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Expanding The Electorate In Iowa

go vote(Editor’s Note: Three candidates lead the presidential primary race in Iowa summer polling, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Political action is expected to heat up toward the end of the year, especially as families gather for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. There is a case to be made it doesn’t much matter which one of the three is the Democratic nominee because, as Sean McElwee pointed out, “progressives do not need a charismatic leader. Instead, they need to invest in unleashing the disgruntled progressive majority.” To the extent the Iowa Democratic Party is working toward that end, there is a possibility to keep Iowa a purple state. Maybe readers do, but I don’t see that happening as school begins and summer ends. Here is McElwee’s case for electing a progressive by expanding the electorate).

If Everyone Voted, Progressives Would Win
By Sean McElwee, Al Jazeera

In preparation for the 2016 presidential election, Democrats appear united around one candidate, while the Republican contest remains far from secured. Many on the left, who view Hillary Clinton’s stances as a tame brand of liberalism, have attempted to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to run. But the progressives do not need a charismatic leader. Instead, they need to invest in unleashing the disgruntled progressive majority. A longer-term strategy for progressives should be to strengthen unions and boost turnout among politically marginalized populations.

“If everybody in this country voted,” the economist John Kenneth Galbraith said, “the Democrats would be in for the next 100 years.” There is strong evidence to support his claim. A 2007 study by Jan Leighley and Jonathan Nagler found that nonvoters are more economically liberal than voters, preferring government health insurance, easier union organizing and more federal spending on schools. Nonvoters preferred Barack Obama to Mitt Romney by 59 percent to 24 percent, while likely voters were split 47 percent for each, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll. Nonvoters are far less likely to identify as Republican, and voters tend to be more opposed to redistribution than nonvoters.

Read the entire article on Al Jazeera here.

Steak Not Cake

Listen live Mondays at 11 am

Listen live Mondays at 11 am

Dear Friends,

This weekend, I attended a most incredible, eclectic gathering of around 2,000 farmers, rednecks and environmentalists. People arrived via pick-up truck, Prius and Harley. They came to support Lee County landowners fighting to stop the Bakken pipeline. If one needed a reminder that the passion for liberty and justice still burns strong in America, this was it. I’ll save that story for next week, when we’ll have some video clips and photos to share.

Over the weekend, a new Iowa Poll showed Hillary Clinton’s lead over Bernie Sanders had shrunk to a mere seven percentage points in the Iowa Democratic Caucus. On the Republican side, two non-politicians – Donald Trump and Ben Carson – lead the other 15 candidates by ten percentage points!

Of course, the mainstream media and the political elite mostly miss the essential message that these polls reveal: Across the political spectrum, people are fed-up with establishment politicians.

Really? Who knew? Aren’t we all just thrilled with the way things are going in Washington, at our Statehouses and at City Hall? We’re not the least bit upset that the richest Americans are hoarding more and more of the wealth we toil to generate. No one’s bothered by the bloated military budget and the larger and larger chunk of our tax dollars it eats up. Folks are fine with our government spying on us like never before. We’ve got no complaints about politicians fiddling while climate change scorches the southwest and threatens to drown most of Florida. And we’re all fine with the obscene amount of money in elections – and the onslaught of attack ads that comes with it.

Enough sarcasm for one morning. The message to the Political and Corporate Elite is this: You have failed. We’re at the end of our rope, and we’re ready to shake up the political universe. We’ll express our dislike of your business-as-usual candidates through our enthusiasm for presidential aspirants with zero political experience (Trump and Carson) and a candidate who, despite years of political experience, has always been an outsider and consistent voice for reform (Sanders).

Will the Establishment hear? Or will they continue to believe that the masses can be satiated with another sliver of cake when they’re starved for steak?

Join us live every Monday from 11:00-12:00 noon CDT on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. Call (515) 528-8122 to add your voice to the conversation. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Wednesday on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m. Podcasts available, too.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

EVENTS

Now-December – Utilities Board deliberations pipeline (ND, SD, IA, IL)
In Iowa, for details on the evolving schedule, visit https://iub.iowa.gov/. For questions on how you can have your voice heard in the process, contact Ed Fallon at fallonforum@gmail.com or the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Facebook Page.

