about 30 seconds:
This blog is a labor of love. A chance many folks don’t get to give a perspective on things that others may not have thought about. But trying to decide what stories to comment on is very hard. Ideas pass through my mind all week before I finally sit down to gather my thoughts into something coherent and worthy of your time.
This week has been especially tough. The coming election and the outsized candidacy of Trump and his constant hate machine spewing vileness all over the place is hard to ignore. I think most on the left given the chance could go for hours on Trump and how he has divided America and rekindled hate that seemed to be slowly, very slowly dying. No doubt folks would tire of anti-Trump rants as much as they have tired of Trump himself.
The Clinton campaign has offered some uplifting messages of inclusion, some great ideas of solutions to real problems that real Americans face daily and a candidate who has been tested in trying role after trying role. Sadly our media only follows the train wrecks and car chases. Inspirational messages and inspiring leadership is not a car chase. So once again Democrats across the country can barely even get covered by their local radio stations.
I should be talking more about Iowa legislative races. They are extremely important this year simply because Terry Branstad and his one man assumption of power needs to be squelched. His takeover of the Medicaid administration, the line item vetoes on educational spending, his unilateral closing of the mental health facilities, his squandering of state dollars on Orascom and many lesser manifestations of his disdain for our form of government must be stopped in his last couple of years.
We need to put the legislature in the hands of Democrats. At a minimum we need to keep at least the senate in Democratic hands. If control is shifted to Republicans in both houses with Branstad as governor, we can expect a headlong rush into becoming the next Kansas or Wisconsin. Both of those states have seen budgets drained to give huge tax cuts to the rich causing schools to close and jobs to go elsewhere. Both are considered to be Republican success stories because the rich are getting richer and everyone else is getting screwed.
How about the environment? As I write it is a Friday morning in late September and the overnight low temperature is warmer than the average daily high should be. The temperature is much more like late July or early August. The earth has just come off the two hottest months ever. The year will be, unless a sudden ice age breaks out, the hottest ever by far. Yet our congress sits hogtied thanks to bribes, yes bribes, from the fossil fuel industries. Congress critters like Grassley, King, Blum and Young are more than happy to sell off our lives for a few silver shekels.
Even as torrential rains flood northern Iowa and make it difficult to get crops in, Republicans deny, deny, deny climate change handhold their hands out.
Republicans claim to be the party of foreign policy. Mike Pence says Dick Cheney is his role model. Hey, Pence, two words about Cheney: “Valerie Plame.” Maybe Pence just admires the way Cheney made hundreds of millions as his (Cheney’s) company (Haliburton) scored major government contracts due to the war (Iraq) that Cheney helped start. For a Republican that must be admirable.
Another morning that I turn on WSUI as we breakfast. Two minutes in and I am wondering if I am listening to FOX and shut it off. NPR anymore sounds like a stenographer for Republicans. Nothing else in my range is worth listening to. So the demise of NPR makes all the radios I own worthless. We already have one internet radio. Looks like we will need another soon. Hopefully low power FM KICI will be starting up soon, but we may be too far out to get them over the air.
The chances of being killed by the dreaded refugee terrorist? 1 in 3.64 billion. The chances of getting killed by almost any other means is far greater. I am not telling you to not be scared of getting killed by a refugee terrorist. What I am telling you is that if you are scared of the refugee terrorist then you should hide yourself in a closet, roll into a ball and shiver from fear because so many things in daily life are more likely to kill you. And demand your Republican candidate protect you from the dangers of guns, water, electricity and all the other killers out there.
And once more, working people have been snookered out of real discussions on income inequality. From the early days of this campaign when an old guy from Vermont caught fire talking about real life economic issues to today when the corporate owned and controlled media have all but disappeared the issue. Clinton adopted many of Bernie Sanders positions on economic issues but even when she makes a major economic address our media ignores it and concentrates on her health, bogus email story or bogus charity story.
