are about to die. After that it is too late for any kind of preventative care.
I'm sure by now that Estes only plans to represent the wealthier people in his district. He could care less about the common citizen. I'm sure he figures they are better off dead.
Most of Estes' article is about:

"Dodd-Frank, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2010, added thousands of rules and regulations for financial institutions to follow."  

Most of us aren't affected by this because it affects wealthy bankers. Estes worries about their financial situation, which was encumbered by our past President Barack Obama. Many of us do remember how the banks were swindling the common citizen which is why Obama passed that act. Many common citizens lost money when banks foreclosed on housed and loans they should not have made. The Dodd-Frank Act simply requires that banks have assets to back up their loans. As from USA Today:

Explaining the Dodd-Frank Act

In an effort to prevent crises like these in the future, the policymakers behind the Dodd-Frank Act underwrote a series of critical reforms. The act increases the amount that capital banks must hold in reserve, giving the banks an added cushion to absorb loan losses in future downturns. It similarly requires banks to keep a larger portion of their assets invested in things that can be easily liquidated in the event of a bank run – namely, cash and government securities as opposed to term loans.
The act also subjects the nation's biggest banks to a series of heightened regulatory requirements not faced by regional and community banks. Under Dodd-Frank, every bank with more than $50 billion worth of assets on its balance sheet must submit to annual stress tests administered by the Federal Reserve, which then determines if they would survive a hypothetically severe crisis akin to the one in 2008. As a part of the stress tests, these banks must also seek regulatory approval to increase their dividends or authorize new share repurchase programs.
Even among the biggest banks, moreover, the Dodd-Frank Act makes distinctions. The biggest among them are classified as global systemically important banks, or G-SIBs, which must hold an additional tranche of capital, known as the G-SIB surcharge. This is particularly burdensome for JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup which have to keep as much as 3% their shareholders' equity laying fallow in cash or low-yielding but highly liquid securities. These banks must also submit resolution plans to regulators each year, detailing how they could be resolved without causing harm to the financial markets in the event they go bankrupt.
Remember folks, when these banks failed, the US taxpayer bailed them out. That is what Estes wants to return to. Large bank loans fail, then taxpayers bail them out as they did before 2010.
The original purpose of the bill was:

"The Act is categorized into sixteen titles and, by one law firm's count, it requires that regulators create 243 rules, conduct 67 studies, and issue 22 periodic reports.
The stated aim of the legislation is:
To promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end "too big to fail", to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes."

So what Estes really wants is to allow the banks to rip off the consumers. The businesses, as banks, are more important than consumers. That is the Estes way. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wyoming mayor defends his decision to remove town hall Trump portrait by comparing Trump to Stalin

Jackson Wyoming Mayor Pete Muldoon ruffled some feathers after he took down a portrait of unpopular President Donald Trump last week and replaced it with Chief Washakie, the Shoshone leader of the 1800s. Chief Washakie was a prominent figure in the early history of Wyoming and had the historical distinction of being the only known Native American receive a full military funeral by the United States.
The move has elicited reaction from the political left and right—each taking their predictable sides. Democrats and/or liberals are mostly in favor of the Muldoon’s decision to take Trump down, citing various criticisms of the president. One Facebook user wrote: “Thanks Pete! It’s a little thing but Trump certainly doesn’t deserve that place of honor, in this or any other town.”
Republicans, for the most part, believe the photo swap to be disrespectful to the office. Many in Wyoming living outside of Jackson have pointed to the controversy as a perfect example of why Teton County is often considered an embarrassing part of the Cowboy State.
The move came in tandem with the Jackson town council adopting a resolution in support of the Paris Agreement. With conservatives attacking, Mayor Muldoon sent an email, which has been shared online, to his constituents. Mayor Muldoon explains that he knows that Donald Trump is the president but that there is no law that says presidents must have portraits in local town halls. Mayor Muldoon slowly, and rather masterfully, turns the letter into a civics lesson.
For the rest click here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Islamic hate march is unsuccessful in Wichita

By SJ Otto
An anti-Islamic march fizzled today, as less than thirty marchers, from ACT For America, went in front of the Islamic Society of Wichita, according to the Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas. The March was planned by ACT For America
which describes itself as:

"We are the NRA of national security.
We don’t just support the protection of America’s national security
- we’re fighting for it."

In other words they are a far right organization, just as the NRA. They are Islamophobic and an anti-Muslim hate group, but they also claim:  

"is committed to recruiting, training, and mobilizing citizens community by community to help protect and preserve American culture and to keep this nation safe." 

