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Hatch Closing In On Branstad

Democrat Jack Hatch is gaining on Branstad. New polling by Rasmussen who many consider Republican-leaning has the race at 46% for Branstad to 40% for Hatch.  Hatch has significantly narrowed Branstad’s August lead of 52% – 35%.  A 17-point lead of a month ago for Branstad is now a mere 6 point lead with 10% undecided.

Click here to volunteer for Jack Hatch’s campaign and finally retire for good one of ALEC’s founding fathers, Terry Branstad.

ICYMI: This is the 2nd of 3 gubernatorial debates.

Labor Update: Upcoming Events Around Iowa

Labor Movement  Iowa AFL-CIO

September 22:

Clive:  Reception with Dave Loebsack
6 PM.   Clive. IA. RSVP 319-804-9218 or

September 22:

Clinton Labor Walk 5 PM. 309-738-3196 224 22nd Place, Clinton, Iowa

September 24:

Mason City Labor Walk. 9 am, Mason City Labor Temple, 510 S Pennsylvania, Mason City. contact Matt Marchese at 515-243-1924 or 917-757-8788

September 24:

Davenport – Quad Cities. Labor Walk 11 Am to 7 PM. UFCW 431 2411 W Central Park Avenue, Davenport. Tracy Leone at 309-738-3196

September 24: Performance and Reception for Staci Appel

Des Moines:  4 – 6 PM Java Joe’s 214 4th Street, Des Moines, IA. 50309. Performance by Jon “Bowzer” Bauman from Sha NA NA. RSVP 515-957-1391 or

September 25-26 New Stewards School.

Coralville:  Labor Center. University of Iowa BioVentures Center, Coralville. $150 per person. Includes materials, parking and lunch both days. Registration deadline is September 10. 319-335-4144 or

September 26:

Iowa City: Winning better laws: How can ordinary people be heard
Center for Worker Justice.  940 S Gilbert Court, Iowa City. 319-594-7593. All workshops take place at 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm at the Center for Worker Justice, 940 S. Gilbert Court, Iowa City. Call 319-594-7593 for more information. Interpretation is available upon request.

September 27:

Des Moines:  Labor Jam –  Labor Park. Noon to 10 PM. $5 per person. Bring you own beer, chairs and blankets. Food, pop and water will be for sale. 515-265-1862 or

September 27:

Burlington: Labor History.  Saturday, Sept. 27, 8:00 am-12:00 noon, 16452 US Hwy 34, West Burlington (Machinists Hall)

Download flyer (pdf)

Learn more about key struggles and dramatic turning points in U.S. and Iowa labor history, and what labor history tells us about the challenges workers continue to face today. Sponsored by Des Moines-Henry County Labor Council with support from the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Contact Ryan Drew to RSVP or for more information: 319-759-3188 or

September 27:

Walker.  Labor Walk – 2000 Walker

September 27:

Quad Cities Sat. Sept 27: Labor to Labor Walk – 10 – 1pm @ UFCW 431

September 29:

Quad Cities:  Monday Phone Bank @ UA Hall 5-8PM Tracy Leone at 309-738-3196

September 29:

West Des Moines

Citizen Koch Screening –
Citizen Koch: A Film About Money, Power and Democracy
Century 20 Theatres at Jordan Creek
West Des Moines, Iowa
September 29, 2014 @ 7:30 PM

Netflix The New Corporate Leader In The Fight For Net Neutrality

al franken on net neutralityBy Brendan Sasso, National Journal

Netflix is relishing its role as the corporate leader in the fight for net neutrality, and why wouldn’t it? By fighting for an open Internet, the video-streaming site is not only advocating a position that would protect its profits, it’s also earning goodwill from Web activists and liberals.

But by taking a high-profile role, Netflix risks learning painful political lesson: In Washington, friends are fickle, and enemies have long memories.

That was the fate that befell Google after it carried the net-neutrality mantle in 2010, pushing for an open Internet at the same time President Obama was making it a policy priority. The position alienated Republicans, and in the end, it won Google precious little goodwill on the left—the company was accused of selling out the cause when it compromised on a final deal.

