Is The American Farm Bureau Just Another Corporate Entity?

This 60 Minutes expose of the American Farm Bureau from April, 2000 raises the idea that the Farm Bureau may care more about its Wall Street investments than it does about farmers.  We wonder what if anything has changed since then.  This segment focuses on Iowa and features Iowa farmers.

Click here to watch Part 2 on YouTube.

Posted in Blog for Iowa, Farming | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Movie Review: The Brainwashing of My Dad

This is not only a must-see documentary, it is an engaging, tender personal story, told by a daughter who lost her dad to the right-wing media. It is a fascinating yet sad and all too common tale about the observable personality changes that took hold over her father after he accidentally happened upon right-wing radio and became addicted to it. Once a happy, non-judgmental, easy-going guy, he became an angry, embittered person that no one in his family recognized after he started spending more and more time listening to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

The movie weaves together the daughter’s personal narrative with the history of the growth of right wing media in the United States. Going back to Nixon and beyond, the film did a thorough job of tracing the forces within the Republican party that used the Supreme Court and political manipulation to establish their own media in order to influence elections in their favor, as a reaction to the liberalism of the 60’s.

The film covers  the Powell Memo of 1971, that laid the groundwork for conservatives to undermine institutions they saw as against the “free enterprise” system such as college campuses and the news media.  It mentions the demise of  The Fairness Doctrine under Reagan that gave rise to right wing radio, The Telecommunications Act of 1996 that was signed into law by President Clinton and resulted in more media monopolization; and the right’s newly acquired ability to use biased language to purposefully keep people in a constant state of fear and anger in order to make them easier to manipulate. Frank Luntz, Roger Ailes, and Lee Atwater all make appearances as they were important figures because they understood how biased and inflammatory language works on the brain.

An expert explains that brainwashing does not have to involve force, that you can sort of slide into it. There are 5 factors that are involved – isolation, control, uncertainty, repetition, strong emotions. Right wing media creates uncertainty, fear and anger. And most people listen to right wing radio when they are alone – in their car, their garage, their house.

The film outlines recognizable tactics: 1 – lie and skew; 2 – create confusion and doubt; 3 – blame and divide; 4 – brand and label; 5 – language and framing; 6 – fear mongering and use of emotion; 7 – bullying and shaming; 8 – in your face! (it’s everywhere); 9 – non-verbal manipulation. It is very interesting to hear how how Frank Luntz coached Hannity to point and gesture for strongest effect and how O’Reilly feigns anger and rage.

And yet the movie leaves you feeling strangely hopeful about the unasked question:  Is it possible for someone to be de-programmed?   Happily, the answer is yes.

I’ll be a spoiler and tell you that the movie has a happy ending, as the dad comes back from his media-induced trance and becomes himself again. You’ll just have to watch to see how that occurs.

One thing we have all experienced and as George Lakoff has written about, arguing with someone who is addicted to right wing media just creates fights and makes them dig in even deeper. But if you too have a loved one or loved ones who have fallen victim to it, there is something you can do and this is it:  Interrupt their exposure to it in whatever creative ways you can, as much as you can, and find ways to expose the person to other kinds of input and activities.

For more help, check out,  a 501c3 non-profit fighting against the harmful effects that fake news, propaganda and misinformation have on our democracy, “working to make reason – not fear, cynicism or rage – the loudest voice in the room.”

You can order the DVD from Amazon, or watch on Amazon Prime. For more options, go to:

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

A Good Suggestion From The Onion

disaffected teens from the Onion

Thanks to the Onion for this picture and story

The week has been so intense, I need a little relief. So we turn to the Onion  for its no-nonsense view of the world:

Nation Begs Disaffected Youth Gravitating Toward Neo-Nazism To Get High And Play Xbox Instead

WASHINGTON—Beseeching them to pursue a less destructive path with their lives, the nation begged disaffected youth gravitating towards neo-Nazism to get high and play Xbox instead, sources reported Friday. “We don’t really care if you get blazed and play video games, sit home and jerk off, or shoplift a bunch of shit at a convenience store as long as you don’t march down the street waving swastikas,” said Holyoke, CO, resident Gregory Stamp, echoing the sentiments of the entire American populace in urging restless and angry young people who find themselves tempted by fascist ideology to try stuffing their faces with as many Cheetos as they want or playing the drums as hard as they can at literally any hour of the day. “Go ahead and sleep until four in the afternoon, then do whippets until you pass out. You want beer and cigarettes? We’re buying. Please just stay away from the white supremacy shit and definitely do not shoot anybody.” At press time, the nation was reminding sullen adolescents who were starting to read about white genocide on neo-Nazi websites that they could just as easily use that time to view disturbing hardcore pornography.


