Word in Des Moines is that MidAmerican Energy lobbyists have convinced the Iowa Senate’s Democratic Leadership to move the nuclear power bill, House File 561 /Senate File 390, during the first week or two of the 2012 legislative session. This is the bill pertaining to nuclear power that was stalled during the 2011 session over public concerns. The idea is that by moving the bill early, Senators would have a clean slate, and proponents could get it done without a potential vote on it being held as a marker in the legislative bargaining that occurs every year. A simple truth is that because the bill is controversial, and 2012 is an election year, some of the 25 senators up for re-election would rather not vote on the bill at all. At the same time, a person hears a lot of things in Des Moines.
Why don’t people like this bill? It has little to do with nuclear power itself.
To begin with, the bill reflects bad public policy. Building a nuclear power plant, or any power plant for that matter, would be a capital intensive activity. With all of the risks involved with a ten year nuclear reactor construction process, big banks don’t want to finance them. What the bill does is take the most significant financial risks of building a nuclear reactor and transfer them to rate payers. This is called advanced cost recovery, although MidAmerican has been somewhat mercurial in what they say about costs. In theory, this would incentivize investors to furnish capital for a project. To do this, the bill dictates how the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) will consider a nuclear reactor application. While members of the IUB are political appointees, they should have the freedom to evaluate any form of electrical power generation on a level playing field. The bill gives nuclear a decided advantage and that makes it poor public policy.
Another reason people don’t like the bill is everyone knows it will directly cause utility rates to go up. The electric utilities, MidAmerican Energy particularly, have been deceitful about this. A truth that few in the electric utility business wants to talk about is the fact that our current power plants, and the electrical grid, have served their useful life and need to be replaced. That’s all of it, coal plants and nuclear reactors, everything except the recent build-out of commercial wind farms which have an estimated 24-year life cycle and a couple of specific plants. In Iowa’s regulated utility environment, residential and commercial users will pay for this upgrade. It has nothing to do with whether the capital investment is in a particular type of electrical power generating capacity.
Why pick nuclear power, the most expensive way to boil water, as the solution? This is a source of more obfuscation. Today the cost of nuclear power is very cheap, between two and three cents a kilowatt hour. I asked DTE Energy employee Chuck Conlen about that low price when he was in Cedar Rapids recently. He said that it reflects the fact that the 104 nuclear reactors in the United States were built during the 1960s and 1970s and are now fully depreciated. He said the cost per kilowatt hour of nuclear reactor generated electricity would quadruple if new reactors were built. As recently as last March, MidAmerican Energy was putting up charts in public showing how cheap nuclear power is today. They failed to mention the substantial capital cost that rate payers will be retiring if a new nuclear plant is built, or the quadrupling of the cost of nuclear power.
I listened to most of the debate on House File 561 in the Iowa House last spring and one thing was clear. Most members did not do their homework on nuclear power. It was as if the good word from the meritocracy that is the electric utility industry was enough. MidAmerican Energy seems determined to have their way with House File 561/Senate File 390, and this has led them to make a case for the bill centered around simple concepts of “baseload,” demand and global competitiveness, which have little to do with the choice Iowans must make about our energy future.
The question Iowans should ask our legislators today is “what will Iowa’s energy future be?” The question about whether we need nuclear power on the table, and whether it should be given special treatment, should only come after the first one is answered.
~ Paul Deaton is a regular Blog for Iowa contributor.
In Colorado last week, we bought a Sunday newspaper at a grocery store. The cashier commented, “I don’t read them anymore, they’re all politics.” Whether it is good for cashiers to comment on items patrons take through the checkout station is one thing, but the exchange we had points to a significant American attitude: almost anything said by anyone in any media is suspect for its “political” content. As we commemorate the 66th anniversary of the United States bombing of Hiroshima, Japan today, this American attitude is troubling.
The proliferation of nuclear weapons remains a threat to the United States; it is hard to deny that. Prominent people, like former Secretary of State George Schultz, say it is the only existential threat to our country and a risk we can mitigate by leading in nuclear disarmament toward a goal of zero nuclear weapons.
The fact that North Korea and Israel have nuclear weapons and might use them is a constant source of media fodder. The worry of a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan is real and escalates as Pakistani society becomes increasingly unstable. The idea that Iran intends to use its centrifuges to produce weapons grade nuclear material is a constant talking point in the media punditocracy. The more states and groups that possess nuclear weapons, the more likely it becomes that one will be detonated and if that happened, it would have consequences for the United States.
