Archive for April 2012
With Congressman Dave Loebsack
Wednesday May 2nd
Our guest speakers will update us on legislation being debated at the state and federal level. They will also detail work they have already done on behalf of working families as well as their plans for the next legislature.
Wednesday May 2nd
9:00 a.m. Breakfast Buffet will be served
Hickory Gardens Restaurant
3311 Hickory Grove Road, Davenport
Clinton Labor Congress
226 22nd Place, Clinton
152 Colorado Street, Rm 101-102, Muscatine
Confirmed Guests: Congressman Dave Loebsack
Roxanne Moritz—Scott County Auditor
Sara Sedlacek—Candidate IA HD 88
Chris Brase—Candidate IA SD 46
Maria Bribriesco—Candidate IA HD 94
Kas Kelly—Supervisor Muscatine County
John Dabeet—Candidate HD91
“Don’t speak to me about your religion; 1st show it to me in how you treat other people. Don’t tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all her children. Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live & give.”
Pat Robertson maybe? How about Mitt Romney? Or someone from the evangelical community such as Tony Perkins? No, the answer is Newark Mayor Cory Booker, most recently noted for literally risking his life to save his neighbor from a fire.
On the other Hand:
“A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private. So to me, using my Catholic faith, we call it the social magisterium, which is how do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person?
To me, the principle of subsidiarity, which is really federalism, meaning government closest to the people governs best, having a civil society of the principal of solidarity where we, through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities, through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community, that’s how we advance the common good. By not having big government crowd out civic society, but by having enough space in our communities so that we can interact with each other, and take care of people who are down and out in our communities.
Those principles are very very important, and the preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenants of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life. Help people get out of poverty out onto life of independence.”
Rep. Paul Ryan, twisting Catholic social doctrine to justify shredding the safety net for the poor and eliminate things like food stamps.
Once Republicans did care:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.
We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.
We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road. the world has been taking.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
Spoken by President Eisenhower in 1953.
Note that Ryan’s budget also expands military spending while cutting aid for the poor.
Austerity drives the UK to round 2 recession
Keynesian economics was once considered to be the go to concept to deal with recessions and depressions. The concepts are fairly simple. When the economy slides into a recession, governments make up for declining jobs by employing people and getting money into circulation. Now the go to concept is AUSTERITY! Keynesian economics worked well for decades. Just out of the chute, Austerity doesn’t seem to be working very well. PM David Cameron appears to be married to Austerity to end the recession in Britain. So far, Austerity is doing what most people thought it would do – making the recession worse.
Who would have thought it?
Grassley once again shows he hates women. (VAWA re-authorization)
Two years ago Iowans had the choice to send a liberal woman to the senate or return Chuck Grassley. One of the issues that Roxanne Conlin brought up was Grassley’s voting record on women. Well she wasn’t lying. Grassley once again put Iowa on the map of backward states with his opposition to the re-authorization Violence Against Women Act.
This is a bill that was near unanimous when first passed and also near unanimous when it was reauthorized twice. Now Grassley is leading the opposition as once again the Republican Party declares women not to be full citizens of the United States.
Can we fire Senators? Maybe Romney could fire him? Romney likes to fire people.
OK, I was watching Jeopardy the other day. They had the ACLU as a category. Well, what could be a better category for a bunch of liberals and progressive than the group that will lead them into the worker’s paradise?
Guess what? We haven’t always seen eye to eye with the ACLU. I bet most of us can remember at least one battle they fought that we wondered WHAT are they doing? So let’s see what you know.
1) When was the ACLU founded?
a) Just after the Constitution was adopted
b) Prior to the Civil War.
c) Shortly after the end of WWI in 1920
d) At the end of WWII.
2) What issue helped gel the ACLU into existence?
a) The adoption of the bill of Rights at the Constitutional Convention
b) The Communist threat following WWII
c) Slavery before the Civil War
d) The imprisoning of anti-War protesters during WWI
3) Over the years the ACLU has defended many individuals and groups which were incredibly unpopular at the time. Which group did they defend during
a) Americans of Japanese descent who were interned as a prevention.
b) Members of the German-American League who were banned after the start of the war.
d) American Jews.
