- Per John Fugelsang
“There is hate in Arizona, but it is a dry hate.”
- If your state does not have the full Medicaid program, you probably have a Republican governor.
- CPAC Throws Out Atheists – big surprise. Sadly, the atheists can’t tell them to go to hell.
- To hear the right praise Putin so admiringly, one almost wonders if any would encourage him to run for President of the US. The right only worries about that “born in the United States” clause for Democrats.
This Picture Reminds Me Of That Pres. Kennedy Remark
During his administration, Kennedy had brought in top scientists from around the country to the White House for a conference. He began the meeting with the remark:
“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Bartcop Has Passed On
Terrence Coppage was well known for his left wing website. He was out there before anyone else. Bartcop was a stopping place for many on the left daily.
The last installment of bartcop.com has his own words on the subject.
Per Charles Pierce:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — By now, and by god, it should have settled permanently in the consciousness of the nation what a huge and untoward gamble with the country John McCain and his campaign took in 2008 when they elevated Sarah Palin from her rightful place on the tundra to the political celebrity she currently enjoys. McCain should pay a heavy price for unleashing this ignorant, two-wheeled bilewagon on the country’s politics. If you think she’s a legitimate political leader, you’re an idiot and a sucker and I feel sorry for you.
I often wonder what makes a Palin or a Limbaugh or a Cruz click. They can’t believe themselves what they are saying because they so often contradict themselves.
It doesn’t take long to get to an answer: Money, money, money. Just like the old time patent medicine wagons, Palin and her ilk have found a bunch of really rich rubes who will pay top dollar for her bullshit and that of the others.
Just say what they want to hear over and over and make them feel very comfortable with their anti-human stances on issues. The Palins of the world also serve to get enough people to vote against their own interests which keep the 1% in power.
Are all the new diseases being “discovered” (manufactured) by big Pharma these days? Seems like every time I turn around some drug company is hawking a new “cure” for something that wasn’t a problem yesterday. Be sure to tell your doctor!
If you are any kind of science geek or curious about our beginnings or where we are going, I think this TV event will grab you.
I never saw the original series with Carl Sagan. But reviews say this is a worthy successor and Neil DeGrasse Tyson is one of the very best at making these concepts understandable.
It sounds like Giuliani and Lady Lyndsey Graham have a new love going with Vlad Putin. Not sure if they persuade him to run for president, but I am sure they will try. Putin is a bear wrestling, manly man who scoffs at rules and treaties. I am told the bear he wrestled was named Boo-Boo, close friend to Yogi. Winner got a pic-a-nic basket
Were you paying attention last week?
1) Boy there is just nothing like international conflict to sharpen our geography skills. The Crimean Peninsula is located between what two seas?
2) The Iowa Senate this week passed a bill targeting what terrible business practice? The Republican chair of the committee said it will not even report the bill out.
3) Paul Ryan told a heart-wrenching story of a little boy who wanted his own school lunch in a brown bag. This story, however, was ________ _______.
4) The oldest known survivor of what major human tragedy died last week at age 110?
5) Iowa’s high court heard arguments Monday on the case of the state worker’s compensation director who claims he was fired by Gov. Branstad for what reason?
6) One of the earliest companies to sell computers for public consumption announced a major downsizing. What company made their bones selling the TRS-80 computer in the ’80s?
7) Dynasty! Texas! What dynastic family continued its existence after the primary victory of its newest darling as a land commissioner?
8) A study published in “Cell and Metabolism” claims what is just as unhealthy as smoking?
9) A district court struck down rules drafted by the Iowa SoS to stop aliens from voting. Who is Iowa’s inept SoS?
10) Iowa college graduates rank #6 in school debt. On average, how much will a graduate from an Iowa school owe in debt (+- $5000)?
11) An arrest was made in Pittsburgh for the killer of the sisters of what Iowa legislator?
12) What Republican got a major endorsement from former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney last week?
13) What Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee apologized to Rep. Elijah Cummings after an ugly incident that included cutting Cummings mike?
14) Consultants to the Iowa State Racing and Gaming commission reported that Iowa was pretty much full of what?
15) What Republican governor who was not previously invited to CPAC was a darling of CPAC this year?
Warming TV for **COSMOS** tonight.
1) the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov
2) wage theft
3) a lie or not true or BS
4) the Holocaust
5) being gay
6) Radio Shack
7) Bush. George P. Bush, son of Jeb, nephew of George W. and grandson of George H.W. Hooray!
8) meat and cheese
9) Matt Schultz
11) Mary Wolfe of Clinton
12) Joni Ernst. She is running for Harkin’s seat
13) Darrell Issa
15) Chris Christie. Now that he showed he was one of them by closing that bridge for no reason.
Nereida Castro is among hundreds of Iowans who have lost their hard-earned money due to wage theft. She talked with Sen. Mike Gronstal and me about what she has been through. Iowa workers and honest Iowa employers suffer when bad actors short paychecks, confiscate tips, misclassify workers, take unauthorized deductions and fail to pay overtime. Ultimately, Iowa workers are cheated out of more than $600 million a year.
ENSURING IOWANS GET PAID FOR THEIR WORK
Iowa workers and honest employers are hurt when some businesses short paychecks, confiscate tips, misclassify workers, take unauthorized deductions and fail to pay overtime. These bad actors cheat legal workers out of their hard-earned money, drive down wages for all Iowans and are unfair to businesses that play by the rules.
