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Archive for November 2012

Fiscal Cliff Caroling This Weekend In Ames, Des Moines

Action Alert from Progress Iowa

With Congress back in session, it’s time for Chuck Grassley and Tom Latham to work for us and end the Bush tax cuts for the top 2%.

Tell Sen. Grassley and Rep. Latham it’s time to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2%. Click here to sign the petition.

After you’ve signed

As part of a national day of action, we’ll be singing “Fiscal Cliff Carols” outside the Ames office of Rep. Latham at Noon, and the Des Moines office of Sen. Grassley at 3:30 p.m. (here’s Matt with some volunteers warming up).

Will you join us this Saturday?

Click here to sign up to join us at Rep. Latham’s office at 1421 S Bell Ave in Ames at noon.


Click here to sign up to join us at Sen. Grassley’s office at 210 Walnut Ave in Des Moines at 3:30 p.m.

Matt Denner
Progress Iowa

Wall Street bankers and corporate lobbyists are committed to protecting their loopholes and giveaways. They’re taking action to make sure many of our nation’s CEOs continue to pay lower taxes than their own secretaries.

That’s why we have to work even harder. If we gather enough signatures and show our legislators that we’re committed to making sure fat cats pay their fair share, we’ll win.

Will you join hundreds of Progress Iowa members from across the state and ask Senator Grassley and Rep. Latham to stand with Iowa families?

Tell Sen. Grassley and Rep. Latham it’s time to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2%. Click here to sign the petition.

Click here to tell Grassley and Latham to protect Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security–not more tax breaks for the super wealthy.

Thank you for all you do,
Matt Sinovic
Progress Iowa

P.S. Once you’ve signed the petition, forward this message to your friends — and be sure to visit our new website,!

It’s Time For Fiscal Accountability at the Pentagon

Veterans for Peace

It’s time for fiscal accountability in all parts of government, but particularly with military spending.

In FY 2000 the Pentagon budget was $295 billion, the national debt was $5.62 trillion, and unemployment was 4 percent. In FY 2012, the Pentagon budget was $645 billion, and a deficit of $1.1 trillion contributed to a year-ending national debt of $16 trillion. Unemployment was 7.8 percent.

Scary figures.

Set aside for a moment the fiscal cliff that’s abuzz in the media– the disastrous financial effects of the Bush tax cuts, the potential impact of the sequester, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Look closely at our military spending. It has more than doubled in 12 years and has contributed to our national debt and to increased unemployment. Just as important, the money has been spent wastefully, with $102 billion in waste identified in just FY 2011. And, according to the Pentagon itself, in the last decade the Pentagon awarded $1.1 trillion in contracts to contractors who have engaged in fraud.

This is not a foreign policy problem, it is an accountability problem. As we approach the so-called fiscal cliff, we should insist that the military budget take its full share of cuts. Military spending is 57 percent of all discretionary spending. Let it absorb at least 57 percent of the total spending cuts. We should insist that our senators vote to require that the Pentagon pass an audit, for the first time in history, to hold our military accountable for spending.


Veterans for Peace, Chapter 161
Ed Flaherty
Paul Deaton
Jeff Strottmann
Louis DeGrazia
Linda S. Fisher
Roscoe Porch
Joe Michaud
Steve Hanken
Tom Baldridge
John Jadreyev
Pamela Fitzgerald
Mary L. Martin
Diana Henry
John Ivens
Al Bohanan
Thomas M. Kelly

How You Can Help Congress End The Bush Tax Cuts For The Top 2%


Find Senators Grassley and Harkin @

Find Reps. King, Boswell, Latham, Braley and Loebsack @

Watch this 64-second video of how easy it is to call Congress..

For a simple guide on how to call Congress click here.



Is Your State Rep. In DC At ALEC Meeting Today?

Iowans – do you know where your legislator or Governor Branstad is today?


States & Nation Policy Summit 2012

November 28-30, 2012
Washington, D.C.



Save The UI Center For Human Rights

From the Physicians For Social Responsibility – Iowa Chapter website:

Save the UI Center for Human Rights (UICHR) Campaign

The University of Iowa plans to close the a decision made without input from UI students, faculty, and the state-wide Iowa community.

Over more that the last decade, Iowa PSR and UICHR have been key allies in a number of joint educational programs.

Iowa PSR will help organize a full page Signature Ad in local newspapers to oppose dissolution of the UICHR.

The date of publication will be International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012.  We need your donations now help publish the Ad.