4) The ACLU is often best known by the cases it has been involved in. One famous case arising from Iowa led to loosening free speech in public schools. What city was the defendant in that case?
a) Iowa City.
b) Des Moines
c) Sioux City
d) Cedar Rapids
5) One issue that the ACLU is frequently vilified by the right concerning public schools is:
a) forced that evolution be taught in American high schools
b) included Buddhism and Islam prayers be included in public school prayers.
c) allowed students to withdraw from public school prayer.
d) the outlawing of prayer in public schools.
6) In one of its more controversial cases the ACLU defended the right of the American Nazi Party (NASP) to march in what mostly Jewish community?
a) Palm Beach, Florida
b) North Bergen, N.J.
c) Brookfield, Wisconsin
d) Skokie, Illinois
7) In its early years, because of mutual interests the ACLU was frequently associated with what group or movement?
b) civil rights
8) The ACLU first gained public notoriety due to its involvement in what famous 1920s case?
a) Sacco and Vanzetti
b) The Scopes Monkey Trial
c) Teapot Dome Scandal
d) Leopold and Loeb
9) Recently, the ACLU was on which side in the Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission?
a) Citizens United
10) In toto, which one of the Bill of Rights has the ACLU defended most frequently?
a) the second amendment on firearms
b) the fourth amendment on searches and seizures
c) the fifth amendment on trial by jury etc.
d) the first amendment on freedom of speech.
I feel a little freer know the ACLU is out there to defend our freedoms.
Here are the answers:
1) c) shortly after WWI
2) d) the imprisoning of anti-war protesters.
3) a) Japanese Americans who were put in internment camps
4) b) Tinker v. Des Moines (the black armband case)
5) d) outlawing of prayer in school
6) d) Skokie, Ill.
7) a) labor
8) b) the Scopes Monkey Trial
9) a) Citizens United (they have been roundly criticized for this)
10) d) the first amendment, especially the freedom of speech.
Doing more to create jobs for Iowans and grow our state’s economy is still my top priority as the 2012 session winds down.
The Iowa Senate is working to invest $62 million in job creation and economic growth. The Republican-controlled Iowa House, however, is only willing to invest about half that much.
The Senate also agreed that Iowa should help businesses create jobs through targeted incentives. The House does not.
The Senate wants Iowa’s three state universities to keep working with businesses on technology commercialization, marketing, entrepreneurship and technical assistance for businesses.
The House budget, on the other hand, would cut advertising for Iowa tourism and close Small Business Development Centers and Workforce field offices. If the House gets its way, it will be more difficult for Iowans to looking for work and for Iowa businesses to get started, expand and find the employees they need.
I hope we can agree to put job creation first as the 2012 session wraps up. Other efforts to boost our economy that I’m pushing for include:
** Fixing Iowa’s skilled worker shortage. It’s the best thing we can do for our economy, according to business leaders. Partnerships between community colleges and local businesses are a proven way to help Iowans gain the skills needed for hard-to-fill job openings that are locally available right now.
** Cutting commercial property taxes for every Iowa business—especially for small and Main Street businesses—without increasing residential property taxes.
** Requiring more effort to buy American and buy Iowan first when your state and local tax dollars are spent.
** Cutting income taxes for 260,000 working Iowa families by boosting Iowa’s Earned Income Tax Credit.
** Reducing health insurance costs for 60,000 Iowa small businesses with a state tax credit on employee coverage.
** Boosting alternative energy investment through consumer rebates for residential and business solar and wind projects that save money and are environmentally friendly.
Enhancing accountability on economic development projects
The Iowa Senate has voted to increase accountability and transparency when your tax dollars are spent for local economic development.
I support Tax Incremental Financing — better known as TIF — because it is an important economic development tool for cities and counties. After a TIF district is created, the property tax income generated from increased property values in that area are diverted from schools, cities or counties and used instead for economic development efforts in the TIF area.
House File 2460, as amended by the Senate, requires robust reporting, increases transparency and puts some restrictions on how communities use TIF. For example, the legislation would prevent TIF dollars in certain instances from being used to “steal” businesses away from a neighboring community. The bill also ensures taxpayers know how their property taxes are affected by TIF projects.
HF 2460, as amended by the Senate, now goes back to the House for their further consideration.
Open government helps all Iowans
To work well, democracy requires that citizens know what government is doing and why.
In 2007, work began on fundamental reforms of Iowa’s open records and open meetings laws. The goal was to make the proceedings and records of state and local government open and accessible to citizens. The Legislature has now approved Senate File 430, giving Iowans better access to government information and public records.
