Ex Slaves Talk About Slavery In The US

10 minutes:

From the poster on YouTube: (John Brooks)

“A story done by ABC News in 1999 about slavery as told by people who were slaves.  Recorded in the 1940’s.”

Stumbled on this while looking for something else. 

I am betting that this video would not be approved by the Republican Party of Iowa or their members in the Iowa State Legislature. So please, please do not show it to a Republican in Iowa as it may shatter their worldview.

But if you know a student, please share it with them as learning the truth is more important than learning a fairytale story whitewashed to fit a narrative.

As someone told me this Christmas – let’s have more curiosity and less judgment.

Posted in Iowa legislature 2023 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Funday: February Is Black History Month Edition

Saw this clip of an interaction between black writer James Baldwin and Professor Paul Weiss from 1968 – some 55 years ago on YouTube the other day.

In many ways things haven’t changed a whole lot.

(3:35)

I am sure this video would not be approved by the Republicans of the Iowa legislature.

Now for my sports comment – That Iowa Women’s basketball team is GREAT! Big game next Thursday with Indiana. Don’t miss it! They are truly fun to watch.

Quiz now – burn some books later!

A) SoS Anthony Blinken called off a trip to China in part due to what that was spotted floating over the US?

B) Who was chosen as the new chair of the Iowa Democratic Party last week?

C) What Republican member of congress recused himself from committee work as he is investigated on finances and other election issues?

D) Lawyers for who sent letters to the Justice Department asking for an investigation into those who stole information from his laptop illegally?

E) What top administration attended the funeral for Tyre Nichols in Memphis last week?

F) Republicans removal of what security devices in the US House chambers has cast concern for next week’s State of the Union (SOTU) address?

G) On a party line vote, Republicans voted to remove what Democratic congress member from the foreign affairs committee?

H) Famous quotes from black leaders: Who said “if not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

I) Another huge employment number for the Biden Administration as how many new jobs were reported for the month of January?

J) What major Republican leader drew the wrath of right wing media when he responded to question by saying that the officer who shot Ashli Babbit was “doing his job”?

K) Who did the Republicans pick to give their response to President Biden’s SOTU next Tuesday?

L) strange happenings at the Dallas (Texas) Zoo. This week two tamarins, which are a a type of what, were kidnapped but fortunately found alive and returned to the zoo?

M) Who are the only three black people who have been elected governors in US history?

N) What is the name of the OTC (over the counter) eye drops that are being recalled because they may be contaminated with a drug resistant bacteria that could cause eye infections?

O) One glitch in the employment news was what quarterback who positively, absolutely is retiring this time?

P) Doctors are warning that what dangerous fungal disease that was mostly confined to the desert southwest is now spreading across the nation?

Q) February 1, 1960, four African American students are refused service at a lunch counter at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in what city, becoming the first sit-in demonstration?

R) What academic group appeared to bow to political pressure from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and completely revamped their African American studies program?

S) In Montreal, Canada the prognosticating groundhog made what prediction for the coming season?

T) And one from our crazy former leader. Trump sued who for using quotes from Trump in his book?

Imagine being a woman in Florida that votes for men who want to track her daughters menstrual cycle. Sick bastards. – MayoIsSpicyy tweet

Answers:

A) Some kind of surveillance balloon that appears to be from China

B) Rita Hart

C) George Santos 

D) Hunter Biden – stealing his data is a crime

 

E) VP Kamala Harris

F) The metal detectors.

G) Ilhan Omar

H) John Lewis

I) 517,000 – by far the best two year stretch for any president

J) Kevin McCarthy – He was asked if the Capitol policeman who shot Babbit committed murder or was doing his job?

