Follow BFIA on Twitter
Blog for Iowa Archives
Blog for Iowa Categories
Search BFIA by Date
March 2015
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Fight Media Bias

Iowa

Iowa Rapid Response Action

First responders to biased, imbalanced or factually inaccurate media coverage

Iowans for Better Local TV


National

FAIR: Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

*FAIR is a national media watch group that offers well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship


Free Press

News Corpse

Prometheus Radio Project

Radio for People

Save the Internet

Save the News

Author Archive

Debt Ceiling To Be Reached Monday

garrison keeler on republicans

Amazingly, there has been little fanfare on this round of debt ceiling limit. While Republicans claimed we would never go through this again, we are about to go through it again.

There has been little fanfare most likely because the near monopoly that Republican backers have on our media understand that Republican hostage taking in the last iteration of the debt crisis was horribly received by the public. This may be an especially touchy time to force yet another crisis caused by bad governing when we just avoided shutting down the Department of Homeland Security a week or so ago. The public may be getting sensitive, so it is probably best for our media not to even bring it up.

Republicans are so divided at this point that they haven’t even gotten together to talk about just what hostages they plan to take in this crisis. One thing for sure, there is a faction of the current congressional Republicans who will in no way vote to keep the government running. Iowans should be proud, since that faction appears to be headed by our own Neanderthal (apologies to any surviving Neanderthals), Steve King.

Yep, Iowa politicians are making quite the name for themselves these days. King, Grassley, Ernst. They make folks think Iowa is a backwater once more.

Governing from created crisis to created crisis is a horrible way to govern. Why do we elect folks who vocally hate government to run the government?

Write Your Letters To The Editor

let them know you are mad!

let them know you are mad!

Below is a letter to the editor from Muscatine County Democratic chair, Don Paulsen

Forty-seven Republican U.S. Senators, including Iowa’s Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, have shamefully and illegally tried to sabotage negotiations between the United States and Iran. The New York Daily News goes so far as to call them traitors. It’s pretty clear they have violated the Logan Act, which reads as follows-

“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or any officer thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.” (from Lestatdelc, Daily Kos, 3/10/15)

Indépendant U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders made this statement, “It appears that for most of my Republican colleagues in the Senate, a war if Afghanistan and a war in Iraq were not enough. They now apparently want a war in Iran as well. President Obama is working with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China to negotiate a peaceful means to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. These negotiations must be allowed to continue and, hopefully, will succeed. It is an outrage that my Republican colleagues are trying to sabotage that effort.”

No one wants Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Perhaps if the Israelis would allow international inspectors into their facility at Dimona the world would know how many nuclear bombs the Israelis have. That would certainly give any nation in the Middle East pause. Mutually Assured Destruction is still a valid point.

As for Grassley and Ernst, please resign immediately.

Ed. note – if you have never been outraged, you should be now. Will you do something?

Joni, Chuck And Their Anti-Iowa Trifecta

joni ernst the perfect Koch investment

Slightly over 60 days in office for one of our senators, a bit under half a century for our other senator. But there doesn’t seem to be a lick of sense between them at the moment.

Joni was never elected on her platform. As a matter of fact, you could easily say that most Iowans that voted for her probably had no idea where she stood on anything. She claimed she favored Social Security, but you had to dig down to find that what she favored was giving Social Security to the Wall Street gamblers. Outside of that she mouthed a few platitudes and avoided questioners like they had bubonic plague. She then sat back and let the Billionaire’s PACs negatively portray a very good man named Bruce Braley, and smiled all the way to the senate knowing full well that she had a huge debt to repay.

And Chuck? He is decades past being a reasonable senator. Chuck stuck his thumb up in the air around 1995 (probably earlier) and realized that doing whatever those with the money wanted would keep him well supplied with campaign cash. More importantly Chuck realized that taking orders kept away any challengers from his right. Thus in 2009 and 2010 when Americans of all stripe were begging, begging, begging their government to please let them have access to health care without having to go bankrupt, as if on orders, Chuck inserted himself smack in the middle doing all he could to deny medical care to Iowans and Americans. We elected him again anyway.

