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The Courtney Report School Issues

Courtney Report
editor’s note: I took two sections from Senator Courtney’s weekly newsletter that were relevant to issues that the legislature will be working on. For complete newsletters access Senator Courtney’s website here.

Strong Iowa schools are crucial to a world-class education that prepares students for good jobs and strengthens our middle class.

Business leaders say Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers hurts their ability to grow and operate competitively. That means our state’s continued success depends on support for Iowa students and schools at all levels.

Other states have figured out that high-wage, high-skill economies are built on a foundation of great local schools, and they’ve committed to supporting those schools. While other states are investing more in student achievement, Iowa is failing to commit enough dollars to ensure each student’s success. On average, we invest $1,612 less per student than the national average. We are currently 35th in the nation.

The Legislature needs to increase its commitment to great schools, higher student achievement and increased teacher quality. Local parents, teachers and school administrators say our schools increasingly are forced to choose between providing a good education or just the bare minimum.

The problem has emerged as support for our local schools has become an increasingly partisan issue, and it could get worse. Governor Branstad and the Iowa House have released their proposals for school funding for the next two years. Their proposals provide little support to help our schools keep up with inflation, let alone compete with other states.

A new survey of Iowa school superintendents reports that the Governor’s budget would send our schools in the wrong direction, resulting in fired teachers, overcrowded classrooms, outdated textbooks and fewer choices for Iowa students. In fact, all survey respondents said they oppose the Governor’s plan to provide less than 1 percent in additional state aid to schools for the 2015-16 school year.

When asked what the impact would be on their students, 75 percent said they would increase class sizes, 74 percent said they would fire teachers, 71 percent said they would delay buying new classroom materials, and 70 percent said they would reduce course offerings.

School superintendents believe the Branstad budget would limit the opportunities of tens of thousands of Iowa students. Iowa is competing with the world for high-skill, high-wage jobs. That means great local schools have never been more important to our families and our state’s economic future.


The Legislature and Governor must make sure that every child gets the best education possible so that all Iowans can compete for the jobs of the future. This session, that means increasing the state’s commitment to public schools, students and teachers.

The good news is that in spite of shortfalls in school funding, Iowa teachers and students are doing pretty well at maintaining levels of academic success. The bad news is that other states are increasing student achievement faster than Iowa and out-performing us.

A report by the Iowa Department of Education notes that:

• Iowa has slipped from one of the highest-performing states in the nation to the middle of the pack in student achievement.

• Iowa’s performance on national assessments is stagnant for low- and high-achieving students.

• Students who face challenges perform significantly behind their peers. This includes kids whose first language is not English, who have special needs or who come from low-income families.

The Iowa’s Condition of Education Report for 2013 shows that Iowa has one of the highest graduation rates in the nation, and the number of students in preschool, advanced placement and community college courses is climbing. Unfortunately, standardized assessments of student achievement show Iowa only making slight gains over the last 12 years, while other states are taking greater strides.

In fact, the National Assessment of Educational Progress for 2013 ranked Iowa 21st for 4th grade reading, 14th for 4th grade math, 20th for 8th grade reading and 25th for 8th grade math. In the 1990s, Iowa scored in the top 10 nationwide.

It’s clear that student achievement trends mirror education investment trends. Imagine the successes our students and teachers could achieve if Iowa boosted school funding per student to the national average! The message is clear: we need to restore bipartisan support for the idea that Iowa’s future depends on high-quality local schools.

Sunday Funday – Deflated Balls Edition

Ernst loaf-ers

Ernst loaf-ers

I can’t believe the fuss the networks are making over the Patriots supposedly letting the air out of footballs.Top story on a couple newscasts I saw during the week. What it says to me is that networks will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid real news. Got to be a sense of pride around the network news rooms that they can fritter away extremely valuable network air time on less than trivia and get highly paid for it. Maybe they could replace the network news with another edition of Jeopardy. At least we might learn something.

Speaking of trivia, were you paying attention last week?

