One risk of U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in NATO countries is that security may fail and bombs could fall into unknown hands.
During the recent coup attempt in Turkey, Turkish forces surrounded the U.S. Air Force base at Incirlik (where several dozen Cold War era B-61 gravity bombs are vaulted), cut off electrical power, and temporarily closed the air space around the base as they repelled the coup attempt.
“General Bekir Ercan Van, the commander of Turkey’s Incirlik airbase, which is used both by the Turkish Air Force and NATO forces, has been detained by Turkish authorities accused of complicity in the attempted coup,” according to RT News and covered by the Wall Street Journal (Paywall). “The senior Turkish military commander was arrested along with over a dozen lower ranking officers at the base. A government official has confirmed that the general has been detained.”
The bombs were secured… this time.
Is the risk of nuclear weapons deployment worth the reward? It isn’t.
During a recent heavy rain storm, water got into our basement where a box of political memorabilia was dampened. I spread the contents on the living room floor to dry, and while putting them away found half a dozen responses from U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley during my advocacy to ratify the New START Treaty with Russia signed April 8, 2010.
Grassley responded in a formulaic manner, indicating staff had written the response. In his last letter before the Senate vote, which I believe Grassley wrote, he acknowledged my advocacy and said simply he disagreed. New START was ratified without Senator Grassley’s vote.
While the existence of nuclear weapons and their deployment is said to be an apolitical defense strategy, it isn’t. As long as U.S. nuclear weapons exist and are deployed, there is a risk of a security failure after which they could fall into the wrong hands. I’m not the first to say nuclear weapons serve no practical purpose and can never be used.
If you want to learn more about what happened during the Turkish coup and what it means, here are some links to articles about it.
The H-Bombs in Turkey by Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control, The New Yorker, News Desk July 17.
Should the U.S. Pull Its Nuclear Weapons From Turkey? by Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. and Kori Schake, fellow at the Hoover Institution, July 20, The New York Times.
U.S. planes grounded at key Turkish air base in fight against ISIS after coup attempt by Dan Lamothe, National security writer for The Washington Post, The Washington Post, July 16.
Turkey Arrests Incirlik Air Base Commander by Julian E. Barnes, he covers the Department of Defense and national security issues from The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal, July 17 (Paywall).
The Coup and the Crackdown: Turkey and American Foreign Policy by Trevor Hill, senior fellow for the Cato Institute’s Defense and Foreign Policy Department, CATO at Liberty, July 18.
The U.S. stores nuclear weapons in Turkey. Is that such a good idea? by Dan Lamothe, National security writer for The Washington Post, July 19, The Washington Post.
How safe are US nukes in Turkey? by Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne, CNN, July 19.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack scolded the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine about opioid abuse on Friday.
The institution is not doing enough to train its soon-to-be health professionals on an opioid abuse epidemic that claims thousands of lives a year nationally, Vilsack said, according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
The university just got the word about its role in the opioid abuse epidemic last week. According to the article,
After Vilsack’s remarks, UI Health Care medical affairs vice president and dean of the medical college Jean Robillard told The Gazette the institution does plan to make changes in the way it teaches med students about prescribing opioids. He said the UI received information on it from the White House earlier this week.
Vilsack oversees the White House Rural Council, established by executive order on June 9, 2011 by President Obama. Opioid abuse is on a long list of maladies that impact rural communities. It is one issue among many the council hopes to address.
News media and politicians have made much of opioid abuse. Facts suggest at 28,648 (2014) annual deaths related to opioids — including heroin, hydrocodone and oxycodone — abuse is not a leading cause of death in the United States. It’s not even among the Centers for Disease Control’s top ten causes of death, with heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, unintentional injuries and stroke being much more prevalent.
Fanning the embers of opioid abuse into a raging wildfire serves the interests of Big Pharma and its minions in the U.S. Congress. The opioid epidemic represents another opportunity for corporations to mold government in a way that serves their interests.
We’ve seen this before with methamphetamine abuse. Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town by Nick Reding makes the case that it’s less a drug’s addictive propensity than a combination of economic policy, government complicity with Big Pharma, and corporate policies that are behind the degradation of rural communities like Oelwein, Iowa, the subject of his book.
