Farmers Are Worried About Climate Change

theguardian.com

Research forecasts Iowa corn yields could drop in half within the next half-century thanks to extreme weather – yet it’s not part of the political conversation

by Art Cullen

Farmers around here are itching to go after that amber wave of soya beans, but there was that 5in rain a couple of weeks ago and then a 7in rain, and it drives even the retired guys batty.

Those beans aren’t worth much at the elevator thanks to a Trump trade war with China, but they’re worth even less getting wet feet in a pond that was a field which the glacier made a prairie bog some 14,000 years ago – until we came along and drained it.

This year, crops in north-west Iowa are looking spotty. Up into Minnesota they were battered by spring storms and late planting, and then inundated again in late summer. Where they aren’t washed out, they’re weedy or punky. If you go south in Buena Vista county, where I live in Storm Lake, the corn stands tall and firm.

Welcome to climate change, Iowa-style.

Read the entire article at The Guardian

Art Cullen is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist and editor of The Storm Lake Times. His book, Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper is available on Amazon

Posted in Blog for Iowa, Climate Change | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Sampling Of Postings Around the Net

Kick back a bit and take a look at these postings from around the internet:

how liberals are destroying America

 

using language to diminish women

 

Trump makes america scary

 

Obama on bullies

 

And in Canada Wednesday:

raping women in the bathroom

 

And the last two for real fun:

boat first I said

whoops

 

brothers from different mothers

brothers from different mothers

 

 

Posted in #trumpresistance, Blog for Iowa, Humor | Leave a comment

Job #1 For Democrats? Restore Real Democracy

 Bernie on Voter ID

As we come up to yet another election where we face the prospect of control of state and national legislatures being decided by black box voting machines and gerrymandered districts. This flies in the face of everything the founders stood for. The underlying principal that should be the cornerstone of our democracy must be one citizen, one vote.

Enough of the bogus voter suppression laws and the voting machines with no verifiability. Enough with the gerrymandered districts that make one citizen’s vote much less valuable than another citizen’s. Enough with the districts that look like a serpent in a nightmare. And especially enough with huge amounts of anonymous money being used to scorch the field of play in an election.

America is nearly 250 years old. At that age it is time she start to act like an adult and settle her squabbles through fair processes.

When Democrats are back in control, let me recommend that their first order of business should be to restore integrity to our democracy. This can be done by making elections fully open to scrutiny. That would mean voting in such a way that ballots can be retrieved and recounted. It is time to be done with any machine voting or counting. We should do what the Irish did with their voting machines when they realized they could be so easily tampered with. They sold them as scrap metal.

Instead as we move forward we need to look backward to a time when voting was done Wirth a paper and a pencil and the ballot could be recounted over and over. 

Secondly, the voter suppression laws must be done away with. The 15th amendment was passed in 1870, and ever since then various states have been trying all sorts of tricks and hocus-pocus to cheat citizens out of their right to vote. Today’s “exact match” and Ohio’s “voter purge” laws are merely recent incarnations of suppression tactics of a previous era known as Jim Crow laws that used poll taxes and grandfather clauses to keep African Americans from voting. Enough with these shenanigans.

If a person is a citizen, they should have a right to vote. I would go even further and say that the state should implement rules that automatically registers a citizen when they come of age. Further, should anyone lose their vote, they must be notified and have a hearing when their most precious right is taken from them. 

One special class of citizens that may automatically lose their right to vote are felons. Yet once they have completed their sentence their right to vote must be restored immediately upon completion of sentence.

As for the gerrymandering, districts should be contiguous and as equal in population as is possible based on legitimate census numbers. If possible, districts should also be competitive in nature so as to insure issues will be fully debated.

As for money in politics – the age old question of politicians being for sale – the best answer would be campaigns funded by tax dollars. This would level the playing field for most competitors and give a challenger a fighting chance. However in America there is also the the concern of what to do with the “super-Pacs” where tons of money can be used by one side or another in thinly veiled ads that are actually campaign ads. 

The impact of super-Pac advertising is that it gives the richest in America an avenue of influence that others do not have. Currently there are no limits on super-Pac contributions or spending. Nor are there any rules on openness that allow the names of those contributing to these campaigns to be released. At the very least there must be openness in divulging who is trying to sway the public opinion.

Coming off one election that was very suspect and careening into another election without one damn problem being fixed, it is time to take inventory of the election system and get about making the changes that will restore faith in this system. We can’t expect republicans to do anything to restore the election system integrity. Most of the problems that the system has now was created by their party.

