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Today Is Election Day. Be Part Of History. Go VOTE



Today is election day.  The polls in Iowa are open from 7 am – 9 pm.  Iowa has same-day voter registration. If you have an absentee ballot in your possession, don’t mail it, but you may take it with you to your polling location.

In order to send the Trump Republicans and the GOP obstructionists in Iowa a message we must vote for Democrats up and down the ballot.

Trump Republicans will be very happy and encouraged to continue their gutter tactics if you spend your precious vote on a 3rd party candidate or if you do not vote at all.

A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for progress.

9/11: Result Of America’s Worst Leadership Ever

Not a clue. We can't afford to do this again.

Not a clue. We can’t afford to do this again.

Sorry I won’t play along with this as being a day of super patriotism. We were attacked on September 11th, 2001 by group of mostly Saudi Arabian radicals. Rather than be a day for beating our breasts in public to show who is the most patriotic, I personally feel that this is a day we should use for education.

One lesson America must learn is that voting for a person to be president because you’d like to drink a beer with them or because of the way they insult their opponent is totally irresponsible. It is time for American voters to grow up and understand that elections have consequences. In the case of the 2000 election, George W. Bush did not win, but came sufficiently close so that the Supreme Court made it their prerogative to step in and select a president. This was essentially a coupe by the Supreme Court, but that has been discussed many times before.

The second lesson is that we pick a person who has prepared themselves for the job and has shown a willingness to work. Bush did little to prepare for the job and then spent much time at the golf course or at his ranch. Despite being well warned by his predecessor, Bill Clinton, that Al Quieda needed to be watched closely. That warning was ignored as was the early August memo stating that “Al Quieda determined to strike in US.”

George Bush was ill prepared and intellectually lazy. His lack of concern hampered our ability to prepare or respond. Despite presiding over the only attack on American soil ever, Republicans nominated a similarly ill prepared and intellectually lazy man as their nominee for this election. On top of that Donald Trump is a narcissist who listens to almost no one. The similarities are chilling.

Finally, be wary of extremists no matter what the motivation for their extremism is. Extremist groups and individuals often cloak themselves in religion and the flag to make their positions acceptable. Some American politicians knock themselves out lumping all Muslims as extremists which we all know is not true. At the same time they all but ignore and some even encourage extremist groups like the white supremacist groups such as White Aryan Resistance or the KKK to name a couple.

When Barry Goldwater uttered the line “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” he could not have been more wrong.

It has already been fifteen years and based on the Republican nominee for president it looks like America has not even begun to learn its lessons. That is not too surprising when the medium that most Americans depend on to guide them, television, cares not one whit about its obligation to inform and enlighten. TV’s only concern is to make as big of a profit as is possible. To do that it needs as many eyeballs glued to it as possible. To get the eyeballs it needs out of reality characters that people will stare at like they do an ongoing train wreck. Thus we get candidates like Donald Trump.

Maybe next year television journalism will turn a new leaf that will actually help us make sense of what is happening …….. maybe?

The Coolest First Lady Ever

For fun ICYMI. She is so awesome.


American Freedoms, an Ongoing Struggle

freedomHow we view ourselves individually and as a nation often comes down to one idea, freedom. Freedom, the central term in our politics, is embedded in our history and our language. It is used interchangeably with liberty in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Yet it remains a subject of debates and dissents.

The history of the republic can be told as a narrative about expanding freedoms to include more and more people. The chief vehicle for this came first in the form of amendments to the Constitution. The first ten Amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, guarantee civil liberties. Subsequent amendments ended slavery, defined citizenship, and extended the franchise to blacks, women and 18 year olds.

Women, racial and ethnic minorities, workers, and others have struggled to deepen and transform the definition of freedom. Over the past generation, some real strides have been made in reducing disparities based on race and sex. Women and minorities have gained greater access in the areas of employment, politics, education, and athletics. In 1998, an amendment to the Iowa constitution added women to the equal rights under the law provision.