The supposed blank slate named Joni made sure to get her creeds up to snuff for her billionaire owners by coming out early to kill the ACA and replace it with some fanciful named Republican proposals that would send medical care in this country back to the 1800s. Her owners must be proud.

Then John Boehner sticks his nose into foreign policy by inviting the head of a foreign state, Bibi Netanyahu, to literally use the government of the United States as a token in his own re-election campaign. To say this was unprecedented and a total disrespect to the office of the president is being mild. Probably the worst single foreign policy insult in American history. But Joni and Chuck joined in because they know that their comfortable senate job depends on pleasing the billionaires. So, like every Republican in congress they fell right in line to be used like a harlot by Netanyahu.

Then Monday morning brings us the incredible letter signed by 47 Republicans that just supplanted the Netanyahu appearance as the greatest insult to a sitting president ever. Among the 47 signatures were those of our own potential teasers, Joni and Chuck.

How can we tell them just how proud we are? In 227 years as a republic we have never seen half of the senate sign a letter that borders on, or maybe crosses the line of treason. We have a new low in American politics and certainly in Iowa politics. Surely none here can remember any of our senators previously signing a treasonous letter.

There is just one reward for such actions. It is long past time for Iowans to stand up to Grassley and his disdain for Iowans and say with their vote in 2016 “Chuck, consorting with the enemy really crossed the line.” And we need to repeat it in 2020 with Joni.

Let’s add another major problem for Joni. As an active member of the military, she appears to have stepped way over the line that is allowed in the military. I know little of military law and will not pretend to. But the internet does have some very smart cookies out there. 8ackgr0und N015e at dailykos writes a rather intriguing diary about the hot water Joni may have gotten herself into. Please check the diary out yourselves, but here is the nut of the matter:

Chapter 29B.85 of the Iowa State Code of Military Justice.

29B.85 CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS.
Any person subject to this code who uses contemptuous words against the president, the governor, or the governor of any other state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which that person may be serving, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Iowans deserve some very serious explanations. Now!

Payroll Debit Cards, Accurate Court Records, Mental Health – The Courtney Report

Courtney Report

Note: This is edited from the weekly email report from Senator Courtney. To see the full report please go to Senator Courtney’s website.

PAYROLL DEBIT CARDS MUST BE FAIR FOR IOWA WORKERS
Imagine it’s payday, and you get your pay for the week. It’s on a payroll card (similar to a debit card) instead of a check or direct deposit. You didn’t have a choice in receiving your pay this way. You try to retrieve your money from the payroll card, and you discover you’re being charged a fee to receive your hard-earned pay.

Legislators recently heard from Iowans who came to the Statehouse to tell their stories. We learned that many Iowans don’t have a choice in how they are paid and may incur high fees when paid by payroll card.

Nobody should have to pay a fee to collect their wages. That’s why legislation aimed at clarifying the law regarding payroll cards is moving forward.

Senate Study Bill 1004 requires an employee to voluntarily agree to payment via a payroll card. The agreement must be in writing, and the employee must have the option to withdraw all the wages due in a pay period without incurring a fee. The bill also requires the employer to keep the records of consent and to provide another payment method if an employee requests it at a later time.

SSB 1004 is a simple, common sense bill that aims to protect employee’s pay and rights.

UPDATING COURT RECORDS FOR ACCURATE PUBLIC INFORMATION
The Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved a bill allowing those charged with a crime to apply to have court records of the criminal charge and proceedings expunged if the charges were dismissed or resulted in a “not guilty” verdict.

Sometimes people are wrongly accused of a crime. This can have all sorts of other negative consequences. Many employers access Iowa Courts Online during the hiring process and property owners check online court records when deciding whom to rent to. Just seeing someone’s name in the court records can hurt their chances of getting a job or finding housing.

Senate Study Bill 1110 will provide those who were never convicted of the crime a better opportunity to move on with their lives. A defendant in a case will be able to make application to the court to expunge a criminal record when all criminal charges in the case are dismissed, or the defendant is acquitted of all charges in the case and:

• All court costs, fees and financial obligations ordered by the court are paid.

• The case is dismissed permanently or is beyond the statute of limitations.

• The defendant is not being charged with a crime in a related case or has not been convicted of a crime in a related case.

