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February 2015
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O.T. Is Back! And In Rare Form

donald kaulGiuliani Nutball or Sleazeball?

The former New York City mayor may be full of it, but that won’t stop him from weighing in.

By Donald Kaul

I’m trying to make up my mind about Rudy Giuliani: I can’t decide whether he’s a nutball or a sleazeball. For now I’m going with a sleazy nutball, but I’m open to suggestions.

In a series of hysterical attacks on Barack Obama in recent weeks, Giuliani has all but called the president un-American. He’s lashed out at the man he says doesn’t love his country, is soft on terrorism, and plays too much golf.

“I don’t hear from him what I heard from Harry Truman, what I heard from Bill Clinton, what I heard from Jimmy Carter,” Giuliani griped on Fox News, “which is these wonderful words about what a great country we are, what an exceptional country we are.”

He’s full of it, of course.

A quick check by The New York Times revealed multiple examples of Obama declaring his ardor for his country. The most telling was his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, where Obama reflected that “in no other country on earth is my story even possible.”

Not that it will make any difference, of course.

Rudy said it so it must be true. So think the denizens of the Republican Cloud Cuckoo Land presided over by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who has reported that he’s getting texts “praising Rudy to the rooftops.”

This wouldn’t ordinarily be of any great importance. Presidents have often had to deal with partisan loudmouths hurling insults at them. Franklin Roosevelt had Father Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest at a posh parish just north of Detroit.

Coughlin, who had a nationwide radio show, was a virulent anti-Semite. He would weekly tear into FDR for his supposedly pro-Jewish leanings, among other things.

I think the Vatican finally ordered him to shut up. In any case, he went away. Those guys usually do.

Giuliani is a somewhat more dangerous case, because the Republican Party finds itself in rather odd position these days. It’s held hostage by its least educated, most intolerant, and most rabidly partisan cohort.

Thus any Republican vying for the presidency must constantly look over his or her shoulder to make sure they’re not making enemies of supporters who foam at the mouth at the suggestion of compromise.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the leader of this year’s presidential weathervane caucus, is a case in point. Giuliani showed up uninvited to a fat-cat fundraiser for the governor a few days ago and, again uninvited, grabbed the mic to deliver one of his Obama rants, making himself rather than Walker the center of attention.

Asked afterwards what he thought of the remarks, Walker refused to weigh in, demurring that he didn’t know whether Obama loved America.

Walker is also on record refusing to comment on evolution, and his opposition to abortion has become more strident since he started looking at the presidency.

If you’re trying to disguise yourself as a moderate, the last thing you want is a clown like Giuliani stirring up the animals.

The one thing Republican candidates agree on is that the country must be saved from the specter of universal health insurance. Month after month, year after year, Republicans have harped on the disaster of “Obamacare.”

Except that it’s not really a disaster. The Affordable Care Act is working reasonably well despite the Republicans’ best efforts to sabotage it. Allowed to stand and be improved, this landmark health care reform will go down as one of the Obama administration’s great achievements.

So it’s no wonder that Republicans can’t stomach it. Their friends on the Supreme Court are teed up to deliver it a blow that may prove fatal later this year.

Which is really a much bigger worry than the intemperate remarks of a nutty sleazeball like Rudy Giuliani.

OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

President Obama Thanks Activists For Net Neutrality


Blog for Iowa would also like to say congratulations and thank you to all of the internet users in Iowa who contacted the FCC on the issue of net neutrality.  It is because you participated that the free and open internet will now get protection from the ongoing threat of corporate ruin.

From The White House:

More than any other invention of our time, the Internet has unlocked possibilities we could just barely imagine a generation ago. And here’s a big reason we’ve seen such incredible growth and innovation: Most Internet providers have treated Internet traffic equally. That’s a principle known as “net neutrality” — and it says that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and that access to a high school student’s blog shouldn’t be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.

Good things happen when people stand up.

The FCC just voted in favor of a strong net neutrality rule to keep the Internet open and free. That happened because millions of Americans across the country didn’t just care about this issue: You stood up and made your voices heard, whether by adding your names to petitions, submitting public comments, or talking with the people you know about why this matters. Read a special thank-you message from the President, then learn more about how we got to where we are today.

