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Where To Turn For Real News

corporate media made this happen

With the coming of an administration hell bent on controlling news and especially analysis of said administration’s doings we need to make sure that we become informed and stay informed on a daily basis.

As noted in a blogforiowa posting last week Iowa does not have much of a spread across the spectrum of thought when it comes to radio. As noted in the article by Trish Nelson:

“This massive amount of false information being pumped into our communities, solely for profit, divides us and makes democracy unsustainable. Climate change, health care, social justice issues, and the economy cannot be even talked about when citizens hold two opposite versions of reality. The unions going away and the onslaught of right-wing radio are two things that have done devastating harm to our political discourse.

Unless we take time to more fully understand the enormity of the loss for rural Iowans caused by the destruction of unions, coupled with the daily tsunami of right-wing radio delivering a fictional version of reality, we are not going to be able to re-connect with rural voters in Iowa or throughout America.”

We are headed into 2017 and the beginning of the most radical administration ever elected. Unless the public is well informed, the next administration is well poised to get away with theft of our wages, our retirements, our health care, our schools and nearly everything else that isn’t nailed down. Just looking at the cabinet it is easy to see that it is loaded with a group of vulture billionaires ready to swoop down at the very first sign of weakness. We better be ready.

That is on the national level. At the state level we have a legislature well versed in ALEC’s methods of handing our state treasuries, our schools and the retirements of state employees over to the likes of the Koch brothers and their minions.

Many of us are getting tired. We are either getting older or we are working two or possibly even more jobs and trying to survive on many hours less sleep a night than a human really needs. We work multiple jobs because government policies have created inequities where those who do the work get little for it and the investors get a large chunk of the rewards for the work of others.

We have spent nearly 20 years fighting the policies that Republicans are poised to impose on this country. While the vast majority of America voted against Trump (46% for, 54% against and he lost to Clinton by 3 million votes) the country is about to make an almost 180 degree turn backwards.

Every American that voted against Trump should be outraged right now, but obviously they are not. Don’t you wonder why? Perhaps one of the main reasons is that the corporate media, including NPR, is doing such a good job of covering for what many mainstream politicos and the average guy on the street believes will be a wholesale looting of the poor and middle class.

Radio, TV, newspapers and magazines pretend that nothing unusual is happening. Guess who owns 90+% of those media? Well, you can safely guess it ain’t us. Nor do we own the internet, but so far neither do the corporations that own the other media. When it comes to the one media that has been on top of letting the state, country and world know what Republicans have in store for us, it has been the internet.

If you are looking for good sources of reality based news, the internet is right now, hands down, the best source. A few of the sources I use on at least a weekly basis include dailykos, democraticunderground, talkingpointsmemo. That is a good start for national news.

At the state level, I usually check the Iowa Daily Democrat and bleeding heartland. Both of these are excellent for behind the scenes looks at politics in the state. Radio Iowa News gives good synopsis stories on what is happening in the state.

In our attempt to find programming based in reality we purchased an internet radio. Having breakfast while listening to the likes of Tucker Carlson on something that identified itself as NPR but was nothing like the NPR I grew up with was getting impossible. Stories missing the main point, stories about irrelevant stuff while really important stories were ignored and flat out untruths repeated from campaigns without comment. Enough is enough.

So we have spent many a morning searching for radio that is not kowtowing to the powers that be. We have set KTNF out of Minneapolis on one button, a CBC station from Winnipeg on another, a private Canadian station from Toronto on another. This morning we stumbled across a Pacifica radio station from Houston that warned of “the coming Trumpification of America” within a few seconds after we turned it on.

This weekend we need to set KHOI, community radio for Story county, on a button. Can’t forget KICI, real community radio for Iowa City when they get on the air.

Until the Republicans end internet neutrality, and I suspect they will do so soon, we intend to get some great, great mileage out of our new toy.

More Republicans In Legislature Could Mean Guns In Iowa’s Schools

Peace on earth, good will toward men and women and children! Christmas is at root a hopeful time for all, whatever a person’s religious preference may be.

Help Iowans for Gun Safety work toward the goals of peace on earth and good will toward all with a generous contribution!