1) So the first question just has to be – what is the proscribed inflation for NFL game balls?

2) By how much was New England accused of under-inflating game balls?

3) Wednesday the US Senate voted on whether human activity caused climate change. “YES” won by a vote of 50 – 49. How did Iowa’s senators vote?

4) According to the United Nations the US, Oman and Papua New Guinea are the only 3 nations in the world that do not offer what?

5) Speaker of the House Boehner committed a major diplomatic blunder (some say treason) when he invited what Head of State to speak before congress without informing the White House?

6) In Cincinnati, one worker was killed and a semi driver injured when what happened?

7) Up in Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency when what happened to the Yellowstone River?

8) Doing the math on her age, Joni Ernst was probably using bread bags for shoes during what presidential and Iowa gubernatorial administrations?

9) Disneyland was the epicenter of an outbreak of what childhood disease?

10) Controversy is already swirling in the Iowa legislature concerning schools on at least two issues. Can you give us one of them?

11) In her response to the State of the Union address, Iowa’s Joni Ernst erroneously portrayed the Keystone Pipeline project as what?

12) After Mike Huckabee criticized Pres. Obama for allowing his children to listen to Beyonce, Daily Show star Jon Stewart asked Huckabee how he (Huckabee) could justify playing with what sexually oriented rocker?

13) Republican senators voted down an amendment to the Keystone Pipeline that would have required materials for the pipeline be made where?

14) Good old Steve King just had to show what an embarrassment he can be to Iowa right before the SOTU, when he called a guest of the First Lady a what?

15) The mayor of Paris, France announced her intention to sue what “news” organization after they continued to broadcast false reports that Paris had “neighborhoods that were off limits to non-Muslims”?

One thing about Ernst’s bread bag story. Most every kid I knew used the bread bag trick in the winter, rich or poor. Unlike the kids she apparently knew, we wore ours over our shoes but under the overshoes. Overshoes (or buckle boots) were leaky. So the bread bags served to keep feet dry while also acting as a lubricant to get the shoes and feet into the boot. If you wore the bags on the outside, your would either slip on your butt in the snow or wear the bag out if the sidewalks were clear. Wearing bags the right way you couldn’t see who was wearing bags and who wasn’t.


1) 12.5 to 13.5 PSI (pounds/square inch)

2) 2 PSI 0r 15%

3) Grassley NO and Ernst NO – climate change is not caused by human activity

4) paid maternity leave

5) Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu

6) an overpass on I75 that was being demolished collapsed on the road below

7) oil from a pipeline leaked into the river.

8) Reagan and Branstad. Seems like many folks go through tough times with Republican administrations

9) Measles – Blame for the outbreak was pointed at the anti-vaxers.

10) 1) Branstad called for a very low increase in spending for education and 2) Schools will be expected to start after Sept. 1 next year.

11) a jobs bill

12) Ted Nugent

13) in America – whoops – there goes a bunch of jobs.

14) “a deportable” The First Lady had a Dreamer as her guest.

15) Fox News

Keep your bread bags dry and warm all!

About That Replacement Health Care Plan, Ms. Ernst


Sometimes I make the mistake of believing what people say. You would think that after a while I would learn. But I heard our sparkling new senator tell me though a set of teeth that looked perfect and white that Republicans were going to “Repeal and Replace Obamacare.” I figured that maybe this time there was a real plan. So I called her office:

Me: Hey I heard the Senator’s speech last night. She said Republicans were going to “Repeal and Replace Obamacare.” So I would really like to see what they propose for replacement. This means a lot to my family.

Staffer: There is no replacement.

Me: No replacement? But I distinctly heard the Senator say last night they were ready. Maybe there is a draft? Do you have a link to a draft?

Staffer: There is no draft.

Me: Well is it in committee? Is there a committee or another senator I could send an inquiry to? I have some ideas.

Staffer: As far as I know no one is working on anything.

