The editorial page of your local newspaper is where conversations can occur about local issues and a place where information can be shared neighbor to neighbor. Local newspapers are (or should be) the remedy to information polluters like Fox News and the rest of the corporate owned media. The local newspaper is sacred ground that has been encroached upon by media consolidation and corporate ownership. From now up to the election BFIA will be helping give voice to the ordinary Iowan by posting letters to the editor from the brave warriors for democracy that dare to stand up to corporate power.
Most of us know how completely Big Ag dominates politics and policy in Iowa, but does it now dominate our small-town newspapers, too?
We’re used to our governor and state legislators putting the interests of industrial-scale pork producers before the interests of drinkers of tap water. We’re not surprised when Farm Bureau opposes efforts simply to measure the water quality in Iowa rivers.
But I was surprised to find my local newspapers have apparently closed ranks with Big Ag and chosen to help it gag the voice of ordinary citizens. I live three-fourths of a mile from a new 2,500-head hog confinement located just north of Woodward. Some of my neighbors and I got together to tell the owner of the confinement, Brodie Brelsford of Perry, about the harm we think it will do to the quality of our lives and the quality of water in the Des Moines River.
When Brodie wouldn’t meet with us, we decided to send him an open letter, but none of the area’s newspapers — neither the Perry Chief, Boone News-Republican, nor the Northeast Dallas County Record — would accept our letter for publication no matter how much we changed it. They wouldn’t even sell us space to run it as an ad. These three papers are all owned by Stephens Media LLC, a Las Vegas corporation, and they toe the same line. That line appears to be one that stifles discussion of an issue of great public importance.
— Ken and Jan Danilson, Wayde and Julie Burkhart, Janelle Hammarstedt, Danielle M. Wirth, Don A. Wirth, Frances Hamman, Deb Schutt, Dave and Shelly Morlan, Mark and Donna Burkhart, Don Burkhart, Stan Oviatt, Ed and Marcelle Knapp, Dennis and Rhonda Smeltzer and Chuck and Julie Smeltzer, Woodward
ICYMI: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made his first appearance ever on Meet The Press earlier this month. Sanders told the truth about Citizens United and the Koch brothers. Why after all these years did MTP finally decide to invite the Independent Democratic Socialist on the show? Do not think that the media is becoming more liberal. It is more likely that it is because, as Chuck Todd proclaimed, “he could cause Hillary Clinton some trouble.”
Senator Sanders will also be a guest at the Johnson County Democrats Annual Fall BBQ this Saturday. Click here for tickets.
by Sam Osborne
What did the Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst debate demonstrate?
Beyond Ernst insisting it’s fine for her and anyone else’s chickens to come home to roost in destruction of your garden and poop all over you doorstep, it is the fox in the chicken house of the life of the American people that comes with Ernst sneaking into the halls of Congress in the pay of government of the Koch brothers, by the Koch brothers and for the Koch brothers.
The Kochs are the boys footing the big bills for those character assassination ads on TV that deflect disgrace from an entire Republican controlled House and do-nothing-congress to no-show-for-veterans Veteran Affairs Committee, and in place attempt to pour twisted distortion and feted innuendo on the person who stands alone in keeping the Koch brothers from putting puppet-predator Ernst into Iowa’s seat in the Senate in service to government of the Kochs, by the Kochs and for the Kochs at the further expense of you and me and friends and family.
Koch governance via predator-puppet Ernst would be a tragic mistake that leaves you and yours as much on your own as veterans have been by a Republican controlled house committee that met with no productive purpose when it even bothered, did nothing of importance, and left Bruce Braley like the veterans he has been helping to heroically get it done alone.
You can watch the debate here
Just a reminder that the first of 3 debates between senate candidates Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst will take place this afternoon from Simpson College in Indianola. There seems to be no statewide coverage of this event. However, there are some ways interested voters may get the debate live:
How to watch tonight’s debate
C-SPAN also will carry the debate live.
