Water carrier for the radical right attempted to unilaterally suppress voters in Iowa.
Friday was a red letter day for those who have vigorously opposed the spate of voter suppression laws that sprung up around the country following the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder.
In rulings across the country, parts or all of restrictive voting laws were struck down in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Kansas. Unfortunately there are still many more states with similar laws that need to looked at.
Right now Iowa is not one of these states. It is not because there hasn’t been an effort by Republicans to join the club. So far the only thing that has really put the brakes on such an effort is the control of the Iowa senate by Democrats. Were we to see the Republicans take over the senate this fall you can bet that a voter suppression law would not be far behind.
Even though Iowa has one of the more homogeneous populations in the country, we do have those who present Republicans with problems such as students, immigrants and some elderly. Yet another big reason to make sure you get out this year and vote for Democrats – you may want to vote again in the next election.
Voter suppression cases always spawn memories of Matt Schultz and his infamous attempt to suppress votes in Iowa single handedly when the legislature wouldn’t cooperate. So Schultz took it on himself to suppress the vote. Spending some $250,000 of our money Schultz was hell bent on finding voter fraud. And he found next to nothing coming up with only six arrests out of 1.6 million votes cast. He started by attempting to block 3,582 foreign nationals but hat was blocked by a court order.
This was a total waste of taxpayer money and state resources. Schultz seemed to think he was on some sort of a crusade to rid the voting system of a cancer. In truth what he turned up were a few former felons whose voting rights had once had a blanket restoration under Tom Vilsack but were unaware that Terry Branstad had rescinded that restoration.
If there is voting problems in Iowa it rests in our aging voting machines that are vulnerable to hacking. If you don’t think hacking is a major problem then you have missed much of this weeks headlines as Democrats have had at least 3 of their computer systems hacked. If these newer systems can be so easily hacked then our creaky voting machines are probably a piece of cake to hack.
What Schultz did prove was that the Republican’s wet dream of fraudulent voting is a myth, especially in Iowa. But as long as the corporate media continues to misdirect the public, real problems in our voting systems – the increasingly vulnerable voting machine – are being ignored.
Schultz also proved that there is no shortage of Republicans in positions of authority who will do nearly anything for their party to win elections, no matter what.
We are getting down to crunch time for the 2014 election. Actual election day is about 35 days away. But as most of you know the election in Iowa started last Thursday. Everyday from here forward Iowans will be sitting in their kitchens, sipping coffee and filling out their ballots to drop into the mail box to be sent off to the auditor’s office. Or they are reading their morning news choice and then hopping into the car with a spouse or a friend to go to the county courthouse to vote. Or perhaps they will be voting in a satellite polling place somewhere in their county.
Despite a concerted effort by Matt Schultz and his band of Republican revisionists, the much more accessible voting set up by his predecessors, Chet Culver and Mike Mauro, are still in effect. Thus from now until 9PM on November 4th we will be having fellow citizens voting. We need to use all the tools at our disposal to remind folks that the government at every level is in much better hands if it is in the hands of Democrats.
Go to your local Democratic headquarters and offer to help knock doors if you can or make calls if you can. These are the most effective ways to get folks out. Join in the Labor efforts this weekend. A list can be found here: Every hour or two really helps. Envelopes will need to be stuffed for mailings. This is a critical time for traditional mailings. Offer to write up person to person post cards. All of these tactics may coax one more vote for our Democratic candidates.
One other tactic that is easy to use is the Letters to The Editor column in local newspapers. Usually there is a limit of 250 words per letter, so it is best to focus on a narrow subject. You will also probably want to use a word editor that counts the words to put your letter together. Then when you go to submit your letter you can copy and paste.
These days submission is usually a matter of going to the paper’s website and going to the contact button. There you should find a selection for ‘Letter To The Editor.’ Click on the button and follow the instructions. Remember, most papers will ask for your contact information to verify you are who you say you are.
The letters to the editor section is the most read section of the paper behind obituaries. Other folks are interested in the opinions of their peers. Read your letter out loud before you submit to make sure it makes sense to you. Be positive, be coherent and most of all be yourself.
There is no shortage of material to write on, from the big differences between Hatch and Branstad to Dave Loebsack’s very successful stint as Congressman.
