The Iowa Democratic Party’s general election efforts are in full-swing, and I would like to thank all of our hardworking organizers and volunteers who are going to make a real difference in November.
We are wrapping up our first weekend of action and opened up eight new offices throughout the state. We’re making phone calls and knocking on doors to make sure we elect Democrats from the Courthouse to the White House. Activists are energized, excited and ready to turn out the vote.
Every vote will matter in November, and we will need a strong voter turnout. Please make sure all of your friends and family are registered to vote at their current voting address. Check here to make sure your current voting address and information is up to date.
Here in Iowa, we want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to vote which is why we have a vote by mail option. Anyone can vote by mail. It is easy, convenient and as simple as filling out this form.
Our United States Senate race is heating up, and polls are showing that Senator Grassley is in “the race of his life.” We are now in the 116th day of Grassley’s obstruction of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. As a recent letter to the editor pointed out, Grassley’s refusal to hold a hearing sets a “dangerous precedent” for defining of Presidential duties during a second term. Sen. Grassley and Sen. McConnell are attempting to define midterm elections as the kick-off for a lame duck presidency. Unfortunately for Grassley, Iowans aren’t buying it, and they are furious with his partisan tactics and his refusal to do his job.
For the first time since the 1980s, Grassley is polling under 50%, and a recent Loras poll has former Lieutenant Governor, Patty Judge, in a tight race and well within striking distance of Iowa’s five-term Senator. Let’s make 2016 the year that we don’t send Chuck Grassley back to Washington, D.C. Let’s elect a Democrat who will listen to her constituents and not Washington insiders or special interests.
Leave a comment for Sen, Grassley, and tell him you are tired of his irresponsible political posturing, www. haschuckgrassleydonehisjob.com !
We are now 121 days away from General Election, and Iowans are showing absolutely no signs of letting Grassley slide on his obstruction of the Supreme Court. The Iowa Democratic Party launched a new website tracking every second of Grassley’s Supreme Court obstruction. We encourage you to leave comments, and here’s what we’ve heard so far:
“I am so disgusted with your lack of doing your job. Hope that you lose your job.” Woodbury County
“ The time for partisan obstructionism has passed. The work of the nation needs to resume.” Scott County
“You work the people, not the Republican Party. I find what you are doing irresponsible. At one time I voted for you. That will never happen again” Polk County
We’re waiting to hear from YOU on why Sen. Grassley needs to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland!
TWEET OF THE WEEK
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From the IDP
But I also recognize that the holiday is not pure delight for everyone. It is in fact a nightmare for many. Veterans with PTSD can suffer, as random booms often re-activate memories of combat trauma. Even non-veterans can find it hard to endure the intrusiveness of the sounds of explosions as nearby as next door. Many dog owners are stressed and dread the holiday because some dogs shake with fear, hide in bathtubs, or under beds for the duration. More dogs go missing on July 4th than any other time of year. One person I know spent the weekend in a motel to get away from the noise. Many people I talked to suffered through the weekend and spoke of the fireworks getting more out of control every year.
Because it is just one weekend a year, it is more or less tolerable. But what if we had fireworks stores on every corner, resulting in random pops and booms in our neighborhoods any time of day or night, any day of the week, all year round? What about losing the ability to count on peace and quiet in our own homes? Some like to pass this off as a minor issue, but quality of life would be negatively affected in addition to the safety issues involved.
If the Iowa legislature legalizes fireworks, we will not simply be able to un-do the law later. Mom and Pop stores would spring up in every town across the state and soon there would be people whose livelihoods depend on selling these useless, dangerous explosives of no value to anyone. If we need to establish a new economic industry, couldn’t it be something of actual value that contributes to the common good, instead of an obnoxious activity that is (coincidentally) compatible with excessive alcohol consumption?
One link in the DMReg. story below is to an article in which a person said they buy the explosives basically to terrify birds. Let’s not invite more ugliness to the state of Iowa. If you really, really need to have personal explosive devices, make the trip to Missouri. It’s probably a fun tradition. Or have a friend bring some back for you. Have fun on the 4th of July. But let’s save the fireworks for once a year.
The point is, we need to make sure we elect Democrats to the Iowa legislature this fall or Iowa could soon become an intolerable place to live. We narrowly avoided this potential nightmare last session. The Republicans will certainly introduce a bill again this session.
The DMReg. article claims 60% of Iowans approve of legalizing fireworks, but I would argue that most of those surveyed probably haven’t really thought through what life would be like with explosives potentially going off in their neighborhoods 24-7-365. And I suspect that if they were asked, “Are you good with Iowa’s fireworks laws as they now stand?” 60% would probably shrug and say “sure.” As of now, if your neighbors get really reckless with the explosives, there is recourse. If they become legal, you’ll just have to cope.
