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Immigrants In Iowa – From IPP

Once more, the folks over at Iowa Policy Project take an hot button issue, take the emotion out of it and give us a sober fact based report. I certainly wish some of our politicians would take a cue from IPP in their actions. This month they look at the effect of immigrants in Iowa.

As an aside, in today’s parlance “immigrant’ has seemed to become synonomus with “Latino.” IPP in no way designates a specific group of immigrants in their report. This is some interesting reading for the Fourth of July weekend in a land built on immigration.
Immigrants in Iowa
What New Iowans Contribute to the State Economy

Immigrants are important to Iowa and its economy:
- generating income as workers, spending money as consumers, and contributing to state and federal revenues as taxpayers;
- starting businesses that contribute to local economic development and job creation; and
- contributing to the vitality and culture of Iowa communities.
In fact, immigrants make up about 4.3 percent of the Iowa population, account for 4.5 percent of the state’s economic output and represent 1 in 20 Iowa workers.

These contributions would increase further if immigration reform were to make work authorization or a path to citizenship possible for the subset of Iowa immigrants who currently lack such documents. That subset — undocumented immigrants — pays an estimated $64 million in state and local taxes, and another $37 million in federal payroll taxes.

In a new report for the Iowa Policy Project, researchers Heather Gibney and Peter Fisher explore the facts that should be part of an accurate understanding of Iowa’s immigrant population and its relationship to the state’s economy. Read our new report — or the two-page executive summary here.

immigrant contribution chart

Did you know? The Congressional Budget Office estimates that over half of undocumented workers have federal and state income taxes withheld from paychecks, along with payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Yet they are unable to access benefits that they are helping to fund. Learn more in our new paper.

Sunday Funday – Sad Week Edition

let's be honest!

let’s be honest!

“Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” wrote Emma Lazarus. Apparently this no longer applies. What happened in Southern California Wednesday is an incredible disgrace to America. There are some folks who should be deported and not those kids on the bus.

If you are unaware there is a huge influx of refugees from a country that has been in severe economic strife. Why is Steve King, Louie Gohmert and Michelle Bachmann not all over this scandal like a wet blanket. Thousands and thousands of Irish are coming to our shores and taking jobs from Americans and getting free government services! Why are they not meeting them at the dock? What’s that? The Irish are
white, so shut up? Ok, but I warned you!

Hope you have had a good weekend! Now let me ruin it.

1) Iowa’s squabbling Republicans threw out their old chair and replaced him with an eastern Iowan. Can you name the new Iowa Republican chair?

2) The Supreme Court ended another memorable term with some killer decisions. When will they be back to work?

3) Here’s an interesting note from history. What president signed the first income tax bill on July 1st? The year gives it away, but there was a major war going on.

4) An old favorite question. What two Revolutionary heroes died within hours of each other on July 4th of 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration?

5) What modern Tea Party politician suggested last week that the Founders had it right when they limited who could vote?

6) The US lost in the World Cup round of 16 despite a record breaking performance by which of their players?

7) Bob McDonald was tapped to be Obama’s new Veterans Secretary. What major corporation did McDonald once lead?

8) The actual separation from England legally took place on what date in 1776?

9) An Iowa teenager drowned when he was swept away by flood waters Monday in what Iowa city?

10) What other founding father and former president died on July 4th? Hint, he died in 1831.

11) Among new laws that took effect Tuesday included the ban of sales of what product to minors?

12) The five justices voting against contraception coverage in the Hobby Lobby case share what religion?

13) Which justice wrote the opinion in the Hobby Lobby case?

14) The just concluded June averaged 9.6 inches of rain in Iowa. Approximately what percentage of normal is this?

15) What song writer of such famous songs as “O Susanna” and “Swanee River” was born on July 4th of 1826?

16) What former French head of state was brought in for questioning on influence peddling charges?

OK that is enough for this week. Hope you had a great Fourth and can still function on the Seventh.


1) Jeff Kaufmann of Wilton

2) The first Monday in October, so Oct. 6th this year.

3) Abe Lincoln. There was this war to pay for.

4) Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

5) Rick Santorum

6) Goalie Tim Howard set a record for stopped shots with 16.

7) Procter and Gamble

8) July 2.

