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Loebsack To Debate Opponent – Round Three

Dean BorgDean Borg with Iowa Press could just cut and paste his 2010 introduction to the debate between Rep. Dave Loebsack and Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks for tonight’s debate in Iowa City:

“Same candidates, new election. Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks again challenging incumbent Democrat David Loebsack to represent Iowa’s second congressional district. We’re questioning the candidates on this edition of Iowa Press.” ~ Dean Borg Sept. 24, 2010.

Watch the whole 2010 debate here, and tune in at 7 p.m. on Thurday, Aug. 28, on Iowa Public Television. The program will be available on the IPTV website afterward. Here are a couple of favorite Blog for Iowa out takes from 2010.

Miller-Meeks’ Legitimacy

O. Kay Henderson: Ms. Miller-Meeks, you are running against an incumbent. Most incumbents who run for re-election are re-elected. This is your second tour of duty in this regard and you haven’t raised as much money compared to other republican challengers in Iowa. Are you a legitimate challenger?

Miller-Meeks: Absolutely.


Henderson: Mr. Loebsack, one thing on which you did vote was the healthcare reform plan. You voted for it.

Loebsack: Well, when I voted for that bill I wasn’t thinking about whether it was popular or not, I voted for it because I had held a number of town meetings around the district, sixteen town meetings and the consensus was that the healthcare system was broken, that we needed to have fundamental change. I voted for it because there are over 400,000 Iowans in the second district who now have stable and secure health insurance. I voted for it because children now who have pre-existing conditions can get health insurance, young adults can get health insurance with their parents’ policy up to age 26 and that’s why I voted for it.

Borg: I’ve listened to you on the campaign trail and I understand that you’re campaigning saying, you elect me and I’ll help repeal what was just enacted. Is that your stand?

Miller-Meeks: I think you need to repeal and reform the bill.

Truth be known, the 2010 debate was a bit of a sleeper. Here’s hoping for some fireworks tomorrow night.

Iowa Bakken Backers Braking

Bakken Pipeline Proposed RouteEnergy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company proposing to build a transfer pipeline from the Bakken/Three Forks shale oil production area in North Dakota, across 17 counties in Iowa, to its existing pipeline in Pakota, Illinois, announced yesterday it will delay its public information meetings until December, subject to approval of the Iowa Utilities Board. William Petroski of the Des Moines Register covered the story:

Energy Transfer Partners, which is planning a 1,100-mile crude oil pipeline that would cross through 17 Iowa counties, is pushing back its timetable for public information meetings on the project.

The public meetings, which will be held in each of the 17 Iowa counties, were expected to begin in late September and conclude in early October. They are now being moved to December to be respectful of the harvest season in Iowa and the Thanksgiving holiday, said Vicki Granado, spokeswoman for the Dallas pipeline company.

ETP burst on the scene with Iowans shortly after its board of directors approved construction of the Bakken Oil Pipeline in June. The original press release can be found here.

The company was formed in 2002, made an initial public offering in February 2006, and is currently traded on the New York Stock Exchange. They are one of the companies that benefited from the development of West Texas, the Eagle Ford and Bakken oil and natural gas production fields. As their name suggests, they transfer oil and natural gas from extraction to market using pipelines. They are doing well financially, according to their latest earnings report which can be read here.

“The big challenge here in Iowa going forward over the next year is going to be to stop the Bakken Oil Pipeline,” said Ed Fallon on the Great March for Climate Action in Coralville last week. “That’s going to dissect the entire state from northwest to southeast, over 400 miles, cutting across people’s property in the worst possible angle. It’s a property rights issue but gosh it’s also an issue of are we going to continue to go in the wrong direction or continue to invest our time and effort and our resources into further developing wind and solar?”

While the angularity with which the proposed pipeline would cross Iowa may not be the main issue, Fallon touched on two things that are: property rights and alternatives to fossil fuels.

It is likely the property rights issue is what slowed the investors down, as it is and has been a key concern of the farming community.

In a July 14 article, Petroski reported Governor Branstad as being undecided on the pipeline, and wrote the following about property rights:

Branstad said eminent domain is a “controversial subject” but it can be warranted for a public purpose such as construction pipelines, roads or bridges. He said he prefers to see land acquired through negotiation in agreement between willing sellers and willing buyers.Governor Branstad said one of the purposes of eminent domain laws was to build public conveyances like pipelines, but he preferred companies like ETP resolved property issues through negotiation with landowners.

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) has been a leader on property rights issues in the Iowa legislature, and has expressed concern about the intent of ETP with regard to eminent domain. Eminent domain issues led Kaufmann to join with Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and he is expected to be involved in public and private discussions regarding the Bakken Oil Pipeline.

