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Archive for November 2011

KRUU Talks With Blog For Iowa

KRUU In Fairfield - photo by Paul Deaton

Blog for Iowa fans, earlier this month Dave Bradley and I were guests on KRUU,   “The Voice of Fairfield” at 100.1 FM.   KRUU is an actual community owned and operated local radio station.  The topic of conversation was our favorite subject, the otherwise broken media.

PLANET ERSTWILD host James Moore speaks with the editors of Blog for Iowa, Trish Nelson and Dave Bradley.  Low power FM radio is discussed and the political landscape of talk radio in Iowa. To say it’s predominantly right-leaning would be a sizeable understatement. ”  

You can listen to the podcast here.  While you’re there,  check out KRUU’s  website.  The station’s amazing range of diverse, community based programming is inspiring. It is neither right nor left, but according to James Moore, it is “whoever shows up.”  True community radio.  Every town should have one.

George Lakoff: It’s Time To Occupy Elections

We’re big fans of George Lakoff.  Author of several books including The Political Mind and the now classic,  “Don’t Think Of An Elephant: Know Your Values And Frame The Debate”; a Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the UC Berkeley;  graduate of MIT  in Mathematics and Literature; PhD in Linguistics from Indiana Univ., Lakoff  understands better than anyone how the right (GOP) uses language and media to dominate the public conversation (he addresses this in the last two paragraphs).  Everyone has an opinion about what the occupiers should do next, but this article deserves a look before concluding he’s just trying to co-opt the movement. You can read the entire article at

The Occupy movement has raised awareness of a great many of America’s real issues and has organized supporters across the country. Next comes electoral power. Wall Street exerts its force through the money that buys elections and elected officials. But ultimately, the outcome of elections depends on people willing to take to the streets – registering voters, knocking on doors, distributing information, speaking in local venues. The way to change the nation is to occupy elections.

Whatever Occupiers may think of the Democrats, they can gain power within the Democratic Party and hence in election contests all over America. All they have to do is join Democratic clubs, stick to their values, speak out very loudly and work in campaigns for candidates at every level who agree with their values. If Occupiers can run tent camps, organize food kitchens and cleanup brigades, run general assemblies and use social media, they can take over and run a significant part of the Democratic Party.

To what end? All the hundreds of the Occupiers’ legitimate complaints and important policy suggestions follow from a simple general moral principle: American democracy is about citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly on that care.

The idea is simple, but a lot follows from it: a government that protects and empowers everyone equally, a government of the Public – public roads and buildings; school and universities; research and innovation; public health and health care; safety nets; access to justice in the courts; enforcement of worker rights and practical necessities like sewers; power grids; clean air and water; public safety including safe food; drugs and other products; public parks and recreational facilities; public oversight of the economy – fiscal and trade policy; banking; the stock market – and especially the preservation of nature in the interest of all.

The Public has been what has made Americans free – and has underwritten American wealth. No one makes it on his or her own. Private success depends on a robust Public.

The rationale for the Occupy movement is that all of this has been under successful attack by the right wing, which has an opposing principle, that democracy is about citizens only taking care of themselves, about personal and not social responsibility. According to right-wing morality, the successful are by definition the moral; the one percent are taken to be the most moral. The country and the world should be ruled by such a “moral” hierarchy. Except for national security, the Public should disappear through lack of funding. The nation and the world should be ruled for private profit alone – and by force.

That idea is what is destroying American democracy and America with it. That idea is what is behind everything the Occupy movement opposes – and everything that is going wrong with America today.

Not only is America divided between two opposing principles, but a great many individuals are of those two minds at once: progressive on some matters, conservative on others – with all sorts of variations. They are called, variously, independents, moderates or the center. They are mostly the population upon which elections depend.  They have not one fundamental principle, but are split between two.

What makes one of these ascendant in the individual brain is the language one hears most. That is why the domination of public discourse is so important. It is why advertising in the media is important, why talk radio and TV and social media matter. Elections are what focus attention on public discourse. That is why the next step for the Occupy movement should be to occupy elections.


