Archive for April 2011
Iowa is Starting from Scratch
by Paul Deaton
This week, a group of Iowa Democrats were sitting around a table talking about redistricting and the 2012 campaign. Everyone at the table was a veteran of many campaigns and present were elected officials, retirees, union members, a couple of folks who had run for office and a couple interested in running for office. Core activists in a Democratic party that hopes to regain some of the ground lost in the 2010 midterms. The conversation effused political experience and some of us relished that quality of the evening.
The coalition of voters who elected Barack Obama and Democratic majorities in the US House and Senate disbanded with the tide that brought Democrats to power. The sooner we embrace this idea, the more effective we will be in the run up to 2012.
Despite the persistence of Organizing for America, and its transfer from the DNC to the Chicago headquarters of President Obama's re-election campaign, the coalition of voters will have to be rebuilt for 2012. If the midterms are an indicator, there is a lot of work to do to re-establish Obama's mantra of “Respect, Empower, Include” which got lost in the last election cycle. People at the table nodded when talking about starting from scratch, something we do with every election.
As we snacked on chips and salsa, what seemed hard was taking the moment for its actuality, understanding it apart from the political habits of the past. If Republicans were disorganized in 2008, they have become better opponents despite the wide range of views in their party. Much of Iowa is turning purple, leaning red, in reaction to our government's failure to do things to bring us out of the recession and towards full employment. There are proven tactics in campaigns, like raising money, meeting voters and gaining visibility in communities. At the same time, ground tactics are not enough, although that evening, strategy seemed elusive.
A significant question was are “no preference” voters really without preference? Or, do they seek cover to get along in a society that is overly politicized? This seemed more true than not. Heads nodded again.
Over the summer a hundred conversations like ours will take place as Iowa gears up for another election. In a year of divided government, the challenges seem formidable. We have no real choice except to rise to the task of electing Democrats again. This year, facilitated by redistricting, we will start over from scratch.
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail
Senate Hearing on Afghanistan Next Week
On May 3, 2011, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Afghanistan: What is an Acceptable End-State, and How Do We Get There? Here is the link where written testimony will be posted. In July, the United States is to initiate a draw down of forces in Afghanistan, and for people interested in ending our wars, it is time to take notice of this Senate Hearing.
As Matt Southworth of Friends Committee on National Legislation wrote on April 25th, “Will the Obama Administration finally acknowledge that the military led strategy in Afghanistan is failing
by every metric and shift to another kind of mission in Afghanistan?
The U.S. should not continue to slug on militarily while being outmaneuvered
by Taliban with shovels. Perhaps a diplomatic mission with the desired
ends of a political settlement with all Afghan groups would be best to
deliver peace and regional stability. Next weeks hearing has the
potential to shape the impending policy shift. You can weigh-in by contacting your elected officials today.” Read the rest of Southworth's article here.
Iowa's Denise O'Brien in Afghanistan
It has been a couple of months since Denise O'Brien reported that she had taken a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to serve in Afghanistan as an agricultural adviser. From Atlantic, Iowa, she headed to Nangahar Province, on the Pakistan
Since arriving in country, she started a blog called Afghanistan Adventure. Following is an excerpt from a recent entry:
The first week in Afghanistan was spent at the Embassy in Kabul attending more briefs and training. The group of people that I trained with in Indiana and DC was still fairly intact so we spent a great week of playing Scrabble and going to the bar Duck and Cover, on the Embassy grounds.
The training included more lectures and the issuance of gear for the field. I stayed in what they call a hootch – another small trailer with bunk beds but at least I had intermittent internet and could Skype home. During the week I got credentialed to be on the grounds of the Embassy – a badge with my picture on it.