The short version is when meth had its fiery burn into the media atmosphere, corporations used it as an opportunity to control importation of key ingredients to a profitable cold medicine in a way that led to many small-scale meth lab busts in Iowa, and the rise of methamphetamine trade among Mexican drug cartels. The opportunity regarding opiods may be a little different, but why wouldn’t Big Pharma want another bite from the apple?
It is ironic that Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, part of the “war on drugs,” was window dressing to her husband’s economic policies that drove the underlying causes of abuse and addiction, not only in small towns, but throughout the country.
People suffer from many types of addiction and neither government nor the insurance companies that drive health care are doing much to address them. Opioid abuse is an issue, yet the bigger issue is related to the growing divide between the richest Americans and the rest of us, corporate influence in government, and a K-12 education system that inadequately prepares children to sustain themselves in a society where corporations have the upper hand.
Opioids? Schmopioids! Let’s have a conversation about appropriate school curricula, something Vilsack addressed Friday in a weird, special interest kind of way.
Many of us have been involved in fund raising for various projects around our communities. One of the frequently used fund raising ideas is to sell bricks that will be put into a memorial wall. The bricks are emblazoned with the name of the donor and the amount of the donation. That way the donor can bring their family and friends around to show them what that have helped build.
What could be more natural for Steve King than selling bricks to be put in the Great Wall of Hate between the United States and Mexico. What could be better for a King backer than to have their name emblazoned in perpetuity on a wall that just screams out what King backers stand for – hate and racism.
Put your name out there for all to see! There will be millions of bricks so buy more than one. If they run out of bricks to sell, maybe they can sell grains of sand for the two no man’s lands that Steve King proposed.
Let me say at this point that this is satire. This is a bit of pointed comment to show how Steve King is fostering hate and racism. I would certainly hope that no one would take this in any way seriously. I would especially hate to think that such a sarcastic proposal (much more really sarcastic that saying Obama and Clinton started ISIS) helped elect King in any way.
BTW, King does have a level headed opponent who would no longer embarrass Iowa with outrageous statements that make Iowa look simply bad.
You can learn about issues in Iowa’s fourth congressional district here.
If you are out in that area, sign up to help Ms. Weaver, the state and the country here.
And of course like every candidate Kim Weaver needs money. You can help out here
Watching what little media we do along with what little radio we consume – mostly NPR – there seems to be a decided lack of coverage of the Democratic side of presidential contest. The old axiom in the news business is that if it bleeds it leads. There is certainly no denying where the bleeding is happening right now.
The bleeding is being caused by the train wreck of a campaign on the Republican side. It is actually not just a train wreck, it is more like the movie “Groundhog” was about a train wreck and this guy keeps waking up and it is train wreck day again. And it happens over and over and over and over, just like in “Groundhog.” Only this is a presidential campaign and it is time to focus on serious issues rather than just covering the endless train wreck.
I do have a feeling that this Republican campaign will be immortalized in book and film, mostly comedies. too bad the title “Trainwreck” has already been used.
Were you paying attention? Pretty busy for a quiet August.
1) Wow! Feet of rain fell particularly in what state last week?
2) Ivanka Trump was seen hanging out in Croatia last weekend with the girlfriend of what international leader?
3) Conservative website Breitbart conducted a poll to show that other polls were wrong. How much did they show Trump leading by?
4) In a huge story last Sunday, the New York Times uncovered payments made by a pro-Russian Ukranian political party to what major republican campaign operative?
5) Iowa got a visit from what major Democratic politician Wednesday?
6) Despite his well known obstruction what Iowa politician ironically touted his bipartisanship in a weekly Republican radio address last weekend?
7) Fifty-seven years ago today we sewed that 50th star on the flag for what state?
8) Two House Republicans, Jason Chaffetz and Bob Goodlatte, announced yet another investigation of who?
9) “The Nightly Show” was cancelled by Comedy Central last week. Who was the host of “The Nightly Show”?
10) It appears that Donald Trump may participate in the presidential debates. He hired who as a debate coach last week?
