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Appel Leading Tea Party Opponent

Staci Appel has been out fund-raising and out-polling her tea party opponent David Young. “The support we’ve received has been humbling and ensures we’ll have the resources to continue talking to voters about keeping the promise of retirement security, investing in education, raising the minimum wage and putting Iowa families first.”

Vote for Staci Appel if you live in the 3rd.  Volunteer to help her campaign.

The Normalization Of GOP Crazy

GOP Crazy

“…When Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst flirted with the “Agenda 21″ conspiracy theory — a favorite of Glenn Beck, in which the U.S. government and the United Nations are supposedly conspiring to force rural people in Iowa and elsewhere to leave their homes and be relocated to urban centers — national pundits didn’t see it as disqualifying. Nor did they when it was revealed that Ernst believes not only that states can “nullify” federal laws they don’t like (they can’t); and, even crazier, that local sheriffs ought to arrest federal officials implementing the Affordable Care Act, which is quite literally a call for insurrection against the federal government. I guess those are just colorful ideas.

And in the last few years, there’s a baseline of crazy from the right that the press has simply come to expect and accept, so the latest conspiracy theorizing or far-out idea from a candidate no longer strikes them as exceptional. Sure, there are exceptions: For instance, Republicans Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell both saw their candidacies derailed by their crazy or outsized statements.

But during this cycle, Republican crazy just hasn’t broken through at all. It’s almost as if the national press has just come to accept as normal the degree to which the GOP has moved dramatically to the right. At this point so many prominent Republicans have said insane things that after a while they go by with barely a notice.

This is an era when a prominent Republican governor who wants to be president can muse about the possibility that his state might secede from the union, when the most popular radio host in the country suggests that liberals like Barack Obama want Ebola to come to America to punish us for slavery, and when the President of the United States had to show his birth certificate to prove that he isn’t a foreigner.

So ideological extremism and insane conspiracy theories from the right have been normalized. Which means that when another Republican candidate says something deranged, as long as it doesn’t offend a key swing constituency, reporters don’t think it’s disqualifying. And so it isn’t.

(click here to read the entire article at WaPo)


Fiscal Responsibility Is A Moral Issue

budget signAt church this past Sunday,  I was reminded of our state’s balanced budget.  Part of the reason that it is “balanced” is due to cutting funding for food pantries.  Was that funding cut because need has gone down? Apparently not, since church members were again asked to increase their donations to the local food pantry, because more people need the help.  Yet we found room in this balanced budget to lower taxes for the business community. Why? We have thirty years of recent history showing that lowering taxes on business does not create jobs. The increase in need at food pantries is directly tied to a lack of decent jobs.  The money from that tax cut would have given us a much better return from investing in jobs and infrastructure.

Fiscal responsibility is not defined by a balanced budget alone.  Without the context of needs being met or adequate inclusion of responsible revenue options, “balanced budget” is little more than a feel good sound bite.  While we will always dispute what government should cover under the common welfare,  we should do a better job of reckoning future costs and how they are affected by what we choose to invest in today.  Better long-term financial outcomes might result from making pragmatic mathematical decisions, rather than putting too much emphasis on emotionally based principles. Do our communities not have a vested interest in educating people to be self-reliant?  Reality is that many parents fail at this, and the rest of us pay the price.

Why don’t we invest aggressively in educating kids to succeed, early, when we can make the most difference?  Why, for the sake of being able to remind people that they failed at personal responsibility, do we forsake the mathematically better option of investing in their potential at the earliest chance?

I understand that “small government” people want to believe that government can’t create jobs. But that is not accurate. One can believe in the principle that government shouldn’t create jobs, but we can’t have productive conversations about fixing our economy without acknowledging that government can and does create jobs.  Government can spend money to create jobs improving our infrastructure.  People working those jobs would pay taxes from those wages, and at the same time need less taxpayer assistance.  We are in critical need of the improvements.  Win. Win. Win.
Math, morals and recent history all support raising the minimum wage.  All of the states that have recently raised the minimum wage have seen better economic growth than those who haven’t.  Raising the wage has been proven not to cost jobs.