Our media also pretends that Trump has economic policies that will help workers when in truth his policies make current conditions much worse for workers. Lesson? People are easily fooled.
Lastly, once more we are seeing the effects of money, money, money. Money = power = bad policies. It is a never ending cycle. It is depressing. I have never heard of a solution for this that won’t be reject by those in power and who have the money to buy power. Very depressing.
Early voting starts Thursday. We plan our biennial trip to the county courthouse to vote that day. I do not want to take any chance that one of us will be sick or get called out of town or any one of a number things that may cause us to miss voting on November 8th. This one is too important.
And…. Progress Iowa puts up a website to help voters find out how to vote early.
video – 30 seconds:
Doctors used to sell tobacco @ 1 minute
We often have the computer playing some form of left wing radio while we do our daily tasks around the house. In the US, there are few outlets for left wing radio, so for a person in Iowa has to go to the internet to get left wing radio. For those interested – KTNF in the Twin Cities (http://www.am950radio.com/listen-live), WCPT in Chicago (http://www.wcpt820.com/listen-live/) and free speech TV online (https://www.freespeech.org/) is where we get our “radio” these days.
We had the Stephanie Miller Show on. They were talking about the Trump (sorry to talk about him again, he is hard to avoid) campaign. Her guest said “It’s Bug Tobacco all over again.” He went on to flesh it out a little – how for those all those years that Big Tobacco was staving off both lawsuits and government action for selling a product whose product when used as directed gives people a terrible disease they developed some strategies that are still used successfully by various friends of Big Tobacco.
If you don’t think the Republican Party is a close friend of Big Tobacco, remember that when Nixon deployed the Southern strategy Republicans not only sold their souls to hop on board on the wrong side of the racial issue they also became the party of Big Tobacco ready to stall any meaningful action as long as they could. One only need to see one of their current standard bearers, Mike Pence, bowing down to kiss their butts (pun intended) throughout his political career:
Over his political career Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) has consistently carried the tobacco industry’s water, denying the dangers of cigarettes, opposing government regulation, and slashing smoking cessation efforts. In return, they rewarded him with more than $100,000 in campaign donations.
In 2000, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), then running for an open U.S. House seat, came out against a proposed settlement between government and the tobacco industry, calling it “big government.” In a shocking editorial, he wrote: “Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” Pence acknowledged that smoking is not “good for you,” but claimed that two-thirds of smokers do not die from smoking related illness and “9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer.” He warned of a slippery-slope in which government would soon seek to discourage fatty foods, caffeine, and SUVs.
As Stephanie Miller’s guest explained they “deny, deny, deny” any and all charges – think lying about their real policies. Then they create their own “facts” or assertions and alternate realities in which those facts can exist. Note Pence’s assertion that “9 of 10 smokers do not die of lung cancer” in the excerpt above. If they don’t die of lung cancer they often die of painful, smoking related diseases with some form of cancer in the mix if it is not the final killer.
The guest went on to say they also misdirect or redirect the conversation. For instance we start out talking about the effects of smoking and end up talking about natural carcinogens in the environment. We have had a classic misdirection this week. As a blockbuster story on how Trump’s financial entanglements in foreign countries and with foreign – sometimes not friendly to the US – was about to come out in Newsweek this week Republicans with an assist from corporate media – were able to redirect the conversation to Clinton’s health.
Other strategies include dressing folks as experts such as doctors to claim that their product, tobacco, is no more harmful than breathing. Today’s campaign version of this is the think tank “expert” or the paid “expert.” Donning the guise of a person with some amount expertise and sometimes having some impressive initials behind their name, the faux expert is more than willing to explain to us how cutting taxes for the rich or giving them tax abatements or even building their places of business for them will create jobs and prosperity. This despite 35 years of proof that it doesn’t.
Here are a few other things right wing “experts” have told us over the years: Making health care to all citizens will ruin our health care system; increasing minimum wages results in unemployment despite tons of evidence to the contrary; climate change isn’t actually happening; Donald Trump will be the healthiest person ever elected to be president.