The bill, which goes to the Governor for his signature, helps make sure officials obey open meetings and open records laws in an efficient and cost-effective way. SF 430 creates the Iowa Public Information Board to address and resolve complaints. The board will provide informal assistance, mediation and settlement, formal investigation of grievances and determination of when violations have occurred.
Keeping Iowa seniors safe
In response to an assault at an Iowa nursing home, the Senate voted to toughen protections for our seniors living in nursing homes and other care facilities.
A sexually violent predator who’d served his sentence was released from a state-run facility directly into a northwest Iowa nursing home. There he assaulted an elderly woman, who was also a resident.
House File 2422, as approved by the Senate, would:
** Prohibit any sexually violent predator from being released from a state-run facility to a nursing home or residential care facility;
** Allow nursing homes and residential care facilities to refuse to admit registered sex offenders; and
** Permit facilities to discharge sex offenders who are current residents.
The legislation also establishes a task force on the need for a nursing care facility specifically for sexually violent predators.
Workers Memorial Day, April 27
During 2011, 43 Iowans died from injuries sustained while working and 10 Iowans lost their lives while serving our country in the military. On April 27, we’ll pay tribute these Iowans and renew our commitment to safe and healthy workplaces for all. A Workers Memorial Day ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at Iowa Workforce Development, 1000 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines. All are welcome to attend.
Vietnam Veterans Ceremony, May 7
On May 7, Iowa will mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and remember those who served. A ceremony will take place at noon at the Vietnam Memorial on the South Grounds of the Statehouse in Des Moines. For more information, contact the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-838-4692 or visit https://va.iowa.gov.
Screen-Free Week encourages healthy activity
Did you know that doctors recommend no more than 2 hours of screen time per day for young children? Yet preschool kids spend on average 32 hours a week watching TV or playing on a computer, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Screen-Free Week from April 30 to May 6 is a time to encourage kids to spend more time away from the screen, in active play that increases their fitness. For further information on Screen-Free Week, visit http://tiny.cc/screenfree.
Travelers recycle at Iowa rest areas
The Iowa Recycles on the Road pilot project, started at eight central Iowa interstate rest areas, has already collected more than 38,000 pounds of bottles, cans and other drink containers. At a recycling facility in Des Moines, they’re processed and shipped to factories, where the materials can be used to manufacture new beverage containers and other recycled products.
Iowa Recycles on the Road encourages recycling by making it easier for drivers to help reduce litter and keep Iowa beautiful. The Iowa Department of Transportation hopes to expand the program to an additional 32 rest stops that serve more than 13.2 million drivers each year.
Apply for state boards, commissions
Local Iowans are encouraged to apply for a position on one of Iowa’s boards and commissions. These panels advise the Legislature and Governor on a variety of issues of statewide importance.
Citizen participation is what makes our democracy strong. Those who volunteer their time, knowledge and skills in this important capacity help to build a stronger, brighter future for all Iowans.
Twenty-five boards and commissions have about 125 positions opening up on June 30. To view all boards and commissions and to learn more about the work they do and how to apply, go to www.openup.iowa.gov.
BOARD WITH POSITIONS OPENING UP JUNE 30
Agricultural Education, Council on
Arts Council, Iowa
Brain Injuries, Advisory Council on
Building Code Advisory Council, State
Centennial Memorial Foundation, Iowa
College Student Aid Commission
Criminal Justice Information Systems Advisory Committee
Developmental Disabilities Council, Iowa
Early Access, Iowa Council for
Fire Service and Emergency Response Council
Health, State Board of
Historical Records Advisory Board, State
Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees, State
Homelessness, Iowa Council on
Independent Living Council, Statewide
Juvenile Justice Advisory Council
Medical Assistance Advisory Council
Preserves Advisory Board
Public Broadcasting Board, Iowa
Student Loan Liquidity Corporation
Terrace Hill Commission
Uniform State Laws, Commission on
Vertical Infrastructure Advisory Committee, Iowa
Vocational Rehabilitation Council
Volunteer Service, Iowa Commission on
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
Yet again Republicans are running their election year bait and switch on jobs and the economy. Do not ever forget who was in charge when the economy hit the skids. The reasons behind the failures were not some mystical forces of the economic gods, but government policies which allowed banks to become casinos. Adding to the mix was engaging in two wars that were paid for by borrowing from China and Japan, while giving a huge tax cut to millionaires and billionaires. Mix in an unfunded prescription drug benefit which added $700 billion to the debt and you get a recipe for an economic disaster unparalleled since the 1930’s.