September – Just Faith Meetings (Des Moines metro)
The Center for Social Ministry regularly offers the Just Faith classes to anyone who is interested. It is an in-depth look at the call for social ministry, with both a Catholic and an ecumenical version:
– Mondays 6:30-8:30 p.m. at SS John & Paul Church, Altoona
– Tuesdays 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at St. Timothy’s Episcopal, WDM
– Wednesdays 6:30-8:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal, 6th & High, DM
– Thursdays 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Catholic Pastoral Center, 6th & Locust
– Thursdays  6:00-8:00 p.m. at Friends House, 4211 Grand Ave, DM
– Sundays 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Windsor Heights Presbyterian Church
If you would like to register for a group, click here.  For more information about Just Faith, contact the Center for Social Ministry at (515) 782-3054 or centerforsocialministry@gmail.com.

September 17 – Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship
Do you know someone who works tirelessly in defense of their community against the oil and gas industry’s harms? Nominate them for the FracTracker and Halt the Harm Network Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship. Nominations open until August 17. To nominate someone visit: http://www.fractracker.org/get-involved/sentinel-award.

October 2-3 – Celebrate 40 Years with Iowa CCI (Des Moines)
Join Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement to celebrate 40 years of tackling tough issues and to lift up the People and Planet First agenda. There will be live music and dancing, food, and big-name doers and thinkers. For more information or to register, go to http://iowacci.org.

October 3-5 – Stop the Frack Attack National Summit (Denver, CO)
Join movement leaders, community activists and people affected by fracking across the country. We are gathering in Denver, CO to share stories, become better spokespeople, learn about clean energy alternatives, celebrate victories, and strengthen this national movement. We will also be taking to the streets of Denver to protest the harm that fracking causes to our health, our climate, and our communities.

October 8 – Faith in a Changing Climate Reception (Des Moines)
Three climate champions will be recognized at this dinner event sponsored by Iowa Interfaith Power & Light. It features keynote speaker Fr. Robert “Bud” Grant, professor of theology at St. Ambrose University, speaking on “From St. Francis to Pope Francis: A Theology of Relationship with All God’s Creation.” The dinner and reception are from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, 601 Grand Ave. Reservations are $60 per person, which includes dinner ($25 of which supports the mission of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light and is tax-deductible). Contact Susan Guy at director@iowaipl.org.

October 31 – ISIS & Waging Peace (Des Moines)
Methodist Federation for Social Action’s fall statewide gathering will be led by Jeffrey Weiss, Catholic Peace Ministry Peace Education Director. It’s at 10:00 a.m. in Fellowship Hall at First United Methodist Church, 1001 Pleasant Street.

November 11-28 – Walk to Paris for Climate Action (Normandy-Paris)
On 11 November (Veterans Day in the U.S.), Ed Fallon and Steve Martin (who last year walked across the U.S. for action on climate change) will set-out from the coast of Normandy, France, walking over 350 kilometers to arrive in Paris on November 28 for the start of the United Nations Climate Summit. Contact Evelyn Davis at evelyn@climatemarch.org.

November 30-December 11 – U.N. Climate Summit (Paris, France)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders from government, finance, business, and civil society to galvanize and catalyze climate action. He has asked these leaders to bring bold announcements and actions to the Summit that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement. Visit http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/.

ACLU Names Allen Honorees

ACLU - Iowa(Editor’s Note: The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa created the Edward S. Allen award. Here is their release about the ceremony coming Oct. 2 in Des Moines).