A retired military officer writes regularly to our local paper and has suggested in a couple of letters that the United States use “tactical nuclear weapons” to quell countries, like Iran, that are out of compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. I never met the man, but he seems a fool. When people like former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell have indicated the futility of using tactical nuclear weapons and how their use can lead to a broader escalation of nuclear warfare, the rants of a retired marine seem hollow and vapid. But there I go, into the morass of politics.
When we consider the consequences of a nuclear explosion, like the one that killed more than 90,000 people in Hiroshima in 1945, it should be reason enough to ban nuclear weapons. After the Hiroshima bombing, such an outcry arose from people in the world that there was consideration of a unified world government to prevent such devastation from happening again. Instead we got an ineffective United Nations and nuclear proliferation, with nine nations currently in the nuclear club and more wanting in.
The good news, if there is any, about dropping two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 is it was the last time they were used in warfare. As we commemorate the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing today, it is hard to believe the devastation the United States caused 66 years ago. What is harder is the understanding that people without living memory of Hiroshima, or access to solid information about it, could risk repeating it.
~ Paul Deaton is a native Iowan and lives in rural Johnson County.
Come Join Us for the Beginning of a New Food Revolution – American Meat
The movie explains how America arrived at its current industrial system, and shows you the feedlots and confinement houses, not through hidden cameras but through the eyes of the farmers who live and work there. The story shifts to the burgeoning sustainable, local-food movement of farmers, chefs and everyday folks who might just change everything about the way meat reaches the American table.
The documentary features several leading Iowa farmers and activists, including organic farmer and agronomist Fred Kirschenmann, hog farmer Chuck Wirtz, Niman Ranch Pork Company founder and manager Paul Willis and Food Democracy Now!’s own Dave Murphy and Lisa Stokke (that’s us), and Virginia farmer Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and Omnivore’s Dilemma fame.
The Gallery Room of the Englert Theatre will open for a 6 p.m. catered dinner featuring local meats and vegetables from Devotay, Atlas and other local restaurants.
Tickets for the movie and dinner will be $20. Movie tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at: Fooddemocracynow.org.
Movie starts at 7 p.m. August 3rd Englert Theatre
RSVP for American Meat
Movie will be followed by a panel discussion:
Graham Meriwether – American Meat, Leave it Better
Francis Thicke – Organic dairy farmer, 2010 Candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture
Dave Murphy –Food Democracy Now!
Lisa Stokke –Food Democracy Now!
Jason Grimm – Iowa Valley Food Coop
To us, this is huge but has received little notice.
Affordable Care Act Ensures Women Receive Preventive Services at No Additional Cost
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services HHS.Gov
Historic new guidelines that will ensure women receive preventive health services at no additional cost were announced today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Developed by the independent Institute of Medicine, the new guidelines require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services such as well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, domestic violence screening, and contraception without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible.
“The Affordable Care Act helps stop health problems before they start,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need.”
Before health reform, too many Americans didn’t get the preventive health care they need to stay healthy, avoid or delay the onset of disease, lead productive lives, and reduce health care costs. Often because of cost, Americans used preventive services at about half the recommended rate.
Last summer, HHS released new insurance market rules under the Affordable Care Act requiring all new private health plans to cover several evidence-based preventive services like mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks, and childhood immunizations without charging a copayment, deductible or coinsurance. The Affordable Care Act also made recommended preventive services free for people on Medicare.
Today’s announcement builds on that progress by making sure women have access to a full range of recommended preventive services without cost sharing, including:
screening for gestational diabetes;
human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older;
sexually-transmitted infection counseling;
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling;
FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;
breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and
domestic violence screening and counseling.
(click here to read the entire article)
Monday – Thursday from 7:00-800 pm, join us for the fusion of politics and civility at 98.3 WOW-FM and
on-line at 983wowfm.com. Call (515) 312-0983 or (866) 908-TALK to participate in the conversation. If you miss the show, you can hear it as a podcast and please help support local progressive talk radio with a donation through Pay
Pal or by check to PO Box 13421, Des Moines, IA 50310.
Monday, we’ll cover a bunch of ground with State Rep Ako Abdul-Samad. I’m interested in his take on the state budget and the possibility of a special session. There’s talk of bringing the Legislature back to override Governor Branstad’s veto of a tax break for the poor and of legislation to keep 36 unemployment offices open. Those positive changes were supported by Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike. But will Republicans have the guts to stand up to Branstad?
Tuesday, David Osterberg with the Iowa Policy Project shares research showing that Iowa’s budget is not out of control, as some allege. In fact, the budget is smaller now than what it was in the 1990s. Branstad’s insistence on corporate tax breaks to benefit the likes of Wal-Mart and McDonald’s while vetoing the Earned Income Tax Credit indicates a Governor severely out of touch with the lives of most Iowans.
