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Hodge-Podge: Branstad For Bishop!

branstad jobs numbersI understand Terry Branstad is a Roman Catholic. I never knew this because I never cared before. As one who truly believes that the separation of Church and State must as wide as a galaxy it really irked me to see him leading the phony-baloney “day of prayer” last Monday. Terry, if you want to be bishop go for it. I think you would make a lousy one after cutting food aid for the poor 2 years in a row and doing all you could to stop Medicaid in Iowa before making the poor pay for it. You may be religious, but you sure as hell are not moral.

Sending The Refugees Home
Would be like telling fire fighters to take the people they just rescued back into the burning house. Really, Branstad? Really Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman? You both claim to be Christian, yet in a true test of your Christianity you turn your backs on those in need.

I do believe in the separation of Church and State. This is not a religious question, it is a question of morality. Here are two governors who proudly fail that test and want your vote. Morality and government should not be separated.

How To Pay For The Lawsuit Against Obama
The whole concept of the House suing President Obama is so ludicrous it is beyond laughter. Boehner and his sycophants think they have outsmarted both Dems and the far right with this one. But one thing Tea Baggers insist on is that the cost be offset. I have a humble suggestion and shall send it to Mr. Boehner.

Mr. Boehner, I recommend that this epitome of frivolous lawsuits be paid for by taking the salary, travel costs, staff salaries and any other perks from any member voting for this suit. If they truly believe this is a legitimate and necessary suit, they will gladly give up a few years of pay and perks. You may also need to ask them for donations. I see no reason why I or any other taxpayer should pay so much as a nickel for this tomfoolery!

Science On The March
Holy Moley is science ever marching forward at breakneck speed. Couple of really interesting developments these past couple of weeks. Too bad the Tea Party hates science, because they are truly missing some fantastic advances. When they come back to earth they will have a lot of catching up to do. Here are a couple that really caught my eye:

1) Researchers may have found a way to stop type 2 diabetes. Very preliminary, but very promising.

2) Future farming in a high-rise? Taking place now in Japan. Takes up less surface space while making it much easier to recycle, control pollution and farm darn near anywhere. My son-in-law and I have been talking of this for years.

Christie Running!
At least as well as he can run for president while carrying around tons of corruption. Hobbled by many major corruption stories in his administration in New Jersey, Chris Christie has time to take a trip to Iowa and New Hampshire. At least in Iowa he will be able to compare corruption notes with another scandal plagued governor, our own Terry Branstad.

Putin, Plane Shot Down and Republicans
When My wife and I heard of the tragedy in the Ukraine with the speculation that Vladimir Putin may be responsible either directly or indirectly we could not help but remember that only a few weeks ago Republicans from the US Senate to the Us House down to the state house were expressing such admiration for Putin. They used Putin as an example of a “man of action” and someone who gets things done. Wonder how they feel about their hero now. My teachers used to tell to be careful when you pick heroes. Most are not anything like what they appear to be.

I also recall how our last President Bush implied he was a good guy:
“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

Raise your hand if you are really glad Obama is President and not Bush or any other war hungry Republican.

Branstad Admin Nixes Solar Power Grant
Like a good corporate Tea Party governor the Branstad administration rejected a $1 million grant based on corporate lobbyists objections.

They wanted changes to the grant that the energy office were unwilling to make, since they were making them for no one else and they would gut the purpose of the project.

Terry, you can’t stop progress forever. If Iowa’s voters have a lick of sense it will only be for another few months. Jack Hatch will move Iowa forward!

Keep it up and Iowa Republicans will be irrelephant:


Sunday Funday: County Fair Edition

Come one, come all to the great Muscatine County Fair in historic West Liberty, Iowa. We have exhibits of plants and foods; we have show animals of all varieties and we have a midway with thrilling rides and scrumptious one of a kind fair food – including elephant ears and half-pound tenderloins and delicious fried onions! Mmmmm, Mmmmmm, once a year that is some fine eating.

See your friends, see your neighbors. Enjoy a show in the grove while you eat a delicacy. Stay for the races and cheer on the local favorites! See YOU at the fair.

Got to wonder how much longer the whole Fair circuit will survive. I am sure it is one tradition that will not go away easily. Many, many kids remember the fair with love all their lives – the rides, the animals, the friends. But most fairs are just scraping by these days. We wish them another hundred years of success.

I got some questions for you

1) The two big stories of the week happened within the same hour on Thursday. One was the downing of the plane in Ukraine. What was the other?