• The defendant was not found “not guilty by reason of insanity” or incompetent to stand trial.

• All parties in the case have notice of the application to expunge and an opportunity to object.

If all requirements are met, the court must expunge the records of the criminal case. The expunged record will be a confidential record exempt from public access but will be available to the defendant and to various justice system agencies. It’s a step in the right direction toward a fairer system of justice.

ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES MUST BE MAINTAINED
I am committed to continuous improvement of Iowa’s modernized mental health system. That’s why I was as surprised as everyone else when Governor Branstad announced plans to close Mental Health Institutes (MHI) in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda.

These facilities offer specialized services that are not available in many areas of the state, including dual inpatient treatment for mental health and substance abuse, as well as psychiatric services designed specifically for older Iowans. Closing these MHIs could reduce or eliminate services for Iowans with severe mental health issues, forcing them to travel hundreds of miles to receive critical care.

It’s important that Iowans have access to mental health services close to home, from basic outpatient therapy to intensive, inpatient care for the most severe cases. The Legislature has been working to improve Iowa’s mental health system for years, but that work is not yet complete.

In the weeks since the Governor proposed the MHI closings, mental health professionals, community leaders, former patients and their families, and advocates have urged the Legislature to resist the proposed closings. The message is clear: Iowa needs to develop and invest in additional community based mental health services before we consider closing existing facilities.

The Governor’s proposal removes a needed mental health service with no coherent plan to ensure effective treatment for some of the worst mental illness cases in Iowa. The Senate is taking a different approach.

SF 333 requires that the state Department of Human Services admit eligible Iowans to the MHIs through the current fiscal year that ends June 30. This bill recently passed on a bipartisan, unanimous vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee. During last year’s budgeting process, the Legislature approved funding for this purpose and the Governor signed the legislation. The Governor should use those funds as approved.

The second bill, SF 308, sets up a process for the state to develop and implement crucial community based mental health services. Services outlined in the plan and approved by the Legislature must be in place before we consider closing the MHIs. The plan must include input from stakeholders and experts, ensure that transitional services are offered without hurting quality of care, ensure local access to highly trained community and institutionally based care providers, and identify stable funding for new services. The Senate Human Resources Committee has approved this bill.

Sunday Funday – Who Turned Up The Heat? Edition

Tough one today

Tough one today

I have a foolproof snow removal system. I call it the middle of March. Been pretty reliable the past few years. Requires a lot of patience and the ability to ignore lawsuit threats. Looks like it will be working once more this year.

Here is something to do as you ignore those threats. Were you paying attention?

1) Republicans claim Obama is a communist fascist and anti-capitalist. How many jobs were reported as added Friday?

2) What long serving female senator announced her impending retirement early in the week?

3) A NASA probe entered orbit around what dwarf planet Friday morning?

4) Two months ago, Hillary Clinton handed over 55,000 what to the State Department?

5) 1995, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2009, 2012 and again last week, what international leader claimed there was an imminent nuclear threat from Iran?

6) King v. Burwell was argued before the SCOTUS last week. What major issue is at stake in this case?

7) Who denied any connection to the murder of political rival Boris Nemtsov?

8) There are fewer women running companies than men named what?

9) A non-profit has begun a campaign to replace what person with a woman on American currency by 2020?

10) Holy port-a-potty, Batman! What once extremely remote place now accumulates as much 26,000 pounds of human feces a year?

11) According to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, the US will once more hit what limit on March 16th?

12) Inventor John Sylvan admits he won’t use his own invention because they are expensive and bad for the environment. What did he invent?

13) Jim Clark became a household name 50 years ago yesterday. What was his job back then?

14) Talk about the parade becoming a stampede. As more US states approve marriage equality, so are European countries. What country became the 11th European country with marriage equality Tuesday?

15) Budget woes in what deep red state with a tea bag governor is forcing the state to look to at expanding Medicaid?

16) The Justice Department released a scathing report concerning the police department in what US city?

17) A bill allowing children under the age of 14 to posses what survived ‘funnel’ week in the Iowa legislature?

18) A second hospital in Los Angeles, Cedar-Sanai, Tuesday reported that a patient had been stricken with what dangerous infection agent?

