Lobbyists: Time To Shine A Light On Them

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Branstad signs Iowa’s union busting bill for an audience of one – lobbyist Drew Klein.

Many years ago I made a proposal that any and all meetings between lobbyists and members of government at any level be held in the open and if possible recorded. If governmental people must wear a recorder 24X7 so be it. We have found with police wearing cameras that what is reported is often at odds with what is recorded.

In light of the Bill Dix incident this week I will renew my call. In Washington DC we have something in the neighborhood of 20+ lobbyists per congress member. Most do not have the best interest of the average American in mind. That is sarcasm if you missed it.

The Dix incident and the Branstad signing pic with Drew Klein are just tiny examples of what goes on behind closed doors and we are only aware of these because they accidentally leaked out. 

This mixing of lobbyists and lawmakers is toxic. Open government demands that all meetings between them be in the open and available to the public.

I have little pretensions that I am a lonely voice on this, but it just feels like it is way beyond time that we open the government up to scrutiny in every dark corner that still exists out there.

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Sunday Funday: Karmic Edition


At the outset let me explain that this week’s quiz will be less devoted to current events than normal. Your humble quiz master’s universe has been disturbed by a force that occurs once a year and he must attend to it. If you must know it is a force that goes by NCAA. It will be visiting at the same crucial time as is the normal quiz compilation time. I must fight the invasion with diligence, potato chips and diet sodies.

There is something karmic about Iowa senate Republican Majority Leader Bill Dix resigning due to a sex related scandal. Considering how he handled the sexual harassment charges and then lawsuit against his caucus it almost seems as if some force set up his downfall. Wish such karmic events were more common.

It was also almost karmic that Prof. Stephen Hawking died on a day devoted to one of the most fundamental scientific concepts, that of pi, 3.14. Professor Hawking had a very subtle sense of humor. One could almost imagine that he would pick that day as a final whimsical joke on himself.

Finally Republicans gerrymandered Pennsylvania’s 18th district as a district that would be forever a Republican district. As we often find out, forever is a foreign concept to karma. As a party if you keep kicking the electorate at some point they will turn around and bite. What is surprising is that more of the electorate did not bite.

Here goes with some current events, Irish questions and questions on women’s history.

  1. Gina Haspel is the first female nominee to head the CIA. However her history of heading CIA torture site in what country may hinder her confirmation?
  1. Who was the first woman to challenge for the nomination of a modern major American political party?
  1. What Republican congress member publicly dissented from the House Intelligence Committees findings that the Russians did nothing in the 2016 election?
  1. VP Joe Biden was reported in the new book “Russian Roulette” by Corn and Isikoff to have called Trump’s involvement with Russia what?
  1. Dear Leader’s lawyers are trying to stop an airing of 60 Minutes interview with Stormy Daniels. This would be an example of what form of censorship?
  1. Steel tariffs were put in last week just before a special election in what once major steel producing area?
  1. Dear Leader bragged at a fundraiser Wednesday night of lying to the face of what other world leader?
  1. Who was the first black woman elected to congress? (Hint: 1960s)
  1. The NRA responded to the national walkout for safety on Wednesday by tweeting what?
  1. SoS designate Mike Pompeo is a former congress member from what state?
  1. The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the US was held in what city in 1762?
  1. In an administration with lots of turnover, John McEntee’s exit was sudden and spectacular. What position did Mr. McEntee hold?
  1. What town in northern Iowa was founded as an “Irish colony” in the late 1800s?
  1. When was the Equal Rights Amendment first introduced in congress?
  1. Iowa Senate majority leader Bill Dix resigned his seat after being caught kissing a lobbyist in a bar. What group was the lobbyist representing?
  1. Katherine Graham was the publisher of what newspaper and what magazine beginning in the 1960s?
  1. What member of Dear Leader’s family is rumored to be in divorce proceedings?
  1. Dear Leader took a trip to California Tuesday to do what?
  1. What little Irish town does former President Obama trace his Irish roots back to?
  1. What woman who was denied permission to sing to the Daughters of the American Revolution was given a venue at the Lincoln Memorial?


  1. Thailand
  1. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine in 1964 in the Republican Party
  1. Trey Gowdy (yeah, not running again changes perspective)
  1. “If true, this is treason”
  1. Prior restraint
  1. Pennsylvania’s 18th district near Pittsburgh
  1. Justin Trudeau of Canada
  1. Shirley Chisholm
  1. A picture of an AR 15 with the caption “I’ll control my own guns, thank you”
  1. Kansas
  1. New York City
  1. Personal assistant to the president. McEntee was not even allowed to get his coat.
  1. Emmetsburg
  1. 1923
  1. Municipalities
  1. The Washington Post and Newsweek
  1. Donny, Jr.
  1. Look at proposed border wall types
  1. Moneygall in County Offaly
  1. Marian Anderson. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in arranging the outdoor concert.