Since the courts have been packed from stem to stern with Republicans of pretty much the same ideology we can’t expect the courts to be a voice of sense in this area much longer.

However if the election systems are not fixed soon, faith in the system will erode as fast as a dune in a hurricane.

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, money out of politics, voter suppression | Tagged | Leave a comment

Robert Reich: The Economy Is in Much Worse Shape Than It Looks

Robert Reich is one of the best go to economists to find out what is truly happening in this country and the world in economics. Reich has a real handle on how the economic maneuverings of those who control the economy really affect Joe and Jane Citizen.

But first this little word from Joe Kennedy III:

Now for the sage wisdom of Robert Reich:   

“I keep hearing that although Donald Trump is a scoundrel or worse, at least he’s presiding over a great economy.

As White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow recently put it, “The single biggest story this year is an economic boom that is durable and lasting.”

Really? Look closely at the living standards of most Americans, and you get a very different picture.

Yes, the stock market has boomed since Trump became president. But it’s looking increasingly wobbly as Trump’s trade wars take a toll.”

Reich then explains how workers paychecks have advanced little in over 3 decades while costs of nearly everything from housing to healthcare. He concludes with this summary:

“Too often, discussions about “the economy” focus on overall statistics about growth, the stock market, and unemployment.

But most Americans don’t live in that economy. They live in a personal economy that has more to do with wages, job security, commutes to and from work, and the costs of housing, healthcare, drugs, education, and home insurance.

These are the things that hit closest home. They comprise the typical American’s standard of living.

Instead of an “economic boom,” most Americans are experiencing declines in all these dimensions of their lives.”

Reich hits it on the head. The economy is only working for a few. For the rest of us this economy does not work as we slowly slide backwards. Even worse, we are the first generation of Americans whose children will not have a better life than we did.

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, Economic Justice, Economy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Robbing From The Poor, Giving To The Rich

In case you missed the news Tuesday, Senate leader Mitch McConnell admitted to one of his party’s least kept secrets: they plan to pay for those huge tax cuts for the rich that were passed last December by taking money from programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A person would have to have been stuck in a cave not to see this one coming.

2 minutes

This is a Republican strategy that they have been implementing since Saint Ronald of Reagan – starve the beast. Quit feeding the beast with money and then the “fat” of social programs will be shed. Republicans have been doing it in state after state, including Iowa for decades.

Since the Social Security Act was first passed in 1935, Republicans of all stripes have been dreaming of ending what they see as a program that has fostered dependence on the government. They care not one whit that elderly Americans will quickly become homeless and will be dying in huge numbers much more quickly. 

In order to bring their wet dream of ending Social Security and Medicare the conditions had to be fostered that would put the country in a situation where extreme Republicans who would willing let their grandmother die were in elected office and it was nearly impossible to remove them. How did we get here?

The Powell Memo written in 1971 became the road map for achieving the situation that we are in today. Instead of vox populi (the voice of the people) one of Powell’s basic themes was vox pecunia (the voice of money). Over the years there have been revisions and details added to their plan, but the basic has been there from day one: people with money should be in charge. 

There have been many prongs to the attack. One prong has been to control the media and thus control the message. The media in the United States today is nearly totally controlled by the right. So-called Public media was very much neutered from its earlier days and now gears its reporting more toward “balance” than truth. The few left leaning newspapers, rode and TV stations are sparse and widely scattered.

As the internet has grown one of the Republican targets has been to come up with a mechanism for controlling the message on the internet. Their preferred solution is to end internet neutrality and eventually make the cost of entry into that market prohibitive such that corporations will eventually control the message there also.

Another prong to their attack has been to suppress voting. You have probably all seen the Paul Weyrich video from 1980 where he laid out in a few sentences the charge to suppress the vote in order for Republicans to win: (1 minute)

In doing this Republicans have been very adaptable to new technology. They have made good use of the internet social media employing Facebook, Twitter and many other web sites to deliver lies and misdirection that confuse and discourage a populace that is not well informed. Coupled with their control of the more traditional media this packs a powerful punch of confusion.

New methods of suppressing the vote have been developed over the years into what is now almost a formula for raising the value of Republican votes while depressing the value of Democratic votes. One of the most reliable has been electronic voting machines. As the old saying goes “It is not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes that counts.”

As that saying illustrates those who control the count actually are the ones that control the outcome. That is especially true in situations where there are no actual ballots to verify electronic votes against. This is often referred to as “black box voting.” A person’s vote goes into a voting machine that then acts as a black hole where all traces of it disappear and it can be manipulated at the direction of some programmer. Without back up paper ballots there is no way to recount or ever know if any ballot was counted correctly or at all.