2) The Branstad administration nixed a million dollar deal from the feds this week which would have studied what in Iowa?

3) Surprisingly, an overwhelming number (74%) of Republicans who have this like it very much. What is it?

4) Steve King is seeking to end this wage scale on projects paid for with federal funds. What is this wage scale called?

5) A proposed pipeline that would cut across Iowa would move oil from where?

6) Reaching back to a historic events, 25 years ago yesterday was a tragic day in Sioux City. What happened?

7) Another week, another judge declares laws against marriage equality invalid. What state joined the ranks of equality this week?

8) Netroots Nation met in Detroit this week. Along with all its other troubles, Detroit is now cutting what utility from households in arrears in payments?

9) 73 in real years, but still looking all of 17, what character died taking a bullet aimed at his gay friend?

10) You would think after this long this guy could run on his record. Who spent $1M on his re-election in 7 weeks?

11) After becoming a right wing whipping dog, what soldier is out of therapy and assigned to a low pressure desk job?

12) In Arizona, a Congressional candidate staged a big show of stopping a bus of immigrant kids only to be informed the bus was actually what?

13) In California, a measure to split the state up has enough signatures for the 2016 ballot. This measure will split California into how many states?

14) What major tech company announced it would be laying off 18,000 over the next year?

15) If you lived in Los Angeles and wanted to wash your car, how much might it cost you?

Where were you 45 years ago when Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon? I was working at a gas station on the interstate. I had a small B&W TV that barely got a picture. Customers came and went, most stopping for a few moments to watch events unfold. It was a magic day.


1) The invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israel

2) Solar Energy

3) Obamacare or the ACA. Please keep fighting it, Republicans.

4) the prevailing wage scale

5) North Dakota (the Bakken Field)

6) United Airline Flight 232 crash landed after losing all flight controls

7) Florida

8) Water. Citizens of Detroit have appealed to the UN.

9) Archie Andrews. Killed off after a long run

10) Branstad. And no, he can’t run on his record

11) Bowe Bergdahl

12) a group of YMCA kids going to camp. He said they looked really scared

13) 6

14) Microsoft

15) $500 for frivolous use of water.

RAGBRAI??? Never heard of it!

Immigrants In Iowa – From IPP

Once more, the folks over at Iowa Policy Project take an hot button issue, take the emotion out of it and give us a sober fact based report. I certainly wish some of our politicians would take a cue from IPP in their actions. This month they look at the effect of immigrants in Iowa.

As an aside, in today’s parlance “immigrant’ has seemed to become synonomus with “Latino.” IPP in no way designates a specific group of immigrants in their report. This is some interesting reading for the Fourth of July weekend in a land built on immigration.
Immigrants in Iowa
What New Iowans Contribute to the State Economy

Immigrants are important to Iowa and its economy:
- generating income as workers, spending money as consumers, and contributing to state and federal revenues as taxpayers;
- starting businesses that contribute to local economic development and job creation; and
- contributing to the vitality and culture of Iowa communities.
In fact, immigrants make up about 4.3 percent of the Iowa population, account for 4.5 percent of the state’s economic output and represent 1 in 20 Iowa workers.

These contributions would increase further if immigration reform were to make work authorization or a path to citizenship possible for the subset of Iowa immigrants who currently lack such documents. That subset — undocumented immigrants — pays an estimated $64 million in state and local taxes, and another $37 million in federal payroll taxes.

In a new report for the Iowa Policy Project, researchers Heather Gibney and Peter Fisher explore the facts that should be part of an accurate understanding of Iowa’s immigrant population and its relationship to the state’s economy. Read our new report — or the two-page executive summary here.

immigrant contribution chart

Did you know? The Congressional Budget Office estimates that over half of undocumented workers have federal and state income taxes withheld from paychecks, along with payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Yet they are unable to access benefits that they are helping to fund. Learn more in our new paper.

Weekend Hodge-Podge

adam smith quote
They Need A Horse Race!
One thing you have to remember going into the silly political ad season is that this is the time of year that make TV stations and networks and those corporations that own them rich. No doubt those with corner offices on upper floors of corporate headquarters care for the most part that Republicans win. But beyond that they care more that all their air time is bought at top dollar.

So what the TV execs want more than anything else is a good old fashioned horse race so that candidates will keep forking over the big bucks to keep the candidates name out there right up to the end.