Usually groups that talk of preserving American culture are trying to prevent other cultures from being able to survive here in the USA. They are more like fascism than a group to preserve anyone's rights.
DSA (Democratic Socialist of America) and other local organizations monitored the event in case there was going to be any trouble. There was a consensus to avoid a counter march so that the ACT did not get more publicity than they would otherwise get.
Many local organizations monitored the event in case there was going to be any trouble. There was a consensus to avoid a counter march so that the ACT did not get more publicity than they would otherwise get.
Members of DSA (a local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America), Peace and Social Justice Center and some others local organization will be attending a Ramadan After Dinner at the Islamic Center, June 12. These groups want to oppose Islamophobia. That is not to say all these members are Muslim, and certainly many people in Wichita do not support a government that is dominated by Islam or any other religion. But they do believe that all religions in the US deserve respect.
All fundamental religious beliefs produce believers who are willing to disrespect other people's religious views. They often support poisonous political views that are disrespectful to people of other faiths and beliefs. But marching against all members of that entire religion is always counter productive.
That is why  many of us will be joining Muslims for their Ramadan After Dinner. We want the Muslims in Wichita to know that we respect their religious beliefs and their constitutional right to practice the religion of their choice.
Local marchers can be seen in the photo below.

Pix by Bill Anderson.

The anti-march was part of an nation-wide effort. Some of the other marches across the US were not as quiet as the one in Wichita. The people and Muslims of Wichita were lucky.

Pix from NBC News:

Friday, June 09, 2017

Conservative commentator, Susan Brown, longs for brutish politics

By SJ Otto
When I fist saw the headlines for Susan Stamper Brown's article, "It’s time for Democrats to get real," I expected to see the usual conservative advice the Democrats always get: -drop liberalism, drop identity politics, be more conservative like the Republicans, etc.
But I started reading her article, in our local newspaper, The Wichita Eagle, and what a surprise I got. Brown went way farther than simple conservatism. She reads like some kind of primal brute from the back hills of some hick podunk.
It seems she is a fan of Greg Gianforte who won Montana’s special election, despite being charged with assaulting a journalist one day prior. While many of us, on both the left and right, found this ass hole revolting and the election results infuriating. Brown found Gianforte's actions "sexy."

"That’s why Greg Gianforte won Montana’s special election, despite being charged with assaulting a journalist one day prior.
After reading reports and listening to the audio of the altercation, I thought Gianforte’s response was kind of sexy. Before the snowflake generation evolved, that’s how manly men resolved their differences. And still do, in places like Montana and Alaska, where men aren’t ostracized for being men. They duke it out, brush it off, shake hands and go on their way."

At first I thought she was joking. But no, she means it. Brown seems to be a part of the new Donald Trump era politicians. She is from Alaska and not that different from another like-minded Alaskan, Sarah Palin. Brown comes off looking like a mean and fascist version of one of the Beverly Hillbillies.
As with other Republican conservatives, she only likes it when Republicans beat up liberals. She isn't so keen on it when it is the other way around:

"The Democratic Party is overrun by violent far-left extremists who regularly display their antipathy to things they dislike using violence. Setting fires, throwing Molotov cocktails, smashing windows, throwing rocks at police, destroying private property, and physically attacking Republicans like what happened at Berkley in February was the norm long before Donald Trump arrived on the scene.
Normal Americans watching this appalling behaviour have come to understand that just like terrorists, these left-wing anarchists the Democratic Party harbors cannot be reasoned with, so defeating Democrats at the ballot box is America’s only hope."

As with many other conservative voices all over the US, she tries to lump anarchist political activist with the Democratic Party. The activities she describes are those of the Black Bloc tactics. Those are used by anarchist groups and a few Marxist organizations, but not Democrats, liberals or democratic socialists. Not only are Black Bloc people not part of the Democratic Party left, Black Blocs don't even vote most of the time. And Democrats don't use Black Bloc tactics. There is little difference in what Brown and her kind say than those Democrats who try to lump the Ku Klux Klan and the Republican Party together.  
I have to admit that since Gianforte got elected, I don't mind seeing someone wearing black clothing and a mask smacking Trump supporters in the face. It almost feels like some kind of justice. It definitely feels good. I know most of my fellow lefties will say that we should rise above those brutish tactics of fist fights and body slams and show a more sophisticated example. But seeing a conservative get smacked in the face just feels good. I can't help feeling good that some ass holes are getting what they deserve.
Brown's politics are just knee jerk conservatism meshed with old fashion John "Duke" Wayne brutishness. But maybe she has a point that punching your political opponents is just too satisfying to pass up. We may be on the thresh hold of a new era. The cowboy brute is now the new rage. Politeness and courtesy are on their way out. In that way Brown may be ahead of her time.  

Pix by Wsaw.