Me: No one is working on anything? But Republicans have been talking about this for a couple of elections. I would think by now they would have some concrete proposals. I am sure Americans would love to see them. I figured if they had this statement in their nationally broadcast reply to the State of the Union they would have something.

Staffer: Nope, no plans.

Me: Are there any plans to get to work on this soon?

Staffer: {hem…haw..hem} Er – I am sure they will be working on one.

Me: Yet this spring? Maybe during the Summer? This is really important if they are planning to repeal they better have something to take its place. This is important.

Staffer: I am sure it will be soon – we’ll let you know.

Me: Just put a notice online – we’ll be watching – it is real important – we need healthcare.

Play To Win

Nile Kinnick

Nile Kinnick

Last Sunday I watched the Green Bay Packers play the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC berth in the Super Bowl next Sunday. Most folks who saw that game will tell you they saw one of the greatest comebacks in the history of football. I will give you an entirely different point of view. What I saw was a Green Bay team that stopped playing to win with 5 minutes left in the game and started playing not to lose. This is one of the banes of my life. When people or teams or political parties or any other competitor in a competitive situation stops playing to win and starts playing not to lose, they lose.

Let me tell you what I saw. With about 5 minutes left, Seattle was down 22 – 7. Their quarterback threw an interception around the 50 yard line and the interceptor went to the ground rather than running it back. He then started celebrating. The Green Bay offense then came in and ran three running plays that did nothing but were only designed to run time off the clock. I looked at my wife and said “Oh my God – they are playing not to lose – they’re going to lose.”

We then sat back and watched Green Bay blow it. Seattle came out aggressive on offense, Green Bay went in to a tentative prevent defense. Thus they gave Seattle room to work and didn’t tackle crisply. Seattle scored quickly. Then they went for two points while Green Bay looked to be in shock and unable to recover from the TD. Boom! 22 – 15.

Seattle then hit an onside kick. Everyone knew what was going to happen. Even though Green Bay knew what was coming, the Green Bay player was so afraid of screwing up that he screwed up big time. Seattle recovered. Green Bay was now a team scared of its own shadow and BAM!, Seattle scores again quickly. Tie game.

Green Bay gets the ball back, does nothing and time runs out. The game goes into overtime with Seattle on the all out offensive and Green Bay scared to see what will happen next. What happened next is just what Green Bay feared. Seattle went for the big play. Green Bay continued to play tentative, afraid to make a mistake and BANG! Seattle went for the big play, Green Bay let it happen, Seattle scores – game over – Seattle wins!

I have seen this happen so many times. Just two weeks ago, I saw the Iowa men’s basketball team lose badly after running up a big lead against Michigan State. It even happened to me once in a racket ball game. I was behind 19 – 2 in a game to 21, win by 2. I saw my opponent let his heels down and thought to myself “He’s playing not to lose – I think I can get him.” Won the game 25 – 23.

What is the relation of athletic contests to things that really matter – selecting and electing people who make decisions that affect our lives greatly on a day to day basis? You can’t deny that the difference between a Republican and Democrats is the difference between decent paying jobs and jobs that pay well below a living wage. It is the difference between being able to access health care without going bankrupt or no. It is the difference between good public education and public money going to education privatizers. It is the difference between insured savings and banks that act like casinos with your money.

Yet, despite such stark differences voters chose to vote for candidates that expressly said they would vote against what voters truly wanted. Now we are facing two years of Republicans doing all they can to destroy all Democratic legacy from both 20th and 21st centuries. Won’t voters be surprised when they find out what Republicans are all about.

For some reason voters seemed to have no idea what the Republicans truly stand for. Thank the media and the advertising blitz that all that money bought. It so confused voters that they voted for liberal issues and against the politicians who could make them happen. Or for the most part they didn’t vote at all because they were so turned off by the process wishing a pox on both their houses. Unfortunately in a political race even if only one person votes, someone wins.