Wednesday, Jake Velie with Healthy for Life discusses America’s growing obesity problem. Recent reports show that America’s waistline continues to add girth every year. This despite Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity “Let’s Move” campaign. Of course, it doesn’t help that Republicans in Congress have come out against curbing junk food marketing aimed at children.
Thursday, Kim Houlding with Story County Veterinary Clinic discusses the challenges facing the chicken industry. My question is, should chicken production even be an “industry,” or would Americans and America’s farmers best be served by hundreds of thousands of small producers?
So, tune in at 98.3 WOW-FM and online. You can download the Fallon Forum as a podcast, too. Thanks!
by Nicholas Johnson
The following is an excerpt. The entire article can be found here
In an [October 2010] interview with the National Journal [the Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader] Senator [Mitch] McConnell was asked what “the job” of Republicans will be if they gain a majority in Congress. McConnell’s response was,
This was scarcely a casual slip of the tongue. “Let Me Repeat; Regrets? Not a One,” National Journal (“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will deliver a speech at the Heritage Foundation that reiterates why making President Obama a one-term president is the GOP’s top priority.”).
Although the National Journal article containing the initial interview with McConnell does not appear to be available to the public on the magazine’s Web site, the quote has been widely reported… link link link
Nor is the mission limited to this one Republican leader….Congresswoman Michelle Backman, has declared “Rep. Bachmann looks forward to working with the Governor [of Alaska, Sarah Palin] for the common goal of making sure President Obama is a one-term President.” Elspeth Reeve, “Palin Rivalry Becomes Bachmann Campaign Strategy.”
At a minimum, the Republicans’ acknowledgement of their “most important thing” calls into question every statement made by the Republican leadership, every legislative proposal, every vote they call for, every filibuster they threaten, every meeting they walk out of, and every charge they level at President Obama. Is it driven by the substance involved, or is it just another tactic in their strategy of presidential failure?
Am I charging some Republicans with a literal violation of our prohibitions of “treason”? No, of course not. Why “of course”? Because Article III, Section 3, of our Constitution was deliberately drafted to define “treason” much more narrowly than its dictionary definition. The Constitution declares that “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them [the United States], or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” From inside the White House, the Republicans’ shelling may sound and feel like “war,” but it’s not what the Constitution’s drafters had in mind.
No, I am speaking of “treason” in its more general dictionary usage:
1. the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign.
2. a violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state.
3. the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.
Synonyms 1. Treason, sedition mean disloyalty or treachery to one’s country or its government. Treason is any attempt to overthrow the government or impair the well-being of a state to which one owes allegiance; the crime of giving aid or comfort to the enemies of one’s government. Sedition is any act, writing, speech, etc., directed unlawfully against state authority, the government, or constitution, or calculated to bring it into contempt or to incite others to hostility, ill will or disaffection; it does not amount to treason and therefore is not a capital offense.”
At the outset, there is something troubling about candidates for federal office running against “government” — as Grover Norquist puts it, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
I certainly support efforts to review government expenditures — as I did as U.S. Maritime Administrator….But to refuse to provide a clean increase in the debt ceiling, as we’ve routinely done dozens of times before, to insist on cutting food, medical and other benefits for the poor, to refuse to ask for a dime’s worth of increased revenue from the wealthy, and to be willing to bring down the global economy and the full faith and credit of the United States for the first time in over 200 years — all in the cause of defeating an incumbent president — does qualify, it seems to me, under the dictionary (though not the constitutional) definition of treason.
Hopefully, the American people will reflect on the Republicans’ behavior this past two and one-half years, and we’ll be rid of the lot by November of 2012.
— Nicholas Johnson teaches at the University of Iowa College of Law. Check out his website at nicholasjohnson.org.
by Dave Bradley
Let’s relax a bit, exercise the mind and have some fun.
My guess is that many here like trivia – so let’s start with
Who said –
1) “I can hire one half of the working
class to kill the other half.”
b) Richard Mellon Scaife c)
Andrew Carnegie d) Jay Gould
2) “Never before in all our history have these
forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are
unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.”
a) Richard Nixon
b) JFK c) FDR d) Sarah Palin
3) “What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”
a) Robert Kennedy b) Barack
Obama c) Bill Moyers d) Mark Twain
4)”I will make a bargain with the Republicans. If
they will stop telling lies about Democrats, we will stop telling the truth
a) Bill Clinton b) Adlai Stevenson c) Lyndon Johnson d) Harry Truman
5) “Every gun that is made, every warship
launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those
who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
a) Dwight Eisenhower b) Wesley Clark c) Ulysses S. Grant d) George C. Marshall
6) “Better to remain silent and be thought
a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
a) Abraham Lincoln b) Mark Twain c) George Bernard Shaw d) Tim Pawlenty
person is credited with creating the myth of the “Welfare Queen?”
a) Ronald Reagan b) Lee Atwater c) Richard Nixon d) Karl Rove.
