Rep. Loebsack Addresses Democrats At Third Annual Brews and BBQ

For part 2 and more, click here.

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Dean Endorses McGuire For Governor


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ACA Repeal is Back: Joni Ernst Town Halls in Iowa City, Corydon, Charles City


Tell Joni Ernst how you feel about her previous and future votes to repeal your health care. She has already voted for repeal three times. Ernst voted for Repeal and Replace.  She voted for partial repeal. She voted for “skinny” repeal.  She never met a health care repeal bill she didn’t like. There is no doubt that she intends to vote for repeal again.

Make sure you attend her Iowa City Town Hall this Friday in Iowa City.  Please share this info.

Joni Ernst Iowa City Town Hall
Friday, September 22, 2017
Johnson County Town Meeting
2:30 PM
Iowa Memorial Union
University of Iowa
125 North Madison Street
Iowa City

Or catch her town hall in Corydon, Iowa Friday morning

Friday at 7:30 AM
Wayne Community Jr./Senior High School
102 N Dekalb St, Corydon, IA

Or here:

Thursday, September 21
Floyd County Town Meeting

1:00 PM
Charles City Schools North Grand Auditorium
500 North Grand Avenue
Charles City, IA

Get there early to get a seat. Bring a question.

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Hope is Back!

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Renegotiating NAFTA Takes A Turn On Republicans

NAFTA image

                                                 NAFTA flag image from

While it may be too much to hope for this leftover story from Labor Day made us hopeful:   

“Canada demands U.S. end ‘right to work’ laws as part of NAFTA talks”

{ed. note: Iowa is a “right to work” state}

Canadian negotiators are demanding the United States roll back so-called “right to work” laws – accused of gutting unions in some U.S. states by starving them of money – as part of the renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement. The request is part of a push by Ottawa to get the U.S. and Mexico to adopt higher labour standards under the deal.

One group of negotiators spent all day Sunday working on the labour file, according to a schedule of the talks obtained by The Globe and Mail. One source familiar with the discussions said Canada wants the United States to pass a federal law stopping state governments from enacting right-to-work legislation; the source said the United States has not agreed to such a request. Canada believes that lower labour standards in the United States and Mexico, including right to work, give those countries an unfair advantage in attracting jobs.

Jerry Dias, the leader of Canada’s largest private-sector trade union, said Ottawa’s negotiators are: pushing Mexico on its corporate-sanctioned unions, which are accused of negotiating collective agreements unfavourable to workers; agitating for both countries to offer a year of paid family leave, as Canada does; and targeting American right-to-work laws that allow workers in unionized shops to refuse to pay dues, draining money from unions.”

This almost feels like fiction, but it is reality. the US administration thought it would go into renegotiations, throw their weight around and bully Canada and Mexico into bowing to a list of their demands. Looks like that ain’t happening.

Will labor standards or any other issue stop the renegotiations? Doubtful. But at least one country is willing to stand up for workers. Maybe, just maybe, Canada’s stance may have some effect some change. I wouldn’t hold my breath, however many in labor believed that Trump would take up their cause. One of the reasons behind the demand to renegotiate NAFTA by this administration was to stop the race to the bottom on wages. Canada has given the administration a way to show that commitment.

An analysis in this week’s Nation magazine by Michelle Chen notes that    

Canada’s proposal could challenge Trump to demonstrate his populist bona fides, but would Trump’s militantly pro-business economic-nationalist administration have any interest in meeting Canada’s labor standards? Any such proposal would face fierce resistance from the Republican Congress and conservative states, as well as corporate interests in Canada. Moreover, legal questions would surround NAFTA’s role in controlling the authority of individual states to independently legislate unionization rules under federalism.

Nonetheless, putting right-to-work on the table would articulate an official geopolitical pushback against the free-trade model’s weakness on labor protection. Practically speaking, the dynamics of the talks themselves will be dominated by the United States, which initiated the renegotiation process and is the largest economy in the region (though Canada and Mexico might argue that Washington also has more to lose due to its dependency on regional trade). (ed note: one of the big losers if NAFTA falters would be Iowa farmers)


There is, for now, at least one unifying consensus on labor left in the US and Canada: a generation of impoverishment and disillusionment across the continent proves that NAFTA has been a global win-win for multinational importers and exporters but, on balance, a transnational lose-lose for workers. The only way to counter those losses is by forging a united front—not in diplomatic chambers but on shop floors, across borders.

