Reclaim Armistice Day

It’s probably just as well the 45th president cancelled his military parade and commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

Armistice Day was born and designated as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated.”

That is anything like what the administration had in mind with their over-priced military parade.

President Trump blamed the high cost of the parade on local politicians seeking a financial windfall. Since he is reputed to have worked with the mob on construction projects, that’s hard to swallow. He knows what goes on and should have known its high cost when he proposed the boondoggle. As General Anthony McAuliffe told the Germans at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, “nuts” to Trump.

After World War II, the U.S. Congress decided to rebrand Nov. 11 as Veterans Day. Honoring the warrior quickly morphed into honoring the military and glorifying war. Armistice Day was flipped from a day for peace into a day for displays of militarism.

Veterans For Peace has taken the lead in lifting up the original intention of Nov. 11 – as a day for peace. As veterans we know that a day that celebrates peace, not war, is the best way to honor the sacrifices of veterans.  We want generations after us to never know the destruction war has wrought on people and the earth.

What was missed in the news coverage of the administration’s militarism is Veterans for Peace worked tirelessly to organize a silent memorial march to reclaim Armistice Day in Washington, D.C. Had the government parade proceeded on schedule, 187 organizations, including hundreds of veterans, had plans to join a parade protest.

Veterans For Peace is calling on everyone to stand up for peace this Armistice Day.  More than ever, the world faces a critical moment. Tensions are heightened, and the U.S. is engaged militarily in multiple countries, without an end in sight.  Here at home we have seen the increasing militarization of our police forces and brutal crackdowns on dissent and people’s uprisings against state power. We must press our government to end reckless military interventions that endanger the entire world. We must build a culture of peace.

This Armistice Day, Veterans For Peace calls on the U.S. public to say no to more war and to demand justice and peace, at home and abroad. We know Peace is Possible and call for an end to all oppressive and violent policies, and for equality for all people.

For more information about Veterans for Peace Armistice Day activities, click here.

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King On The “15 Worst For Women” List; Scholten Contrasts With His Team

Why does Iowa spend millions of tax dollars, huge amounts of time and the talent of some talented and artistic people in order to present a picture to the rest of the country that Iowa is indeed a welcoming and friendly place. One of the very best actions Iowa could take to improve its face to the nation would be to retire Steve King.

Since his first election in 2002, Steve King has sort of become a symbol of Iowa. He has been the symbol of Iowa as a backward state. Every time he opens his mouth he seems to make yet another comment that is used to color the people of Iowa as racist, misogynistic or stuck in the 19th century. He shoots his mouth off and Iowa gets the black eye.

Last week King gathered yet another honor to his stash – one of the “15 Worst for Women” in congress. 

This group of congressmen (you can bet there are no women)  was named by UltraViolet PAC and American Bridge. King is a member of this luminary group:

Thirteen Republicans in the U.S. House were given the dubious distinction:Thirteen Republican representatives were given the dubious distinction: Reps. Don Bacon of Nebraska, Dave Brat of Virginia, Ted Budd of North Carolina, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, Karen Handel of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Steve King of Iowa, Jason Lewis of Minnesota, Kevin McCarthy of California, Steve Pearce of New Mexico, Pete Sessions of Texas, and Scott Taylor of Virginia.

GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Dean Heller of Nevada were named the worst members of the Senate for women.

In contrast to this the JD Scholten team sent out a email with a picture of some members team and a short statement to contrast with King:

Scholten field organizer Tahmyra Lytle

Scholten Field Organizer Tahmyrah Lytle

“Steve King has said too many horrible things to count. Earlier this year, King tweeted that ‘Diversity is not our strength.’ Our staff, Team Scholten, has a message for you, Steve: Our team is made up of people who are black, white, Asian, and Latino. Our team includes both men and women, gay and straight, Democrat AND Republican. And Steve King, if you don’t think diversity is our strength, then you just wait until November. Because this team, this movement—we’re coming for you!”  ~Tahmyrah Lytle, Field Organizer, Team Scholten

Our field team may be Steve King’s worst nightmare, but to us, they’re amazing. Everyone here at Team Scholten is putting in long hours every day because this election means so much. For us, this isn’t just a job – it’s a passion! It’s time for Steve King to go, and we are the boots on the ground that are going to kick King out of Congress and replace him with J.D. Scholten – someone who will represent ALL of the people of this district that we call home.

