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Archive for June 3, 2017

Why Celebrate This Fourth of July?

America just passed what is often called the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day. This is a day nominally set aside to remember the sacrifices of American soldiers. Some keep it in that way, but of course many just enjoy the day off and the blessings that those fallen and wounded soldiers bought for us.

When most people think of summer, they think of the celebration of America’s major secular holiday, Independence Day or colloquially, the Fourth of July. This is a celebration to not only commemorate the day that the Thomas Jefferson written document was first publicly announced, but is also a forward looking hope that celebrates the world’s oldest democracy and the continuation of the ideals first pronounced in the Declaration of Independence.

One of the roots of our society based on the Declaration is that we will bind ourselves together to work for the good of the whole. This is to be done by electing representatives to represent the views of the majority in the central government. While there is no absolute way to measure the compliance with this goal, most would agree that generally with occasional straying from the path, the country and most of the states head in that direction.

That has changed dramatically this year both at the national and state level. America now has a national leader of their government who expects to rule as an oligarch much like the government we rebelled against in 1776. As the current president Now our current president mocks our citizens and our institutions and our laws through his actions and words on a daily basis. The most recent example of that mockery is presidential daughter and staffer Ivanka Trump tweeting a recipe for champagne popsicles on Memorial Day – a day which should be devoted to somber remembrance of those who died in war.

At the state level, Iowa has joined a large group of states with one party rule that mocks our democracy by restricting the right to vote of their citizens. Iowa has also further eroded democracy by restricting the rights of its workers to negotiate contracts and working conditions. Stopping local governments from raising minimum wages and attack #1 against Planned Parenthood were also on their docket. None of these new laws were even spoken of during the campaign.

There were other laws passed last session that let it be known that the legislature and the governor were not there to govern with the consent of the people but to rule in spite of them. Besides the two laws mentioned above perhaps no action was as illustrative of the arrogance of Iowa’s rulers as the unilateral move of Iowa’s Medicaid program to private management with huge costs to the clients of Medicaid. Amazingly this caused a died-in-the-wool republican friend to condemn Branstad a few months back. Her family was dealing with the consequences of Branstad’s arrogant, disdainful action.

Most of us have been following the unfolding story of what happened last election. It looks as if we have had a very subtle and stealthy invasion of our country take place. The question that needs to be answered is whether the current president is governing with the good of our country in mind? Or is he governing to favor what were once our enemies? Our country has never been in such a situation and Americans need real answers. Americans also need to fire those who refuse to seek the answers.

Looking at the what our national government has done in its first 5 months on the job, there is nothing to indicate that our government is in any way working for the common good.

We can begin by noting that those appointed as heads of the various departments have philosophies in direct opposition to the goals that those departments were established under. The fears that these departments would be either dismantled or made ineffective through actions of the president or the department heads has become frighteningly real.

We move on to congress where their first and most immediate concern was to rip access to health care away from 10% to 15% of our citizenry with little concern for the consequences. Of course this was done so that the oligarchs that seem to be totally in control of our society could get a huge tax break. Once again, wasn’t this the kind of thing we rebelled against in 1776?

It is not as if those in the oligarchically ruled Republican party didn’t know these action would be hugely unpopular. At both the state and national level the press is being attacked in direct opposition to the first amendment. At the state level in Iowa and states around the country there is a move to drastically restrict public demonstrations.

As a final example of their arrogance, the current administration and Republican members of congress lie at every turn and refuse to meet with constituents except in very carefully staged environments.

So the Republican rulers at the state and national level have taken positions very reminiscent to those which drove us to rebel some 241 years back. So why should we celebrate? Our democracy has been eroding for decades with the maneuvering of the public by the captive corporate press acting as the promotion arm of the Republican Party. Now we come to see what happens when Republicans have total control. Democracy loses. Once lost it will be nearly impossible to bring it back.

Perhaps the question should better be asked “How should we celebrate this year?” rather than “Why should we celebrate this year?”. Forget about the fireworks and food. This is the year to get serious on the holiday that commemorates our independence. Serious about turning the tide back to what our founders believed in.

For our part we plan to seek out those who still believe in the form of government established over 225 years ago. Then we plan to support them as best we can through donations and other means of support such as calls. And maybe we will throw in an occasional letter to the editor to let others know it is time to return the government back to the hands of the people and take it from the oligarchs.

Real Consequences Of Legislative Cuts To Services For Survivors

Rob Hogg

Email from Rob Hogg:

Last night, I appeared at an event with Senator Kevin Kinney (D-Oxford), who shared with the audience his disappointment about the deep cuts (26 percent or $1.7 million) to state services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Kinney, a long-time deputy sheriff in Johnson County, said he had warned the Republican budget chairs that we could not use federal dollars instead, and that making state cuts would actually cost us federal dollars, but they refused to listen.

It was a strong reminder about the importance of the work we do, and prompted me to read an article that appeared last week in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, “Iowa domestic violence providers brace for deep funding cuts.”

It is disappointing and unnecessary. These cuts could have been avoided, especially if the Branstad-Reynolds Administration and Republican legislators had not gotten carried away with tax cuts for out-of-state corporations.

Over the coming months of the legislative interim, I plan to provide more information and resources about the real consequences of the Republican majority’s misguided legislative decisions this past session.

But I also want to help you get more involved as a citizen. The answer to our problems with state government in Des Moines and the federal government in Washington is more citizen participation, a renewed spirit of citizenship.

On the issue of support for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, you can get more involved by being more informed, by helping service providers directly, and by speaking up with legislators and the public in support of these services. In Linn County, service providers include:

Waypoint
Riverview
Cedar Valley Friends of the Family

I hope this information is helpful. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

–Rob

Senator Rob Hogg
Senate Democratic Leader
Cedar Rapids

Reminder: ‘Summer of Citizenship’ Begins Today In Boone

A reminder from a posting here in blogforiowa Wednesday.

The “Summer of Citizenship”
Begins Saturday, June 3, at the
“Picnic for the People” in Boone

Welcome to the “Summer of Citizenship,” a campaign to encourage and empower Iowans to reach out and listen to each other, get involved, and renew the spirit of citizenship our state and country so urgently need. You can join in, reach out, and speak up with us.

“Summer of Citizenship” begins this Saturday, June 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the “Picnic for the People” at McHose Park Shelter in Boone, Iowa. This picnic is sponsored by the Boone County Democrats. Suggested contribution for food tickets is $10 per person.

At the “Picnic for the People,” I will provide more details on ways you can participate. Some ideas:

– Join your local County Democratic Party or advocacy organization

– Register people to vote

– Get to know our Democratic candidates

– Organize a study group, educational program, or service project in your community

– Invite people to contribute financially to the party, candidates, or community groups

– Speak up with elected officials and staff in person, by phone call, by mail, and in public

Here’s the bottom line: The answer to our problems – with the President and Congress in Washington, D.C., and the Governor and the Iowa Legislature in Des Moines – is a renewed spirit of citizenship.