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Why we must listen to Pope Francis‏

Pope Addresses Congress

Pope Addresses Congress

The following is an email sent from the Bernie Sanders campaign:

“If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.” – Pope Francis addressing Congress today. (Thursday Sept. 24th)

Brothers and Sisters: I am not a theologian, an expert on the Bible, or a Catholic. I am just a U.S. senator from the small state of Vermont.

But I am emailing you today to discuss Pope Francis in the hope that we can examine the very profound lessons that he is teaching people all over this world and some of the issues for which he is advocating.

Now, there are issues on which the pope and I disagree — like choice and marriage equality — but from the moment he was elected, Pope Francis immediately let it be known that he would be a different kind of pope, a different kind of religious leader. He forces us to address some of the major issues facing humanity: war, income and wealth inequality, poverty, unemployment, greed, the death penalty and other issues that too many prefer to ignore.

He is reaching out not just to the Catholic Church. He’s reaching out to people all over the world with an incredibly strong message of social justice talking about the grotesque levels of wealth and income inequality.

Pope Francis is looking in the eyes of the wealthiest people around the world who make billions of dollars, and he is saying we cannot continue to ignore the needs of the poor, the needs of the sick, the dispossessed, the elderly people who are living alone, the young people who can’t find jobs. He is saying that the accumulation of money, that the worship of money, is not what life should be about. We cannot turn our backs on our fellow human beings.

He is asking us to create a new society where the economy works for all, and not just the wealthy and the powerful. He is asking us to be the kind of people whose happiness and well-being comes from serving others and being part of a human community, not spending our lives accumulating more and more wealth and power while oppressing others. He is saying that as a planet and as a people we have got to do better.

That’s why I was so pleased that in his address to Congress today, Pope Francis spoke of Dorothy Day, who was a tireless advocate for the impoverished and working people in America. I think it was extraordinary that he cited her as one of the most important people in recent American history.

As the founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper, Dorothy Day organized workers to stand up against the wealthy and powerful. Pope Francis said of her today in Congress:

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

The fact that the pope singled out Dorothy Day — a fierce advocate in the fight for economic justice — as one of the leaders he admires most is quite remarkable. We are living in a nation which worships the acquisition of money and great wealth, but turns its back on those in need. We are admiring people with billions of dollars, while we ignore people who sleep out on the streets. That must end.

Dorothy Day fought this fight, and as Pope Francis says, we must continue it. We need to move toward an economy which works for all, and not just the few.

We have so much poverty in a land of plenty. Together, we can work to make our country more fair for everybody.

I am glad that you are with me in this fight.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day

“So That A Positive Conservative Message”

Positive conservative? Oxymoron?

Positive conservative? Oxymoron?

“can rise to the top of the field.”

This is a line that Scott Walker used in his speech retiring his presidential bid for this round. BTW, look out Wisconsin – Walker will be wanting to burnish his right wing bona fides for 2020 and beyond. Wisconsin and its citizens will pay the price.

Let’s look at just how positive the conservative message is this time around:

First Positive Message:
We will continue to do everything we can to push the 17 + million Americans who now have health coverage through the PPACA back into the tyranny of coverage at the whim of insurance companies. This will include allowing insurance companies to drop coverage anytime they feel like it. All PPACA reforms will be rescinded so we can return to the normal state of insurance companies making your health decisions.

Second Positive Message:
We will do all we can to send a huge amount of people to countries they are no longer members of and cause a humanitarian crisis of unheard of proportions. We will do this to to satisfy the most racist in our party. This will not create or open new jobs in our country, because we will continue to “offshore” jobs. Besides the demand that those we deport will cause demand for many products to fall off markedly. Once more, a very positive message.

Third Positive Message:
We will cut off any government aid for the poor, the disabled and all others. If you are poor or disabled, then you must suffer and not take money from those who have more through the government.