Unfortunately the current administration will try to interfere with this laudatory goal by enforcing anti-marijuana laws.

Posted in Blog for Iowa, Humor | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Gerrymandering Author At Prairie Lights Wednesday

The two videos were posted on youtube in June of 2016. They are about 30 minutes in length in total

August 23, 2017(Wednesday) – 7:00pm at Prairie Lights in downtown Iowa City, Salon editor-in-chief David Daley will read from Ratf**ked, Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count.

Lauded as a “compelling” (The New Yorker) and “eye-opening tour of a process that many Americans never see” (Washington Post), David Daley’s Ratf**ked documents the effort of Republican legislators and political operatives to hack American democracy through an audacious redistricting plan called REDMAP. Since the revolutionary election of Barack Obama, a group of GOP strategists has devised a way to flood state races with a gold rush of dark money, made possible by Citizens United, in order to completely reshape Congress―and our democracy itself.

“Sobering and convincing” (New York Review of Books), Ratf**ked shows how this program has radically altered America’s electoral map and created a firewall in the House, insulating the Republican party and its wealthy donors from popular democracy. David Daley is the Digital Media Fellow for the Wilson Center for Humanities and the Arts and the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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

Sunday Funday: Special Prayer Edition

Image (2) Harry-Reid-on-Trump-300x300.jpg for post 33666

Dear Lord,

We believe that our president has offended you grievously by supporting those who would hurt your children.

Lord, we need a sign from you. If our president has offended you by his actions, please give our country a sign by blotting the sun from the sky tomorrow when it is high.

This will be a sign from you O Lord, that our president has no favor with you.

We pray for your sign. AMEN ——–

What the hell happened last week?

1) The press ‘conference’ where the current president claimed the false equivalency of both sides was held at what venue?

2) Landslides caused by torrential rains have left at least 600 missing in what west African country?

3) In Namibia a big game hunter was killed by what animal he was targeting?

4) To top off the racist inspired events of the week, the current president told Fox News that he was considering pardoning what nationally known former sheriff?

5) Reminiscent of police state tactics, the DOJ this week requested information on 1.3 million visitors to what?

6) The CEO of Merck was publicly ridiculed by the current president after the CEO did what?

7) Descendants of what southern Civil War leader(s) called for the removal of the remaining monuments of the rebellion?

8) Pakistani Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai announced she would be studying at what university this fall?

9) Another vehicle ramming into a crowd terrorist attack happened Thursday in what major European city?

10) Sort of defying a ban on removing Confederate statues, what major southern city instead covered them with plywood encasements?

11) What senior administration official cut short a visit to South America to come back and support the current president?

12) Obama was a lefty Democratic president born in August. What other lefty Democratic president celebrated a birthday yesterday?

13) The ACLU announced it will no longer defend what kind of protest groups?

14) The mother of Heather Heyer has said that she will not talk to who?

15) One Democrat dropped out of the gubernatorial race in Iowa and one entered. Can you name them?

16) Twinkle, twinkle little star. What amazingly durable space craft was launched 40 years ago today?

17) Let Mikey try it! What food was found to be still edible when discovered after 106 years at Antarctica?

18) When members of the president’s Art Council resigned en masse this week, the resignation letter had what hidden message spelled out using the first letters of each paragraph?

19) Scoop o’clock on Friday came early this week. What top administration official resigned shortly after noon EDT Friday?

20) Hundreds, maybe thousands, turned themselves into the sheriff in Durham, NC claiming to have done what?

The Atlanta Falcons‘ new billion-dollar stadium features a Chick-fil-A, but if you’re planning to attend a Falcons home game during the upcoming season, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to eat there. That’s because the Chick-fil-A won’t even be open.


