A note from Progress Iowa:
If you’re like me, you’re about to head home for the holidays, and you know what’s coming: that dreaded conversation with your conservative Uncle.
Every year he corners you because he doesn’t get the chance to talk to many progressives. And then it begins: Obamacare, Hillary, gay marriage, Benghazi, the list goes on and on.
Don’t worry — you’re not alone, and we’re here to help! This year try our 3-step recipe for survival in any conversation with your conservative Uncle (or Aunt, cousin, brother, parent, or in-laws!). Just preheat the conversation, stir in a few facts, then bake until perfection!
Step 1: Preheat the conversation. You can’t just start shouting facts at your conservative Uncle. They’re used to hearing angry, reactionary voices from Rush Limbaugh to Bill O’Reilly. Stay calm, and renew your personal connection. After all, you’re family! Most importantly, do not appear too thoughtful — conservatives may confuse this for weakness.
Step 2: Stir in the facts. Nothing gives conservatives more power than the myths they cling to. Stirring in the facts once you’ve warmed up the conversation is the most important step in the process. Make sure they are given the truth — it may take a while to counteract all the bad ingredients they’ve been given by the far right. Here are a few myths they may try to promote, along with facts you can stir in to the conversation:
MYTH: This year’s elections mean conservatives are winning over the country.
FACT: Recent polling shows that Americans believe we should lower the cost of student loans (80%), increase spending on infrastructure (75%), raise the minimum wage (65%), and address climate change (59%). [Source: NBC News/Wall St Journal]
MYTH: President Obama’s executive actions on immigration shredded the constitution.
FACT: Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush took similar actions on immigration; President Obama’s decision will keep families together and improve our economy by bringing in millions in tax revenue. [Source: Associated Press/ABC News]
MYTH: The situation in Ferguson had nothing to do with race, it was simply justice being served.
FACT: There is a ‘staggering disparity’ between the races in our justice system, and the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson is the latest tragic example of that systemic disparity. [Source: USA Today]
MYTH: Obamacare is failing and unpopular.
FACT: Obamacare [The Affordable Care Act] has covered millions of Americans who previously went without insurance, and more than 70% of Americans like their Obamacare plans. [Source: Gallup]
MYTH: Gay Marriage is ruining our families, and the Supreme Court has no place deciding the issue.
FACT: The majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, and agree with the Supreme Court’s recent decisions approving same-sex marriages. [Source: ABC News]
MYTH: Benghazi is one of the biggest scandals in American history.
FACT: A committee organized and planned by Republicans just debunked the conspiracy theories behind this myth. [Source: CNN]
MYTH: Climate change is a myth, or ‘the science isn’t settled’ on the issue.
FACT: The scientific community agrees by a 97% margin that climate change is real and man-made [Source: Washington Post]. Major corporations are now planning for climate change, why shouldn’t we work to prevent it? [Source: Boston Globe]
MYTH: Voter ID laws are needed to stop voter fraud and protect our democracy.
FACT: Voter fraud is almost nonexistent, and Voter ID laws are designed to suppress voter turnout among minorities, the elderly, and the young. [Source: Brennan Center for Justice]
Step 3: Bake until appropriately cooked. At this point, your conservative Uncle will be roasting in his own myths and half truths, so forgive him if he’s a bit thrown off. Take your time and be patient, let him fully cook, and patiently explain the error of his ways.
There’s your simple three step recipe. If all else fails, feel free to send us an email. We’ll be checking ThanksgivingHelp@progressiowa.org and prepared with answers to your questions and fact-check any myths we haven’t covered.
Good luck, and Happy Thanksgiving!
P.S. Like any good recipe, this one should be passed on to other progressives in your family. Click here to share it on Facebook!
Highlights from the Salon.com must-read interview with America’s #1 patriot and most loyal Democrat, Howard Dean.
by David Dayen
Howard Dean will forever be associated with one unguarded moment on a microphone in Iowa. But his real contribution to politics over the past decade was during his time at the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2008, when he implemented the 50-state strategy…And it bore fruit: Democrats gained by virtually every metric in deep-red states during this period, from presidential vote share to state legislatures.