Here is my most recent example. Later today I will publish another LTTE submitted by a friend:
Vote Republican, Lose
If you are planning on voting for Republican candidates this fall, remember what you are voting for in reality. You are not voting for an individual candidate but for an ideology that greatly favors the wealthy and has policies that punish the poor and guts the middle classes.
Seldom will an individual Republican candidate mention their true issues out loud, but as a party almost fully beholden to wealthy donors they will mention them behind closed doors to those donors. What comes out of there should scare the daylights out of anyone who is not independently wealthy.
The Affordable Care Act is still their top target and if elected each and every one will go after it with total focus whether at the state or federal level. Right behind them are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, Unemployment Insurance and any other programs which help those who are somehow not as fortunate as others.
There will also be total denial of looming problems, especially those brought on by Climate Change. In order to distract from looming problems we will see our ‘leaders’ chasing phantom demons from Benghazi to the southern border and any other bogus terror they can dream up.
While they are doing that they will be stealing your children’s and grandchildren’s future to give their wealthy donors more tax breaks and privileges to ruin the environment. It is what they have been doing for 35 years. Just so you understand before you vote.
I was making a purchase the other day at a local convenience store. I was purchasing a newspaper. The Headline was simply “Global Warmimg.”
The young clerk, looked like a college frosh, muttered something under his breath. I aaked if he didn’t believe in climate change. He said no. So I asked “What do you think is going on?” “I think the world is twisting in a new direction.” I broke out laughing. Couldn’t help myself. But then I got quite serious and said “You may want to look into that much deeper, because your future right now looks pretty scary.”
This is a young man in a small town rejecting science and going with the easy to believe myth. When it finally dawns on folks that their buddies in the fossil fuel industries and the Tea Party have been lying to them just to make a buck they will be either up to their knees in mud or dry as a bone. And they will probably blame the “libruls” for not telling them what was happening.
I am Tired of Terry!
So I am Backing Jack!
One thing is for sure, if Branstad gets elected again you can expect more of the no growth Republican policies. Hatch has been a leader on the economy and I am hoping he can bring the governorship back to democratic policies.
Has Schultz Crapped Out?
Secretary of State no longer in training Matt Schultz may have made some folks mad with the way he ran the SoS office. Seems like he squandered money left and right running down illegal voters that didn’t exist while paying buddies for working after they were let go. Republicans have an undeserved reputation for fiscal responsibility. Since Reagan was president we have seen borrowing on an unprecedented level, wars started without raising taxes, contracts given without bids and major appropriations without being funded.
That is at the national level. At the state level we have the Branstad administration shifting moneys around probably illegally or at least unethically. We have Schultz pissing away money like it was his own. In nearby states we have Walker using staff to work his campaign and we have Brownback in Kansas giving the treasury back to his buddies.
We need Jack Hatch and Brad Anderson to restore the integrity of government in Iowa and stop these silly witch hunts and crony politics.
Crazy Laws – How Much Longer?
I will be sitting down soon with my mentee. He is nearing the end of a successful high school career and hopefully will embark on a successful life. But before he heads out, I want him to know there are some major traps that have been laid along his way by the Republican Party and the Tea Party. Of most concern to me is that he not walk out of school after four or five years with a debt equal to that of a house and no skills saleable on the market.
What Republicans have done to post secondary education and its financing should be a crime. They punish the poor like they do in everything and reward the rich who hold the loans. We are about the only major economy that does not provide education for close to nothing. No, our laws make it difficult for many to go to college. This will come back to haunt America in the global market in a few short years and will last for a long time. It appears that Republicans want Amrica to be a second rate economy with all the gains going to a few.
Newer, Safer Gun Rejected By Right.
I give up. This past week we actually learned that a company had created a gun that would be much safer because the shooter would need to be wearing a watch like object that would have a unique key for one gun. The gun could not be fired without the watch. Thus if the gun fell into the wrong hands, it couldn’t be fired. I suppose someone could come up with a few scenarios where that may not be true, but it would take some doing.
Seems like a great response to the horrible problem of guns falling into the wrong hands. This would be something I would think most gun owners would want. Well, surprise, surprise. That most crazy of all organizations, the NRA, has come out vehemently opposed to it. The guns haven’t even be put on sale yet and the minions of the NRA harassed a potential seller of this gun to the point where he made a strange video explaining he would not sell the gun.
