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What To Do Instead Of Arguing With A Conservative

tea party conservativesYes, you’ve seen these kinds of videos before but this one is actually pretty good.

“In MRI studies when people see information that contradicts their world view the parts of the brain involved in reasoning and logic would actually shut down. Instead it was the parts of the brain that handled attacks and the fight or flight response that lit up.”


School Funding, Payroll Debit Cards, Texting: The Courtney Report


Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of the weekly newsletter from Senator Courtney. For the full newsletter, please go to his website


If the future of Iowa children, job creation and economic growth matter to you, please make your voice heard on funding for our students and schools.

The House and Senate are in gridlock. The Senate has approved a 4 percent increase in funding for our K-12 schools. However, House Republicans have voted to scale back educational opportunity with a meager 1.25 percent increase. That is not enough to keep up with rising costs, let alone compete with other states.

When asked about the impact on their students, Iowa school superintendents said they would have to increase class sizes, fire teachers, delay buying new classroom materials and reduce course offerings. Iowa is already more than $1,600 below the national average in annual per-pupil investment. The result is that other states are increasing student achievement faster than Iowa and out-performing us.

Iowa is competing with the world for high-skill, high-wage jobs. We must increase our commitment to great schools, student achievement and teacher quality.

Contact Governor Branstad and tell him to break the gridlock on school funding. Call his office at 515-281-5211 or send him a message at

Over the last year, the Senate Government Oversight Committee has investigated numerous allegations of hush money, slush funds, black lists and lack of transparency throughout Governor Branstad’s administration.

This week, the Senate approved SF 321 to ensure state agencies that save money by purchasing through the state’s master contracts get those dollars back. The Department of Administrative Services would no longer be able to retain rebates and use them for its own purposes. Rebates would be returned to the rightful agency, rewarding them for their fiscal responsibility while adding accountability and transparency to state spending.

In addition, we hope to restructure the state’s infamous “black list.” In the past, Iowans had no idea they were on this black list — also known as a “do-not-hire” list — unless they applied for a state position and were denied.

Senate File 332 would establish procedures for putting somebody on the state’s do-not-hire list, which would make them ineligible for state agency employment. Under the bill, the Department of Administrative Services may only designate an individual as ineligible for state employment under specific circumstances. The individual must be notified of their status at the time of termination and has a right to appeal.

The bill also requires the Department of Administrative Services to post all vacant positions, with a public announcement of vacancies at least 10 days in advance of the application deadline. This will allow all qualified individuals the chance to find out about job openings.


This week, the Senate approved legislation aimed at clarifying the law regarding payroll cards. A payroll card — which is similar to a debit card — is an increasingly popular way to pay employees.

Legislators recently heard from Iowans who came to the Statehouse to tell their stories. We learned that many Iowans don’t have a choice in how they are paid and may incur high fees when paid by payroll card. Nobody should have to pay a fee to collect their wages.

Senate File 460 is a simple, common sense bill that aims to protect the pay and rights of employees.

SF 460 requires an employee to agree voluntarily to payment via a payroll card. The agreement must be in writing, and the employee must have the option to withdraw all the wages due in a pay period without incurring a fee. The bill also requires the employer to keep the records of consent and to provide another payment method if an employee requests it at a later time.

Texting while driving is dangerous. Between 2001 and 2013, more than 8,600 Iowa crashes were caused by drivers distracted by a phone or other device. These crashes resulted in more than 4,200 injuries and dozens of deaths.

In 2010, Iowa made it a crime to write, read or send a text message while driving, but the law is a secondary offense. That means officers can only write a ticket for texting if they pull you over for speeding or another violation.

Polls show more than 80 percent of Iowans want tougher laws for texting while driving. Texting behind the wheel is a primary offense in 39 other states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. That gives officers the authority to pull over a driver specifically for texting.

Iowa will join those states if Senate File 391, approved this week by the Senate, becomes law. The bill makes texting while driving a primary offense and clarifies that the texting ban is applicable to any electronic communication done by hand.