19) A train carrying what hazardous material derailed near Galena, Illinois Thursday?

20) Did you forget to do something this morning?

First answers then basketball!

1) 295,000.

2) Barbara Mikulski of Maryland

3) Ceres – in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter

4) pages of emails

5) Bibi Netanyahu

6) Whether the ACA would continue in its present form

7) Russian Premier Vladimir Putin

8) John – according to the New York Times

9) Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill

10) Mt. Everest

11) the debt ceiling

12) k-cups

13) Sheriff of Selma, Alabama

14) Slovenia

15) Kansas

16) Ferguson, Mo.

17) a pistol or revolver

18) the super bug, aka CRE, which is resistant to antibiotics

19) oil from the Bakken oil fields

20) set your clock ahead, maybe?

Wages, Jobs, Child Care, Wage Theft: The Courtney Report

Courtney Report

Note: This is edited from the weekly email report from Senator Courtney. To see the full report please go to Senator Courtney’s website.

Note2: This post missed the schedule last week. To make sure that important info in here is disseminated it has been rescheduled. Tomorrow we will have the most recent Courtney Report

LET’S INCREASE THE PAY FOR 181,000 LOW-WAGE IOWANS
I was proud to vote this week to increase the wages of Iowa’s lowest-paid workers.

According to the Iowa Policy Project, 181,000 Iowans will benefit from an increase to the minimum wage. Here are some statistics on who will get a raise under the proposal approved by the Iowa Senate this week:

• 72 percent are over the age of 20.

• 59 percent are women.

• 20 percent have children.

• On average, they earn 44 percent of their family’s total income.

It’s been seven years since Iowans have seen an increase to the state’s minimum wage. No other state has lingered at $7.25 per hour longer than Iowa. Five out of six states surrounding Iowa have a higher minimum wage. By following suit, Iowa families will have bigger paychecks that will boost the economy when they’re spent at local businesses.

Senate File 269 increases the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8 as of July 1 of this year and to $8.75 by July 1, 2016. This modest proposal got bipartisan support in the Senate. The bill now goes to the House for its consideration.

STEM IS PREPARING IOWANS FOR SKILLED JOBS
The Legislature has worked hard to bolster efforts to position Iowa’s young people and the state’s economy for growth in high-skill jobs and industries.

This includes efforts to support what is known as STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These are fields that lead to high-skill, well-paying jobs and are vital to a thriving 21st century economy. STEM skills are the basis for innovative problem solving and discovery, which are best acquired through exploratory learning and active student engagement.

STEM is also an economic development tool. When we equip a workforce with high-quality education and skills, we set the stage to attract and expand businesses, which will in turn create more good jobs for Iowans.

Student interest and achievement in STEM has increased significantly in Iowa in recent years, thanks to a statewide STEM initiative that brings together educators, businesses, non-profits, state agencies and community leaders.

Since 2011, an estimated 250,000 school-age Iowans and tens of thousands of educators have benefited from Iowa’s STEM focus. Opportunities for hands-on learning have included community STEM festivals, classroom activities, professional development and more.

Annual evaluations show steady gains in:

• Post-secondary STEM majors at our community colleges, public universities and private colleges. There has been a 43 percent increase in degrees award from public universities in STEM fields.

• The number of teaching endorsements issued for math and science teachers. Iowa saw a 13 percent increase between 2012 and 2014 in teaching endorsements in science or math.

• Support for STEM education and jobs among Iowans. Three years ago, 26 percent of Iowans were familiar with the concept of STEM. Today, 41 percent of Iowans know about the importance of STEM education.

Learn more about STEM and the many programs it’s generating in Iowa at www.iowastem.gov.

QUALITY CHILD CARE FOR WORKING FAMILIES
Most young children in Iowa grow up in homes with working parents. In fact, Iowa has the highest percentage of households with children under age six who have all available parents in the labor force– 77 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

These statistics illustrate that Iowans work hard. With young kids in childcare an average of 36 hours per week, it also shows the importance of high-quality care.

The brain develops rapidly from birth to age five, building the foundation of cognitive and character skills. As many families know, good care that helps ensure a child’s success in school and life can come at a high cost.