K) Newly elected Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders

L) Tamarins are a type of small monkey

M) The first was L. Douglas Wilder in Virginia in 1987. Next was Devol Patrick in Massachusetts in 2007 and this year (2022) Wes Moore in Maryland 

N) EzriCare Artificial Tears

O) Tom Brady! Wait………

P) Valley Fever

Q) Greensboro, NC

R) The College Board

S) None. When the time came the sponsors reached in the hole and found the groundhog had died, probably in December

T) Bob Woodward – Trump sued him for $49 million

DeSantis trusts anyone to carry a loaded gun without a permit, but doesn’t trust a licensed teacher with a book. – piper4missouri tweet

Posted in #trumpresistance, Humor | Leave a comment

End The Scam:

Democrats Unveil Bill to Change Name of Medicare Advantage

“Only Medicare is Medicare,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “These non-Medicare plans run by private insurers undermine traditional Medicare.”

Ali Velshi kicks Gym Jordon’s butt about healthcare

(4:30 but the interchange begins at 1:30)

From Common Dreams comes a story that gives me just a glimmer of hope. Representatives Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Rho Khanna of California and Jan Schakowski of Illinois have filed a bill to change the name of “Medicare Advantage” – which is neither Medicare nor has any advantage –  to a name that is more truthful of what that program does:

In an effort to crack down on the misleading practices of Medicare Advantage providers, Democratic Reps. Mark Pocan, Ro Khanna, and Jan Schakowsky reintroduced legislation Tuesday that would ban private insurers from using the “Medicare” label in the names of their health plans.

The legislation, titled the Save Medicare Act, would formally change the name of the Medicare Advantage program to the Alternative Private Health Plan, an attempt to make clear to seniors that the plans are run by private entities such as Anthem, Humana, Cigna, and UnitedHealthcare.

“Only Medicare is Medicare,” Pocan (D-Wis.) said in a statement. “It is one of the most popular and important services the government provides. These non-Medicare plans run by private insurers undermine traditional Medicare. They often leave patients without the benefits they need while overcharging the federal government for corporate profit.”

Khanna (D-Calif.) declared that “it’s time to call out ‘Medicare Advantage’ for what it is: private insurance that profits by denying coverage and the name is being used to trick seniors into enrolling.”

“That’s not right,” he added. “This bill will end the scam by preventing private insurers from profiting off the Medicare brand. Our focus should be on strengthening and expanding real Medicare.” 

In the current environment with a Republican controlled House, the chances of such a bill becoming a law is scant. However, I am hoping that Democrats get solidly behind this bill because it will help focus the battle lines for the next round of elections.

As we watch Republicans in the US House and in state legislatures across the country try to divide the country with more culture battle crap, it would be good to see a united Democratic Party razor focused on making real changes to real people’s lives. Among such items would be Medicare that is really healthcare that takes care of all health care needs including hearing, sight and dental while bringing truth in advertising to the Medicare scam programs fostered by Republicans.

As Democrats do what they can to strengthen Medicare, it is also time for them to propose true national health care along the revitalized Medicare proposal. As anyone with a ten cent calculator can figure, true national health care would be so much cheaper for the country with much better outcomes.

As explained on truthout.org the US pays by far the highest for health care and has by far the worst outcomes.  BTW such a report should hardly be surprising as we get the same results from multiple organizations each time it is studied?

As the only wealthy country without universal health care, the U.S. is a global outlier, with both the highest health care spending and the worst health outcomes across several metrics, a new report by the Commonwealth Fund confirms.

A report released on Tuesday found that, in 2021, the latest year for which data is available, the U.S. spent 17.8 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. This is nearly twice the proportion that the average country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) — a group of 38 wealthy countries in the global North — spent on health care in 2021, or about 9.6 percent.

The difference between U.S. spending and that of other OECD countries is also stark when broken down by dollars per capita. The U.S. spent over $10,600 per capita on health care in 2021. This is nearly double the per capita spending of the next highest country, Germany, and three or four times the amount spent by South Korea, New Zealand, and Japan, which each spent about $3,000 to $4,000 per capita.

Despite spending extreme amounts of money on health care, the U.S. also has the worst or among the worst health outcomes of OECD countries, the report found.

Health care and the savings that Americans can accrue by nationalizing it should be the jumping off point for 2024. Saving several thousand a year while getting all our health care needs taken care of should be a major selling point. And it is long past time to dump the ancient cries of “Socialism” from the limited minds of Republicans in the trash can where it belongs!