Andy Borowitz:  Nation Marvels at Trump’s Ability to Turn ExxonMobil Multimillionaire Into Sympathetic Figure

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Reminder: March For Our Lives Next Saturday!

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Make your position known! We will not stand for the wholesale slaughter of our children or fellow citizens as gun makers profit from their deaths.

It is time to let politicians who are in the pocket of the gun lobby that Enough is Enough!

The number of marches has grown astronomically in a week. Even the city of Muscatine is joining in.

Go Here  to find a march in your area. Stand up for your kids, grandkids, neighbor kids and all your friends and family!

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, gun control | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Quiet Room 

A story of a child’s gun death in America

“At the end of an inconspicuous hallway and strategically placed far from the controlled chaos of the trauma room lies a dimly lit waiting area that we in the medical field call “the quiet room.” It is a bland spot; a few soft chairs surround a table that holds a box of crisp institutional tissues. There may be a picture or two on the wall, but generally it is an unassuming room where we physicians tell mothers about the deaths of their children, far too often because of firearm violence.

As we make our way to this room, we recite a careful script; we use words intended to ease this painful first-and-only meeting. The reality is that over the years, we have found that there is no good way to tell a mother that her child has died, especially when the unexpected death might have been avoidable.

We introduce ourselves as the doctor who took care of their child. We take a deep breath, look into their eyes, and quickly break the devastating news — there is no reason to delay. What follows is the visceral, piercing shriek of a mother’s wailing, “Please God, not my baby!” We often weep with these mothers, we sometimes quietly blame ourselves for not being able to do more to save their baby’s life — and when they are alone, as is often the case, we hold them up while they cry.

We walk away from the encounter, our stomachs churning from the stale, metallic scent of a child’s blood barely dried on our clogs, our faces streaked with tears, and our hearts gripped in a vise as we tell ourselves that this senseless dying must end. But it doesn’t end. Another child is shot, and another mother is heartbroken.”

This is the beginning of a story from the New England Journal of Medicine from December 21st, 2017. The story of what happens AFTER the big headlines. How doctors fight to save the lives of the victims and then have to deal with the mothers and fathers.

Yet for very explainable reasons, research into the reasons behind these scenes is illegal in this country. That is right – forbidden by law. Remember doctors live in a world of science where scientific methods are used to research and isolate causes of diseases and accidents. Strangely it is ILLEGAL to do research on the hows and whys of gun deaths in America.

Why? Without much research I think we can arrive at a consensus – it might cut into gun sales and profits of the gun industry. So what you ask? Well the gun industry has an iron grip on at least those in the Republican Party often dictating their stand on gun issues. 

If you value freedom in this country be sure to free some legislators, congress critters and other various officials from the grip of the gun industry this fall. Apparently they are too weak to do so on their own.

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Vulture Capitalists Swallow A Couple Of Companies

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To many Americans Romney is the face of vulture capitalism

Rumors of the demise of Toys ’R’ Us have been circulating for six months or more since they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Almost as if a songbook was sent out for news readers across the land there was a chorus of “online shopping took them down.”

Online shopping is the easy target – gee look at the lazy Americans, can’t even get off their fat duffs to go to the store to buy the kids a toy. Like so many stories we get in these days of instant gratification, simple explanation, no in depth news online shopping tells only a small piece of the story. Also like so many stories the American public is more than happy to have one simple storyline to consume and regurgitate.

Therefore while the whole story of the Toys ‘R’ Us demise is only partially online shopping and more a story of greed known as vulture capitalism or leveraged buyout. Thanks to the media the villain in the story will be the amorphous “online” community including Amazon and its owner and current Trump enemy Jeff Bezos.

Also thanks to the media the damage done once again by vulture capitalist companies like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital came in, ravaged their victim and leave a carcass behind without getting any of the blame.

nakedcapitalism.com did a story specifically on Toys ‘R’ Us shortly after they declared chapter 11 bankruptcy last September pointing out that Toys ‘R’ Us’s problems were due more to vultures. Here the article is quoting from yet another article on wolfstreet.com.

“After extracting enough cash from Toys R Us and loading it up with a debilitating pile of debt, the three PE firms tried to unload it to the unsuspecting public in an IPO in 2010. They were hoping for an additional payday, the icing on the cake, so to speak. But they had to scuttle their efforts due to “challenging market conditions.”