Had Hillary Clinton been elected I think we could safely say that the direction of any renegotiation would have taken an entirely different path.

Yet until the agreement is once more signed, there is hope that labor may finally get a fair shake. Or Trump will once more be exposed as reneging on his campaign promises. At least Labor is getting a mention and does have a champion.

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Sunday Funday: Current President Totally Confused Edition

Must have taken a wrong turn from the presidential throne one morning. Instead of palling around with Paul and Mitch, the loser of the presidential popular vote is suddenly palling around with Chuck and Nancy and talking about treating the DACA kids like human beings. He’s also talking about keeping the government open rather than shutting it down to teach us a lesson on something.

Keith Olbermann has a theory expressed here. My theory is that the real loser is out playing golf. He wasn’t able to play golf for several weeks due to actually having to do some work. After a couple of weeks a man’s just got to get a few rounds in, you know. So the current president reached out to his buddies in Hollywood to get him a double so he could sneak out the back door and go golfing.

He can still tweet while he golfs, but he needs someone to stand in for the face to face stuff. But like so many things in this administration, they forgot a couple of details. Like telling the double that the real guy was a ultra-right wing Republican. Well, a couple more weeks of golf and they can move the double out of the job.

I still can’t keep up with everything.

1) Katy Tur wrote a book in which she revealed that she got an unwanted kiss from who while reporting on the campaign?

2) Another test missile was fired over Japan Friday by what rogue country?

3) Irma has done its damage in the southeast US. What hurricane is churning out in the Atlantic currently?

4) A picture of Sister Mary Ann went viral on the internet as she did what in Miami?

5) The police chief of what Iowa city said the phasing out of DACA will be a real destabilizing force in his city?

6) Republicans haven’t given up on ending the ACA yet. What Republicans filed yet another bill to end the ACA this week?

7) Nearly 40 years ago, Sept. 17, 1978, the Camp David Accords were signed by what 3 parties?

8) The current president demanded an apology and his spokesperson said ESPN’s Jemele Hill should be fired for saying what?

9) In St.Paul, MN a huge manhunt for an armed black man took place after a security guard at a small college did what?

10) What government employee asked to have a government jet take him on his honeymoon last summer?

11) Grassley’s gamble pays off for Republicans. SCOTUS put a hold on a lower court decision concerning gerrymandering in what state by a 5-4 vote?

12) The top three officers of what credit reporting company sold stock in their company the day after a security breach was discovered and long before it was reported to the public?

13) The White House wide ranging crack down on what was leaked to the press before it was put into action?

14) What far right wing politician liked the porn video “MILF Hunter” on Twitter?

15) Steve Bannon in an interview on 60 Minutes claimed the firing of who was the “biggest mistake in modern political history?”

16) What world leader got a black eye when his vehicle came to an abrupt stop in Columbia?

17) “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli had his bail revoked and was put in jail after he offered $5000 on Facebook for strands of whose hair?

18) Talk about corporate welfare. Wisconsin’s senate Tuesday approved nearly $3 billion in payments to lure what company to build a plant in their state?

19) After 13 years in orbit, the Cassini spacecraft ended its mission to what planet with a dive to the planet’s surface?

20) A “Medicare for All” bill was introduced Wednesday in the senate by Bernie Sanders. Who has had a similar bill in the House for many years?

Andy Borowitz says “Election Fraud Study Finds Massive Fraud was Elected”


1) Donald Trump

2) North Korea

3) Jose – maybe it visits the east coast next week.

4) cutting trees with a chainsaw while dressed in her habit

5) Marshalltown

6) Senators Lyndsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana

7) Israel, Egypt and the US (Begin, Sadat and Pres. Carter)

8) that Trump was a white supremacist

9) shot himself and made up the story of the armed black man as a cover.

10) Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

11) Texas

12) Equifax

13) stopping leaks

14) Ted Cruz

15) FBI director James Comey

16) Pope Francis

17) Hillary Clinton

18) Foxconn

19) Saturn

20) John Conyers of Michigan

One more from Borowitz: “Porn industry irrevocably damaged by association with Ted Cruz.”

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Pro Sports, Corporate Welfare And Iowa’s Deal With Apple

Osteen's church

Joel Osteen’s church in Houston, Texas – A monument to corporate welfare.

Dave Zirin is a sports writer of a different breed. While other sports writers are in the mold of hero worshipers who seem to feel that sports exists on an other worldly plain, Zirin is the one guy who looks at the often very corrosive effects that professional sports have on society. Zirin also looks at the owners who exploit their position with a very jaundiced eye.

Prior to Labor Day Houston, Texas was inundated by Hurricane Harvey. One of the strangest and perhaps most enlightening stories to come out of Harvey was the story of Christian Evangelist Joel Osteen refusing to open his palatial church to help save refugees from the floods. Eventually he opened his church, but not before being embarrassed into doing so by social media.

Because of the spotlight being shone on Osteen and his mega-church, questions were asked about how Osteen acquired this property. This is where Dave Zirin comes in with the backstory: 

“Less discussed—and Osteen must be relieved that this is the case—is how this televangelist got his hands on his megachurch arena in the first place. It’s a story that speaks to how our cities are unprepared for disasters like Harvey in part because of the way spending has been diverted into publicly funded stadiums—stadiums that become rotting carcasses or “white elephants” as soon as a billionaire wants a new one.

Taxpayer-subsidized stadiums have long become a substitute for anything resembling urban policy in the 21st century. And now as roads, bridges, and humanitarian shelters decay, they stand exposed as neoliberal Trojan horses that take public dollars and magically transform them into private profit for billionaire sports owners. They are a scam, a con, and, not surprisingly, a grifter like Osteen has long had his hand in this honey pot.

Osteen’s church was once a hoops hallowed ground called The Summit, home of the Houston Rockets and the site of the magic made by Hakeem Olajuwon and his 1994 and 1995 teams that won back-to-back NBA titles. In 1995, flush with this success, Rockets owner Les Alexander demanded a new sports arena from the city. These negotiations eventually resulted in the Toyota Center, which opened in 2003, even though the city voted down this plan in a 1999 referendum. In the end, the people of Houston paid $182 million of the $235 million in construction costs. Toyota paid $100 million in naming rights, all of which went to Les Alexander.

That was just the beginning. Texas taxpayers have continuously paid for upgrades in the subsequent years. In 2013, the public even paid for a new $8 million scoreboard to help prepare Houston for the NBA All-Star Game. (Imagine what that $8 million could be used for right now.) Then–State Senator Dan Patrick, who today is Texas’s vile lieutenant governor, was correct when he said at the time, “I love sports. But sports owners and the leagues are some of the greediest people you will find, and they will take and take and take and take.

But it’s not just sports owners who took and took and took. Osteen, who leads the largest congregation in the country and lives in a mansion that Donald Trump would find gaudy, moved his church to the publicly owned Summit in 2005 for a bargain-basement lease and then purchased it outright in 2010. How much did Osteen pay for this historic, usable but now useless arena? $7.5 million dollars. For the cost of a backup power forward, Osteen had himself a megachurch. The Summit, no longer the house that Hakeem built, would now be home to a Sunday television program and a preacher who gets paid in souls by the pound.

So here we have a situation where sports owning billionaires exploit states and cities and politicians to build arenas for their sports teams at no cost to them despite having desperate social needs. Then as an added insult we have a vulture who comes to pick the bones of the exploited city. Then said vulture, in this case Joel Osteen, turns his back on the very people who initially paid for his palatial church.

So how does that translate to Iowa? We only need to look back to about the time of Hurricane Harvey to see the state of Iowa handing over huge amounts of tax incentives and various other monetary rewards to help a multi-billion company build a place of business. Apple is a company which is sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars of cash, yet exploited the situation to extract millions of dollars from Iowa governments that could have been used for infrastructure and education.