Iowans for Gun Safety is uniquely focused on legislation in Iowa and is ready to work with coalitions in communities across the state to reduce violence. Iowans for Gun Safety is working with local groups in Clinton, Decorah, Dubuque, and Des Moines, and seeking to develop partnerships with groups in Waterloo and Davenport. We have and can identify and contact supporters in all of Iowa’s 50 state senatorial districts.

Iowans for Gun Safety expects to see legislation in Iowa allowing the carrying of guns in schools, permitless carry, reciprocity with states that have very weak laws regarding pemits, and in general, legislation moving toward the goal of allowing anyone to carry guns anywhere, [italics BFIA’s] legislation which has passed in other states, most recently in Ohio. To combat this, Iowans for Gun Safety needs your financial help as well as your willingness to contact your state senators and representatives to express your support for strong laws regulating traffic in guns.

Iowans for Gun Safety is already planning for the 2017 Concert Across America, scheduled nationally for Sunday, September 24. The board members in Cedar Rapids are planning a matinee format (2-4:30 pm) with a few musical or performing persons or groups and local speakers who are concerned about gun violence and gun safety. Iowans for Gun Safety encourages our supporters across the state to begin planning their own Concerts. In 2016 there were 350 such concerts across the country, several of them in Iowa.

Iowans for Gun Safety is also working with the University of Iowa College of Public Health’s Center for Injury Prevention. They are developing a series of programs to address violence, and supporting a study of the roots of violence in Cedar Rapids, which should be a model for such studies in other cities in Iowa.

Iowans for Gun Safety is coordinating with the Linn Co. Dept. of Public Health on suicide prevention, and will be talking with gun store owners and gun owner organizations about their promotion of gun safety, including safe storage as well as protecting waiting periods for the purchase of guns. The findings of these meetings will be shared with people across the state, as these conversations need to occur everywhere. The suicide numbers and rate has been increasing dramatically in Iowa over the past few years, affecting people of all ages from adolescents to seniors, with a new focus on men between 35 and 65. There are from year to year six times as many suicides by gun as there are homicides by gun. Nearly half of all suicides are by gun. Iowans for Gun Safety needs your support to carry out and promote this project with the state and county Board of Health.

As you can see, there is much Iowans for Gun Safety is doing, and much you can help with in terms of programming, contacting legislators, working with County Depts. of Public Health and other organizations in your community. Your financial support is just one part, but an important part, of the many steps needed to keep Iowans safe.

If you have already contributed recently, thank you very much. So far, of our goal of $3000, we have received $500. Iowans for Gun Safety is grateful for your support. If you have not yet contributed, now would be a good time as Iowans for Gun Safety approaches the end of the year. Iowans for Gun Safety is a non-profit, 501.c.3, organization, so your contribution is tax deductible.

Iowans for Gun Safety


100 Funders Have Left ALEC

(Ed. note) The following is a fund raising email from the Center for Media and Democracy.

About CMD

CMD is a national watchdog and media group that conducts in-depth investigations into corruption and the undue influence of corporations on media and democracy. Our work aids grassroots action to make our world a better place. CMD is reader-supported. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.

Over 100 funders of the American Legislative Exchange Council have cut ties since we launched in 2011, making our joint efforts one of the most successful corporate campaigns in American history.

Will you help us keep up the fight?

This summer the Center for Media and Democracy exposed that the largest car rental company in the world — Enterprise — was funding ALEC, where special interests sit on task forces and vote as equals with legislators on “model” bills to change people’s rights and advance corporation’s legislative wish lists. Consumer pressure convinced Enterprise to change its mind.

Enterprise was just the latest corporate funder to cut ties with ALEC in recent years due to its extreme lobbying agenda, including anti-worker and anti-environmental bills. Enterprise followed Ford Motor Company and Expedia out the door.

We also broke the story of AARP’s funding of ALEC and gave our readers tools to speak up to the seniors’ group.

You and your friends and neighbors joined tens of thousands of Americans making calls and sending emails successfully demanding that these organizations stop funding ALEC’s extreme agenda.

You spoke out, and your voices made a real difference!

AARP was just the latest nonprofit organization that got the message and cut ties.