After President Obama’s election in 2008, the 50-state strategy was effectively jettisoned. Large swaths of the country have been ceded to Republicans, with predictably terrible results. I talked to Gov. Dean about what the 50-state strategy accomplished and why he prefers empowering bottom-up organizing to making decisions exclusively out of Washington.
“My experience from having campaigned and from being governor is that there are Democrats everywhere, and if you want to nurture the party you have to nurture all of them. If you focus only on the states that are mostly Democratic, it’s demoralizing to the other states.
“The problem was that people in Washington are always moving people in and out of races and telling them who can and can’t run. And they don’t do as good a job, they’re not as in touch with what’s happening on the ground.
“Underlying all of it was this idea that the Internet was wonderful, but it’s not a substitute for personal contact.
“I believe in the South the Democrats will come back, but you can’t do it if you don’t pay attention.
“The point is that if you give up before you start, then you give up. The 50-state strategy was about giving everybody a base, and some competence level to work off, and then they were on their own. And it’s amazing what people will do if you give them a chance. Especially people who have been beaten down for years by the national party, who feel that nobody cares about them. The DCCC and DSCC wouldn’t put any money into these places for years, they didn’t care. And anybody who could self-fund, they became the candidate. That’s no way to run a party.”
Proposed Pipeline through Iowa Carries Risks [Bolds and italics BFIA’s]
Energy Transfer Partners (ETF), also doing business as Dakota Access, announced plans for a proposed oil pipeline that will run diagonally across Iowa, through 17 or 18 counties. It will carry light sweet crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois where it will link with another pipeline that will transport the oil to terminals along the Gulf of Mexico. The company also announced that some of the crude oil will be loaded onto rail cars for shipment to the east coast.
The company has scheduled public informational meetings in December 2014 in each of the counties that the pipeline will cross, a requirement before asking the Iowa Utilities Board for permits. Members of the public will be able to attend and can speak during the meeting. ETF is expected to seek permits in 2015 through 2016. The company plans to have the pipeline operational in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Counties in Iowa comprising the proposed route include Lyon, Sioux, O’Brien, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Webster, Boone, Story, Polk, Jasper, Mahaska, Keokuk, Wapello, Jefferson, Van Buren and Lee. The northeast tip of Sac County is also in the study area.
The Sierra Club Iowa Chapter urges you to join in opposition to the pipeline proposed by Energy Transfer Partners by attending and speaking out at one of the public meetings. The meetings will be held as follows:
December 1, 1:00, Inwood Community Center, Inwood
December 1, 1:00, Comfort Inn & Suites, Fort Madison
December 1, 6:00, River Valley Lodge, Farmington
December 1, 6:00, Terrace View Event Center, Sioux Center
December 2, 9:00am, Sheldon Community Services, Sheldon
December 2, 9:00am, Jefferson County Fairgrounds Activity Building, Fairfield
December 2, 3:00, Cherokee Community Center, Cherokee
December 2, 3:00, Bridgeview Center, Ottumwa
December 3, 9:00am, Buena Vista University Anderson Auditorium, Storm Lake
December 3, 9:00am, Memorial Hall, Sigourney
December 3, 3:00, Gateway Church of the Nazarene, Oskaloosa
December 4, 9:00am, DMACC Newton Conference Center, Newton
December 4, 3:00, Ankeny Parks and Recreation Lakeside Center, Ankeny
December 15, 1:00, Sac Community Center, Sac City
December 15, 1:00, Gates Memorial Auditorium, Nevada
December 15, 6:00, Boone County Fairgrounds Community Building, Boone
December 15, 6:00, Calhoun County Expo center, Rockwell City
December 16, 9:00am, Triton Room, Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge
Consider additional ways you can oppose the pipeline proposed by Energy Transfer Partners. The Chapter encourages you to:
- Write letters to the editor in opposition to the pipeline
- Once the public meetings have ended, submit written objections to the Iowa Utilities Board. For more information about how to submit your comments, contact the Iowa Sierra Club.