In this year’s fight, Google has kept largely quiet. The switch in roles comes as the Federal Communications Commission is trying to craft new net-neutrality regulations after a federal court struck down the old ones earlier this year. The agency’s new proposal has sparked a massive backlash from liberals because it could allow broadband providers like Comcast to charge websites for access to special Internet “fast lanes.”

And as Netflix wades into the fray, it has drawn the ire of the same forces that went after Google in 2010. Conservatives and industry groups are already beginning to target Netflix, claiming it wants all Internet users to bear the costs of its data-heavy videos.

“Now that Google has stepped back, the fire is going to be directed at Netflix,” said Harold Feld, the senior vice president of consumer group Public Knowledge and a supporter of net neutrality. “You can tell the people who haven’t updated their talking points from 2010 to 2014 by the fact that they still say ‘Google’ instead of ‘Netflix.’ ”


Google paid a price for its support of net neutrality in 2010. Siding with Democrats in a partisan fight helped to cement Google’s reputation in Washington as a Democratic company.

Liberals argue that net neutrality is crucial for protecting online freedom, and that without it, giant corporations could distort the Internet for their own purposes. Republicans, however, see it as a government power grab. Regulating Internet traffic unnecessarily restricts the business choices of broadband providers, slowing economic growth, Republicans claim.

After the Federal Trade Commission hit Google with an antitrust investigation in 2011, that Democratic affiliation was a millstone when the company came to Congress for protection. Republicans largely turned their backs or even cheered the FTC on.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah—the top Republican on the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee and rarely a proponent of government intervention—praised regulators at a 2011 hearing for probing Google, warning that the company had become so massive that it could “help determine who will succeed and who will fail on the Internet.”

Google ultimately escaped the antitrust investigation without too much damage. But the company learned its lesson. It now employs teams of Republican lobbyists, and its head lobbyist, Susan Molinari, is a former GOP congresswoman.

Although it hurt the company’s reputation with Republicans, Google’s stand for net neutrality did little to win it friends on the left.

In August 2010, Google worked with Verizon to develop a framework for what net-neutrality regulations should look like. It’s not unusual for leading stakeholders to sit down and hammer out an agreement that everyone can live with.

But liberal advocates were outraged that Google had agreed to a weak proposal that wouldn’t even cover Internet service on cell phones. Google and Verizon were “attacking the Internet while claiming to preserve it,” a coalition of advocacy groups said in a statement.

Later that year, the FCC enacted net-neutrality regulations that largely mirrored the Google-Verizon agreement. It was hard for liberals to press the FCC for anything stronger when the lead corporate supporter for net neutrality had already signed on to a weaker proposal. Google had violated its own “Don’t Be Evil” motto, activists felt.

Another reason that Google is quieter on net neutrality this time might be that the issue is just less important to its business. It’s no longer as vulnerable to broadband providers manipulating Internet traffic because it’s involved in more than just online services. Google now makes phones, tablets, smoke detectors, and—eventually—self-driving cars and computerized glasses. The company has even become its own broadband provider in a few areas with Google Fiber.

The company is also so large that paying off a broadband provider for faster service would probably not make much of a dent in its bottom line.

Google still supports net neutrality—just not as loudly as it did in 2010. It was one of dozens of companies to sign a letter in May warning that the FCC’s new proposal posed “a grave threat to the Internet.” It’s a member of the Internet Association, a lobbying group that filed comments urging the FCC to adopt strong rules.

When activists and websites (including Netflix) launched a protest last week over the issue, Google offered tepid support. The company sent an email emphasizing the importance of net neutrality to people who had signed up for its advocacy alerts. But while other websites directed users to a central protest page to help them contact the FCC and members of Congress, Google just directed users to its own Facebook page.


This year, Netflix has replaced Google as the leading corporate voice on net neutrality.

Unlike Google, Netflix is entirely dependent on its online videos. If a broadband provider carried Netflix content at less-than-optimum speeds, videos would become grainy and unwatchable, and the company would lose subscribers in droves.

According to FCC officials who have met with Netflix’s lobbyists, the company has been among the most aggressive advocates for expansive net-neutrality rules. “They’re screaming their heads off,” one official said.

Google, however, has rarely discussed the issue at the agency, according to a review of public records.