The White House

February 26, 2015

Today’s FCC decision will protect innovation and create a level playing field for the next generation of entrepreneurs–and it wouldn’t have happened without Americans like you.

More than 4 million people wrote in to the FCC, overwhelmingly in support of a free and fair internet. Countless others spoke out on social media, petitioned their government, and stood up for what they believe.

I ran for office because I believed that nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change. That’s the backbone of our democracy–and you’ve proven that this timeless principle is alive and well in our digital age.

So to all the people who participated in this conversation, I have a simple message:

Thank you,

Barack Obama


What Is Wage Theft?

It’s happening in Iowa.

The Unapologetic Populist

Senator Sanders: “I’m prepared to take on the billionaire class.”

Run, Bernie, run.

This Week On The Fallon Forum: Gas Tax, Pipelines, Online Gambling, Billboards

fallon forumDear Friends,

One week from today, I set-out on a 400-mile walk along the proposed path of the Bakken Oil Pipeline – perhaps walking across fields and streams, but more often traversing road and bridges.

Speaking of which . . . “Money to repair road and bridges.” That’s the mantra proponents of increasing the gas tax – and their compliant lackeys in the media – repeat ad nauseum. It’s a sound bite that, no doubt, tests well with focus groups. Sure, who doesn’t want pot holes filled? Sure, who doesn’t want bridges that won’t collapse?

But come on. A lot of this money will be spent widening existing highways and building new ones. The road lobby is the most powerful political force in the state. Given all the jobs associated with the industry and the huge amount of money contributed to political campaigns, the road lobby usually gets what it wants.

But what’s really in the best interest of Iowa, both now and in the future? Yes, of course we need enough money to “repair roads and bridges.” But as the imperative to reduce fossil fuel consumption becomes more urgent, we’ll need to move away from the present monolithic transportation infrastructure to one offering greater diversity and a smaller environmental footprint.

We’ll talk about this on today’s Fallon Forum. Also, Dave Simon with Animal Protection and Rescue League discusses the controversial “Go Vegan” billboards.

We talk with Peter Thorne about the public health impacts of climate change. Peter heads the Department of Occupational & Environmental Health at UI’s Environmental Health Sciences Research Center.

Also, sports betting legal in Iowa? Online gambling legal in Iowa? There’s a bill in the Iowa Legislature to open the door to both. Rep. Dan Kelley talks with us and explains why he wants to stop the “fantasy sports” bill.

Tune-in Monday, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CST on KDLF 1260 AM or online. Join the conversation by calling (515) 528-8122. You also can hear the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Thanks!

Progress Iowa Announces The Academy Awards of Extreme Iowa


And the Oscars go to…Branstad, Ernst, Upmeyer, Blum and King *Updated Source Citations Below*

Des Moines, Iowa — Tonight, stars and celebrities will honor the best in movies over the past year. Today, Progress Iowa announced the winners of the 2015 Academy Awards of Extreme Iowa, in order to recognize and hold accountable Iowa’s most extreme politicians.

“These politicians represent the far right in Iowa, and have earned the dubious distinction of the 2015 Academy Awards of Extreme Iowa,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “Unfortunately there were a number of potential award winners, but from underfunding Iowa schools to embarrassing our state on a national stage, these five are by far the most deserving.”

This year’s Academy Awards of Extreme Iowa are presented to…

Terry Branstad, in The Clarinda Shutdown: for worst denial of public input

After proposing to close mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant without legislative input, Governor Terry Branstad received a strong rebuke from Republican Representative Dave Heaton: “I think the governor is violating the budgetary process,” Heaton says. “He’s making a unilateral decision without input from the legislature…He’s saying: ‘I just want to close ‘em.’ And that’s not right.” [Source: Radio Iowa]

Linda Upmeyer in The K-12 Disaster: for worst performance on behalf of Iowa Schools

Iowa House Republicans, led by Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, are sticking with their inadequate proposal to fund Iowa schools at a 1.25% increase, which will lead to Iowa being ranked 40th in the country in per-student spending. [Source: Cedar Rapids Gazette  ]

