Iowa Winners Discuss Democratic Strategy

Winners Sarah Trone Garriott (SD-14) West Des Moines and Izaah Knox (SD-17) Des Moines discuss how they won and what Democrats should do going forward.

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Millions of Americans Lack Safe Tap Water

The water drips lethargically from the tap, if at all. Its appearance shifts from chemical brown sludge to ghoulish clouds. The accompanying stench is revolting.

Unsafe tap water is unacceptable in any modern society. But from Michigan to Mississippi to Tribal communities in the West, people across the United States are all too familiar with it as climate change, environmental racism, and privatization take their toll on this resource that sustains all life.

Over 2 million people in the United States live without running water.

This includes 10 percent of Indigenous Americans, whose communities have been harmed and impoverished by decades of racialized federal disinvestment. Their water insecurity, particularly within the Colorado River Basin, has been compounded by climate change-induced drought and contamination from mining companies — as evidenced in the arsenic-laced water on the Arizona Hopi Reservation, to take but one example.

The ongoing water insecurity in Jackson, Mississippi exemplifies the threat to poor communities and people of color. In late August, Jackson’s largest water treatment plant collapsed from severe flooding worsened by climate change. More than 150,000 residents were left without clean water for nearly two weeks.

It wasn’t the first time the city experienced water disruptions. “We’ve been crying about our water for a long time,” resident Charles Wilson III told CNN. The EPA confirms that some 300 boil advisories have been issued in Jackson over the past two years.

This reality speaks to the larger problem of environmental racism, where race determines “which communities get resources for infrastructure and which ones get left behind,” explains Dr. Robert Bullard, a renowned expert at Texas Southern University.

Following the integration of public schools during the 1960s, wealthier white people left Jackson and eroded the city’s tax base. The remaining majority-Black population has since endured high rates of poverty and persistent disinvestment.

For years, Mississippi’s Republican legislature has withheld adequate funding to upgrade the majority-Democratic city’s aging water system, parts of which are over 100 years old. Mississippi lawmakers have also blocked attempts by the city to raise infrastructure funds through a sales tax hike.

Without state funds or tax revenue, Jackson simply can’t raise the $1 billion needed for infrastructure improvements according to Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. Instead, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has stated that “privatization is on the table” to fix Jackson’s water supply.

But privatization is part of the problem.

In 2010, the city signed a $90 million contract with Siemens to overhaul its water infrastructure and install new meters to raise extra revenue. However, as journalist Judd Legum reported, the meters were installed incorrectly and there were “no substantial investments made.”

Other water privatization attempts, from Pittsburgh in the United States to Bolivia abroad, have led to skyrocketing costs and plummeting quality for vulnerable communities. In the all too recent case of Flint, Michigan, public disinvestment conspired with private corporate interests to deny residents clean water — with catastrophic results.

Almost half of the residents in Flint, the majority of whom are Black, live below the poverty line. In 2014, Republican state officials forced a cost-cutting change in the city’s water supply source that resulted in countless cases of lead poisoning, over a dozen deaths from Legionnaires’ disease, and scores of other health problems, all while residents saw their water rates soar.

Executives at Veolia, the world’s largest supplier of water services, knew that families in Flint could be at risk of poisoning, but the private water company never made that finding public when it was hired in 2015 for a “top-down assessment” of Flint’s water.

All these water crises demand full accountability. A long-term response is also needed in order to invest in sustainable infrastructure, improve regulatory oversight, and remove unjust barriers to ensure safe, clean, and affordable water access for all.

Fundamentally, we must recognize water as a universal human right, rather than a commodity reserved for the few. Whether in Jackson, Flint, Tribal lands, or beyond, the struggle for water is a shared one.

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Politics Girl On The Media

“We’ve made a successful business model of shameless lying.” – Leigh McGowan on the media

Leigh McGowan launched PoliticsGirl as a way to help people reconnect with politics. She started the YouTube channel in 2015 as a way to inform and inspire. I just found her recently. If you haven’t come across her yet check out her kitchen Tweets and podcasts. She’s fun, she’s got great messaging, important guests, and she is never confused about what is going on. She’s realistic but optimistic. Instead of feeling totally hopeless and depressed like I sometimes do after listening to progressive punditry, I feel hopeful, energized and inspired, like it’s possible we could get through all this. No small thing!