Texting makes the chance of an accident 23 times greater because it involves three types of distraction– it takes our mind off driving, our eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel. Drivers who text have slower reaction times, are 70 percent less likely to stay in their lane and often fail to notice traffic signs.

Teens have been the primary focus of Iowa’s texting and driving laws and education efforts. Texting results in car crashes that kill an average of 11 teens each day nationwide.

However, many parents don’t set a good example for their kids. When educators from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau talk with Iowa teens, half the students say their parents text while driving.

Learn more about the dangers of texting while driving at

Simply Stated: A Party Is Its Budget

republican budget

Surely this is not the first time you have heard this: budgets are moral documents. They also are the means by which political parties translate all their rhetoric and advertisements into actual policy. When you hear Republicans claim that they support Social Security, check their budget. Do they support the lowly grunts in the military? Check the budget. Access to health care for all? Check the budget. What about education?

In simple terms, the Republican budget lays bare the plans of Republicans to take health care from large swaths of people, take food from families, take away unemployment compensation and in short totally shred what is left of the social safety net. In return they give more huge tax breaks to the wealthy. Trickle down is still their mantra. Trickle down didn’t work then and it doesn’t now. The idea that some rich person’s cup will overflow spilling some money on us peons is insane. The cups grow forever.

Beyond the cruelty to the mass of Americans, the biggest fallacy of a Republican budget is that it spurs the economy. An economy runs on money moving in the system, not on it being stagnant in a few hands.

Once more the Congressional Progressive Caucus has released their budget. This is a budget that puts the people first. Getting money into the hands of those who will spend it is also the best way to make the economy grow. Why you ask? Because demand creates economic activity. The poor and middle class have a huge amount of pent up demand that will drive the economy just as it drove the economy in the years before Ronald Reagan.

Meteor Blades over at dalykos has a good quick analysis of the budget being offered by the CPC. You had better read it there because you know our major media will totally ignore it.

Payroll Debit Cards, Accurate Court Records, Mental Health – The Courtney Report

Courtney Report

Note: This is edited from the weekly email report from Senator Courtney. To see the full report please go to Senator Courtney’s website.

Imagine it’s payday, and you get your pay for the week. It’s on a payroll card (similar to a debit card) instead of a check or direct deposit. You didn’t have a choice in receiving your pay this way. You try to retrieve your money from the payroll card, and you discover you’re being charged a fee to receive your hard-earned pay.

Legislators recently heard from Iowans who came to the Statehouse to tell their stories. We learned that many Iowans don’t have a choice in how they are paid and may incur high fees when paid by payroll card.

Nobody should have to pay a fee to collect their wages. That’s why legislation aimed at clarifying the law regarding payroll cards is moving forward.

Senate Study Bill 1004 requires an employee to voluntarily agree to payment via a payroll card. The agreement must be in writing, and the employee must have the option to withdraw all the wages due in a pay period without incurring a fee. The bill also requires the employer to keep the records of consent and to provide another payment method if an employee requests it at a later time.

SSB 1004 is a simple, common sense bill that aims to protect employee’s pay and rights.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved a bill allowing those charged with a crime to apply to have court records of the criminal charge and proceedings expunged if the charges were dismissed or resulted in a “not guilty” verdict.

Sometimes people are wrongly accused of a crime. This can have all sorts of other negative consequences. Many employers access Iowa Courts Online during the hiring process and property owners check online court records when deciding whom to rent to. Just seeing someone’s name in the court records can hurt their chances of getting a job or finding housing.

Senate Study Bill 1110 will provide those who were never convicted of the crime a better opportunity to move on with their lives. A defendant in a case will be able to make application to the court to expunge a criminal record when all criminal charges in the case are dismissed, or the defendant is acquitted of all charges in the case and:

• All court costs, fees and financial obligations ordered by the court are paid.

• The case is dismissed permanently or is beyond the statute of limitations.

• The defendant is not being charged with a crime in a related case or has not been convicted of a crime in a related case.