If we raise the minimum wage, people working those jobs will have more money to spend in their local economies. Less of them will need assistance.  Win. Win. Win.  Morally, if a business can’t complete its mission without certain tasks being done, the people doing those tasks need to be appropriately valued financially for that.

Math, morals and recent history also support keeping and widening the Affordable Care Act.  Math projections not influenced by the ” principle” of “make it on your own, buddy” indicated that the ACA would slow the rise of healthcare costs, and this is indeed what is happening.

Discussing “tax and spend” issues need to include long term fiscal outcomes also. Businesses do better when we have good infrastructure. Why aren’t they willing to support proper maintenance of it? How can I take seriously any arguments against “entitlement” spending when tax breaks for businesses is off the table?  Why are successful corporations “entitled” to my tax dollars? Why is a tax for the military and the long term costs for veterans not part of the conversation?  We spare no expense for wars and equipment, with no return on that investment. Why won’t we spend money on things that will bring a positive return?

Taxes should be as low as possible.  They should be as fair as possible.  Low is defined how?  Fairness across the board, and meeting needs should be our first concerns.  Fairness depends upon including everyone, especially financially successful businesses.  The more exceptions that are allowed makes the system less fair for all of us.

Our national budget deficit is only half of what it was when Obama took over.   We can reduce this further in the long run, by investing wisely in education, infrastructure, health care and clean energy industries.

Laura Twing

Miller-Meeks Should Answer For Her Involvement In Settlement Scandal

Miller-Meeks Signature on Settlement Document

Miller-Meeks Signature on Settlement Document

Paul Deaton wrote a story on Blog for Iowa back in April about Marionette Miller Meeks’ involvement in the Branstad administration settlement scandal.  Check out his article for more links to information and additional newspaper coverage of the story.

The following is a recent press release from the Loebsack for Congress campaign.

As head of the Iowa Department of Health, Dr. Miller-Meeks has a slim record of accomplishments. She seems to rely solely on the achievements of Governor Branstad’s economic team, which she had no part of, as a way to try and bolster her record in state government.

The one headline she did make during her tenure as head of the Department of Health was using taxpayer dollars to pay off a former employee in a political hush money scandal.  Dr. Miller-Meeks’ signature appears on the settlement (pages 5-8), which Governor Branstad himself deemed illegal. This settlement gave $20,000 taxpayer dollars to a former employee to keep quiet about her time serving the people of Iowa.

And as of yet, Dr. Miller-Meeks has refused to answer any questions about her involvement in this scandal.

The abuse of taxpayer dollars to cover up happenings in the Department of Health is sickening. Dr. Miller-Meeks needs to be held accountable for her involvement and serious questions need to be raised, such as:

  • How did the decision to fire the IDPH employee come about? Was a review conducted? What were the criteria used for the review? Were other positions/persons considered for elimination? If so, which ones?
  • After the decision to fire the employee was made, was Dr. Miller-Meeks involved in drafting and negotiating the secret agreement?
  • Did Dr. Miller-Meeks blindly follow instructions by Governor Branstad and sign a $20,000 hush money settlement to cover up what appears to be rampant cronyism, or did she act on her own and directly engage in political retribution?
  • Will Iowa taxpayers be able to trust Dr. Miller-Meeks to manage Washington’s budget mess when she wasted $20,000 for political payoffs?
  • How can Iowans expect Dr. Miller-Meeks to bring change to Washington when the only change she brought to Iowa was inserting New Jersey style politics in state government?

The taxpayers of Iowa deserve answers and they deserve more from their public officials.


Jennie Johnson


President Obama Reaffirms Commitment To Net Neutrality

Last week President Obama reiterated his “unequivocal support for net neutrality” because he does not want to “limit the power of the Internet.”

The President said he can’t just call up FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and tell him what to do, but we can.  If you haven’t called, e-mailed or signed a petition, now is the time.

Call FCC Chair Tom Wheeler 1-202-418-1000.