In Thursday’s Rick Smith asks a very perceptive question – So Why the Handout , Governor?

Why would Governor Reynolds and the Iowa GOP think they need to bribe Apple to come to Iowa? Apple was likely coming to Iowa anyway because of Iowa’s combination of cheap and green energy. Iowa is one of the few states that offers these two essential resources Apple demands. Iowa leads the nation in developing the cheap, renewable wind energy that Apple and most of the major high tech companies require. Iowa is not only the current leader in providing clean wind energy, it is on track to be the national leader for years to come. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announced why they chose Iowa; it’s Iowa’s “world-class power grid!”


Experts suggest Iowa and Reynolds got taken simply because they don’t understand the needs of these companies. Anyone making these deals should have a basic understanding of what these companies require. Reynolds and her predecessor Branstad gave away huge amounts of future tax revenue simply because they didn’t do their homework.

The LA Times called Reynolds’ deal corporate welfare folly: “These incentives often are an unnecessary bonus to companies that already have made a site location decision based on more important factors. Yet states and localities have persuaded themselves that the incentive packages are an indispensable lure to employers and that without them their economies will collapse.”

Reynolds was following the lead of Gov. Branstad whose administration lavished as much as $110 million in state subsidies for a fertilizer plant in Lee county that just opened in April. This is just to add to the mix that has gotten Iowa into fiscal difficulty by giving more and more breaks to businesses. An analysis by Peter Fisher and Mike Owen at points out that:

Spending on business tax credits has grown 267 percent since 2007. Caps on individual credits and groups of credits have done little to slow growth. The cost of credits has far outstripped growth in general fund spending overall.

Recent measures have added greatly to the problem. The massive commercial and industrial property tax bill passed in 2013 was responsible for a $268 million cut in funds that otherwise would have been available to adequately fund education, natural resource programs, and other priorities in FY16. The impact in the current year was projected at $304 million.[1] The property tax breaks are larger than the sum of all business tax credits.”

So while not as ostentatious and hard to swallow as the corporate welfare for sports owners, Iowa’s version of corporate welfare is a habit the state must break. Heck I am old enough to remember when businesses chose locations based on things like infrastructure soundness, an educated workforce with strong work ethic and transportation soundness and a customer base

Somehow this culture of corporate welfare must end. Who will lead the way?

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Scholten And Jacobsen Taking It To King

King confronted by DACA students in 2014  (7 minutes) Always fun to watch Rand Paul run from these kids.

For some reason I am having a good feeling about the chances for a Democrat finally taking out Iowa’s most embarrassing politician in 2018.

Like many we are on mailing lists for many candidates and issues. Among them are the campaigns of JD Scholten and Leann Jacobsen in Iowa’s 4th congressional district. From a vantage point far away, it looks like the primary race will be vibrant and focused on issues. For both candidates the focus is on lifting Iowa and Iowans. This is in direct contrast to what the current 4th district congress member does.

Here are a couple of examples of what I mean from recent emails from their campaigns. First Leann Jacobsen:

Leann Jacobson

“You can judge a nation, and how successful it will be, based on how it treats its women and its girls.” — President Obama

I am a mother of two daughters. I worked to instill common sense in my daughters’ upbringing that I hoped would keep them safe when they were at school and away at college, understanding that bad things can happen anywhere.

We live in a world where, even when we do everything possible, we still have to worry about other people who may not be playing by the same rules and who do not respect women. Rules that are, sadly but unsurprisingly, now undermined by the current administration.

Last week, Trump-appointed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speculated that Title IX protections put in place by President Obama for victims of sexual violence were a “disservice to everyone involved” — including those accused of sexual assault. And she has already started the process of undoing the Obama-era guidance, all to protect those who are abusing other people.

Protecting our young people from sexual assault should not be a partisan issue — join me in demanding that Congress speak up and stop DeVos.

President Obama acted amid concerns that schools were not taking sexual violence seriously enough and put Title IX protections in place. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex for schools and programs that receive federal funding. It includes protection from sexual harassment. This law helps protect girls and young women from preschool age to college campuses across the nation.