Fourth Positive Message:
We will do all we can to cut women’s health services, especially the concept of choice. We will also do all we can to stop any forms of contraception thus nearly ensuring a massive amount of unwanted pregnancies and births. Women who have sex outside of marriage deserve the shame and burden of children they can’t care for.

Fifth Positive Message:
Guns will be allowed all places in this society and can be owned by all persons no matter what their fitness mentally. While this may create terror among the populace it is acceptable because a portion of a clause in the constitution has been interpreted to allow unfettered access to guns of any type.

Sixth Positive Message:
America must be ready to go to war at the drop of a hat over perceived grievances great and small. We will sacrifice your children and the public treasury in this cause. War is good business.

Seventh Positive Message:
Anything can be a source for profit for private business. This includes prisons, public water supplies, libraries, fire departments and any other enterprise that is currently in the public sector

Eighth Positive Message:
There is a lot of money to be made from privatizing education from pre-kindergarten to advanced degrees. We must end public supported education. That is socialism.

Ninth Positive Message:
The health of the planet must take second billing to businesses ability to make money and also not be charged with cleaning the effects of their enterprises.

Tenth Positive Message:
We continue to be amazed how well tax cuts have worked for certain sectors of American society. We will continue those tax cuts.

Eleventh Positive Message:
Corporations have gotten very healthy through hands-off governmental policy. This will continue. Among those will be no attempt to force corporations to share their profits through programs like minimum wage.

Twelfth Positive Message:
No Net Neutrality. Corporations will manage your access and monitor your activity with fees determined by a market controlled by only a few players.

Thirteenth Positive Message:
Climate Change has negative implications. We will do away with those by challenging the science and use of positive descriptors for change deniers such as calling them “skeptics.”

Fourteenth Positive Message:
We are busting workers’ right to organize into unions. This will allow more capital to flow to the corporation and give them better control of their assets, both human and monetary.

Fifteenth Positive Message:
We will redirect Social Security funds and Medicare funds to private companies. While the effect on these programs may be lethal to the programs, at least they will go out under the banner of free enterprise instead of socialism.

See? Nothing but positive coming from the right! The Democrats have nothing like this. I am sure of that.

How Will Trump Deport Millions?

This is Making America Great Again?

immigrant contribution chart

Since many of the liberal persuasion like to think things through. Monday’s revelation of the Donald Trump “emigration” plan for undocumented workers and now their families offered us a real chance to noodle on the logistics of moving somewhere between 10 and 20 million people in a big lump. Plus there would be ancillary consequences that Trump hasn’t spoken of that will come up as “unadvertised features.”

This is actually quite an interesting exercise, one that has only been attempted a couple times as far as I know. Both that I can think of were during WWII and on a smaller scale than Trump’s proposal. There is a similarity in that a scapegoat population that was blamed for the nation’s ills were being targeted without any factual data. One was the US moving Japanese to camps and the other was of course Germany moving Jewish people to concentration camps. For one thing those are both pretty lousy company to be keeping. But the fact that such a proposal is so horrendous won’t stop Trump, so today let’s just discuss the how.

First question is just where the heck are taking these people? Contrary to popular opinion not all of the future deportees hail from Mexico. Many come from other central American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Some come from South America countries such as Venezuela and there are also folks from European countries such as Ireland, Poland and others. Is the plan just to take them to the Texas – Mexico border and dump them?

If that is the plan, then the fence best be built first and it better be very impenetrable. Once again we can look back in history to Germany for some insight. when the Berlin Wall was a simple brick and barb wire fence folks broke through at some regularity. Once it evolved into a two wall system with a large sand area between the two wall escapes slowed way down. They also had to encircle Berlin. Will we need to encircle the whole country, Alaska and Hawaii? Not sure the True Value carries that much cement.

Now to the questions of actually gathering and deployment. Since it is unlikely that folks will voluntarily turn themselves in for deportation. rounding up the scapegoat population will be problem one. Not even going to venture a guess how that will be done. But I will guess that it will take a large force of people who will probably be poorly trained and make huge mistakes.