So vote for Democrats this fall, but if fireworks legalization comes up this session, if we still have Republican rule in the legislature, it will be imperative that we all contact our senators and reps. They will be under a lot of pressure to vote yes because that is who they are hearing from. The quality of life in Iowa, which is rapidly diminishing due to poor water quality and other Republican initiated consequences, is in danger of taking another sharp turn for worse.
Here’s an excerpt from an article in the Des Moines Register:
The Iowa Senate appeared on the verge of approving a fireworks legalization proposal late in this year’s session, but it was declared dead after two Democrats abruptly switched their votes before a key committee meeting. Further debate appears likely when lawmakers return to the Iowa Capitol in January.
State Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said he is convinced that if the Iowa House and Senate have a floor vote on a bill to legalize fireworks, it will be approved and sent to Gov. Terry Branstad for his signature.
“If I am there in the Senate in January, you can bet your bottom dollar” that another fireworks bill will be proposed, Chapman said.
“..legalizing the product in Iowa would increase injuries and deaths in fireworks accidents, including situations that involve innocent bystanders. Nationally, about 10,500 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks in 2014, federal statistics show. In addition, some veterans’ advocates have cited growing concerns that legalizing fireworks would be a hardship for Iowa combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.”
The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) is about to decide the fate of the Bakken Pipeline. The ACE has to sign off on 65 water crossings in the state of Iowa, including the Des Moines River, which supplies drinking water to over half a million Iowans.
Iowans should have a voice in this process! That’s why we’ve invited ACE personnel to come to central Iowa, see the people and places that would be gravely impacted by the pipeline, and have a meeting with tribal groups, farmers, and citizens concerned about this hazardous project.
Here’s what we need you to do:
– Call Mike Hayes, a staffer at the Army Corps, at (309)-794-5367
– Tell him that we want to meet with him, Colonel Baumgartner, and other personnel involved in permitting for the pipeline in central Iowa
– Tell him to call Josh Kublie at (515)-282-0484 to schedule the meeting
– Email me at JoshK@iowacci.org to let me know how the call went
As long as we need clean water and a habitable planet, we are all stakeholders in this process, and we have the right to make our voices heard.
Stay tuned for next steps!
“Why do we buy bottled water when it is free from the tap? Scaring us, seducing us, misleading us – strategies that are all core parts of manufacturing demand. What we should be demanding is clean, safe water for all.”
The Brennan Center for Justice published a report on the impact of “dark money” and “gray money on democracy. They say “gray money” is a new phenomenon they have identified which has surged in state and local elections. Click on the link below to download the report.
Dark money spending — together with a new phenomenon we’ve identified as “gray money” — have surged in state and local elections. This report, the most comprehensive empirical look yet at the impact of secret spending beyond the federal level, finds that fully transparent spending has declined from 76 percent in 2006 to just 29 percent in 2014 in six states where data was available.
But it is at the state and local levels that secret spending is arguably at its most damaging. For a clear understanding of the degree to which dark money is warping American democracy, state ballot referenda and local school board contests may be a better starting point than the presidential campaign or even congressional races…”
State super PACs, which are legally required to disclose their donors and thus hold themselves out to be transparent, increasingly reported donations from nonprofit groups that are not, themselves, required to disclose their donors. Donations from dark groups to super PACs increased by 49 times in these states between 2006 and 2014, from less than $190,000 to over $9.2 million.
Measuring dark money alone understates the extent of the transparency problem. We found a sharp rise in what we term “gray money”: spending by state super PACs that reported other PACs as donors, making it impossible to identify original donors without sifting through multiple layers of PAC disclosures.
Dark money at the state and local levels frequently flows from special interests with a direct and immediate economic stake in the outcome of the contest in which they are spending, in contrast to what is often portrayed as the more broadly ideological outside spending at the federal level. When uncovered, secret money at this level has traced back to such sources as a mining company targeting a state legislator who held a key role opposing quicker mining permits, payday lenders supporting an attorney general who promised to shield them from regulation, and food companies battling a ballot measure to add labeling requirements.
Lower costs make it relatively easy for dark money to dominate state and local elections. For many of the contests we looked at, dark money groups outspent candidates themselves with amounts in the low $100,000’s or even $10,000’s — a modest business expense for special interests, but a major hurdle for many candidates and community groups. At the federal level that degree of dominance can easily cost in the $10 millions.