And it absolutely sickens me to see the continued assault on women under this current administration — from a president who brags about groping and kissing women without their permission, to Betsy DeVos trying to take us back in time and putting our children and grandchildren at risk.

And now from JD Scholten:


“Like many Democrats across the country, I agree that healthcare is a right and not a privilege.

Our Declaration of Independence says that “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are unalienable rights which our government was created to protect. Far too often, Americans’ lives are shortened because they lack access to affordable healthcare. Why? Because too many of our healthcare dollars go to feeding massive profits for CEOs and stockholders. These resources should instead be devoted to making healthcare more efficient and accessible to the people who need it.

Profiting off of the sick should not be an American value. It’s not who we are and it’s time for fundamental change in our healthcare system.

Say you’re with me in supporting Medicare for All with a contribution today!

My opponent Steve King, voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, going so far as to tweet that we should, “Rip it ALL out by the roots!” This does not represent the Iowa values, or the American values, that I know. It’s time to repeal and replace backward thinking politicians who put profits over people. 

Show your support today for repealing and replacing Steve King!

Let’s stand up for all Americans by moving toward Medicare for All. Let’s do away with profiting off of the illnesses of others and instead make it a priority to take care of the most vulnerable among us.

Gee, look at that – candidates standing for Iowans and what Iowans believe in – equality and health care for all. These are Iowa values! 

Meanwhile their opponent continues to spew his racist and misogynist hate. For those voters who think that Steve King is protecting their interest just remember that like all Republicans he hate workers, students and the elderly. They just don’t happen to be at the top of his list. Here is a fairly recent report on some of the most outrageous things King has said:

Just don’t think because someone else loses , you win as suggestedvin King’s rhetoric. Unlike the Democrats who believe that a rising tide raises all boats, King and colleagues believe in pitting one against another so that no one wins but the wealthy.

Best wishes out there in the 4th district. Hope you can prove that Dr. King’s belief that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

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Media Doesn’t Get It About Trump

Olbermann nails it.

“He’s just crazy.”

“We only need to go back to last week to see how gullible most of the American political media is.

“The thing that seems to be sustaining Trump is the media’s continuing refusal to acknowledge that what the rest of us were all seeing and what they were pretending wasn’t happening was something that was outside their collective experience.

“It never ceased to amaze me that sports reporters were constantly expecting, even hoping, to cover things that had never happened before. Meanwhile, their political counterparts seem to have been entirely constructed out of the conviction that nothing that hadn’t happened before in American history could possibly happen now. There couldn’t be a candidate who sold his soul to another country to get elected because they had never covered one before. There couldn’t be a semi-functioning disturbed psyche occupying the White House because they had never run into one in the senate or the house or whatever county board they broke in covering.  And they certainly couldn’t write any of these things because Bill Saffire, Tom Whitaker, Christopher Hitchens, Merriman Smith, or whoever else they secretly thought they were, had never written such things..”

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16,000 Iowans Lose Wages in Overtime Pay Changes

An estimated 16,000 Iowans will lose wages this year after Republican lawmakers and Governor Reynolds made significant changes to overtime pay last session.

Nurses, social workers, and public defenders are among the 3,000 Iowans who will no longer be paid overtime while an additional 13,000 state employees will see their overtime pay reduced this year.

Nurses at state institutions have been particularly hard hit by the overtime changes. Nurses are often scheduled for mandatory overtime to ensure that necessary staffing levels are met and patients receive the best care possible. If nurses leave their shifts prior to their replacement, they lose their licenses.

More than 21 percent of the positions no longer receiving overtime are at the Department of Human Services (DHS), raising questions about how the agency will keep Iowa’s vulnerable populations like seniors and children safe. Overall, DHS has lost 700 positions over the last several years.

Critics of the overtime changes say it’s unfair for Iowans to work overtime without compensation and will also make it harder to recruit and retain qualified individuals to work in critical positions with lower wages. In light of recent starvation deaths of two foster children, others expressed concerns about huge caseload sizes for social workers who will now be forced to work overtime without pay.

In comments to the press this week, Governor Kim Reynolds minimized the overtime pay changes and said it would have a “relatively small impact.”

Read more Statehouse News

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