An epidemic of wage theft is taking Iowa workers for $600 million annually. For fiscal year 2013, more than 600 cases of wage theft were reported to the state.
Until the Legislature took action, Iowa Workforce Development had just one wage investigator to work on the concerns of our state’s 1.3 million private sector employees. That’s why we approved enough money last year to add a second wage investigator.
Iowans should always get paid for the work they have done. Senate File 2328 will help by setting minimum standards to ensure Iowans get paid and allow wage investigators to more easily go after businesses that fail to pay what they owe.
You can learn more about the problem of wage theft in Iowa in this report from the Iowa Policy Project: www.iowapolicyproject.org/2012docs/120827-wagetheft.pdf.
LOCAL SCHOOLS SELECTED FOR TEACHER LEADERSHIP EFFORT
Burlington and Muscatine are among the first Iowa school districts selected to launch the state’s teacher leadership effort starting next school year.
Top teachers taking on leadership roles to improve classroom instruction and raise student achievement was a key piece of our 2013 Education Reform.
This new effort will allow teachers to work in collaboration with colleagues and learn from each other instead of operating in isolation in their classrooms.
Teacher leadership systems will be phased in over three years, with the goal of all Iowa school districts participating on a voluntary basis by 2016-17. For the first year of the program, $50 million will be divided among selected schools. The second year will see a $100 million investment and the third year, $150 million. The funding will become part of the school aid formula that determines how much state money schools receive each year.
A Teacher Leadership Commission selected 39 school districts for the first year of funding from a pool of 146 applicants. Districts selected will receive about $309 per pupil next school year to implement their teacher leadership systems. The next step for school districts is selecting their teacher leaders.
Teacher leadership systems promise to help students learn more by better meeting their individual needs. They also will help Iowa classrooms attract and retain the most effective teachers by enhancing career opportunities and paying stipends for taking on extra responsibilities.
With higher expectations for students, it’s no longer realistic for one principal to provide all the instructional leadership in a school. Teacher and principal leadership teams are the key to supporting more complex efforts to prepare students to complete in a global, knowledge-based economy.
COLUMBUS CITY STUDENT AWARDED KEEP IOWA BEAUTIFUL SCHOLARSHIP
Congratulations to Elijah Sents of Columbus City, recipient of a 2014 Keep Iowa Beautiful Environmental Scholarship. Elijah will receive $1,000 toward college expenses in environmental studies at Iowa State University. He was selected for the scholarship based upon academic achievement and community service.
Keep Iowa Beautiful works with citizens, neighborhoods, communities and regions in improving the quality, beauty and cleanliness of our state. For additional information, visit www.keepiowabeautiful.com.
LOCAL BUSINESSES SUCCEED WITH HELP FROM DEVELOPMENT CENTERS
Iowa’s small businesses are the heart of our state’s economy. According to the Small Business Administration:
• Small businesses represent more than 97 percent of all firms in Iowa.
• There are more than 260,000 small businesses in our state.
• More than half of all Iowans work for small business.
We need to maintain and expand our efforts to support Iowa small businesses as they rebound from the national recession. With policies that
encourage their start-up and growth, we can create local jobs and help our communities thrive. Iowa’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are a great example of wise investment in jobs and economic growth. In 2013, local SBDCs helped 69 clients in Des Moines County, 7 in Louisa and 9 in Muscatine.
Since 1981, SBDCs have conducted research, provided counseling and trained Iowa business people in management, financing and operating small businesses. Today, there are 16 Small Business Development Centers throughout the state. They have stayed busy helping clients in good and sluggish
Statewide in 2013, Iowa SBDCs:
• Counselled 2,552 clients
• Saved 1,545 jobs
• Started 209 new business
• Raised $48.9 million in new capital
SBDCs receive federal and state funding. For every $1 invested in the program in 2013, Iowa saw a return of $2.33 in new sales and income taxes because of SBDC assistance to clients. This is a good return on investment, and we can expect even better returns as the economy continues to improve.
Are you interested in starting or expanding a small business? Be sure to work with your local Small Business Development Center. SBDCs provide practical business expertise, free one-on-one counseling and affordable workshops on financing opportunities, market research, cash flow projections, accounting, writing a business plan and much more. Go to www.iowasbdc.org to see what SBDCs can do for Iowa small businesses.
BUDGET SHOULD FOCUS ON GROWING MIDDLE CLASS
Iowa must continue to be a place of opportunity where those willing to work hard and play by the rules can succeed. That means making smart investments in the economy, education and health care, while defending the right of Iowa workers to earn a decent living. It also means a fiscally responsible budget that is balanced, does not raise taxes and keeps our “rainy day” and reserve accounts full.
Democrats and Republicans agreed this week on the framework for a fiscally responsible budget. Now we must work together on the details to address the top priorities of Iowans. For Senate Democrats, that includes a 4 percent increase in state support for local schools, paying for property tax cuts and working family tax cuts approved last year, increasing community college funding and freezing tuition at our state universities for the second year in a row.
I’ll keep you updated as we work out the specifics in the coming weeks.
PROTECTING SENIORS FROM ABUSE & EXPLOITATION
Many Iowa seniors are at risk for abuse, neglect and financial exploitation every day, particularly those who depend on others to help them with the most basic activities of daily living.
Iowa has a lot of senior citizens. In fact, our state is among the top five in the country when it comes to the percentage of our population age 65 and older. However, we have little on the books to ensure they get the help they need when faced with abuse and exploitation.