Help provide us with the resources to make this happen with a contribution of whatever you can afford today!

A few of our field team members recently stopped by one of Steve King’s offices to say hello. Not only was it closed, it’s also for rent:

Hey J.D. Scholten, there’s some office space available!

Field Crew Kings Office.png

Soon all of Steve King’s offices could be for rent, because we’re building the largest field program this district has ever seen, but all the literature, clipboards, flip-phones, and gas add up quickly and your support is critical to funding this movement. Please kick in whatever you can to help fund our dynamic team in the field!

Thank you,
Team Scholten

Posted in 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, Steve King | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Funday: Back To School Edition

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Now that the state fair is over Iowa’s school children can get back to school. They will be joining other kids across the country most of whom have long since returned to school. 

August is supposed to be a quiet month especially in politics. With Dear Leader on the scene everyday seems to be another day of screaming headlines of some major offense against the constitution. Our adult kids ask us “What’s going to happen?” All I can tell them is that I have no idea. We’ve never seen anything like this before. Once upon a time we had 3 co-equal branches of government that used to watch each other and not let things go off the rails.

Now we seem to have one lump called the federal government with all sights set on one goal. We’ve never been here before. Sure am glad I don’t teach government right now.

Once more – Oy Vey!

  1. A great civil rights figure who just happened to be the Queen of Soul died Thursday. Who was she?
  1. In a humorous moment what ultra right leader is seen in a twitter video being told by his Dad to get off the phone because he lives with his parents?
  1. Primaries this week provided some surprises last week. The Democratic nominee for governor in what state is a transgendered person?
  1. One of the other dominant story of the week was Omarosa Manigault-Newman. What is the name of her forthcoming book?
  1. In a tape released by the aforementioned Omarosa has her being offered a job for $180,000/year by what campaign operative for Dear Leader?
  1. In a historical note, on this date in 1839 what process was made public by Louis Daguerre?
  1. Back to Omarosa – who called her a “dog” this week?
  1. What state took the extraordinary move of impeaching all members of its Supreme Court this week?
  1. What state carried out an execution this week using the opioid fentanyl, which is one of the leading causes of the current opioid crisis?
  1. Dear Leader removed security clearance for what former CIA head in an apparent retaliation for comments the former director made?
  1. Dear Leader also cancelled his own much anticipated (by him) military parade due to what?
  1. What date was this parade supposed to happen on?
  1. VP Mike Pence was in Iowa campaigning for what endangered Republican congressman Wednesday?
  1. Also in Tuesday’s primaries what former Minnesota governor and presidential candidate met with a sound defeat in the Republican primary?
  1. In a heavy rainstorm in Europe a bridge in what city collapsed killing 39 people?
  1. In Florida, Republican candidate Melissa Howard dropped out after admitting she faked what?
  1. In California, what company was order to pay $289 million in a case alleging their weed killing product caused cancer in a groundskeeper?
  1. The international merger of what two agricultural giants began Friday?
  1. The DOJ filed suit against the former business partner of what presidential progeny for fraud and tax evasion?
  1. What potential Democratic candidate for president unveiled a bold proposal to reshape American capitalism?

John Fugelsang “You can’t stand up for Main Street when you’re on all 4’s for Wall Street.”


  1. Aretha Franklin
  1. Jason Kessler who organized the Charlottesville disaster
  1. Vermont
  1. “Unhinged”
  1. Eric Trump’s wife Lara who is on the 2020 campaign staff
  1. The photographic process
  1. Dear Leader
  1. West Virginia – the move was orchestrated by the Republican legislature to be timed so that replacements could not be voted on in the general election but would have to be picked by the Republican governor
  1. Nebraska
  1. John Brennan 
  1. The cost which may be over $100 million
  1. November 10 
  1. David Young
  1. Tim Pawlenty (I certainly hope that is the last we hear of him)
  1. Genoa
  1. Her college degree from Miami U. Of Ohio
  1. Monsanto – there are some 5000 similar cases in court
  1. Bayer and Monsanto  – the Monsanto name will slowly disappear
  1. Ivanka
  1. Elizabeth Warren

Andy Borowitz:

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The Pentagon has turned down Donald J. Trump’s request for a grand military parade in Washington, D.C., citing a sudden outbreak of bone spurs that would prevent men and women in uniform from participating.