Strong disclosure laws and enforcement can make a real difference. California, which saw many times more outside spending than any of the other states we examined, nevertheless saw a remarkably low amount of dark money in each cycle. It seems that the state’s exceptionally tough disclosure requirements and active enforcement culture have helped to keep secretive spending at a relative minimum.
There are several reasons to be particularly concerned about the corrosive effects of dark and gray money at the state and local levels. First, regulatory power at these levels is more concentrated, and more often subject to direct election, than at the federal level. From attorney general to comptroller to water district director, numerous state and local elected offices are capable of directly impacting special interests’ bottom lines. Also distinct from the federal level, voters in every state and innumerable counties and towns face ballot measures where they directly decide policy questions — education spending, collective bargaining, taxes — often with major financial consequences for a relatively small but economically powerful constituency.
Second, these are often low-information elections, where it may not take much advertising to sway voters. This is particularly true in nonpartisan contests, such as ballot measure elections and many local races, where voters do not have party affiliations as a signal. In such cases, special interest spenders can hope to have a greater influence on voters than in high-profile elections featuring many voices.
Finally, lower costs make it relatively easy for dark and gray money to flood state and local elections with unaccountable messages. Entities with deceptively community-minded names — Californians for Good Schools and Good Jobs, shielding a Texas oil company; Proper Role of Government Education Association, shielding payday lenders — can invest relatively modest amounts but still saturate the airwaves and mailboxes.
How can this problem be fixed? One way would be to persuade the Supreme Court to overturn misguided decisions such as Citizens United, which empowered donors to funnel unlimited amounts of spending through opaque entities such as social welfare nonprofits and shell companies. Short of that, this report offers a set of practical reforms to improve electoral transparency while protecting truly vulnerable speakers. Though reform at the federal level has stagnated because of inaction at the Federal Election Commission, Internal Revenue Service, and Congress, a number of states and cities have been more eager and able to respond to recent onslaughts of dark money.
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that
seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice. We work to hold our political institutions and laws accountable to the twin American ideals of democracy and equal justice for all. The Center’s work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from ending mass incarceration to preserving Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism. Part think tank, part advocacy group, part cutting-edge communications hub, we start with rigorous research. We craft innovative policies. And we fight for them — in Congress and the states, the courts, and in the court of public opinion.
Action alert from Howard Dean:
When I was the chair of the Democratic Party, my team made what a lot of people said was a controversial choice. We invested in putting staff on the ground in every state in the country — building infrastructure, collecting data, recruiting volunteers. Some thought that was a waste of resources.
But two years later, we won control of the House and the Senate. Two years after that, in 2008, we elected Barack Obama and built our biggest majorities in Congress in a generation.
Now Hillary Clinton is doing the same thing in 2016, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
Right now, this campaign — of which you are part — is hiring staff in all 50 states, red, blue, or purple. This team is making a choice that this election is not just about a narrow path to 270 electoral votes. It’s about informing, organizing, and mobilizing Americans across the country to get to the polls and vote — to build a coalition for governing in 2017 and to elect the Democratic lawmakers who will form our next generation of leadership.
But (and let’s be very honest about this) a 50-state strategy does not come cheap. In order to build the strongest, most robust nationwide effort, Hillary’s counting on supporters like you and me.
by Jim Naurecka
Shortly before the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote, the shocking murder of Jo Cox — a member of parliament and a vocal Remain supporter — exposed the racist roots of elements in the victorious Leave campaign.
That much you may have heard.
What you might not have heard about were the suspect’s ties to a neo-Nazi organization based here in the United States. Accused shooter Thomas Mair, The Washington Post reported, “was a longtime supporter of the National Alliance, a once-prominent white supremacist group.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Post explained, “Mair bought a manual from the organization that included instructions on how to build a pistol.” Cox, it adds, “was shot by a weapon that witnesses described as either homemade or antique.”
While head of the National Alliance, William Pierce published The Turner Diaries, a novel that gleefully imagines a guerrilla race war and the mass murder of Jews, gays, and interracial couples. A chapter that depicts the bombing of an FBI building helped inspire Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people.
When he was arrested, McVeigh had photocopied pages of the novel with him in his car. And phone records revealed that McVeigh had called a National Alliance number seven times the day before the bombing.
In the days after, feverish speculation abounded that the attack might’ve been the work of international Islamic terrorists. Yet once it became clear that domestic right-wing extremists were responsible, journalists seemed to lose interest. Few spent any time examining the National Alliance connection.
This lack of curiosity about the influence of the violent far right is a long tradition in U.S. corporate media.
Jim Naureckas is the editor of FAIR.org, where an earlier version of this op-ed appeared.