The Iowa Sierra Club is concerned about the impacts a tragic accident or a leaky pipeline involving the highly flammable oil will have on Iowa’s communities, farms and environment, including
- Polluting Iowa’s streams, rivers, lakes and aquifers
- Tragic accidents affecting lives and personal property in the communities along the pipeline
- Destroying Iowa’s farmland
- Harming wildlife and sensitive natural areas in its path
Although the company plans to seek voluntary easements, it may ask the Iowa Utilities Board for permission to acquire the easement through eminent domain. The pipeline will require a permanent easement 50 feet wide, with no structures allowed on the easement. An even wider, temporary easement of 100 feet to 150 feet will be taken during construction.
Once the oil in this pipeline finally reaches the oil terminals in Nederland, Texas, there is absolutely no guarantee that the oil and refined products from the oil will remain in the United States for use in this country.
In March 2013, homeowners in Mayflower, Arkansas, were overwhelmed when oil from a leaky pipeline flowed into their basements, over their lawns and onto their streets.
The Bakken oil is the same oil that was involved in train wrecks in North Dakota in December 2013 and in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, in July 2013.
A new pipeline will delay the U.S. transition to clean and renewable energy and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The United States needs to move away from fossil fuel extractions and to energy sources that have less impact on climate change.
This article points to Colorado as a microcosm of what is happening to newspapers nationally (including Iowa), and the impact of the loss of journalism on elections. Colorado lost 50% of reporters covering elections in the last 5 years with the closing of Rocky Mountain News, the state’s second largest newspaper. The Denver Post is the only major daily paper left in Colorado, and they have been experiencing layoffs. In Iowa, The Des Moines Register, thanks to Gannett, is a shell of its former self and is trending in a similar direction. You can read the entire story here.
What if you held an election and nobody showed up to cover it? Americans have now discovered the answer: You get an election with lots of paid ads, but with little journalism, context or objective facts.
Between 2003 and 2012, the newspaper workforce decreased by 30 percent [italics BFIA’s] nationally, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. That has included a major reduction in the number of newspaper reporters assigned to cover state and local politics.
Newspaper layoffs have ripple effects for the entire local news ecosystem, because, as the Congressional Research Service noted, television, radio and online outlets often “piggyback on reporting done by much larger newspaper staffs.” Meanwhile, recent studies suggest the closure of newspapers can ultimately depress voter turnout in local elections.
“With so many newspapers and news outlets in general having fewer resources, there’s no pressure or incentive for candidates to engage with the press [ Joni Ernst] and there’s no echo chamber that makes candidates feel like they have to respond to anything,” Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols said. He noted that Republican U.S. Senator-elect Cory Gardner, for example, rarely appeared in unscripted settings with journalists, preferring instead to simply blanket the airwaves with ads. [Sound familiar?]
Andrew Romanoff, the Democratic candidate in Colorado’s closely contested 6th district, said that what little campaign coverage there is often ends up being about the candidates’ ads, because that requires minimal time, travel and expense to cover. [How much time did we spend ruminating over the Joni Ernst hog castration ad?]
“It’s not quite a ‘Seinfeld’ episode,” he said. “It’s not a show about nothing, but the coverage has become a show about a show.”
The trouble, of course, is that the show should be about important issues like economic policy, climate change and national security (to name a few). And with a more vibrant local media doing more than just regurgitating poll numbers and reviewing ads, it can be. But that vibrancy requires two things: a genuine commitment and willingness to do the hard work of serious journalism and enough resources to succeed.
Both of those factors are in short supply. That means the most basic ingredients of a functioning democracy will probably remain in short supply, too.