Democrats need to quit looking over their shoulders to see what Republicans are doing. Forget them. Go to the people. Tell them what your plans are and how they can be accomplished, and how citizen involvement is a major part of making it happen. Let Republicans scramble as Democrats forge ahead for with policies FOR people. PLAY TO WIN – do not play not to lose

No more support for Republican policies. Let them now be exposed for the charlatans they are. Don’t give them a chance to claim their legislation is bipartisan because one Democrat in either house voted for it. Believe me there will never be enough good in a Republican sponsored bill to outweigh the damage it will do. Let them compromise a before we give away the store.

Play to win. Get to the press. Demand a seat on the Sunday shows and put someone on there that speaks democratic. Someone who can articulate what Democrats can do and what real harm Republican legislation. Be forceful, be truthful and be fully prepared to confront and refute lies, not only from Republicans but also from the network talking heads.

Now is the time to go to battle and play the very best game you can. And play to win to the very end. The world – its economy, its climate, its peace – is literally depending on you.

And remember democratic policies worked well before and brought peace and prosperity and they will work again.

Maybe Branstad Should Read Iowa Policy Project And Progress Iowa

Couldn't pass an Iowa Schools math test

Couldn’t pass an Iowa Schools math test

My wife and I just got home from a little trip out for an afternoon. As we drive along we note the condition of what we have come to call “Branstad Boulevards.” These are roads that are full of holes and bumps and disappearing edges that were once pretty good roads. Iowa is filled with them. I got off on one last summer that made me wonder if I hadn’t crossed an international border someplace along the way. Nope – we were someplace in central Iowa hoping the road wouldn’t suddenly became a gravel road underneath us.

Since that time we have been calling those car killers “Branstad Boulevards.” Now, I understand that our leader has claimed there is not enough money to fix these roads. Yet, didn’t we have some pretty hefty tax cuts in the past couple of years? Conditions inside cities of all sizes are even worse as tax policy has slowly choked city finances on the horns of higher requirements and lowered potential income. We call those “Branstad Boulevards” also.

Isn’t the job of a leader to see a problem and come up with solutions. Branstad and his Republican colleagues have been avoiding raising road use tax for years. It is time to be open and honest on this issue and many others. Admit the problem and propose solutions. Our predecessors built roads and water lines and sewers and also left established a means to pay for upkeep and repair. Tax cutting mania has raided many of those funds and various agencies are left with sticking chewing gum into holes as solutions.

Roads are hardly the only problem. I was reading the Condition of the State address Branstad gave Tuesday. My first impression is that before we can solve problems, we must be honest about what the problem is. Jobs is the first thing my eyes fell on. Branstad claims his administration has created 168,000 jobs. That is the kind of math that the old Politburo used to use. When one job is created and one removed, that is a net of zero not a plus of one. Yet Branstad has used what we in our house call “Branstad Math” for four years and no one in the media that has access disputes him.

Branstad has similar problems in many other areas, particularly around wages and the plight of the poor and middle class in Iowa. Since he is supposed to be the leader of all of Iowa I would suggest that he AND his staff take a little trip outside their comfort zones. The articles on the Iowa Policy Project its partner Iowa Fiscal Partnership and ProgressIowa are well written, fairly easy to read and best of all, loaded with well researched facts. Facts are something that Branstad and his colleagues are usually short on.

Here is a brief blurb from Progress Iowa’s take on the Condition of the State speech:

Branstad Ignores Middle Class in Condition of the State
13 Jan 2015 — 11:27 AM | By Progress Iowa

Branstad refuses to say the words ‘middle class’ during condition of the state address & uses dishonest math on job growth.

Governor Branstad failed to mention Iowa’s middle class during his Condition of the State address today, where he outlined his priorities for the upcoming year and legislative session. The Governor also claimed credit for creating 169,000 jobs, when only 82,500 have been created since the beginning of his term.

Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement In response to the Governor’s remarks, which also failed to mention poverty or minimum wage:

“Governor Branstad failed middle class Iowans today. He refused to even say the words ‘middle class’ while at the same time heaping praise on a number of out of state corporations. The Governor’s priorities are completely out of step with everyday Iowans, who know that the foundation of our economy and our state’s success is a strong and growing middle class.”

“Governor Branstad’s distorted jobs math proves that he has no respect for working Iowans. The Governor inflates the number of jobs created by not counting jobs that have been lost, insulting every Iowan who has lost work during his term in office. An accurate accounting of Iowa’s job growth is less than half as many as the Governor claims.”

“The Governor also refused to bring up a minimum wage increase, or acknowledge the 300,000 workers who would benefit from an increase. Unfortunately, minimum wage workers in Iowa have waited longer than those in any other state for a raise.”

“Governor Branstad’s refusal to mention the middle class, poverty, or minimum wage during his Condition of the State address today was disappointing but not surprising. His failure to prioritize the needs of middle class working families has never been more clear.”

Sunday Funday – January Thaw Edition

I need a Koch!

I need a Koch!

Seems like just last week we were freezing our tookusses off. Hold it – last week we were freezing our tookusses off. But thanks to a blast of hot air from statehouses around the country we get our annual January thaw. For those of you who say state legislators are good for nothing, you most certainly have forgotten the unproven link between the convening of legislatures and the January thaw. It’s enough to wake up a groundhog.

Were you paying attention?

1) Governor Branstad claimed his administration has created 168,000 jobs. In reality, how many jobs has Iowa gained in the past 4 years?

2) Two black men prominent in the civil rights movement of the ‘60s have birthday anniversaries this week in January. Martin Luther King’s birthday is January 15th. Whose 73rd birthday was January 17th?

3) Pope Francis said last Sunday that caring for the poor is part of the gospel and not what?

4) After a bumpy ride, Terri Wahlert suddenly resigned Sunday as Iowa’s Director of what agency?

5) President announced a new initiative that would offer 2 years of what free to Americans?

6) Here’s one to test your memory. What former Republican governor of New York is considering a run for president?

7) Where did 2014 rank among recorded years for temperature globally?

8) According to data from the CDC, what will soon overtake car accidents as the leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds?

9) Rand Paul told a reporter last week that what was the definition of insanity?

10) Kamala Harris announced her intentions to run for the California senate seat after what long term senator announced her retirement?

11) President Obama made a case for wider broadband access in what Iowa city last week?

12) One of the Iowa Regent Universities will have a retirement in August. Who is retiring as Iowa’s president August 1st?

13) Bobbity, bobbity, bobbity. Feng Lung was arrested in China for doing what to her husband, not once but twice?

14) And the beat goes on. House Republicans tacked an amendment defunding what Obama executive action on to a funding bill for the DHS?

15) According to the Southern Education Foundation the majority of public school students share what economic condition in the United States?

No doubt the campaigning for president will bring even more hot air into Iowa soon.

1) @ 82,000

2) Muhammed Ali

3) Communism. Always nice to see the right trot out the communism bogey.

4) Workforce Development

5) Community College

6) George Pataki. Anyone remember Pataki? Seats in the clown car going fast!

7) the hottest ever

8) guns – trend is car deaths going down and gun deaths going up. Sad

9) Mitt Romney running for president again. Scary, I agree with Rand Paul on something.

10) Barbara Boxer

11) Cedar Falls

12) Sally Mason

13) Cutting off his penis. Once at home and once more after it was reattached in the hospital.

14) Obama’s executive order on immigration.

15) Poverty. 51% + of US public school students now come from homes in poverty. Why do we fund charter schools?

Killing Internet Neutrality: Republicans Go On The Attack

al franken on net neutrality

Here we go again. After a long delay and much hemming and hawing, it was beginning to look like FCC Chair Tom Wheeler was about to the right thing and propose new FCC rules for internet neutrality. One of the key provisions is expected to be redefining the internet as a common carrier.