As Usual, Branstad Lies
Those damn Branstad commercials are on every channel in the universe. I wonder if they are getting them in London or Ottawa? As with anything Branstad, they are a load of lies. Yes we have gained some jobs but nowhere near what he promised. Since I can’t stand to watch his commercials, I can’t say they are lying. However since his administration puts out false numbers I would suspect his commercials do also.

SCOTUS Turns Its Back On Women.
Even the women on the Supreme Court seemed to have turned its back on women. Taking away the 35 foot buffer zone to women’s health clinics in Massachusetts is a hard blow to women’s reproductive rights. Once more the most activist Court makes another argument that it is the worst Court in history. In this case they seemed to think that the protesters free speech rights are somehow impinged if they can’t get right in patients faces to intimidate and harass. They were perfectly free to say whatever they wanted from their 35 foot distance.

I trust this means the end of the so called free speech zones at political functions. Based on this decision, anyone should be able to protest right up to the door of a convention or other meeting. Have at it.

ALEC To Meet To Sell Out America
Just a reminder that the oligarchs of ALEC (a subsidiary of Koch Industries) will be meeting in Dallas on July 30th to decide what they will have their puppet legislators throughout the country do in their state legislatures next winter. If you have a Republican legislator, you have a legislator who owes their allegiance to the oligarchs at ALEC not to their district or state.

Pesky Damned Facts
Jonah Goldberg via Dailykos:
“I supported the war, and I still think the arguments in favor at the time were superior to the arguments against. Alas, the facts on the ground didn’t care about the arguments.”

Portable Death Machines
They kill indiscriminately. Kill your neighbors. Kill your family. Kill yourselves. But do read the roundup of gun deaths weekly at It is not sad. It is not funny. It is frightening. Don’t want to lose a son or daughter. Stand up against guns.

soul of the republican party

Weekend Hodge-Podge

how our media misdirects

how our media misdirects

One of the most interesting hypocritical aspects of the Republican (or Tea Party) is their stance on “pro-life.” They want to force women to give birth no matter the circumstances. Yet when it comes to things that sustain life like food and medical care they do all they can to take access to them away if the child’s family has commited the mortal sin of being poor. It is like the Tea baggers want to teach the poor a lesson by making them watch their children suffer.

Then the Tea party fights like hell to make sure that weapons of death are easily attainable thus putting everyone’s life in jeopardy every day.Plus their answer to every international crisis is sending military which almost always ends with some deaths of those military. Usually these dead soldiers are quite young, just out of their teens.

Branstad Scared?
Good Lord. I can’t turn on the TV and not get a damned Branstad commercial. Not just local stations which I seldom watch, but ESPN, MSNBC, TBS and multiple others. This is not on some local cable station, but on DISH. We know Branstad has a train load of money and apparently he is spending it. Nothing like taking advantage of the Citizen’s United decision, right Governor? He is trying to brainwash us so much that by November we won’t know he is even opposed. Sure would be funny if all his money and all those ads couldn’t cover the lousy job he is doing and he lost anyway.

It could happen. Iowans are not happy with the half-assed answers to problems like medicaid and education and especially jobs. Branstad lies, distorts and misleads but in the age of the internet it is getting harder and harder to cover a pile of manure. Saturating the airwaves, even the satellite companies shows me that Branstad is truly scared that voters know he is doing a crappy job. So his only hope is to try to cover it up. I would so love it if Iowa were the national leader in showing Republicans that vaults of money can’t replace the will of the people to have the government work for them, not for the rich.

Wikileaks revealed Thursday that there is yet another trade deal that is being negotiated in even deeper secret than either the Trans Pacific Partnership or it Trans Atlantic brother. Of course the main reason for super secret negotiations is that the terms will be disastrous for a vast majority of the world’s people.

“The whistleblower and transparency website WikiLeaks published on Thursday the secret draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex, a controversial global trade agreement promoted by the United States and European Union that covers 50 countries and is opposed by global trade unions and anti-globalization activists.

Activists expect the TISA deal to promote privatization of public services in countries across the globe, and WikiLeaks said the secrecy surrounding the trade negotiations exceeds that of even the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that has made headlines in the past year.

Demonstrations erupted in Geneva in April as diplomats met in secret for the sixth round of negotiations over TISA, which would cover international trade in a wide range of service industries ranging from finance and telecommunications to transportation and even local utilities such as water. Protesters demanded that the draft text be released, but it has remained secret until now.”

Much more at the link. Negotiations in secret never lead to good outcomes for the people. This is why we do things in the open in America.