If the Bakken Oil Pipeline is to be stopped, as Fallon indicated it needs to be, property rights issues among the farming community will become a key leverage point. Whether the concerns of Iowans over eminent domain can be assuaged by waiting to hold public meetings after the fall harvest is an open question.

In any case, ETP has the financial resources to see the pipeline through to its completion, so opposition must get beyond generalities about the oil itself, misinformation and hyperbole to focus on what can possibly stop the pipeline. Property rights is one thing that may work.

Obama Is The New Godfather?

President Obama

President Obama

Somehow I got on the John Bolton email list and one thing I know from the experience is the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations doesn’t care for the way foreign policy is going these days. This guy was the poster child for the problems with recess appointments, because no way was the U.S. Senate going to get him through any reasonable process of consent, and Bush 43 must have known it. Among Bolton’s dubious work was an attempt to get the U.S. out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

We should realize it’s part of his tactics to rile up the wingers with his diatribes against Obama’s foreign policy to raise yet another sum of PAC dollars to defeat Democrats. But stop right there.

Those who think Obama is a weak president, think again.

When he first ran for president, Obama was asked what was his favorite movie. First choice was Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, and second choice was The Godfather Part II. Stephan M. Walt looks at Obama foreign policy through the lens of a Godfather fan, and it’s not what one might think.

“This president isn’t weak and waffling. He’s calculating, coldhearted, and decisive when it counts,” wrote Walt.

What is Obama doing with Israel now that they rejected his early entreaties regarding a two-state solution? “He’s letting Netanyahu do pretty much whatever he wants— including pummeling Gaza to no real purpose— even when these actions damage Israel’s legitimacy and hasten the arrival of the one-state solution that most Israelis oppose,” wrote Walt. “In other words, Obama seems increasingly willing to watch Israel drive itself off a cliff, even though this policy necessarily entails further suffering by the residents of Gaza. He has to pretend to be sympathetic to Israel’s plight in order to placate its lobby back in the United States, but I wonder whether what’s really going on is a devilishly subtle form of payback. If so, Don Corleone would probably approve.”

Read all of Walt’s article at the link where he covers not only Israel and Gaza, but Ukraine, Russia, Iraq and more.

While those of us in the peace movement had high hopes for Obama, we never expected him to be as cold and calculating as he appears to be in the conduct of foreign policy. This is a man who appears to be doing what needs to be done in foreign policy and not bragging about it. He can because he has the undeniable strength of the largest, best armed military in the world, and doesn’t need to show his swagger. He’s no peacenik either.

Sunday Pictures

I have been collecting pictures to use in these posts for a while. Some never get posted but should.Thus, I have been toying with the idea of an occasional picture thread. Today I decided to do a short test picture thread.

what voters want

what voters want

Here's one for Bob Vander Plaats

Here’s one for Bob Vander Plaats



Still so very true

Still so very true

looks like we will be 100 years behind the rest of the world

looks like we will be 100 years behind the rest of the world

my favorite

my favorite

Sunday Funday – Back To School

happy children back to school

happy children back to school

The kids across the street got a new above ground pool 2 weeks ago. From morning until sundown the neighborhood was filled with shrieks and giggles and all other sorts of joyful noises. It sounded wonderful. Then Wednesday it was painfully quiet in the neighborhood. The Grinch that stole summer (aka school) reappeared after a 3 month absence and made his presence known.

As sure as day follows night, school follows summer. We hope most kids had as cheerful of a summer as the neighbor kids did. This summer will never happen again, but let us hope they can replay the joy in their minds years from now. Tempus fugit.

And speaking of tempus fugiting, were you paying attention before last week fugited? Let’s see:

1) The official tornado season has ended in Iowa. This year Iowa counted 52 tornadoes. Is this more or less than normal?

2) Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol did something few humans have done. What did they do?

3) Mo’ne Davis had quite a week. What did she do?

4) The annual Harkin steak fry announced its headline guests for its last event. Who are the headliners for the last Harkin steak fry?

5) The Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati came out against the ice bucket challenge. Why?

6) James Foley was captured and executed while covering Islamist unrest in what country?

7) A third baby was turned over to the Iowa state DHS under the safe haven law this year. The law has been in effect since 2001. How many babies have been turned over in that time?

8) Climate change is blamed for an increase in insects in Iowa. This increase in insects has led to a dramatic increase in what two insect-borne diseases in Iowa?

9) Wikileaks founder Julian Asange said he would be leaving his embassy asylum “soon.” What country has offered Asange asylum for the past two years?

10) Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon drew ire when he announced he would not replace who in the Michael Brown case?

11) Ferguson, Missouri was visited by what high ranking official Wednesday?

12) The rich get richer. In a surprise move the NFL asked potential Super Bowl halftime acts for what?

13) I had Chris Christie in the ‘next governor to be indicted by a grand jury pool”, but this guy beat him out. What governor got indicted last week?

14) Remember the trip that John McCain took to Syria last year to support the rebels? Those rebels have turned out to be what now well known group?

15) Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDV, a killer of millions of piglets in the past year has been discovered to travel through what?

Sarah Palin seems to want to take some credit for Tina Fey’s success. Seriously Palin? Like a tick taking credit for the deer.


1) a bit more. Normal is 46.

2) survived ebola. Both released from an Atlanta hospital this week.

3) First girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series, Mo’ne became the first little leaguer on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

4) The Clintons, Bill and Hillary

5) Because it benefits ALS. ALS researchers use embryonic stem cells in research.

6) Syria

7) 20

8) Lyme disease and West Nile virus

9) Ecuador

10) St. Louis county prosecutor Robert McCulloch

11) US AG Eric Holder.

12) Money. The NFL wants a cut of post-Super Bowl tour money made by acts.

13) Rick Perry of Texas

14) ISIS or ISIL

15) livestock feed.

Business Climateers

Iowa Policy Project

Iowa Policy Project

Iowa’s Policy Project’s Peter Fisher is one of the best around these woods for ferreting out the utter BS that is being peddled by the business lobby to make themselves seem like a picked on group. To me, Peter is Iowa’s version of David Kay Johnston. Johnston as many of you know has exposed the grip that business has on America’s legislators.

Mike Owen, Iowa Policy Project Director, sent out a little teaser on Fisher’s work. As Owen notes in his blog:

“Iowa’s business lobby appears to be preparing a new assault on the ability of our state to provide public services.

It would be the latest in a long campaign, in which lobbyists target one tax at a time under a general — and inaccurate — message about taxes that we will not repeat here.

Suffice to say, Iowa taxes on business are low already. Many breaks provided to businesses are rarely reviewed in any meaningful way to make sure that taxpayers are getting value for those dollars spent, ostensibly, to encourage economic growth. Rarely can success be demonstrated.

The Iowa Taxpayers Association is holding a “policy summit” this week and promoting a new report by the Tax Foundation to recycle old arguments that are no better now than they have been for the last decade.

Fortunately in Iowa, we know where to turn to understand claims from the Tax Foundation, and that resource is Peter Fisher, our research director at the Iowa Policy Project. Fisher has written two books on the so-called “business climate” rankings by the Tax Foundation and others, and is a widely acknowledged authority on the faults in various measures of supposed “business climates” in the states.”

Owen then links to a summary of one of Dr. Fisher’s works where we find this gem:

Washington, D.C. (Nov. 28, 2012) — A new study finds that state tax and regulatory policies recommended by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) fail to promote stronger job creation or income growth, and actually predict a worse performance.

Since ALEC first published its annual Rich States, Poor States study with its Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007, states that were rated better have actually done worse economically.

Those are the key findings of “Selling Snake Oil to the States,” a study published today by Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project and freely available online at It was released at a press conference the same week ALEC holds its annual fall meeting in Washington, D.C.

“We tested ALEC’s claims against actual economic results,” said Dr. Peter Fisher, research director of the Iowa Policy Project and primary author of the study. “We conclude that eliminating progressive taxes, suppressing wages, and cutting public services are actually a recipe for economic inequality, declining incomes, and undermining public infrastructure and education that really matter for long-term economic growth.”

The Iowa Policy Project should be mandatory reading for legislators who have the good of all Iowans in mind.

Branstad Is Hiding The Truth. Again.

progress iowa

Governor Terry Branstad is preventing state business from becoming public. Again. Will you help us stop him?

Here’s what happened:

Progress Iowa filed an open records request to determine whether the Branstad administration was involved in a business deal where Iowans lost millions of dollars. Randy Danniel, the businessman behind the deal, has been accused by investors of embezzling the money. Danniel had been in communication about the deal with the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), and possibly the Governor’s office.

Iowa’s open records law requires that state agencies respond to requests like ours by a certain deadline. But someone in the Branstad administration tipped off Randy Danniel… just before we were supposed to receive the records. Now Danniel has filed a lawsuit to prevent our request from being completed.

Preventing information from being made public seems to be standard practice for the Branstad administration, as this is “the second time in less than a month that the state has alerted a developer about a records request and the alert has halted the flow of information to the public,” according to the Des Moines Register.