As the victims are rounded up, they will need to be held some where. Current jails won’t hold enough. Building huge holding buildings seems shortsighted since their use should end after a few years. Looks like abandoned military camps and private warehouses need to be put into service. This also will call for a large force of workers to run the holding areas.

As we develop the scenario we can see that many current workers will be removed forcibly from the workforce as they are detained and held for removal. There will also be many more workers needed to find and hold the targeted group. Unless we find more workers to fill the labor pool then the price of labor will rise. This should make corporations really upset. Perhaps Trump should suspend Social Security until the undocumented problem is solved, thus forcing the elderly out of retirement. This labor shortage would be an unadvertised feature.

Now we get to actually moving the targeted population. It took Germany some 7 years to move 6 million people. The German were quite efficient, so we can use that as a gauge. What means of transport will we use? Let’s assume that the Texas – Mexico border is the chosen location. I will suggest here that trains and buses be the transport of choice so no planes get hijacked. Remember we will need several security guards for every bus or rail car. Thus another hit to the labor force. Plus we will need more drivers and mechanics and other support personnel.

How many can we move on one train or bus? I have no idea, but just for the sake of argument let’s say we can get 2,000 on a train. That is assuming we give them seats and bathroom access. If we move them in crammed freight cars like the Germans did that number could grow, but there may be some courts that have a problem with that. So 20,000,000 at 2,000 per train would mean 20,000 trains. Just for the sake of argument let’s say we could move 10 trains per day, then that would take 2,000 days or about 6 years. Remember that most railroads are tied up moving oil right now, so where do we find the extra capacity? If we use buses at @ 100 per bus then it would take 20 buses to replace a train. Do we have the capacity?

Before we start sending folks to Mexico, we will need to stop the workers who live in Mexico and work in the US who cross daily. Not sure how many, but somehow they will need to be replaced or the businesses moved. That border must be tight as a drum long before we start the deportations.

Another consideration, or maybe not if you are Trump, is what the receiving countries are to do with a huge influx of families that will need food and housing. Trump will probably say that they should have thought of that when they started sending their people over in the first place. He is a little short on humanitarian genes.

Even at a very cursory look, shipping 20 million people out of the US is not an easy task. It will also be fraught with unanticipated problems and probably be met with great resistance. You also may have noted throughout that there will be a huge effect on the labor pool within the US. There will be a huge number of jobs created identifying, holding and transporting the targeted population. There may also be jobs possibly created in building both the wall itself and perhaps train cars and buses, maybe holding areas also.

Thus the labor pool will get tight. This means wages will likely rise and unions may once again be able to get a foothold in industry. A couple of ways of dealing with this would be to increase the labor pool. Newt Gingrich wanted to end child labor laws a few years ago. A tight labor market could give impetus to that. Ending Social Security or at least profitizing has been a Republican dream for 80 years. This may be the spur that could get that really moving.

And if we look once again into the past we see that corporations have dealt with tight labor markets before. One of their preferred solutions has been to bring in workers from poorer countries as undocumented workers. They have been able to get away with this through bribery to the corrupt politicians and police that allow it to happen. They have yet to pay any price for this. All they would need is a small hole in that fence……….

Real Solutions Or Fear And Hate?

On their way to Ames today

On their way to Ames today

Yesterday and today will be offering a dramatic contrast of the differences between what the Democratic Party stands for and what the Republican Party stands for.

Last night in Cedar Rapids, Democrats met for their annual Hall of Fame dinner. Speakers for the evening were the declared Democratic candidates for president – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee. The general focus of remarks last night were to bring back the middle class for every group in America and reestablish a country that works for all of its citizens, not just the wealthy and well connected. In short, the focus was on putting the citizens back in charge of this country.

Other issues included climate change, student debt, access to education for all, building an economy that works for all including living wages for workers, sensible immigration solutions and many others. The focus was on issues, not personalities or rumors or made up media hype.