August 27, 2015

I’m excited to announce that we have named three remarkable Iowa leaders as the first-ever recipients of the ACLU of Iowa Edward S. Allen award, named after the Iowa State University math professor who founded the ACLU of Iowa in 1935. The honorees this inaugural year are Dennis Barnum, Mary Garst, and Art Neu.
The past year marked the passing of all three, who have done much to defend and advance civil liberties for all Iowans. As a result, to recognize them in a fitting way, the ACLU of Iowa created a new award to recognize such individuals, living or deceased. Find out more about the Allen Award honorees’ accomplishments.
We created the Edward S. Allen award to ensure that we had the ability to recognize Iowans who are long-time civil liberties heroes. While the ACLU of Iowa staff and board work tirelessly to defend civil liberties, we cannot do it alone, and it is important to recognize members of our community who give of their own time to expand and protect civil liberties in our state.
Please join me and the ACLU of Iowa staff and board at our 80th Birthday Bash on Friday, October 2 to celebrate our 80th year and recognize these three Edward S. Allen Award honorees.

ACLU of Iowa 80th Birthday Bash
Friday, October 2, 5:30-8 p.m.
World Food Prize Building, Des Moines

We hope to see you there!
Sincerely,
Jeremy Rosen, Executive Director

Krugman: What Is Conservatism?

August 26,2015
krugman gop madness

Few can capture a concept so well as Paul Krugman. In his blog “Conscience Of A Liberal” Krugman captures concisely what conservatism is today:

The Reactionary Soul
Frank Bruni marvels at polls indicating that Donald Trump, with his multiple marriages and casinos, is the preferred candidate among Republican evangelicals. Others are shocked to see a crude mercantilist make so much headway in the alleged party of free markets. What happened to conservative principles?

Actually, nothing — because those alleged principles were never real. Conservative religiosity, conservative faith in markets, were never about living a godly life or letting the invisible hand promote entrepreneurship. Instead, it was all as Corey Robin describes it: Conservatism is

a reactionary movement, a defense of power and privilege against democratic challenges from below, particularly in the private spheres of the family and the workplace.

It’s really about who’s boss, and making sure that the man in charge stays boss. Trump is admired for putting women and workers in their place, and it doesn’t matter if he covets his neighbor’s wife or demands trade wars.

The point is that Trump isn’t a diversion, he’s a revelation, bringing the real motivations of the movement out into the open.

Sunday Funday: Summer’s Over

could these guys pass the quiz today?

could these guys pass the quiz today?

In case you were sleeping in the warmth of the summer sun, summer ended abruptly last week. Kids went back to school, it got cooler and the corn is turning into that golden autumn color. September must be right around the corner. As always at this time of year, a man’s thoughts turn to college football. After perusing this year’s predictions for Iowa and Iowa State it looks like it may be a good year for Iowa’s football fans to turn their eyes toward Cedar Falls. But optimism burns brightly in the hearts of Iowa’s football fans so bring on those Buckeyes and let us at them!

Were you paying attention?

1) Some folks may have started the week out by jumping out their first story window after the Dow slid over how many points Monday morning?

2) Ten years ago yesterday what major hurricane hit New Orleans?

3) Scott Walker, Republican Presidential candidate, called on Pres. Obama to cancel a meeting with who over the stock market fall?

4) Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush sent out a mailer in which his picture had what odd feature?

5) Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack, endorsed what Democratic presidential candidate?

6) Megyn Kelly returned from vacation and was immediately met with a twitter barrage from what current notable?

7) Tragedy in Virginia where a reporter and cameraman were murdered live on TV by a what?

8) Room for one more? What prominent person keeps inching toward a possible presidential run?

9) Candidate Donald Trump’s threat to deport children of foreigners born on US soil could affect how many children?

10) A municipal judge in what city has ordered that all arrest warrants issued before 2015 be withdrawn?

11) Maybe it was all the presidential candidates that came through? What event announced a new record attendance this year?

12) September 1, 1939 what began?

13) MSNBC took another step back from its liberalism as it announced the end of whose show next week?

14) At an event in Las Vegas last week, President Obama announce that he was ready to “take on” who?

15) What former GOP presidential candidate and televangelist claimed the stock market downturn was due to divine retribution on what organization?

16) “ Get out of my country!” A fan of Donald Trump was videoed saying that to what journalist from Univision after the journalist had an incident with Trump in Dubuque?