Click on the link to send an e-mail to Tom Wheeler.  This only takes a second:

Sign a petition.


20 reasons Not To Re-elect Branstad

branstad jobs numbers

A big thanks to Don Paulson of Muscatine for letting me use and combine his two LTTEs to his local paper into one complete list of Branstad “accomplishments.”

We need to elect Jack Hatch as Iowa’s governor! There are a lot of blemishes on the record of our current governor. Here are twenty reasons not to re-elect Terry Branstad-

#20- Branstad’s campaign pulled a dirty trick by creating a fake Jack Hatch website.

#19- Branstad actually hosted the Family Research Council’s “hate fest” in Ames earlier this year.

#18- At a Texas fundraiser Branstad admitted support for “tort reform”.

#17- In an insult to the principle of the separation of church and state, Branstad was an active participant and signed a state declaration for Bob Vander Plaats’s “Day of Prayer and Fasting”.

#16- The renovations at the Iowa Veterans Home are mired in controversy.

#15- Branstad’s Administration gave up a $1 million solar grant.

#14- His corporate tax cut will leave cities and counties short of funds.

#13- The Orascom boondoggle.

#12- With our roads and bridges falling apart, Branstad has shown zero leadership on raising the gas tax.

#11- Branstad has cost the taxpayers over $500,000 in legal fees in trying to unfairly get rid of Christopher Godfrey.

#10- Branstad illegally closed the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.

#9- Branstad illegally closed 36 unemployment offices at the height of the Great Recession.

#8- Iowa’s water pollution and soil erosion are still a huge problem.

#7- Branstad’s Administration took the Chief Administative Law Judge’s position and made it susceptible to political pressure from the Governor’s office.

#6- Branstad still has close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council.

#5- Branstad has failed to cut the cost of state government. According to a study reported in the 8/31/14 Des Moines Register, state spending has gone up 17.5%.

#4- Another one of Branstad’s big goals was to create 200,000 jobs. So far the net number of jobs created since 2011 is around 74,000.

#3- Another big Branstad goal was to increase Iowa family incomes by 25%. Here was another miserable failure. According to the same Register study incomes have gone up just 0.17%.

#2- Branstad packed the Iowa Board of Medicine with people that did away with Planned Parenthood’s telemedicine arrangement.

#1- Instead of expanding Medicare, Branstad tried to push through a vastly inferior health insurance plan called the “Healthy Iowa Plan”.

#0- A state auditor report has found there have been 42 settlement agreements by this Administration totaling $2.4 million dollars.

These reasons should give everyone pause about re-electing Terry Branstad. Another reason may be his health.

At the first debate, Branstad’s shaking hands and erratic behavior was plainly evident. Does he have Parkinson’s disease or something like that? The rumors persist that if re-elected Branstad will step down after a time and allow the incredibly average Kim Reynolds to become governor without having to go through an election.

Sunday Funday Homecoming Edition

Homecoming 2014
Little can match the fun and pageantry of homecoming. From high schools to the big colleges homecoming is always a festive occasion. The color, the crisp weather and with any luck a good game and a victory just makes for an almost magical weekend. It only comes once a year.

All that to say I am back after a short absence and am ready to drop some questions on you!. Sorry to say I need to take another hiatus in

a couple of weeks but only for a short stint.

Were you paying attention?

1) Monday Americans take a holiday for Columbus day. Our friends in Canada also have a holiday Monday. Do you know what they celebrate Monday in Canada?

2) The Supreme Court is back in session every first Monday of October. This year it shocked everyone by not doing what?

3) The symphony orchestra of what city was interrupted by a “Requiem for Michael Brown” by an audience flash mob.

4) The city council in Clear Lake, Iowa rejected a request by a citizen to turn what old municipal property into a home?

5) Western Europe got a touch of Ebola in what country last week?

6) It is Nobel Prize time. American and Japanese scientists shared the prize for perfecting what environmentally friendly technology?

7) Another Nobel Prize, this one for Peace, was won by a Pakistani teenager. No more hints – can you name her?