Netflix is also trying to mobilize its massive user base to push the issue. As part of last week’s protest, the company displayed a symbolic loading icon on its site to warn users what the Internet would be like without net neutrality.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has been particularly outspoken on the issue. “To ensure the Internet remains humanity’s most important platform for progress, net neutrality must be defended and strengthened,” Hastings wrote in a blog post earlier this year.

While Google and other companies support net neutrality rules, Netflix is one of the few that is actually pushing the FCC to regulate broadband providers using the same legal classification it uses for phone companies. The FCC needs to rely on a different legal authority if it wants to ensure the rules don’t just get struck down in court again, Netflix and the Internet activists argue. Republicans and broadband providers, however, fear that utility-style regulation would stifle the industry.

Netflix also wants the FCC to expand the definition of net neutrality to include a requirement that broadband providers allow it to connect directly to their networks for free. Websites have traditionally relied on third parties to carry their traffic to Internet providers, but Netflix has begun asking providers for direct access to their networks to ensure the smoothest video streaming possible for its customers.

The old net-neutrality rules only restricted how broadband providers could handle traffic once it was on their networks, but Netflix is outraged that some broadband providers are forcing it to pay for the right to deliver its traffic to their wires.

Hastings has bashed Comcast, Verizon, and other providers for demanding an “arbitrary tax” to reach subscribers. The Netflix executive’s attacks have irked the providers, who resent being accused of hurting online freedom. There’s nothing wrong with interconnection fees under the traditional understanding of net neutrality, the Internet providers argue.

Netflix is estimated to account for a third of all Internet traffic, and broadband providers grumble that the company should pay for some of their infrastructure costs.


More than 3 million people have sent comments to the FCC, the vast majority of them calling for stricter net-neutrality regulations. So why does it matter what Google or Netflix says?

“Being right is not enough,” said Feld, a net-neutrality advocate. “If there were no companies that were willing to stand up prominently, it would be a lot harder to get folks in Washington to pay attention.”

Netflix is the biggest company to come out in support of using a stronger legal authority to enact net-neutrality rules. Mozilla, Reddit, Etsy, Spotify, and other smaller companies have also endorsed the controversial option, but Netflix’s support provides a major boost to the effort.

But Netflix’s lobbying team is tiny compared with Google’s Washington army. Netflix only has two registered lobbyists and spent $600,000 on lobbying in the first half of this year, according to public records. Even in the first half of 2010, Google spent $2.72 million.

So while Netflix’s support is crucial to the net-neutrality advocates, they still miss Google’s leadership on the issue.


Netflix’s aggressive advocacy for net neutrality has already made it a target for conservatives.

TechFreedom, a libertarian group funded by telecom companies and others, singled out Netflix on a website it created to counter the push for net neutrality. “Netflix is trying to game the system to lower its costs,” the group wrote. “That means all broadband subscribers would have to pay, whether they use Netflix or not.”

Berin Szoka, the president of TechFreedom, said Netflix is making a strategic error by trying to force utility-style regulations on broadband providers.

“They’ve poisoned all of their relationships with Republicans and moderate Democrats,” Szoka claimed.

For now, Netflix isn’t showing any signs of regretting its position. It’s become a favorite company of many Internet activists, and it’s trying to use public pressure to shame broadband providers into offering direct access to their networks for free.

Feld said he doesn’t begrudge Google for making a strategic decision not to become a lightning rod in the net-neutrality battle again. And Netflix may one day make the same calculation itself.

“It invariably happens that when successful companies get bigger, they get more cautious,” Feld said. “It’s all part of the natural life cycle.”

Hillary’s Last Steak Fry Speech

Not sure if I’m entirely ready for Hillary and she is apparently not sure she’s ready either, but she did give a very good speech.

Hillary part 1

Hillary part 2

Hillary part 3



U.S. Congress Third District Debate Appel v. Young

Staci Appel (D-Des Moines) and David Young (R-Van Meter)
Thursday, September 11, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Rep. Loebsack At Harkin Steak Fry: What Democrats Fight For

Blog for Iowa had a great day yesterday at the Last Harkin Steak Fry.   Congressman Loebsack (D-02) delivered an especially energizing, upbeat message that fired up the crowd.  Check back for more highlights from yesterday’s historic event.