1) Trump Tower in NYC

2) Sierra Leone

3) An elephant who stomped him to death

4) Joe Arpaio. Trump has an event in Phoenix Tuesday night and some expect him to pardon Arpaio there.

5) a website that organized inauguration protests. The DOJ has subpoenaed records from web hosting service Dreamhost

6) resigned from the president’s Business Advisory Board over the Charlottesville response.

7) Stonewall Jackson’s descendants have been the most visible, but descendants of Jefferson Davis have also called for removal.

8) Oxford in England. A Nobel before going to college – wow.

9) Barcelona

10) Birmingham, Ala.

11) VP Pence

12) Bill Clinton. Yep, both are left handed

13) those carrying weapons

14) the current president

15) Todd Prichard dropped out and Ross Wilburn former mayor of Iowa City jumped in.

16) Voyager 2. It has traveled well over 10 billion miles since launch and is now out of the sun’s gravity (heliosphere)

17) a fruitcake

18) RESIST – letter can be seen here

19) Steve Bannon

20) tore down a confederate memorial statue in Durham.

John Fugelsang responding to the Trump tweet that said Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.

Except it’s not our country.   They quit USA; threw out our constitution.  The kid you paid to take that test for you should’ve mentioned it

Posted in Blog for Iowa, Humor | Leave a comment


“Question” by the Moody Blues”

One of the pieces that seems to be missing in the stories I have been able to find concerning Iowa’s continuing starvation of our education system is how this fits in with the history of education in Iowa. The steep proposed tuition increases announced at the U of Iowa earlier this week made me wonder when Iowa’s focus changed from education as a good for society to education as a commodity for an individual to purchase.

For a state that once used to proudly boast of our education systems and achievements we now sometimes mouth those words but back it up with nothing.

Following WWII education was seen as an answer to many of our problems. Teach our children to think, to explore, to challenge old norms and in time society as a whole would reap the benefits in higher standards of living and happier lives. As a means to that end, school systems at that time seemed to be well funded. 

There was always the tug of war between the dream schools and what could really be afforded. However, it seemed that most of the populace saw education as a long term investment for society. Today education seems to be a commodity that an individual  invests in with hopes of making an individual return on investment for themselves.

This short background leads to my question – when did education cease to be a focus for our state and why? 

Growing up in Iowa during the 1950s and 1960s a good quality education for the children was a source of pride in every small town in Iowa. For many of those towns maintaining schools was fiscally impossible although most gave up the fight only as a last resort. Good local schools was the focal point of most towns. When consolidation became necessary, making sure the schools were the best they could be was top priority.

Something happened on the way to great education in Iowa. Sometimes when we live through changes we don’t even realize what happened. Sometimes trying to dig out what happened years later in a somewhat isolated sector in one state can be hard. This is the stuff of masters theses and doctoral dissertations I suspect.

While people like me were busy raising families in an environment of constant crisis there was little time to understand what the undercurrents were that were shaping our futures.

This was the time of Ronald Reagan and his supply side economics – or “voodoo economics” as George HW Bush so aptly described it. This was the time of the first reign of King Terry in Iowa. Slowly, what seemed to be the reigning philosophy of wanting to benefit society gave way to a philosophy of everybody is on their own.

Was it the so called Reagan revolution that turned a state like Iowa from a place where we cared about educating our children to a society that cared much more about tax cuts for the wealthy? That prioritized tax abatements for new businesses over preparing a well educated work force?

One set of figures I have been trying to find is to what degree did the state and federal governments subsidize the education of Iowa’s public university students. I have heard or read somewhere that in the late 1950s through much of the 1960s and 1970s that our public colleges were subsidized as much as 85%. This undergirded the concept that an educated populace is good for society.

Nor have I been able to find what the comparable subsidy is today. Once again I only have a vague recollection of having read that today society through its governments subsidize at only about a 20% level.

Whatever those exact figures, we do know that most students leaving ISU, UI or UNI in the 60s and 70s probably had little debt if any. Many were able too work a part time job to pay for their education and a place to live. In dramatic contrast, students leaving our state universities today are among America’s most heavily indebted coming out of college. And it is about to get much worse.

Now just to rub salt into the wounds of those going deeply in debt to get an education (and remember those huge debts can not be discharged through bankruptcy) the cost of tuition is about to go up over 40% over the next 5 years. The reason behind this drastic increase is due in most part to budget mismanagement by Reynolds, Branstad  and the Republican legislature.