8) 72 Iowa judges are up for retention vote this election. What year did Iowans remove 3 Supreme Court justices for their votes on marriage equality?

9) 522 years ago Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas. Where did he believe he had landed?

10) In yet another surprise in their opening week the Supreme Court issued a decision stopping what in Wisconsin?

11) In order to fatten their owners pocketbooks, Walmart cut what benefit from their part-time workers?

12) Democrats charged this week that contracts awarded in Montgomery County were a conflict of interest when who was a county official there?

13) What well known financial guru was unable to finance a mortgage last week due to stringent rules put in after the financial collapse?

14) What leader of the world’s most secretive country missed a major event Friday increasing speculation that he may have been deposed?

15) The Iowa Insurance Commission approved an increase of what percent for those Iowans with Wellmark policies?

I see that our illustrious governor, who did all he could to stop the ACA and the expansion of Medicaid in Iowa is all over the health thing these days. “Take a walk” he says. No doubt a much better idea than being able to see a doctor. Oh, please, we so need universal single payer health care. Iowa had a walking Wednesday for its ‘healthiest state initiative.’ Time to tell Branstad to take a walk. But I digress


1) it is Thanksgiving Day in Canada Monday

2) not hearing any cases pertaining to gay marriage, thus letting gay marriage go forward where it has been declared legal.

3) St. Louis

4) The old water tower

5) Spain

6) LED bulbs. Note the term is ‘perfecting’ not discovering. They invented the blue LED to add to the red and green to combine to make white light.

7) Mulala Yousafzai

8) 2010

9) The Indies. Most scholars take this to mean the Spice Islands or what we call Indonesia and Indochina.

10) the need for photo ID to vote.

11) health insurance

12) Joni Ernst. The contracts were won by her father.

13) Ben Bernanke.

14) Kim Jong Un

15) 14.5%

A Righteous Rant

voting question
The other day I was reading Dailykos when my eyes caught what looked to be an interesting story on the side list. So I clicked on it and found a very interesting rant by Charles Pierce on reasons why the Democrats need to come out loud and strong for what voting for Republicans actually leads to. The poster also faults Democrats for not attacking Republicans for their policies. Rather Democrats seem to take a “don’t rock the boat” stance.

We are old enough that we remember the proud liberals of old – Hubert Humphrey, Birch Bayh, Lyndon Johnson to name just a few, who campaigned, fought for and secured legislation for Medicare, legislation that ended Jim Crow laws and opened up voting for all Americans among other accomplishments. At the state levels we had liberals like Harold Hughes who fought for community colleges and loosening liquor laws.

At the very end of this article, the poster gives concrete examples of how Americans vote against themselves when they vote Republican:

Why Democrats don’t make these points is crazy. There is no good reason to vote for a Republican these days. If you live under a Republican government…

1) You’re more likely to have a shorter and unhealthier life. It’s not just about fighting Obamacare – it’s about having dirtier air, dirtier water as polluters run wild because of deregulation. It’s about going to work and risking your life because nobody is making sure your employer is running a safe operation.

2) Your employment chances are worse – because odds are those ‘job-creating’ tax breaks mean your state has lousy schools, crumbling roads, failing infrastructure, and employers who pay as little as possible while shipping money out of the local economy back to corporate HQ. Who wants to locate a business in a third-world style economy – aside from looters that is?

3) Tax breaks aimed at the rich and corporations mean everyone else has to pick up their share of the tab; higher license and permit fees, higher sales taxes – and everything takes longer if it involves government agencies with the workforce cut to the bone.

4) You get government of, by, and for the dollar: legislators and judges who put private gain over public interest, who measure virtue by how much money you have. When trouble strikes, you’re on your own.

I could go on and on – so why don’t Democrats campaign on the plain truth? If you live in a Red State, you’re in a race to the bottom.

Iowa has candidates who want to deliver the state into corporate hands, including our current governor.

Americans need to be re-educated that the Reagan line that “Government is the problem” is, like so much Republican rhetoric, a lie. For many problems that affect the population as a whole Government is the solution. Government is the way we, as a country, come together to solve our common problems whether they be at a local, state or national level. There is a great example going on right now with Ebola making its appearance in America.