Frank Zappa - Montana

The 8th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller

From Julie A. Burkhart, Founder and CEO, Trust Women Foundation:
Wednesday, last week, we marked the eighth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller. As I reminded staff at the foundation and clinics, I founded this organization out of the rubble after his death. It seemed absolutely senseless that people be denied their reproductive rights and what is legally theirs under the law because of anti-choice extremists who would bully us into submission.
That couldn’t stand for the people who needed access to health care, and it was not right for those of us who are passionate about this work.

I am absolutely amazed that after eight years, this organization has grown to two clinics and more than 30 people.
Thank you for everything you’ve done to support us along the way.

What's new at Trust Women:

·                                 As I mentioned in the May newsletter, I am a regular opinion contributor for The Hill. My first column — in response to NPR and ProPublica’s report about maternal mortality rates in the United States — appeared May 18. The United States has the highest mortality rates stemming from pregnancy and childbirth in the developed world. While other countries have taken positive steps to decrease these deaths, the rates continue to climb in America. Here’s an excerpt from the column:
“A study last year in the medical journal “Obstetrics and Gynecology” reported that the rate of maternal deaths in the United States rose from 18.8 per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 23.8 in 2014, an increase of 27 percent. This can’t be allowed to continue.
These deaths occur in a country where lawmakers are taking a scalpel to women’s reproductive rights. Owning and operating reproductive healthcare clinics that provide abortion care in Kansas and Oklahoma, Trust Women sees firsthand the devastating impact of anti-choice laws on women. When the life of a fetus trumps the life of a woman, women will die. They already are — at the rate of 700 to 900 annually in this country.
Women who desire to be mothers, or to add to the families they already have, deserve far more from our healthcare system than to have their own health overlooked in doctor’s offices and hospital maternity wards and at follow-up visits.
When lawmakers are more concerned about whether a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks than about whether a woman will survive pregnancy and childbirth, something is absurdly wrong with our country’s priorities. Trust Women calls on lawmakers to follow the example of their colleagues in other countries and implement policies and programs to help prevent women from dying.”
·                                 Our clinics welcome Dana Smith as our new director of nursing and quality assurance. We’re excited to have her on board.
·                                 We have hired canvass managers in Oklahoma and Kansas and soon will be training canvassers who will go door-to-door in select districts to talk to people about reproductive rights. If you know of anyone who would like to work in the afternoons or evenings, please reach out to Tamber Hepner, our director of advocacy and outreach, at 316-425-3215 or
·                                 We are disappointed that Kansas legislators on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 83 requiring clinics such as ours to disclose medically unnecessary information about our physicians that further stigmatizes abortion care. The bill is now on its way to Gov. Sam Brownback, who will likely sign it as he's never opposed any anti-choice legislation to cross his desk. 
·                                 The Lady Parts Justice League is bringing its Vagical Mystery Tour to Oklahoma City on June 13 and to Wichita on June 15. There are many other locations too. Lizz Winstead, the co-creator of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” is the force behind Lady Parts. She was the headliner at our Third Annual Gala. Click on the tour link above for ticket information.
·                                 You’ll be hearing a lot from us in the coming weeks about our monthly contribution program, the Circle of Trust. The program is an easy way for you to support the work we do with contributions that fit your budget. Monthly giving, starting at $5, keeps our fundraising costs low and better yet, allows us to plan ahead for expanding abortion access. Bonus: If you sign up for the Circle of Trust, you’ll get a Trust Women T-shirt!

I hope you have a great week.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Single payer health care and electing local DSA members discussed at monthly meet

By SJ Otto
Support for a Single Payer system in the US was part of a strategy and goals session held by Wichita's Democratic Socialist of America (DSA), last Saturday. Goals and strategies were planned out at a meeting with 15 members present.
Other goals included getting DSA members elected. Those elections are likely to be at a local level, such as school board or city council. Member also said they wanted to support like minded candidates who are not DSA members. Some members expressed support for third party candidates. Some members said some people are still are livid over the DNC in the last election. There was consensus that the stigma of being socialist is dying down.
Another area of concern was support of organized labor. Members agreed to find ways to support labor. One idea was to fight against right-to-work laws. Another is to put heat on the anti-labor politicians. There was also agreement to support picket lines.
There was talk of criminal justice reform. But it was decided that the Peace and Social Justice group was already doing that and members can support their efforts.
It was decided that the local chapter will keep the national DSA informed on our activities.
A major DSA convention will be held Aug. 3-6, in Chicago. It will be the largest DSA convention ever. From Wichita, 15 members plan to go so far.
Other events that DSA has taken an interest in is:
June 10 there is an anti-Muslem march at the Islamic Society of Wichita. The idea is not to make more publicity than necessary so there is no anti-march planned as of now. Some DSA members will attend a Ramadan After Dinner at the center will have, June 12.
Some DSA member may take part in the Gay Pride Parade, June 18.