The Embassy houses around one thousand people and serves the needs of the people living and working there as well as people like me who transfer through there on their way to the field. It is a mix of military and civilians. There are two official places to eat called DFAC (Dining Facility) and the food is fairly good – lots of fresh fruits and vegetables that I am trying to stick with and then other cafeteria style choices. The food has labels that include the nutritional values – most foods are fairly high in sodium unfortunately…
~ Denise O'Brien lives and works on her farm in southwest Iowa. O'Brien has been a farm activist for over thirty years. Her work has taken her all over the world working on agriculture and women in agriculture issues. Read her blog, Afghanistan Adventure.
Iowa and a Spring Wedding
by Paul Deaton
Would give almost anything for a few dry days and a chance to enjoy Spring's warmth. There are a lot of reasons.
Row crop farmers are way behind last year's planting, with corn being about 9% in compared to 46% last year at this time. The wet weather has had a dampening effect on gardening and other outdoors activities for all. In fields near here, some farmers have wheat in, hoping to double crop this year because of high commodity prices. Farming is always full of plans and schemes the outcomes of which are uncertain.
The Iowa Senate called it a week on Wednesday and briefly gaveled in Thursday morning to pray, say the pledge of allegiance and approve Wednesday's journal. House members who weren’t involved in committee work were released around noon on Wednesday. Finishing the budget and some other bills loom, although the clerks last paid day was Thursday. Legislator per diem ended as well. A lobbyist sent a note to Representative Brian Quirk (D-15), and received an automated reply, “The 2011 Legislative Session has come to an end. If you need to contact me please call.” Not quite, Representative Quirk, although some of us believe the government never really began to address the needs of everyday Iowans in the 2011 session.
The wars, embargoes and engagements go on while the administration “shuffles the deck chairs on the Titanic” with the apparent appointment of David Petraeus to head CIA and Leon Panetta to head Defense. On Wednesday the Iowa Chapter of Veterans for Peace met with 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack in his Iowa City office and vented a bit, partly about the vagaries of the mission in Afghanistan. Mostly about ending our wars.
With the inclement weather, we tend to stay inside, where Friday the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton was taking place via the Royal Channel. In my family's oral history is a story that some of us were loyalists to King George before the American Revolution. There is a familial attraction to the trials and tribulations of Britain's Royals, even if these days, we agree with Christopher Hitchens in asking the question, “Does Kate Middleton Really Want to Marry into a Family Like This?”
Prince Charles is scheduled to see a 50th anniversary performance of Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford on Avon Saturday after the wedding. What does that mean to someone who may get bypassed in whatever ambitions he has to be King Charles III? Perhaps he will find remedy for his diminished expectations in the bard. Or maybe a scheme to be employed, like Iowa's farmers planting winter wheat.
This rough spring seems to plague those who care about Iowa's future and even the opulence of a spring wedding is unlikely to cut the bitterness of another week in the post-Reagan society.
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail
Keith Olbermann Announces New Show Details!
Current TV is currently available in 75 million homes. Contact Mediacom. Tell them you want Current TV. Current TV website http://current.com/countdown/
individual votes bottom of page 1126, top of page 1127
And this: from Jay Mattson –
President Obama: “We Do Not Have Time For This Kind Of Silliness”
[Note from BFIA: Below are the president's remarks today to the media and the nation. We would like to say thank you to President Obama for slapping down the idiots and fools who are behaving like adolescents. We hope all of our readers will please share this with your right-wing friends, relatives and media outlets. We predict the birthers will not stop and neither will the media stop covering them. It will not be enough
for the birthers or for the corporate media to provide them with ironclad
proof of President Obama's birth because they already know what they are saying is a
complete, fabricated made-up lie.
If there has ever been a case for media reform, it is now. The media will go on covering birthers. We hope that President Obama will make them pay politically for what they are doing as he made them pay for their insipid Reverend Wright non-troversy by making the best political speech of his career on race in America during the campaign. Making them pay a price for what they are doing is the only thing that will make them stop. Meanwhile, did you know the GOP is trying to get rid of Medicare?]