“The more we talk, the more we care, the more we care, the more we vote, the more we vote the more politicians are accountable to us and the more accountable they are to us, the more we can demand they change things for the better. If our votes didn’t matter they wouldn’t be trying so hard to take them away.  Change is possible. We just have to be willing to work for it.” – Leigh McGowan, PoliticsGirl TikTok |… Twitter | Facebook |… Instagram |…

PoliticsGirl on the media. “If it turns out that the media are simply there to turn a profit, where does that leave us?”  Deeply disturbing information particularly around 30 min. in.

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Holiday Politics

Rural polling place in Johnson County

What went wrong for Democrats in the 2022 midterm election? A lot. How do we fix it? The first reaction, and I believe the wrong one, is to throw the bums out.

I like Ross Wilburn, Iowa Democratic Party chairman and have since he was the Iowa City mayor. I agree with the idea that if he can’t perform as state party chair — and the lack of Democratic wins during the recent election cycle makes a case that he can’t — we should replace him. There are three parts to this and they don’t lead us there.

First, Democratic core activists like the groups with which I associate were very busy with political work for a year before the November election. Whatever analysis we or others might make about the mechanics of the campaign (Vote Builder, money, coordinated campaign, messaging) it doesn’t detract from the fact our core active Democrats were busy working to get our candidates elected.

Second, the state central committee, which elects the party chair, is increasingly irrelevant. Our last days of glory were in 2006 and 2008. It has been a long, dry season ever since. The biggest change in the state central committee has been the rise of Bernie Sanders supporters who wanted to change everything for the better. They won their elections to the central committee, yet I’m not seeing change we need. The last two cycles have really rotted. Maybe they should be replaced as well.

Third, the problem in replacing folks on the state central committee, and how they organized the 2020 and 2022 cycles particularly, is millennials and Gen-Z voters are not stepping up to help campaigns the way my generation was accustomed to doing. I noted in a previous post, contrary to the national trend, they were the ones who found reasons not to vote on Nov. 8. Instead, they are packing their bags and leaving the state permanently. This is part of a broader dynamic. Changing members of the central committee can be fine, yet it doesn’t address the brain drain ongoing in Iowa. This is an unrecognized, real-world consequence that costs the party. People who leave the state to better themselves seem most often to be, if not always, Democratic voters.

A Republican strength is it targets young Iowans who attend community college, get married, raise a traditional family, and settle down close to where they were born. The culture of this is stifling, yet some folks in those generations thrive in it, have multiple children, and buy McMansions to withdraw into church, school and family. For the most part, they are not Democrats.

Making do in this bleak Iowa cultural landscape seems unlikely for young people who have more ambition and are willing to trade what they know for a chance at something better. They will leave the state and never look back.

I’m not sure changing the party chair addresses this core problem. That’s why I’m not anxious for major changes in the state central committee.

For a minute, let’s go into the Wayback Machine. After Wilburn was elected in 2021, The Des Moines Register reported,

Wilburn said he would begin the party’s rebuilding efforts by creating a three-election-cycle strategic roadmap; improving candidate and local leadership development; working to become a better asset to county parties and other constituency groups; and improving the party’s use of data.

State Rep. Ross Wilburn elected to lead Iowa Democratic Party as chairman by Brianne Pfannenstiel, Des Moines Register, Jan. 23, 2021.

What of that plan? To my knowledge, that was the only public mention of it. On its face, it’s one cycle down and two to go. From my perch, candidate development seemed very good. There were great candidates fielded, like Kevin Kinney, who didn’t win their elections. This part was successful, even if the results were disappointing.

I’m not sure how the state party became a better asset to county parties. Here in Johnson County, we had freedom to structure a campaign the way we wanted. It appeared we had enough paid staff and resources to conduct operations. Statewide candidates were frequently present. We weren’t successful in the most Democratic County, yet there should be valuable lessons to learn. The biggest lesson should be found in answering the question why did we fall about 4,700 votes short of our 32,000 Democratic margin goal?

As far as improving the party’s use of data, all I heard as election day approached was that we were focused on turning out likely Democratic voters who previously voted only in presidential years. We had the data to target those folks, yet not enough of them voted. As I have written, my precinct turnout, among Democrats and Republicans was significantly less than 2018 and 2020. Part of that is erosion of Democratic registrations yet turnout in both parties was down. Three cycles equals six years, so hopefully the state central committee is busy analyzing data to figure out what went wrong during the first two.

During previous election cycles, I wrote my analysis of the election quickly, soon after the polls closed and results were known. It seems essential we take our time this cycle to examine the results carefully and thoroughly. I plan to live in Iowa for a long time, and would like to see more Democratic wins. 2023 will be the first time I’ve had a Republican state senator since we moved here in 1993.

Things have been better when Democrats had a say in our governance. We are a distance from that being the case again. During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, part of the celebration has been coming to terms with that reality.