The economy collapsed under the weight of all that in 2008. Remember the TARP bailout (giveaway) for Wall Street in Oct of that year followed by a loss of 1.5 million jobs in Bush’s last two months in office. The GDP in that quarter was -8%, an historical figure. The huge run up in national debt that began during the Bush years accelerated in fiscal 2009 which began on Oct 1, 2008. The massive unemployment which began under Bush created huge strains on the budget in the ensuing years as government tried to reverse the economic tide.
In 2010 the Republicans gained control of the House and state legislatures with the promise of job, jobs, jobs. Two years later we have yet to see any real effort on their part to deliver, in fact what we have seen is obstruction at every turn. They were serious when they announced their main objective was to make Barack Obama a one term president, even if it meant taking the country down with him. Fortunately polls show that Americans are not easily fooled a second and third time.
In spite of Republican obstructionism our economy, since 2009, has added over 4 million jobs with growth for 25 straight months and our GDP is now at 2%+, a remarkable turn around considering where we were. Especially when you consider it took 15 years and a world war to recover from the “Great Depression”. Yet Americans are not known for their patience. And though we all desire a faster recovery, there is no magic elixir with an overnight cure no matter what any candidate or snake oil salesman tries to tell you. We are on the track to recovery and it would be foolish to turn around and go back where we just came from. Romney would reinstitute Bush policies on steroids.
The public is finally waking up to this cynical bait-and-switch scam Republicans have been running since the Reagan days, promise jobs and give the wealthiest huge tax breaks. Simple economics tells us and history shows us that what creates jobs is demand driven by consumers who have more money to spend.
This is the Democratic model and now is the time to elect those who understand the economy flows from the bottom, not from a few rich at the top.
“If an entire wing of a university department’s building is named after Monsanto, as it is at Iowa State University, can we really expect that school to produce objective, potentially critical, research on genetically engineered foods or the environmental impact of commodity crops?”
Public Research, Private Gain: Corporate Influence Over University Agricultural Research
New report outlines how corporate influence compromises the mission of land-grant universities
Washington, D.C.— From domestication of the blueberry to tools to combat soil erosion, land-grant universities have revolutionized American agriculture for general public benefit almost entirely through public investments from state and federal governments. However, a report released by Food & Water Watch today finds that by 2010, nearly a quarter of funding for agricultural research at land-grant universities came from private and corporate donations.
“The original intent that public research should benefit the public has been completely lost and this conflict of interest between public good and private profits remains largely unchallenged by both academia and policymakers,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Sound agricultural policy requires impartial and unbiased scientific inquiry, but like nearly every aspect of our modern food system, land-grant school funding has been overrun by narrow private interests.”
Created by the federal government in 1862, land-grant universities have pioneered vitally important research on plant varieties, soil conservation, advancing rural livelihoods and improving the safety and abundance of food for consumers. The land-grant university system has 109 locations and a presence in every state and territory. It includes some of the largest state universities such as the University of California system, Pennsylvania State University and Texas A&M University.
The report, Public Research, Private Gain: Corporate Influence Over University Agricultural Research, provides a history of the land-grant university system including how, as public funding has stalled in recent decades, these universities have turned to agribusiness to fill the void, compromising the public mission of the institutions.
“Private-sector funding not only corrupts the public research mission of land-grant universities, but also distorts the science that is supposed to help farmers improve their practices and livelihoods.”
“Industry-funded academic research routinely produces favorable results for industry sponsors. And since policymakers and regulators frequently cite these university studies to back up their decision-making, industry-funded academic research increasingly influences the rules that govern their business operations.”
The report outlines the millions of dollars that land-grant universities and professors have received from corporate funders and gives examples of the unencumbered access and influence corporations such as Walmart, Monsanto, Cargill, Tyson, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have received in return. The report makes several recommendations for ways public agricultural research should be reoriented to serve the common good.