• The defendant was not found “not guilty by reason of insanity” or incompetent to stand trial.

• All parties in the case have notice of the application to expunge and an opportunity to object.

If all requirements are met, the court must expunge the records of the criminal case. The expunged record will be a confidential record exempt from public access but will be available to the defendant and to various justice system agencies. It’s a step in the right direction toward a fairer system of justice.

I am committed to continuous improvement of Iowa’s modernized mental health system. That’s why I was as surprised as everyone else when Governor Branstad announced plans to close Mental Health Institutes (MHI) in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda.

These facilities offer specialized services that are not available in many areas of the state, including dual inpatient treatment for mental health and substance abuse, as well as psychiatric services designed specifically for older Iowans. Closing these MHIs could reduce or eliminate services for Iowans with severe mental health issues, forcing them to travel hundreds of miles to receive critical care.

It’s important that Iowans have access to mental health services close to home, from basic outpatient therapy to intensive, inpatient care for the most severe cases. The Legislature has been working to improve Iowa’s mental health system for years, but that work is not yet complete.

In the weeks since the Governor proposed the MHI closings, mental health professionals, community leaders, former patients and their families, and advocates have urged the Legislature to resist the proposed closings. The message is clear: Iowa needs to develop and invest in additional community based mental health services before we consider closing existing facilities.

The Governor’s proposal removes a needed mental health service with no coherent plan to ensure effective treatment for some of the worst mental illness cases in Iowa. The Senate is taking a different approach.

SF 333 requires that the state Department of Human Services admit eligible Iowans to the MHIs through the current fiscal year that ends June 30. This bill recently passed on a bipartisan, unanimous vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee. During last year’s budgeting process, the Legislature approved funding for this purpose and the Governor signed the legislation. The Governor should use those funds as approved.

The second bill, SF 308, sets up a process for the state to develop and implement crucial community based mental health services. Services outlined in the plan and approved by the Legislature must be in place before we consider closing the MHIs. The plan must include input from stakeholders and experts, ensure that transitional services are offered without hurting quality of care, ensure local access to highly trained community and institutionally based care providers, and identify stable funding for new services. The Senate Human Resources Committee has approved this bill.

Progress Iowa Announces The Academy Awards of Extreme Iowa


And the Oscars go to…Branstad, Ernst, Upmeyer, Blum and King *Updated Source Citations Below*

Des Moines, Iowa — Tonight, stars and celebrities will honor the best in movies over the past year. Today, Progress Iowa announced the winners of the 2015 Academy Awards of Extreme Iowa, in order to recognize and hold accountable Iowa’s most extreme politicians.

“These politicians represent the far right in Iowa, and have earned the dubious distinction of the 2015 Academy Awards of Extreme Iowa,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “Unfortunately there were a number of potential award winners, but from underfunding Iowa schools to embarrassing our state on a national stage, these five are by far the most deserving.”

This year’s Academy Awards of Extreme Iowa are presented to…

Terry Branstad, in The Clarinda Shutdown: for worst denial of public input

After proposing to close mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant without legislative input, Governor Terry Branstad received a strong rebuke from Republican Representative Dave Heaton: “I think the governor is violating the budgetary process,” Heaton says. “He’s making a unilateral decision without input from the legislature…He’s saying: ‘I just want to close ‘em.’ And that’s not right.” [Source: Radio Iowa]

Linda Upmeyer in The K-12 Disaster: for worst performance on behalf of Iowa Schools

Iowa House Republicans, led by Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, are sticking with their inadequate proposal to fund Iowa schools at a 1.25% increase, which will lead to Iowa being ranked 40th in the country in per-student spending. [Source: Cedar Rapids Gazette  ]

Joni Ernst, in SOTU Response: for worst performance on a national stage

During her response to the State of the Union, newly elected Senator Joni Ernst embarrassed herself and Iowans on the national stage. Ernst refused to offer a single new policy idea, and instead spent her time spinning yarns and telling stories that earned her ridicule from local and national media. [Sources: Cedar Rapids Gazette, The New Yorker, Salon]