America loses 30,000 citizens yearly to guns. If we had an enemy that was killing 30,000 Americans a year we would be in all out war with them. Yet, we seem to accept this with little push back. This is an issue that must be resolved.
I am Tired of Terry. I am tired of his lies about jobs. I am tired of his skirmishes with ethics. Seems like this is a never ending problem. I am tired of his nepotism. I am tired of his scandals. I am tired of his worthless promises. I am tired of his being the tired old face of Iowa. I am tired of his policies that greatly favor the rich. I am tired of his line-item vetoes cutting aid to the poor. I am tired of his regents doing what they can to trash our great universities.
In short one Terry Branstad is doing Iowa no favors and should be sent packing. It is time for new blood.
Oh – and most of all, I am afraid that his lieutenant governor may accidentally become governor. Best to replace him now.
Really Joni? Really?
One Sarah Palin in the world isn’t enough? Iowa has to have its very own version? It was bad enough when you sent out that campaign video claiming your expertise at castration really sent a message around the country. Not sure what the message was, but I sure took the message to- uh – heart. It was definitely an eye opener for most men.
But now you claim – well here:
“State Sen. Joni Ernst stressed that judges must have an “understanding where the Constitution came from and our laws, and they all did come from God.” “
The Constitution has no relationship to your god or any other god. If you ever read the damned thing you might come across this passage also known as Article VI of the Constitution:
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Not having a clue what the job is is a good reason to vote for almost anyone else. Maybe you should spend your time doing your job in the Iowa state senate where you seldom showed up this year.
Matt Schultz: It’s Not My Money!
Nope, it wasn’t Matt’s money that he gave to his buddy, Jim Gibbons after Gibbons job was eliminated. No it was your money and mine. Just like when he paid his brother illegally. Let us not forget how Schultz squandered our money chasing phantom illegal voters so he could be a star of the tea party. What did that cost us? About a million or so.
You folks out there in district 3 – we can’t afford no Shultz no more.
Democratic vs. Tea Party
The best way I can explain the difference between the Democratic Party and the Tea party is this:
The Democratic Party solves problems.
The Tea Party creates problems.
The Power Of Money
I am but a casual observer of the sports scene anymore, especially the professional sports. But even as a casual observer I had heard the stories over the years of Donald Sterling and his racist bent. So when the stories started bouncing around about what he said to his girlfriend, I for one was not too surprised. What I was surprised to learn was that Mr. Sterling was going to be given a lifetime award by the local NAACP chapter in Los Angeles later this same week.
And this illustrates the problem of money in politics. Surely if I knew about Sterling, the head of the NAACP in LA did. But to get the continuing donations from Sterling he had to ignore Sterling’s actions.
What better example to illustrate what has happened and will be happening to a much greater degree as elections become incredibly expensive and the only folks who have the kind of money needed are people like the Kochs, the DeVoses, etc. They don’t give money without wanting something in return.
Join the Move to Amend movement to help change the Constitution to get money out of politics!
As a member of the State Government Committee, I participated in a meeting with Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. We wanted to know how three valid Iowa ballots in the 2012 election ended up not being counted. What we’ve learned so far tells me that we have some work to do to prevent this type of voter disenfranchisement from happening again.
ENSURING EVERY ELIGIBLE VOTER’S BALLOT COUNTS
Iowans expect our elections to be secure, accurate and efficient. After all, our democracy is based on citizens making their voices heard.
That’s why it came as a big disappointment when the Cerro Gordo County Auditor brought to our attention that the 2012 general election ballots of three voters in his county had had been wrongly thrown out because of inaccurate information provided by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. The auditor told us that these individuals had had their voting rights restored and that their votes should have counted.
If three voters in one county could be disenfranchised, how many individuals could this happen to statewide? It is the Legislature’s responsibility to make sure that Secretary of State Matt Schultz, as the state commissioner of elections, does a better job of ensuring that the ballots of all eligible voters are counted.
Iowans are proud of their high levels of voter participation, so it is of utmost importance that we take measures to protect the integrity of our system. In recent years, Iowa has made many improvements to our voting process, including allowing voters to register on Election Day at the polls. As a result, Iowa ranked fifth in voter turnout in the 2012 General Election with 73.3 percent of registered voters casting their ballot.