The joint Health & Human Services Appropriations Committee recently heard about changes to federal law that will help to improve Iowa’s Child Care Assistance Program. Some of those changes include improvements in training for childcare providers and changes in program eligibility requirements that no longer penalize families when they receive modest pay increases.

The Senate will be proposing additional changes that will reward childcare providers for reaching certain quality benchmarks and changing income eligibility limits so that more working families are eligible for assistance.

These changes will ensure that more families with modest means can get high-quality care for their children. It also means that parents can focus on their jobs when they are at work, with the assurance that their children are in a safe, nurturing environment.

Learn more about childcare assistance in Iowa at http://dhs.iowa.gov/child-care.

ENSURING IOWANS GET PAID FOR THEIR WORK
This week, the Senate passed Senate File 270, a bill to ensure all Iowans get paid for their work.

Sadly, $600 million in wages are stolen from Iowa workers each year. Wage theft can occur in many forms. One example is an employer failing to pay a worker for the hours of work performed or an employer not giving tips to servers.

Iowa’s wage theft laws are so weak that they are impossible to enforce. The result? Iowa workers get ripped off by unscrupulous employers, and the majority of businesses that play by the rules are put at a disadvantage.

Most Iowans aren’t at risk of being cheated by their employer, but low-wage workers often are, and they’re the ones with the most to lose.

Just hiring more investigators won’t fix this wage theft problem. We need laws that make it clear you must pay your workers, and make it easier and safer for workers to stand up for their rights. Senate File 270 would make Iowa’s law more straightforward with these three changes:

1. Employers would be required to keep a written record of the terms of employment.

2. The defense that an employer “unintentionally” failed to pay employees would no longer be acceptable.

3. Employees filing wage theft claims and those who offer testimony on their behalf would be protected from retaliation under threat of penalty.

I urge the House to do right by hard-working Iowans by approving this bill.

Thank You, Congressmember Loebsack

dave loebsack updated

A ‘Thank You’ goes out to Congress member Dave Loebsack.

The first is his decision not to attend the speech given by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu was brought to this country in the wrong way in order to interfere with our foreign policy. Mr. Loebsack was one of the few to stand up and say that this was wrong. Loebsack was right to not attend.

No doubt this incident will be thrown in his face come election time. When it is ask yourself this – Was it wrong for a foreign head of state to be invited against the desires of the administration to directly lobby congress for a potential war? The answer should be obvious to anyone.Yes, it was wrong. Therefore Loebsack deserves our thanks for standing up in opposition.

The second is for his membership in the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). The CPC released an alternative to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP as many of you know is a trade agreement written by corporations, for corporations. While most of it has been kept as secret as possible there has been some leaking. What we have learned from the leaks is that the TPP will be disastrous for workers especially in America. We also know that the TPP may well undermine American laws.

The CPC issued an alternative to the TPP Thursday that takes the negotiations back from corporations and puts it back into the hands of elected representatives. This is simply the right thing to do. Hopefully Mr. Loebsack will back the CPC and support their alternative to the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Iowa Republicans Versus Iowa Teachers

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/P/bo16956223.html

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/P/bo16956223.html

Monday morning I was half listening to Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition when I heard Iowa news reporter Joyce Russell tell a short story on the annual standoff on public school funding in Iowa. The story was an interview with Iowa House speaker Kraig Paulsen. It was a short story, but it had one line in there that reached out and just slapped me:

“Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen says the raises that teachers bargain for are costing too much money.”

Now that may be true. I for one do not believe so. But in the context of yet another national Republican attack on teachers led by presidential wannabe Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Paulsen’s comment came across to me not as just another statement on school funding but as an opening shot across the bow on teacher’s unions.

Rather than mentioning the legislature for very short sighted tax cuts, especially for the rich and corporations in Iowa, or many of a myriad of other reasons, Paulsen honed in on teachers and contract bargaining. Over the years Terry Branstad has made no secret of his disdain for unions. Unless you are under a rock it is hard not to notice the full out assault on unions across the country by Republicans, most recently in Illinois by newly elected Bruce Rauner and in Wisconsin by the aforementioned Scott Walker. Paulsen seems to be taking a tepid step into being one of the union busting Republicans. No doubt this will help burnish his tea party creeds as we head into the tea party caucus craziness.