Steve King, lifetime achievement: for most shameful congressman in Iowa history

Congressman Steve King has consistently embarrassed Iowans during his time in office. From comparing immigrants to dogs, calling immigrants drug smugglers, and saying he doesn’t expect to meet gay people in heaven, King has a long track record of shameful statements that do not truly represent Iowa values. [Sources: Politico, ThinkProgress]

Rod Blum, in Strange Bedfellows: for best support of an extreme agenda

After winning election and campaigning as a moderate, Congressman Rod Blum cast his first vote in support of Steve King’s choice for Speaker of the House. [Source: The Des Moines Register] Blum appears to be following in lock step with King’s extreme agenda during his first months in office.

The Calm Before The Storm

willa cather quote“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”   – Willa Cather

December is the calm before the storm. I’ve delayed writing a post-election synopsis partly due to the fact that the gains Republicans made in the 2014 election are so enormous it is hard to digest what that all means into a cohesive blog entry.

But analyzing them is even more difficult to decipher since parallel to GOP electoral victories, 2014 also resulted in populist referendum victories.

In Illinois, though voters chose billionaire Republican Bruce Rauner by 50.8 percent over incumbent Governor Pat Quinn 45.9 percent, those same voters also approved progressive advisory referenda by wide margins. 67% of Illinoisans voted to raise the minimum wage, and 63.5% of them also voted to levy a millionaire tax.

They also voted to amend the Illinois constitution to protect voting rights with this language:

“No person shall be denied the right to register to vote or to cast a ballot in an election based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income.”

This far-reaching language now enshrined in the constitution isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a populace that selected for Governor a man whose private equity firm CTGR is named in over 150 lawsuits for negligence and wrongful deaths at nursing homes managed by the firm.

Other states had similar results. Voters chose Republicans overwhelmingly for state legislatures, and they now have majorities in a majority of states. Voters also elected more Republicans and the GOP now controls the US Senate.

However, like in Illinois, voters themselves when given direct authority on actual policy, showed remarkably progressive positions.

Other states that approved minimum wage increases through ballot measures in 2014 include Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Not exactly bastions of liberalism there.

Anchorage voters repealing an ordinance which had removed city employees’ right to strike, limited annual pay increases, outlawed performance bonuses or incentives in future contracts, and set up a system for outsourcing some work done by city employees. Has Sarah Palin land suddenly surged to the left?

Also, Phoenix voters defeated Proposition 487, which would have changed the city’s retirement system from a defined benefit system to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. Certainly there are a lot of retirees in Arizona, but they typically are anti-union conservatives, so what gives?

And it’s not just economic or voting issues that demonstrate that the electorate is far more liberal that the conservatives they elected. Marijuana expanded its legitimacy with legalization approved by voters or legislators in Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia.

So, come January, we will have a collection of conservative legislators at the state and national levels who will insist they were given a mandate to push through conservative positions even though just 36.4% of voters bothered to turn out.

We will have a Senate led by Mitch McConnell who will push the TPP, Keystone Pipeline (1st vote of the session!), and a repeal of Obamacare.

Wisconsin Republicans will introduce Right to Work legislation to weaken the private sector unions. In other states, where RTW hasn’t been able to pass the statehouse, Republican County Supervisors and City Council members will introduce it at the municipal level.

A bill in Missouri will be sponsored that requires a woman to get her husband’s permission to terminate her pregnancy.

Iowa’s Republican Governor promises to further drain the state’s revenues with income tax cuts, a move that will likely be supported by weak-kneed Democrats fearful for electoral retribution in 2016.

And beyond the walls of the legislative halls, the barons of Wall Street will have free reign to profit off toxic assets that are underwritten by you and me thanks to the bi-partisan budget bill just passed by Congress and signed by President Obama.

We will have to contend with a conservative dominated Supreme Court that just issued a decision that legalizes wage theft.

But we will also have a progressive dominated National Labor Relations Board and lower court appointments just approved by the Senate.