With all the delay, Republicans were able to take control of both houses of Congress. As usual Republicans dance to the tune played by their wealthy owners. Major players among those owners include the Telecommunications industry and individual companies such as Verizon or AT&T.

So with the threatened change in FCC rules – Wheeler was to make his proposals Feb. 5th with a vote coming by the commission on Feb. 26th. The last thing the industry wants is to be classified as a common carrier.

Well, what good is it to buy politicians and buy control of the Congress if you can’t use it? So the call goes out and Republicans respond. Buried in some innocuous looking proposed provisions are a couple of provisions that essentially remove the internet from any FCC influence.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, said that his legislation will enforce these 11 “bipartisan rules in the Internet Age”:

* Prohibit blocking
* Prohibit throttling
* Prohibit paid prioritization
* Require transparency
* Apply rules to both wireline and wireless
* Allow for reasonable network management
* Allow for specialized services
* Protect consumer choice
* Classify broadband Internet access as an information service under the Communications Act
* Clarify that Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act may not be used as a grant of regulatory authority
* Direct the FCC to enforce and abide by these principles

Defining broadband as an “information service” would prevent the FCC from reclassifying Internet access. Restricting the FCC’s Section 706 powers could also interfere with the commission’s plans for preempting state laws that prevent cities and towns from building broadband networks.

In order to beat the time frame announced by Chair Wheeler, committee hearings in both the House and the Senate are suddenly announced for next Wednesday. You can feel pretty well assured that that these committees will propose legislation that will rushed through the House and the Senate.

Once more I ask, what good is it to buy control of Congress if you can’t use it when you need it?

All those letters you sent and calls you made may well have been wasted. A few well placed dollars are decidedly much more effective. Thank you, Roberts’ Court. Thank you Citizens United. And a special thanks to those who either voted for these crooks or failed to vote, thus allowing them to take power. Yes, elections do have consequences.

One of the consequences is paying by far the highest dollar for the worst internet service in the world. But it can get worse.

Ernst To Deliver Response To The State Of The Union

joni ernst the perfect Koch investment

No doubt this is not news to anyone reading this. Since her selection as the new rising star in the pantheon of Republican stardom Iowa news sources have been all a-twitter and a-flutter about what this means to Ernst and to Iowa which had the uncommon sense to elect her. Note that uncommon does not mean good or smart. More the opposite in this case.

Most have this pegged as meaning that Joni’s star is on the rise and that the poobahs that own the Republican Party have hand picked her as someone who will be a future face of the party. Those owners are Charles and David Koch in particular, but also folks like the DeVos’s, and all the other billionaires that bought the Republican party long ago.

So why would they bet their millions on Joni Ernst? My thoughts are that they did not. Those who have given the so-called Republican response have for the most part slipped in to obscurity. Most folks can name only two who gave the response and them only because it was so awful. They were Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal. While both of these men will run for president in 2016 – Jindal plans to kick off his run with a huge prayer meeting at the Pete Maravich Center on the LSU campus next weekend – both are still trying to downplay the notoriety gained in their laughable performances in their “responses.”

Joni Ernst was probably picked for many reasons. First she is not up for re-election soon. Therefore a crappy performance Tuesday will hopefully not haunt her for 6 years. Second she brings the face of one of the groups that Republicans continue to lose – women. Not the voice of women, mind you but just a face. No, she will be yet another voice spewing the lies of the wealthy that own her party.

Finally Ernst will conjure in many minds the image that thrust her into the national spotlight to begin with – that of the woman who castrated hogs on the farm and promised to bring that expertise to Washington politicians.

Considering that those who gave response in the past have had about 5 minutes of fame followed by a lifetime of obscurity, I say it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

And now let’s hear from the Iowa Democratic Party:

Fw: Statement on Ernst Delivering the State of the Union Response
For Immediate Release:

January 15, 2015

Christina Freundlich

Statement on Ernst Delivering the State of the Union Response

Des Moines – Iowa Democratic Party Chair Scott Brennan released the following statement on Joni Ernst giving the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“What a disappointment it is to see that the GOP has chosen Joni Ernst as the new face of the Republican Party. Joni Ernst ran on stripping the rights of women to make their own health care decisions, eliminating the EPA and Department of Education, nullifying laws passed by the federal government, and arresting federal officials who are working to expand access to healthcare. If the GOP wants to spotlight someone who is open to impeaching President Obama and went so far to call him a ‘dictator,’ then the new bipartisan outlook of Congress just vanished into thin air.”