Joni Ernst, in SOTU Response: for worst performance on a national stage

During her response to the State of the Union, newly elected Senator Joni Ernst embarrassed herself and Iowans on the national stage. Ernst refused to offer a single new policy idea, and instead spent her time spinning yarns and telling stories that earned her ridicule from local and national media. [Sources: Cedar Rapids Gazette, The New Yorker, Salon]

Steve King, lifetime achievement: for most shameful congressman in Iowa history

Congressman Steve King has consistently embarrassed Iowans during his time in office. From comparing immigrants to dogs, calling immigrants drug smugglers, and saying he doesn’t expect to meet gay people in heaven, King has a long track record of shameful statements that do not truly represent Iowa values. [Sources: Politico, ThinkProgress]

Rod Blum, in Strange Bedfellows: for best support of an extreme agenda

After winning election and campaigning as a moderate, Congressman Rod Blum cast his first vote in support of Steve King’s choice for Speaker of the House. [Source: The Des Moines Register] Blum appears to be following in lock step with King’s extreme agenda during his first months in office.

Students Deliver 7,000+ Signatures To Governor Branstad

On February 18th, 2015, nursing students from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, escorted by State Senator Rich Taylor, delivered a petition with over 7,000 signatures to Governor Terry Branstad’s office, asking the Governor not to close the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute.

Democrats Must Campaign On Progressive Values


Taking control of the Senate and increasing their majority in the House, Republicans swept the election, largely by tying Democrats to negative messaging around President Obama. Accepting the GOP message framework, Senate Democratic candidates like Alison Lundergan-Grimes, Mark Pryor, and Mark Udall took the bait. The Democratic Party failed to offer compelling economic alternatives — in many cases running as pseudo-conservatives — and suffered a drubbing as a result.

But there were progressive victories, in ballot initiatives for raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, and mandating paid sick leave, and in races where Democrats were not afraid to stand on populist principles. Chief among them were Senators Al Franken, Jeff Merkley, and Gary Peters, whose races had all been considered up-for-grabs and were won with double-digit margins. Franken defended healthcare and banking reforms; Merkley spoke of the “commonsense battle between the 1% and the 99%;” and Peters supported capping student loan interest rates and expanding the social safety net.

In Philadelphia at the Progressive Congress, the annual summit of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, The Undercurrent spoke with Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI 2) about the path forward for the Democratic Party in the wake of its historic losses last year, and the CPC’s role in spurring a turn-around.


Republicans Attempt To Beat Back Net Neutrality Rules

Democracy for AmericaAction Alert from

“Net Neutrality Opponents Go To War.”

That was the headline of Huffington Post’s Net Neutrality article on Thursday — and it hits the nail on the head. Corporate internet providers and their allies in Congress are using every scare tactic they can think of to stop the FCC from reclassifying broadband.

Just look at the crazy lies the telecom industry’s most reliable friends in Congress are telling:

  • Sen. John Thune, Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, called reclassification “a power grab for the federal government.
  • Sen Rand Paul sent a scare letter to his supporters warning that “President Obama and the FCC are going to take over the internet.”
  • Sen. Ted Cruz is calling the reclassification of broadband “a pernicious threat.”

This loud, frenzied rush to make Net Neutrality sound scary is no accident. Right now, pro-corporate Republicans in the House and the Senate are launching phony investigations of the FCC and the White House designed to make the FCC nervous . They want to drive up support for industry-backed legislation that would create huge loopholes in Net Neutrality protections.

The FCC will vote on whether or not to reclassify broadband on Thursday, February 26. We need to send a loud and clear message to Congress that they need to stop trying to scare the FCC out of doing the right thing.

Time is running out. Please read what our founder, Gov. Howard Dean, said below and then sign his DFA petition telling Congress not to mess with the FCC on Net Neutrality.

Thanks for fighting back. We’re not going to let AT&T and Verizon win this time.

– Karli

Karli Wallace Thompson, Campaign Manager
Democracy for America

And now a word from Howard Dean..

Last week was a great week for those of us who care about Net Neutrality. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that he will ask the FCC to reclassify broadband as a utility — just like tens of thousands of Democracy for America members, including me, asked him to do.