Led by farmers, landowners, tribal communities, environmentalists and a dedicated legal team, we have so far prevented billionaire Kelcy Warren and Energy Transfer Partners from tearing through the heart of the best farmland in the world to build a pipeline that threatens to cause so much harm.
In a couple days, Bold Iowa and its allies will announce a powerful action after Independence Day — one we hope will ignite a prairiefire to inspire new allies in the battle to stop the Bakken Pipeline.
For now, there is one thing I ask you to do: Sign the PLEDGE OF RESISTANCE and grow our ranks to one-thousand strong by Independence Day.
Sign the Pledge if you ever said, “I wish I could’ve stood with Martin Luther King, Jr. and other freedom fighters who went to jail during the civil rights struggle.”
Sign the Pledge if you ever thought, “If I’d been around 100 years ago, what an honor it would have been to be arrested with the brave women fighting for the right to vote.”
Sign the Pledge if you would have stood with these Nebraska ranchers arrested for opposing the Keystone Pipeline.
All across America, the linked battles of climate action and the abuse of eminent domain are at the point where civil disobedience is needed.
If you haven’t already signed the Pledge of Resistance, please take a few minutes to read it over and consider in your heart if you want to look back at this epic moment in history and realize that you could have but didn’t stand with those of us risking arrest in this cause.
If you have signed the Pledge of Resistance, please take a few minutes to personally invite friends, family and others to sign as well.
Below is the press release we sent out this morning, with the exciting news that CREDO Action has signed on as a partner with Bold Iowa and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. CREDO’s network has more than doubled the number of Pledge signers. Help us push the number to over 1,000 by Independence Day.
Over 800 Sign Direct-Action Pledge Against Pipeline
CREDO Action joins mobilization for to stop Bakken pipeline
Des Moines, IA – An online Pledge of Resistance against the Bakken Pipeline that saw 430 people sign-up during the first two weeks has swelled to over 800 since last Wednesday, when CREDO Action joined the effort.
Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon sees the Bakken Pipeline as, “an assault on our land, water, liberty, property rights and planet.”
The Pledge reads, “I pledge, if necessary, to join others somewhere along the route of the Bakken Pipeline to engage in acts of dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could result in my arrest in order to send the message to stop construction of the pipeline.”
Signers are given two options:
1. Come to one or more designated locations and risk arrest to physically stop pipeline construction, or
2. Join with others who are supporting those risking arrest by volunteering or donating to assist with these actions, and amplifying their message by sharing them with your own personal networks.”
Of the over 800 signers, 225 have indicated they are willing to risk arrest, “if work begins in earnest on the Bakken Pipeline across Iowa.”
“CREDO Action has a vast network,” said Fallon. “With their help and the help of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, we’re preparing to mobilize one of the largest-ever campaigns of non-violent civil disobedience in Iowa, should Dakota Access begin construction of this pipeline.”
“Time and again, we’ve seen the power of ordinary people stepping up to take extraordinary action,” said Elijah Zarlin, Director of Climate Campaigns at CREDO. “Committed grassroots activists are winning big victories against fossil fuel bullies around the country, and we’re proud that CREDO activists are mobilizing to protect the Heartland from the dangerous Bakken pipeline.”
Bold Iowa is part of the national Bold Alliance, now in five states and building unlikely alliances to fight fossil-fuel infrastructure expansion projects and promote renewable energy. Visit www.boldnebraska.org/tag/bold-alliance.
CREDO Action, part of CREDO Mobile, is a social change network of 4 million activists, sending millions of petition signatures and more than 100,000 phone calls to decision-makers each year. CREDO Action members also participate in meetings, protests and other direct action for progressive change.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a statewide, grassroots people’s-action group that uses community organizing to win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics and polluters. CCI has fought to put people first for 40 years. Visit www.iowacci.org.
Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, listen live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)
Who is a progressive? Who is a “real” progressive? Who will continue a progressive legacy after the 2016 election?
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated what it means to be a progressive at the beginning of the 2016 Democratic presidential nominating process, with both claiming progressive bona fides.
Here’s what I say. You are not a progressive unless you have read Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Fairfield, Iowa’s own Ari Berman.
In this extensively researched, easy to read text, Berman reminds many of us of the reason we became politically active: as a way of engaging in progress toward racial and social justice centered around the Voting Rights Act (VRA) signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Aug. 6, 1965.
There has been a concerted, well-planned effort to suppress provisions of the VRA. The June 25, 2013 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Section 4, which required certain states to get preclearance of changes to voting laws from the Department of Justice, was only the most obvious, recent incident. Berman’s account of the Nixon and Reagan administrations provides insight that de-fanging the law was part of Republican intent from the beginning. My reaction was incredulity at everything that was happening before my eyes without me understanding it.