Go here to

  • donate online or by check
  • sign on, to the Ad
  • provide a quote that may be used in the Ad
  • read more about the UICHR
  • email UI President & Provost
  • contact UICHR

More on the Campaign

December 10th marks the 64th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the end of World War II.  The UI Center for Human Rights (UICHR) has worked tirelessly for over 12 years to advance recognition and understanding of, and  support for human rights and social justice across Iowa.  But now the University seeks to close the Center.  This is a dangerous proposal.

Over its lifetime, the UICHR has had a role in countless events in Iowa City, around the state and world, having to do with social justice and human rights.  The UICHR has been a strong partner for PSR, the UNA, Veterans for Peace, many student organizations, as well as for Johnson County and Iowa City officials, and many, many others all across Iowa. Together we promoted the rights of future generations to a healthy, life-supporting environment, the rights of women, workers, and immigrants, and addressed the perils of widening inequality, social injustice, and violence. Together our voices and impacts have been stronger and more effective.

Yet, the status of human rights around the world and here in the US remain perilously fragile. Outside the Center, public discourse and interactions are increasingly influenced by those who would commoditize every human encounter or endeavor; media sources too often promote violence over understanding and respect, divide rather than join people in shared aspirations.  The voices and influence of people like those working in the Center provide a counter weight to this coarsening of our humanity.  We cannot afford to loose them.

The UICHR Board and Staff want to make sure that everyone in the area and across the state is aware of the impending closure of the Center and what it’s loss would mean to the wider community.

(click here to find out more)


Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy-Redux

Iowa Row Crops

In a letter to the editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, my friend Lynn Gallagher spoke to how I felt about the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy referenced in my Nov. 20 post. Here is her letter:

“Does anyone really believe that voluntary compliance will protect our water (or land or air)?

Did you read the Nov. 16 story in the Des Moines Register titled Farm Bureau text in state report,

DNR staffers say they had no input on draft of plan to cut ag runoff?’

I am outraged! Aren’t you?

The fact is that not all farmers are stewards of the land.

We would like to believe that people can be trusted to “do the right thing.” Think about how well that worked with Wall Street. We need to protect the commons.

If the state of Iowa cannot enact and enforce regulations to protect the environment, then I welcome the Environmental Protection Agency to come in and do so.

Please consider contacting your legislators and the governor. This is unacceptable!”

Well written, Lynn.

Elections have consequences. When Terry Branstad won the 2010 general election with 52.3 percent of the vote, one of those consequences was expected to be the avoidance, repeal and reduction of regulations related to business generally, and agriculture in particular. The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy of voluntary compliance is another variation on this theme. Different from the perceived problem of excess government regulation, hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is real, a problem that will not go away without action.

If the governor’s plan of voluntary actions works, hats off to him. But as Gallagher’s letter suggests, not every point and non-point source polluter will voluntarily comply.

If the plans of Iowa and other Mississippi River basin states don’t abate nutrient runoff sufficiently to reverse Gulf of Mexico hypoxia, the federal government is expected step in again. States won’t like it.

While I would have liked to have seen Iowa put sensible regulations in place, Governor Branstad had other ideas, and for now, it is his show. Be assured that the same people who supported the election of Terry Branstad will be supporting him with comments to his plan to reduce nutrient runoff.

It is important that every voice be heard. I urge readers to go to the website, watch the video, read the documents and enter your comments. The fight for what is right does not end with any election, especially if our candidates lose.

We could do nothing, work on the next election and wait for the mythical day when the planets align and all of our candidates are concurrently serving in office. For me, the work is too important to wait for that.

Black Friday Revisited

of things Amish and Trappist

by John Shumaker

The fierceness of Liberated Sound
can be heard in the Silence
of the Abbey
and in the clop clop clop
of the Buggy
down gravel Road GONE
Synaptic Universe
Sings In
Rhyme of Chimes
of Other Voices
Other Rooms
Other Times
Ancient Mariner
of Inland Sea
in Driftless
Inyan Sea
of Sacred Stone Elders
of Upper Mississippi
Mosk Wah Wak Wah
Milky Way
Middle Passage
of Ancient~Future
Seventh Generation
In the Hear
Humming Bee
of The WAY
Wynd Chimes
Singing in the Breeze
Let it Be
If there is to be a TRUE Thanks Giving
instead of white racist
of genocide
(don’t have to go to movies to see em just look in the mirror)
in Preparation
for BLACK Friday
shop til ya drop
at the counter on yer maxxxed out credit card
for techno gadgets ya don’t need
we must ask ourself
how far are we off
in our REAL
daily actions
and transactions
and transgressions
from TRULY following the Black Earth
of Our Ancestors
Our Elders
and the Seventh Generation yet to Come
this means we must make Restitution
Pay Reparations
make Restoration
in order to TRULY
Follow the Black Earth
instead of falsely following BLACK Friday
our WAY
Back to the Path
The GOOD Red Road of Life
The Sweet Medicine
of a TRUE
Thanks Giving
Where we ALL
Sit Down
in Peace
on the Commons
in Harmony
in Unity
in Community
In Situ
In Spiritu
Happy ThanksGiving