Below is a list Workers Memorial Day events around Iowa. For more info about Iowa events: Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
“Workers’ Memorial Day, International Workers’ Memorial Day or International Commemoration Day (ICD) for Dead and Injured or Day of Mourning takes place annually around the world on April 28, an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.” Link
Dubuque Federation of Labor
Friday April 27th. Friday at 5 pm. The event will be held at the Labor Temple, 1610 Garfield, in Dubuque. Iowa Federation of Labor Charlie Wishman will be speaking. Contact Bruce Clark at email@example.com
South Central Iowa Federation of Labor
Friday April 27th. At the east side of the Iowa Work Force Development building, 1000 East Grand Ave. in Des Moines. Speakers include, Ken Sagar, President Iowa Federation of Labor, Michael Mauro, Iowa Labor Commissioner and Governor Terry Branstad. Holly Sagar at firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Hawk Union Council
Saturday April 28th. At the entrance of the Central School in Waterloo. (1350 Katoski Dr,) This will be at noon. The Democratic District meeting is being held at this school at the same time. Contact Cal Eckhoff at email@example.com
Hawkeye Labor Council
Saturday April 28. Workers Memorial Day at the Ballpark. There will be a pre-game ceremony (4:15 pm) at the Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball game. Gates open at 4 pm. Tickets $9. Contact Rick Moyle at 319-396-8461, firstname.lastname@example.org
Iowa City Federation of Labor
Saturday April 28th. Iowa City Pedestrian Mall (Downtown Iowa City) at Noon. This will be in front of Congressman Loebsack’s Office. Short Speeches, reading of the names, moment of silence. Closing with Amazing Grace and Taps. Contact Patrick Hughes, 319-530-6248 or L1260@carpentersunion.org.
Lee County Labor Council
Saturday April 28th. There will be an event at the Labor Temple. Time to be announced.
North Iowa Nine Labor Council
Saturday April 28th. VFW Post 733, 1603 S Monroe, Mason City. 1 pm to 3 pm. Open to public. Charlie Wishman, Secretary Treasurer of the Iowa Federation of Labor will be speaking. Light lunch will be served. Contact Mike Herman 641-430-6754 or email@example.com.
Northwest Iowa Labor Council
Saturday April 28th. 3038 South Lake Port, UFCW 222 Hall, in Sioux City. Event will start at 7 pm. Call John Hamm at 712-276-0473.
Quad City Federation of labor
Saturday April 28th at 10:30 am there will be a Workers Memorial Service at the USW 105 Hall, 880 Devils Glen Road in Bettendorf, Iowa. At 6 pm that evening there will be a Trivia night at the VFW Lodge 1303, 3715 9th st, in Rock Island, Il. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diplomacy with Iran, ‘we can’t afford another war,’ a key focus
DES MOINES – (Catholic Peace Ministry news services, courtesy of JJ Weiss) A delegation that included Mayor Frank Cownie of Des Moines consulted with Senator Tom Harkin Sunday in an attempt to avert war with Iran and express concerns about the future of U.S. foreign and domestic policy.
The eight organizations included the Catholic Peace Ministry and Iowans for Diplomacy with Iran who lobbied for direct talks with Iran.
Other members of the delegation included Kathleen McQuillen of the American Friends Service Committee, Chet Guinn of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, Ed Flaherty of Veterans for Peace, Dr. David Drake of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Yashar Vasef of the United Nations Association of Iowa, Sherry Hutchison of the Quaker Valley Friends Meeting, Maggie Rawland of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and Tony Johnson.
Robert Williams of Indianola, instrumental setting up the meeting, was unable to attend because of his health; Harkin had kind words for Williams and his persistent presence for peace. Senator Harkin opened the proceedings by showing support for the work done by the groups sitting at the table.
Mayor Frank Cownie said we have needs, for example “68 bridges that need to be repaired in Des Moines alone. “We have crumbling infrastructure, a local flood situation, and no funds yet we’re not cutting dollars off the Pentagon budget, Cownie said. “We continue to speak of more war…..It’s a fear-based mentality driving this we have to shake off.”
Harkin expressed reservations taking a strong stand on Iran as opposed to his “restoring the middle class” initiatives and the assembled argued our disfunction was a result of our state of perpetual war if you read history. Harkin did acknowledge “sure” when asked if we have a permanent war economy and agreed our military bases overseas were excessive.
The opening statement was made by Kathleen McQuillen of AFSC.
“We want you to start speaking publicly for diplomacy with Iran. We also do not want you to sign Senate Resolution 380 which expresses the will of some Senators to go to war with Iran,” said McQuillen.
Chet Guinn asked Harkin to work with us setting up a public forum to discuss U.S. foreign and domestic policy because his voice was respected locally.