11) The Obama Administration set new standards for fuel efficiency for what class of vehicles last week?
12) What long standing political show host passed away last week at the age of 89?
13) What old disease once thought well under control seems poised for a comeback as stockpiles of vaccines dwindle in Central Africa?
14) What major Trump supporter claimed last week that “there were no terrorist attacks in the US until Obama became President”?
15) Which presidential candidate received their first security briefing last week?
16) Secretary Clinton stopped to visit what pop idol of her youth as both happened to be in Cleveland at the same time?
17) Russia launched air strikes into Syria from what unexpected location last week?
18) Aetna’s withdrawal from much of the ACA seems to have been triggered by the Dep’t of Justice’s attempt to stop their merger with what other insurance company?
19) The Drug Enforcement Agency refused to reschedule what drug, thus delaying research for possible medicinal applications?
20) To show her support of the nation’s police, Hillary Clinton met with what group Thursday?
Tweet from Keith Olbermann: But Conway and Bannon, @RealDonaldTrump? Because George Zimmerman and David Duke weren’t available?
2) Vladimir Putin. His current squeeze is former Rupert Murdoch wife Wendy Deng
3) 0, more specifically they had him trailing by only 5 points.
4) Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort
5) Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine
6) Chuck Grassley
7) Hawaii. After that Obama was born there – really.
8) Hillary Clinton.
9) Larry Wilmore
10) Roger Ailes, formerly of Fox News
11) trucks, buses and vans
12) John McLaughlin
13) yellow fever
14) Rudy Guilliani – seems he forgot what happened in his own city while he was mayor
16) Paul McCartney the former Beatle
20) the nation’s top law enforcement officials
School is back in session next week, just in case you notice the kids are gone.
For the second time in two years one of Iowa’s major universities is looking for a new president. After last year’s fiasco in the hiring of businessman Bruce Herrald to head the University of Iowa three Democratic state senators have stepped up to try to step in before the Board of Regents derails the normal process as they did last year.
UNI President Bill Ruud announced he was leaving speculation immediately began on whether filling his post would be another adventure in railroading in a hand picked replacement rather than going through the normal competitive process for picking a replacement. Iowa deserves to have the best leaders it can get for its major colleges. That can only happen through a true competitive process that the Board of regents short circuited in last year’s hiring.
State senators Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls, where UNI is located, Brian Schoenjahn of Arlington and Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids have stepped up to remind the Board of Regents that the process is supposed to be conducted in the open and is to be competitive.
Once again we have a Branstad set of appointees ignoring the rules and going off their own way. What’s to stop them? There seems to be little if any consequence to ignoring rules and laws if you’re a member of the Branstad administration. Total lack of accountability. Anybody remember when Republicans preached accountability from sunrise to sunset? That wasn’t meant for them just you and I average folks.
Over at the Des Moines Register, Christopher Martin penned a scathing editorial on the Board of Regents lack of accountability. Martin lays out the cronyism involved in the current Board of regents in a very clear way:
* According to Politico, Rastetter recruited Terry Branstad for his return run for governor in 2010 and was his top donor at more than $160,000. The year after Branstad’s election, Rastetter got his six-year appointment to the board.
* State law requires that not more than five of the nine members of the Iowa Board of Regents be from the same political party. The board’s “current mix of five Republicans, three independents, and one Democrat on the board,” meets the legal requirements, but does little to dispel the appearance of intentional partisanship.
* As a regent, Rastetter partnered with ISU to develop land in Tanzania that would have benefited his company. ISU dropped out of the project in 2012 “in the face of mounting criticism,” the AP reported.
* The board hired Bruce Harreld, the least qualified of University of Iowa presidential candidates. The hiring process, which favored Harreld and lacked transparency, is now subject to at least two lawsuits.
This whole article is well worth a couple of readings to fully digest the crap and corruption going on in the Board of Regents.