Half a day later and 100 miles to the west in Ames we will be seeing Republicans gathering under the auspices of a quasi-Christian group known as the FAMiLY Leader. The focus of this conference is to push the theme that America is Christian and should be run by a set of principles based on their interpretation of Christianity.

Today we will see such Republican presidential candidates as Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz pander to folks who share the Family Leaders’ version of Christianity. In that version, gays are hated and of course the idea that a gay person could marry is anathema to them. Immigrants and immigration policy will be also be in for major criticism. Policies that will come in for praise are those policies that will enrich the already wealthy while continuing low wages and no benefits for the poor and middle class. No doubt there will be veiled references to Muslims being terrorists through comments on the middle east or the new deal with Iran.

Climate change will certainly come in for derision as will science in general. Shoot, I almost wouldn’t even be surprised if someone joked that the Pluto mission was staged in a back lot in Hollywood. The only science that counts for them is that which can be exploited for a buck.

At a time when serious consideration is needed concerning the deal with Iran, Republican will use it as a cornerstone around which to build fear. There will be no sensible discussion as each of the presidential candidates tries to stake out the furthest right position.

No doubt there will also be attacks on Democratic candidates, most likely Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. There will also be attacks on Planned Parenthood which has recently been the subject of another bogus right wing “documentary.” In short, the hate will flow with no real issues discussed nor any solutions offered.

Within one day the contrast between what have become polar opposites should be quite apparent to any American. Do you want solutions? Or do you want more hate and fear?

Governing Undocumented Iowans

Community IDIOWA CITY–Johnson County announced acceptance of applications for a new Community ID program on Wednesday. The county seeks to become more welcoming, and to resolve a practical public safety issue problem—undocumented residents prefer to stay in the shadows.

“Johnson County will be the first community in the Midwest, and the first outside a major metropolitan area, to offer community-issued identification,” according to a press release. “The Community ID program is designed to help people who may have difficulty getting a state-issued ID, such as seniors who no longer drive, the homeless, people in poverty or transition, and new immigrants. A Community ID can help these people interact with law enforcement, local government, pharmacies and banks.”

Rod Sullivan, Johnson County supervisor, explained the public safety aspect of the program in an April 9 email.

Why do we need a Community ID? I have a very personal story. After years of doing nothing, a few years ago, the board of supervisors finally began taking action against the criminals that own Regency Mobile Home Park. State law severely limits the ability of the board to intervene, but there were dozens of credible reports of fraud coming from Regency.

Johnson County detectives swooped in, gathered all the info they could, and began following up on leads. Then they ran into a stone wall. Most of the people they needed to speak with refused to talk to them. These folks saw law enforcement coming, and they went the other way–even when they were innocent victims!

I spoke at length with the lead detective on the case, and he said that this avoidance of law enforcement was common. When I asked why, he said it all came back to a lack of ID.

This illustrates the number one reason for instituting a Community ID – public safety. We need victims and witnesses to come forward in order to solve crimes and see to it that justice is served. The Community ID will help with this.

There have already been hundreds of applications for Community IDs. The program requires both documentary proof of identity and proof of residency. It is an open question whether the victims and witnesses Sullivan referred to will actually come forward to secure a Community ID, or change their behavior.

In an unrelated incident undocumented immigrants made news Wednesday when Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron) condemned the concept of “Sanctuary City” for the umpteenth time in the wake of the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco. The accused is a seven-time felon who has been deported to Mexico five times, according to the story.

“Sanctuary cities exist because of the left, because of the open border policy,” King told Newsmax. “Yes, there is blood on their hands and San Francisco is at fault. All of California is a sanctuary state today, and many states have these jurisdictions like this.”

Having a Community ID is not the same as being a Sanctuary City, but it may represent what is possible in governing the undocumented.

Old-Fashioned Democrats Emerging?