AFSC also brought the concerns of its ongoing work to build peace for Israelis and Palestinians by expressing alarm that the President increased military aid to Israel better spent in our cities here.
Shifting again to Iran, the Catholic Peace Ministry reiterated its position of direct diplomacy as Obama called for when running for president. Dr. David Drake of Physicians for Social Responsibility expressed the environmental concerns of another war and also that in his work that when parties are in danger of the most egregious conflict is exactly the time to sit down and talk.”
“That is one thing that I have learned in my profession,” Dr. Drake said.
Ed Flaherty of Veterans for Peace credited Harkin with speaking against the Vietnam War and in the 1980s about human rights abuses we supported in Central America but gave an impassioned appeal to speak now, that his and other voices in the Senate have been largely silent.
“We feel a sense of urgency, Flaherty said. “A war can break out even if it’s not intended and once it starts it’s hard to stop a war.” Just because talks will take place between multiple parties and Iran next May the rhetoric hasn’t lessened.
Flaherty late addressed Harkin’s statement that he does not have a bully pulpit on foreign policy.
“We think that you do, Senator, and President Obama needs support from Democrats in the Senate as he is being pushed on this issue on several fronts, most of them negative, especially the Prime Minister of Israel.”
Harkin said he refused to attend the speech by Netanyahu before the U.S. Congress and would be interested in traveling to Iran but his own government disallowed congressional travel at this time.
McQuillen went further on U.S. policy in Southwest Asia by asking Harkin to stop taking campaign contributions from organizations that support Israel’s occupation,” McQuillen said, citing the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Harkin stated organizations can support him for a variety of reasons so McQuillen said she would provide more information.
McQuillen noted Harkin’s work on human rights so the same could be afforded to the Palestinians, the only people said to have “the right to self-determination” meaning having a legal right to a country without having one.
In the discussion Harkin used the word “occupation” — as does both the governments of Israel and the U.S. — though it is not uncommon for national media, including the New York Times and National Public Radio, to use the phrase “disputed territories.”
Yashar Vasef spoke as an Iranian-American who was concerned about the support of many people in positions of power in the United States to both support the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, and attempt to take the organization of the list of terrorist organizations.
Vasef asked Harkin to bring this support to the attention of more people on the Hill as it certainly appears to be outside of U.S. law to support such an organization.
Journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, and both the New York Times and BBC have reported that both the previous administration and members of the current Congress have supported the activities of MEK, including the assassination of Iranian scientists.
“This covert war is already going on and few people know about the MEK so that is one of the reasons why I am here today though I do not support the Iranian regime’s efforts to aquire nuclear power.” Vasef said.
The meeting ended with a discussion of a public forum in Iowa and the delegation will remain together until this is accomplished so the larger citizenry can engage the present and future of this civilization.
For more information:
email@example.com or find ‘Catholic Peace Ministry’ on Facebook
CPM, 4211 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312 (telephone 515 255 8114)
Final note: During the discussion the voices of WILPF are also noted: Sherry Hutchison stated her concern the term ‘war on terror’ was in perpetuity and Maggie Rawland that corporations had bought Congress so we as citizens are disenfranchised, especially after Citizens United
(WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM) firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to talk to my democrat friends who are in the fight to help Obama win in 2012. One person, even if he’s the president, can’t really change things in America. But I still believe the work you’re doing is important to do. I also want to talk to my friends in Occupy Wall Street, this involves everyone. We’ve been dealing with a lot of issues lately, particularly the question of whether the 99% spring is a co-opting of the movement, moveon.org, etc. which has pushed people to having that conversation so I think all this is relevant to the movement as well.
Regardless of the fact I no longer consider myself a democrat and that I think it is important to work outside the system, I am still proud of the fact that I was a significant part of Obama’s election in 2008. I was the head organizer of the Indianapolis ACORN office at that time, I found and trained all the initial people and together we built a GOTV operation that in the end employed almost 400 registrars and registered 24,500 new voters in Indianapolis. The last time Indiana went blue was 1967 and it’s only done that three times. So that isn’t something that I’m going to look back on and think; “What a waste of time…” Organizing is what it is and politics is the art of the possible. I do not think it was foolish. I did what I thought was the right thing. I would do it again because at the time, it seemed like the right choice and in fact I still believe it was.
I want you to know, that I hope Barack Obama wins if the alternative is Mitt Romney if for no other reason than the fact that Mitt will appoint terrible supreme court justices. I think I and many other people will prefer Obama’s pick for the highest court in the nation.