We filed our request because we believe the public has a right to know the business of the Governor and his administration. We’re exploring every option at our disposal to make sure Terry Branstad and his administration cannot halt the flow of information to the public any longer, and we need your help to hold him accountable.

Will you donate today to help us make sure Iowans discover the truth?

Thanks for all you do,

Matt Sinovic
Progress Iowa

My comment:
This is terribly disturbing. This needs to be thoroughly investigated as does the “hush money” scandal that Branstad has embroiled the state in. It is beginning to look like if re-elected the Branstad administration will be spending our time and dollars defending their questionable practices.

Let us hope one of Iowa’s major newspapers follows up on this story. Or help Progress Iowa follow up by clicking on the link above and donating.

McConnell: We’ll Shut Down Government

mcconnell terrorist
Mitch has an itch. His itch is to be leader of the senate once again so he can force President Obama into a bad choice for America of signing bills that would disrupt policy or if not, shut down the government. Remember all that stuff you learned in grade school about Congress compromising and working for the best for its citizens? Throw it out the window, it is about to become the stuff of legend.

With his partner, Smokin’ John Boehner, the alcoholic Speaker of the House, McConnell plans on attaching amendments changing policy to spending bills. This will then force the President to sign bills that will change policies (I doubt for the better) or stop the government as the money will not have been appropriated to run the government.

Then McConnell and Boehner will claim that it is the President who has chosen to shut down the government by refusing to give in to Republican blackmail.

You may recognize this as a variation on the debt ceiling blackmail shutdown led by that great American, Ted Cruz (do I need to say sarcasm?) last fall. The Republicans promised not to hold the debt ceiling hostage for a while and they aren’t. They are holding Americans, both citizens and businesses, hostage this time. It will be Obama’s fault if he chooses not to pay the ransom.

And the bet that the Republicans are making is that Americans are too stupid to figure out what they are doing. No doubt, they plan on a captive and compliant press to sell this as Obama’s fault. They did so in their last phony crisis.

What role do Iowans play in this game? Well, we have one of those senate races that McConnell and his cohorts are counting on to put Republicans in charge of the senate. Remember, even if McConnell loses his senate seat, the next Republican leader will do exactly the same.

Iowa’s senate race is of course Bruce Braley vs. Joni Ernst. Anyone who has been paying attention so far can easily see a very distinct difference between Braley and Ernst.

- Braley has a proven track record of working for Iowans. In a short career, Braley is one of the most respected member of the House.

- Ernst has lined up with the most extreme elements of the right wing in the country. She cares little about Iowa or Iowans. Her focus is to undo all social policy from FDR forward. She has come out against Social Security and Medicare. She has come out in favor of impeaching President Obama for no specific reason. Make no doubt that McConnell’s scheme fits right in with Ernst’s plan. In short she will be little more than a an automatic vote for McConnell.

So if you want the government to stop, if you want confrontation that will probably once more kill the economy, if you are part of the 1% you have reason to vote for Ernst. If you want to end Medicare, Social Security (and Medicaid although that hasn’t been expressed) vote for Ernst.

But if you believe that government can be a force for good and you want a person to represent the state and not a ideological fringe, vote for Braley. The choice is pretty stark.

Oh and by the way, Boehner wouldn’t be speaker if he didn’t have a majority. We could really dent that majority by sending Loebsack, Murphy, Appel and Mowrer to the House.

Friday In Iowa: Climate March

Climate March Leaving Coralville

Climate March Leaving Coralville

This week, the Great March for Climate Action headed east through Iowa and Blog for Iowa marched a small part of the route with them. About 150 people gathered in Coralville on Wednesday, Aug. 20, and marched leisurely to the Iowa City pedestrian mall. We marched down the Coralville Strip, past Carver-Hawkeye arena, the University of Iowa Colleges of Medicine and Nursing, the Veterans Administration Hospital, the university’s coal-fired power plant, Old Capitol, and ended in front of the Sheraton Hotel in the pedestrian mall where we were greeted with applause upon arrival. Speeches followed.

It was a chance to meet some of the marchers, and here are some of the people BFIA interviewed and heard:

Ed Fallon, "People need to be thinking of what changes they can make in their own life."

Ed Fallon, “People need to be thinking of what changes they can make in their own life.”

Berenice Tompkins and Andre Nunez. She's walking barefoot (mostly) and he's not talking.

Berenice Tompkins and Andre Nunez. She’s walking barefoot (mostly) and he’s not speaking.

Blair Frank "I'm here because of the shift that's happening around the planet in climate change.