John Shumaker

Hostess Dies; Workers Take The Bullet

Once again we have a story of corporate greed, executives grabbing the bucks before they leave and corporate vultures picking the bones. But what always seems to get lost in these stories is the hard working men and women who gave years of their lives, took paycuts and then as a final insult have their pensions snatched from them. Seriously right wingers out there tell me how this is right. The union didn’t bleed Hostess dry, the vulture capitalists and the gredy executives did. But they know that a press that is also overworked will take what stories they are handed and run them without much comment.

So in our compliant press the unions get blamed while the true story stays hidden unless you seek it out. Now executives are trying to give themselves large bonuses(don’t laugh) while taking the workers pension system.

By the way we as taxpayers will now be paying those pensions. So for those of you who admire business and think it can do no harm look at the Hostess story. The policies that workers and investors are being robbed blind under were fostered by Saint Reagan. The playing field is greatly slanted to the vulture capitalist. And for those of you who have your own business or are invested in what you think is a good company, someday your company may need a little help and the vultures will be there to bleed you dry.

Happy Thanksgiving WallyWorld.
I am writing this prior to Thanksgiving, so I do not know how the Black Friday boycott of Walmart in support of the warehouse workers went. I can only hope it went well. This would be a huge step for labor. Labor has been beaten to pulp since Reagan. The workers standing up to Walmart are taking on an angry giant that hates its workers. I am cheering wholeheartedly for the workers. For our part, we have finally quit Walmart. It ain’t easy but can be done.

ALEC Meeting Wednesday. Do You Know Where Your Legislator Is?
That odd little corporate group that tells Republican legislators how to vote and what laws to propose meets next Wednesday in Washington, DC. Yep, it is time for ALEC to meet. This is where ALEC’s corporations hand the legislators they own the corporate wish list for Christmas and the next session.

Due to exposure ALEC has lost some big names, but it is still a huge hitter at the state level. And these little closed door, behind the curtain, under the rock meetings is how they do their work in what is probably the most anti-democratic, oligarchic method possible. I have always been in felt that anything that has to do with proposing or modifying laws should be done in the open under scrutiny. ALEC should be on TV in bright lights. This is the group that has given us stand your ground laws, privatized prisons, tax laws that choke cities, voter suppression and many more. If it sounds like a corporate favor of a bill, it probably is.

We know that at least two area legislators have attended in the past, Mark Lofgren of district 91 and Tom Sands of district 88. Since ALEC meets in secret and releases no records of who attends it may be hard to find out who from Iowa did go, but we will do our best.

Reince Prebus To Stay As Republican Chair? I Vote Yes.
Got to say Reince and Mitt both helped the “Elect Obama” effort. I hope Reince has a little of that magic left for 2014. With all the gerrymandered districts we need all the help we can get.

Branstad To Medicaid Recipients: Drop Dead
Looks like Governor for Life Branstad will be turning down federal money we could definitely use that would create jobs we could definitely use to really show the world what a tough guy he is. Real conservative. Willing to fight against medicaid patients to the lost drop of their blood. Because Branstad has his medical care covered, what does he care about some poor people?

Note To Marco Rubio:
Most every kid in Iowa who has passed 5th grade knows how old the earth is. Next time you stop through secretly running for president, find a twelve year old and ask them. Iowans are a polite people and I am sure he or she would be glad to explain it to you. Is science taught that poorly in Florida? Maybe you should see if maybe you shouldn’t take a high school refresher science  course before running for president.

Sunday Funday – Black Friday

Well it is a non-holiday holiday and one of the most popular every year. There are other Fridays named ‘Black Friday’ but each year this is the most well-known. So knock yourself out or someone else if you need to. You did the shopping, now try the quiz!

1) Black Friday. When did the name become attached to the day after Thanksgiving?
a) 1934
b) 1955
c) 1961
d) 1990

2) What city is associated with starting the phrase “Black Friday” for the day after Thanksgiving?
a) New York
b) Philadelphia
c) Chicago
d) Los Angeles

3) The “black” in “Black Friday” now refers to what?
a) profit made during the Christmas season.
b) the swarms of shoppers
c) the violence caused by the bargain hunters
d) the losses on bargains to bring in shoppers

4) Stores seem to be opening earlier on Black Friday every year. This year some will open as early as
a) 6 AM
b) 3 AM
c) Midnight
d) 8 PM on Thanksgiving

5) In what year was the date for Thanksgiving pulled forward a week to lengthen the holiday shopping period?
a) 1933
b) 1939
c) 1945
d) 1954

6) According to the National Retail Federation, about how much was spent on Black Friday in 2011?
a) $27 Bn.
b) $103 Bn.
c) $45 Bn.
d) $52 Bn.