I look at the long haul. I’m willing to fight all your fights with you, I always vote for who I think will be best for the country, not just my own personal views.
On the issue of health care, I’m hopeful and grateful for the work that has been done by everyone but I know there is much more to do. I have serious health issues, reforming this system matters to me personally. I’m of the belief that “some disassembly may be required”, but that doesn’t mean I think we can’t save some parts of the world as we know it. We just have to sort through it all together and see what’s important to us.
So please don’t treat me like a dirty hippie pariah for saying that I’m not happy with Obama. I’m not an “herbal tea bagger”, I don’t think he’s evil, I’m just justifiably dismayed and righteously angry at the failure of so many of his campaign promises. The system seems to have absorbed him.
I’m just sick of being marginalized in my own country for having chosen the safer alternative recreational drugs over alcohol .
Obama made a campaign promise he’s not keeping. He promised to leave states alone when it came to medical marijuana . He needs to stop siding with the special interests on the drug war  and start listening to his people . We need to end the racism that the war on drugs has become. It is the modern version of jim crow  as well as a monumental failure of public policy. Not to mention the fact that the last three presidents have all done drugs.
If I could have $10 dollars for every time I lost a job, was driven from an activist group, driven from the leadership council, or denied medical care for my being a “dirty hippie”, I would have enough to take all my close friends out to dinner. I’ve known I lived in a police state since I was 12 years old. I realized then that I would eventually be in prison for my beliefs.
It’s time to stop demonizing weed heads as well as addicts, self medicators and responsible users, and recognize these rights and stop the prohibition and demonization of things that should be regarded as either health care issues or protected rights.
And this isn’t limited to just the democrats, it’s happening within Occupy as well. People are using either our beliefs or politics against us in an effort to “purify” occupy so this isn’t a behavior that is at all uncommon, it is in fact the root of our problem. This bullying behavior and taking advantage of the natural lines of marginalization (society’s scapegoats) almost completely without hesitation instead of democratically reaching an inclusive consensus regarding the issue or issues is just the way we do things in America. We’ve forgotten how to even function as a people within a democratic framework. The same things that happen to any group inevitably happens to occupations. Infighting and factioning over the same old tired lines of societal division. The real argument within Occupy now is reform or revolution. Which naturally, depending upon where you are in the world (economically or geographically), is a very good question. I’ve been saying for some time that the answer is both. We need you inside the system and we need us outside the system. I believe that whatever anyone says about the right / left dichotomy, the truth is that this is a battle between compassion and fear. I’m always going to fall on the side of love and inclusiveness and empowering everyone rather than building an economy based upon hoarding and manufactured scarcity.
Let’s stop pretending that this is all just the silly talk of a burned out, weed head, acid casualty, unless you want to apply that same label to the spate of Latin American and Mexican leaders calling for legalization of drugs. Being thrown under the bus for 35 years, working in social justice for decades, and fighting the real war on poverty all this time, I know the difference between something important, and something we can negotiate away in a compromise. Ending the failed drug war isn’t one of them. Obama’s dismissal of the recent call to begin negotiating the de-escalation of the drug war is a huge failure of statesmanship on his part . Not to mention his refusal to consider pushing to change marijuana from schedule 1 (dangerous drug with no medicinal value) to schedule 2 (having medical uses), a patently false statement. We’ve known for a long time cannabis has many health benefits as well as anti cancer properties. One of the problems politically is that it is inconvenient in that big pharma won’t make much of a profit from legalizing marijuana, farmers will. So they’re against legalization naturally. Obviously the states see it differently, since it is the largest cash crop in California as well as many other states in America.
I’d like to lay to rest the idea that I think the dems and the repubs are the same. They’re not. There is a huge difference between the left / right, brain structures, our ideas, our morality, all of it, very different . But it’s just not enough. So please understand; I’ve just reached the place where I know that voting will never get the job done.
Will I vote for Obama in November? Probably. Because of the SCOTUS thing… we need more than ever to impeach several activist judges and I do believe that Obama will appoint more impartial judges than Mitt would. That’s pretty important. Does this make me not really an occupier? No. I believe that participating only during presidential or state elections is a way to keep things the same. A fine adjustment upon politics, not entirely useless, just not “sweeping” enough. We won’t change the nearly complete capturing of our government and its agencies by corporations by voting. As Emma Goldman said; “If voting changed anything, they’d make that illegal”. Only a real movement can save us now.