Red Cross Resolves to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

A Call to Action
by David Hart

“Mankind invented the atomic bomb, but no mouse would ever construct a mousetrap.” ~Albert Einstein

Many years from now when the history of our time is written, some may reflect that a small but meaningful step that preserved our world was taken this week. In the US, the event passed with little notice. There was Black Friday shopping to do. Meanwhile, a powerful and respected group acted to avert global disaster. The question for us now is whether we will heed their clarion call and act in unison to shape our policies so that a future – any future – can exist.

In a historic decision, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies adopted a resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons and urging all of their affiliates to conduct educational campaigns about the unique, catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear war.

This globally respected body’s action comes at a critical time in the history of our world. All over the earth, people are waking up to the sad reality that the path we are on is dangerously unsustainable. Activists, organizers, and everyday people are finding that by taking steps together we can, in fact, change the world.

During this moment of awakening, there is an opportunity to focus new and renewed energy on the enormous destructive potential of nuclear weapons. In recent years, many people have been lulled into a dangerous and false sense of security. Some have come to believe that after the end of the cold war, we need not be concerned about these horrific weapons. In reality, this technology is spreading and remains a grave threat to our health and to our very survival.

Today an organization that is among the most highly esteemed in the world is boldly speaking out on behalf of all who care about the future of our planet and our species. One delegate reminded the gathering of Albert Einstein’s quotation, “Mankind invented the atomic bomb, but no mouse would ever construct a mousetrap.”

We had the intellectual capacity to construct the tools of our own destruction. Will we now demonstrate the wisdom to step back from the brink and choose a different path?

This resolution provides a rare opportunity to do just that. They remind us that this issue should be beyond national borders and partisan politics and instead should be a rallying cry for all citizens of this planet to act together to ensure our very survival. These health care and relief workers, who do so much to help those most in need in times of crisis, realize that they will not be able to adequately respond in the aftermath of a nuclear detonation. No one can. In this case, the only treatment is prevention.

The enormity of this reality is hard to face. Understandably, even when we catch a glimpse of this truth, most of us turn away and try to get on with our lives. But, if we are to avert this looming disaster, we must face the painful reality and act together. And, we must do so now before it is too late.

Let us join together as one people and declare these weapons what they truly are – an affront to all we hold dear, to all the beauty of the past, and to all the potential of our future.

We cannot know, at this moment, what the future may hold, but we can come to understand that our very future is slipping away. Over our long history humans have created enormous beauty. Who knows what we might accomplish if we find a sustainable path and continue our journey for many years to come?

The preeminent international emergency response organization has sent us a clear wake up call. Will we hit the snooze button and go back to Holiday Shopping or will we realize the enormity of the danger we face and find a way to act together to preserve all that our future might hold?

To take action to prevent nuclear war visit 1 More 4 . A brief video highlights the diverse and international movement building to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide. You can learn more and sign up to join the campaign.

~ David Hart is Director of Security Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility and lives in Washington, D.C.

This Week On The Fallon Forum: The Fallon Anti-Confusi-Tron (FACT)

Monday – Thursday from 7:00-800 pm, join us for the fusion of politics and civility at 98.3 WOW-FM and on-line at  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 an online donation  or by check to PO Box 13421, Des Moines, IA 50310. 

Dear Friends,

I’m activating the Fallon Anti-Confusi-Tron (FACT) today to clear-up some persistently bad information. Occupy Des Moines is not – repeat, not – going to disrupt the Iowa Caucuses. The plan is to occupy presidential candidates’ headquarters. Big difference.

The Occupy movement isn’t just about corruption on Wall Street. It’s about corruption on K Street, in Congress and in the White House, too. Most important, it’s about an abuse of corporate and government power that have joined forces to affect the biggest transfer of wealth in planetary history — a transfer from you and me to the thinnest slice of America’s elite.