9) Cedar Rapids

10) James Madison

11) e-cigarettes

12) catholicism

13) Alito

14) almost twice normal or 200%

15) Stephen Foster

16) Nicolas Sarkozy.

Want a hoot? Check out the tweets of Top Conservative Cat here

Climate Change Research In My Basement

not mine but close enough

not mine but close enough

Based on some research I have been conducting in my basement over the years, most recently Monday. That was the worst storm I ever saw ……

We have lived in the same house for a long time. When we moved in we were told that the basement “would get a little water in it on occasion.” I was young and quite naive. There was a sump pump and I didn’t worry too much. We lived here for 6 years before we got nailed with a downpour on an Independence day weekend. We got water in the basement. We had some stuff down there that we lost. Nothing big. Lesson learned. Be careful what you put in the basement.

We never had dreams of the basement becoming a finished basement. It’s purpose was to hold a household utilities (up at least 3 feet off the ground), and as a shelter from storms. I had used it as a place to lift weights and had a small workshop over the years.

Before the next water incident We had a basement wall cave in due to the extreme dry weather. The ground was so dry the earth shrank from the wall and the wall could not handle the full weight only on the wall. We were far from the only ones who had that problem.

Our next encounter with water was almost ten years or so after the first in ’93. Who didn’t have problems that year? Then it was a little shorter time, with some problems in the late ’90s. The next came after a shorter time span. Now we seem to get significant water every year. We have nothing down there anymore except fans to dry it up after the storms. Our utilities are still down there but should be up high enough that they are not bothered.

This is not an exercise in “woe is me.” This is just to illustrate that by simple observation that things are changing and they are changing quickly. Whether you believe it is caused by man or not it is hard to deny that the climate is changing. Scientists the world over have come to independent conclusions that the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere is directly related to the changing climate.

Even if you do not believe the changing climate is caused by man, if it is caused by greenhouse gasses then man can do something to hopefully turn it around by contributing less such gasses to the atmosphere. When we move to less pollution we will also create jobs and make the nation healthier through better air to breathe. Working to turn our climate back around will be a major WIN, WIN, WIN for us all.

Thoughts On Hobby Lobby

As a son of a woman, a spouse to a woman, the father of two young women and the uncle of several women, I could hardly let the decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius go by without comment. Briefly this is indeed a major setback for women’s rights in this country. It is also a major setback for those who believe that courts are impartial. The Roberts Court has been shaped by reactionary leaders over a long period to favor the rich and powerful, the corporations over people at all turns. By picking very young justices, the Roberts Court will have more influence over lives in this country than almost any other group of politicians. All without any recourse from citizens.

Some of my thoughts on the ramifications of this decisions:

First, as with Roe v. Wade, the right in this country will play a long game in chip, chip, chipping away at the ACA until it is a gutted shell. Hopefully progressives in this country already realize this and also understand that a true single payer system like those in most other democracies is the only way to handle healthcare in this country. Supporting single payer healthcare should be the price of admission for all democratic candidates.

Second, despite Justice Alito’s utterances to the contrary, religion will now be a major hammer for the right to attack all that they do not like in this land. More attacks on the ACA on religious grounds, even expect attacks on things like Medicare and Social Security. Can’t be done you say? Just wait.

Third, this really strengthens the control the right wing has on women. Controlling people is one of the goals of corporations. By controlling people they can control things like wages and benefits.

Fourth, where exactly does “religious” freedom end. As with many on the left I find most wars to be avoidable. Can I ask to be exempt from paying taxes that go to war and constant war preparation? This is but a small example of where this could go. No doubt there is still a contingent in this country that is religiously opposed to inter-racial marriage. Religious leaders have already asked that businesses be exempted from an expected executive order banning discrimination against gays on religious grounds. We have lift off.

Fifth, hard not to notice that the five votes for Hobby Lobby came from five older white men all Catholic. In this case as most know contraception is mortal sin in the Catholic Church. Did they purposely impose their religious views as law? In any case as a group they are hardly representative of America as a whole.

Sixth, Hobby Lobby is probably the very epitome of hypocrisy in this case. Apparently their religion say they can’t have anything to do with contraception as part of their pay package, yet by buying most if their merchandise from a country that has abortion and contraception as state policy, they contribute directly to sponsoring abortion and contraception in China. What does their bible say about hypocrites?