17) What baseball analyst has been suspended by ESPN after a series of anti-Muslim tweets?

18) On August 24th, the family of what teenager murdered in Money, Miss. for allegedly whistling at a white woman in 1955 held events on the 60th anniversary of his death?

19) Republicans squealed loudly when Hillary Clinton compared them to what on women’s issues?

20) Defying a court order a county clerk in Kentucky continues to refuse to issue what from her office?

It’s hard to do a post based around politics these days without invoking the name of a certain current Republican candidate. I failed also.

Answers:

1) 1,000

2) Katrina. If you missed this wake up!

3) the president of China claiming he was the reason for the stock slide

4) his left hand was that of a black man (see below)

5) Hillary Clinton

6) Trump

7) a former colleague and disgruntled employee of the station

8) VP Joe Biden

9) 4.5 million children

10) Ferguson, Mo.

11) The Iowa State Fair. Maybe keeping kids out of school helped also?

12) World War II with the invasion of Poland by Germany

13) Al Sharpton’s

14) the crazies

15) Pat Robertson. Yes, he really ran for president and had a big following

16) Jorge Ramos of Univision

17) Curt Schilling. Schilling’s political leanings have long been known

18) Emmett Till

19) terrorists

20) marriage licenses to gay people

jeb's black hand

Poverty Vultures

waitresses are often harrassed and humialted  by customers and make extremely low wages

waitresses are often harrassed and humialted by customers and make extremely low wages

Out of sight of the eyes of anything resembling reporters the poverty industries in the USA are cranking along in high gear. Most of these are protected from any harm by Republicans from the county courthouse through the state house and on up to the Congress. Within the halls of power Republicans do all they can to stop anything they can to make those that are down stay down. From blocking minimum wage raises to busting unions, to cutting food stamps, unemployment insurance or using line item veto to cut donations to food pantries, Republicans really kick people when they are down.

The kind of vultures that make up the poverty industry includes folks like predatory lenders, temporary hiring agencies, rent-to-own shops and employers that pay starvation wages or steal wages while their CEOs and upper management receive compensation in the millions. There wouldn’t be a poverty industry without politicians that make it all legal and acceptable.

Poverty is debilitating in so many ways. Yet our politicians have legalized preying on the poor. They have not only made it legal, but by keeping wages low, allowing atmospheric interest rates, loosening wage and hour laws, tightening bankruptcy laws and making poverty a crime, politicians have made the poverty industry very profitable.

With those profits come the legalized bribes that are known as campaign contributions. Donald Trump said it himself during that Republican debate – he gives politicians campaign contributions so he can get a favor from them when he needs one. It is business. So to keep the favors coming those in the poverty industry are sure to lay out the campaign contributions.

The concept of an industry devoted to profiting off the misfortune of others and thus dedicated to keep those misfortunate in poverty or near poverty came to me while I was discussing the proposed Johnson County minimum wage. One aspect I had not seen discussed much were wages for tipped employees, specifically the waitresses and waiters in restaurants. Iowa allows them to get paid an incredibly generous $4.35/hour – other states surrounding Iowa pay as low as $2.13, a wage set in 1991. How would that be handled under the Johnson County proposal? The answer is that tipped employees would get the same proportionate wage they do now – which is 60% of federal minimum, I believe. Thus they would still be way underpaid.

Why? Mostly because of the power of the NRA. No, not that NRA, but the National Restaurant Association and its state affiliates. Through intense lobbying and well placed campaign contributions they have been able to keep the wages at their member businesses well below the poverty line for decades. Surely this NRA is liable for as much misery as the more well known NRA, they just don’t get the publicity because their victims don’t die in spectacular and horrible ways. prwatch.org/news/2014/04/12444/nra-political-spending

That got me to thinking and it dawned on me that there are many businesses that specialize in preying on the poor. They make big money doing it and have in recent years become some of the biggest lobbyists in congress and in the state houses. Industries like the “pay day” loan industry. Where usury (or excessive interest rates) were once illegal, now the sky seems to be the limit. Here is a short excerpt from a diary on dailykos about this industry:

When I looked up the annual percentage rate (APR) for Cash Net.com I was absolutely shocked!