Blair Frank “I’m here because of the shift that’s happening around the planet in climate change.

Miriam Kashia, Mayor.

Miriam Kashia, Mayor. “Imagine the audacity of a small group of ordinary citizens who believe they have to power to change the course of history.”

Ed Fallon, Jeffrey Czerwiec, Miriam Kashia and John Abbe at the marshaling area in Coralville

Ed Fallon, Jeffrey Czerwiec, Miriam Kashia and John Abbe at the marshaling area in Coralville

Rosella Lala Palazzolo selling raffle tickets. Rosella is a veteran of the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament in 1986

Rosella Lala Palazzolo selling raffle tickets. Rosella is a veteran of the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament in 1986

Mike Carberry and Jimmy Betts

Mike Carberry, “How we deal with climate change is the defining issue of our generation,” with Jimmy Betts

Jeffrey Czerwiec, "I'm walking every step of the way."

Jeffrey Czerwiec, “I’m walking every step of the way.”

David Osterberg, "We need to make renewable energy 100 percent."

David Osterberg, “We need to make renewable energy 100 percent.”

State Senators Rob Hogg and Joe Bolkcom

State Senators Rob Hogg and Joe Bolkcom

And finally, here’s the whole gang crossing Burlington Street on Iowa Avenue in Iowa City.

Follow the Great March for Climate Action here, or better, join them.

Advocating For Nuclear Abolition

Photo Credit Al Viola

Photo Credit Al Viola

During their annual remembrance of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Frank Cordaro’s dwindling collection of nuclear abolitionists staged another vigil near the Bellevue, Nebraska military complex that is the command and control center for U.S. nuclear weapons. Cordaro reported to his lists in an Aug. 16 email:

A total of 13 people made it out for some time during our annual 3-1/2 day ‘shake and bake’ August Vigil at STRATCOM, reaching double digits just once at the end of the vigil on Aug 9 when we gathered around for a public reading of Tomas Merton’s “Original Child Bomb.”

Not a lot to report. The weather was cool and overcast the whole time, a little wet at first.

Not a lot to report Doesn’t mean not much happen. Check out Mark Kenney’s account of his encounter with a young mother and her three small kids at the vigil.

You old timers, check out Corey Zimmer’s new beard in photo slideshow.

Frank Cordaro
Phil Berrigan CW House

Interest in advocating for nuclear abolition is waning in the U.S., and the retirement of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is a bellwether. He wrote at length about the need for nuclear disarmament in his 1990 book Five Minutes To Midnight: Why the Nuclear Threat is Growing Faster Than Ever.

Harkin wrote that the threat of nuclear war is not with the former Soviet Union. In fact he characterized that risk as “negligibly small,” and with the exception of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, he said it probably always has been. The nuclear threat is with states that have far less nuclear capability than the U.S. and Russia, or with those states who don’t possess nuclear weapons, but would provoke those that do to use them. In any case, Harkin’s voice on nuclear disarmament is expected to be stilled with his retirement.

“In the United States, the nuclear abolition movement has failed to generate much popular support,” wrote Eric Schlosser in his recent book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident, and the Illusion of Safety. “The retired officials (George Schultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn) who jump-started the debate in 2007 had an average age of seventy-nine. Many of the issues at stake seem hypothetical and remote. Almost half the American population were not yet born or were children when the Cold War ended.”

“Support for nuclear abolition is hardly universal,” Schlosser added.

For long-time advocates of nuclear abolition, there are no easy answers to the question what next? Organizations that grew out of the Reagan-inspired nuclear freeze movement still work toward a world free of nuclear weapons. However, in an age of competition for financial resources, the number of foundations and private donors willing to support nuclear abolition work has decreased. The voices of Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association and Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund are still heard, but theirs are often the only voices.

The risk we face is that right wing, war hawks will get their way with the absence of resistance, and grow the American nuclear complex unnecessarily, lining the pockets of defense contractors as they do. We’ve come a long way from President Obama’s hopeful April 5, 2009 speech in Prague, the light of which has dimmed with each successive year of his presidency.

What next for nuclear abolition advocacy? It’s an open question, the answer to which is elusive. It is hopeful news that the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Society and Rotary International have expressed interest in nuclear abolition for humanitarian reasons. But international initiatives fail to gain traction in the U.S. Remember, the head of the U.S. Red Cross is a political appointment, and the administration has resisted abolition work by the Red Cross.

Without U.S. participation in nuclear disarmament action, there is little hope of getting to zero nuclear weapons. Those of us who believe it is the right path have our work cut out for us. Like the small band of folks at STRATCOM, we are unlikely to give up.