Of course the Big Tobacco strategies would be of no value were it not for a corporate media whose mission is to create controversies that create the climate that makes people want to turn into their “news” shows. In other countries there was no controversies over Big Tobacco. Once the science was in and verified other countries moved to make tobacco hard to get. In the US we treated scientific truth only as an equal to unfounded speculation and uninformed opinion. Media has had a vested interest in giving unfounded speculation and uninformed opinion an equal billing with verified science because then everyone can be involved even without any previous knowledge of a subject.
The use of the Big Tobacco strategies are used by Republican campaigns up and down the ticket. We have been to a couple of Grassley events where he was grilled mercilessly by attendees about his obstruction of court appointments. Throughout the campaign we have read of many others where Grassley was questioned hard on his obstruction. It got to the point where his campaign made few appearances often on very short notice and only in very friendly circumstances. We documented on these pages his paucity of appearances during the exceptionally long summer break.
Despite what my eyes saw and read, the Grassley campaign the other day claimed that that Iowans back his decision to obstruct. Deny, deny, deny and create a new reality with unsubstantiated “facts” – the Big Tobacco playbook. None of which is true according to the Burlington Hawkeye.
Grassley, with a straight face, has said repeatedly he wouldn’t play politics on this while at the same time he’s playing politics with this by declaring he won’t hold a hearing on Garland’s fitness for the job. He’s doing the bidding for his boss, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will do whatever it takes to block any initiative of President Barack Obama.
Grassley went on to say he’s been told repeatedly by his constituents the decision should be up to the next president. Said Grassley: “At meeting after meeting this summer, Iowans told me that they appreciate the Senate’s decision that the next President should nominate Justice Scalia’s replacement.”
Odd. We’ve reported on Grassley’s meetings — including the one with his hand-picked constituents at Great River Medial Center — and his declaration of overwhelming support for his obstruction on this important matter didn’t surface at that meeting.
More than anything else this election we need elected officials who will deal with reality, not create false reality. We must turn back Trump and send Grassley home.
About 1 minute
We thank you for a well done video that shows how close Grassley is to Trump. The lies, the adulation of Putin, the divisive and racist campaign, the mockery of the disabled, the treating of women as second class citizens, the disdain for Hispanics, the outright hate for Muslims, the total lack of any knowledge of foreign affairs. Doesn’t matter to Grassley.
None of this matters to other Republican leaders in Iowa, either. Branstad’s son is the head of the Trump campaign in Iowa. Branstad himself endorses Trump. Trump was the guest of honor for Joni Ernst’s hog roast. Rod Blum endorses Trump. David Young in the 3rd district has endorsed Trump, as has Steve King.
Make no doubt that Donald Trump represents the very worst, the very very worst of America. Not just the worst of American politics, but the worst of America. Born rich, Trump has spent his life thumbing his nose at American morals and exploiting the poor and middle class for his own enrichment. He uses America’s courts as if the system were his toy. He cares not one wit how much he insults anyone. In short he is a spoiled rich kid who is easily bored. His campaign is nothing but a sales job. All hype and no product. Just like his fraudulent “university” Trump University.
It is also sad to see the Iowa Republican Party headed by my former state rep toss away any pretense of caring about people or country in order to endorse Trump. If they endorse him, they endorse his policies. The Iowa Republican Party and its leaders endorse his praise for Putin, his screwing laborers and small business owners out of wages and payments.
Many Iowans wonder if they will continue to endorse Trump as the story of his bribe to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and current Texas and former Texas attorney general Greg Abbot unfolds. Based on the IRP’s past in matters Trump, we have no reason to think that a bribery scandal would bother them.