This news was covered in the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, and in other outlets. Your voice is helping protect our democracy.

Will you help us continue to expose ALEC’s corrupt pay-to-play politics in the coming months by supporting our work today?

ALEC claims that when CMD and people speak out about ALEC we are trampling on the “free speech” rights of its corporate backers to secretly bankroll what ALEC calls the largest voluntary group of legislators in the country.

But you know the Bill of Rights was written to protect the sovereign people in our democracy, not kings or corporations.

Unlike ALEC, CMD relies on ordinary people like you to fund our investigations, which help real families with a real stake in the future of our country–not CEOs and their narrow agenda to increase profits at public expense.

Lisa Graves for the ALECexposed Team
at the Center for Media and Democracy

(Ed. Note: As noted here before, Iowa’s legislative leaders, House Speaker Linda Upmeyer and Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix are both deeply embedded in ALEC. Governor Branstad is a founding member of ALEC.

Expect much ALEC written and approved legislation to be introduced and passed in the coming legislature. This legislation will be very profitable for corporations and very bad for small businesses and the public. We will need extra awareness this legislative session, since Democrats will have no way to stop such legislation after the last election).

ALEC Convention Ends; As Usual No Reports

Rest assured that most of us are screwed.

A Legislator for Every Corp.

A Legislator for Every Corp.

ALEC ended what should be by any measure an illegal gathering of businesses and state legislators in Washington DC Friday. Even though this is a meeting where legislators are conducting business of the states, there are no outsiders allowed in. No reports of what transpires is allowed. There is a better chance of light escaping a black hole than information escaping ALEC meetings.

From what has resulted from past meetings we can take an educated guess what it may mean for an Iowa where there is no way to stop Iowa Republicans control of all branches of government. The insane tax breaks for business, the handing over of taxpayer money to private businesses for questionable reasons, the gutting of our public education system and of course the disempowering of unions will be big on the agenda. All these are ALEC’s wish list items.

Not to say everything will be bad. Most likely we will get the ability to shoot our neighbors for no good reason. Or be shot by a neighbor with a gun and an attitude.

Oh, and some of us will lose our vote based on our heritage. Expect some attempt to take the vote away from college students in the cities where they go to school.

If you want to see what Iowa will look like in a couple of years just look at the mess called Kansas to our south and west. Just google “Kansas failed government” and there are a slew of hits. One from last May from Mother Jones magazine tells of government budgets wrecked, jobs fleeing the state and schools way underfunded. This will be Iowa if ALEC and legislative leaders get their way.

Now we find out that ALEC is not only creating legislation for government bodies below the federal level, thanks to Jim Hightower and that ALEC is also working diligently to have a constitutional convention called. The purpose of this convention will be to install the vision of the Koch Brothers as the basic laws of the United States.

From inthesetimes:

A balanced budget amendment has long been a holy grail for the Right since the 1930s. In the 1980s, conservatives made a push for a balanced budget constitutional convention and, 20 years later, the idea was resurrected as part of the Tea Party platform. That’s when BBATF was formed (ed. note Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force) to carry the movement forward. With 16 resolutions held over from the previous wave of conservative activism, BBATF has since passed resolutions in Alabama (2011), New Hampshire (2012), Ohio (2013), Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Louisiana (2014), South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah (2015) and West Virginia (2016), bringing the total to 28. This year, BBATF is targeting 13 states: Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In six of these states Republicans control both legislative bodies and the governorship, making passage a real possibility and leaving BBATF one state shy of the magic 34.

A balanced budget amendment would greatly tie the federal government’s hands in times of crisis, especially depressions and recessions.

From Jim Hightower:

Last January, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revealed that he has penned NINE new amendments to the US Constitution. Abbott is proposing a Bill of Sale, effectively transferring our national government from The People to The Plutocrats. His “tweaks” would outlaw government actions that restrain corporate abuse of workers and consumers, while also preventing future Congresses from meeting crucial public needs such as health care, voter rights, and restoration of our national infrastructure.

However, Abbott is not the force behind this tampering with our Constitution. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – at the direction of the Koch brothers and their corporate cohorts wrote Abboty’s Bill of Sale. Back in 2010, ALEC’s board of directors approved a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention to enact Abbott’s corporate humbuggery Abbott is now pushing.