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in a landmark ruling. The states can no longer deny gay men and lesbians the same marriage rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. This victory reflected growing public support for marriage equality. In 2009, Iowa became only the third state in the union to give same-sex couples the right to marry in a unanimous ruling of the state’s Supreme Court.

Belief in freedom as a right of all humanity has coexisted with persistent efforts to limit freedom by race, gender, class and in other ways. Limiting freedom has a long history in our country. Slaves, immigrants, the poor, and others have been deprived of liberty. The meaning of freedom has been constructed at various levels, in congressional debates, in political essays, on picket lines, and even in bedrooms.

Since 2009, Republicans have orchestrated a series of voter suppression laws in states they control. The laws supposedly prevent voter impersonation fraud, a largely non-existent problem. Several states require government-issued photo IDs—like drivers’ licenses—to vote. This disenfranchises those who do not own a car as well elderly and disabled non-drivers. Other measures include restricting early voting, eliminating same-day registration, and shortening polling hours. The new rules limit the voting rights and electoral power of Democratic leaning constituencies, blacks, Hispanics, lower income people, the poor, and college students. Several states gerrymander districts to reduce the political power of minorities and Democrats, and thereby guarantee Republican control in Congress.

In the 1970s, freedom as a political category became the appropriated domain of conservatives. The adherents of this ideology care little for the common good and public welfare or shared sacrifice and mutual responsibility. Rather they worship the “free market” and define government as intrusive and overreaching. Thus freedom, to them, became a matter of unrestrained individualism, not social citizenship.

Today, the idea of freedom continues to circumscribe our culture and politics. Freedom’s meanings remain vigorously contested. The debates will continue and new definitions will emerge. Rather than a fixed category or concept, then, conflicts over freedom have become an essential part of our democratic tradition.

The promise of American freedom leaves no one out. Securing American freedom for all, moreover, remains an ongoing struggle. We live in an age of impermanence and instability which requires courage and steadfastness in protecting our civil liberties.

Ralph Scharnau
June 30, 2016

Happy 4th of July from Blog for Iowa!

4th of July

Where Is The Outrage, Steve King?

Interesting to note last week that Steve King made a big splash with an amendment to stop any funding for the Treasury that would be used to redesign the $20 bill. King claimed his amendment was concerned only with the waste of government money for a project that he deemed not worthwhile.

Most observers noted that King’s motivation was more likely due to the fact that the redesign will put a black woman on the face of US currency for the first time. Such motivation would be in line with King’s career. As noted by Congressman Dave Loebsack when King introduced his amendment:

Although the House Rules Committee isn’t allowing King’s amendment to be considered, Loebsack today issued a one-sentence statement saying, “Steve King and his history of racist and sexist comments is an embarrassment to Iowa.”

This past week King had another chance to show his fiscal concern. The House Select Committee on Benghazi abruptly finished their assignment, issued a biased report that in the bottom line said they found nothing, just as five previous committees investigating the very same thing had fond.

Now this committee spent $7 million. In total Republicans have wasted over $20 million of tax money chasing what they knew was nothing on Benghazi. Add in the valuable time wasted by congressional staff and other bureaucrats who had to spend time and money to produce documents for this committee. Add in money spent trying to tar and feather the Clintons during Bill’s presidency and the total comes to nearly $200 million.

This was congressional money and time that even Republican Party last year admitted was being used on a partisan witch hunt aimed at presidential contender Hillary Clinton:

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping,” McCarthy said. “Why? Cause she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen,”

Now, Mr. King it is time to show your true conservative chops. It is time to prove you are what you claim you are. Stand up and show some outrage at this arrogant and many would say illegal waste of money. Show us some outrage, Congressman!

< < crickets >>
< < crickets >>

What a surprise. Steve King is once again shown to be a phony. Congressman Loebsack’s statement is true.