HUFFINGTON POST: Senate Candidate Joni Ernst Endorses Federal Personhood Bill For Fetuses. Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst said she would support a federal bill that gives legal personhood rights to fetuses from the moment of fertilization, effectively wiping out legal abortion in the United States. Ernst voted for a fetal personhood amendment in the Iowa State legislature in 2013, and she told the Sioux City Journal editorial board on Wednesday that she also would support a federal personhood measure if she were elected to the U.S. Senate. “I will continue to stand by that. I am a pro-life candidate, and this has been shaped by my religious beliefs through the years,” she said. “So I support that.” [Huffington Post, 10/16/14].

POLITIFACT: “Does Joni Ernst Want To Abolish The Education Department And The EPA?” “True.” In June 2014, Politifact reported, “A new ad from a coalition of environmental groups tries to paint Iowa’s Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst as too extreme. The groups, which include the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, and the Environmental Defense Action Fund, kicked off a nearly $1 million campaign with a 30 second TV spot on June 23, 2014. The ad raises concern over Ernst’s promises ‘to shut down the Department of Education and abolish the EPA.’ It claims that these promises are ‘why extremist Sarah Palin and the billionaire Koch brother want Ernst in Washington.’ All in all, the ad concluded that Ernst is ‘Too extreme for Iowa.’ It’s not unusual for political ads to distort candidate’s positions. Does Ernst really call for the abolition of the U.S. Education Department and the Environmental Protection Agency? Our research showed that the ad was right on track. Ernst called for the closure of both agencies in April.” [Politifact, 6/27/14]

TALKING POINTS MEMO: GOPer Ernst Backed Arresting Feds Over Obamacare in 2012 Survey. State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, once said she would support legislation that would allow “local law enforcement to arrestfederal officials attempting to implement” Obamacare. Ernst voiced her support for that, as well as supporting legislation that would “nullify” Obamacare in a Iowa State Legislative Candidates survey for Ron Paul’s libertarian-aligned Campaign for Liberty in 2012. [Talking Points Memo, 10/4/14].

RADIO IOWA: Video shows Ernst discussing impeachment, calling Obama a “dictator” “A video has surfaced from a January campaign event in southwest Iowa, showing Republican US Senate candidate Joni Ernst suggesting Republicans in congress should hold President Obama accountable for executive overreach.” [Radio Iowa, 7/8/14]

Robert Reich On Republican Priorities

Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Truer words were never spoken – Robert Reich on facebook 01/10/2015 (yesterday):

Look at the priorities of the new Republican congressional – the Keystone XL Pipeline, the Trans-Pacific Trade agreement, tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy, rollbacks of Dodd-Frank regulations on Wall Street, cutbacks on Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, and decimating the Affordable Care Act – and connect the dots. Republicans want the public to think the central issue of our time is the size of government. Wrong. The central issue of our time is who government is for. Every one of their initiatives advances big corporations and Wall Street, and worsens or weakens everyone else.

Elizabeth Warren is correct: The game is rigged. And the only way to unrig it is through a new progressive movement that includes not only the Democratic base but also any and all Independents and Republicans equally determined to take the economy and democracy back from the axis of Wall Street, K Street, and big corporations. Can we rely on the Democratic Party to lead the way, or will a new third party be necessary?

Those of you who voted for Republicans or just as bad, decided not to vote, had better start understanding what Republicans are all about. If you believe you are somehow immune from their greed, that will only be true as long as you are of use to them. Once they can no longer exploit you, you or your friends or family will be targets just as teachers, workers, the elderly, women, Latinos, African-Americans, college students, and any and all others who do not fit their narrow range of acceptable humans.