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Now, let me just comment, first of
all, on the fact that I can't get the networks to break in on all kinds
of other discussions — (laughter.) I was just back there listening to
Chuck — he was saying, it’s amazing that he’s not going to be talking
about national security. I would not have the networks breaking in if I
was talking about that, Chuck, and you know it.
Q Wrong channel. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: As many of you have been briefed, we provided
additional information today about the site of my birth. Now, this issue
has been going on for two, two and a half years now. I think it
started during the campaign. And I have to say that over the last two
and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I've been puzzled at
the degree to which this thing just kept on going. We've had every
official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has
investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii,
August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital.
We've posted the certification that is given by the state of Hawaii on
the Internet for everybody to see. People have provided affidavits that
they, in fact, have seen this birth certificate. And yet this thing
just keeps on going.
Now, normally I would not comment on something like this, because
obviously there’s a lot of stuff swirling in the press on at any given
day and I've got other things to do. But two weeks ago, when the
Republican House had put forward a budget that will have huge
consequences potentially to the country, and when I gave a speech about
my budget and how I felt that we needed to invest in education and
infrastructure and making sure that we had a strong safety net for our
seniors even as we were closing the deficit, during that entire week the
dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that
we're going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth
certificate. And that was true on most of the news outlets that were
And so I just want to make a larger point here. We've got some
enormous challenges out there. There are a lot of folks out there who
are still looking for work. Everybody is still suffering under high gas
prices. We're going to have to make a series of very difficult
decisions about how we invest in our future but also get a hold of our
deficit and our debt — how do we do that in a balanced way.
And this is going to generate huge and serious debates, important
debates. And there are going to be some fierce disagreements — and
that’s good. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. And I am
confident that the American people and America’s political leaders can
come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems. We always
But we’re not going to be able to do it if we are distracted. We’re
not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other.
We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend
that facts are not facts. We’re not going to be able to solve our
problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.
We live in a serious time right now and we have the potential to deal
with the issues that we confront in a way that will make our kids and
our grandkids and our great grandkids proud. And I have every
confidence that America in the 21st century is going to be able to come
out on top just like we always have. But we’re going to have to get
serious to do it.
I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no
matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. But I’m
speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the
press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got
better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big
problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going
to have to focus on them — not on this.
Thanks very much, everybody.
GOP 2012: Let Us Get Rid Of Medicare, Social Security And Public Schools For You! (Part 2)
by Dave Bradley
Several years back while reading DailyKos, I came across this paragraph in a diary on the economy of the Bush regime. It was late 2005 and cracks were already beginning to appear in the façade of a well-run economy: (Sorry I have lost the source over years).
Consider this statement and then look back at economic policy since Reagan. Republicans have been burning through money like a drunken frat boy, Democrats trying to rebuild a sound, diverse economy. And since FDR we have seen Democrats building insurance-like programs to help all Americans when times may go bad. Think of things like unemployment insurance, various agricultural programs, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, disaster relief, bank failure and many more. Programs set up for the most part by Democratic congresses and administrations to smooth out the economy and the individual pain when things go wrong – which is inevitable.
The simple idea is that we tax ourselves when times are good and tuck it away to be used when times go bad. Geez, seems like a damned good idea for a family or a country.
On the other hand, we have a group that wants to spend every nickel they can, like a kid at college and away from his parents for the first time. And dad gave this kid the credit card, so if he doesn’t have money, he charges it on old dad. When he runs through the credit card, he raids the savings accounts and starts borrowing at high rates. One only need look at the debts run up by Reagan, Bush and Bush to see examples.
And they really, really want to burn through savings accounts, especially the big ones – Social Security and Medicare.
Just like any flim-flam man, the Republican Party has all sorts of ways of talking you and I out of our savings. But it is not just our savings, it is our children’s and grand-children’s. Yet they continue to wear their victims down with promises of getting rich quick if we just give them our money. Hopefully, we learned some lessons from the crash that created the Bush Depression.