In case you hadn’t heard, a week and a half ago Scott Walker slyly compared facing up to protestors, a good portion of which are made up of unions and especially teachers, in Wisconsin to potentially facing ISIS as president.

“We need have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message that not only will we protect American soil, but…freedom-loving people anywhere else in the world. We need that confidence,” he said. “If I can take on a hundred thousand protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

Even though Iowa seems to be their schools in the manner that they should, Republicans seem to think that another great idea is to take some of that small pie and give it to pay for vouchers for private schools. This is a move that will benefit mostly schools affiliated with religious institutions. Seems to me that the first amendment to the constitution addressed this long ago.

No matter how you read it, the government is not allowed to take public monies to support religious projects, whether it be schools or fake “Creation Museums.” If religious education costs are too high and legislatures, even the Iowa legislature, thinks people should have a choice to send their children to such institutions, may we recommend they work to raise wages in this state for workers. Helping unions grow would be a good way to do this. Maybe this would be an incentive for Walmart, McDonald’s, Burger King and all the other low wage, or temp agencies to raise their wages. I suggest Republicans work on that instead.

BP Gets Off – A Nation Of Laws?

Ed Schultz did yeoman’s work over the past couple of weeks following up on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. As noted in the video above the perpetrator of the spill, BP, did all it could to avoid restitution for their damage. Instead of paying for the damage they caused, they sunk money into lies and propaganda through advertising. They also greased the skids with “campaign contributions” to politicians who have worked hard to get BP off and allow them to get drilling rights once more in the Gulf and in the Atlantic. All the while the American public saw the horror of BP’s negligence slowly morph on their TV screens into BP, a company that cares.

During 2012 Americans were able to learn a great deal about how vulture companies like Bain Capital, at one time headed by then candidate Mitt Romney, would take over companies and essentially strip them of any assets. Among those assets were pension funds that workers had planned to live on in their old age. In the case of Bain victim companies, pension funds would be raided and added to the payments Bain extracted from the company. Thus Bain got some huge checks, many lives were ruined (insignificant no doubt in the Bain way of thinking), and the American taxpayer gets a bill to make up some of the pension “raided” – stolen actually.

Since the pension funds were part of the compensation for work done by company employees every bit as important as their weekly pay, medical benefits and vacations, “raiding” the pension funds is simply a polite term for theft. Why laws were passed for legalizing this theft is simply unbelievable. Bain had a fairly structured way of taking their targeted companies apart and stealing the future from the companies employees was simply part of the plan.

What was good for Bain also appears to be good for governments. Last year we witnessed the dismantling of Detroit. Among the assets seized to pay Detroit’s debt were the pension funds. Funds that police and fire fighters and all sorts of municipal workers had planned to be there when their so-called “golden” years was gone. Some of these folks had worked for the city for as long as 40 years.

In New Jersey last week, Presidential wannabe Chris Christie was handed a judgment that said he must fully fund pension funds. When offered a plan that would raise taxes on the wealthy that would raise the money needed to fund the pension fund, Christie immediately rejected it.

In Illinois new Republican Governor Bruce Rauner wasted little time in going after public pensions. Even though most public pensions are part of a negotiated contract which we may assume are negotiated in good faith with access to viable fiscal projections. Seems like Rauner wants to unilaterally change the contract like so many of his Republican gubernatorial colleagues across the country have been doing. And of course while he can’t find money in the budget to pay legally mandated payments, he can find oodles of money to cut his own taxes and those of his rich buddies.

And let us not forget our governor for life Terry Branstad. While the pension story here in Iowa is good so far, we still have yet to hear anything on Branstad’s paying released employees last year with moneys that seemed to have been shifted illegally.

When I hear some politician, usually Republican, rail about this country being a nation of laws I just have to shake my head. “We are all equal in the eyes of the law” the old story goes. But there is hardly a person among us who can’t tell a story right off the top of their head of some well connected person who got a big break. Still waiting for one person to be arrested and tried for the financial meltdown in 2007 and 2008? So am I. Maybe at least a few real questions of those who led us into an illegal war in Iraq? Still waiting.