The Senate is addressing that concern with passage of SF 2239, a comprehensive approach to combat incidents of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of Iowa’s seniors. The bill follows two years of work by a task force that looked at the challenges state and local agencies face in collaborating to address elder abuse issues. SF 2239 takes statewide a successful pilot program implemented in 22 Iowa counties by establishing an Elder Abuse Resource & Referral Program within the Area Agencies on Aging. The goal is to empower all older Iowans to maximize their autonomy, increase awareness of the risks and signs of elder abuse, and serve as a single point of contact for seniors seeking help. The bill also establishes criminal penalties for elder abuse and financial exploitation, allowing law enforcement to better protect of Iowa seniors and punish those who take advantage of them.
Iowa seniors deserve respect and dignity. This is one step toward protecting some of our most vulnerable citizens. SF 2239 is now under consideration in the Iowa House.
A MODEL OF CIVIC & VOLUNTEER ENGAGEMENT
One of the best parts of being a state legislator is encouraging more Iowans to get involved, whether it is though civic engagement or volunteer work in their communities. This week, we saw those two things come together in a bill that passed the Iowa Senate.
Senate File 2129, introduced by Senator Steve Sodders, would allow schools to create a philanthropy account within their student activity fund. The money raised could be used for educational, charitable, humane, scientific, public health or welfare, environmental or disaster relief purposes. This includes charitable causes related to the school district or to local students.
The idea behind this bill is extra special because it came from a group of government students at West Marshall High School. They wanted to raise money for a family that had gone through an especially hard time. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a way for the money to be kept separate from other student activity funds, and the state Department of Education did not permit setting up a separate account.
Rather than giving up, the West Marshall students researched the problem, came up with a solution, proposed legislation, advocated for it and saw it pass the Senate this week.
I enjoy going “back to school” by visiting with students and educators in classrooms across my senate district. I always encourage students to think of things they’d like to improve and then to get involved to make those changes a reality.
While the conflict we see in Washington, D.C., can be disheartening, there are plenty of opportunities to make a difference in our communities and in the lives of our fellow citizens. Senate File 2129 and the students who proposed it are proof that in Iowa, civic action makes a difference.
PREVENTING DANGERS OF UNDERAGE DRINKING
Because we want to keep Iowa children safe, we sometimes have to set limits on them for their own protection.
In a unanimous vote, the Senate approved “social host” legislation. SF 2310 sends a message that it is not OK for adults to host underage drinking parties. Those who do will pay a $200 penalty for the first offense and a $500 penalty for a second or subsequent offense.
It is currently illegal to provide alcohol to anyone under 21, but it is not against the law to host a party for underage drinkers on your property if you don’t provide the alcohol. Many cities and counties have ordinances that prohibit hosting parties for underage drinkers, but state law does not prohibit it.
Underage drinking is a serious health and safety problem. In 2012, more than 200 Iowans under the age of 18 were convicted of Operating While Intoxicated when they drove after drinking. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. About a quarter of those accidents involve an underage drinking driver.
Teens that drink are more likely to:
• Die in a car crash
• Get pregnant
• Flunk out of school
• Be sexually assaulted
• Become an alcoholic later in life
• Commit suicide
For parents who think teen drinking is inevitable, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has advice and resources that will help you talk to your kids about the dangers of drinking. Learn more at www.madd.org/underage-drinking.
REDUCING HEALTH RISKS WITH RADON TESTING IN SCHOOLS
Radon is a natural radioactive gas that can cause cancer. Even though you can’t see, smell or taste it, it is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Radon is an especially big problem in Iowa. Our state leads the nation in the amount of radon in our soil. The average indoor radon concentration in
Iowa is more than six times the national average. Radon-induced cancer causes an estimated 400 deaths per year in Iowa. That’s about the same number of deaths caused by Iowa traffic fatalities.
I supported a bill this week requiring school districts to test for the presence of this silent killer and report radon levels to the Iowa
Department of Public Health (SF 2262). The results will be posted on the Department of Public Health website so that parents and teachers are aware of the radon levels in their local school buildings.
Currently, there is no requirement for public or private K-12 schools to test or mitigate radon levels if they are too high. However, childcare centers in Iowa must test for radon within one year of licensing or renewal and every two years following the initial test.
A recent public opinion poll shows that 71 percent of Iowans favor requiring schools to test for radon and to take steps to reduce levels if necessary. It’s time we know what the radon levels are in our local schools.
Cost for radon testing in a typical school building ranges from $500 to $1,500. It is a price worth paying for the health and safety of our kids.
MODERNIZING CRIMINAL LAW ON INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Iowa’s criminal law relating to transmission of HIV is outdated and severely punishes people who have no criminal intent to transmit the disease.
The law stigmatizes everyone who suffers from HIV and ends up discouraging people from seeking treatment. No other disease is dealt with in such a punitive way under Iowa law.
Over the years, advances in health care have resulted in big successes in controlling HIV with medication and other treatments. With the knowledge and understanding research has provided us in recent decades, it’s time to update Iowa’s law on infectious diseases. This week, the Iowa Senate unanimously approved Senate File 2297 to do just that.
Under the bill, it is a crime to intentionally transmit or try to transmit various infectious or contagious diseases, including HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis and meningococcal disease. However, a person who has one of these diseases who does not behave in a way that would transmit the disease would not be guilty of a crime.
The bill promotes public health by encouraging those who may be carrying a disease to seek treatment rather than live fear of being charged with a crime if they have intimate relations with another person.