Much like the health care crisis in this country where we are told by the Republican Party in particular that our country (the wealthiest country ever on the face of the earth) can’t afford to provide health care for all its citizens, when every other major country on earth can, and they do so at a cost 40 % or more lower than we spend.

Most other countries offer higher education to their citizens free. Education and healthcare should not be profit centers but investments for the long term good of the society.


Iowa’s two faces of budget mismanagement

Posted in Blog for Iowa, Budget, Education, Iowa legislature 2017 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Charlottesville: The Outward Manifestations Of Race In America

I will try to make this to the point. What happened in Charlottesville was the pot that had been boiling beneath the surface finally bubbling over so that we can really see that there is a problem.

Will America be smart enough to turn the heat down and try to take the pot off the burner? The man in charge of the stove at this moment has reacted by turning up the heat under the pot apparently trying to catch the whole damn house on fire. Then he tries to blame those bringing in fire extinguishers for the pot boiling over.

Racism has been an always underlying theme in this country that has on occasion come to the top. But it is always there below the surface.

The following video is of Lee Atwater the Republican wunderkind operative that helped not just elect George HW Bush, but in the process did what he could to destroy Michael Dukakis. Atwater explains how it is not acceptable to talk about using race as a wedge, it can be done in so many ways: (1:39)

Since it that video was somewhat garbled here it is transcribed via in 2012:  

[It’s a matter of] how abstract you handle the race thing. In other words, you start out … Now y’all aren’t quoting me on this … you start out in 1954 by saying, “N****r, n****r, n****r.” By 1968 you can’t say “n****r”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff.

And you’re getting so abstract now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites…. “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N****r, n****r.” …

What Atwater said in 1981 is just as true today as it was in 1981. What he talks about is what we now call “dog whistles.” Words and phrases meant to send specific messages to specific people.

Donald Trump has used many dog whistles in the past few days. Perhaps the most noticeable and egregious is the false equivalency of groups opposing the extreme right with the extreme right itself. Such statements are false and disgusting. The dog whistles are so loud that even the most clueless of his administration can hear them loudly. If they had any integrity they would resign immediately, yet none have.

Beyond the president’s dog whistle statements we still have a party, his party continuing in their hell bent effort to deny the most basic rights to citizens based on their race, heritage and gender. Using the Atwater lead they dress their repugnant actions in abstractions. However, when their words and actions are examined it is pretty clear what the planned effect is.

MLK on healthcare

And so they work to repeal health care programs that currently do much to help those who history and circumstances have left poorer.

They work state by state to diminish voting rights through byzantine laws, strict rules and need for things like birth certificates and gerrymandering for those groups which they deem as not deserving of the vote.

They work to end women’s reproductive rights as a means of controlling women.

They work to nearly starve those who need help.

This is only a very partial list. Much of the work they do to take away rights, healthcare, food or even education is done either under some abstract economic gobbledy-gook or through some moralizing based on a savior who is reported to have preached just the opposite of what his professed followers do in his name.

The groundwork for a major assault on the rights of minorities and women has been laid for decades, actually centuries. The extremists have their man in place who will not stand in their way, who actually will even help.

No one should be surprised by the current president’s actions. He spouted racist rhetoric throughout his campaign beginning on day 1. As Maya Angelou observed so many years ago:

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

There may be yet more below the surface. This president may be as deeply in debt politically as he appears to be to the Russians who seem to have some power over him.

Keep your ears open for the dog whistles. Also keep your eyes open to see how congress members and administration officials fail to really stand up for Americans who are being attacked.

Posted in #trumpresistance, Blog for Iowa, Food Insecurity, Health Care & Medicare, Racism in America, Republican Policy, voter suppression | 1 Comment

Austin Frerick Joins Iowa 3rd District Congressional Race

Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Scroll down for video of Austin’s speech at the Democratic WingDing last weekend.

Former U.S. Treasury economist Austin Frerick is calling for breaking up monopolies.  He will seek the Democratic nomination for 3rd congressional district.  Frerick promises a robust, progressive agenda for working Iowans.

Winterset, IA – Austin Frerick, a former U.S. Department of Treasury economist, announced today that he will seek the Democratic nomination for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.