Without true universal health care America is definitely at major risk for an epidemic. Those without access to medical care will not go immediately to a medical facility when sick. They can’t pay the bill. Government is the mechanism which can solve such a problem. Those who vote for Republicans leave this country at risk.

Vote Republican and you vote against yourself, your family including your parents (who may lose social security and medicare), your children (school, opportunity going out of the country), your grandchildren and their progeny. Voting Republican today has long range consequences.

Think about this before you vote.

Stop Voter Suppression in Iowa

The ACLU put out a video starring Lewis Black talking about voter suppression in the US. Remember, if Republican ideas were so popular they would be doing everything they could to increase voter turn out. The fact that they feel they must suppress votes tells you that their ideas are quite unpopular.

Iowa’s current Secretary of State, Matt Schultz has been all about voter suppression. The best way to stop voter suppression in Iowa is to vote for Brad Anderson for Secretary of State.

Electing Paul Pate as Iowa Secretary of State replaces one member of the voter suppression party with another. We need Brad Anderson to guarantee that eligible Iowans will not lose their voting rights.

Ernst Is Another Investment For The Kochs

An investment for the Koch Brothers

An investment for the Koch Brothers

When I hear political ads or political pundits say things like Joni Ernst is a merely a front for the Kochs or that she is being bankrolled by the Kochs I know what is meant. But I just got to wondering if that whole concept has become so trite that most folks hear stories like that and they just ignore them. Heaven knows that the corporate media has done all they can to blunt the sting of such comments.

So let me take different approach to the situation of the filthy rich giving large sums of money to campaigns like Ernst’s or to supporting so called educational groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads. People like the Kochs, Sheldon Adelson, the De Vos family in Michigan, Art Pope in North Carolina and many, many others do not so much contribute to a campaign so much as they invest in a candidate. Like any anyone who invests whether it be in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, equipment or personnel they expect some return.

Now when folks like you and I invest we hope for maybe a steady 10% return and we would be tickled pink. But when the Kochs and their rich ilk invest in a candidate they expect much larger returns much more quickly. And their returns do not come simply in say money back from the government in the form of contracts although that can often be a method. Their returns also come in the form of lower taxes for instance. Or perhaps they will be exempted from some regulation that could cost money, or perhaps a highway might be routed such that land they own is right near an exit.

Maybe the candidate they invest in will forestall a raise in minimum wages or a mandated health care coverage. If taxes aren’t lowered maybe they can get a special loophole built just for them. Maybe a defense bill can be drawn in such a manner that the only vendor for a product the Pentagon needs is one of your firms – let’s say in the Kochs case a contract is drawn such that only their brand of toilet paper can be bought by the Pentagon. Once more let us mention regulations either being rolled back or simply not enforced at the request of a senator.

Now you can bet that there is no place on record that such an agreement is written down. That would be illegal, don’t you know? But with the money and the support from the outside groups comes an unwritten set of expectations. If those expectations are not fulfilled, a non-compliant senator could be looking at the prospect of a tea party challenge from a more compliant candidate being run by the incumbent’s former funders. So technically there is not exactly a quid pro quo.

Thus the right wing candidate is simply an investment for folks like the Kochs and their various super-PACS and committees and other front groups. They can expect returns of billions on the millions they invest. All their investments were legalized by two of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever, Citizen’s United and McCutcheon. Their millions make our few dollars totally insignificant. No doubt if Joni Ernst gets elected you can bet she will be working for the people that put her there – The Kochs and their compadres.

And all those folks that voted for her expecting – what? – will have been fooled into voting for a candidate whose true agenda is more government goodies for the rich and possibly, just possibly a wee bit of trickle down for them. Remember, government by the likes of Joni Ernst has resulted in exponential growth in income for the Kochs and a net loss for you and me since Ronald Reagan.

Ernst – A commodity just like gold or corn. It is what the wealthy are investing in this year.