For more information about HIV and other infectious diseases, go to www.cdc.gov/hiv.
GOOD POLICIES CAN HELP TROUBLED YOUTH
We need to take action as a state to ensure that Iowa’s female juvenile delinquents get the rehabilitation they need to become self-sufficient, upstanding members of their communities.
The Iowa Senate recently approved SF 2322, a bill that seeks to address the lack of services available to our state’s most troubled girls after the abrupt closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. Without the home, Iowa judges do not have an appropriate place to send many young women that need extensive treatment and education to get them on the right track. Iowa’s private mental health providers also do not have the necessary facilities and staff to care for these young women.
Legislators held numerous hearings and listened to advocates and experts to come up with the best possible solution. SF 2322 would establish a state training school for girls, which is accredited to provide high-quality treatment and educational programs. The bill emphasizes the importance of evidence-based, gender-responsive services for girls and training for staff.
The bill also ensures:
• Children are safe and getting their needs met.
• Education and training services meet state and federal requirements and prepare children for long-term success.
• The training schools develop plans that recognize individual treatment and needs to help youth transition into adulthood, including access to
educational and vocational opportunities.
• Guardians for “children in need of assistance” and attorneys representing juvenile delinquents visit the children under their watch.
SF 2322 is now under consideration in the Iowa House.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
Since I had written a post telling of my fun with the insurance company I was trying to sign up with through the ACA, I thought I would follow up with a short update.
I now have a card and have actually been to a health care provider a couple of times. Like many I have some blood pressure problems. Nothing too dire, but needs attention. Since I will soon be eligible for Medicare, other tests and treatments can be delayed for a bit.
While the ACA has been a tremendous positive for America, based on my recent experience it is still a bit early to trust insurance companies to fully comply with the ACA. I have an option that others don’t have which is to wait for Medicare.
The ACA is definitely a step in the right direction. I remember full well the nights I would lay in bed trying to decide if that pain or this sensation was worth a trip to the doctor. Since my “insurance” at the time had a high deductible plus the old “pre-existing condition” clause, I could pretty much figure that every visit would be on my nickel. Since doctors post no fee schedules, I may as well as just given them my checkbook. It is not as if I could make a guess as to what the fees and other services might cost.
For five years or more I had to endure what may have been warning signs of a heart attack, sprained ankles, a shoulder that was so painful that I would cry and many various ailments just hoping and hoping it was nothing really serious. I am out of that hell now. Now thanks to President Obama, I do not have to lie in bed wondering if I am dying – wondering if I take a chance at bankruptcy to get treatment. I know I am far from alone with what I went through.
Of course I blame the Republican congress and Charles Grassley for the hell I went through unnecessarily. I saw the hearings and I read the stories.
Republicans and in particular Grassley were resolute in stopping bringing our health care system into the modern age. Not just during Obama’s presidency but since the presidency of FDR. For that reason alone I would never vote for any Republican.
What is really sad is that the power behind the Republican party is still fighting hard to return us to those dark days. And they are fighting hard to end Medicare and Medicaid. Why would I ever want someone who hates America’s citizens so much that they would bring back this form of personalized terror to our country.
I truly thank President Obama and Congressmen Loebsack and Braley and Senator Harkin for standing up for us. You can not imagine how much relief I feel every day knowing that if I have a medical problem I do not have to sit in fear and try to decide between dying or going bankrupt. It wasn’t funny folks, it was reality in my life and many, many others for a long time.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Congressman Loebsack. Thank You, Congressman Braley. Thank you, Senator Harkin. Believe me, it almost makes me cry to be covered for medical finally.
BUT – now we need to improve the ACA. Really, we need single payer. And we need the citizens to call for it. Loudly
I will admit from the outset that I have not read Tom Brokaw’s book on “The Greatest Generation.” However, I have heard many discussions of those years and indeed did grow up in the home with parents from that generation. Of course our neighborhood and school were filled with parents who were the core of that group. Living in Iowa City we were right in the midst of some of the thousands who came to the University of Iowa on the GI Bill. Some of my best friends’ parents were in Iowa City on the GI Bill.
From what I understand, the “Greatest Generation” had three life experiences in common. The first was coming of age during the Great Depression. The hard times when food was hard to come by for many. Having some faith in leadership and democracy were essential for digging out of the Depression eventually.
The second life experience that this generation shared was the horrors of World War Two. No matter whether you were in the war itself or back in the US, nearly every American was involved in the war effort and most had kin doing the fighting. This was an experience that was fully shared among the population.
The last shared experience was remaking society and rebuilding after the war. Once again, this was a task that each and every American was involved in. The aforementioned GI Bill was one of the cornerstones of gearing up for a peacetime economy and staving off future wars. Americans of that generation once more took up this task almost as though it was another war. They started businesses, joined groups, sat on school boards and city councils and state governments – one way or another they worked together to make America into the the greatest country that ever existed on earth.
There was an equality among the working folks and those who ran the businesses and shops. There were common purposes and there were little to no barriers between classes. (I must make a point here that this was in white America. The barriers between races were fraying and ready to blow). Go into a restaurant or a bar on a Saturday night in the Midwest and there would be a good mix of folks from all walks of society.
The difference in wages and salaries was not so great that one group could exclude itself from society. Besides, those folks in the bar or restaurant were probably their customers or neighbors. There also seemed to be a shared general vision for the country – building highways and great buildings, homes and good schools. One major focus was that the kids would get what they didn’t have – good education and medical care and no fear of starving in the land of plenty. What helped make the Greatest Generation great was their ability to prepare for the future and their willingness to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. They also created jobs in America for Americans.