No doubt you have heard of various efforts to push extreme policies only to be ridiculed to death by the intended victims and their sympathizers on facebook or twitter or other social media. This week we had an absolutely hilarious response to the right wing school board of Jefferson County (Denver area), Colorado being ridiculed for their attempt to remove all that nasty stuff from American History classes, like civil rights and how bad slaves were treated and how the labor movement was crushed at every turn.
I am not sure if the tweeters on this thread are students or not, but they definitely have enough knowledge of the subject to make the school board look like the utter fools they must be.
Alan Franklin @alanfranklin Sep 24
The back of the bus is where the air conditioning is, so no one ever really complained. #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory #copolitics
matt meister @akronwobbly 2h
Remember the Alamo, but forget that they were fighting to expand slavery in other countries.
Gideon Hodge @gideonhodge 3h
Crossing the Delaware was actually the first IceBucketChallenge. George Washington still owes ALS $100 #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory
Jack Wylie @twylier Sep 23
The First Amendment was crafted to protect our right to do as we’re told. #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory #copolitics
Brendan Smith @blacksab67 Sep 23
Jesus wrote the Declaration of Independence on the back of one of Ben Franklin’s kites. #JeffcoSchoolBoardHistory
Crutnacker @Crutnacker Sep 23
Joseph McCarthy was a kindly patriot who was driven to ruin by a witchhunt by communists in the liberal media. #JeffcoSchoolBoardHistory
Kathryn Poindexter @klpoindexter Sep 23
Dust Bowl was a football event sponsored by Lemon Pledge #JeffcoSchoolBoardHistory #copolitics
Many, many more here. But I warn you, be prepared for some of the funniest, most original stuff you have seen in a long time. Then let it sink in how these folks attacked a ludicrous, unnecessary problem with a really potent weapon.
In the end I am reminded of Mark Twain’s take on school boards:
In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.
There isn’t much that can top autumn. The warm days, the cool evenings, the harvest going on all over. Color bursting everywhere as the trees and other plants get ready for a winter’s slumber by giving us a glorious show. For the sports fans there isn’t a much busier time. For those who love the delicacies of dining there are scrumptious flavors all over, especially from the ripening fruits.
The only problem is that autumn seems to speed by like a race car and then leaves us with the realities of winter. But before that happens we do have the wonderful holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving and the Christmas season. Then we must wait another year for the exhilaration of another autumn.
As for us, one of the real highlights of autumn is that first pot of chile. No two pots of chili are ever the same around here. We often don’t know what will go in a pot until we start making it. Happy autumn all!
Were you paying attention ?
1) At the current time, which party has requested the most absentee ballots in Iowa?
2) September 26th, 1960. Can you remember the major event that took place that night?
3) Eric Holder announced his resignation as Attorney General this week. Who was his predecessor as AG?
4) Citing climate change as their motivator, which family that grew rich on oil began divesting themselves of oil ties?
5) Left over from last week – what major American owned beer label was sold to a Russian company?
6) Just a week ago a march for what reason drew a half a million people and went nearly unreported by the main stream media?
7) Monday the US began airstrikes in what ME nation?
8) Google, Facebook and Yahoo were among internet companies that ended ties with what ultra right wing group this week?
9) High school students in the Denver, Colorado area walked out this week over the altering of what course content?
10) A grand jury in Columbus Ohio refused to indict police officers for what incident in a Walmart in August?
11) In Kansas, Sam Brownback’s right wing utopia has been forced to do what to fill in the huge holes in the state budget?
12) The ACA or Obamacare is expected to save American hospitals about how much caring for uninsured patients this year?
13) Flights in and out of Chicago airports were halted Friday when what happened at the air traffic control tower in Aurora?
14) Thursday marked the beginning of what in Iowa?
15) An American workplace had a major incident when an “out of control” employee did what physical harm to another employee?
Well – let’s get this over so we can enjoy the day.
1) Democrats with over 50%
2) The first Kennedy – Nixon debate took place. It was broadcast on all TV networks
3) Michael Mukasey (bet a lot said it was Gonzalez)
4) The Rockefellers
6) Climate Change
7) Syria – targetting ISIS among others.
8) ALEC – about time!
