Archive for June 7, 2011
by Dave Bradley
One of the things that galls me most about Republicans is that at the top of their party is unelected individuals and groups who set the tone, make the policies and create the environment for politics not only in their party but through extension of the media, the whole country.
Let me name names right off the bat: Grover Norquist who holds a huge hammer of fear over Republican elected officials. This hammer has such power that one could easily say that Mr. Norquist by himself has 40 votes in the US Senate. Lot of power for an unelected individual.
Also on the list are the billionaire business owners who seem to be something of an oligarchy elected by accumulation of capital. No one ever voted for the Koch brothers, the Walton family, the Mellons, the DeVos family and on and on. Yet these people through the power of their checkbook are able to make Republican politicians at the national, state and local levels dance like marionettes. Has a one ever been elected? No, but then they don’t have to when they own those that are elected.
Next are the think tanks and policy groups that are created and funded by right wing money. This is a long list. Many are names that have some public recognition, but many don’t. Names like the Heritage Foundation, or the Manhattan Institute are names of think tanks you probably recognize.
But recently names of once unknown groups have been popping up in the news and seem to have come from nowhere, yet wield an inordinate amount of power. These behind the curtain groups are currently writing our laws at state and federal level. Laws that radically change our society, such as whether unions can negotiate, and who is eligible to vote. The first of these groups that come to mind is ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council] alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Once again, unelected groups working out of the light to radically influence policy and therefore our lives.
Let us briefly mention the evangelicals that head up the right wing mega churches. Without huge congregations being told to vote Republican, there may not be the Republican officials to do the bidding of the powers mentioned above.
Finally, a brief mention will go to the right wing talking heads. While many like to believe that Rush Limbaugh is a wielder of power, his influence lies in being a disseminator of (often twisted) talking points. He also acts as a person who is accepted as main stream to which people can attach the claim that their fringe beliefs are normal. Since Rush (and to a lesser degree Hannity and the other Rush wannabes) work somewhat in the light, they are tempered, if only slightly.
In Iowa, we have some small state version of these big time players. Despite being rejected by his own party on numerous occasion, Bob Vander Plaats can make Republicans dance to his music, especially after getting 3 Supreme Court judges removed from the bench. In the more traditional behind the curtains string pulling we have Iowa Family policy’s Chuck Hurley and conservative organizer Bill Salier.
Here is the point: working behind curtains, in the dark (under rocks some might say) we have unelected, unregulated groups that elected Republican Party officeholders receive their marching instructions from. If an elected official bucks these groups, if they do not do as told there will be consequences: their campaign funds dry up and they will be primaried.
There are many examples of former Republican elected officials to prove this is not an idle threat.
[Editor’s Note: See Dave Bradley’s previous articles on ALEC: Is Your Republican State Legislator a Member of ALEC? and McTaxcuts – Shock Doctrine, ALEC and Iowa]
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.”
Branstad Coming To A Town Near You
Terry Branstad is touring the state this week to continue lying (why not just say it!) about Iowa’s finances so that he and his fellow GOP legislators can serve their corporate masters by taking Iowa's money for education and state parks, etc. and giving it to out of state corporations in the form of tax breaks, as I understand it. Here's your chance to talk to the gov about your concerns. In politics they say, it's all about who shows up.
If you can't attend or just can't stomach a Branstad visit, you can still fight back on the Republicans' attempt to dismantle education and send Iowa back to the dark ages.
The Iowa House of Representatives will hold a public hearing Tuesday, June 6, at 4:00 PM. If you wish to speak at the hearing, call (515) 281-5129 or email testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org.
9 a.m. – Jasper County event
Uncle Nancy’s Restaurant
114 North 2nd Avenue
10:30 a.m. – Poweshiek County event
Michael J. Manatt Community Center
105 Jackson Street
1 p.m. – Black Hawk County event
Beck’s Sports Brewery
3925 University Avenue
2:45 p.m. – Delaware County event
1100 West Main Street
4 p.m. – Dubuque event
Dubuque Grand River Center
350 Bell St.
Wednesday, June 7, 2011
9 a.m. – Jackson County event
Happy Bean Coffee House
122 North Riverview Street
10:30 a.m. – Jackson County event
Maquoketa City Council Chambers
201 East Pleasant Street
12:00 p.m. – Clinton County event
238 Main Avenue
2 p.m. – Muscatine County event
310 Cedar Street
4 p.m. – Iowa County event
Monsanto – Third Floor Conference Room
503 South Maplewood Avenue
Thursday, June 8, 2011
10:30 a.m.- Polk County event
108 8th Street
12:00 p.m. – Marion County event
Pella Golf and Country Club
600 Elm Street
1:30 p.m. – Mahaska County event
Smokey Row Coffee House
109 South Market Street
2:45 p.m. – Keokuk County event
419 West Jackson Street
4:30 p.m. – Poweshiek County event
106 North Front Street
Iowa Progressive Radio: This Week On The Fallon Forum
Thursday from 7:00-8:00 pm, join us for the fusion of politics
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It seems Big Brother is watching us more closely all the time. I'm not talking just about the federal government's growing surveillance powers (note last week's reauthorization of the “PATRIOT Act”), but also about local authorities' use of traffic cameras. Those cameras are generating lots of controversy. Monday we'll talk with Ben Stone of the American Civil Liberties Union about the issue.
Tuesday, Connie Mutel joins us. She's the author of The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa, Iowa’s first comprehensive natural and environmental history. Connie also wrote A Watershed Year: Anatomy of Iowa’s 2008 Floods. What with growing concerns about flooding, severe storms and climate change, it will be helpful to have Connie's perspective.
Wednesday, we talk with Jake Velie of Healthy for Life about the debate over dietary supplements. Some folks swear by them, some are skeptical. Jake shares with us what makes Healthy for Life supplements unique, and what people need to know to understand the labels “organic” and “natural.”
Also Wednesday, we talk with residents of Cedar Rapids' Time Check neighborhood. Hit hard by the 2008 flood and frustrated by the lack of effective government relief, Time Check residents have taken matters into their own hands and organized a wide range of improvement projects. They also opposed the recent local option sales tax and plan a big event this Saturday to celebrate their success (see EVENTS calendar, below).
Thursday, ISU's David Peters joins us to continue the conversation about the growing rate of poverty in Iowa. In an article by Dan Kuester, Peters said, “Iowans tend to think about their state as a higher educated, low poverty, nice place to live. It's still a nice place to live, but on this measure of economic well being, we are worsening, particularly in metropolitan and micropolitan areas.”
So, tune in Monday-Thursday, 7:00-8:00 pm, at 98.3 WOW-FM and online. You can download the show as a podcast, too. Thanks!