Berman interviewed Rep. John Lewis extensively for the book (along with many others) and it shows. Lewis wrote in the Washington Post, “(Give Us The Ballot) should become a primer for every American, but especially for congressional lawmakers and staffers, because it so capably describes the intricate interplay between grass-roots activism and the halls of Congress . . . Congress must fix the Voting Rights Act, and Berman’s book explains why, without passion or favoritism. It is the first history of the contemporary voting rights movement in the United States. It is long overdue, but Berman’s extensive reporting makes it well worth the wait.”
It’s hard to disagree.
Be a progressive. Read Give Us the Ballot this summer.
–Paul Deaton is Solon, Iowa’s own.
While we’re on the topic of progressives and what to read, check out these selections from The Prairie Progressive’s Summer Reading List.
by John Sanford
Lucas Davenport is on the campaign trail during the caucus season, not as a candidate but as a private detective monitoring some unusual rumors and suspicious activities in the precincts of Iowa. Politics as usual, or something more sinister?
Alive: New and Selected Poems
by Elizabeth Willis
One of Iowa City’s finest poets writes deceptively simple, polished meditations that earned her selection as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for 2016. “The poet is a trespasser.”
The Story of My Teeth
by Valeria Luiselli
Possibly the greatest dental novel ever, in the surreal but earthy tradition of Cervantes and Marquez. Prairie Dog predicts that Luiselli, born in Mexico and raised in South Africa, will someday win a Nobel.
Quixote by Ilan Stavans
Speaking of Cervantes, his epic Don Quixote is now 400 years old, and nearly that many years ahead of its time. Stavans crafts an air-tight case for the saga of Quixote and Sancho Panza as the best, not just the first, novel of all time.
Shakespeare’s Money: How Much Did He Make and What Did This Mean?
By Robert Bearman
Another 400-year anniversary rolls around (watch for an exhibit of the First Folio at the University of Iowa this fall). Shakespeare, according to Bearman, was just another hack trying to support his family, although he did turn a nice phrase occasionally.
Nothing Ever Dies
by Vietnam Thanh Nguyen
Nguyen examines the Forever War through the prism of popular movies, literature, and art, while reflecting on memory and its distortions. How do we remember wars? How should we remember them?
We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War
by Doug Bradley and Craig Werner
Hendrix, Aretha, Dylan, Creedence, Merle Haggard – all were as popular on the Vietnam battlefront as on the American home front. Soldiers sometimes gleaned different meanings from the same songs, but the music helped them tolerate combat, and often brought together urban and rural, black and white, and even pro-and anti-war troops.
West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776
by Claudio Sant
Sure, a lot was happening on the east coast, but what about the rest of the continent? Russia and Spain were running wild along the coast of California, Lakota Sioux roamed the Black Hills, France and England were attempting to divide and rule the land on either side of the Mississippi, and beavers were performing ecological engineering miracles throughout North America. Sant’s fascinating depiction of a world in spectacular upheaval brings together market forces, climate change, and struggles for freedom – a world much like today’s.
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart
Three sisters become armed Sheriff’s deputies in rural New Jersey a century ago. No profanity, no violence, barely any crime – the ideal historical novel for sensitive mystery lovers.
by Chelsea Cain
Girl waits with gun, chainsaw, and bondage cuffs. Iowa native Cain delivers another not-for-the-fainthearted thriller.
The Fire Next Time
by James Baldwin
52 years later, the writing is as powerful as ever, and the insights into America’s racial divide are, unfortunately, as timely as ever. “Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.”
The Soul of an Octopus
by Sy Montgomery
These cuddly creatures always make the lists of Smartest Animals, but few writers have love affairs with them. This one does, although she insists it’s platonic. Readers will no longer find calamari appealing on the menu.
This Too Shall Pass
by Milena Busquets
A story of sex and death on the Spanish coast. Not too deep, not too light – the perfect beach book for a steamy Iowa summer.
Amusing Ourselves to Death
by Neil Postman
Thirty years ago, as public discourse in America increasingly began to resemble show business, Postman predicted the rise of politicians who would entertain and control the masses through mastery of new communication technologies. He credits earlier thinkers Marshall McLuhan, for perceiving that mediums determine messages, and Aldous Huxley, who predicted that people would “adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.” Substitute Twitter for television, and you’ll find this book uncannily prescient and useful in understanding the undermining of our democracy.
–Prairie Dog, with thanks to Paul “Prairie Mouse” Ingram
The Prairie Progressive is Iowa’s oldest progressive newsletter, available only in hard copy for $12/yr.!! Send check to PP, Box 1945, Iowa City 52244.