Hillary Clinton came out strong for a path to citizenship and fixing the immigration mess on Cinco de Mayo. She has previously put out strong positions for women, on greatly lessening income inequality and money in politics.

Bernie Sanders introduced a bill in the Senate to break up the mega-banks that have grown out of the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. As he did he reminded us that:

No single financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans or to our nation’s economic well-being. No single financial institution should have holdings so extensive that its failure would send the world economy into crisis. If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist and that is the bottom line.

Bernie on the economy

Martin O’Malley staked out positions in liberal territory early on, even though he has not officially declared his candidacy yet. You can check his positions here.

Is this reality? After years of Democrats running like lukewarm Republicans, we are getting Democrats talking as if they are Democrats. This is a trend we hope continues up to election day and beyond. It may be Sanders’ entrance into the race, or it may be that Democratic leaders finally realize that Republican ideas are failed ideas.

Democratic debates will be debates on real issues talking about real solutions for real people.

But don’t forget.  America not only needs a Democratic president that will face issues – as Barack Obama has done – America also needs a Democratic congress to put those concepts into reality.

Random Thoughts Before A Holiday

* The President takes as bold of an action as he possibly can and the Speaker of the House claims this ends any co-operation that was going to happen between congress and the President. Maybe Boehner missed it, but there was never any co-operation to begin with. When you make a threat, try to operate within reality, Boehner.

cooperation after

* We will sure miss this guy:

attribution:EarlG at democraticunderground,com

attribution:EarlG at democraticunderground,com

* While you are sitting back digesting the turkey and taters, the Koch brothers and their ilk will be busy preparing their demands for the state politicians they own. Did I say own? I meant own. They will whine and dine them (yep I meant whine about how tough it is to be a billionaire these days) and give them a list of must dos or they will buy new politicians. I expect a new demand will be to destroy the electoral college before the next election.

* The President asks for TV network air time for a momentous speech and the networks tell him to take a hike, “Big Bang Theory” is much more important than some silly speech. Just in case you wondered how the media views Obama or any Democrat for that matter.

* If you are shopping over the holiday weekend, remember that you do vote with your dollars. Money spent at most of the big box stores will come back to haunt you when the billionaires buy politicians with the profits. Shop local if you can. Otherwise try to pick merchants who espouse policies you do: decent pay, equal pay and decent working conditions.

* There will be many things to fight against in the next congress. One that really hasn’t been talked about much but has me worried is the fate of the Post Office. As the employer with the biggest (and I daresay most cohesive) union in the country, I believe we can expect an all out assault on the Post Office to the point of totally dismantling it. In covering this story, I expect the media will give us many stories on how bad the USPO is and how private industry could do the job better. Typical media crap.

* Have a good holiday. Take a few moments to think of those less fortunate. Then try to act in ways that could help them.

REPORT: Executive Action on Immigration Will Boost Iowa’s Economy‏

progress iowa

For Immediate Release: November 20th, 2014
Contact: Matt Sinovic, (515) 423-0530

REPORT: Executive Action on Immigration Will Boost Iowa’s Economy

Des Moines, Iowa — President Obama’s announced executive action on immigration will boost the Iowa economy, according to a new report released by the Center for American Progress (CAP). 13,000 undocumented immigrants living in Iowa would see their wages increase by 8.5%, and Iowa tax revenues would see a $22 million spike over five years, according to the study.

Click here to read the report

Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s executive action and the CAP report:

“President Obama’s executive action will keep families together, raise wages for thousands of Iowans, and bring more money in to our state. The President’s action tonight will make our country and our economy more secure.”

“Republicans like Steve King will demagogue the President’s decision, but I challenge them to speak directly to the 13,000 undocumented immigrants living in Iowa who would be forced to leave their children behind if deported. The US Senate passed bipartisan legislation in 2013, by a 68-32 margin, but it died in the House of Representatives, who refused to hold a vote. Because of their inaction, families in Iowa and across the country were left to wonder whether they would stay together or be ripped apart. Before King or any Congressional Republican criticizes the President, they should remember we are in the position we are today because of their failure to act.”