DSA will try to have a presents at Juneteenth celebration here in Wichita, June 24.
A new banner for the Wichita Chapter DSA.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Wichita River Festival is just a giant advertisement

By SJ Otto
Each year we have the Wichita River Festival and every year I don't attend. Part of that is because it is nothing more than an elaborate advertisement for the city's businesses. Everything has a logo attached to it. The races are named for local banks. Everything has a sponsor. And every year there is a parade, the first day, and every business in town has a float to advertise their business.
For many years this event has not been well planned. One year I went to hear a singer was scheduled to perform on an outdoor stage. She was rained out. The moved the concert indoors, but didn't tell everyone where it was. The do have some good bands come in from time to time. A few years ago they had the Turtles. One year me and my wife actually went to see Paul Revere and the Raiders. But usually the places they play are over-crowded, the drinks are over-priced and they are often sandwiched in between acts I don't want to see.

There is also the heat and the crowds. It gets hot in Wichita in June. And the crowds make it worse. So some of us just don't go. This year I won't be and not many of my friends will go either. If the city set up block parties instead of advertisement events, a lot more of us would have gone. But commercialism is not what many of us want to celebrate. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

US Representatives from Kansas, Roberts Moran and Estes, ignore town hall meeting in Wichita

By SJ Otto
It was the Wichita Women's March Town Hall Meeting, last night here in Wichita, and three of our elected representatives were invited to come. When I first found out about it on Facebook, I thought that our congress people already planned on coming to meet with their constituents. I  have to admit I was surprised that our new slacker representative Ron Estes was coming. He rarely makes public appearances and he avoids anything that would cause him to have to do any work. So it was no surprise that he failed to show up. He said in a statement to KAKE TV that his schedule was busy since the election and he already held a town hall meeting using his phone. I don't know how anyone would know he had the phone-in meeting unless he just told his friends about it. I don't expect Estes to ever intentionally meet face to face with his constituents. He's just not that brave. Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran also didn't show up. They have been in office much longer than Estes and they already know how much flack they can get from those constituents who they represent and have stabbed in the back. Those two are no braver than Estes. They know they can keep getting elected with money from the big backers such as the Koch brothers, Charles and David.
One representative who did come was Wichita City Council member Lavonta Williams, District 1. She is a more progressive politician than we usually get in Wichita. She took the time to come and show some interest in what her constituents had to say.
While I was at the meeting, a woman explained that she was conducting fund raisers to try and help more progressive people get elected. Here is an example of the big difference between conservative and more progressive politics. Big $billionaires such as the Kochs and Robert Mercer can just write a check. They don't have to fund raise. And while millions of people struggle to get congress people to listen to them, the Kochs, Mercers and others get an automatic audience with the many politicians they have bought.
So despite the lack of interest by our actual elected representatives, the meeting went on anyway. The moderator Cindy Claycomb, a candidate for Wichita City Council (District 6)  announced that they planned to tape the meeting and send a copy to the three Kansas legislators. I don't have much faith in out representatives that they will actually bother watching the tape. They know who votes for them and they know the big money backers who finance their campaigns and they act as if the concerns of those who don't vote for them and have no money don't count.
The meeting was ambitious. The topics included the Affordable Care Act, versus the American Health Care Act; climate change; children's issues, such as charter schools, school meals, food stamps; science funding, such as renewable energy; taxes; and women's issues.
Much of the meeting consisted of comments from those who were in attendance. There were about 40 people there.
Some of the comments were about the changes in the ACA:
"They (legislators) have insurance. They treat us like we are cattle," a woman said.
Another woman said she had just got over having cancer and the treatment cost $75,000.
"It's gone now, but what if it comes back?" She and many others said they are losing insurance with the new Republican plan.  
One man in the audience expressed his anger that our elected leaders don't want to listen to us.
"Let's go to the polls and get some revenge," he said. "If they won't listen to us and do their jobs, lets get someone who will."

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day —honoring those who fought for imperialism

By SJ Otto

It's this time every year that I post something about Memorial Day. And every year I hear on the TV that we should celebrate the lives given for our freedom. But the idea that people are giving their lives for freedom is the biggest lie this country ever produced. We have not had our freedom defended for many years. Most wars allow our empire to control smaller countries, so we can get the best of their resources, including oil.
We have colonized two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. We have created in them puppet US style democracies. This country can't take care of its own citizens and yet claims to be able to "help out" our brothers in other countries. If this country really cared about democracy we would have pulled support for Saudi Arabia years ago.

That there are those of us who believe this country does not fight for democracy and freedom is the BIGGEST secret in the country today!

...So have your picnics, visit your cemeteries, and if you really care about freedom, honor some of the many peace activist who REALLY fought for your freedom.

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.

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