Posted in Health Care & Medicare | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Am So Confused About Iowa’s Schools

(1 minute)

Once again news reporting in the state has muddied up the waters so that what can easily be calculated as an actual cut to school funding in this state is reported to be an increase – well, sort of an increase, maybe – that is if you don’t count the money the legislature is taking away to give to private businesses – er “schools” – that won’t go to public schools.

Remember how Republicans were all in a tizzy about inflation last fall – remember? Suddenly when we talk about school funding the scourge of inflation disappears as Republicans try to claim that 3% is an excellent raise in school funding.

And if the funding isn’t enough to confuse people where Iowa stands on their schools, there is the attacks on school libraries, removal of books from library shelves and the attacks on teaching of American history with all the warts not to mention the attacks on those with gender issues.

I often times wonder if school teachers look at some of the shenanigans of Republicans in the legislature and wonder if they, their teachers, had in anything to do with the legislators convoluted thinking?

How does the thinking go on school funding go in Republican minds –

“Let’s see – gotta do some ciphering – If we raise funding 3% and inflation is 8% and we give 5% to private businesses out of the public school funding, then that is a plus (+) 3%” (sarcasm in case you didn’t recognize it)

Iowastartingline explains this much better than I can:    

“We’re aware of the situation within our public schools. Our public schools are great and we want to support them in every way we can,” said Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink (R-Fort Dodge). “But at the same time, we want to make sure that we’re continuing our conservative spending principles that we’ve been pretty much locked into the last six or seven years.”

<<skip>>

There wasn’t much discussion on the bill other than Democratic committee members saying even 3% wasn’t an adequate number to fund schools, especially to help them keep up with inflation and enrollment changes.

“Over the last six years, inflation cumulatively has been 23.1% but the increase in the state cost per pupil has only been 11.9%. So we’re more than 11% behind inflation over the last six years. 3% doesn’t fix the problem,” said Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames).

He said the per-pupil amount is $742 behind where it should be if inflation was accounted for, but that it paled to the amount the state is behind for students with special needs.

“For the highest level need we’re not $742 behind this year, we’re $2,775 behind for those special needs kids,” Quirmbach said. “And those are the kids the vouchers won’t help because those are the kids that the prep schools won’t take.”

Democratic members pointed out the state does have the money to allocate more to public schools because of the recently passed school voucher program which would make every public school student eligible to receive $7,598 from the state in order to enroll in private schools.”

Note in that first paragraph that Republicans are much more concerned about not spending money than making sure Iowa students get a good education. That could be because of the ridiculous tax cuts for the wealthy and the cuts in property taxes they passed. Property tax cuts are a whole different issue as the legislature chokes Iowa’s cities, counties and towns.

As sort of referenced in the short clip above, the Iowa legislature is going the way that conservative governing bodies often go – making it illegal to talk about things the legislature thinks make them uncomfortable. So now we are seeing a whitewashed (literally) American history, the outlawing of books that talk about subjects in a more frank and graphic way.

The way things are going I suspect before this session ends there will be some Republican who will want to outlaw discussion of irrational numbers or the possibility of other forms of life in the universe. 

Someday students will figure out how their education was screwed up by this meddling and they won’t be happy. When they find out, these students of today will condemn Iowa’s schools for not telling them the truth. It always happens. Better to be truthful than to sell your belief system in a stealth attack.

And don’t think Republicans in the Iowa legislature is doing this out of some sort of sense of mission to save your children. They are simply a cog in a national Republican agenda to dismantle public schooling in this country and to try to control what is taught rather than allow public schools to seek and teach the truth.  The truth has never been a friend of oligarchs and autocrats.

While I am not a big fan of the Republicans plans to privatize Iowa’s school systems, I will say it does one thing that may be good in a strange way. It gets the Iowa legislature, in all its glorious ignorance, out of their meddling with schools. 