Convening a convention, permitted under Article V of the Constitution, is a dream of those seeking an American Kochistan, and ALEC is spearheading a hodgepodge of right-wing groups that are close to succeeding. At the convention, they would attempt to rewrite our nation’s fundamental governing document. The changes would enthrone the “moneyed corporations” that Jefferson and other founders abhorred as destroyers of America’s democratic possibilities.

We actually believe that our government works in at least a shimmer of light. Now we find out that behind the scenes a private lobbying group (ALEC) has been working for years with legislators to bring about very fundamental change in our government without hearing anything about it.

If that doesn’t frighten you I don’t know what will.

Reminder: ALEC Will Give Legislators Marching Orders Next Wednesday

Georgia reporter can’t get in to ALEC meeting: (6 minutes)

The annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council will be meeting in Washington, DC starting Wednesday through Friday of this week.

If you don’t know what ALEC is, my best description is that it is a group organized by businesses for them to meet with legislators (and now city councils and county supervisors) to give the legislators (councilors and supervisors) their wish lists for legislation. ALEC members usually have “model legislation” ready for the legislators so they don’t have to bother their pretty little heads with such stuff.

ALEC is mostly funded by the Koch brothers with generous donations from major corporations. If you haven’t figured it out by now the “good of the people” is not a goal of this organization. ALEC has brought America such wonderful legislation as public funding of private schools and the shoot your neighbor laws.

ALEC meetings are not as far as I know are not open to the public or the media. This should be a violation of open meetings laws. I do not know if it has ever been challenged.

Follow up to the previous report (6 minutes)

Most legislators that belong to ALEC are Republican. Recently Iowans had some protection against some of the extremely pro-business, anti-public legislation that ALEC pushes because we had one chamber led by non-ALEC member who were Democrats. We no longer have such protection.

ALEC policies have been implemented almost wholesale in Republican states like Kansas and Wisconsin. Both of these states have economies that are suffering badly and safety nets that are almost non-existent. Republicans in Iowa will be doing their best to emulate these states.

While finding out which legislators are members of ALEC is very hard to do, we do know that Iowa’s legislative leaders and its governor are deep in ALEC’s pocket. House leader Linda Upmeyer is the former chair of ALEC. New senate majority leader is the state chair for ALEC in Iowa and Governor Branstad was a founding member of ALEC.

For those among us who voted for Democrats or who really desire a government of the people, by the people and (especially) FOR THE PEOPLE, we can all watch in horror as corp[orations get a huge gift basket of goodies from our ALEC owned legislature.

For those who voted for Republicans, enjoy the spectacle as your tax dollars are funneled to corporations. Listen attentively as your governor tells you how wonderful this is as wages stagnate and safety nets are cut.

Bill Moyers gives us the lowdown on ALEC: (31 minutes)

Government Of The Corporation, By The Corporation, For The Corporation

A Legislator for Every Corp.

A Legislator for Every Corp.

Looks like it is past time for Abe Lincoln to rewrite that little speech he gave at Gettysburg 153 years ago today. The reality now is that the country now more than ever in the hands of the wealthy and the corporation.

The Republican Party has spent tons of time and tons of money developing a strategy that would create an electorate that was so confused and so angry that they would vote for Satan if he were white, male and packaged in such a way as to conceal his true identity.

The money came from the incredibly deep pockets of their extremely wealthy donors. Not only people like Sheldon Adelson and Pete Peterson but most especially from Charles and David Koch. The Kochs have spent decades of time and billions of dollars in money to reshape the political landscape.

On occasion we see an isolated main stream media story when the Kochs do something like put together a group of the filthy rich to spend as much on an upcoming election as one of the major parties. But such stories are mere muffled shouts in the wilderness. They are heard by few and cause little change.

Meanwhile the Kochs put their money to work daily organizing and strategizing ways to tilt the playing field to their favor and what they want when the playing field is thus tilted. Their money pays the salary of people who spend their lives working at right wing think tanks. Their jobs are to create alternate realities and alternate histories and based on that create policies geared to solving issues that are created in their alternate universe.

