Remember Jack Hatch running for governor making the case that the Branstad administration was deeply corrupt? At that time we only had inklings of what should be the basis of hearings to come. Whole lots of shenanigans in the firing of employees and secret payoff to those employees.
Remember that Branstad was able to delay his deposition in the case of Chris Godfrey due to Branstad’s participation in an election. That passed and Branstad was deposed shortly before Thanksgiving. Because of the timing with the media was so engrossed in covering ”Black Friday” stories that scant attention was paid to much else.
Besides the deposition itself, what is of interest to folks like me and I hope you is that – well – here we go. Our Governor will be running up a slew of legal bills. Guess who is going to pay them? Hint – it will not be Branstad.
Branstad is part of a growing list of governors and former governors who are under suspicion of corruption or have been indicted. This list includes such luminaries as McDonnell of Virginia, Perry of Texas and of course Chris Christie of New Jersey. Christie is under suspicion not only for the bridge being shut down, but even more so for mishandling of federal funds. This is not a good group of names to be associated with.
The point here is that Iowa re-elected a governor who if he did not break the law surely bent it. So now we will spend another four years mired in potential political scandal. While Branstad was elected by a goodly majority of Iowans who voted, he was also elected by a goodly number of Iowans that didn’t vote and tacitly approved of not only his shenanigans, but also his attempts to cut medicaid for the poor, his line item vetoes of money for food banks when the need was greatest and a long list of other tea bagger policies.
And we get an increasing legal bill to defend his chicanery.
We seem to have had a turn over in our weather patterns. Shortly after Halloween we went directly to cold December type weather complete with snow. Since December 1, we seem to have reverted to November weather with highs in the cool autumn mode. If this proves anything, I think it is do not anger the weather gods. They mess with us just for fun. If we complain, they just mess with us more.
Speaking of messing with us, I had almost forgotten that Dec. 12, 2000 was the date of the last American revolution. If you have forgotten, that is the date that five members of the US Supreme Court chose the president over the vote of the American people. Disaster ensued.
Were you paying attention last week?
1) December has many holidays that represent the return of light (the sun). This Swedish festival celebrated on Dec. 13 features young girls wearing a head wreath of leaves with candles and a white gown. Can you name the saint at the center of this festival?
2) Speaking of Scandinavian countries, our Patent Office refused a patent to a Norwegian company because the name of their product was “offensive.” Do you know the product’s name?
3) The final nail in coffin for Democrats came in Louisiana Tuesday when Sen. Mary Landrieu was defeated by what challenger?
4) Folks in what Iowa tourist mecca took an icy “polar bear” plunge last Sunday to raise money for ‘Toys For Tots’?
5) Many players in what pro sport wore pre-game warm ups that had a message saying “I Can’t Breathe”?
6) Which former major retailer and it subsidiary announced last week that it would close approximately 15% of its stores next year?
7) December 16,1944, Iowa lost one of its most famous sons. There is still controversy on what may have happened, but we know that what famous band leader of the era died in a plane crash on that day?
8) Well, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on CIA torture this week. What Republican senator was the only one who said the report needed to be released?
9) With oil prices tumbling, what do many analysts feel that the break even price for pumping North American oil is?
10) Thursday the US House passed a funding bill to fund the government until September except for one department. What is the department and why was it excluded?
11) In that funding bill there was an add on clause that many critics claim was written by what financial company?
12) Once again I was disappointed as I was passed over for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Who did win this honor this year?
13) For the second time in a couple of weeks, citizens of what state are getting pummeled by powerful storms that may signal an end to one of their longest droughts ever?
14) Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will kick off his presidential campaign with a prayer rally in Baton Rouge on Jan. 24. In a handout in preparation for the event, Jindal blames natural disaster’s such as Hurricane Katrina on what?
15) What GOP presidential primary runner up in 2012 announced his 2016 candidacy to a deafening roar of silence Thursday?
Remember while we are freezing here in the north, folks in the southern hemisphere are going through yet another record breaking summer.
1) Lucia aka Santa Lucia or Saint Lucy
2) Comfyballs (yep just what it sounds like)
3) Bill Cassidy
4) Clear Lake
5) Professional basketball (the NBA)
6) Sears along with Kmart plan to close @235 of 1800 stores
7) Glenn Miller – some thought is that he was lost in a spy mission
8) John McCain because he was tortured
9) $50/ barrel. Oil prices were in the middle $50s at the end of the week.