So now we dial forward fifty to sixty years. As often happens the generation below that first generation doesn’t share that vision and the second generation removed has almost no clue as to why anyone would have had such a vision in the first place. The things that drove that first group has never even been experienced by them, so they have no way to relate to the hunger, the fear, the threats that drove their grandparents. Any connection that existed between business owners and their workers has long been stripped away so that the only commonality they have is a paycheck.
And that common vision for society is long gone. The “we are all in it together” atmosphere has long since been replaced by the attitude of “I am getting mine and screw everyone else.” The only vision many have, especially in the wealthy classes is that next $ sign. Any vision that includes giving back to society is quickly blown away. For the past 35 years these folks have been in charge of government and have turned a government that once responded to people into one that is beholden to those with dollars. Those with the dollars are well aware of that and extract favors for the dollars they grant.
We continue to be mired in a recession that is exacerbated by Republicans in Congress who want to punish America for electing Obama. As I think back on those of the Greatest Generation who served from town councils on up to the White House and who laid out a vision of a future America, I am sure that they did not want to build a great country only to give it away piece by piece to the rich and damn all others. We should be in outrage about what has happened to our parents’ and grandparents’ dreams.
There is plenty of work that needs to be done in this country to get back in line with the essence of the dreams the Greatest Generation had. We are no longer #1 in anything but war. There is work to be done to bring our health care system up to where it should be with access for all. There is work to be done in replacing aging water lines and sewer pipes and replacing them with environmentally sound systems. The pipes and sewer lines should be made in the United States. There is work to be done to run fiber optic line to make the internet accessible to all as a common carrier. Their is work to be done in upgrading rail as the most efficient means of transport for materials and possibly people.
One of the most important places where there is work to be done is to get off our dependence on fossil fuels and create the next generation of power sources. This alone would create a huge amount of jobs. If we couple that with a policy that buys American made first, we would have a true “win-win” for the USA.
America faced up to the challenges after World War 2 and they were not afraid to be bold. They also were not afraid to tax equitably for the good of society. We have been at a cross roads for awhile. So far we have let the wealthy choke the rest of us so they can keep their wealth while polluting the environment and starving their employees. It is now time to act as the Greatest Generation once did. It is time to elect leaders who will lead the planning and execution of our next resurgence for America.
Hey, hey, – it is Academy Awards Sunday. Glitz, glitter, speeches that go nowhere. But who cares. Every woman that walks up the red carpet will be asked over and over “Who are you wearing?” I wish once someone would say “Kohl’s” or “Dollar Store” just to see the reaction.
And for the nth year in a row it will be a movie we haven’t seen. Movies got too pricey for us a while back. We figured we could afford to get a movie channel for the price of a movie. Now the price of a movie channel is too pricey. Seeing a show on commercial TV breaks it up so much I lose interest. So we are back to reading about them with fascination. No doubt with the new internets and the lack of net neutrality, that may even become too expensive. I guess if God wanted us to use the internets, we would have been born with USB ports.
The best news is that Ellen DeGeneris is the host. She.Is.Funny!
Were you paying attention?
1) After coming under fire for remarks she made about sexual assaults on campus, which university president revealed that she had been assaulted as a student?
2) Following an explosion at a local fracking well in Pennsylvania, Chevron tried to make amends with the locals by doing what?
3) Maybe all the noise was keeping Iowans awake? The Iowa House passed a bill to legalize what for guns?
4) What digital trading exchange unit had its value drop to near zero after one exchange went dark?
5) The nation waited in anticipation to see if which Arizona governor would sign the bill to legalize discrimination against gays and others in her state?
6) Two investigations in Wisconsin call this guy “John Doe.” What does the public know “John Doe” as?
7) When he left this life, this man left behind a million laughs. Who joined the ghosts he once busted this week?
8) While not in “the Sound of Music” this person who died last week was part of the family that inspired it. Who was the last of this family to die?
9) Can you remember how many Oscars “The Sound Of Music” received?
10) The Iowa Policy Project put out a new report on the cost of living in Iowa. It shows that what is in no way keeping up with rising costs?
11) In Florida, a judge sent shock waves across the nation when he returned the weapon used in a “stand your ground” killing to the defendant after he was found not guilty. Why was everyone so shocked?
12) Governor Branstad declared what to be a “dying industry” in Iowa?
13) Many reasons have been floated as to why this happened, but one thing was really surprising last week. What dropped 43% among children over the past year?
14) In science, it was announced this week that in 88% of adults, which deadly disease has been thwarted by a patient’s own genetically altered immune system cells?
15) The first gay professional NBA player became a reality when who was signed by the Brooklyn Nets this week?
Xtra Credit) what did a California couple find in their backyard while walking their dog?
Well, now to pop up that pop corn, get a cold one and nestle in to a good spot on the couch. Is 8:30 too early to get ready to watch the Oscars?
Here are some answers. I trust you will accept them.
1) Sally Mason of the U of Iowa
2) certificates for free pizza
3) silencers. Boy that sure sounds like a crazy ALEC bill.
5) Jan Brewer
6) Governor Walker
7) Harold Ramis
8) Maria von Trapp (age 99)
10) the median wage in Iowa
11) because the defendant is blind
12) dog racing
14) adult leukemia
15) Jason Collins. remember he came out last year after the season.