You will learn this lesson one way or another. Many Republicans already have, such as Bob Ney and Jack Abramoff. Best that you learn it now while there is still a chance to reverse the damage. Until you do many Americans will suffer greatly under their morally misplaced priorities.

Sunday Funday: Here Comes The Legislature Edition

legislators will gather to puzzle over today's quiz

legislators will gather to puzzle over today’s quiz

Like many Iowans, I grew up reading the great Donald Kaul. Some of his funniest columns focused on the seeming full speed backward legislature that gathers in Des Moines to kill time between harvest and planting seasons.

Well it is that time again. Looks like we will have another iteration of Republicans trying to pass ALEC legislation and Democrats trying to work on solutions to actual problems. All I can hope is that they provide me with some material for a few questions and a couple of snarky comments. I am sure they will, at least the Republicans. Who can forget Matt Windschitl’s brilliant bill to allow silencers on guns? It would keep mass murderers from disturbing people’s sleep or interfering with people being able to hear the movie before they get shot.

At least Iowa will be led into the ‘20s by Branstad. But I am not sure the 1920s is where we want to be.

Were you paying attention?

1) Gentlemen ( and women) start your engines. What former Republican presidential candidate left his Fox News(?) show leading to speculation he will run once again?

2) Just like Mitch McConnell promised, what was the first bill introduced into the new Republican majority led senate?

3) In a study released by Johns Hopkins, much of the risk of getting cancer is due to what?

4) Two weeks from yesterday, a “Freedom Summit” will be held in Des Moines to showcase Republican presidential candidates. Who is heading up this showcase of America’s top talent?

5) Harper Collins quit publishing an atlas specifically for the Middle East because it had what major glaring error that had been made on purpose?

6) Ohio State and Oregon play Monday to complete the first real tournament to crown the major college football champion. Who is Oregon’s famous mascot?

7) Researchers unveiled a new molecule called teixobactin. Teixobactin is the first new what in over 30 years?

8) Des Moines is considering suing the state of Iowa over what?

9) Webster City 7th grade girls basketball player Taylor McKinney got national attention when she did what last week?

10) Get those taste buds ready for a new treat. Trios and Toffee Tastic are new Girl Scout cookies that feature what newly desirable trait?

11) Can’t ignore the doings in France. One of the gunman during a previous trial had said he was politicized by images of what?

12) What Republican presidential hopeful let it be known he will pay for his own tickets and transportation as he goes to watch his favorite team in the playoffs this weekend?

13) Very light perp walk. What former GOP governor and VP hopeful got off with only 2 years in the slammer for corruption?

14) A bill to gut what Wall Street watchdog law fell short of a needed 2/3rds majority in the House despite support from 35 defectors from the Democratic caucus?

15) What potential GOP presidential hopeful has taken a first step toward a run by praying to God?

Blood supplies in the Iowa systems are quite low due to the weather and the flu. If you have ever thought about becoming a donor, this would be a really good time to take that step. Call your local hospital and I am sure if they don’t take donations they will know someone close by who does. And you can add lifesaver to your list of accomplishments.


1) Mike Huckabee

2) Keystone pipeline

3) with the exception of lung cancer, it is just bad luck

4) Steve King (“top talent” – I kill myself)

5) the maps left Israel off

6) Donald Duck

7) antibiotic. Teixobactin and the method used to discover it hold great potential. It may well stop antibiotic resistance.

8) nitrate levels in the rivers that the state has refused to deal with is causing DM to fail water quality levels.

9) made a buzzer beating half court shot that brought her team from behind to win

10) they are gluten free

11) pictures of Abu Ghraib prisoners

12) Chris Christie. He and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones became friends just when Jones needed some help winning a Port Authority contract

13) Bob McDonnell from Virginia

14) Dodd Franks

15) Scott Walker