SENATE VOTES TO BOOST INVESTMENT IN LOCAL SCHOOLS
Iowa educators tell us that predictable, sustained state investment in education is the most effective way to increase student achievement.
That’s why I voted this week for a 6 percent increase in local school funding for the 2015-16 school year (SF 2079 and SF 2077). This money would pay for the basics: up-to-date textbooks, heating bills, teacher salaries and gas for the buses. We also approved additional state dollars to prevent any related property tax increase (SF 2078).
Developing the state budget is the one thing I am required to do in my job as a state senator, and the largest part of that budget goes to education. State law requires us to set school funding 18 months ahead of the academic year so that school boards, administrators and educators can plan for local needs and make the best use of state resources.
A 6 percent increase would be welcome news for our local schools. It would help them bounce back from several lean years while also implementing the education reforms we approved in 2013. Since 2011, school funding in Iowa has suffered. As a result, our state has fallen to 37th in the nation when it comes to per pupil spending. Iowa is more than $1,500 below the national average in terms of how much we invest in each student.
However, we have the money to reverse this trend. Our reserve accounts are full at more than $650 million, and we have a surplus of $842 million. The major U.S. financial rating agencies all give Iowa the highest rating of AAA. Only seven other states match us with an across-the-board AAA rating.
Now is the time to invest wisely in student achievement. If the House and Governor also approve the legislation we passed in the Senate, here’s how much our local school districts will get for the 2015-16 school year:
(editor’s note: I could not get the table to transfer to this format. Here are a couple of examples:
School District FY 2016 (estimate) Change from FY 2015 (estimate)
Muscatine $48,896,010 $2,567,231
Burlington $43,736,443 $2,374,987
West Liberty $11,076,032 $813,624
STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT DEPENDS ON TIMELY ACTION
With this week’s vote on school funding, the Senate obeyed state law requiring the Legislature to set education funding 18 months in advance of the school year. I hope the House and Governor will follow our lead. We must put politics aside, follow the law and support the students who are the future of a strong state economy.
The Legislature is expected to set school funding within 30 days after the Governor presents his state budget. For the 2014 session, the deadline is February 13.
Iowa superintendents overwhelmingly believe state lawmakers should meet that deadline and set funding for the 2015-16 school year, as the law requires. In a recent survey, 98 percent of the 214 superintendents who responded oppose the House and Governor’s plan to wait until next year to decide on funding.
In recent years, the House and Governor have defied the advance budgeting law, allowing K-12 education funding to become entangled with other issues and even held hostage for reasons unrelated to students or schools. The message we’re hearing from superintendents this year is clear: Don’t delay school funding again! Nearly every superintendent (99 percent) we surveyed said education dollars would be used more effectively if lawmakers followed the law and set school funding well in advance.
We’ve made some big changes with recent education reforms. Now we must provide financial stability so schools can successfully enact those changes and make sure all Iowa kids graduate with the skills to land a good job. Asked how they would use our proposed 6 percent increase in basic school funding, school superintendents said strengthening reading and writing skills in elementary students, implementing Iowa’s common core curriculum and reducing class sizes are their top priorities.
For more on our survey of Iowa school superintendents and what they had to say about school funding, go to http://bit.ly/1irPiuQ.
EXCELLENCE IN MENTORING
I met Andrea Scott and congratulated her on the Excellence in Mentoring award from the State of Iowa. This award is the most prestigious honor that mentors in Iowa can receive. Andrea began as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muscatine County in 2008. She and her little sister, Zayla, joined us for Mentoring Day on the Hill. Big Brothers Big Sisters matches youth at risk with a “Big” who can have a positive impact on their “Little.”
HIGH-SPEED INTERNET IS ECONOMIC ENGINE
In an effort to help more Iowa employers and workers recover from the national recession, we must increase access to high-quality Internet services across the state.
Iowa ranks 11th out of 12 Midwestern states in the TechNet State Broadband Index, which ranks states based on how many households use broadband, network speeds and the number of jobs that benefit from broadband technology.