This Really Nails It!

attribution: tom tomorrow at

attribution: tom tomorrow at

Sunday Funday – Hot-n-Humid Edition

today's host

today’s host

As my old friend used to tell me all the time, it ain’t the heat but the stupidity that gets you. When we speak of stupidity my thoughts immediately turn to the Tea Party. If Obama does it they are immediately against it

I sometimes wish Obama would sign an executive order mandating that all Americans breathe. Many on the right may self-suffocate just to continue to obstruct anything Obama may do. Until then we have a quiz.

1) I missed Juneteenth? What the heck is Juneteenth?

2) GM recalled another 3.4 million cars this week. That brings their total recall for this year to approximately how many cars? (+-3 million)

3) Hope you didn’t miss this. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch announced who as his running mate?

4) This silver tongued radio voice of years past and the voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo died last week. Can you name this host of America’s Top 40?

5) 50 years ago during the “Freedom Summer” in Mississippi, 3 civil rights workers were murdered. What city did this act take place near? Give yourself extra points if you can remember the workers’ names.

6) Researchers at New Mexico University and Northwestern found vast quantities of what 400 miles below the earth’s surface?

7) Two dozen Delta Force commandos seized Ahmed Abu Khattala Monday. What is Khattala accused of doing?

8) Senate candidate Bruce Braley came out totally in favor of what government program while his opponent has called over and over for privatizing it?

9) Also 50 years ago this week the Catholic Church handed women a major setback when they issued a condemnation for what medical item?

10) What FOX News(?) host made headlines by telling former VP Dick Cheney to his face “You got it wrong, sir!” Who is this Fox talking head?

11) Two other extreme right wing personalities came out this week and said invading Iraq was the wrong thing to do. Can you name them?

12) People in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota have been overwhelmed by what the past couple of weeks?

13) In Florida a man was bringing his newborn baby and his wife home from the hospital when what happened to him?

14) The new Pope seemed to be picking up much liberal cred up until this week when he came out and condemned what?

15) In a shocker, the US patent office said that what word was offensive and thus no longer can be trademarked?

16) For the first time since WWII the displaced population worldwide has passed what number?

Thought I’d throw an extra one in to give you a reason not to go out and cut grass. We’re done now. Here are some answers:

1) June 19th every year commemorates the day that Texas finally was notified that the slaves had been freed. Thus it commemorates the ending of slavery in the US.

2) 20 million

3) Monica Vernon of Cedar Rapids

4) Casey Kasem

5) Philadelphia, Ms. the workers were Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Cheney

6) water

7) master minding the attack at Benghazi

8) Social Security

9) the birth control pill.

10) Megyn Kelly

11) Pat Robertson and Glenn Beck

12) weather – repeated strong storms with torrential rains.

13) He was killed by a bullet that penetrated his home’s exterior wall and hit him in the back of the head. His neighbor was playing with
his gun when it went off.

14) marijuana

15) Redskins

16) 50 million. Currently at about 52 million.

Sunday Funday – Stephanie Miller Edition

Thou Shalt Not Cheat

Thou Shalt Not Cheat

Today I will dedicate the quiz to Stephanie Miller. We took a trip to Minneapolis last week to see what may have been the last of her “Sexy Liberal Tour.” Stephanie and a changing cast of hilarious cronies have been touring the country for the past several years bringing liberal humor and some sexy humor to the hinterlands. In case people don’t know Stephanie Miller is the daughter of late Republican VP candidate William Miller of New York. Stephanie does a liberal radio show out of Los Angeles. Unfortunately thanks to Rush Limbaugh talk radio in general has become toxic.

The show was hilarious. Up and coming star John Fugelsang with a wide ranging set. Fugelsang had some great jokes. The only one I remember is “The economy is broken because an elephant sat on it.” Carlos Alazraqui added some humor from his home. Then Steph came out less to perform and more to schmooze with a very friendly audience. The evening ended with a quite humorous panel of the three. All in all a great evening. Stephanie can be heard online at 8AM central at

Were you paying attention?

1) ISIS is no longer just an Egyptian goddess. Why is ISIS in the news these days?

2) Joni Ernst is getting some help from the home team. What member of her family called Hillary Clinton a “hag” on facebook?

3) To avoid a controversial decision, what development in Sioux City declined money from the Vision Iowa Fund?

4) He’s back! Surely you know the name of the now controversial(?) POW who returned to the US this week?

5) Comedian Tracey Morgan was critically injured in a traffic accident when the driver of the truck that hit his cab fell asleep. Why did the truck driver fall asleep?