A $600 loan would end up costing you $951.57. A 388.93 percent APR—I thought the 35.99 percent APR I paid some twenty years ago was bad. Of course it could be worse: According to the disclaimer on their website, the interest rate could be as high as 449 percent.

If this is not predatory lending, I don’t know what is. Cash Net is not the only company to do this. Money Mutual, endorsed by Montel Williams, states on its website that the typical representative APR range is somewhere between 261 percent and 1,304 percent for a 14-day loan.

What are some other businesses that make a killing off the misfortunate? How about temporary employment agencies? These folk get a cut of the person’s wages and offer no benefits. How about those “rent to own” businesses where products often cost triple or quadruple what it would in a regular business.

Employers in low wage industries also take a pound of flesh from their employees through practices such as having folks work off the clock and through forcing their employees to wait by a phone in case they get called in, while not being paid. Blogforiowa had a post on this earlier this week featuring the thought of former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

Then as if things weren’t bad enough, poverty often leads to jail when fines or fees can’t be paid. This also helps to fill the pockets of the profitized prison system, yet another beneficiary of the poverty industry.

Unless a major correction is made, the future will be even more bleak. Over 50% of the country’s school age children now live in low income households. Iowa fares only slightly better than the US as a whole with a rate of 42%. Most people understand that coming from a low income household is a strike against doing well in school.

All in all this is truly a sad state of affairs. Especially in a nation that claims to live by Christian principles.

Katrina: Failure That Defines The Republican Party

Hurricane Katrina survivors wait to be evacuated from the Superdome in New Orleans

Almost unbelievably, George W. Bush visited New Orleans yesterday. This was the scene of his second biggest crime, the first being the illegal invasion of a sovereign country. Ten years after he and his administration spectacularly failed the city and the country Bush had the chutzpah to return as if he were a hero. Unmitigated gall.

Katrina should have been an eye opening moment for the USA. It should have been the moment that the years of the Republican Party’s undermining of the true role of government was exposed as the the ugly pussed up sore that it is. Here was an administration given the reins of a government that at one time had the put together an agency capable of handling major catastrophes and they destroyed it. In the process they destroyed and damaged hundreds of thousands of lives. And then they had the gall to blame any and all others rather than taking the blame they so rightly deserved.

Katrina was only the most glaring of the many glaring problems caused by a party whose mantra is to destroy government and an administration that went about that task with an almost whimsical glee. The sight of George W. Bush smirking while soldiers died in Iraq or citizens drowned in New Orleans or families saw their life savings and jobs lost due to horrible fiscal mismanagement is a picture that still evokes feelings of dread among the populace.

The only real effort the Bush administration made during the Katrina crisis was to push the blame for their failures off to other levels of government. They were of course aided in this effort by corporate media headed by the Republican Propaganda Network aka Fox News. People died, people lived in squalor, people lost all their possessions while Michael Brown preened and Michael Chertoff showed off his incompetence.

The Bush Administration was the culmination of decades of the Republican Party’s concerted effort to make government appear weak and dysfunctional as they sought to make everything in this country dependent on for profit business. Our government is of, by and for the people. It is the legitimate purpose of government to provide leadership in times of national disasters. We as a citizens have directed our government to do so over the decades. Whether the disaster is a natural disaster or a man made financial disaster we have set the government up as the group that must lead us to restore us to living conditions.

During the most recent Republican administration we saw disasters in Iraq, New Orleans and the financial crisis. Two of those were made by the administration the other a natural disaster that was so batched by the administration so as to compound the damage manifold times. Katrina should have been such a glaring example of incompetence along with the financial disaster and an unnecessary war that the party responsible for all that in most other countries they would be hard pressed to rally ant followers again.