Unfortunately this is only another log on the fire of corruption and usurpation of power that has come to be the cornerstone of the current Branstad stint in office. Cutting budgets for our (yes our) public school system; cutting money to feed the needy; closing the juvenile school at Tama without following rules and then doing the same with Iowa’s mental health facilities at Mount Pleasant and Clarinda; privatizing our Medicaid system and doing so in such a hurry that it is creating a crisis of health care for its clients and suppliers.
Speaking of the privatization – let us say rather profitization – of Medicaid, once again Democratic state senators are trying to jump in to mitigate the damage being done by Branstad’s out of control administration.
Another hearing is scheduled for next Monday, August 29th. If you know anyone who has been involved in the medicaid transition mess, please contact the senate committee conducting the hearing using the form on this web page.
We will publish a reminder next week of this committee meeting.
When you hear politicians talking about corruption and cronyism one need only cast their eyes to Des Moines. Iowa was once the very epitome of what good government meant. Today we are just one of many states run by Republican governors whose goal seems to be to funnel as much money and power to his buddies as he can while in office. We are fortunate that Iowa has a Democratic senate or it would be much worse. One only need cast their eyes to Wisconsin or Kansas to get an idea what damage can be doe with both houses of the legislature controlled by Republicans coupled with a Republican governor.
There is only one way to stop Branstad’s power grab – that is by voting. Vote out those who support such corruption, vote in those who oppose it. In this year’s election that is as easy as red and blue. Republicans support Branstad in these endeavors whereas Democrats will oppose him as noted in the two instances above.
Yet Another Reason To Vote Straight Democratic Ticket
While we don’t hear nearly as much from Republicans about destroying the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) as we used to, make no mistake that destroying the ACA is still at the top of their ‘must do’ list. At a recent Chuck Grassley town hall meeting in Columbus Junction a member of the audience urged congress to pass a bill to defund the ACA on a daily basis. Grassley did not respond.
Republicans in congress generally are no longer talking out loud about ending the ACA. That does not mean they are no longer at war with the ACA and by extension those who get their insurance through the ACA. This year there are around 13 million Americans who get their health care through the exchanges. This does not include others who do not use the exchanges, but would have been denied health care under previous rules who are now able to get insurance because of the ACA. Nor does this include many new Americans now covered by new Medicaid rules.
Yet there still exists a huge gap of people who are not covered by any insurance in this country, a true shame for the richest country on earth.
Plus the whole system of having private insurance companies whose main focus and goal is profit, profit, profit as one of the main substructures of this system that resembles a Rube Goldberg machine could easily lead to collapse. The private insurance companies know this well. They understand that if they pull their substructure from this system the system collapses.
Thus when Aetna announced it would be pulling out of most of the states where it currently offers coverage under the ACA you could hear the structure creaking and see it swaying. Aetna isn’t the first. They are joining United Health and Humana who also announced previous cutbacks. Since the ACA passed there has been major consolidation in the health insurance business and those three are the big players. Therefore when they announce they would be leaving many exchanges the system really creaked.
But for many, the real kick in the ass was the reason Aetna left. While they claimed major losses the truth came to light Tuesday when an internal memo within Aetna came to light thanks to the Huffington Post:
Bertolini responded bluntly. Aetna supported the law’s goal to expand coverage and planned to increase its exchange offerings next year, in the hopes that the exchanges would stabilize as enrollment grew, he wrote.
But if the Justice Department were to block the merger, Bertolini warned, Aetna could no longer sustain the losses from its exchange business, forcing it to sharply change direction:
[I]f the deal were challenged and/or blocked we would need to take immediate actions to mitigate public exchange and ACA small group losses. Specifically, if the DOJ sues to enjoin the transaction, we will immediately take action to reduce our 2017 exchange footprint …. [I]nstead of expanding to 20 states next year, we would reduce our presence to no more than 10 states .… [I]t is very likely that we would need to leave the public exchange business entirely and plan for additional business efficiencies should our deal ultimately be blocked. By contrast, if the deal proceeds without the diverted time and energy associated with litigation, we would explore how to devote a portion of the additional synergies … to supporting even more public exchange coverage over the next few years.
To Obamacare critics, Aetna’s retreat is proof the law is failing. To supporters, it shows the company was using its participation in Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative as a bargaining chip in order to secure approval of a controversial business deal.