10) Homeland Security. This was to punish Obama for his “amnesty” of immigrants
11) Citibank. This provision gutted the main provision of Dodd-Franks
12) Ebola fighters
14) homosexuality and abortion. He plans a massive stadium prayer rally to announce his candidacy
15) Rick Santorum. Someone call Foster Friess!
Who can forget the stunning news two years ago tomorrow. A mass shooting in a grade school. A grade school for God’s sake. Twenty kids under 7 killed in cold blood. Perhaps the worst horror anyone could imagine. Civilians dying in war is horrible. Children, innocent children, dying in war is an abomination. Children being slaughtered in one of what should be the safest havens in the world, an elementary school in peacetime in a country that claims to be peaceful, America. Horror beyond imagination.
We were out doing some Christmas shopping when the story came on the radio. I pulled the car off the road and started crying. When I regained composure, I called our daughter. I asked if she had heard what happened. She said yes she had. Just unbelievable she said. I didn’t know what to say. Hug that boy of yours extra tight today, I said. You never know what can happen.
We went home after that. What the hell does Christmas mean when some guy who has a grudge with the world can ruin lives forever in a moment of insanity or simply because he wants to?
With the loss of those lives hundreds were directly affected. Meaning was lost for them that days. Hope and dreams snuffed in a second. Thousands more would be affected personally. Millions upon millions reflected on what the sudden loss of a child in this way would mean to them or to their school or to their town or even their state.
There was a massive outcry at the time as there should have been. Many hoped that from this tragedy of tragedies that America would finally wake up and face their gun crisis. We lose far more people in this country do to shooting each other than we do to war, often at the hand of a loved one. Perhaps this would be the spark that would finally light the fire that would lead to sensible gun control laws.
But the corporate media and the NRA rode immediately to the defense of the gun industry. The NRA’s sole reason for existence is to make sure that the gun industry can continue to sell their tools of death without interference. Americans have a short memory. In the short space of a couple of months, the horror of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut had all but faded from the news. Those whose lives were shattered by the tragedy had been mostly ignored and once more a tragedy caused by guns was used by the industry to sell even more and more guns.
Tomorrow we will probably hear some speeches about guns and the broken lives they leave in their path. Will anything happen besides the sales of even more guns? Our corporate media spurs the fear of “others” through their slanted coverage of reaction to the deaths Michael Brown and Eric Garner. This fear divides us and drives us into silos from which we feel more comfortable attacking rather than talking.
There have been some 100 shootings in America’s schools since the tragedy in Newtown. Why should there have been even one more? Some 30,000 Americans die yearly from guns. Let us resolve to do what we must to stop the next one. And no, more guns are not the answer.
The House responds with a resounding “CORPORATIONS!” very late Thursday night. And it will only get worse after the first of the year, folks. Both in the country in general and in the state in particular
This is what America voted for? I doubt it, but no one told them that this (handing the government over to corporations) is what congress intended to do. It didn’t come up in the campaign. Americans are kept stupid by its corporate media. The corporate media is also the main driver in making far right wing policy the norm while making those of us who believe that government policy should be tilted for making life livable for all Americans. They have a vested stake.
Elizabeth Warren is the most visible of a small group of politicians that are fighting Wall Street for the very soul of the Democratic Party. They own the Republican party At the same time she is one of those fighting for a fair deal for citizens in their fight against turning the government over lock, stock and barrel to corporate interests. It is a small cadre of politicians that believe citizens and not corporations should be in charge of their government. Much as those who founded this country did.
From this corner we say “Go, Elizabeth, go.” We are behind you.
Maybe you missed it because there was no birth announcement. The lack of a birth announcement is probably due to the fact that the parents, Charles and David Koch and their corporate concubines don’t want anyone to know. Just like ACCE’s bigger brother, ALEC, ACCE works best behind closed doors and under a rock. ACCE stands for “American City County Exchange.” This will allow the Koch to – shall we say – get involved in your local city councils and county government.
If the Kochs and their lackey congress critters can’t turn the government over to business at the national level, they will work to do so at the state level through their lackey legislatures. And now if they can’t turn government into their personal servant at the national or state level, they now have a new surreptitious organization to corrupt at the local level. If you feel that government is becoming responsive only to those with money, you are right. This is just what the Kochs want. After all they have the money and lots of friends with money.
ALEC and ACCE just completed a session meeting behind closed doors with corporate biggies rubbing elbows with legislators and now supervisors and councillors. Playing kind of a reverse Santa Claus where Santa sits on the knee of the legislators asking for presents. Later there will be campaign donations in a world where campaigns are conducted mostly on the expensive media.
While ALEC seldom announces their want list, we can make some informed guesses. However, the ALEC watchdog group at the Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD) PR Watch published what they believed to be on this year’s wish list. So from the the CMD, here is an educated forecast for what we may soon see popping up as “model legislation” for legislatures around the country:
Blocking Local Minimum Wage Increases
Citizens in red states like Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota voted overwhelmingly in favor of raising their state’s minimum wage on November 4, as did Republican and Democratic voters in states like Wisconsin, where twenty communities supported advisory referendums in favor of raising the wage.
With such a clear divide between the policies that voters support and those that ALEC corporate interests like the National Restaurant Association (which has been fighting for a $2.13 sub-minimum wage) want legislators to implement, the Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force will feature a presentation on “Minimum Wage Preemption Policies.”
ALEC has long pushed bills like the “Living Wage Preemption Act” to block city, county, or local governments from enacting progressive economic initiatives like a higher minimum wage. In light of the renewed grassroots push for fair wage laws, this bill to crush a local government’s ability to increase wages in their community will likely be a top ALEC priority in 2015. (ALEC legislators have also been active in banning local paid sick day efforts, passing 10 laws after Wisconsin’s paid sick days preemption bill was shared at ALEC’s August 2011 meeting).
Local Right to Work
The ACCE meeting will also feature a presentation titled “Local Right to Work: Protect my Paycheck.” ALEC has long pushed anti-union “Right to Work” laws, which allow non-union members to free-ride on union representation, reaping the benefits of union negotiations for wages and benefits but without paying the costs. Michigan’s right to work law, for example, was a word-for-word copy of ALEC’s model legislation and sponsored by ALEC members.
With ACCE, ALEC is now trying to promote this anti-union legislation at the local level.
In September, the Washington Examiner reported that “Conservatives are starting to push the idea that city and county governments can pass union-restricting right-to-work laws, even though it may not be legal and has been tried only a handful of times in the last 70 years.” It is unclear whether local governments have the authority to pass right to work under the Taft-Hartley National Labor Relations Act, but in August the Heritage Foundation issued a report arguing that they do. Heritage hosted a panel discussion on local right to work in August featuring representatives of ACCE, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, and the National Right to Work Legal Foundation, and highlighted what they viewed as opportunities for local ordinances in Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Those are the two top wishes, but of course business asks for a big package which will also include:
Depriving Low-Wage Workers of Health Insurance
Electronic cigarettes – stopping legislation on vaping nicotine
Protesting “Global Taxes” on Tobacco
Regulating Ride-Share Companies – exempting Uber and Lyft from common carrier laws
Industry-Friendly Dental Bills – moving dental services to less trained “practitioners”
Rigging the Game for Insurers – pretty self explanatory
Free Trade! – again self-explanatory
School Privatization – one of ALEC’s perennials, but once more carving out new areas for business to control. From the article: As one ALEC member told an ALEC education subcommittee earlier this year, “we need to stamp out local control.”
Please go to the link and read the sickening details of how the Kochs and their compadres plan to subvert our government for their business interests.
It is always a challenge anymore to see if we can withstand the onslaught of horrible Christmas shows with so many has been or never were stars singing Christmas songs in tortured ways that cause the writers of said songs to roll in their graves. This is in addition to the knuckleheads that insist that saying “happy holidays” or anything that isn’t “merry christmas” is an insult. Sorry there Bubba, but it is just a greeting that happens every year around the winter solstice. There are many religions and non-religions that celebrate the return of the sun somewhere in December that most any greeting is okay.
It was a quiet week wasn’t it? Or Maybe it wasn’t:
1) Meeting in Washington, DC last week what extreme business oriented group handed out their desired laws for next year to state legislators?
2) Can you identify the Tamir Rice mentioned in today’s introduction?
3) “December 7, 1941 – A day that will live in infamy.” Who spoke these words before a joint session of Congress?
4) December 5th, 1933 was indeed a day to celebrate. An era ended on that day when the 21st amendment to the constitution repealed what?
5) Information meetings began across Iowa preparing for the construction of what?
6) Maybe you didn’t notice, but last week America officially became the world’s #2 economy behind what other country?
7) Were “Black Friday” sales – a retail indicator every year – up or down this year?
8) A congressional committee is investigating Japanese auto parts maker Takata for what defective part they have supplied to numerous auto makers?
9) Yesterday was one of the first holidays of December, a month with many holidays. This holiday is big in Europe. What holiday was celebrated yesterday?
10) Akai Gurley was shot by police in a stairway by police in Brooklyn. What unusual step did police then take as Mr. Gurley lay dying?
11) As one wit said “He pointed at himself and said “Out!” Dale Scott became the first member of what profession to come out as gay?
12) Iowa’s Board of Regents voted last week to do what to tuition at Iowa’s regent universities last week?
13) As badly needed as the rain and snow were, it brought a mixed bag of good effects and bad to what drought stricken state last week?
14) SCOTUS justices heard arguments Wednesday in the case of a woman who was refused to be given light duty and then was fired by UPS because of what physical condition she had acquired?
15) While police and National Guard confront protestors on the streets of Ferguson, Mo. what armed volunteer militia is watching the proceedings from rooftops?
Bonus: The US did something it hasn’t done for 42 years Friday. Do you know what it was?
Double bonus: The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear oral arguments in a case involving Texas’ ability to choose the messages it allows on government-issued license plates. What symbol is Texas trying to keep off its license plates?
Stay warm – soon we celebrate the return of the sun.
2) The 12 year old boy shot in Cleveland by police. He had a pellet gun in his hands at the time in a nearly deserted park.
4) the 18th amendment aka prohibition
5) the Bakken oil pipeline that will cut across Iowa diagonally
7) down about 11% and that includes Thanksgiving day sales
8) air bags – they have exploded in some vehicles for no reason killing some.
9) St. Nicholas Day
10) texted their union representative.
11) baseball umpires
12) freeze tuitions for in state students for the 3rd year in a row
15) Oath Keepers (how do they get away with that you wonder? So do I)
Bonus: Launched a crew capable space craft above low earth orbit
Double Bonus: The confederate flag. (maybe I am nuts but isn’t that a flag of treason?)
I think we all know what the right wing of this country is proposing for a budget for our country – cut taxes on the rich, privatize Social Security, cut social safety nets and all the savings will trickle down to the poor, and we will all live happily ever after. A budget for any entity is the very statement of their purpose; it is where the organization will place its emphasis. In the case of the right wing budget the emphasis is on making the rich much richer.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont offered the structure of a proposed budget on the senate floor last Wednesday. As you can see his proposal is much different than we will get from those beholden to the wealthy:
1. Rebuilding Our Roads
We need a major investment to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure: roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports, railroads and schools. It has been estimated that the cost of the Bush-Cheney Iraq War, a war we should never have waged, will total $3 trillion by the time the last veteran receives needed care. A $1 trillion investment in infrastructure could create 13 million decent paying jobs and make this country more efficient and productive. We need to invest in infrastructure, not more war.
2. Reversing Climate Change
The United States must lead the world in reversing climate change and make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energies. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, our transportation system needs to be energy efficient and we need to greatly accelerate the progress we are already seeing in wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and other forms of sustainable energy. Transforming our energy system will not only protect the environment, it will create good paying jobs.
3. Creating Jobs
We need to develop new economic models to increase job creation and productivity. Instead of giving huge tax breaks to corporations which ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to provide assistance to workers who want to purchase their own businesses by establishing worker-owned cooperatives. Study after study shows that when workers have an ownership stake in the businesses they work for, productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down and employees are much more satisfied with their jobs.
4. Protecting Unions
Union workers who are able to collectively bargain for higher wages and benefits earn substantially more than non-union workers. Today, corporate opposition to union organizing makes it extremely difficult for workers to join a union. We need legislation which makes it clear that when a majority of workers sign cards in support of a union, they can form a union.
5. Raising the Wage
The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage. We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. No one in this country who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty.
6. Pay Equity
Women workers today earn 78 percent of what their male counterparts make. We need pay equity in our country — equal pay for equal work.
7. Making Trade Work for Workers
Since 2001 we have lost more than 60,000 factories in this country, and more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs. We must end our disastrous trade policies (NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, etc.) which enable corporate America to shut down plants in this country and move to China and other low-wage countries. We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies which demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad.
8. Cutting College Costs
In today’s highly competitive global economy, millions of Americans are unable to afford the higher education they need in order to get good-paying jobs. Further, with both parents now often at work, most working-class families can’t locate the high-quality and affordable child care they need for their kids. Quality education in America, from child care to higher education, must be affordable for all. Without a high-quality and affordable educational system, we will be unable to compete globally and our standard of living will continue to decline.
9. Breaking Up Big Banks
The function of banking is to facilitate the flow of capital into productive and job-creating activities. Financial institutions cannot be an island unto themselves, standing as huge profit centers outside of the real economy. Today, six huge Wall Street financial institutions have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product – over $9.8 trillion. These institutions underwrite more than half the mortgages in this country and more than two-thirds of the credit cards. The greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of major Wall Street firms plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. They are too powerful to be reformed. They must be broken up.