Barack Obama was elected to clean up the messes left by the Bush administration. Steady leadership is finally after nearly seven years pulling the country from the absolute disaster of the Bush years. During Hurricane Sandy, the Obama administration showed that they had repaired FEMA and it acted with competence in restoring the areas affected. Even such a hard core anti-Obama critic such as Chris Christie had to admit this was much better. Slowly we have removed soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. Slowly our economy is returning to a strong economy, despite Republican efforts to crash it once more.

The government is us, folks. It is rightly charged with restoring life to some normalcy after major disasters that are way beyond the capability of private businesses. It is us acting together through the agencies our representatives created for such times. Government is us creating plans to handle future disasters.

What a democratic government should never be is a group of oligarchs creating disasters (wars, financial crises) so they or their friends can profit from them. A democratic government should never be disinterested in times of natural disasters. A democratic government should anticipate potential disasters and have plans in place to meet those disasters.

Republicans have failed miserably when their have control of the government, usually making disasters much worse through incompetence and indifference.

Democrats since Franklin Roosevelt have been at the forefront of planning for disasters with agencies like FEMA under Jimmy Carter, Social Security under FDR, Medicare and Medicaid under LBJ, The ACA under President Obama, the FDIC under FDR and many, many more. Americans now expect their government to be competent in the face of disaster. They expect a comprehensive response that is co-ordinated and that will restore life to as close to what it was as possible. In short, the government is us and should act like we do if faced with a disaster.

It really says something about the Republican Party that their leading candidate for president is a rich man whose main point is to threaten to cause an unmitigated humanitarian disaster. It really says something about the Republican Party that none of the other candidates have the guts to step forward and call out this plan for the humanitarian disaster it will cause. And once more it says a lot about the Republican Party that 30 % or more of their party is ready to follow this man into creating one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of recent years.

Republican priorities

Republican priorities

Hillary At Summer’s End

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field in recent Iowa polling. Simply put, the remaining contenders seem unlikely to close the gap between summer’s end and the Feb. 1 caucus.

It’s possible, but unlikely, even if something new about Hillary comes up.

She has a proven ability to shed Republican faux scandals. The form they take once debunked is of distorted sound in the mostly right wing echo chamber. Rank and file Democrats aren’t listening, even if Democratic elites are. To the extent Clinton’s Democratic rivals bring them up, their campaigns are the less. Read Greg Sargent’s take on the elites here.

Media reports this week revealed “there was no policy prohibiting the use of a private email account at the State Department.” Like it or not, her State Department emails are expected to persist in the Republican lexicon, and real people will spend substantial resources working to gin up some trouble for Clinton, even though the State Department said she did nothing wrong.

Hillary’s polling in other states is not as favorable as it is in Iowa. Bernie Sanders edges her out in his backyard state of New Hampshire. If Sanders is viable in any respect, he should win New Hampshire. If he does not, it’s game over and Hillary Clinton will become the Democratic nominee

Gabriel Debenedette pointed out on Politico Hillary has the resources and more importantly boots on the ground in the Super Tuesday, March 1 states. One expects she will have the nomination wrapped up by then. According to Debenedette, she’s building a firewall there.

I hang out with an informal group of low-wage workers from time to time. One could call it a focus group, but that would be giving it more structure than probably exists.

There is pent up demand to talk about Donald Trump.

The other day someone mentioned his name and the mere mention unleashed comments from almost everyone. It was evidence of Trump’s mastery of popular culture — something that should be no surprise to anyone familiar with his long-running television program.

“Donald Trump is building his Republican presidential campaign staff in Iowa similar to his defunct NBC-TV series ‘The Apprentice’ — and his celebrity is making it easier on some fronts,” Todd Beamon pointed out on Newsmax.

What do members of the group say about Hillary?

“I don’t know if we can trust Hillary,” said one, confirming what the polls say. If Hillary is the nominee, the ones whose politics I know best will still vote for her.

Most only wanted to talk about Trump.

Labor Day will signal the end of summer and the beginning of the next political canvass for candidates working the process. The textbook method is to finish the second canvass in October when the end of year holidays are imminent.