Koch money is also invested in developing talking points and backing candidates who will parrot those talking points without interruption and without diversion. Most of the talking points dwell on tearing down the reality they disparage while talking glowingly of the glory of their alternate reality.

While the Kochs don’t own media, like minded corporations headed by leaders of the same political bent do own and run the media. So dominating the media with messages developed at right wing think tanks and delivered by mindless but very attractive humans is no problem.

So we now come to this point in the history of America where half of the electorate is angry and will vote for anyone who claims they will change whatever is going on. Despite the economy being recovered from the precipice by the Democratic Party with the Republican Party actively working to cause a depression, voters believed the economy was tanking.

Now Republicans will be running the economy. For the past century when Republicans have run the economy they have run it into the ground. In every instance Democrats have had to come to the rescue. Hoover, Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Bush have be disastrous for our economy. But they were nothing compared to what will happen.

Now corporate interests have control of the media so finding out what is really happening will be hard. Control of the internet through user fees and other techniques will be one of the first priorities. We seldom see media control like this except in dictatorships. Without a press that will actually act as a brake on administration excesses who knows where it will go?

One of the Kochs most successful enterprises, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) will be meeting in Washington DC in 10 days to set their agenda on slicing up the spoils of their investments in the electoral process.

The payback will be HUGE, HUGE, HUGE! Just for starters, Koch Oil will see much more friendly oil and fossil fuel policies. Look for many of those nettlesome regulations to be rolled back saving billions.

At the state level, Iowa’s state legislature is now in the hands of Republicans who can remake Iowa’s economy into the “corporations run everything” mode that has ruined the economies of neighboring Wisconsin and Kansas. The Kansas miracle where schools were nearly shut down due to lack of funding may soon be coming to Iowa.

With former ALEC chair Linda Upmeyer once more installed as Speaker of the House, Iowa state chair for ALEC Bill Dix leading the state senate and former ALEC founding member Terry Branstad as governor you can bet Iowa was a great investment for the Koch brothers.

With Koch allies Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House and Reince Priebus as chief of staff the Kochs can rest assured that they will have some real influence in Washington.

Iowa is hardly unique among the states. With Republicans controlling a majority of state legislatures and governorships you can bet the Kochs desires will have a major influence in state policies across the country.

The Kochs played the long game. They invested money and time to changing the landscape. Now they own the land and can reshape it as few have been able to since the days of Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Carnegie. They have done so quietly but persistently. Their payoff is about to be HUGE, HUGE, HUGE!

Kitchen Table Issues And The Iowa Legislature

Iowa Capitol

Iowa Capitol

A quite disappointing session by most any standards. The legislature did little to give Iowa’s middle class and poor hope that there would be any help coming their way. Republicans in the legislature were able to keep some of the tax cuts that Governor Branstad bestowed on businesses while the legislature was out last fall.

So when Iowans sit at their kitchen tables to talk of finances, their hopes for them and their children, their health situations and the world situation – the kind of things families talk about – they must look at their leaders in Des Moines and just shake their heads wondering what the hell are they doing.

The cost of higher education will probably go up in Iowa thanks to the legislature while classrooms for the K-12 will possibly get a bit more overcrowded as Iowa continues its streak of underfunding education. Hopes of rising wages among the poorest in Iowa were once again dashed as there would be no talk of raising a minimum wage that is set at the lowest possible wage in the country.

On the good side, at least the legislature did not fall for the Governor’s little scheme to slowly starve public schools by cutting into the sales tax stream earmarked for schools. However, the other side of that coin is that the water pollution problems that Branstad’s little scheme was supposed to address remains untouched.

Once again Iowa’s Fiscal Partnership has a great summary of the recent legislative session here.

Not mentioned in there is Republicans in the legislature’s totally gutless approach to legalizing medical marijuana. Seems like it should be a simple project for the legislature to clean up the mess they made a couple years ago when they rushed a medical marijuana bill through at the end of the session. With the glare of media focused on the truly sad stories epileptic children, the legislature passed a bill that allowed the use of medical marijuana but not its purchase or possession.

When the problem was discovered rather than fix their mistake, Republicans decided this was a great place to make a really strange anti-drug stand. So for two consecutive sessions they have worked to once more make Iowa the butt of jokes. While they dither children with epilepsy will be seeing their access to cannbidiol oil expiring at the end of June.