They have already run us wildly into debt. We can’t let them burn through our savings also. And we definitely need to stop any Democrats from helping them in their theft.
E-mail Dave here
Dave Bradley is a self-described
retired observer of American politics “trying to figure out how we got
so screwed up.” An
Iowa City native currently living in West Liberty, Dave and his wife
Carol have two grown children who “sadly had to leave the state to find
decent paying jobs.“
Braley and Grassley Hold Town Hall Meetings Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Lucas County Town Meeting
Date/Time: Wednesday April 27, 2011 2:15 – 3:15 PM
Chariton Public Library, Conference Room, 803 Braden Ave., Chariton
Decatur County Town Meeting
Date/Time: Wednesday April 27, 2011 4:30 – 5:30 PM
Leon Community Center, 203 N.E. Second St., Leon
Town Hall with Congressman Braley
Please join Congressman Bruce Braley for an interactive Deficit Townhall. You'll be able to create your own budget and work with your friends and neighbors to make cuts and find savings.
Wednesday April 27 – Dubuque
Grand River Center
500 Bell Street
Dubuque, Iowa 52001
Wednesday April 27 – Fayette
Student Center Ballroom
Upper Iowa University Campus
East side of Washington Street in the middle of campus
Fayette, Iowa 52142
Public Health and the 25th Anniversary of Chernobyl
Physicians for Social Responsibility Cite Flawed Evacuation Zones & Nuclear Power Health Risks on Chernobyl Anniversary
Washington, DC - April 26, 2011 – Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) today cited gross inadequacies in evacuation zones around nuclear reactors and underscored the ongoing health risks of nuclear energy to the public. The 25th anniversary of Chernobyl and the continuing crisis at Fukushima—both Level 7 nuclear disasters—are clear reminders that standard evacuation zones cannot protect the public from a nuclear accident. One third of the population of the United States (over 111 million people) lives within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor. Given the consequences of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, PSR is calling for a major reassessment of contingency plans for nuclear accidents, as well as a full and fair accounting of the data on the impact to public health and the environment.
PSR unveiled a new interactive Evacuation Zone Map at a press conference today held jointly with the Institute for Policy Studies’ Robert Alvarez. The map, which is available at www.psr.org, shows a person’s residence in relation to a nuclear reactor and an evacuation zone. [Editor's Note: Inserted map is evacuation zone for the Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo, Iowa].
“The original evacuation zone around the Fukushima reactors and the current 10 mile evacuation zone mandated in the US are insufficient,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We must reevaluate our contingency plans for protecting the public from these dangerous reactor sites. The nuclear industry, and our government, continues to put innocent lives at risk by ignoring the real dangers of nuclear accidents to public health. As we have seen in nuclear testing, the Kyshtym explosion, Chernobyl and now in Fukushima, when catastrophic releases of radiation happen, they quickly affect not just populations nearby but the whole world, spreading long-lived radioactive pollution everywhere.”
The accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima provide important lessons regarding the danger to public safety and the need for evacuation zones that are appropriate and feasible around nuclear reactors, if they are to continue to operate. On April 26, 1986, the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, contaminating approximately 77,000 square miles of land and spreading dangerous radioactive isotopes around the world. The impact of the disaster on public health continues to be felt 25 years later. From 1986 to 2000, 350,400 people were evacuated and resettled from the most severely contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. The current permanent exclusion zone around the Chernobyl reactor extends for 30 km and 5,800 square km is heavily contaminated. Areas 300-400 km away in Belarus are uninhabitable. Hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of forest and agricultural area are off limits or required decontamination.
“The 50 mile zone for Americans living near Fukushima recommended by Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko on March 16 was appropriate and should be required for nuclear reactors in the United States as well,” said Dr. Kanter. “It is clear that the authorities and health care system would not be able to properly protect the health of all the people and vulnerable populations that would need to be moved in the case of significant reactor accident, let alone the massive number of injured or potentially injured, and the entire process would likely be a public health disaster.”