To conclude, I offer some words from Justice Ginsburg’s scathing dissent in this case. Dissents in the past have been used as a basis for majority opinions later on. Let us hope that happens here. (From Dana Liebelson at Mother Jones)

“in a decision of startling breadth,” would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find “incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage”

“Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”

“Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”

“It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”

“Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”

“Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”

“The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Warren on Hobby Lobby

hobby lobby no moral ground

Questions For Candidates In 2014

We have Questions

We have Questions

As we pass Independence Day and inch closer to the heavy political season (it never stops anymore) we need to get ready for the real job of a democracy. The past two years in particular have resulted in gridlock caused by Republican politicians at all levels. This is not what government is about. If those Republican politicians want our vote, they need to answer some questions. Here are some I would love to hear asked and answered honestly, especially by the four Republican candidates for the US House.

1) Do you agree with John Boehner’s action to sue the President?
– Will you join in the lawsuit if elected?
– What are the specific issues (be specific, not “he acts like a king”) for which Mr. Obama should be sued?
– Will you push for impeachment? On what specific grounds?

2) Do you support the SCOTUS ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius?
– If so, what other issues do you believe should be brought to the SCOTUS on religious grounds?
– Should discrimination against gays based on religious beliefs be allowed for closely held public businesses?

3) What specific legislation will you push to address the inequality in pay and conditions for women?
– Please cite Republican legislative action to address this issue in the past?

4) What specific action or legislation will you propose to address income inequality in this country. Please be ready to explain exactly how your proposal will directly affect the working class poor.

5) On immigration, particularly from Latin American countries. Some in your party have described such immigrants as “drug mules with cantaloupe calves.” Do you agree with this assessment?
– What is your proposal to practically deal with undocumented immigrants? What are the ramifications of your proposal?

6) The cost of college has skyrocketed while government support has fallen to all time lows. Thus the cost of college is out of reach for more and more Americans. Soon America will not have the human resources to maintain its lead in many economic categories. Does the cost of post-secondary education feel about right to you?
– Do you have a proposal to alleviate the crushing burden of debt for students? Please be specific on details and ramifications.

7) If elected will you support the House continuing to bring up legislation to end the ACA?
– If so, what would you propose to replace the ACA? Please be specific on coverage and on how the costs will be covered, especially for the poor.

8) Finally, many Republicans are coming to believe climate change is happening. What is your belief in this area?
– Please give specific documented sources for your supporting arguments.

That is a good start. I would really much rather know what an representative believes before I vote. Don’t you?

Weekend Hodge-Podge

adam smith quote
They Need A Horse Race!
One thing you have to remember going into the silly political ad season is that this is the time of year that make TV stations and networks and those corporations that own them rich. No doubt those with corner offices on upper floors of corporate headquarters care for the most part that Republicans win. But beyond that they care more that all their air time is bought at top dollar.

So what the TV execs want more than anything else is a good old fashioned horse race so that candidates will keep forking over the big bucks to keep the candidates name out there right up to the end.

As Usual, Branstad Lies
Those damn Branstad commercials are on every channel in the universe. I wonder if they are getting them in London or Ottawa? As with anything Branstad, they are a load of lies. Yes we have gained some jobs but nowhere near what he promised. Since I can’t stand to watch his commercials, I can’t say they are lying. However since his administration puts out false numbers I would suspect his commercials do also.

SCOTUS Turns Its Back On Women.
Even the women on the Supreme Court seemed to have turned its back on women. Taking away the 35 foot buffer zone to women’s health clinics in Massachusetts is a hard blow to women’s reproductive rights. Once more the most activist Court makes another argument that it is the worst Court in history. In this case they seemed to think that the protesters free speech rights are somehow impinged if they can’t get right in patients faces to intimidate and harass. They were perfectly free to say whatever they wanted from their 35 foot distance.

I trust this means the end of the so called free speech zones at political functions. Based on this decision, anyone should be able to protest right up to the door of a convention or other meeting. Have at it.