Harland Dorrinson, a Pentagon spokesman, said that, within an hour of Trump’s request, more than a hundred thousand military personnel complained that they were suffering from acute cases of bone spurs that would make marching in such a parade a painful ordeal.

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

Just the Facts – TrumpTax Hurts Iowa

Image (1) progress-iowa.jpg for post 17381The following email was sent out Thursday following another campaign swing into Iowa by VP Mike Pence. Interestingly, this dovetails nicely with my previous post concerning what the Trump/Pence administration is doing to children.

In this email, Progress Iowa leader Matt Sinovic discusses how badly the administrations tax plan is misfiring in Iowa.

Trump and his supporters are bad – really bad – for Iowa


Vice President Mike Pence was in Iowa today, touting the TrumpTax passed by Congress last year – with the help of Rod Blum, David Young, Steve King, Chuck Grassley, and Joni Ernst.

It’s a terrible tax plan, and every promise about it has been broken.

Republicans told us businesses would put that money into their people, but despite a few nice headlines to the contrary, stock buybacks have skyrocketed, lining the pockets of the already extremely wealthy. They promised wages would increase, but the opposite has happened. Real wages are down, due to increased inflation and a lack of investment in workers — despite productivity going up. People are working harder, and not seeing what they were promised by the TrumpTax. And we were told the TrumpTax would pay for itself, but that turned out to be flat wrong. Corporate tax revenue has dropped by 27%, and the government is taking in less money, while spending even more. That means more annual deficits, and a higher long term debt.

In short, corporate profits are up, wages are down, and we are burying ourselves in debt. I guess at least we have a Space Force? The Vice President, President, and Republicans in Congress want you to forget all of this, but these are the facts, and just the facts.

Below are even more facts about what has happened in Iowa since the TrumpTax was passed: jobs and health care lost, with working families left behind. Please share them and help spread the word about the disastrous impact this policy has had on our state.

Thanks for all you do,

Matt Sinovic

Progress Iowa

Key facts on the impacts of the TrumpTax in Iowa:

•This year, 3,485 workers have been notified of mass layoffs and plant closures in Iowa. (source: Iowa Workforce Development) NOTE: please scroll to the last 3 pages to see this year’s statistics)

125,400 Iowans will lose health insurance under the TrumpTax. (source: Center for American Progress)

•Nearly 1 in 4 Iowans will see a tax increase thanks to the TrumpTax when this law is fully phased in. (source: Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy)

•Next year, 188,020 Iowans will see no tax cut. (source: Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy)

Posted in 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, Economy, Income inequality | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Children Are The Future

video 1.5 minutes

NPR’s Weekend Edition last Saturday included a story on the seperation of a Guatemalan mother and her 3 year old son. Through an interpreter the NPR host, Scott Simon, conducted the interview. Near the end of the interview Simon choked up at what had been done to this mother and her son. Her almost broke down on the air. Listeners could tell that the cruelty of what happened to these two humans was almost more than he could take.

What Simon didn’t say was that the policies that broke this family apart and that worked hard to make the split permanent was caused by policies imposed by the Trump administration. These policies appear to have been imposed for little good reason. These policies that have split more than 2500 families – some of whom will never be reunited – are very symbolic of the Republican Party from the courthouse to the White House.

When Iowa Republican Party chair Jeff Kaufmann stated back in July prior to a visit by Trump to Iowa to campaign for endangered Republican congressman Rod Blum that:

“The Republican Party of Iowa stands with President Donald Trump. We’re proud of you, Mr. President,” Kaufmann said Friday. “There! We’ve got that out of the way.”

Ordinary citizens would have to wonder just what it was that Mr. Kaufmann was talking about. The crisis at the border of families being separated and children being abused by immigration officials had already been going on for several months and was the focal point of much of the news coverage at the time. This was also the time period when the administration was ordered to reunite families that they had split up and they failed miserably leaving some 500+ families still split. Is that what Mr. Kaufmann and Iowa’s Republicans proud of?

Sticking with the theme of children, perhaps Mr. Kaufmann and Iowa Republicans are proud of Trump’s attempt to defund the Children’s Health Program (CHiP) in an attempt to leave poor children without health care.

Or maybe Mr. Kaufmann and Iowa’s Republicans are proud of the ongoing attempts by the Republican congress to shrink or eliminate the food stamp program. Cutting food stamps is currently in the House version of the farm bill. This is something that the aforementioned endangered congress member Rod Blum heartily approves of.  