The Iowa legislature is in desperate need of a major makeover this fall. We need adults who will address the needs of real Iowans, not a legislature beholden to ALEC.

Just A Reminder: ALEC And Why State Races Are Important

before voting, ask yourself this question

before voting, ask yourself this question

Now that the legislature has concluded and the focus will be on the November elections, it is extremely important that we make sure that we not get totally distracted by the sideshow known as Trump. The Iowa legislature is but one seat from being a tie. With the Lt. Governor being a republican and with her having the tie breaking vote in the senate, keeping a majority in the senate is imperative.

What would happen if republicans maintain control of the House and gain at least a tie in the senate? With the leadership in the Iowa House also being in leadership in ALEC and the governor as a founding member of ALEC, we would quickly see Iowa adopting ALEC legislation into state laws.

If you want examples of what that would mean to Iowa, all we need to do is look around to other states where Republicans own both houses of the legislature and the governor’s chair. Perhaps the most recent example is North Carolina where an ALEC model bill stopping local government (cities or counties) from raising minimum wage added a clause to check the sex of people going into a public bathroom. While that clause gets most of the publicity and reaction, the bill is one of ALEC’s new thrust to stop local governments to respond to the needs of their citizens.

In the past ALEC has pushed such hit legislation as “Stand Your Ground,” many of the charter school laws around the country, and of course the push for all sorts of anti-union laws especially the anti-public union policies. There are a lot of Iowa legislators who would love to sell their state out for a little favor from ALEC businesses.

ALEC gears up for the next winter’s legislative session well in advance. They will have a summer meeting from July 27 – 29th in Indianapolis.
They will be catching legislators coming back from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland the week before. The summer meeting is usually a strategy session. Legislators usually get their walking orders at the winter meeting just before Christmas and the coming legislative session usually held in a warm vacation spot.

So what does ALEC have in store for next year? Our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) gave us a lowdown on what was expected to go on at the ALEC Task Force Meeting in Pittsburgh yesterday. Here is an short extract of some of the business want list from their min ions in the various legislatures:

Attacking Federal Efforts to Rein-in Carbon Pollution

Over the last three years, ALEC has penned and promoted several bills to stop the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which establishes state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions, and offers a flexible framework that allows states to meet those targets. The Clean Power Plan is also a major part of the U.S. commitment to reduce carbon pollution under the recent Paris international climate conference to try to mitigate the consequences of climate change – much more on the environment at the link.

* The Environmental Literacy Improvement Act would require that educators teach students about issues such as climate change from “a range of perspectives.” Although climate change is not a scientifically disputed fact (with 97% consensus), the bill would require that students be taught “countervailing scientific and economic views.”

* The Updating Net Metering Policies Resolution would increase costs for energy users who generate their own electricity through solar panels at their home or business. An ALEC staffer described home solar users to the media as “free riders on the system.”

EDUCATION: More Privatization

ALEC’s education agenda is focused on privatizing America’s public schools. Its bills undermine public education and teachers’ unions and also divert taxpayer dollars from accountable public schools to unaccountable for-profit education corporations. ALEC masks its true agenda in “feel-good” language, such as shifting from terms like “vouchers,” which are broadly unpopular and rooted in segregation, to “opportunity scholarships” or “tuition tax credits.” ALEC bills expected to crop up in 2016 include:

* “Indiana Education Reform Package” creates a voucher program, using taxpayer funds to subsidize private for-profit and religious schools and limits teachers’ rights to collective bargaining. One of its key components–the “Charter School Act”–automatically converts low-scoring public schools into charter schools.

* “Parent Trigger Act” would allow parents to seize control of a school and fire the teachers and principal, or privatize it entirely, for years to come.

These are just a small sample of what a Republican legislature with an allegiance to ALEC would do if elected in Iowa.

Now more than ever is it critical that Iowans vote and vote for legislators that have allegiance to our state and not a business backed lobbying group.