ALEC To Meet To Sell Out America
Just a reminder that the oligarchs of ALEC (a subsidiary of Koch Industries) will be meeting in Dallas on July 30th to decide what they will have their puppet legislators throughout the country do in their state legislatures next winter. If you have a Republican legislator, you have a legislator who owes their allegiance to the oligarchs at ALEC not to their district or state.

Pesky Damned Facts
Jonah Goldberg via Dailykos:
“I supported the war, and I still think the arguments in favor at the time were superior to the arguments against. Alas, the facts on the ground didn’t care about the arguments.”

Portable Death Machines
They kill indiscriminately. Kill your neighbors. Kill your family. Kill yourselves. But do read the roundup of gun deaths weekly at It is not sad. It is not funny. It is frightening. Don’t want to lose a son or daughter. Stand up against guns.

soul of the republican party

Sunday Funday: Fireworks Edition

let's be honest!

let’s be honest!

The tradition of fireworks goes back to that prankster John Adams giving old Ben Franklin a hotfoot while old Ben was reading a draft of Tom Jefferson’s masterpiece. Ben hopped around a bit and then went and got some gunpowder, wadded it up in a paper, lit it on fire and threw it back at John. Next thing you know fireworks are a-flying and we won the war. It happened just that way I tell you! Well, it could have happened.

Founding Fathers or Merry Pranksters? Which were they? While you ponder That question I will hit you with some more. There may be a revolutionary question or two in the bunch.

1) We may have asked this before. What other major country shares a national founding day next week?

2) Put on your thinking caps. One hundred years ago yesterday (June 28,1914) what event happened that would greatly affect history?

3) This company said its sales are slumping. That may be good news for those of us who don’t want to get shot by their product. What company is that?

4) Worldwide, was the just concluded May hotter or cooler than normal?

5) July 2,1965. President Johnson intimated the Democratic Party would lose the South for a generation because he did what?

6) A year prior to the Declaration of Independence, the colonies sent a petition for peace (the Olive Branch Petition) to England. What happened to this petition?

7) In a real surprise last weekend, 3rd district Iowa republicans selected what dark-horse candidate to oppose Staci Appel for congress?

8) Despite charges from his challenger of many voting irregularities and cross over voting, what Miss. senator won The republican nomination Tuesday in Miss.?

9) In a comment that cost him his job, an Arkansas official said who “would get shot at the state line” if they tried to come into Arkansas?

10) The first commemorative celebrations for Independence Day were held in what city? What year if you can remember?

11) A Nebraska legislator raised a ruckus when an Iowa survey on gambling showed that Nebraskans gambled how much money at Iowa casinos? (+- $50 million)

12) The Postal Service suddenly has an odd backer when what retiring Iowa congressman came out for Saturday delivery and the Postal Service in general?

13) In a somewhat surprising 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court said police can’t search what without a warrant?

14) In a really unusual and odd move, House Speaker John Boehner announced that the House (using our money) will sue who?

15) A bill to stop cuts in Social Security Services was introduced into the US House by what Iowa congressman?

It is time to celebrate! Bring on the bands and the fireworks and hide the critters. On a serious note, I have heard over the years that some veterans of war are very sensitive to fireworks. Please be very respectful of this. Thank you from blogforiowa.


1) Our neighbors to the North. Happy Canada Day on July 1!

2) The shooting of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo that sparked WWI

3) Smith and Wesson

4) The just completed May was the hottest May ever

5) signed the civil rights bill of 1965

6) It was rejected in London, thus giving fuel to colonists who wanted to rebel.

7) David Young

8) Thad Cochrane

9) Hillary Clinton

10) In Philadelphia (Pa) of course in 1777

11) $327M or about 1/4th of Iowa casino revenues.

12) Tom Latham – where was he when it counted?

13) your cell phone

14) President Obama – I think for presidenting while black.

15) Bruce Braley. His opponent wants to end SS and Medicare.

Be safe this week!

Happy Birthday #238 America! What Do You Want?

The Fourth of July brings lots of feelings out in people across this land. Most people get some shiver of patriotism up their spine this time of year. When we think of that time nearly a quarter of a millennium ago we admire from afar those gallant men who put their fortunes and their lives on the line to throw off the shackles of control from a long off king. Through study, thought and meetings with like minds, leaders from throughout the colonies made a decision that it was worth rebelling against a king and possibly losing all including their lives for a concept they called “freedom.”