How about the climate? As the Trump administration makes one regulatory change after another to environmental laws it gets harder and harder for kids to breathe in the good old USA. Included among these changes are pushing hard for the burning of the dirtiest of fuels, coal. The most recent change is to stop the guidelines for raising vehicle mileage as quickly as they can.  

Hey kids, cut yourself a chuck of air and sit down and chew it while you think of how Mr. Kaufmann and Iowa’s Republicans are so proud of Mr. Trump.

Let’s see – they’ve tried to cut your medical care, your food, are OK with poisoning your air and when they can split families for apart as some form of macabre punishment – what else could they do? Well how about ruining your education. If you can get through the first twelve years of school that are now junked up with anti-science curricula being taught in some jurisdictions as equal to real science then you may get to go on to college. But hold on a second – are you rich? 

Paul Deaton has a nice write up yesterday concerning how Iowa is diverting money for public education to private education, thus shortchanging the purpose of public funding of education here.

If you are not rich, the chances of being able to get a post secondary education are lessening every year. If you are willing to take on debt til death maybe you also can continue your education. The Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is in the process of making changes that will make it harder to repay student loans and the rate remains incredibly high.

Can’t you feel the pride just welling up inside? Let’s not forget the DACA kids – those kids who came to the US when they were very young with undocumented relatives. Many are now reaching adulthood and have known no other country as their home. For the Trump administration these kids are a political football to kick around. With the very aggressive ultra right winger Stephen Miller leading the way the administration has been doing its damndest to “return” the DACA kids to countries they have no affiliation with.

As if children didn’t have enough problems of their own caused by the administration, let’s not forget what the administration wants to do to the children’s “peripherals.” By that I mean their parents. There is of course the on going assault on the ACA. From Day 1 of this administration there has been a concerted and focused war on the ACA with a return to the bad old days of no money, no health insurance and pre-existing conditions.

If the assault on the ACA wasn’t enough, there is the continuing assault on Medicaid and the two crown jewel programs for the elderly Medicare and Social Security. The house might get a little crowded when Grandma and Grandpa move in. 

And for the parents there is the near total destruction of unions to the point that most American workers lose ground to inflation every year since there is no unions to fight for them. So while the kids take on the chin Mom and dad along with Grandma and Grandpa are also being fleeced by the administration. Who knows what the unstructured and totally by the gut tariff program will bring. Several manufacturers are moving facilities overseas to beat the tariffs.

Quite a bit to be proud of there, right Mr. Kaufmann? 

A little later Mr. Kaufmann stated:

“Do we agree 100 percent of the time? No. No one does. Are we proud of him? Absolutely. Is he better than the left-wing nuts that they’d like to replace him with? Always!” Kaufmann yelled into the microphone, the volume of his voice so loud it drew chuckles from the crowd.

Those “left-wing nuts” Mr. Kaufmann refers to have been calling for things like universal health care, funding of education through bachelor’s degree, good education based on evidence, cleaning up the environment and joining the rest of the world in using modern earth friendly technologies for energy, good jobs, good retirement programs including Social Security – note Medicare would be part of the universal health care – and stable economic policies based on proven economic theory.  These were things the country as a whole used to agree were good things.

Looks to me like the “left-wing nuts” are much more stable, more humane and much more in touch with reality.

Stay proud Mr. Kaufmann. Especially of the way this administration treats children and “others.” 

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, Children, Climate Action, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health Care & Medicare, Medicare, Obamacare, Social Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Special Campaign Update: Let’s Flip The Iowa Senate

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State Senator Rob Hogg

Here are details on how you can help flip the Iowa Senate by supporting 11 candidates – if 8 of them win, we can flip the Iowa Senate

Dear Friends:

We have eleven candidates who are key to flipping the Iowa Senate, and I am writing today to ask for your volunteer and financial support for as many of these eleven candidates as possible.

If eight of these candidates win, and our incumbents all win, we will flip the Iowa Senate and be in a position to un-do the damage Governor Reynolds and the Republican majority legislators have done to our state, as well as make progress for Iowans on jobs, education, health care, community development, clean energy and clean water.

Here are the key eleven races with links to more information and upcoming events:

Senate District 3 – Dave Dawson

Dave is a prosecutor and former state representative facing Republican Senator Jim Carlin in Plymouth and Woodbury Counties.