It’s April 16th. Has A Medical Marijuana Bill Passed Yet?

medical marijuana

Two weeks ago I was treated to a short presentation by Shelly Van Winkle at the legislative forum in Muscatine. Ms. Van Winkle (is there any title that indicates that a person is an RN?) is a registered nurse and a certified cannabis nurse. She was there once more to demonstrate the need for medical marijuana in Iowa. This time she was with a group of parents with young children who suffer from epilepsy.

She spoke of the suffering the children go through and the feelings of helplessness that the parents suffer when they see their children suffer from something that could be easily and greatly lessened with an application of a natural medication that is legally available in some 20 states including Illinois and Minnesota. Later one of the parents spoke of the hell she and her daughter went through before she was allowed to get medical marijuana through a very special dispensation. She then told of her wrenching fear of what would come when that dispensation expires in July.

The child is 5. You just have to ask what this child has done that Republican legislators would allow her to suffer so much. She is 5. She is taking the medication now. Children across the country are benefitting from such medication without any bad effects. Our governor has said he is open to full legalization of medical marijuana

The two Republicans at the forum claimed they were simply waiting for their leadership to decide what they wanted to do. Republican leadership has so far refused to move on medical marijuana. Claiming things like there is no scientific proof that marijuana works to fear that Iowa doctors will be arrested for even discussing using marijuana, Republicans continue to choke any move.

When last I heard such legislation was tied up in the House Ways and Means committee head by Tom Sands. According to the Des Moines Register, here was the status a couple of weeks ago:

But the legislation has been delayed in the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, headed by Rep. Tom Sands, R-Wapello. He has yet to assign the bill to a subcommittee.

“I’m still trying to gather facts on science and if it’s driving this (conversation) or whether it’s emotion,” Sands said. “… And while I have a lot of sympathy for the parents that have some of these children that are looking for hope, we don’t want to do the wrong thing that actually gives them worse side effects in years to come or sends the wrong message to the rest of our kids on drug use.”

Parents of children with severe epilepsy and other ailments have made emotional pleas at the Iowa Capitol this session and last; some say their children have seen major improvements in their health since using the oil. But Sands and others within the House Republican caucus have said they’re concerned the measure opens the door to possible misuse.

Sorry, I ain’t buying it. The points Sands make plus other points that Republicans have been trotting out are so easily disputed we could send one of the affected kids to take them on in a debate. If you are worried about sending the wrong message about drugs to kids, how about looking into all the mood affecting drugs that seem to be handed out like candies by doctors these days. From the Ritalins to the Prozacs kids have long ago gotten the message that drugs are a basic part of living these days.

The message that Republicans are sending is that even though this drug has long since been proven safe and effective, it will be blocked anyway. The excuses the public are given have long been refuted. So why won’t Republicans come clean with the truth? Could it be that the truth behind keeping cannabidiol oil from Iowans would bring the wrath of the public down on Iowa Republicans.

Could it be that the demon, money in politics, is behind the decision to let to let Iowa’s kids, veterans and many others suffer while relief is actually available? While trails like this are often hard to track, it sure looks like it could be.

When the reasons that we are given don’t hold water, it sure seems like someone is doing the bidding of an unseen driver. As I stated a couple weeks ago, that unseen driver very likely could be ALEC. Among members of ALEC are the drug companies who have a lot to lose if medical marijuana is legalized; the alcohol industry which may not be stung by medical marijuana, but could be stung badly by legalized recreational marijuana and of course the privatized prison industry which has lots of empty cells that our insane drug war helps keep filled.

It may seem like I am beating a drum for medical marijuana. I am.

With only a few days left and lawmakers eager to get out on the campaign trail, the legislative session could easily adjourn with this issue dying what would be a quiet death for most, but what would be a tragic case of purposeful neglect by a group of gutless politicians.

The right thing to do is to pass medical marijuana so that Iowans who need the relief it can give can have access to it. For a party that preaches personal responsibility and freedom once again give the finger and turn their backs on the very human beings they claim to represent.

Legislative Forums: Republicans Misdirect, Obfuscate

Senator Dvorsky

Senator Dvorsky

Not many folks take advantage of the legislative forums that are held throughout the state during the legislative session. Usually these are held on Saturdays in cities and towns around the state. Members of the legislature for the area come in to answer questions from the public.