Frerick, a gay, 7th generation Iowan and the first in his family to attend college, returned to Iowa earlier this year. “For too long, agricultural monopolies like Monsanto have been milking Iowa’s farmers with high seed costs,” Frerick said. “I’m tired of watching career politicians stand aside while huge corporations push around average Iowans.”

“If President Trump and David Young won’t stand up to them, I will.”

Frerick emphasized that the next several years represent a watershed moment for determining whether the United States restores its foundation of widespread prosperity or continues to be divided into a country of haves and have nots.

“More than anything, this comes down to basic fairness,” Frerick added. “The deck is stacked against Iowans, whether it’s a farmer being squeezed by rising seed costs, or a family with a child in need of a lifesaving drug who has to battle pharmaceutical companies that place profit ahead of people.”

“Iowans deserve a representative who will look out for them, not for Monsanto or Pfizer,” he added today, “they need a representative who will fight to restore a social safety net that gives Iowans the security they need to start a small business, raise a family, or learn a trade.”

Frerick was immediately endorsed by Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), who called Frerick “one of the most exciting and substantive candidates across the country.” According to Rep. Khanna, “Frerick understands that monopolies and economic concentration hurts farmers and rural America. He is running on a bold economic vision of standing up to big corporations in the tradition of Wilson, Roosevelt, and Truman.” Congressman Khanna currently serves as Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Today, Frerick embarks on the first stops of a sixteen-county tour, which will take him to every corner of the district. ***

About Austin Frerick:

Frerick is an Iowa native and currently lives in Winterset. He has worked as an economist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Policy, and at the Congressional Research Service in the Domestic Social Policy Division. He has published research on executive compensation, pharmaceutical corporate charity abuses, and the growth of monopolies in the U.S. economy.

He was the first in his family to attend college, graduating from Grinnell College and completing his Master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin La Follette School of Public Affairs. To cover his tuition, he took out student loans and worked four jobs, including as a Special Needs Care Provider for the Arc of East Central Iowa.

About Iowa’s Third Congressional District:

The 3rd Congressional District covers Iowa’s southeastern corner, and includes Polk, Dallas, Guthrie, Warren, Madison, Adair, Cass, Pottawattamie, Mills, Fremont, Page, Montgomery, Taylor, Adams, Union and Ringgold counties.

Posted in Blog for Iowa | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Loebsack: Censure Trump

A word from Iowa’s only Democratic congressman, Dave Loebsack.

I’ve been both heartbroken and angered in the days since watching the horrific acts of violence and hatred from the radical racist fringe that took place in Charlottesville – and astonished at President Trump’s utter incompetence and inability to lead our nation in the aftermath.

I want to be very clear here: The people responsible for this vile act of domestic terrorism and loss of three American lives in Charlottesville were the white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups. 

President Trump’s refusal to unequivocally denounce the hate groups responsible for the deaths of Heather Heyer, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, demonstrates a profound lack of leadership. And worse, it puts us on a dangerous course that could lead to further acts of violence from now emboldened white supremacists and anti-Semitic individuals who believe that the White House is on their side.

I won’t stand by and allow hate to win. 

It’s time for us to stand together and condemn these racist groups, and formally condemn President Trump’s comments and lack of moral authority in the wake of Charlottesville – I’m calling for Congress to censure President Trump and stop this hatred from further polluting our nation.

Leadership demands that you call out evil when you see it, you bring people together in its aftermath, and you fight to ensure it never happens again.

President Trump has failed in every one of these tests.

Generations of Americans before us have fought and died to end the spread of racism and anti-Semitism. It’s now time for us to stand up once again, and do what is right for the future of our country.

No matter our party or office, we need to join together and send a message to President Trump, and let history show that we stood against hate. Join me in demanding Congress officially censure President Trump and his response to the Charlottesville tragedy.

Add your name

Thank you,


Posted in #nevertrump, #trumpresistance, Blog for Iowa, David Loebsack | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Leann Jacobsen Joins Race To Oust Steve King

Leann Jacobsen is asking you to join her campaign to take out Steve King in northwest Iowa CD 4.  “Steve King is just another politician doing the bidding of special interests.”

Visit her website.

Posted in Blog for Iowa | Leave a comment