The nuclear industry’s most common argument is that there is no significant health consequences associated with low doses of radiation. However, it is the consensus of the medical and scientific community, summarized in the National Research Council’s BEIR VII report, that there is no safe level of radiation. Any exposure, including exposure to naturally occurring background radiation, creates an increased risk of cancer. The BEIR report concluded that every thousand man rems of radiation exposure will cause one cancer.
While the risk of low dose exposure may be very low for a given individual, when large numbers of people are exposed, there are health consequences. If one person receives 1 rem of exposure, he or she has a one in one thousand chance of getting cancer. If a thousand people are exposed, one of them will get cancer. If a million people are exposed, one thousand of them will get cancer. While the dose of radiation in a glass of drinking water may be so low that any one person does not need to take specific protective measures, the cumulative impact on the whole community may be very significant.
“We cannot be asked to protect the public after the fact,” said Ira Helfand, MD, a member of the Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The health system cannot respond adequately to a large scale disaster on the order of Fukushima. The risks to public health, the economy and our environment from nuclear power far outweighs the benefits.”
~Physicians for Social Responsibility is the largest physician-led organization in the country conveying both the health risks and threats to human survival posed by nuclear weapons, climate change, nuclear reactors and toxic degradation of the environment. Founded in 1961 by physicians concerned about the impact of nuclear proliferation, PSR shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War for building public pressure to end the nuclear arms race.
This Week On The Fallon Forum: Stop MidAmerican's Bill To Bilk BILLIONS From Iowans
Thursday from 7:00-800 pm, join us for the fusion of politics
and civility at 98.3 WOW-FM and
on-line at 983wowfm.com.
Call (515) 312-0983 or (866) 908-TALK to participate in the
conversation. If you miss the show, you can hear it as a podcast and please
help support local progressive talk radio with a donation through Pay
Pal or by check to PO Box 13421, Des Moines, IA 50310.
If Senate Democrats pass MidAmerican Energy's bill to scoop billions (yes: BILLIONS!) of OUR money for THEIR nuclear power plant, it will assure a Republican turnover of the State Senate in 2012. That's how big this week's vote is. MidAmerican's nuclear power grab is already unpopular with most voters. It'll be even more unpopular once MidAmerican announces in whose backyard it plans to build the plant.
Unless Senate Democrats take a stand and say “no,” this issue will be pivotal in next year's campaign for control of the State Senate. Rank-and-file Democrats in key swing districts will simply stay home or vote for a third-party candidate. Think I'm kidding? Think one-term governor Chet Culver. Remember him?
If Democratic lawmakers can't bring themselves to vote against SF 390 and HF 561, they should at least slow things down. Heck, even in Texas, plans to expand a nuclear power plant have been put on hold. If Texas can hold 'em, so can Iowa!
YOU have a chance to help stop HF 561 and SF 390. Visit the Iowa Legislature's website to find your Senator and Representative and contact them today. [Or click on the left sidebar - BFIA Guide To The Iowa Legislature]
Monday, Dr. Charles Goldman and I discuss nuclear power (surprised?). We'll talk about the issue itself and how MidAmerican pressures lawmakers to support a plan that is clearly bad for their constituents.
Tuesday, Scott Ehredt joins me to discuss the National Centrist Party.
Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger is my guest. (What? A gay man running for President? As a Republican?) We'll also talk with CCI's Chris Neubert about holding big banks accountable for their role in the financial crisis, and whether or not Attorney General Tom Miller is doing what he needs to do to help.
Thursday, State Rep Dan Kelley (D-Newton) gives us an inside look at the Iowa Statehouse.
Please take a minute to visit the Fallon Forum website,
make a donation and help support local, progressive talk radio. We're
entirely funded by local individuals, businesses and organizations!
And for more progressive talk radio, check out The Bradshaw Show from 1:00-4:00 Monday-Friday.