* The President takes as bold of an action as he possibly can and the Speaker of the House claims this ends any co-operation that was going to happen between congress and the President. Maybe Boehner missed it, but there was never any co-operation to begin with. When you make a threat, try to operate within reality, Boehner.
* We will sure miss this guy:
* While you are sitting back digesting the turkey and taters, the Koch brothers and their ilk will be busy preparing their demands for the state politicians they own. Did I say own? I meant own. They will whine and dine them (yep I meant whine about how tough it is to be a billionaire these days) and give them a list of must dos or they will buy new politicians. I expect a new demand will be to destroy the electoral college before the next election.
* The President asks for TV network air time for a momentous speech and the networks tell him to take a hike, “Big Bang Theory” is much more important than some silly speech. Just in case you wondered how the media views Obama or any Democrat for that matter.
* If you are shopping over the holiday weekend, remember that you do vote with your dollars. Money spent at most of the big box stores will come back to haunt you when the billionaires buy politicians with the profits. Shop local if you can. Otherwise try to pick merchants who espouse policies you do: decent pay, equal pay and decent working conditions.
* There will be many things to fight against in the next congress. One that really hasn’t been talked about much but has me worried is the fate of the Post Office. As the employer with the biggest (and I daresay most cohesive) union in the country, I believe we can expect an all out assault on the Post Office to the point of totally dismantling it. In covering this story, I expect the media will give us many stories on how bad the USPO is and how private industry could do the job better. Typical media crap.
* Have a good holiday. Take a few moments to think of those less fortunate. Then try to act in ways that could help them.
THE SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING! Or so it must have seemed in Buffalo, New York and environs last week. Epochal snowfall. Even Noah himself would have had trouble in this one. Once more a weather event points up that indeed the climate is changing and we are headed for more and more extreme incidents. Remember that little rain we had last summer? Remember those tornadoes that devastated Washington, Illinois last November? Once again Australia is burning up. Lakes in California are dried up. The United Nations says we must make drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions immediately.
Buffalo survives for this round. But the warning shots are getting louder.
We’ll mix in a little Thanksgiving trivia with the questions this week.
1) In a bit of a surprise what major world economy announced they were in recession at the beginning of the week?
2) President Obama made a major policy address on immigration Thursday. Which of the television networks carried this major address?
3) The Iowa Board of Regents will discuss a third straight tuition freeze since Iowa students graduate ranked as number what in debt load?
4) The first Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1920 by what department store? (Choices: Macy’s Gimbel’s or Penney’s)
5) The Keystone XL pipeline was “defeated” in the Senate by a vote of what?
6) Susan Hamm of Oklahoma City made headlines when she said she would appeal her divorce settlement as being too low. What was the settlement?
7) Benjy, the Irish bull was scheduled for the slaughterhouse before he was saved by activists who raised money to save him. Why was Benjy scheduled to be slaughtered?
8) History notes that the Pilgrims may have been dumped at Plymouth Rock because the ship’s crew feared running out of what staple provision on the way home to England? (hint: it was stored in kegs)
9) A wise Person would stock up now. Increased consumption and a disease called “frosty pod” threatens what staple of the American diet?
10) An Iowa man went where he shouldn’t have. R. j. Ranae Kapheim of Davenport was arrested where with what?
11) Campus shootings were recorded at two locations this week. Can you name one of them?
12) What long time humorist was not laughing this week as many women came forward with tales of sexual abuse at his hands?
13) Back in the day – 1621 – it took about how long to travel from England to America – two months, three months or four months?
14) The USDA approved a genetically modified potato for Simplot company. However, what company said they would not use this potato?
15) FDR tried to move up the Thanksgiving holiday by a week to stimulate the economy in what year?
Last I heard Buffalo had as much as 84 inches (7 feet) of snow. That is just unbelievable. Our best wishes for a recovery for those folks.