XC) Gold coins buried in old cans in mint condition worth multi millions.
STRONG WORKFORCE BUILDS A STRONG ECONOMY
Senate Democrats want to put more Iowans back to work, strengthen our middle class and grow our state’s economy. Several proposals we’re working on would do just that.
1. Keep childcare affordable. Iowa is third in the nation when it comes to households with young children in which both parents work. That means Iowa families need good childcare, which can come at a high price. A federal child and dependent care tax credit allows working families to deduct 20 to 35 percent of eligible childcare expenses from their taxes. The maximum credit is $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for two or more.
SSB 3181 improves our state tax credit by allowing Iowans to claim a state credit of up to 93.75 percent of the federal credit, increasing income eligibility to $67,410 and indexing for inflation. Another bill, SF 2143, allows parents who work and take classes to count the hours for both in calculating eligibility for childcare assistance. This encourages Iowans to continue improving their prospects for a better career and higher salary.
2. Increase pay. A higher minimum wage would put more money in the pockets of hard-working families, making them more self-sufficient and able to spend at local businesses. SSB 3194 would gradually increase Iowa’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour by 2016. A full-time employee making $7.25 an hour lives below the poverty line, earning only $15,080 a year. In Iowa, 81 percent of those who’d benefit from a minimum wage increase are 20 and older. Many are raising children and may be the sole breadwinner for their family.
3. Ensure Iowans can get to work. Transportation should never be a barrier to employment. A new initiative (SF 2076) will offer grants to transit providers that help Iowans get to their jobs. Up to $150,000 would go to projects on a competitive basis and require a dollar-for-dollar match.
Transit providers might use the money to expand hours of service, create a ride-share program or offer shuttle service. Good transportation makes for reliable employees, and that’s always good for business.
4. Make sure workers get paid. Wage theft cheats Iowa workers out of $600 million annually. Failing to enforce wage laws means Iowans don’t get paid what they’ve earned, drives down wages and is unfair to businesses that play by the rules. SF 191 sets minimum standards to ensure Iowans get paid for the work they’ve done and allows wage investigators to more easily go after businesses that fail to pay what they owe.
Meeting With Catholics on Schools
On February 19, Kent Ferns and Dr. Lee Morrison of the Davenport Diocese talked with me about the contributions Iowa’s many Catholic schools have made to Iowa. One of the Iowa Catholic Conference’s top 2014 priorities is to increase state support for Catholic schools and other private schools. I’m strong supporter of all aspects of Iowa education. In the most recent fiscal year, more than $44 million in state and federal funds were used to increase services for Iowa students attending accredited, non-public K-12 schools. Those dollars helped pay for transportation, textbooks, shared-time students, and media and education services through Area Education Associations, school lunches and tuition tax credits. In state funding alone, Iowa invests more than $1,000 per year for each private school student.
STUDENT POVERTY INCREASES CLASSROOM NEEDS
The number of Iowa kids growing up in poverty is at a 50-year high, and our state’s childhood poverty rate is climbing faster than the national average. In fact, 41 percent of students in Iowa schools live in poverty and are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.
Education is considered a great equalizer, capable of helping less advantaged kids improve their chances for success in life. But history has shown that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. While the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap in student achievement between well-off and low-income students is growing.
Schools with lots of students from low-income families send fewer graduates to college than schools with high-income families, according to a new study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Schools with more than half of their students in poverty had lower rates of college enrollment and saw more of their students drop out of college than did higher-income schools.
We must do more to help students from low-income families. One idea is to provide schools with an extra $250 for each student who qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches (SSB 3160). That amounts to less than 10 percent additional funding for these Iowa students. The national average is an additional 29 percent. Schools use the money to boost student achievement among low-income students, through before and after-school education programs, summer school, intensive tutoring, mentoring and more.
Our students could benefit from these extra dollars now more than ever. Iowa is more than $1,500 below the national average in terms of how much we invest in each student. In recent years, we’ve fallen to 37th in the nation when it comes to per-pupil spending. With our state budget in excellent shape, it’s a trend we need to reverse.
Sally Gaer of Des Moines spoke at a Statehouse news conference advocating for access to medical cannabis to help her daughter Margaret, who has a rare form of epilepsy that causes frequent violent seizures. Gaer appeared with several Democratic Senators when we announced we were unable to convince a single Republican member of the Iowa Legislature to support legalization of the medical use of cannabis.
PROTECTING SENIORS FROM ABUSE & EXPLOITATION
Thousands of older Americans are abused, neglected and exploited every year in the U.S. Many victims are particularly vulnerable, depending on others to help them with the most basic activities of daily living.
In 2001, Iowa implemented an Elder Abuse Initiative in 22 counties to focus on prevention, intervention, detection and reporting of elder abuse.
Between 2007 and 2011, the initiative received almost 12,000 referrals of potential elder abuse. Of these, 44 percent concerned financial exploitation.
With the demonstrated need, we must strengthen efforts to help vulnerable seniors throughout the state. SF 2117 creates an Elder Abuse Resource & Referral Program to work with area agencies on aging to increase awareness of elder abuse and to provide help.
Another bill will specifically address financial exploitation of Iowa seniors, which often occurs at the hands of family members or caretakers. Many seniors give a “power of attorney” to someone they trust so that person can make financial decisions on their behalf, including managing their money, paying their bills and purchasing necessities.