8) “If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks
ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions,
someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their
housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties
— someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that
grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a
“Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”
a) Franklin Roosevelt
b) Jack Kennedy c) Hubert Humphrey d) Bill Clinton
9) “There is no greater calling than to serve your fellow men.
There is no greater contribution than to help the weak. There is no greater
satisfaction than to have done it well.”
Pope John Paul II b) Jimmy Hoffa c) Walter Reuther d)
10) Who was Joe Biden speaking of when he said, “There’s only three things he mentions
in a sentence — a noun, a verb, and 9/11.”
a) George W. Bush
b) Bernard Kerik c) Michael Chertoff d) Rudy Giuliani
Want a real brain strain? Think you are a real history
buff? I have been straining my brain on
this site for a few weeks. Good
Luck! Scroll down and click on a heart
and a quiz will pop up.
You want answers? Ok
- here’s the answers:
d (Jay Gould)
2) c (FDR) 3) a (RFK) 4) b (Stevenson) 5) a (Ike)
6) b (what’s a quote quiz without Twain?) 7) a (Reagan) 8) b (JFK)
9) c (Reuther) 10) d ( Rudy Giuliani)
E-mail Dave here
Dave Bradley is a self-described retired observer of American politics “trying to figure out how we got so screwed up.” An Iowa City native currently living in West Liberty, Dave and his wife Carol have two grown children who “sadly had to leave the state to find decent paying jobs.”
by Dave Bradley
As I was writing about ALEC earlier in the year, I seemed to run into a bit of a dead end. This was not by chance but by design. Whereas
ALEC seeks to have an inordinate amount of input into legislation that will eventually affect our daily lives, they also want an inordinate amount of secrecy. Said another way, ALEC would like to control your lives without you knowing anything them.
This is, of course, quite contrary to the way that most Americans believe governmental business, especially the law making part, ought to be run. Since the early 1960s with the passage of the Freedom Of Information
Act in 1966, Americans have wanted the workings of their government to be in the open where it can be seen.
The way ALEC works is to bring lawmakers mostly at the state level together with big business. One of the main objects of ALEC is to create template state legislation that is very favorable to ALEC’s business members.
This certainly makes one wonder if creating a “crisis” that can be fixed by an
ALEC template law is only by chance of fate or is helped to the crisis stage on purpose. Based on the phony debt “crisis” currently threatening to ruin average Americans life savings, my guess is most of these crisis are manufactured.
One question that keeps coming up is who in Iowa are members of ALEC? Well since ALEC acts like a private club finding that information is like finding who is beneath the white hood. These folks want to work out of the
spotlight, out of any light at all to create their pro-business, anti-citizen
template model legislation.
A friend suggested writing to the Chief Clerk of the Iowa House. His was sure that the state paid membership dues for groups like this. So I emailed Mr. W. Charles Smithson, Chief Clerk of the Iowa House. I was a bit astounded by the reply I received:
Dear Mr. Bradley:
Technically, all House members belong to ALEC unless they choose to opt-out.
For this period none of the 60 House Republicans has opted out (the names of the House Republicans are available on the General Assembly’s Web site). Four democrats also did not opt out.
I am not much concerned by the Democrats that did not opt out. I doubt their leanings are to enact ALEC laws. However, all Republican members of the Iowa House are members of ALEC? I
was astounded. This surely helps pave the way toward making ALEC model legislation into Iowa law, whether the law fits our current situation or not. A fine example would be the model voting identification laws that have been passed in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and many others. These laws
make it mandatory that a voter have a state issued identification. Such IDs may or may not be free, but are often a burden for the poor and elderly to obtain.
Another variation on this makes it extremely difficult for college students to vote where they go to school. Most of the groups that would be affected by ID laws tend to vote Democratic.
Secretary of State Matt Schultz campaigned on changing Iowa voter ID laws and continues to work hard for them. Even though we have had few voter fraud cases in Iowa. Schultz is now
trying to create a “crisis.” Certainly an ALEC allegiant House would easily pass his bill.
I also checked with Mr. Smithson’s counterpart in the Senate, Mike Marshall, Secretary of the Senate.