2) PBS – none of the commercial networks carried the address
3) sixth highest
4) Gimbel’s in Philadelphia. Macy joined the fun in 1924
5) 59 for 41 against – therefore the against wins in Senate math
6) She got $1 billion, but since that was only 6% of her husband’s fortune, she felt it too little
7) he seemed to be gay, only hung with the bulls and had no interest in mating
8) beer – fermented drinks were often used since water could kill a person
10) near the White House with several weapons and ammunition.
11) Edinburg, Pa. and Florida State
12) Bill Cosby
13) two months
14) McDonald’s said it would not use the potato for fries – at least for now.
15) 1939. In 1941 Congress passed a bill establishing the 4th Thursday as Thanksgiving. Moving the holiday was a major kerfluffle.
For those who just can’t get enough football, the Grey Cup is scheduled for next Sunday (Nov. 30) at 5PM Central time.
For Immediate Release: November 20th, 2014
Contact: Matt Sinovic, (515) 423-0530
REPORT: Executive Action on Immigration Will Boost Iowa’s Economy
Des Moines, Iowa — President Obama’s announced executive action on immigration will boost the Iowa economy, according to a new report released by the Center for American Progress (CAP). 13,000 undocumented immigrants living in Iowa would see their wages increase by 8.5%, and Iowa tax revenues would see a $22 million spike over five years, according to the study.
Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s executive action and the CAP report:
“President Obama’s executive action will keep families together, raise wages for thousands of Iowans, and bring more money in to our state. The President’s action tonight will make our country and our economy more secure.”
“Republicans like Steve King will demagogue the President’s decision, but I challenge them to speak directly to the 13,000 undocumented immigrants living in Iowa who would be forced to leave their children behind if deported. The US Senate passed bipartisan legislation in 2013, by a 68-32 margin, but it died in the House of Representatives, who refused to hold a vote. Because of their inaction, families in Iowa and across the country were left to wonder whether they would stay together or be ripped apart. Before King or any Congressional Republican criticizes the President, they should remember we are in the position we are today because of their failure to act.”
“The policy effects of the President’s executive action will also be tremendous for our country. Immigrants impacted by the President’s executive action will be required to pay taxes, which will help our economy. And the Department of Homeland Security will be able to free up resources to focus on serious criminals and those who might present a threat to our national security.”
“We hope for and will continue to support a legislative solution to our broken immigration system. But given the multiple delays and the failure by Congressman King and the House of Representatives to act, we are thankful that the President took the executive action he did.”
Progress Iowa is a statewide organization focused on research, education and advocacy regarding Iowa public policy.
We look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday with a true frustration.
Television news will focus on such important news stories as who will be open all day Thanksgiving so we can get that holiday shopping started early or the folks camped out so they can save a nickel on the newest video system. After all those stores spend money for advertising, so what is wrong with giving them a segment of the news and maybe a flash or two of their logo on the news. That’s what news is supposed to be isn’t it? Support for the station’s bottom line, right? Stories of poor people and the middle class getting screwed by corporations and condoned by many current government policies just aren’t newsworthy.
So three weeks after an outrageously expensive and poorly attended midterm election we go back to what has become business as usual for America: keeping wages low as the lion’s share of profit goes to a few people at the top; families working 3 and 4 jobs between the parents and they can barely put food on the table; the vaunted “best medical care in the world” that is closed to many with a very good chance it will be closed to millions more if the Tea Party has its way; global warming perhaps beyond the tipping point condemning our children and grandchildren to a hell on earth while oil companies buy and sell politicians; our education system that is sacrificed on the altar of money and our future bankrupted for leaders because we refuse to educate our children.
We always have money for war. We always have money for the next Pentagon toy no matter the cost. Yet we can barely help our neighbor with a few bucks to heat his house in the sub-freezing weather of Iowa. Nor can we scrape up a few bucks to help the family down the street that is down on its luck with food stamps or unemployment insurance. We have a nattering class that says “get a job.” Yet there are not enough jobs to go around and those that are open pay so little that the worker can’t afford rent, food insurance and transportation. One in six Americans go to sleep hungry. Millions are homeless. This is due to choices those on the right have made, nothing else.