Power of attorney is exercised responsibly among most Iowans. Unfortunately, there is growing evidence of unethical people who prey on vulnerable seniors, stealing from them and abusing their power. Based on recommendations of Iowa’s Elder Abuse Task Force, the Senate Judiciary Committee developed an “Iowa Uniform Power of Attorney Act” to address the problem. SF 2168 will help prevent and detect power of attorney abuse.
Our seniors deserve respect and dignity. These are two steps toward protecting some of Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens.
Latino Legislative Day
February 18th was Latino Legislative Day. I met with members of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa. We are working together to build stronger Iowa families by raising the minimum wage and increasing opportunities for all Iowans to improve their skills.
HELPING VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Human trafficking is a form of slavery that often involves making money off the sexual exploitation of children. These atrocities take place right here in Iowa.
Human trafficking is thought to be the fastest growing and one of the most lucrative endeavors of organized crime. According to the Polaris Project, the total number of human trafficking victims in the United States reaches into the hundreds of thousands each year. Many of the victims are run-away teenage girls, who are forced into prostitution.
In response, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved SSB 3169, which aims to help law enforcement combat human trafficking and to provide assistance to victims. The legislation imposes a $1,000 criminal surcharge on anyone who purchases or offers to purchase the services of a prostitute, those who lure or force others into prostitution, and those convicted of human trafficking. The money will go toward efforts to combat human trafficking, including resources for victims and educating Iowans about this horrific crime.
In addition, the bill gives law enforcement new tools to fight human trafficking by:
• Extending the statute of limitations for sexual exploitation of minors from three years to 10 years.
• Giving authority to the Iowa’s Attorney General to request a court order to intercept communications relating to felony human trafficking.
• Clarifying that enticing a minor can be done through any medium, including all forms of communication.
To learn more about human trafficking, go to www.polarisproject.org.
ELIMINATE TEXTING WHILE DRIVING TO MAKE ROADS SAFER
Drivers who text endanger all road users and pedestrians.
In 2010, Iowa made it a crime to write, read or send a text message while driving. However, Iowa’s texting while driving law is a secondary offense, meaning a driver can only be cited if they are stopped for another violation, such as a broken tail light or speeding. Police say that makes Iowa’s texting while driving law difficult to enforce.
A new bipartisan proposal (SSB 3191) would make texting while driving a primary offense, giving officers the authority to pull over a driver specifically for texting. Why do we need to take this step? Research shows that texting is the most dangerous form of driver distraction because it takes our mind off driving, our eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel.
National Occupant Protection Use Survey show that, at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. And at least 28 percent of vehicle crashes are caused by texting and cell phone use, according to the National Safety Council.
Teens have been the focus of most distracted driving outreach and laws. Texting results in car crashes that kill an average of 11 teens each day.
However, they aren’t the only ones practicing this dangerous behavior. A recent report from AAA indicates that drivers between the ages of 25 and 39 are the most distracted by their cellphones.
Mick Mulhern of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau travels the state to talk with Iowa teens about the dangers of distracted driving. He’s learned that parents don’t always set the best example. When he asks students if their parents text while driving, half the hands in the room go up.
BEWARE OF IDENTITY THEFT DURING TAX SEASON
The Iowa Department of Revenue is warning Iowans to beware of phony calls or e-mail scams regarding state taxes. If somebody calls asking for personal information, such as a Social Security number, or contacts you via e-mail, it may be fraudulent. The Iowa Department of Revenue does not initiate contact with taxpayers via e-mail to request personal or financial information.
If you have any doubts about providing information, don’t do it. Contact the Iowa Department of Revenue directly to confirm if the call or e-mail
you received was official. The department can be reached at email@example.com or by calling the Taxpayer Services line at 515-281-3114. For more information, go to www.iowa.gov/tax/educate/ID.html.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
I am getting old and cranky. At least that’s what I am thinking as I look about some of the local political news and yawn. I wonder how much more voters can stand of a Republican Party that refuses to act as a true representative of American citizens. How much longer will the citizens continue to vote for a party that specifically represents the richer, the richer and the most wealthy?
Here in Iowa we had one minor surprise when Boob Vander Plaats refused yet one more attempt to exalt himself. That will probably take a lot of the fun out of this year’s elections. I was so hoping BVP would be running for senate against Bruce Braley. I doubt Vander Plaats (is he ever referred to as just Plaats?) could keep his hate for gay people out of the media. One member of the blog-o-sphere was planning on having fun with his hypocrisy and justifications. I could have seen Plaats worth at least a few posts.
But not to totally disappoint us, Mariannette Meeks is back to delight us, with her couched Republican talking points and her burnished reputation, from a stint in the Branstad administration. That is if she takes her opponent out in the primary. Her opponent is a really pitiful Mark Lofgren. Lofgren mainly represents the rich in Muscatine and little else.
So most likely we will have another race during which Ms. Meeks will speak in the couched language that tells us nothing about what she will really do if elected. There are a few clues in what she says, on purpose. If you have become familiar with some of the misleading language of tea party speak these days, you would know what certain phrases mean. “Selling insurance across state lines” means every insurance company registers in the state with the least regulations – probably Texas. Then when you go to make a claim, good luck – the low regulated policy you bought doesn’t cover anything.
Health is supposed to be Meeks strong point, yet the misleading language she uses will result in her being one of the zombie horde of tea party Republicans who will once more engage in a series of “NO” votes on implemented legislation that will have no value but to waste the valuable time of our national government in an attempt to make one guy look bad. Meeks offers no real alternative. Thus on her signature policy, she fails miserably. Her policy is to essentially turn us back 10 years, only with adding a big boost for insurance companies of moving to the state of least regulation.