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Time To Have A Conversation About Human Population Growth And Climate Change

Nobody talks about over-population anymore. Which is why this blog post by Nicholas Johnson is so important to be shared.  When you get to the part about the number of cars on the road it cuts through your denial and makes you realize the unsustainability of it all.  Posted with permission.

“After writing this I discovered 21,000 scientists agree: ‘We are jeopardizing our future … by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats.’” – Nicholas Johnson

A Global Warming Win-Win-Win
by Nicholas Johnson

Can women cool global warming?

Homo Sapiens first appeared about 300,000 years ago. We’ve been growing rather than chasing our food since 10,000 B.C. Estimates of the population then are between one and fifteen million persons.

With more food available, villages evolved and population increased dramatically.

Yet, it took until 1803 to reach one billion people. Then 124 years to reach two billion; 33 years to reach three billion; and 15 years to reach four billion.

Need I say more?

Apparently so. Because most of what we’re told about environmental change and daily disasters stops with the phrase “climate change.”

Many are willing to do their part. To borrow from the Great Depression, they “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” They become vegetarians, bicycle or walk to work, turn up the air conditioner thermostat, recycle, compost, and grow some food.

That’s good citizenship in a crisis. But it only offsets a tiny fraction of the problem.

In fact, many of our environmental problems have been created, or at least made worse, by the rapid increase in rate of human population growth. One example: Humans are responsible for a 1,000-fold increase in other species’ natural rates of extinction.

The increase to eight billion of us also multiplies potable water shortages, polluted air, deforestation, wetlands destruction, increased trash and toxic waste, depleted fisheries and finite resources, increased farm, river and ocean pollution and acidification, and the substitution of concrete for agricultural land and open spaces now under sprawling communities and 4 million miles of roads.

Human activity is not only responsible for most of the greenhouse gas CO2 since our industrial age. We have also reduced the forests and soils that could remove and store it. Our country creates the most – and at a rate seven times per person that of China, number two.

Transportation creates the largest share of U.S. emissions.

In 1922 the U.S. population of 110 million was driving 111 vehicles per 1000 people (12 million vehicles). By 2012 the population was 314 million, but the number of cars per 1000 population had gone from 111 to 808 (271 million vehicles).

Say what you will about fuel efficiency and electric vehicles, more people driving 20 times more vehicles produce more CO2.

Exponential population growth is an environmental challenge for the U.S., but especially third world countries.

Fortunately, women will naturally reduce population growth if they are provided the support they deserve: social status, economic opportunity – and education. Women (and men) with secondary education and access to contraceptives have far fewer births. They space more time between pregnancies. Plus, their children also end up with better health, quality of life, and education.

We ought to be doing this anyway. Saving our planet is a bonus.

After writing this I discovered 21,000 scientists agree: “We are jeopardizing our future … by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats.” Think about it.


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Sunday Funday: Winter Is Coming Edition

Video 11:25 – Dogs and snow:

Boy that snuck up on us didn’t it? One day it’s almost 60, the next day some weatherman is saying snow! 

Winter is actually the season where we experience the return of the sun. Summer and fall are the seasons when the sun slowly recedes. But long ago summer and fall had much better publicity agents and thus are much better thought of. That and the much warmer temperatures.

So we head into December which notes several holidays that were once times when the sun appeared to be returning. Think of our ancestors 10,000 or so years back when everybody watched the sun to make sure it would return. The sun was simply life and death.

Well, a sort of a quiet week:

A) Chocolate and Chips were in the news last week. Who or what are they?

B) We will include some winter questions today. For instance where does the word “winter” come from?

C) The Supreme Court did not step in to stop whose taxes from being obtained by congress?

D) Once again, shootings with multiple deaths are rampant across the US. So far this year, what is the daily average of multiple shootings in the US?

E) Herschel Walker once more garnered unwanted publicity when he mixed up what two words during an interview on Fox News?

F) This should get some volunteers. Kelli Flanagan say Iowa’s DCI is having a hard time testing what products from other states for compliance with Iowa laws?

G) According to what presumed Republican presidential candidate is Randi Weingarten (head of the American Federation of Teachers) “The most dangerous person in the world?”

H) Labor unrest in what country could interrupt deliveries of Apple’s new Phone?

I) Heavy snowfall, winds over 35 mph and limited visibility. What is it?

J) At the UN Climate talks rich nations have agreed to what to help poorer nations deal with climate change?

K) Since Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, what percentage of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers have left?