There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done in this country. There is much repair left over from last century to be attended to. There is much work to be done to set the stage for advancement in the new century to keep America in its leadership position in the world. But those who control the purse strings in this country decided long ago that their focus will be to extract as much money from society as they can as quickly as they can while giving as little as they can back to society. In their quest they have enlisted craven politicians who will do whatever they are told for price.
Americans have been optimistic from the very beginning of this country, but it appears even they have reached a breaking point. Once the mantra was that we can make our leaders listen if we get together and demand it. Now the reality many confront is that they will not be listened to unless they come with money in their hands. Popular actions get little response, money gets immediate action. The political system is for sale and 99% of us can’t even get a bid in. In response citizens do not vote because they feel the system is rigged against them.
Media, once known as the fourth estate that was to act as a check on government abuse, is now fully integrated into the media-corporate-government complex. Where once common folk could turn to the likes of HL Mencken or Walter Cronkite or Ed Murrow for in depth analysis we now have Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh whose sole mission is to broadcast the propaganda of the wealthy. The work of true journalism is now done in the margins by the likes of Amy Goodman, Matt Taibi and Jeremy Scahill. Magazines like the Nation and Mother Jones do important work, but are mostly ignored. The best informed Americans get their news not from NPR, but from comedians Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and John Fugelsang.
There is but one corner of the media not controlled by the wealthy – the internet. As could be expected the assault to control that corner is an all out war of lobbying and favors. One man, FCC chair Tom Wheeler, stands as the very last defense against total corporate take over of the internet. Even the Tea party base opposes this take over. Wheeler is working himself into a frenzy trying to give the wealthy what they want while making it appear he isn’t doing so. They were once his employer and presumably will be again. The game is rigged.
Beginning in 1971 with the Powell memo, the wealthy have worked hard for control of this country. The Reagan years put into place economic policies that have continued and been magnified through today that greatly favor the wealthy. Social policies have been gutted. Voting rights become narrower and narrower. Drug policies and law enforcement have been used in large part against certain population groups, thus muting any power they may accrue.
Yes, it is a great time to be wealthy in America. For the rest of us, not so much.
Yours truly will speak on the role of unions in decreasing inequality at this forum: November 22nd, 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM at Augustana College: If you are in the Quad Cities Saturday, join us for this event:
“Symposium on the Impact of Wealth Disparity on America.” Moderated by Morning News Anchor Emily Scarlett (TV4) and featuring Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, Keynote Speaker. Break-out sessions with Augustana College Dean Dr. Pareena Lawrence, Rev. Dwight Ford, Dr. Christopher Whitt, Mayor Bill Gluba, Dr. Keri Manning with other thought-leaders from the greater QCA community.
11:00 AM: Concurrent Break-out sessions
– Political and Governmental Elements of Wealth Disparity: Government has long been seen as playing an integral role in alleviating poverty. Political efforts have had different effects on government over time.
– Poverty on the Community Level: What is the “big picture” in the QCA
– Poverty Issues in K – 12 Education: How do our schools deal with poverty? What are they seeing?
– Long Term Inter-Generational Poverty: What is it’s grip on our society? What do we need to do to break that grip?
– The Economy: What is the impact of wealth disparity on business? On the Gross Domestic Product? On the overall direction of the economy?
– Poverty Consciousness: What is the psychology and sociology of wealth disparity? What is the relationship with the legal system?
12:30 – 1:30 PM: Roundtable/Closing Discussion
Who is David Cay Johnston?
He’s a prolific Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and author writing for Newsweek, Al Jazeera America, The Nation, Common Dreams, Democracy Now, The National Memo and several tax journals. He wrote for the New York Times for over 13 years along with the Detroit Free Press, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the LA Times. He’s a regular contributor on many of MSNBC’s programs. Among his books are:
– Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality (2014)
– The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” to Rob You Blind (2012)
– Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With The Bill (2007)
– Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super-Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else (2003)
– Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business (1992)