On other policies she mouths the usual tea party line of taking away from the poor and giving to the rich. Seems like she has learned one thing in her years away – she has a base to appease. I would like to think that Iowa-02 is a district that thinks, a district that believes in fairness for all and a district that understands that the country must move forward into the future, not backwards. Were she elected, Meeks would be little more than another tea partier voting the tea party line that is gumming up the works badly already. We already have way too many in Washington.
For governor, once more we get a Branstad candidacy. This ain’t your father’s Branstad, which was not a prime model to begin with. This is a much more right wing Branstad with an updated hate for unions and the poor. He would probably be against gay marriage had that issue not been decided before his most recent re-incarnation. His policy is starve the schools, starve the poor and kiss the business butt. But he will be portrayed as grandfatherly by the media which will not look at his record very hard and thus find little to criticize. Iowa will plod along despite Branstad.
We would do much better as a state with Jack Hatch and his fresh, forward looking ideas. Just for the sake of change I would like to see what Jack Hatch could do. One thing is for sure – he can’t do much worse than Branstad.
And then there is the US senate seat Tom Harkin is vacating. Republicans are in a monumental struggle to decide which will mouth the tea party platitudes against Bruce Braley. Without Vander Plaats and his religiosity, they are pretty much a nameless faceless group. But it matters little since whoever wins will not be running as an individual, but as the one standing for the party. They are interchangeable parts.
So it is same old same old on the tea party side. Yet on the Democratic side there is a good, very forward looking Bruce Braley. His candidacy excites me. I believe Braley truly represents what Iowa is – he is hard working. He has worked in actual blue collar jobs including the family farm, so he knows work. His mother is a devoted teacher. He grew up an Iowan with all the values that entails.
Sending Loebsack back to congress excites me also. The Congressman has been a solid steady voice for progress, often working across the aisle to accomplish progress for the second district. His background of growing up poor, working his way through college to a full professorship is the kind of story that is basic Iowa. Loebsack learned much during those years and uses that knowledge to inform his decisions. He doesn’t forget his roots, working hard to make sure that the ladder he climbed is still there for the next Iowan that needs it.
And Jack Hatch. Simply the thought of a governor who is forthright and open excites me.
So maybe it isn’t the same old, same old on both sides. The Republican Party is putting up tea party approved candidates who work for the rich and are for the most part interchangeable. Yet the Democrats give us some hope that government is a force for good in this country. A force for the good of the people, by the people and for the people.
thoughts blowing through an idle mind
Got a chuckle earlier this week when news came out that Brent Bozell (he is some kind of a whiny conservative) had someone else write his newspaper column. The QC Times canceled the column and no one said anything. Bye Brent! Hurry along, now.
What it illustrated to me was that you can basically take the batch of conservative “thinkers” pour them into a bag, shake them up, roll them out and you couldn’t tell one from another. They basically have one of two schticks – tear down what others create or protect those with money. After taking two of those in the morning they become beyond boring. The only reason to stick with them is to hope something will trickle down.
For those who haven’t had the experience, try listening to a right-wing comic. All they lack for their claim of being a comic is humor. What they pass for humor is often bitter nasty shots at some poor person’s problems. As for me I will keep hanging around those lefty yet creative folks that populate the liberal side. The fact that nobody could tell Bozell had someone else write his column and no one cared that he was removed tells you how much of an impact they have.
Proposal For A Winter Olympic Event
200 foot corner lot 1 foot deep snow shoveling. Contestants would have to throw the snow onto piles over 5 feet high. Event could take place at the Games themselves or on various locations throughout the Midwest.
Branstad Once More.
Hard to believe that Terry Branstad is so out of touch with Iowans that he wants to get a pay raise while working to deny a raise in minimum wage, and his party is stalling on money for schools. In the past couple of years he has line vetoed money for the hungry and created a monster of a Medicaid program that his administration now wants to starve. He already gets his governor’s pension of $50,000 annually on top of his $130,000 salary and he wants $11,000 more? How about he gets a part-time job at MickeyD’s? At $7.25 an hour, he can earn that at 30 hours a week and finally be doing something useful. However, he better learn how to count before he starts taking customer money. He can’t count money the way he does jobs.
A Question I Have Had
For a long time I have wondered who ever anointed the Bible as the “word of God.” I may get in trouble for even bringing this up, but it seems that so much hinges on this statement being true. We continue to hear references to the Bible being not only being the truth but the only truth that can’t be disputed. Not only can it not be disputed, but it is the only such book. That is quite a claim. I have never heard where the claim came from.
My guess is the answer is God, and my problem is to prove it wrong. Yet I think for such magisterial claims, the proof should be on those who said God either wrote or inspired it. And for that matter, when people were copying someone else’s writing to create new copies were there ever mistakes made in copying, letter by letter by hand? I don’t know of many mortals who could do that. This is the third question I have always had. The other two got me a couple days out of religion class when I asked them, so I dared not ask this one.
Soon You May Get A Taste Of Russia
In Arizona, both houses of their legislature have passed a law allowing businesses to discriminate against gay people based on their (the business’s) religious beliefs. So you do not have to spend big bucks to go to Russia to see old fashioned discrimination in action. Arizona will take your tourist dollars to watch hate and discrimination in action.
And As FDR Once Said
“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.”