So what shall we do to prepare for the new year? Get a good pair of marching boots and hone your listening and speaking skills so we do not approach policy like a bunch of shrill reactionaries.

And do as we always say in the Labor Movement: organize, organize, organize!

Sunday Funday – December Is November

Ho, ho, ho. These questions are crazy

Ho, ho, ho. These questions are crazy

We seem to have had a turn over in our weather patterns. Shortly after Halloween we went directly to cold December type weather complete with snow. Since December 1, we seem to have reverted to November weather with highs in the cool autumn mode. If this proves anything, I think it is do not anger the weather gods. They mess with us just for fun. If we complain, they just mess with us more.

Speaking of messing with us, I had almost forgotten that Dec. 12, 2000 was the date of the last American revolution. If you have forgotten, that is the date that five members of the US Supreme Court chose the president over the vote of the American people. Disaster ensued.

Were you paying attention last week?

1) December has many holidays that represent the return of light (the sun). This Swedish festival celebrated on Dec. 13 features young girls wearing a head wreath of leaves with candles and a white gown. Can you name the saint at the center of this festival?

2) Speaking of Scandinavian countries, our Patent Office refused a patent to a Norwegian company because the name of their product was “offensive.” Do you know the product’s name?

3) The final nail in coffin for Democrats came in Louisiana Tuesday when Sen. Mary Landrieu was defeated by what challenger?

4) Folks in what Iowa tourist mecca took an icy “polar bear” plunge last Sunday to raise money for ‘Toys For Tots’?

5) Many players in what pro sport wore pre-game warm ups that had a message saying “I Can’t Breathe”?

6) Which former major retailer and it subsidiary announced last week that it would close approximately 15% of its stores next year?

7) December 16,1944, Iowa lost one of its most famous sons. There is still controversy on what may have happened, but we know that what famous band leader of the era died in a plane crash on that day?

8) Well, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on CIA torture this week. What Republican senator was the only one who said the report needed to be released?

9) With oil prices tumbling, what do many analysts feel that the break even price for pumping North American oil is?

10) Thursday the US House passed a funding bill to fund the government until September except for one department. What is the department and why was it excluded?

11) In that funding bill there was an add on clause that many critics claim was written by what financial company?

12) Once again I was disappointed as I was passed over for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Who did win this honor this year?

13) For the second time in a couple of weeks, citizens of what state are getting pummeled by powerful storms that may signal an end to one of their longest droughts ever?

14) Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will kick off his presidential campaign with a prayer rally in Baton Rouge on Jan. 24. In a handout in preparation for the event, Jindal blames natural disaster’s such as Hurricane Katrina on what?

15) What GOP presidential primary runner up in 2012 announced his 2016 candidacy to a deafening roar of silence Thursday?

Remember while we are freezing here in the north, folks in the southern hemisphere are going through yet another record breaking summer.


1) Lucia aka Santa Lucia or Saint Lucy

2) Comfyballs (yep just what it sounds like)

3) Bill Cassidy

4) Clear Lake

5) Professional basketball (the NBA)

6) Sears along with Kmart plan to close @235 of 1800 stores

7) Glenn Miller – some thought is that he was lost in a spy mission

8) John McCain because he was tortured

9) $50/ barrel. Oil prices were in the middle $50s at the end of the week.

10) Homeland Security. This was to punish Obama for his “amnesty” of immigrants

11) Citibank. This provision gutted the main provision of Dodd-Franks

12) Ebola fighters

13) California

14) homosexuality and abortion. He plans a massive stadium prayer rally to announce his candidacy

15) Rick Santorum. Someone call Foster Friess!

Sports Teams and Racial Slurs

caucasiansby Ralph Scharnau

Team monikers at all levels of sports–professional and amateur–often rely on First Americans for the words on their jerseys and inspiration for their cartoonish mascots. The impact is nationwide because the National Football League, with a number of Indian named teams, sponsors the most watched sport in the U. S.