Even in his presidential campaign Donald Trump falls back on his old habits of stiffing those who do work for him. Esquire reports that Trump is stiffing his campaign staff:
Donald Trump has been plagued with accusations that he does not always fully compensate construction contractors who work on some of his biggest projects. And now, according to a Reuters report, Trump is putting that strategy to use with some of his top staff.
A review of campaign finance disclosures revealed that the Trump campaign has not paid as many as 10 of the candidate’s top staffers, consultants, and advisers including former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
It would be Karmic that the young Branstad had to go hat in hand to the old man for a short term loan because he got stiffed by Trump. It would also be very Karmic if all those Iowa republicans endorsing Trump were pulled down by the weight of the anchor that Trump is.
Wow – what a display of – what? sexism? Republican registration? media bias? doing the dirty work for Comcast? all of the above? by Matt Lauer Wednesday night in the inappropriately named Commander-in-Chief Forum.
The night begins with a 17 minute attack on the Clinton emails which had nothing, zero, nada to do with the supposed reason for the forum. As if that wasn’t enough, the email controversy was even dismissed by congressional Republicans months ago after wasting tens of millions of dollars and countless hours of valuable congressional time on the matter. If a person didn’t know better they could only guess that Matt Lauer was following orders from the folks who sign his checks at Comcast.
As if Lauer’s disgraceful display with Clinton weren’t enough to give a clue who NBC was rooting for, his bootlicking display with Donald Trump was worse. After interrupting Clinton time after time, Lauer asks Trump open ended questions over and over and then lets Trump wander way off the topic.
If we did not have the internet that is pretty much what we citizens would be left to digest. That plus the cable newser followups that added little to the mix. Since corporations own and control a high percentage of all our media – TV, radio, magazines, newspapers – there is but one major media where Americans can find a true diversity of opinion. That is the internet, but only so long as it remains neutral. The internet is so diverse that anyone with access to the net can even contribute their opinion.
The neutral internet of today is the equivalent of the back room printing presses that kept colonists informed before and during our revolution. With the printing press common people had access to a way to disseminate news and opinion, to get the word out about meetings and to let the populace know of the atrocities of an unaccountable government. This held true throughout following eras such as the abolitionist movement and the fight against Jim Crow.
A neutral internet and its spawn, the social media, is the electronic heir to the printing press in the back room in previous ages. Wednesday night the heir to the printing press once again proved a worthy successor as the shill job done by Lauer was hammered from many corners. Even the wealthy and well connected who are so used to having their way can’t simply shut down their cities on the open internet.
And that is a major sticking point for those who currently have the power and money to shape public opinion. They can’t control a neutral internet. They can’t control if people like you and I state that Matt Lauer stunk Wednesday. Nor can they stop us if we suggest that his performance may be tied to his paycheck. Comments like that won’t make it into their newspapers and TV programs.
If you have forgotten, the model for the internet that is favored by the those who want to control it is the current cable and satellite TV industry. For a price you get a package of pre-selected channels. For more money you get “better” channels. For a bundle that no one can afford you get pretty open access. Think of the internet where major liberal sites could be put behind paywalls where the price is simply too steep for most citizens.
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how easily a few internet “gatekeepers” could easily manipulate your choices. Want to get to Dailykos? You have to pick up an opinion package that includes Breitbart, Drudge, Redstates and Worldnetdaily. And then Dailykos may have continuing outages.
Ending net neutrality is one of Comcast’s major goals. They are not the only one by far. AT&T, Verizon, Time-Warner etc. – pretty much anyone who has any corner of the telecommunications industry – is buying congress critters and using our courts to end neutrality.