Broadband is currently underused in Iowa. According to a survey from Connect Iowa, 71 percent of Iowa households have adopted broadband, but only 47 percent can access broadband at high speed (50 Mbps). Broadband is used even less by low-income families, rural households and senior citizens. Among Iowa businesses, about 23,000 are not using high-speed Internet services.
Broadband can be a powerful economic tool for Iowans and businesses. Better broadband access, particularly in rural areas, could spur economic development through job creation and business expansion.
That’s why legislators in the House and Senate are looking at ways to improve access broadband in Iowa. Under a Senate proposal, companies could get tax breaks if they invest in broadband infrastructure. The bill also would establish a loan fund for businesses making broadband investments.
In September, Governor Branstad announced a new broadband initiative, Connect Every Iowan. A task force made up of stakeholders and legislators met to discuss broadband connectivity issues, as well as how we can increase access to and use of broadband throughout Iowa. To view the task force’s report and learn more about Iowa’s work to expand broadband, go https://broadband.iowa.gov.
EMERGENCY HEATING FUNDS WILL HELP STRUGGLING FAMILIES
The Senate Appropriations Committee this week approved additional help for low-income Iowans struggling to pay their home heating bills during this exceptionally cold winter.
SSB 3137 would provide $2 million to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps offset heating costs for low-income families. The additional money will help address emergencies, including fixing broken furnaces and carrying out emergency fuel deliveries for families in need.
Last year, LIHEAP assisted more than 85,000 Iowa households. As of December, more than 60,000 households had already received assistance through LIHEAP this fiscal year. About 10 percent of LIHEAP recipients depend on propane to heat their homes, with 150 gallons of propane lasting about two weeks in January.
The supplemental assistance approved in the state senate is due to the spike in propane fuel costs. Throughout Iowa, propane is three to four times the usual price, reaching more than $6 per gallon in parts of Iowa. Usually, propane is about $1.79 a gallon.
The federal government is also responding to the need. The U.S. Department of Human & Health Services released a second LIHEAP appropriation of close to $7.5 million to help Iowa families heat their homes during this cold weather.
Iowans with questions or concerns should check out the state’s new Propane Shortage and Heating Assistance Webpage. It has detailed information about LIHEAP, energy and cost-saving tips, safe heating alternatives and other resources.
EARLY HELP PREPARES KIDS TO SUCCEED IN SCHOOL & LIFE
During the first five years of life, children begin to gain the emotional and social skills that enable them to thrive in school and in life. These skills form the foundation for “healthy mental development,” the ability of children to regulate and express emotions, form relationships with others, and explore and learn in their surroundings.
Without a solid foundation of healthy mental development early in life, children are at higher risk for poor school performance, juvenile delinquency and adult mental health concerns later in life.
Iowa’s 1st Five Healthy Mental Development Initiative is a public-private partnership that brings together physicians and public service providers to promote healthy mental development among Iowa’s children from birth to age five. The initiative encourages pediatricians and primary care providers to use proven tools to gauge a child’s progress during well-child visits. At-risk kids can then get the help they need, when local children’s health agencies and early intervention services assist the family in optimizing their children’s mental development.
The Health & Human Services Budget Committee learned this week about last year’s efforts to expand this program from 33 to 49 counties. With continued support of the 1st Five Initiative, we can ensure that all Iowa children begin life with a good chance to achieve school readiness, academic success and overall well-being.
Between 2007 and 2012, health care providers referred close to 5,000 families to 1st Five. In that time, the program helped an estimated 77,000 children. Getting more health providers involved is key. About 93 percent of health providers include comprehensive developmental assessments in their well-child appointments after becoming involved in 1st Five.
Learn more about how 1st Five is helping Iowa kids and families at www.idph.state.ia.us/1stfive.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Protect land with REAP grants
More than $200,000 in cost-share grants is available to help conservation organizations acquire land for additional outdoor recreation opportunities and to protect critical habitat. Recent projects include additions to Pine Lake State Park, Pictured Rocks Wildlife Management Area and the Loess Hills Wildlife Area.
Through the cost-share arrangement, 75 percent of the acquisition costs come from Resource Enhancement and Protection, and the remaining 25 percent comes from private contributions. The Department of Natural Resources owns and manages the property that is jointly purchased on behalf of the public.
