Archive for February 11, 2011
BFIA Call to Action on Egypt
[Editor's Note:The past month we have gotten to know Egypt better than we have in a long time. While talking with colleagues, we affirmed that this is a "power to the people" moment in which President Mubarek, someone whose time to move on had come, bowed to the will of the people and resigned. He left the Supreme Council of Armed Forces in Power in Egypt as the caption on this screen shot from Al Jazeera indicates.
Mubarek's resignation precipitates many questions, and with that in mind, BFIA passes along this note from Drew Hudson of USAction/True Majority]
“The whole world has been inspired by the pro-democracy revolution underway in Egypt. But here in America, we're also worried about further government escalation and crack downs against the non-violent opposition.
We should be. We’ve already seen a scary preview of what that would look like, when Egypt’s brutal police forces used ‘Made in America’ tear gas on protesters.
You see, the U.S. gives Egypt over $1.3 billion every year to buy tanks and guns. We even REQUIRE them to buy those weapons from American gun merchants, in a huge backdoor subsidy of the U.S. weapons industry.
Instead of helping Egypt build schools or roads or even a working court system — things that could really help them in a moment of crisis like this one — all we’ve put in their hands is the means to kill people.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Congress is about to set a new budget for 2012, and how much and what kind of aid we give to Egypt and other countries is very much under discussion. Click here to tell Congress that we want to invest in CIVILIAN aid, not military aid and make freedom and democracy our leading exports again.
It’s not just Egypt – all over the world our government gives repressive dictators billions of dollars specifically to buy weapons from American manufacturers. The reality is that a lot of those governments use the weapons bought with our tax money to oppress their own people.
The weapons builders don’t care who shoots who with their guns, so long as they can make a fortune selling them. And most taxpayers don’t even know that we spend most of our foreign aid money on weapons.[...] If the Egypt crisis shows us one thing, it’s that cutting the Pentagon budget is a good idea internationally, as well as domestically.
Help us send that message to Congress, and then, tell some friends too. Everyone wishes we could do something to help the Egyptian protesters – disarming their government is a good place to start.”
USAction / True Majority
Iowans to be Taken for a Ride
by Paul Deaton
Okay, it is starting to sink in that the role of the Iowa House of Representatives is to provide entertainment for us while members of the House Appropriations Committee try to figure out how to pass the conservative agenda's budget in a session of divided government. I am beginning to get it.
It is good to know that while my local school district is facing a general fund deficit of $800,000, Representative Matt Windschitl (R-56) introduced a bill (HF 22) to enable Iowans to ride llamas, burros and alpaca-like equine animals off the trails of the state parks. It takes me back to my childhood burro rides in Mother Goose Land at Fejervary Park in Davenport. I wonder if he would bring back “monkey island” as well? I recall that it was also very entertaining.
While our local school board, in a growing district, is able to replace only six of nine retirees and terminations because of budget constraints, Governor Branstad proposed a billion dollar spending increase to the 84th General Assembly. If we are going back to big spending Republican agendas, then what about deferring some of the tax breaks for the wealthy to support our children's education? Seriously.
When our school superintendent tells us that because if there is zero percent allowable growth, during salary negotiations with the teachers' union, the school board will either have to deficit spend the difference out of the district's cash reserve or cut more out of the general fund budget, the legislature is concerned about decriminalizing the manufacture and possession of a mechanical silencer for weapons (HF 104). Seriously?
Unfortunately, conservatives are deadly serious about these ideas. In any legislative session constituents urge lawmakers to introduce bills that support their interests, and HF 22 and HF 104 should be considered no different. The problem is when they get traction in the House, are voted out of committee and see debate on the floor. While this may entertain us while the budget work gets done, it seems like a distraction from the work Iowans need and want from the General Assembly.
Some of us agree that school districts could do a better job controlling costs. But it a false assertion for Republicans to make that there is not enough money to support education. With a projection to have more than a $900 million surplus at the end of this fiscal year, HF 45's current budget year cuts and the governor's zero percent allowable growth for the next two fiscal years seem unwarranted and ideological. Of course they are.
There is almost certain to be an impasse when the budget reconciliation between the Senate and House gets to crunch time. So Democrats in the House, why don't you get bipartisan on this alpaca bill and vote it out of committee so there can be debate. After all, if the serious work of supporting our children's education is going to take the entire session, we may as well be entertained by the prospect of riding llamas and alpacas while we wait.
~Paul Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul Deaton
We’ll have to wait and see what happens next at WHO, but for the moment, let’s call it a victory for civility and sanity that one right-winger in Iowa just lost his microphone. May we suggest some happier possibilities…
Who should replace Steve Deace?
Here’s Blog for Iowa’s wish list. The first three are ranked in the Talker.com’s Heavy Hundred – The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts In America for 2011. There is absolutely NO reason why Iowa shouldn’t have a progressive program on WHO. I’ve made a short list of possibilities with a brief description from Talkers.com or their website, then added my own comment after that. I listen to these shows online because of course they are not available anywhere in Iowa over the publicly owned airwaves.
#21 on Talkers and she’s the #1 Radio Progressive Morning Show. “Canny progressive talk personality with growing affiliate list and successful digital presence.” Stephanie has great perspective as the daughter of a former Republican congressman. A frequent guest on Larry King, her show is funny and entertaining with high profile guests. I’ve no doubt that if she were on the air, the Des Moines audience would quickly adopt her as their own – not the right-wingers, but the regular folks. stephaniemiller.com/
#8, “Prolific multi-media personality. Author and important figure in progressive talk. Great program, Thom is always very civil. I particularly enjoy Friday’s “Brunch with Bernie,” a live call-in show with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). I’ve called into Thom’s show twice, and was able to get on the air both times. thomhartmann.com/
#41 on Talkers.com “Progressive talk radio pro earning success in national syndication.” She’s controversial because occasionally she supposedly goes over the top although she’s one of the best truth-tellers you’ll find. She’s also one of the best informed of the progressive talkers with a refreshing and unique voice. Lots of laughs on this show, too. Very loyal following. Somehow, I think she’d probably not be the best match for Des Moines, but it’s a shame she’s not on the air in Iowa because she’s awesome. You can stream her though. therandirhodesshow
Ring of Fire
An amazing program covering environmental issues. Viewing the environment as our real infrastructure, Robert Kennedy has said “Really all environmental injury is an assault on democracy, because the most important measure of how a democracy is functioning is how it distributes the goods of the land – the commons.” – Robert F. Kennedy, with Mike Papantonio, Sam Seder. Can you imagine what it would be like to have this incredible program on the air in Iowa. ringoffireradio.com/
America’s #1 Populist! National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author. Hightower has spent three decades “battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top.” jimhightower.com