So what kind of congress critters do they invest in? Taking a little peek on Open secrets.org we see that Comcast and Verizon are Chuck Grassley’s top two contributors. Wasn’t it Donald Trump who said a year ago that he gave money expecting favors:
We were reminded the other day in articles from dailykos and hullabaloo that the reason that blogs took off and for many have become their first source of news is because the media was doing and continues to do such a crappy job. From Digby on Hullabaloo:
When I first started writing online many moons ago, the issue that drove me to it was the fact that we were dealing with impeachment and a stolen election substantially because the media was putting their thumbs on the scales in our politics in ways that enabled a malevolent right wing force to take advantage. I never thought they were right wing themselves, simply that they found it easier to capitulate to the right’s pressures and were far too willing to chase the narratives the right helpfully provided for them. This helped pave the way for some horrifying disasters — the Iraq war and the financial crash among them. It has certainly prevented real progress and led to cynicism. And they simply don’t seem to be able to see it. (What’s even more depressing is the fact that so many people who are able to see media malpractice when it comes to government malevolence can’t see it when it comes to political coverage.)
So we certainly do not want the internet in the hands of those who want to control the news and dish out crappy little portions to us. Vote for Trump, vote for Grassley and sit back and watch your internet disintegrate.
Grassley’s SCOTUS Obstruction Only About Politics
For Immediate Release: August 30, 2016
Contact: Pat Rynard, 515-868-5665
DES MOINES – In a story published in the Mason City Globe Gazette, Senator Chuck Grassley left open for the first time the possibility of confirming Merrick Garland during a lame-duck session of Congress. This is a 180-degree switch from his previous adamant denials that only a new President’s nominee should be considered.
From the article:
“Grassley said the only way his stance could change is if a large number of senators strongly urged him to consider the nomination during a so-called ‘lame-duck session’ of Congress, during the time after the Nov. 8 election and before the new Congress takes office in January.”
Matt Sinovic, Executive Director of Progress Iowa, released the following statement:
“Senator Grassley’s flip-flop on a lame duck nomination is an outrageous, cynical switch that proves his Supreme Court obstruction was always about politics. This is a big development in Grassley’s Supreme Court saga. He’s argued for months that he wants the people to decide the next nominee. Now it seems if the people don’t decide the way he’d prefer – by electing Donald Trump – then Grassley will hold hearings on Garland. Or maybe he’s gotten cold feet about Trump, who Grassley did not appear with on stage at Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride this weekend.”
“And Grassley’s explanation – that he could only be convinced if fellow Senators urge him – is exactly how we got into this mess in the first place. Grassley let extremists in the Republican Party pressure him into the longest-ever Supreme Court obstruction. Now he’s saying he’ll be pushed into doing the exact opposite.”
“The only consistent theme from Senator Grassley in 2016 has been his playing politics with our courts. This is simply his most egregious political posturing yet.”
“Senator Grassley must stop playing these political games, and immediately end his unprecedented obstruction of the Supreme Court. It’s long past time for him to do his job and hold hearings for Merrick Garland.”
To this we must add that we have always suspected that should Hillary Clinton become president, Chuck Grassley and Republicans will make an immediate about face to pass Garland’s nomination. This will be the Republicans first salvo in their war to stop the new Clinton Administration from doing anything. This will be the same tactic employed against Obama, only much more virulent.
The obstruction that Republicans have employed against Obama will seem tame compared to the tactics they will employ against Clinton. Expect the media to fully back the Republican obstruction just as they are currently doing all they can to trash Clinton’s campaign while making Trump’s extreme right wing views seem to be middle of the road in this campaign.
Our country can’t afford to continue to ignore problems such as inadequate healthcare and global warming much longer. Grassley should be retired. Voters wold do well to give Clinton a congress she can work with. Iowans can do their part by pulling the lever for Monica Vernon in the first district, Dave Loebsack to return in the second district, Jim Mowrer in the third district and Kim Weaver in the fourth district to finally replace Steve King.
video about a minute
Seems many folks in Iowa and across the country are noticing that our vaunted senior senator is running a campaign by not running.
Since the death of Antonin Scalia, now closing in on 200 days, and the reaction of Iowans to Grassley’s unconstitutional stand on obstructing any Obama appointments, Grassley has essentially taken to a hidey hole only popping up in friendly areas. I believe his last appearance in a somewhat populated area was in Muscatine, Iowa in March. That did not go well for him. Since then he only seems to pop up in very rural counties and even then very infrequently.