Energy Transfer Partner’s Alarming Pipe Dreams For Iowa

Bakken Pipeline Proposed Routecontributed by Garry Klein

On July 9, the Des Moines Register reported that a Texas-based, Fortune 500 company, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), is planning to build a crude oil pipeline that would deliver a minimum of 320,000 barrels of oil 1,100 miles from the hydraulic fracturing Bakkan oil production fields in North Dakota to a relay facility in Patoka, Illinois and eventually to the Texas’s Gulf Coast refineries where much of it is likely to be exported. To do this, the company will lay a 30-inch diameter pipeline through 17 Iowa counties from Sioux City to Ft. Madison cutting a 150-foot wide right of way and a permanent 50 foot wide easement through public and private properties including miles of Iowa farmland. As a comparison, the ETP pipeline could carry three times the amount of oil than the proposed controversial Keystone XL.

Who is Energy Transfer Partners? ETP is a Dallas, Texas-based company that includes 17 subsidiaries that own or operate 35,000 miles of oil, gas, and liquid propane pipelines, as well as partnerships for distribution and retail operations. According to Zack’s Equity Research, ETP is “a master limited partnership (MLP) engaged primarily in the gathering, processing, storage and transportation of natural gas. Additionally, the partnership holds a 70% stake in Lone Star NGL LLC, a joint venture that owns and operates natural gas liquids (NGL) storage, fractionation and transportation assets in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.” Subsidiaries and partners are: CDM, ETC Endure Energy, ET Rover Pipeline, ETT, Fayetteville Express Pipeline, Florida Gas Transmission Company, Lone Star NGL, Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line, PEI Power, Regency Energy Partners, Sea Robin Pipeline Company, SEC, Southern Union Gas Services, Sunoco, Inc., Sunoco Logistics, Transwestern Pipeline Company, Trunkline Gas Company, and Trunkline LNG.

ETP was started by CEO Kelcey Warren and according to Forbes, “co-founded natural-gas pipeline firm Energy Transfer Partners with Ray C. Davis in 1995; he bought struggling gas assets and linked them into an efficient system.” Warren has been in the oil and natural gas business since 1978, as well as owning a record company in Austin, TX. Warren whose net worth by Forbes as of July 13, 2014 was estimated to be $5.8 billion (#116 on the list of wealthiest Americans). ETP itself had assets of over $43 billion as of December 2013. Warren

Energy Transfer Partners have been growing steadily and in the last several years, thanks to a favorable domestic exploration environment and a need to transport more and more natural gas. Energy production is experiencing a huge boom. For example, in 2013, the United States overtook Saudi Arabia to become the world’s biggest oil producer as output from shale, much of it from the Bakkan and the Eagle Rock fields in Texas, has led according to leading U.S. energy consultancy PIRA. “U.S. output, which includes natural gas liquids and biofuels, has swelled 3.2 million barrels per day (bpd) since 2009, the fastest expansion in production over a four-year period since a surge in Saudi Arabia’s output from 1970-1974, PIRA said in a release on Tuesday. “While still the largest consumer of fuel, the rise of cheap crude available to domestic refiners has turned the United States into a significant exporter of gasoline and distillate fuels and China has surpassed the United States as the largest importer of crude.”

A publicly- traded company, shares of ETP stock have increased from $20 a share in 1996 to over $58 at the close of the market on Friday, Sept. 12.

What should likely concern Iowans and the Iowa’s Public Utility Commission are ETP’s growing pains which have been documented in various publications and include a number of accidents that have led to environmental damage, widespread property damage, and even injury and loss of human life. Keeping in mind that pipeline companies do difficult and dangerous work, in fact, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the number of fatal work injury cases in the oil and gas extraction industries rose to all-time high of 138 in 2012 from 112 in 2011, the question should be how does ETP stack up both in terms of safety and environmental impact. From 2009 to 2012 the industry added 23 percent more workers but in 2012, 138 workers were killed on the job — an increase of more than 100 percent since 2009,” wrote Andrew Schneider and Marilyn Geewax for NPR . “In fact, the fatality rate among oil and gas workers is now nearly eight times higher than the all-industry rate of 3.2 deaths for every 100,000 workers.”

To give a sense of proportion about property damage and workplace injury, according to ProPublica, Iowa had $10.7 million in damages between 2009 and 2012 and 4 injuries due to oil and hazardous material pipeline accidents. The Des Moines Register recent article more damningly stated “damages resulted in nearly $20 million in property damage, spilling a total of 10,712 gross barrels of hazardous liquids onto Iowa property, according to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.”