Two Tweets from Jeff Tiedrich on the subject of Republicans and Schools:

in Russia it’s a crime to teach ‘uncomfortable’ subjects. in Republican states it’s a crime to teach ‘uncomfortable’ subjects. any questions

Teachers in Nazi Germany hid books to avoid being arrested. teachers in Republican Florida are hiding books to avoid being arrested. any questions

Posted in Iowa legislature 2023, school libraries | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Konfrst: “They Just Can’t Stop Punching Down”

Watch this week’s very informative and hopeful! Blue Statehouse Alert Live below or on the Iowa House Democrats’ Facebook page.  Dems are strategizing and getting their act together. Listen to the Live and find out how.

“Days like today, I’m going to be honest, are really tough. It’s hard to continue to see what they’re doing, listen to what they say, and to realize that they’re going to make progress on this legislation.

However, these bills have not made it to the floor so we can still fight them and can still stop them. So that means reaching out to legislators, letting them know you oppose this legislation and making your voices heard. These aren’t just anonymous groups of people they’re talking about.. these are neighbors.. these are friends.. these are kids. ” – Jennifer Konfrst

This week Jennifer Konfrst had to inform Republicans who accused Democrats of saying “the sky is falling!” that 134 schools have closed since Republicans took over. Show Jennifer some love. Contact a GOP legislator today.

Follow the Iowa House Democrats on Facebook

 

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Beware the Chaos of This War

Beware the Chaos of This War by Ed Flaherty

One of the defining characteristics of war is chaos. The war between Ukraine and Russia is approaching the end of its first year, and it has been horrendous and chaotic. Each side says it wants to talk about peace, but only after it has achieved “victory”. I am quite sure, however, that neither the non-negotiable terms of Ukraine or of Russia will be met. However long the war lasts, it will end with negotiations.. Each side has access to huge resources, military and domestic, that could enable the continuation of the war for even years to come. The longer the war, the greater the chaos. Yes, the longer the war the greater the destruction of human lives and the greater opportunity costs from investing in war rather than reconstruction. That could be termed “conventional” suffering. But the chaos of this war presents a danger to the whole world, not just Ukraine and Russia. The chaos emanating from this war raises the possibility of humanity-ending nuclear war to heights unseen in the past sixty years.

The longer the war, the greater the chaos, and the greater the chaos the greater possibility of a nuclear war. Russia is bristling with nuclear weapons. Although Ukraine does not possess nuclear weapons, Europe is bristling with US, British, and French nuclear weapons. Use of just a fraction of the nuclear weapons at the disposal of Russia and US/NATO could annihilate humankind. We are naive if we do not recognize that the chaos of this “conventional” war vastly increases the possibility of a nuclear exchange, brought about by accident, misjudgment based on fear, insubordination, or intentional use to prevent defeat. Omnicide can be the result.

It would be great if world leaders, political and religious, could convince both sides to end the armed conflict soon. At this moment, that appears to be a hope without strength. However, regardless of whether the war ends soon or goes on for years, the ending of the war MUST lead to the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons around the world. It is terrible to think of a war as leading to opportunity, but it will dishonor the casualties of this war if we do not take this opportunity to abolish nuclear weapons.

January 22nd marks two years since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) went into force. It has been ratified by 68 countries, with many more countries having signed and now going through their internal ratification process. None of the nine countries which possess nuclear weapons have signed or ratified. The voice of most of the countries in the world calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons must be heeded. They know that the fact that there has not been a nuclear weapon used in armed conflict since 1945 has been more a matter of luck than of sound policy.

Wars will likely continue, even after the Ukraine/Russia war has ended. But no longer shall any country, any leader, any faction have the power to kill all of humanity. Rather than invest $2 Trillion in the next decades to “improve” our nuclear arsenal, the US must now first use its influence to encourage an end to the war in Ukraine and second to begin the process of reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons.

Posted in Nuclear Abolition, Nuclear Disarmament | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Another Great Al Franken Podcast

Sometimes you just gotta laugh. This is a pretty funny Al Franken episode and it’s always great to listen to Joyce Vance and Barbara McQuade who are two of the best legal analysts in the business. They are always up to date on what’s happening in the courts; they are thorough and they focus on accuracy, not hyperbole – or their own egos.  Listen as they discuss grand juries, discovery, appeals and the case against Trump in Fulton county, Georgia.