Every four years, Iowans have a unique opportunity to help select the two major parties’ nominees. We also have a responsibility to hold them accountable. To this end, Occupy Des Moines is organizing a “People’s Caucus” on December 27th and inviting folks from across the country to participate. Then on December 28, 29 and 30, people will occupy the candidates’ campaign headquarters until we receive a better response to the movement’s grievances or, more likely, until we are forcibly removed.

ACTION ALERT: If the National Defense Authorization Act’s provision on citizen arrest passes the U.S. Senate this week, we will see our freedom and liberty erode even further.  The bill “passed the Armed Services Committee essentially in secret, without even a single hearing on their radical and seemingly Soviet-inspired proposal.” Click here to read Shahid Buttar’s analysis in “Truthout,” go to the link at the end of the article to take action, and encourage our senators to support Senator Mark Udall’s amendment to strike the anti-liberty language.

Monday, Charles Goldman and I discuss Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons program and whether it is “the greatest foreign policy failure of the Obama administration,” as Mitt Romney claims.

Tuesday, State Representative Dan Kelley (D-Newton) is my guest.

Wednesday and Thursday, there’s so much to talk about:

– The National Defense Authorization Act (see above)
– The latest Occupy Wall Street developments
– The Republican presidential candidates’ meanderings
– Why the cost of Thanksgiving dinner rose 14% (got this from Glenn Beck, so not sure if it’s true)

So, tune in at 98.3 WOW-FM and online. You can download the Fallon Forum as a podcast, too.  And don’t forget to visit The Fallon Forum website at  Thanks!


How Respectful Media Coverage Of The GOP Is Damaging The Country

This is an excerpt from a must-read article by Eric Alterman, “Next Stop On The GOP Crazy Train: ‘Newtsville'” about the failure of media in their coverage of the so-called GOP “presidential candidates.”  You can read the entire article at The  LINK

The respectful response of the media to the batshit-crazy statements one hears from the second-tier Republican candidates—candidates who occasionally rise to the first tier and then just as quickly sink down again, having never been serious contenders in the first place—is doing definite damage to this country. How many credulous Americans may have decided to shun the HPV vaccine for their daughters after hearing Bachmann’s nutty suggestion that it causes mental retardation? What of the insistence of that ignorant idiot Herman Cain that the “objective” purpose of Planned Parenthood’s founding was to “kill black babies before they came into the world. It’s planned genocide.” Now we’ve got a new front-runner, Gingrich, who holds, among other crazy notions, that the Obama administration’s “secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did,” when his diseased brain is not focusing on his moronic (and racist) contention that “only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together” the inspiration for Obama’s foreign policies.

Gingrich is the man of the hour, as amazing and ridiculous as that may be. Like Cain and Bachmann, he is a better bet for a rubber room somewhere than the Oval Office. But this fact—obvious to anyone who’s paying attention—does not stop various media machers from pretending long enough to fly his ideological freak flag for him for millions of Americans. When, writing in the Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize–winning pundit Kathleen Parker describes “the sudden surge of Gingrich, who, whatever his flaws and despite the weight of his considerable baggage, is no intellectual slouch,” and says he “may be just the ticket”—well, one is left speechless. Pretending that these people might be president, and hence deserve to be treated as if what they say is true, is not merely unjustified—given that the nominee is almost certain to be Romney—but akin to playing accessory to a kind of ongoing intellectually criminal activity.

Reporters representing reliable media outlets are supposed to defend the discourse from the virus of this ignorance. But for a variety of reasons they no longer do so. Part of the explanation can be found in the foolish willingness of so many reporters to treat Fox News, Drudge and various talk-radio hosts as respectable voices in the debate without regard to their motives or qualifications.

Speaking of these Tea Party–inspired “candidates,” reformed right-winger David Frum writes that a “political movement that never took governing seriously was exploited by a succession of political entrepreneurs uninterested in governing—but all too interested in merchandising. Much as viewers tune in to American Idol to laugh at the inept, borderline dysfunctional early auditions, these tea-party champions provide a ghoulish type of news entertainment each time they reveal that they know nothing about public affairs and have never attempted to learn.”