For an application and complete details, go to www.iowareap.com and click on “REAP Grants” in the left column. Applications are due March 14.
How much should students borrow for college?
Iowa Student Loan wants to help students avoid excessive debt by educating them about the risks of over-borrowing and how to reduce the need to borrow. At the Iowa Student Loan website, students can learn about their return on college investment.
The ROCI (Return on College Investment) Reality Check is an online tutorial that allows students to compare various types of jobs, their associated starting salaries and the future demand and probability they’ll get the job. It helps students set realistic expectations for how much they might earn after college and how much they should borrow for college. Access the free tool at www.studentloan.org/ROCIRealityCheck.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
Wonder how the Democrats in New Jersey feel now? So many made a point of backing Chris Christie for governor last fall. This helped give Christie the patina of a politician who is a cut above the rest. Christie got that supposedly valuable word “bipartisan” attached to his name with the help of various members of the New Jersey Democratic Party who endorsed him.
Why they endorsed him was something of a mystery. Christie did not bend to compromise with Democrats or their constituencies. Rather he looked to slap them down when he could. But the press created this image of Christie as someone that appealed to both sides of the aisle even as he bullied voters, belittled reporters and sparred with members of the Democratic Party.
New Jersey Democrats had a really good candidate to run against Christie for governor last fall. Barbara Buono was her name. She is a solid Democrat with a long track record. But it sure seemed like her name may as well have been Typhoid Mary the way she was avoided by her own party. It was a Christie love fest and apparently Democrats had to get on board while there was still room. Were they threatened by Christie? Were they just wanting to get on board the Christie White House Express early to maybe catch a plum federal appointment? As I said it is a mystery.
What is not a mystery these days is that if a politician identifies themselves as a Republican, they pretty much by definition endorse Republican policies wholesale. Therefore for the most part they stand in direct opposition to most of what a Democrat or a progressive should stand for. I want to make this quite clear. Whether the Republican in question is named Christie or Branstad or Grassley or Matt Schultz or a Mike Huckabee. Much of what a Republican must espouse is due to kow-towing to the tea bagger contingent that has taken over their party.
So whether it is Christie or Branstad, they believe that
a) women should not be in control of their own bodies. That groups of old white men should choose whether birth control or abortion is available to women. Gee, this sounds like a middle eastern country.
b) Babies must be born. After that who cares if they are fed, schooled or doctored. If they did choose the right parents then their lives may be miserable.
c) Christian religion is much more important than science. Following the precepts of Christianity is not important. Saying you are a Christian publicly and loudly is important.
d) If you are poor, you must remain poor and suffer. No government help of any sort should be available to you, or your family ever.
e) If you were born rich you are obviously chosen by God to lead and deserve to be treated as special by the government.
f) If you are a working person, you are lucky to have a job. You should have no right to organize into unions and should be happy to even have a job.
These values are not written down anyplace, but this is what the Republican party practices daily. So why the main stream media has taken it upon themselves to paint Chris Christie as someone who does not encompass these repugnant views is beyond me. They skewer any Democratic politician who endorses even one of those views, yet let Republicans pass even get praised even though holding such views is the price of admission to their party.
Iowa’s version of Chris Christie is Terry Branstad. As governor he uses his line item veto to cut substantial aid to food banks and the press barely reports it. When he realizes he can’t simply dump the Medicaid portion of the ACA because it would be too politically dangerous, he comes up with a scheme that attempts to make the poor pay for their Medicaid and our press barely reports on it. Instead of being truthful in record keeping his administration constantly lies about things like jobs and the press doesn’t even question it.
I am hoping Iowa’s Democrats are much smarter than New Jersey’s Democrats. Branstad over the years has proven he is thoroughly Republican from his days as an early leader of ALEC to these days when he is more than happy to punish the poor. Democrats don’t need to bow to Republicans like Branstad, they need to proudly back their own candidate, Jack Hatch. Hatch is a long standing progressive who would bring solid progressive credentials to Terrace Hill. Iowa can no longer afford Branstad’s unreported Republican agenda.
There is quite a contrast between Brad Anderson and Matt Schultz. In a recent edition of your Muscatine Journal there were two articles concerning the elected position of Iowa Secretary of State.