7) In protest to the consumerism of Black Friday some activist groups have begun calling  for the day after Thanksgiving to be:
a) Don’t Shop Day
b) Stay Home Day
c) Buy Nothing Day
d) Give to Charity Day

8) In recent years Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year. Prior to that what was often the busiest shopping day of the year?
a) The Saturday before the start of school
b) The day after Christmas
c) The Saturday before Christmas
d) Christmas Eve

9) In British Empire countries (including Canada) Boxing Day sales are comparable to our Black Friday. When is Boxing Day?
a) New Year’s Eve
b) The day after their Thanksgiving
c) The day before Christmas
d) The day after Christmas

10) Proper ettiquette suggests that when you knock over another shopper on Black Friday you should:
a) help others kick them to the side so they won’t impede the flow of traffic
b) Kick them once in the head for slowing you down.
c) check their bags to see if they had that hard to get Furby you couldn’t find
d) get a “CAUTION” sign from a nearby store, place on the person and get back to shopping.

Well I bet that opened an eye or two out there! Now, as with many men, I do my shopping late on Christmas Eve. I don’t know why, but I have met some surly store employees with keys in their hands on that day. I seriously do have some stories about that.

But back to the quiz. I have a special on answers. Buck apiece or 10 for $12. Oops – didn’t grab that opportunity fast enough.

1) c) according to Wikipedia 1961

2) b) Philadelphia

3) a) profit. Originally it meant the swarms of shoppers

4) d) Store openings have been pulled forward to 8PM Thanksgiving.

5) b) 1939. Roosevelt wanted to expand the shopping period, many folks refused to change and it became the year with 2 Thanksgivings.

6) d) @ $52.5 Bn. last year.

7) c) Buy Nothing Day

8) c) The Saturday before Christmas

9) d) The day after Christmas (Canada’s Thanksgiving is our Columbus Day)

10) ?) I have consulted with experts and have as yet to get an answer. So it appears all answers are acceptable.

Now stay safe out there!

Comment On The Economy

More speculating over  a holiday week.

Once again we are in the middle of a Republican created financial crisis. Once again they have created this crisis so that they can justify lower taxes on the richest of Americans. And while they take care of their rich buddies the rest of the economy goes begging.

But as I have said before if congress has the guts, there are ways to cut out waste in our system while creating work that is greatly needed in this country. The very first thing to do is to reverse Bush policies that tanked the economy. Get totally out of Iraq; Get totally out of Afghanistan; end the tax cuts for the rich and finally, change Medicare part D so that the government can negotiate prices for drugs, not pay premium prices. That is the advantage of large sale buying.

Totally ending Bush’s wars should be a no-brainer. I hope we have learned that we can not run the world. Changing Medicare part D will save the country around $650 million per year. This would go a long way toward making Medicare solvent for a long time. I think there has been more than enough talk of what raising taxes on the rich will do. We also need to cut loopholes that cause us to actually pay corporations like GE and EXXON billions in rebates.

We also need to end the cap on social security contributions. While SS is currently solvent, this would pretty much guarantee solvency forever. What I have suggested here is nothing new. Most economists on the left have suggested these measures. And what I will propose to put people to work has been proposed over and over. Sometimes it helps just to get such ideas together in one spot.

First America needs real high speed internet like Europe or Japan. There is no reason why we can’t do high speed throughout the country like we did rural electrification in the 1930s. When I say high speed, citizens of European countries get 10x our speed for much less than we pay. Our current policies put our businesses at a major disadvantage.

Speaking of major disadvantages for business, having health care hooked to a job is so backwards. It is way past time for America to take the burden of health care off business and transfer it to the public sector where it belongs.

Finally, America needs to repair its infrastructure for water and sewer. And it is way past time that we completely revamp our electrical system in such a way that a major storm like Sandy won’t completely knock a city like New York out. It can be done. Plus we all certainly are aware we need to get off fossil fuels. But we need a commitment to doing the right thing. We need a commitment to the good of the whole, not just the few. We need leaders who can see beyond tomorrow.

And amazingly, once we start fixing things support businesses will spring up all over the place.

O, yea, it is time to admit those so called “free trade” agreements are far from free or fair.