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Upcoming Action Against CO2 Pipeline In Eastern Iowa

Action alert from CCI:

Feb. 11 – No Wolf CO2 pipeline in eastern Iowa!

While we feel the impacts of climate change ramping up in Iowa, large corporations that have significantly polluted our air, land, and water are scrambling to find “solutions”—false ones— to cover up the environmental damage they inflict on our state.

What these greenwashing, money-hungry corporations fail to tell us is that CO2 pipelines are dangerous, don’t solve climate change, and bolster industries that capitalize off dirty energy and destructive agricultural practices.

But we’re not ones to just stand by, and the pipeline resistance continues to grow! If you live in the Scott county area or along the route of Wolf’s proposed pipeline, join us Saturday, Feb. 11 in McCausland to fight back!

At this meeting, we’ll present information on CO2 pipelines proposed in Iowa, hold space for community discussion surrounding pipelines, and offer chances to take action and plan next steps to bring CO2 pipeline projects to a halt.

More information and RSVP

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The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Last Great Thing About Iowa

If you arrive at the next town before the rhubarb pie is gone you are in the front of the pack. Rhubarb is always the first to go.

RAGBRAI – It’s not about the bikes.

This is the fiftieth anniversary of RAGBRAI.  I have been contemplating lately that RAGBRAI is one of the few remaining great things about Iowa.  We used to have small family farms; we used to be kind of progressive; we used to have the best public schools; we used to have clean water and clean air; we used to have an outstanding Pulitzer prize winning statewide newspaper that Iowa depended on. We used to be able to bike on a two lane rural road without worrying about getting run over or getting a full beer thrown at you.  We used to have Donald Kaul and John Karras. At least we still have Art Cullen. And Caitlin Clark.

Even if you aren’t a cyclist, if you are from Iowa and you have never seen RAGBRAI you should show up for a day. RAGBRAI is Iowa at its best.

Posted in Blog for Iowa | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Eggs

I don’t know about you, but I am so sick of hearing about the price of eggs. I guess the price of eggs is supposed to be the symbol of how bad inflation is right now.

The corporate owned media has a culprit for the price of eggs: Avian flu and the culling of sick birds last summer. While that seems like a very rational cause-and-effect classical market driven possibility, Robert Reich in his daily substack newsletter disagrees. 

Considering how much of the recent inflation spiral has been due to rise in corporate profits rather than any real market driven reasons, Reich’s hypothesis has merit.

As to the facts, there’s no doubt egg prices have soared. As CNN reported last week, the average selling price per dozen eggs from Cal-Maine — which controls about 20 percent of the U.S. egg market and sets egg prices nationally — more than doubled last year.

The question is why.

Fox blames avian flu. Avian flu did kill a lot of hens, but according to Farm Action, a farmer-led advocacy organization, in a letter sent last week to the Federal Trade Commission, avian flu did not reduce egg production.

After accounting for chicks hatched during 2022, the average size of the egg-laying flock in any given month of 2022 was never more than 7-8 percent lower than in 2021. And due to record-high rates of egg-laying among the remaining hens — between 1-4 percent higher than the average rate observed between 2017 and 2021 — the industry’s quarterly egg production experienced no substantial decline in 2022 compared to 2021.

So if the supply of eggs didn’t decline, what accounts for the surge in prices?

Fox then blames inflation. “Prices increased across all product categories last year due to high inflation.”

But Cal-Maine’s production costs didn’t jump nearly as high as its prices (as Cal-Maine told its investors).

What did jump was Cal-Maine’s profits. For the 26-week period ending November 26, 2022, Cal-Maine reported a 10-fold year-over-year increase in gross profits. Max Bowman, the chief financial officer of Cal-Maine, conceded that the firm’s high profits were due to “significantly higher selling prices, our enduring focus on cost control, and our ability to adapt to inflationary market pressures.”

Reich’s arguments are well founded and he has the numbers to back up his position. Once again it looks like corporate greed has used the pandemic and the unusual situations that occurred around it as cover to raise prices that raised profits.

Follow the money, follow the money, follow the money.

Posted in Corporate Greed | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments