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Random Thoughts Before A Holiday

* The President takes as bold of an action as he possibly can and the Speaker of the House claims this ends any co-operation that was going to happen between congress and the President. Maybe Boehner missed it, but there was never any co-operation to begin with. When you make a threat, try to operate within reality, Boehner.

cooperation after

* We will sure miss this guy:

attribution:EarlG at democraticunderground,com

attribution:EarlG at democraticunderground,com

* While you are sitting back digesting the turkey and taters, the Koch brothers and their ilk will be busy preparing their demands for the state politicians they own. Did I say own? I meant own. They will whine and dine them (yep I meant whine about how tough it is to be a billionaire these days) and give them a list of must dos or they will buy new politicians. I expect a new demand will be to destroy the electoral college before the next election.

* The President asks for TV network air time for a momentous speech and the networks tell him to take a hike, “Big Bang Theory” is much more important than some silly speech. Just in case you wondered how the media views Obama or any Democrat for that matter.

* If you are shopping over the holiday weekend, remember that you do vote with your dollars. Money spent at most of the big box stores will come back to haunt you when the billionaires buy politicians with the profits. Shop local if you can. Otherwise try to pick merchants who espouse policies you do: decent pay, equal pay and decent working conditions.

* There will be many things to fight against in the next congress. One that really hasn’t been talked about much but has me worried is the fate of the Post Office. As the employer with the biggest (and I daresay most cohesive) union in the country, I believe we can expect an all out assault on the Post Office to the point of totally dismantling it. In covering this story, I expect the media will give us many stories on how bad the USPO is and how private industry could do the job better. Typical media crap.

* Have a good holiday. Take a few moments to think of those less fortunate. Then try to act in ways that could help them.

Sunday Funday: Buffalo Still Exists Edition

we can try the quiz after dinner

we can try the quiz after dinner

THE SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING! Or so it must have seemed in Buffalo, New York and environs last week. Epochal snowfall. Even Noah himself would have had trouble in this one. Once more a weather event points up that indeed the climate is changing and we are headed for more and more extreme incidents. Remember that little rain we had last summer? Remember those tornadoes that devastated Washington, Illinois last November? Once again Australia is burning up. Lakes in California are dried up. The United Nations says we must make drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions immediately.

Buffalo survives for this round. But the warning shots are getting louder.

We’ll mix in a little Thanksgiving trivia with the questions this week.

1) In a bit of a surprise what major world economy announced they were in recession at the beginning of the week?

2) President Obama made a major policy address on immigration Thursday. Which of the television networks carried this major address?

3) The Iowa Board of Regents will discuss a third straight tuition freeze since Iowa students graduate ranked as number what in debt load?

4) The first Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1920 by what department store? (Choices: Macy’s Gimbel’s or Penney’s)

5) The Keystone XL pipeline was “defeated” in the Senate by a vote of what?

6) Susan Hamm of Oklahoma City made headlines when she said she would appeal her divorce settlement as being too low. What was the settlement?

7) Benjy, the Irish bull was scheduled for the slaughterhouse before he was saved by activists who raised money to save him. Why was Benjy scheduled to be slaughtered?

8) History notes that the Pilgrims may have been dumped at Plymouth Rock because the ship’s crew feared running out of what staple provision on the way home to England? (hint: it was stored in kegs)

9) A wise Person would stock up now. Increased consumption and a disease called “frosty pod” threatens what staple of the American diet?

10) An Iowa man went where he shouldn’t have. R. j. Ranae Kapheim of Davenport was arrested where with what?

11) Campus shootings were recorded at two locations this week. Can you name one of them?

12) What long time humorist was not laughing this week as many women came forward with tales of sexual abuse at his hands?

13) Back in the day – 1621 – it took about how long to travel from England to America – two months, three months or four months?

14) The USDA approved a genetically modified potato for Simplot company. However, what company said they would not use this potato?

15) FDR tried to move up the Thanksgiving holiday by a week to stimulate the economy in what year?

Last I heard Buffalo had as much as 84 inches (7 feet) of snow. That is just unbelievable. Our best wishes for a recovery for those folks.

Answers:

1) Japan

2) PBS – none of the commercial networks carried the address

3) sixth highest

4) Gimbel’s in Philadelphia. Macy joined the fun in 1924

5) 59 for 41 against – therefore the against wins in Senate math

6) She got $1 billion, but since that was only 6% of her husband’s fortune, she felt it too little

7) he seemed to be gay, only hung with the bulls and had no interest in mating

8) beer – fermented drinks were often used since water could kill a person

9) chocolate

10) near the White House with several weapons and ammunition.

11) Edinburg, Pa. and Florida State

12) Bill Cosby

13) two months

14) McDonald’s said it would not use the potato for fries – at least for now.

15) 1939. In 1941 Congress passed a bill establishing the 4th Thursday as Thanksgiving. Moving the holiday was a major kerfluffle.

For those who just can’t get enough football, the Grey Cup is scheduled for next Sunday (Nov. 30) at 5PM Central time.
Happy Holiday

REPORT: Executive Action on Immigration Will Boost Iowa’s Economy‏

progress iowa

For Immediate Release: November 20th, 2014
Contact: Matt Sinovic, (515) 423-0530
www.progressiowa.org

REPORT: Executive Action on Immigration Will Boost Iowa’s Economy

Des Moines, Iowa — President Obama’s announced executive action on immigration will boost the Iowa economy, according to a new report released by the Center for American Progress (CAP). 13,000 undocumented immigrants living in Iowa would see their wages increase by 8.5%, and Iowa tax revenues would see a $22 million spike over five years, according to the study.

Click here to read the report

Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s executive action and the CAP report:

“President Obama’s executive action will keep families together, raise wages for thousands of Iowans, and bring more money in to our state. The President’s action tonight will make our country and our economy more secure.”

“Republicans like Steve King will demagogue the President’s decision, but I challenge them to speak directly to the 13,000 undocumented immigrants living in Iowa who would be forced to leave their children behind if deported. The US Senate passed bipartisan legislation in 2013, by a 68-32 margin, but it died in the House of Representatives, who refused to hold a vote. Because of their inaction, families in Iowa and across the country were left to wonder whether they would stay together or be ripped apart. Before King or any Congressional Republican criticizes the President, they should remember we are in the position we are today because of their failure to act.”

“The policy effects of the President’s executive action will also be tremendous for our country. Immigrants impacted by the President’s executive action will be required to pay taxes, which will help our economy. And the Department of Homeland Security will be able to free up resources to focus on serious criminals and those who might present a threat to our national security.”

“We hope for and will continue to support a legislative solution to our broken immigration system. But given the multiple delays and the failure by Congressman King and the House of Representatives to act, we are thankful that the President took the executive action he did.”

Progress Iowa is a statewide organization focused on research, education and advocacy regarding Iowa public policy.

A Good Thanksgiving For The 1%

reigning Turkey of the Year

reigning Turkey of the Year

We look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday with a true frustration.

Television news will focus on such important news stories as who will be open all day Thanksgiving so we can get that holiday shopping started early or the folks camped out so they can save a nickel on the newest video system. After all those stores spend money for advertising, so what is wrong with giving them a segment of the news and maybe a flash or two of their logo on the news. That’s what news is supposed to be isn’t it? Support for the station’s bottom line, right? Stories of poor people and the middle class getting screwed by corporations and condoned by many current government policies just aren’t newsworthy.

So three weeks after an outrageously expensive and poorly attended midterm election we go back to what has become business as usual for America: keeping wages low as the lion’s share of profit goes to a few people at the top; families working 3 and 4 jobs between the parents and they can barely put food on the table; the vaunted “best medical care in the world” that is closed to many with a very good chance it will be closed to millions more if the Tea Party has its way; global warming perhaps beyond the tipping point condemning our children and grandchildren to a hell on earth while oil companies buy and sell politicians; our education system that is sacrificed on the altar of money and our future bankrupted for leaders because we refuse to educate our children.

We always have money for war. We always have money for the next Pentagon toy no matter the cost. Yet we can barely help our neighbor with a few bucks to heat his house in the sub-freezing weather of Iowa. Nor can we scrape up a few bucks to help the family down the street that is down on its luck with food stamps or unemployment insurance. We have a nattering class that says “get a job.” Yet there are not enough jobs to go around and those that are open pay so little that the worker can’t afford rent, food insurance and transportation. One in six Americans go to sleep hungry. Millions are homeless. This is due to choices those on the right have made, nothing else.

There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done in this country. There is much repair left over from last century to be attended to. There is much work to be done to set the stage for advancement in the new century to keep America in its leadership position in the world. But those who control the purse strings in this country decided long ago that their focus will be to extract as much money from society as they can as quickly as they can while giving as little as they can back to society. In their quest they have enlisted craven politicians who will do whatever they are told for price.

Americans have been optimistic from the very beginning of this country, but it appears even they have reached a breaking point. Once the mantra was that we can make our leaders listen if we get together and demand it. Now the reality many confront is that they will not be listened to unless they come with money in their hands. Popular actions get little response, money gets immediate action. The political system is for sale and 99% of us can’t even get a bid in. In response citizens do not vote because they feel the system is rigged against them.

Media, once known as the fourth estate that was to act as a check on government abuse, is now fully integrated into the media-corporate-government complex. Where once common folk could turn to the likes of HL Mencken or Walter Cronkite or Ed Murrow for in depth analysis we now have Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh whose sole mission is to broadcast the propaganda of the wealthy. The work of true journalism is now done in the margins by the likes of Amy Goodman, Matt Taibi and Jeremy Scahill. Magazines like the Nation and Mother Jones do important work, but are mostly ignored. The best informed Americans get their news not from NPR, but from comedians Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and John Fugelsang.

There is but one corner of the media not controlled by the wealthy – the internet. As could be expected the assault to control that corner is an all out war of lobbying and favors. One man, FCC chair Tom Wheeler, stands as the very last defense against total corporate take over of the internet. Even the Tea party base opposes this take over. Wheeler is working himself into a frenzy trying to give the wealthy what they want while making it appear he isn’t doing so. They were once his employer and presumably will be again. The game is rigged.

Beginning in 1971 with the Powell memo, the wealthy have worked hard for control of this country. The Reagan years put into place economic policies that have continued and been magnified through today that greatly favor the wealthy. Social policies have been gutted. Voting rights become narrower and narrower. Drug policies and law enforcement have been used in large part against certain population groups, thus muting any power they may accrue.

Yes, it is a great time to be wealthy in America. For the rest of us, not so much.

Let’s Stop The Bakken Oil Pipeline

Bakken Pipeline Proposed Route
There is more than one pipeline that oil companies want to build in the US. While the Keystone Pipeline gets most of the notice, another environmentally unsound pipeline is looking to dissect Iowa and spoil some of the world’s best farmland. Here is what Iowa CCI suggests you can do:

BAKKEN PIPELINE RESISTANCE

A Fortune 500 oil corporation down in Texas is planning on building a dangerous oil pipeline through 17 Iowa counties in order to transport crude, dirty, explosive Bakken oil being hydrofracked in North Dakota down through Iowa and Illinois and on to the Gulf of Mexico.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Attend the information hearing closest to you and voice your opposition:

Dec. 1: Inwood Community Center, Inwood, 1 p.m.; Terrace View Event Center, Sioux Center, 6 p.m.; Comfort Inn & Suites, Fort Madison, 1 p.m.; River Valley Lodge,Farmington,6 p.m.

Dec. 2: Sheldon Community Services, Sheldon, 9 a.m.; Cherokee Community Center,Cherokee, 3 p.m.; Jefferson County Fairgrounds Activity Building, Fairfield, 9 a.m.

Dec. 3: Buena Vista University, Anderson Auditorium, Storm Lake, 9 a.m.; Gateway Church of the Nazarene, Community Room, Oskaloosa, 3 p.m.; Memorial Hall,Sigourney, 9 a.m.

Dec. 4: Ankeny Parks and Recreation, Lakeside Center, 400 N.W. Lakeshore Drive,Ankeny, 3 p.m.; DMACC Newton Conference Center, Newton, 9 a.m.

Dec. 15: Sac Community Center, Sac City, 1 p.m.’ Calhoun County Expo Center,Rockwell City, 6 p.m.; Boone County Fairgrounds, Community Building, Boone, 6 p.m.; Gates Memorial Auditorium, Nevada, 1 p.m.

Dec. 16: Iowa Central Community College, East Campus, Triton Room, Fort Dodge, 9 a.m.; Bridge View Center, Ottumwa, 9 a.m.

Sunday Funday – Sit In At Walmart Edition

you folks want to take the quiz?

you folks want to take the quiz?

Thursday night some truly surprising news came out of Los Angeles – an old fashioned labor sit-in protest by employees was held at one of the LA area Walmarts. Reports that came out were a bit confusing to me and the protest was ended by county police a few hours later. However, I understood that the protestors were joined by a large number of supporters. Once more this year protests are planned for Walmart across the country on Black Friday. We wish them the best.

While that may have not been reported, much else was last week. Were you paying attention?

1) In case we forgot who was president, Obama had a very active week last week. Early in the week he announced an agreement with China on what major world problem?

2) Perhaps some of the most astonishing news of the week when the ESA announced the landing of a spacecraft on what?

3) The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was threatened with a lawsuit for defamation by what right wing extremist radio host?

4) Coming back from a long layoff, Democrats in the US senate immediately scheduled a vote on the Keystone Pipeline in an effort to save whose senate seat?

5) November 19th, 1863. President Lincoln offers a few short remarks at the dedication of a battlefield as a cemetery located in what city?

6) What major Iowa grocery chain announced their filing of chapter 11 bankruptcy and sale to Associated Wholesale Grocers?

7) Keeping up his active week, President Obama authorized a plan that would double what?

8) November 18th, 1883. School teacher Charles Dowd proposes a solution to one of America’s most confusing problems. This problem made it nearly impossible to co-ordinate schedules in more than one town. What did Dowd propose?

9) Major extremist right wing heart throb Ted Cruz was hit hard on Facebook by his adoring fans when he made a sarcastic post aimed at what hot button topic?

10) Republicans promised to hold up the approval of Atty. Gen. nominee Loretta Lynch over what issue?

11) Last year was a disastrous roll out for this new government program. This year things are expected to go much smoother for the re-enrollments under what new program?

12) The Obama administration also floated a couple of balloons on possible action on two hot button issues. Can you name both of these policies?

13) For those of us who fear heights, Wednesday scared us to the quick as two window washers dangled precariously before they were rescued at what NYC building?

14) AFSCME, the union representing some 40,000 Iowa government worker, offered their proposal for a new contract this week. What was their proposed wage increase?

15) Procter & Gamble announced their first sale in their effort to slim their product lines. Warren Buffet bought what battery company for $6.4 B?

Bonus question: The governor of Arkansas announced he will pardon a young man convicted of drug offenses. What is notable about this pardon?

This hasn’t been a good year for Walmart. Early this week they issued a memo ordering their stores to sell more groceries and do a better job of rotating stock. They have been hurt badly by supporting cuts to food stamps and by their own labor policies. Too bad for them.

Answers:

1) Greenhouse gas emissions

2) comet

3) Rush Limbaugh (it is ok to laugh)

4) Mary Landrieu

5) Gettysburg, Pa.

6) Dahl’s

7) troops in Iraq

8) uniform time zone plan consisting of 4 time zones

9) net neutrality – seems right wingers want NN also

10) immigration

11) Affordable Care Act.

12) executive orders on not deporting certain immigrants and a much higher minimum wage for federal contractors.

13) #1 World Trade Center

14) 8% over 2 years

15) Duracell

Bonus: They are father and son. Governor Mike Beebe and son Kyle Beebe

America Needs You, Harry Truman

Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to look to the past for guidance. Take a lesson from 2014 and prepare for 2016.

Harry Truman went into the 1948 election in about the worst position he could possibly be in. Republicans and Dixiecrats opposed him and the media was maybe only a bit friendlier than today. But Truman refused to play games. He went out and told the truth. Despite the filters of the media, the electorate heard and understood. Truman put the blame for lack of action where the blame belonged – a do-nothing Republican congress.

We have the most do-nothing congress ever right now caused by Republican obstruction. Did we hear that during the election? Did we hear much of the bad policies espoused by Republicans. Did we shout from the rooftop that it is and always had been Democrats who will fight for the worker, the farmer, the educator, in fact all but the top 1%?

Take it Harry:

America Needs You, Harry Truman

Time To Find Out Republican Policies, America!

Bernie Sanders on the election

From Bernie Sanders:

Here’s the interesting point. You talk about Republican principles. The Republicans forgot to tell the American people what their principles are, so let me make a prediction. Let me make a prediction, and a year from now invite me back and we’ll see if I am right or wrong. This is exactly what they will do. The American people want to expand Social Security. What the Republicans will do is attempt to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and give huge tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporation. They will do exactly what the American people don’t want them to do. You talked about raising the minimum wage. They don’t believe in that. They want to do away with the concept of the minimum wage, so people will work for five bucks or four bucks an hour.

….They will make the effort, and you talk about the Republican principles are to make the very richest people in this country richer at the expense of working families.

Now that the election is over, perhaps we will finally hear Republican stances on issues. It may seem a bit backwards to make the electorate wait until after the election, but that seems to be the way things work. After all how many of us would have been in such a hurry to vote for the likes of Joni Ernst or David Young had it been made known that they were in favor of turning Social Security funds over to Wall Street gamblers or making Medicare a voucher system? Perhaps if media would have pursued the real issues we could have found out, but that might require making someone uncomfortable.

Joni Ernst ran from interviews with the Des Moines Register, Cedar Rapids Gazette and Dubuque Telegraph. Do you understand why now? Not because of her claim that these papers had already made up their minds. No, she ran at full speed away from interviews with potential real journalists who would not take obfuscation nor avoidance as acceptable answers. If I had something to hide – like a really unpopular stance on minimum wage – I would have run also. Especially when all I wanted to do was talk about how Bruce Braley dissed Chuck Grassley and how to castrate hogs.

Of course, Ernst was only one of hundreds of Republican candidates whose whole campaign was based on framing their opponent as the devil incarnate and then claiming your not him. If Jesus Christ would have run he would have been assailed as anti-capitalist, from the Middle East (we all know what that means) and in favor of letting the poor get health care. Then Jesus’ Republican opponent would come on and say “I am not Jesus!” and never mention where he or she stood on issues.

Naturally there will also be many commercials stating you love motherhood, apple pie and America’s soldiers.

One of the most comical vents in the whole campaign was to see Mitch McConnell in Kentucky avoid getting cornered on the ACA (which he will now attempt to destroy) and ends up saying that the K-nect – the Kentucky ACA website is really good and he won’t change it. Just gut its purpose, but he couldn’t admit it.

So now that the election is over we will finally get a look at what the Tea Party really has in mind for America and its states. Their police can be summed up rather simply – what do their billionaire buyers want and probably more important, what do they NOT want. They do not want Social Security, but if there is some sort of mandatory long term program such as SS, let the gamblers on Wall Street run it. Medicare? It will be pretty hard to kill, so lets let the insurance companies run it. Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment and any welfare can all be lumped under “if people are poor it is their fault and the government shouldn’t spend my money to help anyone.”

Right off the bat we can expect assaults on Dodd-Franks so financial institutions can shed the awful burden of having to deal honestly with consumers. Then we can fully expect an assault on the ACA. if the Supreme Court fails to do its job and cripple the ACA over a typo in the bill.

All these will be tied to legislation that if not signed will shut the government down. Did Ernst give any idea she would be involved in such shenanigans? Well I guess it was on a need to know basis and the only ones that seems to need to know were the billionaires she will be working for. Iowans probably couldn’t understand such details anyway.

Along the way we will no doubt have some high sounding legislation that cuts minimum wage, makes bigger cuts to education or food stamps and maybe a special one that allows employers to cut overtime pay.

Many among us tried to get warnings out, but that is a hard task when the airwaves and broadcast media are filled with right-wing messages and there are few outlets for liberal messages anymore.

Task #1 is to save internet neutrality. Without the internet we are nearly shut out of communications options.

Task #2 is to let our representatives know where Americans stand on issues.

Task #3 is to get involved with your local Democratic Party. Become the party and fight for liberal policies.

What Can We Expect?

time to listen to him

time to listen to him


Robert Reich posted this on Facebook Wednesday:

I’m less worried Republicans will roll back the Affordable Care Act or reduce taxes on the wealthy over the next two years – the President’s veto pen will prevent that – than I am about Obama joining with Republicans to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, the Trans Pacific Partnership, and the “chained CPI” (that would reduce future Social Security payments). Obama has either sought these in the past or hinted he would, and he (and McConnell and Boehner) will be so eager to show they can work together that these will prove irresistible.

What other bad “agreements” between the White House and congressional Republicans might we expect?

These were the very thoughts that crossed my mind as I sat in the cool dark of the early morning Wednesday. As noted by Reich, Obama has shown that he may be amenable to things like the chained CPI. Obama has also indicated that he favors the TPP, which most expect to be a real disaster for all but the wealthiest of Americans.

While Reich doesn’t believe the Republicans will go after the ACA I believe they will. But they will not go after the whole package. Much like the strategy they have employed against Medicare and Social Security they will chip, chip, chip around the edges, slowly making damage to what is already a somewhat fragile structure of health care for those the insurance companies would love to jettison. Will Obama have the cajones to veto a spending bill with an amendment that damages the ACA?

One bill that is seldom discussed that is left over from the 70 or so days when Democrats had a filibuster proof majority is Dodd-Franks. While not the strongest financial regulation bill ever, there are provisions that are keeping the vultures from once again destroying our financial system. You can bet that all those billions of dollars were not spent just to have Republicans pass an anti-ACA bill that would get vetoed.

Crippling Dodd-Franks was never mentioned in the campaign, but I think we can be assured that it was talked about in very closed rooms. Once more the strategy employed to cripple Dodd-Franks will be to attach amendments to spending bills that if vetoed will shut the government down. Mitch McConnell told us that this would be his strategy during the campaign. Even if Harry Reid would employ the obstructionist tactics that McConnell honed to a fine point in bringing government to a standstill, which most doubt he will, McConnell will use reconciliation tactic to push legislation through.

This will be a contentious two years. As mentioned, will Harry Reid stand up and do whatever he can to keep us from being pushed a century backwards? Will Obama wield his veto pen and make strong, coherent statements that makes the public understand that he is protecting us from predatory Republican policy? Will Democrats be able to counter the corporate media that once more will blame anything and everything on a mythological Obama? Stay tuned.

This Isn’t Over

progress iowa
A note from Progress Iowa.

This isn’t over.

When Progress Iowa opened our doors nearly three years ago, our goal was clear: empower progressive voices to make Iowa a better place.

The election results last night were disappointing, but our goal remains the same.

We’re still here to fight for what we believe in. Not just on election day, but every day.

We believe our public schools are our best investment, and critical to ensuring a fair shot at the American dream.

We believe working Iowans deserve quality, good paying jobs, and the right to organize in the workplace.

We believe every Iowan deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, whether you work in a fast food restaurant or are a corporate CEO, and regardless of gender.

We believe every Iowan deserves access to quality healthcare, and that women, not politicians, are the best ones to make their health care decisions.

We believe our government ought to serve all Iowans, as a place where we come together as a community to provide each other with public safety, good roads and bridges, schools, and clean water.

Progress Iowa exists because while campaigns come and go, we have to fight for the values we believe in every year, not just during election years.

And while last night’s election result was disappointing, we believe Iowa will be a better place tomorrow than it is today as long as we continue to fight for what we believe in.

This isn’t over. Far from it.

Are you in?

Sincerely,

Matt Sinovic
Executive Director
Progress Iowa