One described Democrat Brad Anderson’s good ideas on how to increase voter turnout in the state of Iowa.
The other article told of Republican incumbent Matt Shultz’s possible illegal spending of federal funds to conduct a wild goose chase.
It’s bad enough for Shultz to push for repressive “Voter ID” laws and pay the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation $150,000 (so far) in a ridiculous attempt to find “voter fraud”.
But you’ll remember that recently he took a week-long “working” vacation to Switzerland at the same time county auditors were meeting in Des Moines to discuss voter issues after the municipal elections.
Last week Gov. Terry Branstad signed a law which gives him what must be the ultimate among those who desire to hold the control of others’ lives in their hands; he now has the power to decide if a woman who uses Medicaid as their insurance will be allowed to get an abortion paid by Medicaid. Man, other Republican governors must be out of their minds jealous.
When I say “those who desire to hold control of others lives” I mean Republicans. Almost every move since Ronald Reagan has been geared to make those who are not rich lose more and more control of their lives. There are the obvious acts through which a segment of the population loses control over their own lives, such as all the regulations imposed on abortion clinics, which in effect take away choice for women. Having a child imposes huge societal controls on a woman. Now Branstad gets to decide who will have those controls placed on them. And the beauty is that he will not have to contribute one cent of his money to raise the subsequent child.
That is one of many ways Republicans have moved to control our lives in the past 30 years. They have nullified the power of unions and any leverage labor ever had by both busting unions and by passing laws which allow corporations to manufacture overseas without any penalty. This has greatly expanded the labor pool and thus lowered the cost of labor. How does that put the Republicans and the rich in control of your life? Well, have you thought about leaving your job lately? Back in the 70s you may have had a great many opportunities. Today, if you are lucky there might be one or two. More than likely there will be hundreds vying for that job. Since the chances of you leaving your job are slim, the raises and perks that once went with your job have been stunted. If you decide to leave there are a hundred outside the door that are ready to take your place for an even lower wage.
As we come up on birthday #237 for America, the freedoms and liberty that was won so hard against a government that limited freedoms are once more becoming quite limited for the average person. Franklin Roosevelt stated it very succinctly decades ago in a time of great economic trouble. As the country pulled itself out of the Depression, Roosevelt noted the relationship between freedom and economics:
“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
Republicans are quite aware that the opposite is also true – people who are hungry and out of a job can easily be controlled. All they had to do was to create the environment in which people were losing their jobs or feared losing their jobs and were either hungry or were getting there. Thus they have passed legislation which funnels government money to the rich. Then in turn they have cut social safety nets which at one time could sustain a person’s dignity. They have also created insecurity in jobs in all sectors through government cut backs, through laws which effectively undermine unions and through laws which allows employers to send jobs overseas for much lower wages.
Republicans have also created a populace they can control by defunding public schools and forcing teachers to teach to a set of tests. This cuts down on the teaching of critical thinking skills. Without those skills, it is harder for a person to understand when someone is controlling them. The rise of corporate and religious run schools with their ideologies also negate critical thinking skills.
And of course the great control mechanism for those in power since the beginning of man and in all societies is religion. That religion is so tied in with Republican Party is no coincidence. The Republican Party using their position in government to pass what should be religious rules is no coincidence either. Republicans know that claiming the mantle of the party of the religious gives them a great way to get votes and a great pipeline to use control mechanisms. Laws pertaining to marriage are a great example. Until just yesterday, our country had a law which controlled who you could and couldn’t marry.
How could you exert control without control of the media? You couldn’t! Usually the first thing the winners of a revolution do is seize the media. One of the first things we did after our revolution was free the media from government control. Yet the media has descended into almost total control by corporations which align themselves with the extreme right of this country. Thus they control the information that is disseminated to us. We now get a very narrow view of what is actually happening. Because of their opposition to the President, one TV network (Fox) refuses to carry anything Obama. They rehash discredited stories such as Benghazi rather than give the president any air.
The last way Republicans exert control is by limiting who can vote. We have a great example here in Iowa with Secretary of State Matt Schultz determining who can vote based on last name. Republicans do not want open elections, they want rigged elections. The gutting of the VRA by the Supreme Court Tuesday will go a long way toward that.