Of course the most recent attack is too restrict registration to vote in such ways that it restricts voters who would most likely vote for Democrats, thus eliminating huge swaths of voters from the electorate.

Using the above methods Republicans have been able to almost guarantee victories in in certain areas. Once Republicans were able to use the above methods to control state legislatures they could deploy the old tactic of gerrymandering to carve their states into districts that greatly favor their party even if they are the minority party in that state.

With all these mechanisms in place to nearly guarantee Republicans a majority no matter what the actual vote totals are, the time is then ripe to go after their dreams. Giving huge gifts to their donor base (mostly the wealthy is a plus. The number one target for over 80 years has been to end Social Security with Medicare as a close second. 

Being able to pay off their donors with the money coming from their two or three of their most hated social programs is the stuff Republican wet dreams are made of. Starving the government of money through tax cuts aimed at their donor base and then proposing to pay for it by taking the money from the poor and elderly is their idea of sheer genius – truly fooling the ignorant unwashed.

I am hoping most Americans will see through their thinly disguised little trick. An overwhelming vote against these thieves is the only thing that will stop them. Your vote is not enough this fall. Make sure your family and neighbors vote also. If you don’t want Grandma and Grandpa moving in with you, vote and vote for Democrats.

Very odd that McConnell would take this time to remind folks that he and his party are ready, willing and able to cut off the elderly, disabled and poor for the sins of becoming old, disabled and poor. 

Now we leave you with some prescient words from George Carlin in 1990: 

(3 minutes)

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, Medicare, Social Security | Tagged | Leave a comment

Malcolm Nance: Democrats Must Vote Or This Could Be The Last Free Election

Get Malcolm’s new book, “The Plot to Destroy Democracy” https://amzn.to/2s6CWDU Subscribe to the daily Stephcast and the Happy Hour podcast here

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Money Money Money Money

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Republicans Using Single Party Control To Advance Ideological Causes

Urgent action alert from Democratic senator Rob Hogg.

Please read this message below and share. We can turn this around. We can work together for all Iowans, un-do the damage, and build a better future for our state.

Senator Rob Hogg
Cedar Rapids
www.robhogg.org

Pocahontas County Democrats
October 13, 2018

As a state senator, who has worked the last two years under all-Republican control, I want to go into some detail about how much damage Governor Reynolds and the Republican majority in the Iowa Legislature have done to our state so you can help educate Iowans about the issues most important to them.

For years, we have prided ourselves on bipartisan support for legislation. Even when Democrats were in control, we passed legislation that had strong bipartisan support, like raising the minimum wage and extending health care to 60,000 children in Iowa. Personally, I am proud that we got bipartisan support for the solar energy tax credit in 2012, the flood mitigation program in 2012, and the bill to phase out the state income tax on Social Security income that was signed by Governor Vilsack in 2006.

Unfortunately, since 2016, Republicans have used their single-party control for highly-partisan and ideological legislation that has done real damage to Iowans, such as their attack on workers’ rights, women’s rights, and voting rights.

They have also made major budget cuts because, they said, we didn’t have enough money. Well, that wasn’t true, the state has always had enough money. Over the last two years, we have always had over $500 million in our rainy day funds, but Republicans still wanted to make cuts that have hurt Iowans.

First, education. Republicans have short-changed our public schools, with increases of 1% and 1.1%, not enough to keep up with inflation. Gas prices are up 30% over the last two years, and one superintendent told me that the increases weren’t even enough to cover increased utility costs and gasoline costs.

On top of that, Republicans have actually cut early childhood education by more than $1 million a year, and we all know that early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make, and they have cut our community colleges in the middle of the budget year by over $5 million, and they have cut our universities by over $30 million. No wonder tuition and fees are going up. The state is now actually providing less support for our universities than it did in 1998, a generational disinvestment.

Second, health care. At this point, everyone should know about the Medicaid mess, and it is a real mess, hurting Iowa patients and hurting Iowa providers, and it hasn’t stopped the increase in Medicaid costs. But on top of that, Republicans have actually cut our two remaining mental health institutes by $1.7 million, cut substance abuse treatment by $2.5 million as part of overall cuts to the department of public health, cut tobacco prevention by $1.2 million, and this year, Governor Reynolds and Republican legislators cut medical education at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Broadlawns by $8.1 million, at a time when Iowa already has a shortage of health care providers.