As we reflect on what these men (and to some degree women) did long ago most of us have formed some opinion of what “freedom” means to us. But as we all know just because some freedoms are spelled in the Constitution or mentioned in the document we celebrate Friday, it does not mean that they are available to all in real life. Nor does it mean that there may not be any restrictions on anything.

Our history is rampant with stories of various groups fighting to attain the freedoms that are supposed to be given as a birthright in this country. The citizenship which we now associate with being born in this country was hard won for the black segmant of our society. One of the bloodiest wars ever, our Civil War was fought and won to give that segment freedom and citizenship. But entrenched power never gives up their power easily. Therefore, even though on paper slaves were freed nearly 150 years ago, there is still an ongoing battle to win the full rights that citizens should own as a birthright.

Last Tuesday night PBS had a great documentary on Freedom Summer detailing the struggle for blacks to attain the rights of citizens which started to come to ahead fifty years ago. Every on that admires the original founding fathers should also keep the freedom fighters, their predecessors and successor in the same thought. These men and women endured daily threats and reprisals and more reprisals long into the future to help fulfill the promises of the Declaration of Independence.

All they wanted and all that we also should want as the birthday of our country is celebrated is to have the the rights of a first class citizen of the United States, no matter who you are or what you believe. This may come as a surprise to some, but there are those in this country who are still fighting extremely hard to keep segments of our citizens in a second class limbo by denying their right to vote or their access to health care or decent schools or to love whom they wish to.

As with many things political in this country, Franklin Roosevelt understood what the common American wanted. In what has become known as his “Four Freedoms” speech, Roosevelt stated:

For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

* Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

* Jobs for those who can work.

* Security for those who need it.

* The ending of special privilege for the few.

* The preservation of civil liberties for all.

* The enjoyment . . . the enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

Here is the end of the Four Freedoms speech where Roosevelt expands on the four freedoms that he would like to see adopted around the world. We still need to make them apply here in the US.

What Americans want is simply what they talk about at the kitchen table at night: decent jobs so they can raise their families and pay their bills, the ability to see a doctor without going broke, education for their kids, and of course being treated as all others. Very simple folks. The Democratic Party is in line with this. The Republican Tea Party is in the opposite direction.

Day Of Action!

Here is a great way to celebrate the birth of the country. This weekend is a DAY OF ACTION all weekend. For Democrats to win elections this fall we must get the vote out. It is time to start working to get things moving. From an IDP email:

I have to tell you — my team and I are really fired up. We’ve got dozens of organizers all across the state gearing up for their first big weekend of action, and I’d love for you to be a part of it.

From Cedar Rapids to Sioux City, our grassroots team and volunteers like yourself will come together to make phone calls and knock doors for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket.

Please click here to find an event near you.

As the Iowa Democratic Party Field Director, I spend most of my day crunching numbers and looking at our data. Every time we have a new volunteer sign up for an event, there’s a big smile on my face.

These events are fun, but going door to door and talking to friends and neighbors is our best bet for victory this November.

Iowans talking to Iowans about the issues that matter and what’s at stake in this election – what could be better?

Whether you’re a veteran volunteer or interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, I hope you will join us.

Republican “Warfare Queens”

Jon Stewart really nailed the Republican aka Tea Party the other night. Nary a penny will they spend here at home to help the ordinary citizen in times of trouble, yet they have an open checkbook for all sorts of foreign misadventures. Let us note that that those checks they write are all borrowed money because they cut taxes for corporations and for the wealthy to near all time lows while waging two wars abroad.

It is certainly a sad commentary that the very best news analysis in this country is done by comedians plus a small handful of liberal journalist. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher and their writers cut through the crap daily to get to the real core of what drives our insane policies. But then, our government, especially the Tea Party, gives them so much material to work with.

Here is the clip:

Jon Stewart 062614

Remember, if you vote for a Republican you are voting in favor of this kind of policy at all levels. If you do not vote this election you are in essence voting to support the Jeff Sessions, Lyndsey Grahams and John McCains of the world.

Iowa and most of our neighbors have provisions to vote early. If you do not feel you may be able to vote on election day, please be sure to vote early. For that matter, just vote early and be done with it. Voting early will make you feel good!