We hadn’t been this year, so we made our way down Muscatine last Saturday morning. Muscatine County includes Senators Tom Courtney, Chris Brace and Bob Dvorsky as their senators. The representatives for Muscatine County include Gary Carlson, Tom Sands and Bobby Kaufmann. Kaufmann was absent last Saturday.

On the surface the forum seemed peaceful, we could feel an undercurrent of tension. This is not a report so much as an attempt to recreate the atmosphere in the room.

The questions for this particular day centered around legalizing medical marijuana and the conversion of Iowa’s medicaid to private administrators for medicaid. Despite Governor Branstad’s claim that the transition went well, it was very obvious from the comments of all the legislators that there were huge glitches.

Bob Dvorsky was the last to answer one of the questions about the medicaid transition. As he answered the emotions of having been railroaded by the governor seemed to well up and spill out in his answer. He was quite frustrated at the way the administration had handled this whole transition from beginning to end.

From the Muscatine Journal report:

Dvorsky said that there is a significant lack of information and accurate information that is affecting what can be done about the bill, and that the Governor’s office said the private corporations could police themselves, although he still feels the need for more oversight through the government, rather than through private parties.

“In my 30 years in the legislature this is the worst debacle I’ve ever seen, and I don’t know how we get out of it but I think the answer may be in November,” he said.

Dvorsky also noted (but not reported in the article) that to cover those on medicaid the system should have around 1500 advocates for the 530,000 Iowans in the system. There are currently two advocates.

Another topic Saturday was the strange situation of medical marijuana in this state. Two years ago the legislature was heralded for the swiftness with which access to medical marijuana was passed and signed into law. What was missing from that legislation was the legalization of obtaining or possessing marijuana. Thus any good medical marijuana could do is totally negated by the inability to buy or possess marijuana. Two years later Republicans refuse to move on fixing those problems.

The bill is currently stalled in the House Ways and Means committee. Tom Sands is the chair of that committee. He claims that he is looking to Republican leadership in the House on whether or not to move the bill along. Once again from the Muscatine Journal:

Rep. Sands said that there are still questions relating to the bill, and he is waiting for direction before moving the bill to a subcommittee.

“I think there’s a lot of questions that need to be answered,” he said, and added, “the bill sits in my committee and it’s sitting there until I get some direction from the house Republican leadership on how they want it and when it’ll be debated.”

What Sands didn’t say was a couple of things. For one thing, as chair of Ways and Means he has quite a bit of influence on what the leadership would do. The other thing is that House leadership means Linda Upmeyer. Now, I do not know the inner workings of the Republican party in the House, but it must be noted that Ms. Upmeyer is the past president of ALEC. Mr. Sands is also reported to be a member of ALEC. ALEC as most know is a lobbying group of businesses which is most noted for writing business friendly “model” legislation. Among the members of ALEC are liquor companies and pharmaceutical companies which have a stake in keeping marijuana as illegal as possible.

In that same vein, a group of mothers of epileptic children who have been able to obtain medical marijuana oil to control their children’s seizures were in attendance to plead their case that the special dispensation be continue beyond its current July 1st end. One mother told how her daughter has gone from 200 seizures a day to less than 16 this year.

One would think that this would be a no brainer for the legislature to move on quickly and probably near unanimously. Oddly, in their answers the Democrats were quite aware of this situation and were working on it. The Republicans both claimed they were unaware of the situation.

Mixed in to all of the topics was the ever underlying budget questions. As usually happens the Republicans claimed that the state had no money. What balderdash! What chutzpah! In the interim between last session and this session the Governor made a couple of administrative tax cuts that cost the state hundreds of millions in revenue, perhaps a billion. This in a state that has a budget of approximately $7 billion. The Republican led House refused to even discuss these cuts. Now they plead poverty! Takes a lot of guts to do that. Add to those cuts didadtrous economic initiative like Oroscom which has cost at least $100 million taxpayer dollars going to build a private business.

In short, another session that showed how Republicans could care less about Iowans, their health needs or real priorities. No wonder citizens stay away in droves. In the words of Senator Dvorsky, “the answer is November.”

Senator Chris Brase

Senator Chris Brase