9) History – the right wing Jefferson county school board tried to downplay civil disobedience and related subjects.
10) The shooting of an unarmed black customer reported to have a gun
11) Sex toys. Read the story here
12) About $5.7bn.
13) A disgruntled employee started a fire in the basement of the facility
14) Early voting!
15) beheaded one woman and stabbed another man.
Every time I see a big positive TV ad for Terry Branstad, my first thought is – “What is it that we are not being told?” While he brags on employment under his administration, most observers understand that Iowa has lagged the national average and is well behind where they should be. What else is under the surface can be gleened from a report from the non-partisan Iowa Policy Project.
The Iowa Policy Project analyzes the numbers and places them in context of the whole picture. In a cold light without the rah-rah of a campaign these numbers can often be quite sobering. They also often suggest that to get to reasonable goals we need more concrete, less partisan solutions than are being proposed. Here is an excerpt from their last study of jobs and unemployment in Iowa:
Issued Friday, September 19, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa nonfarm jobs increased in August to 1,553,500, but the unemployment rate remained at 4.5 percent, down from 4.7 percent a year ago. The Iowa Policy Project today released the following statement by research associate Heather Gibney about the latest numbers:
“The month of August saw a very small increase in total nonfarm jobs, which is right in line with the fact that Iowa’s major job sectors lost about the same amount of jobs that were gained. Professional and business services and leisure and hospitality saw the largest gains while construction experienced the biggest loss.”
“It’s also important to look at long-term trends rather than one-month changes. Iowa is now above pre-recession job levels — but those jobs serve a 4.9 percent larger population, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The net job gain since the December 2007 start of the recession is only 28,600 — but 75,400 jobs were needed by now to keep up with population growth. Therefore, the state shows a job deficit of 46,800 jobs.”
In another study, Iowa Fiscal Policy (a subsidiary of IPP) reveals that as the campaign talks about Iowans gaining in the wage area, the reality is much different. With 1 in 8 Iowans below the poverty level, the trend has been up and continues in that direction:
“Nearly 1 in 8 Iowans were living in poverty in 2013, that’s less than $24,000 a year for a family of four and $12,000 a year for an individual. These new Census numbers highlight the fact that many people have not yet recovered from the recession and shows the need to do more to help struggling Iowans afford basics like decent housing, nutritious food, transportation and reliable child care,” said David Osterberg, founding director of the Iowa Policy Project, part of the Iowa Fiscal Partnership.
Other findings include:
* Iowa’s poverty rate of 12.7 percent compared with 11 percent in 2007 and 9.7 percent in 2001. There was no change from the 2012 poverty rate of 12.7 percent
* Child poverty was 15.7 percent in 2013 (about 111,119 children), up from 13.1 percent in 2007 and 12 percent in 2001.
* Median income was $52,229 in 2013, changing little from the 2001 inflation-adjusted dollars, but dropping from $53,132 in 2007.
Finally on the subject of food security, Iowa Fiscal Policy noted that while Iowa is doing better than many other states, there is still a problem and a trend that is troubling:
“While Iowans’ very low food security was lower than the national average of 5.7 percent, it was almost 50 percent higher than it had been only a decade before,” said Mike Owen, executive director of the Iowa Policy Project, part of IFP. Owen noted that level had risen from a 3.0 percent average for 2001-03 to 4.4 percent in 2011-13.”
I thank Iowa Policy Project for their research which takes the hype out of the story and reports the facts. Members of the legislature would be well served to check into this research at least once a week to get a true look at what is going on.
We are getting down to crunch time for the 2014 election. Actual election day is about 35 days away. But as most of you know the election in Iowa started last Thursday. Everyday from here forward Iowans will be sitting in their kitchens, sipping coffee and filling out their ballots to drop into the mail box to be sent off to the auditor’s office. Or they are reading their morning news choice and then hopping into the car with a spouse or a friend to go to the county courthouse to vote. Or perhaps they will be voting in a satellite polling place somewhere in their county.