Yet toy industry sales have been “robust,” growing by 5% in 2016, and by a compound annual rate of 5% since 2013.

Incapably managed by the PE firms, Toys R Us has been losing market share in its struggle with online retailers, particularly Amazon, and with Walmart at every level, and with other toy stores. Nevertheless, if the company weren’t overleveraged and didn’t have PE firms leeching off it, its slowly declining revenues and thinning profits turning to losses wouldn’t be the end of the world.”

The article also went on to note that Toys ‘R’ Us was very aware how the leveraged buy out (LBO) would damage their ability to respond to competition due to the nature of their financial arrangements:

  • making it more difficult for us to make payments on the debt, as our business may not be able to generate sufficient cash flows from operating activities to meet our debt service obligations;

  • increasing our vulnerability to general economic and industry conditions;

  • requiring a substantial portion of cash flow from operating activities to be dedicated to the payment of principal and interest on our indebtedness, and as a result reducing our ability to use our cash flow to fund our operations and capital expenditures, capitalize on future business opportunities and expand our business and execute our strategy;

  • exposing us to the risk of increased interest rates as certain of our borrowings are at variable rates of interest;

  • causing us to make non-strategic divestitures;

  • limiting our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, debt service requirements and general corporate or other purposes; and

  • limiting our ability to adjust to changing market conditions and to react to competitive pressure and placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors who are less highly leveraged.

Thursday another company filed bankruptcy yet it got little media play maybe because there wasn’t a story that could be played up as new vs. old or bad vs. good. In this case we have a couple of unlikable players who I believe most would be cheering to fail. 

On the one hand we have what was once Clear Channel Communications (CC) which was most noted for gobbling up radio stations in the 1990s after the telecommunications Act of 1996. CC turned many of those once local based stations into a major part of the right wing echo chamber. CC reincarnated into iheartradio after an LBO by Bain Capital and Thomas Lee Capital.

So here you have Romney’s former firm Bain Capital and Clear Channel, a couple of American villains facing off. Bain used Rush Limbaugh as their bargaining chip in the buyout. This was shortly before Limbaugh became the toxic asset he is today broadcasting on 100 watt stations that barely cover small towns:

“Bain Capital like every company going to a bank in this case several banks for a loan had a business plan you give us X amount of dollars and we pay you back plus interest in a certain time.

How do you plan to pay us back the bank asks? Bain replies well Rush Limbaugh is our biggest cash generating asset.

And thats where everyone who boycotted, joined FlushRush, wrote and read articles gets to take a bow. :)”

There are many lessons in these similar stories. One is that the surface stories we get from the media often hides or ignores details they don’t want us to know. Why? Could be the influence of money, could be sloppiness, could be fear of exposing the real behind the scenes movers and shakers.

A second lesson is about those behind the scene movers. The vulture capitalist companies have been wreaking havoc behind the scenes around the world for decades with little impunity. One of the reasons the Puerto Rico is broke and does not have the resources to respond to the devastating hurricanes is because of vulture capitalists. Many emerging countries have fallen victim to these firms causing eventual serious problems.

And with these bankruptcies thousands of people will be out of work, businesses will be left with unpaid bills and leasing companies and malls will be left with empty buildings and store fronts.

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Iraq Peace Vigil, Fifteen Years Later

Action alert by Ed Flaherty –

Please join Veterans For Peace and PEACE Iowa at the Clinton St/Iowa Ave entrance to the Pentacrest in Iowa City at 5:30 – 6:00 PM on Monday, March 19th for a 15-Year Peace Vigil.

The middle of the month of March is a muddle of murky memories. March 16th marks fifty years since the U.S. massacre of 500 Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai. It epitomized the disgrace and shame of a war built on lies which claimed 58,272 American lives and over three million SE Asian lives. But that was more than 40 years ago, and University of Iowa students have no memory of it.

March 19th marks the beginning of another US war built on lies, 15 years ago in 2003, with Iraq the target. Most University of Iowa students were alive then, but most too young to have clear memories of it.

But, as William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” So it is with the Vietnam War, so it is with the Iraq War. 500,000 US veterans of the Iraq war have PTSD. We still had over 5000 troops in Iraq as of a few months ago, and how many are there now? How much educational expenses could be covered by the trillion dollars we have spent directly on the Iraq war? What about the state of affairs in Iraq today, having lost hundreds of thousands of lives in the US war and with infrastructure and social structure severely fractured? Maybe most importantly, what can we learn from these tragedies?