Somebody better tell the MSM…

(click here to read the entire article)

Sunday Funday – Listless Thanksgiving Weekend Edition

Feeling listless? Well, you have probably eaten way too much real food and not enough mental food. So let’s see if we can remedy that by filling in some lists that everyone should know. This one may be better done with a partner.

Here goes:

1) Who are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

2) What are the six noble gasses?

3) What are the seven continents?

4) What were the original 13 American colonies?

5) What are the seven deadly sins?

6) What are the six verb tenses?

7) What are the seven virtues?

8) What were the eleven states in the Confederacy?

9) What are Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories?

10) Beginning with the lowest level and going up, what are the six officer ranks in the US Army?

Does getting the old brain engaged make you feel a bit better? Me too!

Now for a list of the answers on lists. Pay Attention!

1) War, Slaughter, Famine and Death

2) helium, neon, argon, radon, xenon, krypton (these are the gasses that will never combine with other elements to make a compound.)

3) Africa, Antactica, Asia, Australia (or Oceania), Europe, North America and South America

4) Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia,Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersy, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Caroline and Virginia

5) Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Avarice (or greed), Gluttony and Lust

6) Present, Past, Future, present perfect, Past perfect, Future perfect

7) Prudence (or Wisdom), Temperance, Fortitude (or courage), Justice, Faith, Hope, and Charity

8) Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi,North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

9) Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, (Newfoundland and Labrador), Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.

10) Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel and General.

Hope you feel a bit better and a bit smarter. Enjoy what is left of the weekend!

Post-Thanksgiving Hash

Like many folks, we are taking some time away to visit family for this holiday. We have one child at one end of the Mississippi and another at the other end. So we will be heading south with one set to visit the other. More than likely there will be lots of politics discussed on the trip.

VanderPlaats picks the winners

After the interviews for the Republican bishop’s — er uh — presidential candidate’s job last weekend, it looks like the VanderPlaats group had to disappoint some potential crown wannabes. So if your last name isn’t Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann or Santorum, you are not the stuff that Christian presidents are made of.

Which name doesn’t fit there?

In the previous list, does anyone notice that one peron seems to be a bit out of the stream that the others swim in? Maybe when it comes to being holy and religious and pious and humble, Newt is not only in another stream, but on another continent. Shows what a true joke Bob VanderPlaats and his puppets are playing on Iowans. VanderPlaats wants to be a king maker, and wants to be on the inside. For that purpose he is more than willing to make a laughing stock out of all that his organization, “The Family Leader” supposedly stands for. Who knows? Maybe he can be the next Mrs. Newt.

Iowa Independent closes

I was listening to the noon show on IPR Tuesday to hear the discussion of current journalism and the new media. (BTW, I do not pretend to be a journalist.) The second half-hour included an interview with Lynda Waddington of the Iowa Independent, an online news source. Lynda shocked us with the news that as of last Friday, they were no longer in business. So sad to hear that yet another independent source for news has gone. Thanks to Iowa Independent for its years of service.


A couple of weeks ago in an opening paragraph to a story I wrote on my corn stove, I mentioned LIHEAP or Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program. When the budget battles began in earnest last year one of the very first casualties was LIHEAP.  I intend to do a full story on my conversations with LIHEAP’s Iowa director, Jerry McKim next week when I have time.  But as the weather inevitably cools after Thanksgiving, I just wanted to put the thought of LIHEAP in people’s minds. The budget for LIHEAP was cut drastically while prices for energy have not fallen. Awards for help will most likely be smaller this year which will no doubt result in more disconnections next spring. More next week.