Despite a concerted effort by Matt Schultz and his band of Republican revisionists, the much more accessible voting set up by his predecessors, Chet Culver and Mike Mauro, are still in effect. Thus from now until 9PM on November 4th we will be having fellow citizens voting. We need to use all the tools at our disposal to remind folks that the government at every level is in much better hands if it is in the hands of Democrats.
Go to your local Democratic headquarters and offer to help knock doors if you can or make calls if you can. These are the most effective ways to get folks out. Join in the Labor efforts this weekend. A list can be found here: Every hour or two really helps. Envelopes will need to be stuffed for mailings. This is a critical time for traditional mailings. Offer to write up person to person post cards. All of these tactics may coax one more vote for our Democratic candidates.
One other tactic that is easy to use is the Letters to The Editor column in local newspapers. Usually there is a limit of 250 words per letter, so it is best to focus on a narrow subject. You will also probably want to use a word editor that counts the words to put your letter together. Then when you go to submit your letter you can copy and paste.
These days submission is usually a matter of going to the paper’s website and going to the contact button. There you should find a selection for ‘Letter To The Editor.’ Click on the button and follow the instructions. Remember, most papers will ask for your contact information to verify you are who you say you are.
The letters to the editor section is the most read section of the paper behind obituaries. Other folks are interested in the opinions of their peers. Read your letter out loud before you submit to make sure it makes sense to you. Be positive, be coherent and most of all be yourself.
There is no shortage of material to write on, from the big differences between Hatch and Branstad to Dave Loebsack’s very successful stint as Congressman.
Here is my most recent example. Later today I will publish another LTTE submitted by a friend:
Vote Republican, Lose
If you are planning on voting for Republican candidates this fall, remember what you are voting for in reality. You are not voting for an individual candidate but for an ideology that greatly favors the wealthy and has policies that punish the poor and guts the middle classes.
Seldom will an individual Republican candidate mention their true issues out loud, but as a party almost fully beholden to wealthy donors they will mention them behind closed doors to those donors. What comes out of there should scare the daylights out of anyone who is not independently wealthy.
The Affordable Care Act is still their top target and if elected each and every one will go after it with total focus whether at the state or federal level. Right behind them are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, Unemployment Insurance and any other programs which help those who are somehow not as fortunate as others.
There will also be total denial of looming problems, especially those brought on by Climate Change. In order to distract from looming problems we will see our ‘leaders’ chasing phantom demons from Benghazi to the southern border and any other bogus terror they can dream up.
While they are doing that they will be stealing your children’s and grandchildren’s future to give their wealthy donors more tax breaks and privileges to ruin the environment. It is what they have been doing for 35 years. Just so you understand before you vote.
by Ed Flaherty
Last week, in a celebration of bi-partisanship, all four Iowa members of the US House of Representatives and both US senators from Iowa voted to train and arm Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. The U.S. has been attacking ISIS by air in Iraq since August 7th. Now, likely reassured by last week’s congressional vote, President Obama gave the Pentagon a green light for airstrikes within Syria, which began on Sept. 22nd.
Anyone who claims U.S. military actions in Iraq and the larger Middle East in the past 23 years have not been instrumental in birthing ISIS is either naïve or disingenuous. ISIS leaders have been trained by the U.S., and have been armed, both intentionally and unintentionally, with U.S.weaponry.
Congress has not authorized a war in Syria. Last week’s bill to support Syrian rebels explicitly states it is not to be construed as authorization for US armed forces to be introduced into hostilities. President Obama claims the authority to strike terrorists whenever and wherever. Our Iowa congressional delegation, after its recess and the November elections, needs to reassert its constitutional responsibility & power for any declaration of war.
Certainly Senator Harkin and Representative Latham can vote against a new war without fear of future elections. That could also be the case for Braley, King & Loebsack. And Senator Grassley can recall his courageous vote against the 1st Gulf War in 1991. Let us hope and urge another unanimous vote from the Iowa delegation, this time against another new war.
Or thanking anyone other than corporate donors for “lifting up” his campaign?
Good citizens of Iowa’s 4th District, you, Iowa and the nation deserve better. Vote for this man, Jim Mowrer!
Find your early voting location here