To learn more and support Dave’s campaign, visit:

Dave is having a campaign event this Saturday, August 18, at noon on Union Street in Westfield in Plymouth County:


Senate District 5 – John O’Brien

John is a former ironworker and long-time educator facing Republican Senator Tim Kraayenbrink in Webster, Calhoun, Pocahontas, and Humboldt Counties. (I just spent a day of helping John this last weekend, and he is working very hard meeting voters at the doors.)

To learn more, visit John’s Facebook page:

To support John’s campaign, contribute online at:


Senate District 7 – Jackie Smith

Jackie is a former AEA speech pathologist and Woodbury County supervisor facing Republican Senator Rick Bertrand in Woodbury County. Bertrand had announced his retirement, after missing a lot of votes, but just changed his mind and entered the race when a prior Republican candidate withdrew.

To learn more and support Jackie’s campaign, visit:

Jackie is having a campaign event this Saturday, August 18, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Sioux City Public Museum, along with other women candidates and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon:


Senate District 11 – Sara Ramsey

Sara is a native of Corning and a psychiatric technician facing Republican Senator Tom Shipley in Union, Adams, Cass and Pottawattamie Counties.

To learn more, visit Sara’s Facebook page:

To contribute financially, visit:

Sara is opening the Union County Democratic campaign office on Thursday, August 16, between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. at 216 W. Montgomery St., in Creston:


Senate District 13 – Vicky Brenner

Vicky is a retired teacher and active citizen facing Republican Senator Julian Garrett in Madison and Warren Counties.

To learn more and support Vicky’s campaign, visit:

Vicky is having a campaign event with Tom and Christie Vilsack this Thursday, August 16, starting at 2:00 p.m., at 1724 Cherry Parkway in Norwalk:


Senate District 15 – Taylor Van De Krol

Taylor is a small-town young Iowan who has worked in government and politics for five years since graduating from Simpson College. He is facing Republican State Representative Zach Nunn for this open seat in Jasper and Polk Counties.

To learn more and to support Taylor’s campaign, visit:

Taylor is having a campaign volunteer meeting on Thursday, August 16, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at 110 1st St. North in Newton:


Senate District 19 – Amber Gustafson

Amber is a community volunteer and small business owner facing Republican Senator Jack Whitver in Ankeny, Alleman, and adjacent parts of Polk County.

To learn more and support Amber’s campaign, visit:

Amber is holding a campaign fundraiser this Saturday, August 18, with former U.S. HUD Secretary Julian Castro, at a private residence in Ankeny:


Senate District 25 – Tracy Freese

Tracy is a small business owner facing Republican Senator Annette Sweeney in Grundy, Hardin, Story, and Butler Counties.

To learn more and support Tracy’s campaign, visit:

Tracy will be appearing this Saturday, August 18, in the Parkersburg parade at 10:00 a.m. with State House Candidate Dennis Evans:


Senate District 41 – Mary Stewart

Mary Stewart is a retired community college administrator with more than 30 years of experience in education and economic development facing perennial Republican candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks in this open seat in Wapello, Jefferson, Davis, and Van Buren Counties.

To learn more and support Mary’s campaign, visit:

Mary is holding a “meet and greet” on Saturday, August 25, at 9:00 a.m., at the Great Day Cafe, 202 Main Street, in Keosauqua.


Senate District 47 – Marie Gleason

Marie Gleason is a sales and human resources employee for a major Iowa employer facing Republican Senator Roby Smith in Scott County.

To learn more and support Marie’s campaign, visit:

Marie is hosting “coffee and canvassing” this Saturday, August 18, at 9:30 a.m., at Coffee Hound, 3451 Devils Glen Road, in Bettendorf:


Senate District 49 – Patti Robinson

Patti Robinson is a former Medicaid case manager facing Republican Chris Cournoyer in this open seat to replace Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Rita Hart in Clinton and Scott Counties.

To learn more, visit Patti’s Facebook page:

To contribute financially to Patti’s campaign, visit:

I hope you can help as many of these candidates as possible. Together, let’s flip the Iowa Senate.


Other Upcoming Events

Tracy Ehlert Day of Action, Saturday, Aug. 18, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Cedar Rapids – I will be canvassing for Tracy Ehlert, candidate for state representative in Iowa House District 70 from a private residence at 2510 K Avenue in northwest Cedar Rapids. For more details, and to invite your friends, visit:

Art Staed and Rob Hogg “Back to School” Picnic, Sunday, Aug. 19, 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., Cedar Rapids – Join Art Staed and me for our “back to school” picnic at Creekside Pavilion in Noelridge Park off of Golf Street NE near Harding Middle School. For more details, and to invite your friends, visit:

As always, I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if I can help you get more involved in campaigns this year. Together, with a renewed spirit of citizenship, we can stop and reverse the damage being done to our state and our country, and build a better future for all Iowans and all Americans.