Given that due to consolidation in the health insurance industry insurance companies now have an out of proportion determination on whether Americans will be able to access health care or not, it is once more time for access to health care for all Americans to once more come to the forefront as an issue.
It is time that at a minimum a public option become part of the ACA so that insurance companies can not ruin health care for millions on the whim of their CEOs.
A Public Option should be the minimal response to this outrage. Moving into the modern world and creating a single payer health care system like every other major country on this earth has is the right answer.
The only way to make that happen is elect Democrats. If you vote for republican candidates at any level there is a risk that they may be part of a movement to destroy or chip away at the fragile ACA. That includes from the state house to the White House.
If you remember the role Chuck Grassley had in attempting to stop the ACA from ever getting passed it should be hard to vote for him today knowing that destroying the ACA is always on his mind.
Need a reason to vote for Democrats? How does being able to still access health are sound? Think it won’t happen to you. Millions have thought that and been wrong.
Between picture perfect onions and the compost heap lies an opportunity.
A friend grows onions using organic practices as part of a Community Supported Agriculture project. Onions are harvested from the field then dried in the greenhouse for storage. Sorting, trimming the tops and roots, and removing excess skin comes next.
As an experienced onion trimmer I work for farmers I know and trust. My compensation is an hourly rate above the current minimum wage plus all the seconds I can use. It’s a good deal, so I take it when offered. For an hour or two after a full time job at the home, farm and auto supply company, and on weekends after a shift at the orchard, I work in the onion shed.
The work is seasonal and temporary. Cognizant of potential competition from other itinerant workers, I work as quickly and as well as I can. The daily chore serves as respite from an intense schedule of lowly paid work that provides income destined mostly to corporations in exchange for stuff needed to operate the household: utilities, insurance, taxes, fuel and the like. I will have worked 100 days in a row by the November election — I’m not complaining, just sayin’.
At the end of each shift in the onion shed, I take home ten or more pounds of seconds. I remove the bad parts in our kitchen and am left with half the original amount in fresh onions. There’ no long term storage for these so they go into the ice box until used. If left on the counter, bad spots would quickly re-emerge.
I made and canned the first batch of vegetable soup with three pounds of fresh onions and a bit of everything on hand from the farm and garden. By the time the onions at the farm are in storage, there will be enough canned vegetable soup put up to last until the next growing season. Soup that can make a meal.
With the concurrent harvest of tomatoes and basil from our garden, I plan to make and can pints of marinara sauce using a simple, four-part recipe of tomatoes, onions, basil and garlic. Onion trimming blocks out time from vegetable processing, and some good ones will head to the compost bin before I can get to them. I am hopeful about getting a dozen pints of marinara sauce canned.
The life of an itinerant low wage worker lies on the margin between harvest and the compost bin, That’s true for a lot of professions, not just onion trimmers. If you think about it, that’s where we all live our lives in the 99 percent of the population that isn’t wealthy.
I’m okay with working a job with friends doing work that directly impacts our family’s sustainability. It may be easier to take a big job with responsibilities and varied compensation, but I’d rather deal with the questions like whether something can be made of each onion I encounter.
The pile of second represents hope in a tangible and meaningful way. What’s life for unless that?
The sobering news of the NBC/Marist poll released last week is Hillary Clinton leading the Republican candidate in Iowa by only 4 points (41-37) among registered voters.
In Iowa electing Hillary Clinton president will not be a slam dunk.
If one lives elsewhere in the country, the news was better. Clinton leads the two-way and four-way presidential races nationally and has multiple paths to 270 electoral votes needed to win the election.
Both major candidates remain unpopular. “In Iowa, 36 percent of registered voters have a favorable view of Clinton, versus 58 percent with an unfavorable view,” wrote Mark Murray on the NBC News website. “While Trump is at 31 percent positive, 64 percent negative.”
Clinton is polling well, as she has since announcing her candidacy April 12, 2015. The election is hers to lose, and every indication is she is taking nothing for granted. What mitigates the positives is every conversation I have with voters becomes dominated by how terrible Clinton’s opponent is. He is, and if you feel that way, volunteer or donate to Clinton’s campaign, even if you don’t like her.