Iowa College Football

OK, I can’t help myself here. I am one who cheers for all three of Iowa’s public universities in athletic endeavors. So Friday and Saturday made for a really sweet weekend last week. We got home from a charity affair late Friday night. I had forgotten ISU was playing Oklahoma State that night. When I turned it on and saw the score (24 – 10 at the time) I thought – well, maybe it could happen. I fought sleep to see Woody go in for the score to win. What a sweet way to end the day.
Next day Iowa takes it to Purdue. And Northern Iowa wins another exciting game to move into the football championship playoffs for division 1AA.  I think the Hawkeyes can beat Nebraska. Can the Cylones become the champion of Oklahoma?  That would be great. And as always, the Panthers are tough come tournament time……


Media Consolidation: The Illusion of Choice

Big broadcasters want to expand their market influence, cut jobs and slash local news coverage. They have an opening — the Federal Communications Commission is currently reviewing all of its media ownership rules. These rules determine how many media outlets a corporation can own, and broadcasters are angling for fewer restrictions at the expense of our communities’ need for vital news and information. Just as the fight is heating up, blogger the Frugal Dad reminds us just how much power and influence broadcasters already have: (graphic reposted with permission)

 Media Consolidation Infographic

Source: Frugal dad

Happy Thanksgiving From Blog For Iowa

Blog for Iowa would like to wish our readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.




Iowans Getting Ready to Fight Back

Mayor R. T. Rybak of Minneapolis

While waiting for the local news to come on before dinner, a Rick Perry commercial played on television. In case you haven’t heard of him, he’s running for president along with a number of  other Republicans. He was telling us what we need to do about that socialist Barack Obama. Seriously? Number one, if the president is a socialist he sure isn’t showing it. He seems to be busy trying to hold the country together during a time of partisan gridlock unlike anything in history. Number two, conspicuous by their absence during the news hour was everyone else in the Republican field. Think they know something about Iowa grassroots politics Perry doesn’t?

Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak, Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee, demonstrated he knows something about Iowa grassroots politics, and how Barack Obama can win in 2012, when he was in Iowa City earlier this afternoon. He stopped at the Market Street office of Obama for America where he spoke to about 45 supporters. He said, a politician needs to “look Iowans in the eye and talk common sense because that’s what delivers results.” It got the audience’s attention.

Also in attendance were Christie Vilsack, candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the fourth district; Sue Dvorsky, Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party;  Iowa State Senators Bob Dvorsky and Joe Bolkcom; Terry Dahms, chair of the county party and former lawmaker and local favorite Dick Myers, among others. Media present included the CBS/FOX affiliate and John Deeth who posted on the event here. The room was packed.

Mayor R. T. Rybak in Iowa City

Rybak explained the focus on Mitt Romney by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel at the recent party fundraiser in Des Moines, which Deeth covered here. What was more telling about Rybak’s talk was the clear sense that a narrative is developing to combat the media attention the Republicans have been having in their primary contest.

The formula is pretty simple. 1). Tell the truth. 2).  Tell the story. While it would have been better politically for the president to pander to his base, what he did, according to Rybak, was, “take on the toughest, most complicated issue (in health care) and delivered.” President Obama did this with the Iraq war. He did this over and over during the beginning of his term. 3). Mayor Rybak said, “there is no more free lunch for these people,” referring to the Republican field of primary hopefuls. The DNC is ready to fight back when they misrepresent the president’s record of accomplishment, and so should we when talking to our friends and neighbors. 4). Rybak asked each of us in the room to pick 10 people we know and have that uncomfortable conversation about the 2012 election between now and the end of the year. This campaign, like the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign will be people-to-people, and that is how Democrats will win, according to Mayor Rybak.

A year can be a long time in politics. With Rybak saying that “when they throw an elbow, I’m going to throw it right back,” we know that the Democrats are ready to fight back and do what is necessary to help win the 2012 election.

Mayor Rybak had such a persistent smile and positive outlook, it was hard not to sign up. He thanked Iowans for taking Michelle Bachmann off Minnesota’s hands, smiled and said he would be back. Iowa will be seeing a lot of Mayor Rybak in the days ahead.