Senator Rob Hogg

Cedar Rapids

Posted in 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, Rob Hogg | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Public Dollars And Private Education

Amish Boys Near Kalona by John Zielinski. Photo Credit – Life Magazine Oct. 24, 1969

The Iowa Republican argument for spending $53 million dollars to support private schools and home schooling programs during the 2017-2018 school year is giving parents options.

“There’s been a trend to slowly put some dollars towards people who are choosing different options,” state Rep. Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls) said in a July 18 article in the Iowa City Press Citizen. “I would say that’s a good thing. We want to give as many options for parents and students as we possibly can.”

Rogers is chair of the Iowa House education committee which has overseen spending half a billion state dollars for private schooling since 2008.

This annual expenditure should be on the budgetary chopping block.

It is important that children are not left behind in society. For a long time state government helped private education efforts with tuition and textbook tax credits, busing, teaching assistance, and access to extra-curricular activities for home schooled children. Some of that should continue, although $53 million per year seems like too much given the lean fiscal diet forced on public schools.

When I attended parochial grade and high schools I believed the Catholic parish to which our family belonged made the contributions that paid all school expenses. I came up in the late 1950s and 1960s and contributing to the schools was a regular topic at Sunday Mass. The main way I recall government contributing was in donating surplus food to our school lunch program. There may have been other contributions, but we felt we were on our own. That’s a reality of starting and running a private school.

When I think of home schooling I recall the conflict between Iowa officials and the Amish community near Kalona over children attending public schools. National news outlets covered the story in the 1960s, and eventually the Amish community retained control over the process. Home schooling has changed since then and a lot more people and communities want to home school or encourage it.

This budget debate is not about options. Generating options is not state government’s role. The financial assistance to private and home schools by government has been on autopilot since the 1960s and created a process that obscures the lines between public and private education when it comes to public financial contributions to private schools and home schools. While contributing more state dollars to education than ever, government is under funding public schools, not even keeping up with the cost of inflation. Something’s got to give. It should be private schools rather than forcing public school teacher layoffs and school consolidation.

I don’t presume to have the answer, except to elect a Democratic Iowa House to buffer against the worst parts of the Republican agenda regarding private and home schooling. What we are doing now isn’t working. It is time for change.

Posted in 2018 Election Campaign, Education | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Irony About Climate Change In New Orleans

Image of Earth 7-6-15 from DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory)

It is no surprise the Heartland Institute hosted a conference called “The America First Energy Conference” for climate change deniers on Aug. 7 in New Orleans.

Heartland is the libertarian think tank that teamed up with Philip Morris to deny the health impacts of tobacco use. Climate change denial is high on their priority list.

“The day-long conference reflected the political rise of global warming skeptics in Donald Trump’s America that is occurring despite mounting scientific evidence, including from U.S. government agencies,” Reuters correspondent Collin Eaton wrote, “that burning oil, coal, and natural gas is heating the planet and leading to drought, floods, wildfires, and more frequent powerful storms.”

“The leftist claims about sea level rise are overblown, overstated or frankly just wrong,” Heartland president and CEO Tim Huelskamp said in an interview with Reuters. Regarding the United Nations’ findings on climate change, he said it was “fake science” motivated by a desire for “power and control.”

An irony is the conference is being held in the American city most impacted by extreme weather made worse by climate change. New Orleans has not recovered and may never recover from the August 2005 Hurricane Katrina.

“One of the country’s largest credit rating agencies has put New Orleans and other coastal cities on notice: prepare for the effects of climate change or risk a hit on your credit score,” according to Tristan Baurick at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. When the risk analysis community says it, it must be real.

Climate change is real, it’s happening now, and human activity is a primary contributor to extreme weather events like New Orleans experienced.

The rise of a conference like this is attributable almost entirely to the rise in prominence of libertarian billionaires with a long range plans to re-make American society to their liking. They believe their liberties have been infringed upon by government regulations and the Trump administration has been removing barriers to the practice of unfettered capitalism. That’s not good for you, me, or the people of New Orleans.