So we have slowly descended as a country into a situation very near what we faced in the 1760s . Once again we have a very small group of very wealthy elites running our lives through control mechanisms that their lackeys in government and industry have imposed on us. I am not advocating a revolution or anything like that. I am pointing out that our freedoms have been usurped. I will also point out that we have the tools to turn the country back to a track of freedom which in turn will bring prosperity. But we have to use these tools. We must run good candidates and vote them into office.
If the thought of Terry Branstad deciding whether a woman he does not know must be forced to give birth and then raise that child with little or no safety nets in place is as repugnant to you as it is to me – get off that couch and get active while you still can!
In a survey released Wednesday, Politifact noted that Republicans lie 3 times more than Democrats. This is based on a study of statements only since the beginning of Obama’s second term. Although I did not see this noted, I would assume it only included actual office holders and did not include Republican sycophants like Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and most radio talk shows.
There were of course some attempt to determine how much truth was being told during the campaign in 2012. Maybe you can remember how well acquainted Republicans were with the truth last year. About the only time Mitt Romney told the truth was the night he thought he was speaking behind closed doors and safely under the rocks to a group of his peers. That was the famous 47% speech. Beyond that it is rather doubtful that Romney ever said anything that was true. Ironically his confidence in winning was buoyed by an old hand at lying who never told Romney the truth. That of course was Karl Rove. Still funny when I think about it.
Like most of you, I think Politifact was being kind. They rated only 1/3rd of Republican statements as false. I seldom hear one that is true. Even our vaunted senator, Chuck Grassley seldom says things that can be labeled fully true. Remember his continual denial that he made the famous “pull the plug on Grandma” statement despite a video of him doing so going viral on the internet.
The very beliefs that under gird the GOP is little but a pack of lies. Whatever you call “Reaganomics” whether it be “supply-side economics” or “Chicago school” economics or whatever, events have proven over and over that it simply does not work. So as they go on and on about how great their version of economics works, history has long since proven it does not work. As an addendum, the book that their current philosophy of austerity is based on has been proven to be based on false presumptions and misuse of data. That is the now infamous Reinhart and Rogoff book that claims that once the national debt reaches 90% of GDP the consequences get bad and feed on themselves. They had to ignore a lot of data to support that claim.
In Iowa we have some of the most productive liars the Republicans have ever produced. The aforementioned Grassley who seems to be only loosely acquainted with truth. But the top prevaricator in Iowa has to go to Governor-for-life Terry Branstad who still can’t understand the concept of NET job gains. Following close behind is Secretary of State-in-training Matt Schultz who can’t seem to grasp that he must follow laws and that his job is not to make up laws out of thin air.
It is hard to believe that Republicans do not know what they are saying are lies, or if not lies certainly misleads. However, much of what they say is based on lies and misleads pushed by a propagandistic media which is mostly corporate and mostly Republican. Our media is now a sad shell of what it once was. Slanting stories, ignoring stories and leaving out nettlesome facts are par for the course for our corporate media. Republicans can use the media’s poor performance easily as a basis for their lies rather than ferreting out the truth themselves.
Most Republicans (all I am sure) claim that the very basis of their belief system is Christianity and the bible. The Bible itself is a book that seems to be full of pretty questionable accuracy. (Methuselah really lived to be 900 years old? Really?) Even beyond that there is the practice to only support a few quite selected portions of the bible and totally ignore anything they disagree with. (Jesus really did believe that we should not purposely let our fellow man starve to death). So it seems that the very foundation of Republican values is based on untruths, misleads and omissions.
I am not saying Democrats don’t lie. But certainly not on the scale of Republicans and not with the intent of causing harm. The other thing that is so distressing about Republican lies is that they lie in order to cover their true intent on what they want to do in government. If they were truthful, they would be running on a platform of lowering wages to the lowest possible point, ending all government programs that helped individuals in any way, controlling our sex lives and ending all taxes, especially for the rich. Their true platform would be one written by the rich, for the rich. It is already that but is couched in weasel words or Frank Luntz words. Were they to tell the truth no one would vote for them. And nearly everyday more Republicans are awakening to the fact that they are being lied to and lied to and lied to.
Just last week some guy named Bob Dole woke up to that fact, noting that he does not belong in today’s Republican Party.