One of ETP’s subsidiaries Sea Robin Pipeline alone has had over $84 million in damages and 2 injuries in its past. Beyond that, are a series of incidents involving ETP projects that are summarized below:

Many of the incidents involving ETP cited here are at pressurized natural gas or liquid gas facilities, the question is what about crude oil facilities? The best example of what could be of concern does not involve ETP, who are relatively new at moving crude oil. However in Michigan one of ETP’s competitors, a Canadian firm, Enbridge is still dealing with the cleanup of the Kalamazoo River that was caused when it’s crude oil pipeline leaked there in 2010 causing over $809 million in clean up efforts. As Inside Climate News reported, “under orders from the EPA, Enbridge used an even more intrusive method in 2011 to clean up Talmadge Creek, a Kalamazoo tributary that received the brunt of the damage from the ruptured pipeline. The creek was so badly contaminated that Enbridge had to essentially rebuild two miles of it”

The parallels to the project that is planned for Iowa include the acquisition of farmland through eminent domain which as awarded by FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which must approve the projects by granting a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. While the landowner must be compensated for the loss of access to their property, they have no say over where the pipeline is constructed. In an interesting twist, ETP is now in the same area in Michigan and is the process of putting new pipeline through the area where Enbridge is still cleaning up and is seeking FERC’s approval to access the existing right-of-ways.

Whether ETP will prove to be a good partner in Iowa is an unknown. As previously noted, their industry track record is far from stellar. One thing that is a certainty, the risks to the state’s natural resources and well-being of Iowans hang in the balance. Any decision that is made will have repercussions for many years to come. Concerned Iowans should visit the Iowa Public Utility Board who posted on their website:

“Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., has publicly announced a proposal to build a crude oil pipeline across Iowa (Bakken Pipeline), but the regulatory process of requesting a permit from the Iowa Utilities Board, pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 479B, for construction and operation of the proposed line has not begun. The Board will begin receiving statements in support or objections to the project when a case is initiated and an official record is opened with the Board. “ However, informational meetings are required in all counties that will be affected by the pipeline prior to application for a permit. owevwHMore on that process can be found at: .

Rep. Dave Loebsack Wants To Permanently Ban Members Of Congress From Becoming Lobbyists

Working for solutions, not part of the problem, congress needs more representatives like Dave Loebsack.

Iowa Press U.S. Congress Third District Debate

Staci Appel (D-Des Moines) and David Young (R-Van Meter)

Why Senate Republicans Voted For Citizens United Debate

al frankenSince Al Franken was elected in 2008, he has rarely granted interviews to the national media, reflecting his commitment to be taken seriously as a senator who works for his constituents.   In this rare interview with Lawrence O’Donnell last night, he added some needed context to the seemingly inexplicable action of Senate Republicans voting to proceed with debate to consider overturning Citizens United.  The whole segment is well worth watching.  Here’s text of some highlights:

Lawrence:  The senate voted 79-18 to proceed to debate overturning CU.  Sen. Franken, how did you get 79 votes in the Senate?  This is astonishing.

Sen. Franken:

I don’t want to disillusion you, I know you were the staff director of the Finance Committee under Senator Moynihan. Procedural votes are sometimes taken for cycnical reasons. Every time we have tried to reverse Citizens United the Republicans have stopped us. I think this vote was to slow down action in the Senate on other things such as equal pay, student loans, minimum wage… Every time we’ve tried to reverse this horrible decision made on a 5-4 basis to put in undisclosed and unlimited amounts of money into campaigns we’ve been stopped by the Republicans and I would love to think we’re going to pass this but we’re not.

We will have 30 hours to debate and we plan to use that time to make our case.

This is about unlimited undisclosed money. The vast majority of Americans know that this is wrong. Between the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012 we saw outside money triple from 330 million to over a billion dollars and this is undisclosed, most of it. We don’t know who is putting the money in

I’ve been asking Americans to go to and sign the petition for reversing Citizens United. We’ve had over 600 thousand Americans sign up so far.

I don’t think we’re going to get the constitutional amendment through right away. But that’s why public opinion is so important because nothing moves politicians like public opinion.