Dear Mr. Bradley:
I do not know which senators, if any, are members of ALEC. The Iowa Senate has not paid for ALEC memberships for quite some time.
From the alecexposed
website (http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed) Representative Linda Miller (R-82) is the state ALEC chair.
Since ALEC wants to have such a major influence in our laws and life in Iowa, they MUST be a major campaign issue next election cycle next year. I believe every Republican legislative candidate must answer questions on ALEC:
- Are they a member of ALEC?
- If not are they aware of ALEC and their model legislation?
- Which of the ALEC legislation do they believe should be adopted in Iowa and why?
Dave Bradley is a self-described retired observer of American politics “trying to figure out how we got so screwed up.” An Iowa City native currently living in West Liberty, Dave and his wife Carol have two grown children who “sadly had to leave the state to find decent paying jobs.“
e-mail Dave here
by Dave Bradley
About six months ago, some intrepid folk in Muscatine decided to do something about a major problem in their city.
The major problem they took on was air quality in Muscatine. Muscatine County has some of the most polluted air in the country. Yep, that’s right, the country. Muscatine some large industrial plants along the Mississippi River in the south end of the city. Pollution has been very high there for many years. Click here for a great story that summarizes the situation in Muscatine. (hat tip to Adam Burke who has been closely following this story).
So a group of intrepid citizens formed an action group at the beginning of this year to take on the polluters. The group called themselves Clean Air Muscatine or CLAM.
CLAM helped focus the outrage of the community on the polluters. Many folk who live in nearby neighborhoods have suffered with diseases of the lung including asthma, emphysema and even cancer. “My mother died of emphysema. My father died of emphysema. I have emphysema,” said another South End resident. “When I go outside, I’m coughing so bad within two hours I have to go back in where I have three expensive air filters.”
To read more, click here.
Recently, Grain Processors, the focus of much of the concern, announced plans to build a new grain drying facility which will eliminate many of their pollutants. The plans for the dryer were announced in a meeting with CLAM. While many with CLAM maintain skepticism, this is definitely a big move in the right direction.
While this is but one step in tackling the whole situation in south Muscatine, CLAM and the groups that are affiliated with them have decided to have a picnic this Sunday to mark this stepping stone and do some education for the public.
The more that turn out, the more of a message they send. So if you live around Muscatine and you have some time Sunday afternoon head on down to Musser Park for some free food, music and a chance to learn more about helping to fix this major problem.
If you live within a 20 mile radius of Muscatine, you are probably affected to some degree by the pollution being generated there.
Clean Air Muscatine (CLAM)
Musser Park, Muscatine
Sunday, July 31: 4pm to 6pm
* Music – Children’s Games
* Open to the Public and Free!
* Learn about Improving Air Quality in Muscatine
Please bring: yourself, your neighbors & a lawn chair (if possible).
Interfaith Power and Light
Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility
“The mission of Clean Air Muscatine (CLAM) is to improve the air quality in the Muscatine area which will enhance the community’s health, economy and quality of life.”
Dave Bradley is a self-described
retired observer of American politics “trying to figure out how we got
so screwed up.” An
Iowa City native currently living in West Liberty, Dave and his wife
Carol have two grown children who “sadly had to leave the state to find
decent paying jobs.” E-mail Dave Bradley here
by Ed Flaherty
Following was published, with some editing and deletions, in July 22nd Cedar Rapids Gazette.
On July 8th, the US House of Representatives passed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, H.R. 2219, with a vote of 336-87. This act appropriates $649 Billion for the military. (It does not include funds for Veterans’ Affairs, Homeland Security, nuclear programs and other military-related expenditures). The $649 Billion is an increase of over $11 Billion from last year. If the Senate passes this bill, the Pentagon will be the only agency of the government to receive an increase. The $649 billion is one and one-half times the total of all domestic discretionary spending. Of course, there is no waste in the Pentagon budget. The Pentagon is so clean it doesn’t need to be audited like other federal agencies.
We have heard in the past weeks loud voices resisting an increase in the government debt limit, with an insistence that any increase in that limit be accompanied by a decrease in spending, with an absolute renunciation of any tax increase for those making over $1 Million. Who are some of the loudest voices in this “anti-government spending/empathize with the rich” act? Republicans Eric Cantor, Steven King, Michele Bachmann, and Paul Ryan. Predictably, they all voted FOR the $649 Billion for the military, they who have served nary one day in the military. I call this illogical and hypocritical, but other folks may have more descriptive words.
is President, Veterans for Peace Iowa Chapter #161 and former member of Johnson County Democrats
Central Committee and other suspect groups. Ed is a retired banker.