Remember elections have their consequences. One of the consequences of electing Steve King for so many years is that he embarrasses Iowa and gives others a false impression of the good people that live here.

Kim Weaver can change that with your vote.

Kim Weaver, Democratic candidate in House district 4

Kim Weaver, Democratic candidate in House district 4

Judge, Grassley Virtually Tied? Wow.


Email posted to us from the Patty Judge campaign Thursday afternoon carried some great news:


Earlier this month: A PPP poll showed us just 7 points behind Chuck Grassley — a popular incumbent. And another PPP poll showed Grassley’s popularity has plummeted since he blocked hearings for Judge Garland.

Today: A brand new poll was released showing that this race is virtually tied:

Patty Judge: 45% | Chuck Grassley: 46%
Loras College, 0‌6/3‌0/20‌16

Well, isn’t that exciting? Independence Day and maybe Iowa will be looking at relieving itself of one of its ruling elite of nearly 4 decades in Washington. Indeed this is exciting.

Don’t sit back and rest, though. Grassley will not go down without a huge and expensive fight. Judge will need your money and your time. Get in touch with her campaign or with your county Democratic Party.

Also do not forget that Monica Vernon, Jim Mowrer and Kim Weaver have excellent opportunities to defeat their opponents this fall. Dave Loebsack needs your help retaining his seat.

Just as important is Democrats being elected to the state house and senate. Terry Branstad wants to turn Iowa into another Kansas or Wisconsin. Two seats in the senate and no change in the house and Branstad gets his wish. Kansas may not even be able to open their schools this fall because the Republican controlled legislature plus Governor Brownback have made such a mess of the state finances.

Voting is the minimum commitment needed this year. Join in. It will be fun.



Iowa’s recent very unpopular and poorly thought out experience with the privatization of the administration of Medicaid in Iowa makes one wonder what are the roots of privatization in this country and how pervasive is privatization. Much like guns or health care, no one else in the industrialized world does privatization (or profitization as many call it) like we do in the United States.

How was the right able to get the country to move from having most of their public services provided by governmental agencies to a point where even some of the most basic of public services are contracted out to a private supplier? For those of us who have had it happen to us but never understood why or what the driving force behind it was, Talking Points Memo has begun a series that will hopefully answer those questions.

So far the introduction and the first part of a four part series have been posted at the site. From the looks of the start this will be an extremely informative series and one well worth your time to read and understand.

Here is a little teaser from part one of The Hidden History Of The Privatization Of Everything:

“Austrian-born economist Friedrich von Hayek was the movement’s intellectual leader. His 1944 book, The Road to Serfdom, is considered to be the intellectual wellspring of anti-government, pro-market ideas and the privatization of public goods. The book was met with surprising success – with excerpts printed in Readers Digest and Look Magazine. It continues to be a significant influence on politicians, journalists, and business leaders. House Speaker Paul Ryan considers Hayek his intellectual guru.

Yet public support for government remained high throughout the postwar years as public services expanded and the economy grew. Hayek and his followers, therefore, were powerless to stem the continued growth of government activities throughout the 1950s. This began to change in 1962 with the publication of Capitalism and Freedom by economist Milton Friedman. Friedman was an effective promoter of two critical ideas: governments were just like markets and government was a public monopoly. Both of these became central arguments of privatization advocates in the 1970s and 1980s.

Friedman’s most important insight was that privatization didn’t necessarily mean cutting popular public services. The public still trusted and valued government programs; Friedman’s argument gave privatization advocates a new approach by making the distinction between government responsibility and government provision of public goods. You could put public services in the hands of private contractors while still maintaining the program. Friedman’s real agenda, though, was clearly about removing public responsibility as well. He called for the elimination of Social Security, the minimum wage, public housing and all national parks.”

A friend told me way back in the 80s that once the privatization started it will be impossible to stop, let alone reverse. This is an easy way for politicians to claim they are saving taxpayer dollars, even though they often are more expensive. Privatization is also an easy way to avoid blame when something goes wrong. This is near and dear to a politician’s heart.