L) The gunman in the Chesapeake, Virginia mass shooting at a Walmart was employed by Walmart in what capacity?

M) Thieves in Manchin, Germany took only 9 minutes to steal what kind of coins from a museum in this southern German town?

N) Has any Southern Hemisphere country ever hosted the Winter Olympic Games?

O) Dec. 1,1955 – what action by a seamstress sparked the Montgomery bus boycott?

P) The Soccer (football) team Manchester United is up for sale. It can be yours if you have how much to pay for it?

Q) The father of the mass murderer in the Colorado Springs shooting was relieved to hear that his son was not what?

R) What upstanding American citizen and elected official was finally forced to testify before a Fulton County, Georgia grand jury in the election tampering scandal?

S) If you live in what country it is probably time to put in your order at the local KFC for your Christmas dinner? 

T) Reality TV stars Todd and Julie Chrisley, famed for their TV show “Chrisley Knows Best”, were both given hefty jail sentences after they were convicted of what crimes?

Rep. Adam Schiff to ABC on Kevin McCarthy: “I suspect he will do whatever Marjorie Taylor Greene wants him to do. He’s a very weak leader of this conference, meaning that he will adhere to the wishes of the lowest common denominator.”


A) Those are the names of this years presidentially pardoned turkeys

B) From the old Germanic word ‘winter’ it means “time of water”

C) Trump’s

D) 2 mass shootings per day on average

E) ‘election’ and ‘erection’

F) baked goods with marijuana in it.

G) Mike Pompeo. Hard to believe he was Secretary of State and couldn’t recognize dangerous leaders

H) China

I) It’s a blizzard!

J) setting up a fund for poorer nations

K) 50%

L) as a supervisor

M) Gold coins from Ireland’s Celtic period

N) No – not sure when they would doing so – July?

O) Rosa Parks refused to give her seat on a bus to a white man. She was then arrested.

P) The price I saw was $7.45 billion

Q) Gay. Apparently mass murder is ok but not being gay

R) Lindsey Graham – what a fine example

S) Japan

T) Bank fraud and tax evasion

What Musk is doing to Twitter is the perfect metaphor for the Republican Party and America. They’ll burn the whole country down and take us all with them, just to make sure no one else gets a voice or any joy. – Stonekettle tweet

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“America Is A Gun”

Another day, another mass murder in America. No other country has this problem.  In a country that blathers on and on about “freedom” there can can be no real freedom until we overthrow the tyranny of the gun.

In his daily substack letter for last Wednesday, Thom Hartmann had many, many salient points about mass murder in America, but these paragraphs stuck out:

Here in America, media figures, politicians, and preachers — seeking fame, fortune, and power for themselves just like the Saudi mullahs — similarly radicalize angry or self-righteous men to commit acts of mass murder.

But when the men they’ve triggered practice their terrorism to frighten Black people, Jews, abortion providers, queer people, or even former employers into submission or invisibility — or to keep politicians in offices they lost — we call them “sick” or “troubled” or “mentally ill.”

The man who shot up Club Q in Colorado Springs has been called “deranged” in media headlines featuring his “troubled past.”  He wasn’t deranged: he was a terrorist.  So were the men who murdered Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue and Black people at a Buffalo supermarket.

All had the mental competence to identify their victims, acquire their weapons, and execute their crimes. They may not live or think exactly like you and me, they may have had tough childhoods, but they’re not mentally ill: they’re terrorists.

Hartmann’s rant is well worth the time to read it in full.

One thing Hartmann does not rail about is what often follows a mass shooting: the totally useless practice of mumbling the words “Thoughts and prayers.” Thoughts and prayers is simply a trite saying that sounds like someone cares when they really intend to do nothing.

Remember that for every gun death in America, there is a devastated group of family and friends whose life is forever altered. Grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins and friends. Believe me, it never goes away.

As I sat crying in my vehicle when the slaughter of the innocents at Sandy Hook was reported I thought “maybe this will be the one that shocks America so much something will happen about guns.”

Ten years and tens of thousands of Americans sacrificed to the gun culture, nothing has happened.

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Ron Klain: Talking Points for Thanksgiving

A day late, but keep it in mind because you will be running into right wingers throughout the holidays:

Those are just the highlights. There is so much more.

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How To Get Progressive Politicians Elected

Good short clip from the Thom Hartmann show.

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Thanksgiving In America 2022

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

In the era of the “the big lie,” it seems like a particularly good time for America to face all of our truths.

For many Native Americans Thanksgiving is a day of mourning. “Many Native people do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims & other European settlers. Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands and the erasure of Native cultures.”  Listen to their story.

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