We must do more than mourn the past. We must learn from it and build a better present and future.

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Ankeny Legislative Forum: Constituents Laugh Out Loud At Legislators

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Action Alert: GOP Will Bring Up 6 Week Abortion Ban Thursday

Action alert from the Iowa Statehouse Progressive Network

GOP To Bring Up 6 Week Abortion Ban Thursday @ 2 pm

Yesterday, Republicans said their dangerous bill to ban abortion after 6 weeks was dead. Today, they found a new way to keep it alive.  Republican lawmakers in the House are using a procedural move in the Human Resources Committee to amend the 6 week abortion ban to a different bill (Senate File 359).

We need your help to stop it.

This dangerous bill will ban abortion before most women even know they are pregnant.  It’s the worst attack on the rights of women we’ve seen from Iowa Republicans so far and it’s blatantly unconstitutional. But Republican lawmakers don’t care, they want to take this state backward. They are using this bill to advance an extreme agenda and create a vehicle to legally challenge Roe v. Wade.

Here’s what you can do to help us stop the unconstitutional ban before Thursday at 2 pm:

1. Contact all the Republican lawmakers below on the Human Resources Committee and tell them to vote NO on the 6 week ban:

Rep. Joel Fry, joel.fry@legis.iowa.gov (Chair)
Rep. Michael Bergan, michael.bergan@legis.iowa.gov (Vice-Chair)
Rep. Rob Bacon, rob.bacon@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Brian Best, brian.best@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, cecil.dolecheck@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Dave Heaton, david.heaton@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Steven Holt, steven.holt@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Jon Jacobsen, jon.jacobsen@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Kevin Koester, kevin.koester@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Shannon Lundgren, shannon.lundgren@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Tom Moore, tom.moore@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Sandy Salmon, sandy.salmon@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Rob Taylor, rob.taylor@legis.iowa.gov

*** You can call these Representatives at 515-281-3221 tomorrow starting at 8 am 

2. Contact your own State Representative here and ask him/her to vote NO on the 6 week ban.  You can find your representative here.

3. Come to the State Capitol tomorrow at 2 pm and wear pink to show your support for Iowa women. The Human Resources Committee will meet in the Supreme Court Chamber, Room 103.

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America Needs Paper Ballots To Ensure Safe Elections

Verified Voting is working hard to safeguard America’s elections.  Follow their work on Twitter @VerifiedVoting or on Facebook to catch more news about Verified Voting.

Verified Voting made headlines this week, weighing in on federal legislation (like the Secure Elections Act) as well as how states like Michigan are faring on election security. In case you missed it, here are some articles mentioning Verified Voting:

  • The Hill – one of the top political websites where lawmakers get their news – once again sought out Marian K. Schneider’s opinion in their latest article about federal legislation that would bolster election security.
  • On International Women’s Day, Daily Kos published a story, “Computer scientist Barbara Simons proves how easy it is to hack elections – and how it can be stopped.” In it, Barbara explains why paper is the safest voting technology out there.
  • The Bridge took a close look at Michigan’s election security, and relied on experts like Marian who told the magazine, “You have to manage the risk the best way you can…But because you can never get the risk down to zero, you have to be able to recover. That’s why you have paper ballots.” Read more here.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter @VerifiedVoting or on Facebook to catch more news about Verified Voting or Donate

Verified Voting Team

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Iowa Republicans Want To Make You A Criminal For Applying For Worker’s Comp.

Forwarding this action alert:

F 2305, the Worker’s Compensation Crimes bill,  is a typical modern-day Republican attempt to rob the middle class by scaring workers who have worker’s comp claims.  It would create a class D felony for worker’s comp claimants who assert claims “without sufficient medical evidence.” It passed the Senate and is currently in the House Commerce Committee.

Because it is in committee, anybody can contact the reps to oppose this bill–you don’t have to be in their district. Their contact info is below.

Here’s the bill:


Notes from constituents in attendance:

SF 2305 passed by Senate: workers’ comp insurance.

  • Establishes a fraud unit.
  • Scrutinizes all workers comp claims.
  • Special prosecutor: the more cases they take the more money the dept makes.

What big picture are they painting? Chances of getting a lawyer to work with you is getting slimmer, facing fraud charges if you take your employer to court. Mandates that you don’t have a choice: you get hurt on the job, employer chooses course of treatment unless you take company to task. Decided by third party.

And here’s the real takeaway:

This bill is anti worker, pro employer. It leaves workers powerless.

Here is a list of those committee members:















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