How Could This Happen?

Republicans lost no time in blaming Muslims for the massacre in Orlando last weekend. As the investigation unfolds it becomes more and more clear that the perpetrator was a lone wolf who was really screwed up. Apparently he was really screwed up about his sexuality. His targeting of gays seems to be quite premeditated.

This aspect of the crime is all but ignored by Republicans. The last thing they want to do is to say anything that would promote sympathy for one of their perpetual punching bags.

What they do want to do is to once again is to ignore any evidence and catapult the propaganda that once more we must be in fear and we must turn to the Daddy party for safety. The bogey man du jour is Muslims. In the past it has been Communists, blacks, Latinos or any one of a number of “other” humans. Those folks are still pulled out of the trunk now and then and shaken to remind us to be scared of them, but today we must fear Muslims.

So while the real target was the LGTB community, Republicans once again tilt at the windmill marked “Muslim.”

Not only do they tilt at that windmill, but they insist that we all must talk about their windmill in only a certain way. They insist that their windmill be called “radical Islam” and nothing less. Republicans lecture others on political correctness, that speaking of people and things in a respectful way is somehow evil. Yet within their ranks they practice their own version politically correct speech. In their version anyone or anything marked as an enemy must only be spoken of in a denigrating way. To not do so illustrates your unfitness for office.

So if say a president does not refer to Muslims as “radical Islamists” then that is proof that he is in sympathy with the enemy and must resign. In a similar strain, blacks are referred to as “thugs”; latinos as “drug smugglers or criminals”; anyone who wants strong government as a “communist” or “socialist”; union members are likened to thieves and government workers are portrayed as lazy and worthless. But guns are never bad or a tool of death. Nope guns are good and the more the better.

Republicans want the media and their opponents to only discuss issues using their terms. In other words they want issues spoken of in their politically correct language. Their words are loaded with images they conjure up – my favorite is that Reaganesque term “welfare queen.” The only way we can have substantive discussions is to use words of respect that are not loaded with hate. We can’t make good decisions if our thought process is clouded.

And of course Iowa’s politicians are always ready to join the parade. Here’s Terry Branstad: “My heart goes out to the people that were killed and their families, and I think it underscores why we need to be vigilant, and we need new leadership that’s going to take this threat from Islamic terrorism seriously,”

Steve King once again shows his shallow understanding of any problem that all our ills are caused by terrorists that we don’t talk about in the Republican way:

“King also said that “political correctness” was keeping the United States from responding to and preventing terrorist attacks, a view shared by Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).”

A simple google search gives us Mother Jones’ continuing investigation of mass shootings in the US 1993 to 2016. This table shows that most of the mass murders in the US were perpetrated by whites (see pivot table 1 on MJ link). “Islamic Terrorist” doesn’t as yet rate a category.

What we do see in this table is guns, guns, guns. At a glance that is at the core of every mass murder listed. Potential mental illness rates second place. The guns – even weapons of war – are easily obtained in this country thanks in great degree to a lobbying group named the NRA and spineless congress critters like Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

Republicans once again take a serious situation and twist the data to fit their narrative rather than investigate to find the real sources of the problems. If this sounds familiar, let me remind you that 15 years ago airplanes were hijacked and flown into buildings in New York City. Then the Republican administration began the task of fitting an attack by religious extremists from Saudi Arabia to their desire to invade Iraq and steal Iraq’s oil.

Based on statements by various Republican officeholders and candidates we know there is a strong desire to once more have the US get deeply militarily involved in the Middle East. Once again they will need to create a reason for military action. Getting the public to go along with such an adventure again after the last disaster will take a lot of PC – propaganda channeling.

Is #SocialMedia Ruining Our Culture?

Thom Hartmann is the #1 progressive radio talk show host in the US and NYT best-selling author.  Check out Thom’s website for showtimes.