6) US House powerhouse Eric Cantor had his plug pulled in the Virginia Republican primary this week. Who defeated Cantor?

7) Ford company is joining with what American food processor to create plant based plastics for their cars?

8) The Iowa Supreme Court last week allowed a case concerning the attempted removal and then pay cut for a state employee against what official to proceed?

9) Another week, another school shooting. Where did this week’s incident occur?

10) After her bill to bring some relief to college debtors was blocked by Republicans, Elizabeth Warren essentially declared war on what Republican leader?

11) Once more turning to executive orders where congress fails to act, Pres. Obama issued an executive order to cap student repayments on loans at what percent of their income?

12) Holy fix the rotten Iowa highways, Batman! What Iowa politician called for a 10 cent increase in the gas tax to fix our crappy roads?

13) A bill that attempts to make some fixes to the problems at VA hospitals passed the US senate 97-3. What polar opposites drew up this bill?

14) In an incredible move, what leading edge auto technology company made all its patents open source?

15) “Copa Mudial.” What does it mean?

I must mention that the condition of Iowa’s highways compared to Minnesota’s is like the difference between heaven and hell. We need someone who cares leading Iowa. Not someone who sees it as his retirement job.


1) ISIS (Islamic Stte in Iraq and Syria) is heading up the other side in the Iraq civil war.

2) Her husband Gail. He also had a post calling Janet Napolitano a “traitorous skank”

3) The proposed Christian park

4) Bowe Bergdahl

5) He had been driving for 24 hours for Walmart.

6) Dave Brat

7) Heinz – using the fibers from tomato skins.

8) Gov. Branstad

9) Reynolds High, Troutdale, Oregon

10) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Tell me again why 40 votes defeats 60?

11) 10%

12) Jack Hatch

13) Bernie Sanders and John McCain.

14) Tesla

15) “World Cup” as in it’s World Cup time again!

Sunday Funday – Cutting That Grass

Thou Shalt Not Cheat

Thou Shalt Not Cheat

I have complained and complained and complained, but the grass just keeps growing. So once more I trotted out this morning to whack them bloody blades. Who says that training a child to do something over and over and over won’t stick with them? As much as I complain I can still hear my dad’s sarcastic “When are you going to cut the grass?” I have been cutting grass since I was seven. I have come to view lawn grass as an enemy I must vanquish at every turn. So even though I get plenty good allergic reaction from time to time I still sally forth to attack the enemy on my trusty steed.

I have always told my wife that if after I die someone says we kept a neat house, we did something wrong. Yet I am so compelled to keep the grass looking like a picture. Here’s one for you, dear Father!

Were you paying attention?

1) Well Joni Ernst made a little faux pas at the GOP senate debate. Answering a question about an ad showing her shooting she said the ad was shot before “the accident.” What was she referring to as “the accident?”

2) After a couple of weeks of hearings and finger pointing this head of the VA resigned. Who was the secretary of Veteran’s Affairs?

3) A new automobile company? Who garnered much attention last week with their driverless, no steering wheel car?

4) Who can forget? 70 years ago next Friday my Father-in-law was among those paying a little visit to what beach on the French coast?

5) This one time youth icon became a great grandfather last week. He has been like a rolling stone his whole life. Who is he?

6) One Iowa and the Iowa pride Network announced they will join forces. What mutual issue do they work on?

7) It looks like the NBA’s controversial owner may be gone already. Who is said to have bought the LA Clippers and what was his previous job?

8) Which British Royal was called on to abdicate after he/she compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler over Crimea?

9) Iowa’s Regents will consider a new budget proposal next week based in part on the number of Iowa students in the university population. Which of the 3 state schools looks to be a big loser based on preliminary numbers?

10) Her most famous appearance was to read one of her poems at Bill Clinton’s first inaugural. What poet laureate of the United States died this week?

11) The average CEO in the United States now makes about how much per year?

12) ” your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.” What proud gun owner declared that this week?

13) What long serving Tea Bag senator opined this week that “legal gay marriage is almost certain to become a reality throughout the United States.”?

14) Jumping on to the fame and fortune of TV, which current cable star did the Republican party name as its lead speaker at their Republican Leadership Conference?

15) Maybe he ran out of words? Who stepped down as Pres. Obama’s Press Secretary Friday?

Hard to believe that Republicans would take a stand for crappier, more unhealthy food for kids in schools. What am I saying? No it is not. Treating all but the 1% like dirt is what being a Republican is all about. I often wonder how parents tell their kids they voted Republican? Glad we never had to.