It is shocking how much the Trump administration has deregulated government in less than two years. The fact the Environmental Protection Agency is deregulating asbestos, a known carcinogen banned in 55 countries, is a sign of how far they will go. The only check on such behavior is for Democrats to win a majority in at least one chamber of the next Congress during the 2018 midterm elections, or to vote Trump out in the 2020 general election. Much damage has already been done. Some of it can’t be reversed.

I met a nine-year-old from Saudi Arabia recently. He lives with his extended family on the Arabian Peninsula and has come to Iowa the last couple of years to visit his mother before school starts in September. We talked about the weather.

“It sure is hot,” I said.

“Yes, but I don’t believe it is climate change,” he replied.

“No, probably not,” I said. “It’s August in Iowa.”

It is one thing for children to learn the difference between weather and climate change. When adults in the room deny the science of climate change, it’s something else. It’s clear there were few adults at the conference in New Orleans.

Posted in Environment | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A Difficult And Strange Season Of Weather

Carmen Black at Sundog Farm

By Carmen Black

(Editor’s Note: Iowa Farmers deal with an existential reality that is the weather. Regardless of increasingly polarized discussions about climate change, weather affects real people in tangible ways. Carmen recently wrote this piece to members of her Community Supported Agriculture project Local Harvest.)

The weather has been consistently challenging from the late spring to immediately hot May, from lots of rain to this current dry spell. There hasn’t been a catastrophic weather event, but all these different difficult weather conditions create more work to keep everything growing well.

I’ve been thinking more about it as we’ve been observing its impacts while harvesting more of the summer crops. I’ve talked to many other farmers (including folks that grow other types of crops) about the challenges of this season, and anecdotally it seems like the conditions have been hard on many types of crops and livestock alike. One of things that has struck me about this year is that it hasn’t been just one way like really hot or really wet, but every month has brought a different extreme to contend with. It’s made me wonder if it’s all this erraticness that’s been stressful to the plants and animals rather than just the heat or just the late spring.

I was curious to find out if the weather has just felt difficult to us or if it really has been extreme in the grand scheme of things, so I did a little internet research for weather data. What I found was interesting, and did seem to affirm my feeling that this year really has been weird. This was the coldest April on record (since records began in 1895), and was on average 10 degrees colder than normal. It was also somehow both the 5th snowiest April and the 13th driest April, which seemed a little ironic. 2018 tied for the 6th warmest May with 1887, and the average temperature was about seven degrees warmer than normal. Des Moines had three consecutive daily record highs from May 26-28. I was surprised that in Cedar Rapids the daily record highs for the end of May were all held by 1931 or 1934, and then I realized that was the dust bowl! June was the 10th warmest and 10th wettest June on record. July seems to have been pretty average after all those top 20 finishes for the previous months, as it was the 54th coolest July and the 47th driest July on record. Which I think kind of puts the extremeness of the previous months in perspective. Kind of nice to have an average month finally.

Anyhow, my main takeaway is that this year really does seem to be remarkably erratic when you look at the numbers, and it makes sense that plants and animals would respond unpredictably to all of these changes in the weather. I feel both good that I wasn’t making up that the weather has been extreme in many different ways this season, and kind of bad that it really has been historically weird this year. The fact that it took the dust bowl to beat this year out for daily heat records in May felt kind of grim.

Some crops like onions seem to have really suffered from this weather. You may have noticed that they’ve been smaller than normal this year, and after getting most of onion harvest done last week I’m sorry to report that many of the longer season onions are even smaller. This was especially disappointing to me after such a bountiful onion harvest of really giant ones last summer, but I think makes sense considering what we were up against. We planted more than 3 weeks later than we did last year because it kept snowing, and then had to irrigate the onions (which we hardly ever have to do) because it was so dry. We struggled to keep the weeds under control in the onion field in June when it was so wet, and spent almost a week wallowing in the mud trying to hand weed. All in all I’m glad we have some onions to show for all of it, and have a few ideas of things to try in case this ever happens again.

I also have to say that some crops seem to have really thrived in this weather. We’ve never had such a good cucumber or spring carrot crop before, both of which are crops that we have historically struggled to produce large quantities of for several weeks in a row. The combination of having plenty of carrots and cucumbers has felt like a great accomplishment, and I hope that we’re able to replicate it in a better weather year as well!

~ Carmen Black farms in Cedar Township in Johnson County, Iowa.