In some of the cases above, actions taken were made legal even though they are, to many, repugnant and unethical. When you have money and can buy some influence, you get favors. The reason I used so many stories of workers having their pensions, often pensions they contributed to, flat out stolen from them is to bring it home to the reader. Yes, they are just like you and me. If you think you have a good job with a solid company or a government pension awaiting your golden years don’t be surprised if you wake up one day to find all that money in the back pocket of some Wall Street hedge fund manager and you looking at working until you die.

And when some politician, particularly a Republican tells me they are a Christian, I think of Ghandi’s statement: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” If you claim to follow the Ten Commandments then do something to stop the unethical laws, stop the thievery, stop the discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or skin color. In short let the beliefs you profess actually guide you.

Oh – what’s this? Illinois Congress member Aaron Shock living the high life on the taxpayer’s dime and campaign funds? Que surprise? Hey just rub our noses in it knowing that enough campaign commercials and you will forget – you always do.

Sunday Funday: Time For A Change Edition

I just want to go to the bar after I do the puzzle

I just want to go to the bar after I do the puzzle

Enough winter, bring on some spring. I hate to see what is under the white, but I will have to face it someday.

Oh – and don’t forget to change your clocks next week.

Were you paying attention?

1) Blue and black or white and gold? What the heck am I talking about?

2) One was black and one was white and their romp captured the attention of the nation Thursday. Who were they?

3) He wasn’t here, he wasn’t there. Apparently he wasn’t anywhere he said he was. What national news figure is taking a lot of heat for embellishing his cred by claiming to be on the scene of many important events?

4) Wisconsin faces a vote in their legislature that will make them yet another right to work state. What high profile labor union came out against the right to work vote in Wisconsin?

5) A guy named Chuy pulled a real upset Tuesday when he forced what politician into a runoff election for the Chicago mayor’s office?

6) The nets are free at least for now. What was the vote for making the internet a common carrier Thursday?

7) March 1, 1961 new president John Kennedy established what organization that sent young Americans volunteers abroad to help developing countries?

8) What went into effect today in Iowa, thanks to quick passage by both houses of Iowa’s legislature and the governor’s signature?

9) Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma proved once and for all this week that climate change was bunk by doing what?

10) A bill in the Iowa House will ban the sale of palcohol in Iowa. What is palcohol?

11) What target in the United States was specifically mentioned in a message from Al-Shabob?

12) Who is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress Tuesday?

13) In Idaho a Republican legislator asked a doctor testifying before his committee if a doctor could conduct what kind of exam remotely by having the woman swallow a camera?

14) Iowa’s largest utility companies reported last week that they have approximately how much in past due bills?

15) Manufacturers of what ubiquitous grocery and department store item delayed a ban on their product when they gathered signatures to put the ban on the ballot in 2016?

16) What Republican presidential wannabe is leading in Iowa in a very early Quinnipiac poll?

17) Earl Lloyd died at age 86 this week. He was noted because he was the first what?

18) 70 years after the death of its author and 90 years after it was first published what book will once more be published in Germany in 2015?

19) Boris Nemtsov was shot to death Friday evening in Moscow. He was the leader of what in Russia?

20) Congress averted a shutdown of Homeland Security Friday night for how long?

Special mention to Leonard Nimoy whose portrayal of Dr. Spock on Star Trek helped inspire many future scientists.

Answers:

1) a dress that sparked a fierce internet debate over its real colors. Some saw it as blue and black, some as gold and white.

2) Two llamas that cavorted around the Phoenix area Thursday

3) Billo O’Reilly

4) the NFL Players association

5) Rahm Emmanuel

6) 3 – 2 on basically a party line vote

7) the Peace Corps

8) 10 cent a gallon tax to pay for road repairs

9) taking a snowball onto the Senate floor and noting it was cold outside

10) powdered alcohol

11) the Mall of America in the Twin Cities

12) Benjamin Netanyahu

13) a gynecological exam. Really he did.

14) $39 million

15) the plastic bag.

16) Scott Walker

17) black basketball player in the NBA

18) “Mein Kampf” by Adolph Hitler

19) Opposition to Vladimir Putin

20) a week. Yep next week will be a repeat of this week.