Change is the nature of life
Humans have quite simply, sped the world up just a bit. Its rate of change is increasing to the point that our institutions and maybe even our bodies are unable to keep up . Our bureaucracies, suffering from entrenchment and already painfully slow, are now hopelessly mired in obstructionism, greed and corruption. No one single person is to blame and it pretty nearly doesn’t really matter who is president. Our system of government is just not representative enough, responsive enough, distributed enough. We’ve lived mostly authoritarian lives even though we all believe we’ve been free, it really amounts to a facade. We don’t teach democracy in school. And our workplaces do not foster it. Even our college degrees prepare us to work and live in a mostly authoritarian environment. The attempted purification of occupy of it’s radical’s, weedheads, homeless people, etc. was not surprising really, most of us have no actual experience with democracy or decentralization and so the intolerance at the root of American culture naturally dominates us at a level I would call subconscious. The only way to avoid the “purge” as I like to call it is to stay vigilant. We are prone to witch hunts.
The real truth
We’re all to blame for what is happening and no one person can stop and heal the damage to our earth and our communities. In fact, aside from death, stop is about the only thing we seem unable to do. Life goes on as they say.
But we all know the 1% do not want change. You and I and our children need things to change desperately and quickly and we know that voting is not going to save us from this calamity borne ironically of our viral success. The only thing that has a chance to deliver the change we need is a global movement towards democracy that protects the rights of all people everywhere. In the words of the international workers of the world: “An injury to one, is an injury to all”.
In the future, understand that when I criticize Obama for things like his deplorable record on bringing Wall Street to justice for the mortgage fraud and collapse of the world’s economy in 2008, or not closing Guantanamo, or signing the NDAA legislation, I’m not a hater, I love my freedom but no more than anyone elses. I’m just trying to give the president and all our “elected” officials the vocal majority they need to move further towards the center and really change things. Do I think that will be enough? No. Building a movement, Occupy Wall Street, or the American Spring (or whatever we choose to call this movement) is a critical step we need to take in order to move our society back toward our values. Our organizing and protests have already improved the national conversation and turned our country’s political discussion towards what really matters and this has already helped Obama and will likely continue to do so. And while I think good rhetoric is important, our problem is that it seems that Democrats pay the lip service but have no spine and don’t fight for the policies needed to implement our shared values. But most of us think that the system is hopelessly broken and only a structure built outside the system can ever have any hope of influencing it. Can you see how many decentralized groups working for change will only help?
The current system of wealth extraction the 1% like to call capitalism is fatally flawed without the concept of debt forgiveness. We need a modern equivalent of the biblical jubilee which was specifically designed to prevent the concentration of lands and wealth into a few hands. Even slaves were freed after 7 years. Any president that tries to change this will either not succeed, be absorbed, or be killed trying to do the right thing. Thus the need for a leaderless, decentralized movement . Thus the need for all of us to pitch in. No single person has ever made the difference, the system needs to change and I still believe a better world really is possible. To achieve fundamental change it has always taken many of us working together for a long time to move things in the right direction . But there is no doubt in my mind, we can take our lives back from corporate control and guarantee at least the possibility of freedom and prosperity for our children in the future if we work together. It just seems to many of us like there is nothing to do but build alternative ways forward that work. Locally. Outside the “system”. You should help us do that when you’re done working on the election of 2012. It will help all of us recapture the community that we lost quite a while ago.
When November has come and gone and we know who Wall Street voted for and Obama has the bully pulpit for another four years, the work to save our world will remain there for us to do. While you’re doing that, I and many others will be building power at the grassroots in our communities working to take this fight past november. I hope to see you there working with us for the rights that we all know that we have, not by legal decree, but by the fact we are alive. After November the roots of our problem will remain greed, corruption and inequity. No justice? No peace.
Obama can’t do anything without active, vocal, citizens pushing him in the right direction. So let us heal the rift in the left that the war on drugs really is, and join the middle and the moderates on the right in civil debate. Don’t let the vitriol of the far right invade our conversations too. Let’s stop marginalizing people throwing the weed issue and every other important issue under the bus and what ever you do, don’t stop working for a better world in November.
Supporting documents and opinions:
 – Obama’s War on Pot
 – ExileNation.org
 – Jubilee (biblical)