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Pints, Politics And Media Narrative

Ben Keiffer (L) and Dr. Christopher Peters chatting at Pints and Politics event, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018

In an effort to get outside my comfort zone I tried something new. I went to a media event called “Pints and Politics” at the Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery in Swisher Thursday after my shift at the home, farm and auto supply store.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette hosts Pints and Politics in which their columnists and reporters form a panel and answer audience questions. People drink alcoholic beverages and talk about politics. That is, most people. I drank about two pints of water before the show started and discussed a case with a lawyer I know who was there. I felt uncomfortable among the crowd of people mostly in my cohort of sixty somethings. Many seemed like they had retired with not enough to do. One presumes they read newspapers and listen to the radio. More than 200 people arrived for the forum.

Iowa Public Radio glommed on to Pints and Politics and makes an edition from the raw materials for their weekday program River to River with Ben Keiffer. Keiffer drank a beer and handed out a few Post-It pads with the Iowa Public Radio logo on them. These will be handy for dispatches to my spouse to be left on the refrigerator with information about our ongoing conflict with the spiders assuming control of our house. The Gazette, being a newspaper under duress in an on line world, had no such useful perquisites.

I attended the event Thursday and listened to the edited version on the radio Friday.

The panelists were Todd Dorman and Adam Sullivan, both columnists for the Gazette, and Joyce Russell, statehouse reporter for Iowa Public Radio. The two people I know best, Lynda Waddington and James Q. Lynch of the Gazette, while in adverts for the event, were both absent. I follow the work of the panelists. While Russell is a journalist, I’m not sure what one calls columnists. The word “pundit” was used several times during the event and the appellation will serve.

The event was rigged from the git-go to serve existing media narratives. Audience members submitted written questions to the panel and many more than could be asked were collected. This made the question editing process the driver in how the panel proceeded. The topics Keiffer chose were what’s already in the news: the Iowa Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on the state’s voter suppression law that day; President Trump’s recent visit to Peosta; and others. The radio version should be posted soon here. 2020 presidential candidate John Delaney announced completion of visits to all 99 Iowa Counties. Dorman suggested as a reward that his likeness be carved in butter and displayed at the Iowa State Fair.

I’m not sure what I expected and maybe that’s the point of trying something new. I did not know many attendees, and most of those I did were conservatives. Democratic Rep. Amy Nielsen was there. Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery is in her district. Republican congressional candidate Dr. Christopher Peters was present working the crowd. Once Peters found out Rep. Rod Blum declined an opportunity to appear on River to River he made clear to Keiffer he had no reservations about appearing on the program. There was a table full of Libertarians, about proportional in number to the percentage of the general population. The rest of the audience leaned Democratic.

Adam Sullivan stood out on the panel simply because he talked so much. He served as a useful foil for more Democratic audience members to express their belief in status quo politics driven by media narratives. Russell is a professional, as are they all. The three of them all tried to get along. In the background I might have heard a “both sides” or two, but maybe that is confirmation bias whispering in my ear.

The most significant media narrative related to how elections are decided. I posted this on twitter Friday while listening to the radio.

Panelists agreed with Dorman we are in an election where issues not that important. “Persuasion stuff is kind of dead,” he said. Rile up the base on both sides. Get who you can of whoever is left. I’m not sure that’s the case, although here’s an example of media that believe it.

I want to emphasize 1. I’ve heard this before during recent election cycles, and 2. based on my experience this cycle, I don’t believe for one minute this is how the 2018 midterms are rolling out. Repeating this narrative is not as important as the fact people believe it. Based on reports I get from the field, the narrative is bankrupt and the panelists didn’t seem to be aware. That disconnect is important.

While attendees passed a pleasant two hours, I was decidedly unsettled by the experience. As I drove east along 120th Street in my 21 year old vehicle, the sun was moving toward the horizon. I turned north at the Ely Blacktop to get an ice cream at Dan and Debbie’s Creamery before heading south and home. What unsettled me was not the media personalities, or the people in Swisher. It was knowledge of the amount of work to overcome the tainted media narratives which were promulgated.

I get it that news writers need a hook and consumers of news need to understand it. A lot of fish were caught during Pints and Politics but the pool wasn’t very deep. I’m thankful for a new experience, but I doubt I’ll be returning to a media event like this.

~ First posted at On Our Own: Sustaining a Life in a Turbulent World

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