Third, public safety. They have cut our state troopers – we are close to the lowest number of state troopers in a generation. They have cut our courts and corrections. Corrections isn’t just about prison facilities like Rockwell City, like the cuts that Jake Thompson talked about, it is also community corrections and supervision of people on parole or probation, and because of those cuts, the rate of recidivism has increased from 29% to 35%, and combined with a higher number of releases from prison, recidivism now accounts for nearly 500 additional crimes a year that were not committed at the prior rate.

Another issue that has not gotten enough attention is the cuts to victim services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse. They cut that by 26%, or $1.7 million, in 2017, and haven’t restored any of it. And that makes it harder for victims to get services they need, and hurts our ability to prevent sexual assault and domestic abuse in Iowa.

Fourth, they cut human services, and you heard John O’Brien speak about that earlier. We have lost over 900 human service employees since 2011. And they actually cut aging services that provide support for the elderly through our area agencies on aging, and they actually cut the Iowa Veterans Home which takes care of elderly and disabled veterans in Marshalltown, and they actually cut veterans’ home-ownership grants by $500,000.

Finally, they have cut natural resources and flood mitigation, and flooding has been a real big problem in recent years. They cut the REAP program that is so important for our county conservation boards by $6 million, they cut the DNR and the DNR floodplain program, they cut the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa by $328,000 (or more than 20%), and they eliminated funding for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.

I know there are other cuts, too, but the point is, Republican legislators and Governor Reynolds have been doing real damage to our state. They had an excuse for that, which is we didn’t have any money. Well, we did have the money, but if we didn’t have the money, why is that? After more than seven years of Branstad and Reynolds, the fact is their economic development strategy is not working. They promised 200,000 new jobs, and a 25% increase in family incomes, in five years, and eight years later they are still not close to either number.

But the real reason they made all these cuts that have hurt Iowans is because they wanted to pass even bigger tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers, and that’s what they did on May 5 of this year, using a process that didn’t even allow Democrats to offer any amendments.

That tax bill is heavily tilted toward the wealthiest taxpayers. For those of you in the room making over $1 million a year, and I won’t ask for a show of hands, you will receive on average a tax cut in 2019 of $18,773 – nearly $19,000 for every taxpayer earning over $1 million a year – a total of $49 million, more than all the mid-year budget cuts they did in 2018.

If you happen to make between $70,000 and $80,000, the average income tax cut will be $215, and for those making between $30,000 and $40,000 a year, the average income tax cut will be $92. Just $92 or $215 compared to $18,773. That’s unfair.

What makes this even worse is the tax bill is also expected to increase sales tax collections by more than $130 million a year – paid for mostly by working families and the middle class – and it will require even more cuts to education, health care, public safety, human services, and natural resources.

I know this long list is depressing, but Iowans need to know about it. And I really believe we can turn this around and un-do the damage with a renewed spirit of citizen involvement. This is our state. This is our country. This is our democracy. We can shock the world and elect Jake Thompson and John O’Brien to the state legislature in Pocahontas County. Please get more involved, educate your friends, family, neighbors, and fellow Iowans, get people registered to vote, get people to vote, so we can un-do the damage Republicans are doing to our state, and start working together for all Iowans to build safe, healthy, prosperous, inclusive, and growing communities in every county in Iowa.

Thank you.

Posted in Blog for Iowa | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Second And Final Blum-Finkenauer Debate Tonight


State Representative Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) and Iowa 1st District Republican congressman Rod Blum (R-Dubuque) will debate for the second and final time Tuesday at 6 pm.

The debate will be carried live on CBS2 and on NewsTalk1540 KXEL from 6-7 pm. It will also air at 9 pm Tuesday on FOX28 and at 2 pm Wednesday October 17 on KXEL.

CBS2/FOX28 political reporter Nick Weig and KXEL News & Program Director Jeff Stein will co-moderate the event and ask the questions.

http://www.rock108.com/2018/10/08/blum-and-finkenauer-to-debate-october-16-on-kxel-and-cbs2/

Watch their first debate (starts around 23:00).

To volunteer for Finkenauer’s campaign or to donate, visit her website abbyfinkenauer.com/

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Iowa Voting: A One Minute How-to Guide

The time to do it is now. Today. Stop by your county auditor’s office. Click here to find your county auditor.  We only have about three weeks left.  We suggest voting early at your county auditor’s office because you won’t have to worry about your ballot getting lost and campaigns won’t have to spend precious volunteer time collecting ballots. Just do it. They are open over the lunch hour. No excuses!

 

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