1) last weeks mass murder in Santa Barbara

2) Gen. Shinseki

3) Google

4) Normandy Beach as a part of the D-Day invasion.

5) Mick Jagger.

6) gay rights

7) Steve Balmer, former CEO of Microsoft

8) Prince Charles

9) Iowa – possibly as much as $60 million

10) Maya Angelou

11) $10.5 million/year or about 8.8% more than last year

12) Samuel Wurzelbacher aka “Joe the Plumber” (his head was in the toilet too long)

13) Orin Hatch

14) Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty (there’s an empty seat in the clown car, Phil)

15) Jay Carney.

Michael Moore Comments on Santa Barbara Murders

Never forget Newtown

Never forget Newtown

From facebook:

Michael Moore
Public Figure · 1,103,744 Likes · May 24 at 2:16pm

With due respect to those who are asking me to comment on last night’s tragic mass shooting at UCSB in Isla Vista, CA — I no longer have anything to say about what is now part of normal American life. Everything I have to say about this, I said it 12 years ago: We are a people easily manipulated by fear which causes us to arm ourselves with a quarter BILLION guns in our homes that are often easily accessible to young people, burglars, the mentally ill and anyone who momentarily snaps. We are a nation founded in violence, grew our borders through violence, and allow men in power to use violence around the world to further our so-called American (corporate) “interests.” The gun, not the eagle, is our true national symbol. While other countries have more violent pasts (Germany, Japan), more guns per capita in their homes (Canada [mostly hunting guns]), and the kids in most other countries watch the same violent movies and play the same violent video games that our kids play, no one even comes close to killing as many of its own citizens on a daily basis as we do — and yet we don’t seem to want to ask ourselves this simple question: “Why us? What is it about US?” Nearly all of our mass shootings are by angry or disturbed white males. None of them are committed by the majority gender, women. Hmmm, why is that? Even when 90% of the American public calls for stronger gun laws, Congress refuses — and then we the people refuse to remove them from office. So the onus is on us, all of us. We won’t pass the necessary laws, but more importantly we won’t consider why this happens here all the time. When the NRA says, “Guns don’t kill people — people kill people,” they’ve got it half-right. Except I would amend it to this: “Guns don’t kill people — Americans kill people.” Enjoy the rest of your day, and rest assured this will all happen again very soon. moore

Tell Congress And President Obama: No Money For More War

Ed Flaherty

Ed Flaherty

by Ed Flaherty

President Obama gave an eloquent speech on May 23, 2013 on the issues of endless war, US drone strikes, Guantanamo, and the 12-year old AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force). Compare his words then with the reality one year later.

“For over the last decade, our nation has spent well over a trillion dollars on war, helping to explode our debts and constraining our ability to nation-build here at home.”Reality? The “direct” cost of our Iraq & Afghan wars is over $1.5 trillion, and the Administration wants a $79 billion blank check for fighting undefined wars in FY 2015. (That’s on top of a “basic” Pentagon budget of $495 billion).

“…there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility (Guantanamo) that should never have been opened.” Reality? There were 166 prisoners at Guantanamo a year ago, 154 now. Most of them have been formally cleared for release, and most of the rest have not been formally charged. Hunger strikes there are on-going. Efforts to secure the release of US Army POW Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for Afghan Guantanamo prisoners have not succeeded.

“And before any (drone) strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured…” Reality? Non-combatants have been killed in numerous recent drone strikes in Yemen, including 12-15 wedding-party guests. The Administration refuses to make public the victims of our drone strikes. A Federal judge recently ordered the Administration to release to the public its legal memos justifying the targeting US citizens. Not only has the Administration refused to do that, but it is asking the US Senate to approve for a Federal judgeship the attorney who authored those memos.

“The AUMF is now nearly 12 years old…Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight.” Reality? The US has JSOC (Special Forces) troops in 134 countries, and the numbers of armed Reaper drones, overseas drone bases, and Air National Guard drone control centers (including the Iowa Air National Guard in Des Moines) are increasing with no end in sight.

The eloquence and insights of President Obama are admirable. The reality is a stark contrast. The Administration and the Congress must reverse course, and we must insist on it. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is under consideration in Congress right now. This is the time to call our member of the House, our two Senators, and the White House (202 456-1111) to insist that there be no dollars approved for a new war, that Guantanamo be closed, that the record of drone victims be disclosed, that memos “justifying” our drone wars be released, and that the AUMF be terminated at the end of this year.