Of Iowa’s 1,937,225 active voters, only 615,357 (32%) were registered as Democrats on Aug. 1, 2016, according to the Iowa Secretary of State. Republicans aren’t doing much better at 649,579 (34%). Based on registrations, it should be a fair fight for either party to build a constituency to elect a candidate in Iowa.
It’s not a fair fight, one made worse by the quadrennial Iowa Caucuses. Where to begin about that?
Let’s start with the quote attributed to Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Who wants to be insane? None of us who volunteer to work for political campaigns.
I want something that doesn’t exist any more. When my father canvassed for JFK before the 1960 election he used mimeographed sheets made at the union hall. There was a diagram of a generic neighborhood where he recorded the names of voters to help him (and presumably others) keep track of where the election stood. When Kennedy won, we felt our family had contributed significantly to the victory even though he did not win Iowa’s 10 electoral votes.
Deviation from this inclusive, local technique has long been a practice. I associate it mostly with Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, although others perfected it. Targeted canvassing has been my bone of contention with the Iowa Democratic Party. The practice has broken down neighborhoods in favor of demographic dissection. It isn’t healthy for working together with neighbors to improve our lives, something that should run concurrently with politics.
It’s no secret a large percentage of people seek to avoid conversations about politics and hide their political leanings behind a no party registration. What matters more to those with whom I’ve discussed it is participation in a society in which politics plays a minor role. More engage in politics during the presidential years, but spend the rest of their time living, working and volunteering. It’s the glue that holds what’s good in society together. The current caucus process with two dozen candidates roaming the state and spreading their minority views works against the warp and weave of a just society.
I believe the Iowa caucuses have seen their best years. Jimmy Carter had the right idea after Democrats changed the nominating process in response to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Carter just showed up and met people, as he famously did during the Iowa State Fair. Today, politics has been co-opted by the media and the state fair is a timely example, with a dedicated political soap box sponsored by the Des Moines Register. It’s not unlike any of the other fair exhibits. The nadir of the state fair soapbox for Democrats in recent years was Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz giving out of touch speeches.
The caucuses are getting too large, making it difficult for organizers to find appropriate venues. In our precinct it was a challenge to hold people’s attention until the delegates were selected, after which they bolted and the caucus chair couldn’t fill committee slots for the county convention. Logistics aside, the Iowa caucuses place an inappropriate emphasis on presidential politics almost two years before the election. There is more to life than who’s president. We survived Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. We will survive whoever the electorate picks in November.
The opportunity to change this year’s process passed with the state convention and the page turns to the 2020 presidential cycle. Political activists want Iowa to be the first caucus in the nation, but they don’t represent our best interests. They are just one more special interest looking out for themselves. Politics is much broader than the people who caucused for Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican caucus winner in Iowa.
It is time for politically active people to get involved in a way that broadens the electorate and is more inclusive. However, if they don’t heed the message, we’ll find something else to do, raising money for our favorite charities, donating garden surplus to the food bank, and advocating with our elected officials for what is right — regardless of party.
People care about who’s president, but not so much they will set everything else aside. No one wants to be the target of political canvasses. Given the opportunity neighbors will join together to resolve pressing issues, including electing a president. This year presidential politics serves more distraction than help.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is an Aug. 15 letter to the editor of the New York Times by friend and colleague Ira Helfand, MD. The message is clear. Ban and abolish nuclear weapons).
To the Editor:
“A Nuclear Legacy Within Reach” (editorial, Aug. 8) notes that President Obama still has time to reduce the danger of nuclear war. Nothing he will do is more important than this.
For 70 years we have treated nuclear weapons as the ultimate guarantor of our security. That view is fundamentally wrong. The nuclear nations have come perilously close to using these weapons on a number of occasions and have been saved, not because nuclear weapons possess some magic power that prevents their use but because of a string of incredible good luck that will not last forever.
We need a transformational change in our nuclear policy that recognizes that these weapons are the gravest threat to our security and must be banned and abolished.
Ira Helfand is a co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.