The debate over the racist name and mascot of the professional football team based in the nation’s capital, the “Redskins,” has intensified in recent months. Of all the offensive sports teams’ names, none has captured the attention of the media and the public as much as the Washington team. Ironically, this is also the most well-known team name and likely perceived by the public as the most innocuous.

Yet, the term, “Redskins,” carries linguistic and historical evidence that constitutes a disparaging epithet insulting to Native Americans. It derives from a 1755 British proclamation identifying Penobscot Indians in Massachusetts as enemies for resisting the colonization of their lands. The proclamation established a genocidal practice of scalping Native American men, women, and children to earn a bounty. A bounty hunter could prove he had killed a native by turning in scalps called “redskins.” Indians became wild animals to be hunted and skinned.

In a May 10, 2013 USA Today interview, Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington football team, indicated the name would never be changed. Whether Snyder likes it or not, his team’s name is a living reminder of this horrifying practice.

The American public has been conditioned by the sports industry, educational institutions, and the media to trivialize indigenous people and culture as common and harmless entertainment. Some fans insist their team’s name is an honorable tribute, not a bias, just a team name, not a slur. Others cite the loss of legacy and money involved in adopting a new name.
For decades, virtually every Native American organization has condemned the use of demeaning images associated with sports teams. The slurs are hurtful and insulting to our nation’s first inhabitants and their descendants. They promote negative stereotypes, reinforce erroneous and hateful information, and remind indigenous people of the limited ways in which others see them.

The real and harmful effects on indigenous people, particularly the young, occur every day. The American Psychological Association called for the “immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams, and organizations” nearly ten years ago. The American Counseling Association and the American Sociological Association also support elimination of these disgraceful, shameful, and racist stereotypes.
Indians have waged a long campaign urging sports leagues to stop promoting slurs that denigrate others on the basis of race and ethnicity. Major civil rights groups and coalitions of religious leaders have also pushed for name changes. A groundswell of DC public opinion now approves abandoning the “Redskins” name. Support has come from President Obama and a bipartisan group of fifty U. S. Senators as well. Even staunch right-wingers like Representative Tom Cole, himself a Native American, and columnist Charles Krauthammer have called for a new name.

The movement against offensive Native American names and imagery has had an impact with the number of First American logos, names, and mascots dropping from over 3,000 in 1970 to less than 1,000 today. Many colleges and universities across the country have dropped their Native American names, mascots, and logos.

The issue here is not political correctness but promoting human dignity. Using Indian names, likenesses, and religious symbols to excite the crowd at athletic contests shows disrespect and dishonor. The elimination of the misrepresentations and abuses of Indian images, names, and spirituality will require much more work.

Ralph Scharnau
December 4, 2014

Because Women’s Lives Matter

Pro Katha Pollitt“Pro, Reclaiming Abortion Rights,” a just-published book by Katha Pollitt, could just as easily have been called “Because Women’s Lives Matter,” adopting the phrase used in the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting. Framing reproductive rights as a Civil Right must be asserted if we are to successfully combat the increasing prohibitions against not only abortion but even birth control.

“Pro” is also a book about civil rights for women who choose to have children. This task – so crucial to the survival of humanity – is horribly maligned by our economic and political policies that make parenting extremely difficult if not impossible for many poor women and/or women who want to also fulfill their lives with careers outside the home.

Pollitt spends many pages in the book describing women’s rights to raise children in a society that truly values motherhood with equal pay laws, child care subsidies, access to health care and education, family planning guidance, and respect for the work women do in and out of the home.

“Pro” is an unapologetic and well-researched book about the right of a woman to make reproductive choices based on her unique needs, which is precisely the compromise made when the Supreme Court issued its decision in Roe v Wade. This basic right for the sex of our species that gets impregnated from the widely practiced sex act underlies all other rights that women have. If she can’t control her body, how can she ever control her wages, her career, her family, or any other aspect of her life?

However, this fundamental right of women to lead their own lives is exactly what so offends the patriarchy that still largely governs public and private life on this planet.