This is a huge step in the fight for a permanently free and open internet — the kind of internet that allowed us to build Democracy for America together and will empower future generations to take online organizing to the next level.

But our fight to secure real Net Neutrality isn’t finished yet.

Some members of Congress are already pushing for telecom-friendly legislation that would strip the FCC of the power to reclassify broadband. They’re pitching it as a potential “bi-partisan compromise” on Net Neutrality — even though the FCC already has all the power it needs to protect the internet.

And just a few days ago, a few corporate-friendly House Republicans launched an investigation to determine if the White House had “improper influence” over the FCC’s proposal — a clear attempt to make this a partisan issue and intimidate the FCC.

We’re closer than we’ve ever been to winning a truly free and open internet for the long term. We can’t let the shenanigans of a few members of Congress and their corporate friends jeopardize this potential victory at the last minute.

Tell Congress: We don’t need investigations, and we don’t need new legislation. We need you to step back and let the FCC protect Net Neutrality.

Telecom companies like Verizon were never going to take regulation like this sitting down. They’re already threatening to attack reclassification in court if the FCC approves it.

Over the coming weeks, lobbyists from the big corporate internet providers are going to do everything they can to scare Congress into supporting legislation that would tie the FCC’s hands and leave open loopholes that would allow them to create slow lanes and fast lanes on the internet.

Your representatives are hearing from Verizon and AT&T right now. Let’s make sure they’re also hearing from voters like us who care about the internet. Sign my petition telling Congress not to meddle with the FCC on Net Neutrality now.

Thank you for helping save the internet.

– Howard

Gov. Howard Dean, Founder
Democracy for America

This Week On The Fallon Forum


Dear Friends,

Before I tell you why Joe Biden should run for President, here’s an event all pipeline fighters need to know about: The Midwest Tar Sands/Bakken Petroleum Summit. With pipelines threatening to sprout-up like weeds, Midwest organizers are working to build broader regional opposition. Next Saturday in Madison, WI, Jane Kleeb (NE), Winona LaDuke (MN), Beth Wallis (MI) and I share our perspectives on the issue. For the complete agenda, click here. Contact (608) 274-2845 or if you’d like to register.

So, when is a sitting two-term Vice President considered a long shot for the presidency? When his name’s Joe Biden, it seems.

Historically, both Republican and Democratic VPs are almost always regarded as the favored candidate when the office of President becomes available. In fact, the surest way to become President is to first serve as Vice President. Yet the press regularly refers to Biden as a long shot, and a recent poll found him landing only 9% of the Iowa Democratic Caucus vote.

Regardless of what you think of Biden’s stands on issues, the guy is articulate as the day is long. He has political and policy experience like no other presidential prospect – Democrat or Republican. He’s never been plagued by either financial or “relational” scandals. He works hard. And he’s a darn good pool player.

So what gives? I really don’t know the answer to this one, so help me out by sending your response to: or (Comment on the post at the top of the feed.)

I’ll share some of your responses on the Fallon Forum today at 11:00. And whether or not you’d support Joe Biden for President, as the sitting VP, he oughta run, right? He oughta at least give it a shot, don’t ya think?

You think I’m done spouting controversial drivel? Not even close! On today’s Fallon Forum, State Rep. Dan Kelley joins me to discuss sports betting. Five bucks says Dan’s against it. But is the clout and political acumen of the Rep. from Iowa’s Windy City (a.k.a., Newton) enough to defeat sports betting legislation making its way through the Statehouse with the backing of a hungry gambling lobby?

And no, I’m still not done. Vaccinations. If I had a needle stuck in my arm for every time someone told me this past week that, “Those anti-vaccine people just need to buck-up and have their kids vaccinated,” I’d look like an acupuncture client on life support. We’ll talk about this sticky issue, with opinions on both sides, on today’s Fallon Forum.

Now you know the answer to the question, “What do Joe Biden, sports betting and vaccines have in common?” Answer: They’ll all be discussed on today’s Fallon Forum.

Tune-in Monday, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CST on KDLF 1260 AM or online. Join the conversation by calling (515) 528-8122. You also can hear the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Thanks!