“The policy effects of the President’s executive action will also be tremendous for our country. Immigrants impacted by the President’s executive action will be required to pay taxes, which will help our economy. And the Department of Homeland Security will be able to free up resources to focus on serious criminals and those who might present a threat to our national security.”

“We hope for and will continue to support a legislative solution to our broken immigration system. But given the multiple delays and the failure by Congressman King and the House of Representatives to act, we are thankful that the President took the executive action he did.”

Progress Iowa is a statewide organization focused on research, education and advocacy regarding Iowa public policy.

President Obama’s Immigration Speech


Tolerance In Iowa Without Congress

immigration(EDITOR’S NOTE: This guest opinion first appeared in the Daily Iowan on Feb. 2, 2010. The idea of creating a sanctuary city did not gain traction, but local groups continue to seek ways to make the city more welcoming to recent immigrants. With this week’s failure of the U.S. Congress to reform our immigration system, the latest in a long series of failures on immigration reform, people must take matters into their own hands. Sanctuary City is a way of doing that).

Iowa City should be a sanctuary city for immigrants

Iowa City should become a sanctuary city, and here is why: It would be a step toward recognizing that seeking the welfare of one is seeking the welfare of all.

A sanctuary city is a place in which a formal sanctuary policy is written and passed by a local government body in the form of a resolution, ordinance, or policy. In sanctuary cities, sanctuary policies instruct city employees not to notify the federal government of the presence of illegal aliens living in their communities. The policies also would end the distinction between legal and illegal immigration. Some examples of sanctuary cities are Takoma Park, Maryland; Sacramento, California; Worthington, Minnesota; Chicago; and Columbus, Ohio.

Every day, people notice the international community drawn here by the UI. They also notice the increase in the number of immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America. We find landlords rent to immigrants more often and schools enroll more immigrant children. People who work in social safety-net organizations such as the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic, the Crisis Center Food Bank, and the Broadway Neighborhood Center see a significant number of immigrant clients.

Public-health needs staff able to speak Spanish to work effectively with immigrant communities. An increasing number of churches are being founded by immigrants. This is in Iowa City.

There is consensus in the community that immigration reform is needed. There are social problems related to our flawed immigration system. Native-born workers have seen a decline in standard of living. Businesses want access to inexpensive labor provided by immigrants. Undocumented workers compete with native-born/naturalized workers on an uneven playing field for jobs. Guest-worker and work-visa programs replace permanent jobs with temporary jobs without benefits or the legal protections guaranteed to most U.S. workers.

Undocumented immigrants are most likely to receive abuse and mistreatment in social situations and in housing and employment. There is a language barrier, and skin color may be different, resulting in discrimination. These are the symptoms of a community in conflict. How can this conflict be addressed?

Some in the faith and labor communities believe we should seek common ground. United States immigration law and enforcement are flawed, and there should be legal reform to facilitate immigration. For practical reasons, the law should limit immigration. Worker exploitation is an issue, and steps should be taken to avoid such exploitation. Crimes against immigrants should be prosecuted as hate crimes. Compliance with existing law is a place where people can come together.

At the same time, there are polarizing issues regarding immigration— notably, the idea of amnesty for undocumented immigrants. The idea of sanctuary cities may be a way to address the issues surrounding our flawed immigration system.

By declaring Iowa City a sanctuary city and creating a sanctuary policy, the community would become more welcoming to immigrants and address the fear of authorities, language and culture barriers, racism, and worker exploitation that often cause friction between immigrants and others in the community.

Making Iowa City a sanctuary city would be no panacea. It would be a first step toward improving the international community that is Iowa City.

~ Paul Deaton is a member of Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility and was chairman of the Johnson County Board of Health at the time of publication.