See, the anti-choice movement is not about protecting life; it is about controlling women’s lives. More specifically, disallowing her to have reproductive freedom keeps her in a position of lesser power in society and in the home. As one woman stated in a Playboy interview published in 1970 before Roe v Wade, “I feel like I don’t have to be declared nutty to make up for the fact that my diaphragm didn’t work. I refuse to go through this humiliating process.”

At that time, before the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide, some women in some circumstances in some states could still have a legal abortion. She had to prove she was mentally unstable to a court. Or she had to have enough money to get an illegal abortion at a provider willing to skirt the law at the right price. Or have access to any of the women’s support network that existed to enable a woman to not have to give birth because she conceived.

Legalization of abortion has little effect on the number of abortions women have. In fact one million American women had abortions each year before Roe. The same number of women have abortions today, but under the safety of legality. Furthermore it is safer for a woman to abort than to carry the fetus to full term. Only .6 in 100,000 women die as a result of abortions- compared to 8.8 women per 100,000 who die of child birth. This liability is the reason why most health insurance plans covered abortion before it became an issue with the Affordable Care Act. According to the National Institutes of Health “Legal induced abortion is markedly safer than childbirth.”

The decision to bear a child is among the most significant decisions women make. And since women, who by nature and evolution, are the sex that are equipped to do this, it must be women who are enabled to make a decision as a personal choice. As Pollitt puts in her crucial book, let women decide. Women’s right to decide for themselves when and if having a child is good for her and her family is, according to Pollitt, “a positive social good.”

Tracy Leone
Iowa Federation of Labor

Today On The Fallon Forum

fallon forumCatch this week’s Fallon Forum live on Monday from 11:00 am – 12:00 noon on KDLF 1260 AM “La Reina.” Join the conversation by calling in at (515) 528-8122. And you can hear the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 5:00 pm on Wednesday and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 pm on Wednesday.

Dear Friends,

“What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.” – Samuel Gompers, founder and long-time president of the American Federation of Labor

The American Labor movement has a prestigious history of accomplishments that benefit each and every one of us. Samuel Gompers – who died ninety years ago this week – provided the Labor movement not just with leadership and vision, but with a firm moral compass as well.

Yet as I walked across America, I met hundreds of hard-working people who had lost faith in Labor – people whose lives and land were being ruined by fracking, pipelines and pollution from oil and gas refineries. In each case, Labor’s leaders turned a deaf ear to the plight of those in the cross hairs of fossil-fuel expansion. They were focused solely on jobs to the point that they no longer cared what impact those jobs had on the well-being of others and future generations.

And I had to ask, “Has Labor lost its moral compass?”

As I attended one of the public meetings on the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline last week, I thought about Gompers. Sure, everyone can get behind building a school. But what would Gompers say when it came to building jails, prisons, arsenals or pipelines? Would he agree with the leadership of the Iowa AFL-CIO in choosing to side with Big Oil over farmers, landowners, environmentalists, and the long-term best interest of its own members? I seriously doubt it.

I panned the roughly 250 people in attendance at last week’s public meeting and saw a crowd mostly opposed to the pipeline, or at best unconvinced. Then there was the other side: a few officials and staff of the corporations that will get rich; a handful of labor union reps; and some key Democratic and Republican operatives, including a former state party chair (Republican) and a former legislative leader (Democrat).

So, what does the Iowa Democratic Party Platform say relevant to the proposed pipeline?

“We support . . . Converting from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy;”

“We oppose . . . Tar sands oil/Keystone XL Pipeline;” and

“We oppose . . . Favoring private enterprise with Eminent Domain.” (On this point, the platform of the Republican Party of Iowa concurs.)

Given their history and stated policy, leaders of both the Iowa AFL-CIO and the Iowa Democratic Party should come out against the Bakken Oil Pipeline. In doing so, they would stand with their core constituencies and demonstrate an integrity and vision that look beyond short-term job creation and the next election cycle.

ed fallonAnd yes, they’d make Samuel Gompers proud.

Thanks, and I hope to meet you on the airwaves this week!

Ed Fallon