10. Bringing Health Care to All
The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and recognize that health care is a right of all, and not a privilege. Despite the fact that more than 40 million Americans have no health insurance, we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation. We need to establish a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.
11. Ending Poverty
Millions of seniors live in poverty and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country. We must strengthen the social safety net, not weaken it. Instead of cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs, we should be expanding these programs.
12. Stopping Tax Dodging Corporations
At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need a progressive tax system in this country which is based on ability to pay. It is not acceptable that major profitable corporations have paid nothing in federal income taxes, and that corporate CEOs in this country often enjoy an effective tax rate which is lower than their secretaries. It is absurd that we lose over $100 billion a year in revenue because corporations and the wealthy stash their cash in offshore tax havens around the world. The time is long overdue for real tax reform.
I found this story while looking for another story on billmoyers.com. As many of you know, Bill Moyers was Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary. Moyers has been a figure on public television nearly since its birth. He has exposed the charlatans and crooks and pointed out the crises caused by capitalism. He retired once but was coaxed back to fill the void he had left. Now he is set to retire permanently. He will really never be replaced.
Here are some excerpts from a story most Americans want to ignore – the homeless in America. Remember Republicans claim it is a choice these people make:
Levi Cummings didn’t die of old age. He didn’t die in an accident, and he wasn’t murdered. Cummings died because he was homeless.
He likely froze to death — the state medical examiner must still officially release the cause of death — last Thursday, a victim of the polar vortex and of his inability to afford a place to stay.
There are currently 578,424 homeless people living in the United States, a third of whom have no shelter at all. As temperature start to fall across the country, they are an extremely vulnerable population, even in areas of the country that don’t regularly see freezing temperatures like Oklahoma and California. More could soon suffer Cummings’s fate.
Many cities have emergency procedures in place when temperatures drop in order to make more shelter available for people who are on the streets. But those procedures are often too restrictive to prevent otherwise-preventable deaths. For example, even though hypothermia can set in when temperatures are as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit, many cities don’t open the doors to their winter shelters until temperatures hit freezing or below. In Des Moines, as the National Coalition for the Homeless pointed out, temperatures have to drop all the way to 20 degrees, and in Baltimore it needs to hit 13 degrees with wind chill before winter shelter procedures are put in effect.
Were you paying attention last week or were you so stuffed with turkey you slept through the week?
1) Feel a smile coming to your face today? November 30th is the birthday of America’s greatest humorist and observer of humanity. What great humorist was born on this date in Florida, Missouri in 1835?
2) This man’s name became a household name by the end of this week. What is the name of the St. Louis County prosecutor who announced the decision in the Darren Wilson case this week?
3) Liberals held their breath when news that what SCOTUS justice was treated for a heart blockage with a stent?
4) OPEC met last week and decided to do what with their production in the face of falling oil prices?
5) What legendary writer, performer and director and one of the few winners of the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) awards died last week?
6) Negotiations between the state of Iowa and its employees union began last week with the parties far apart on what two issues?
7) The European Parliament is considering a proposal to break up what company?
8) Russia is losing as much as $100 billion a year due to what?
9) December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama. On December 5th what response to her arrest began?
10) Pope Francis is on a little trip. Where is the Pope venturing out to?
11) A gunman in Austin, Texas went on a rampage Friday morning shooting at several government buildings, including the Mexican consulate. One motive was thought to be what?
12) President Obama and his family kept up their Thanksgiving tradition of doing what for the poor on Wednesday?
13) A work of art by what woman was auctioned off for a record $4.4 million, a record for a woman artist?
14) Workers for what major retailer once more staged demonstrations throughout the country on Black Friday?
15) Protestors of the Ferguson grand jury decision temporarily shut down 3 malls in what major city Friday?
In a time honored tradition, yours truly will do his shopping sometime on December 24th. I mean, what’s the hurry?
1) Mark Twain or Sam Clemens if you wish
2) Bob McCulloch
3) Ruth Bader Ginsburg
4) nothing – maintain their current production
5) Mike Nichols
6) wage hikes and who pays what for health insurance
8) the downturn in oil prices
9) the Montgomery bus boycott
11) the new executive order on immigrants
12) handing out food at Bread for the City.
13) Georgia O’Keefe
15) St. Louis
Here is a brief video of the first family handing out food. For the life of me I can not understand why they are so vilified.