You can rest assured he will not be appearing in Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Davenport or even Sioux City. People in those cities will be seeing their senator on TV only. That will be in ads or in short mostly positive blurbs on the news but they will not see him live. Most likely he will not even come within reasonable driving distance of any city where democrats might be living.
This is hardly a new tactic. Recent Republican campaigns across the state have been centered on saying nothing and only appearing in front of friendly crowds. Who can forget Joanie Ernst who smiled, enunciated a few platitudes and avoided interviews like a plague. Nobody really knew where she stood.
We do know that Grassley backs Trump. Here is a DSCC campaign video that omits Grassley by name, but everything they say pertains to Grassley. (about a minute)
Meanwhile Patty Judge continues to meet voters across the state and take the fight to Grassley. (30 second video)
As I have been doing for the past several weeks, I will once more post the Grassley schedule for next week in hopes that a few Democrats will visit his town hall and ask him some questions on things like why he supports a racist like Trump. As you may note from the video above, asking him a question and getting an answer isn’t easy.
Two whole town halls next week:
Cherokee County Meeting
Monday, August 29, 2016
4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Cherokee County Courthouse, Courtroom
520 West Main Street
Buena Vista County
Tuesday, August 30
10:15 a.m.-11:15 a.m.
Sioux Rapids Memorial Library, Basement
215 2nd Street
Contribute to Patty Judge here.
Sac County Meeting
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m.
Sac County Courthouse, Courtroom
100 North West State Street
That’s it folks.
Grassley continues to avoid Iowans. He continues especially to avoid open meetings in larger counties and cities.
Draw your own conclusions
If your in the Sac County area stop in and ask him about his judicial obstruction, his signature on the letter to Iran, his support of a man who called for the “second amendment solutions” be used on Hillary Clinton, or if he believes, like Donald Trump says, that Obama and Clinton founded ISIS.
Grab an opportunity to ask Senator Grassley a question or two next week:
Shelby County Meeting
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
Shelby County Farm Bureau
908 6th Street
Harrison County Meeting
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
2:15 p.m.-3:15 p.m.
Main Street Station
303 Walker Street
Guthrie County Meeting
Thursday, August 11, 2016
10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
Guthrie County Hospital
Conference Room 710
North 12th Street
(Editor’s note: Like so many Republicans, when the going gets tough Republicans look for someone to blame their problems on. Progress Iowa has merely pointed out a practice that the Grassley camp has practiced for several years. Progress Iowa did not tell the Grassley camp to avoid open meetings in populous counties, nor did they tell him to obstruct federal court appointments nor did they tell him to sign the letter to the Iranian government last year)
Friday 12:14 PM
For Immediate Release: July 26, 2016
Response To Grassley Campaign Repeatedly Singling Out Progress Iowa
DES MOINES – Progress Iowa’s executive director, Matt Sinovic, released the following statement in response to Senator Grassley’s campaign repeatedly singling out the organization:
“Senator Chuck Grassley’s campaign doesn’t seem to appreciate being held responsible for the Supreme Court obstruction or Grassley’s private scheduling that avoids Iowa’s largest counties. In a public statement, Grassley’s campaign manager attacked Progress Iowa as an ‘outside group’ campaigning against him. Actually, we represent tens of thousands of Iowans who are fed up with Grassley’s Supreme Court obstruction, now the longest in all of American history. And we’ve been advocating for years that Grassley stop delaying judicial nominations at all levels. We also will continue to highlight how Grassley routinely avoids public meetings in major Iowa cities – not holding a single public 99 county tour event in eight of the ten largest counties for the past six years.
Just because Senator Grassley doesn’t like the facts doesn’t mean we won’t stop talking about them.”
Background: Story from yesterday referencing Progress Iowa