Based on what I’m seeing in rural Iowa, the only Democrats working the process are Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. Will Iowa Democrats caucus for a party outsider like Sanders? Will Joe Biden make it three?

I don’t know, but as summer turns to fall, Iowa has been all about Hillary Clinton.

Getting Nuclear With Loebsack

Dr. Maureen McCue speaking to 55 people at Loebsack Office

Dr. Maureen McCue speaking for the Iran Deal at Rep. Dave Loebsack’s Office

IOWA CITY – A group of peace-loving constituents assembled Wednesday afternoon in front of U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack’s office to demonstrate support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated between the P5 +1 nations and the Islamic Republic of Iran, also known as the “Iran Deal.”

The Iran Deal is designed to prevent Iran from enriching uranium to develop a nuclear weapon. If Iran complies with the agreement, they will get relief from sanctions that brought them to the negotiating table during the Obama administration.

Congress is expected to vote on approval of the Iran Deal as early as Sept. 9. Congressman Loebsack has not made a public statement on the matter, hence a concern of those assembled.

The gathering began with Dawn Jones, Wellman, serving as master of ceremonies. Jones helped organize the demonstration, which is part of a nationwide series of similar events under the MoveOn.org umbrella. At one point 55 people were in attendance, as well as the local FOX News/CBS Channel and a couple of videographers.

Dr. Maureen McCue, Oxford, board member of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights and chapter organizer for Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility, enumerated the benefits of the Iran Deal and urged Loebsack to vote for the bill. (Details of the Iran Deal are linked at this July 27 post).

Tom Baldridge, advocated for the Iran Deal on behalf of the Eastern Iowa Chapter of Veterans for Peace, as did Ann Stromquist of PEACE Iowa, Nancy Porter, John Rachow, Dan Daly and others.

Demonstrators Filing into Rep. Dave Loebsack's Iowa City Office

Demonstrators Filing into Rep. Dave Loebsack’s Iowa City Office

After the speeches, Jones walked into the office and spoke to Dave Leshtz, district representative for Loebsack. The group was invited inside to present a petition calling for an aye vote on the Iran Deal.

“(Loebsack) has a strong concern that many of the people who are pushing for a ‘no’ vote are the same people that pushed us into a misguided war in Iraq,” Leshtz said. “He believes in diplomacy. It is better not to shoot first and ask questions later.”

The frustration of several in the group was that Loebsack had not taken a leadership position by speaking for the Iran Deal well in advance of the vote. Some hoped he could influence his colleagues in the lower chamber.

Dave Leshtz and Maureen McCue

Dave Leshtz and Maureen McCue

“What’s holding him back from taking a position,” asked Shelton Stromquist, emeritus professor, University of Iowa American, Social and Labor History. “I just don’t understand. There’s broad support for this agreement. He comes from a progressive constituency. He hasn’t provided leadership on this or many other issues. What’s holding him back?”

I don’t know, Shel,” Leshtz said. “A vote will come. He will cast his vote. He may say something before. This (petition and demonstration) is helpful I think.”

Dan Daly, Iowa City, stressed that many in the room had helped Loebsack get elected in 2006.

“We want to stay positive. Urgency. Take action. Soon and very vividly, so more congresspeople can take cover behind his leadership,” Daly said.

Leshtz deferred to the congressman, who knows many of the demonstrators personally.

Both Iowa U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are expected to vote “no” on the measure.

Nina Totenberg In Iowa City

Totenberg

The Public Policy Center is proud to co-sponsor the Fall 2015 Law Levitt Lecture with NPR Correspondent Nina Totenberg, Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 5 p.m., Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge, Iowa City.

Totenberg is an award-winning legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio whose reports are heard on All Things Considered and Morning Edition.  A frequent contributor to major newspapers and periodicals, she has published articles in the New York Times Magazine, the Harvard Law Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Parade magazine, New York magazine, and others.

Before joining NPR in 1975, Totenberg served as Washington editor of New Times Magazine, and before that she was the legal affairs correspondent for the National Observer.

The event is free and open to the public.