Getting Attention On Climate Change

Ed Fallon in His Garden

Ed Fallon is a friend of Blog for Iowa and we support what he does with his radio program and his advocacy against oil and natural gas pipelines in Iowa.

He caught the attention of Democrats in Cedar Rapids last weekend with a performance art piece, staged by his group Bold Iowa, in which three individuals posed in a gallows with a noose around their neck, standing on blocks of melting ice under a sign that said, “As the arctic melts the climate noose tightens.”

While many on social media and in-person viewers of the piece took a dim view of this direct action, if you know Ed at all, not thinking things through is a feature, not a bug of his work. There is no denying deterioration of the Greenland ice sheet, the Arctic, and the Antarctic ice shelves is a planetary problem that could cause environmental disruptions not seen in living human memory. Bold Iowa’s performance piece was successful in that social media was abuzz discussing its meaning and appropriateness. It was unsuccessful in that major media outlets did not appear to be covering it with the notable exception of the Cedar Rapids Gazette which ran a story on Wednesday framing the piece a racially callous because of its use of a noose, invoking for some an association with lynching in American history.

“We underestimated the way it may trigger folks who either are concerned about the rise in racism in this country, in many respects because of Donald Trump,” Fallon said in an interview with the Gazette. “And also people who were affected by a family member who maybe committed suicide by hanging. … Our focus is to get people to understand just how urgent of a situation climate change is. We really are at a point where human extinction is a possibility.”

In a July 16 email, Fallon wrote he planned to write a blog post about the incident while promoting his Fallon Forum podcast, saying,

Pascha Morgan joins (the Fallon Forum) to discuss Bold Iowa’s provocative performance art, which involved a gallows (representing the threat of extinction) and large blocks of ice (representing accelerated ice melt in the polar regions).

Bold Iowa’s action demanded that Democratic presidential candidates make human survival their first act as president. The banner above the gallows declared, “As the Arctic melts, the climate noose tightens.”

The action received some enthusiastic support. Yet despite what organizers thought was clear messaging, it also experienced some strong pushback. In addition to this week’s live on-air discussion, I’ll publish a more in-depth blog later this week, responding to criticism of the action and apologizing to people offended by the imagery.

Thursday, July 18, Fallon made a post titled An Error of Judgement on the Bold Iowa website. In it he apologized to people offended by the imagery of the noose and accepted full responsibility for what he called an error in judgement. The post also ran as an op-ed in this morning’s Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Our support for Ed Fallon’s work continues. If one reads Fallon’s book Marcher Walker Pilgrim: A Memoir from the Great March for Climate Action there is a clear sense of the haphazard way Fallon goes about planning direct action. The fact is people continue to talk about the performance art piece five days after it happened. To the extent fingers are pointing at Ed’s quirky and in this case considered yet somewhat tone-deaf approach to direct action as the problem, the performance art failed.

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00 – noon CT on La Reina KDLF 96.5 FM and 1260 AM in central Iowa. The program is also available on podcast later in the day at FallonForum.com.

Posted in Climate Change, Fallon Forum | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Algae And The Politics Of Denial

Algae Bloom in Lake Erie, Oct. 5, 2011. Photo Credit – NASA Earth Observatory

During his July 8 speech on the environment, the president mentioned his administration’s fight with “toxic algae” in Florida 50 miles from his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Bruce Hrobak, a bait and tackle shop owner in Port St. Lucie, Fla. gave a testimonial at the event about the great job he thought the federal government did to help his business which was “devastated by toxic algae from Lake Okeechobee.” His praise was about more than the government.

“You jumping into this environment brings my heart to warmth, knowing that what you’re doing is going — is the truth,” Hrobak said. “It’s going wonderfully. My business in 2018 was so horrible, we — I own two stores — we closed several days a week because of, you know, the algae and people being frightened, if they were afraid to touch the water and everything. I have a marine mechanic — I just wanted to say really quickly — has a bad infection in his arm from the marine algae and stuff.”

Mr. Hrobak gushed about the attention his problem had received and mentioned his wife was yelling at him less because business was better this year. People laughed and applauded. Rhetorically anyway, Trump halted advance of the red tide.

Iowans are familiar with the problems of algal blooms. The nutrient-rich soup that comprises our lakes and streams has been a hindrance to public recreation. We’ve restricted access to public beaches and educated kayakers, swimmers and boaters about the dangers of exposure to blue-green algae and the microcystins they produce. Iowa’s response to the problem amounts to shrugging our shoulders.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources doesn’t plan to follow new federal recommendations for beach water quality that could lead to more public warnings about toxins in the water, according to a June 20 Cedar Rapids Gazette article by Erin Jordan.

Instead of adopting federal standards for algal contamination, an Iowa Department of Natural Resources spokesperson told the Gazette, “The group does not agree with the formula and science used to develop the eight micrograms per liter for cyanotoxins microcystins standard.”

Arguing with science is the new normal for government doing what it wants. The other new normal is the president asserting he has addressed a problem when in fact he is ignoring it.

Mother Jones reported July 12 on a toxic algae problem not being adequately addressed by the administration:

In June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projected a Massachusetts-sized dead zone would alight upon the Gulf of Mexico, driven by a vast algae bloom fed by fertilizer runoff from the upper Midwest. As the bloom decays, it sucks oxygen out of the water. As a result, as NOAA puts it, “habitats that would normally be teeming with life become, essentially, biological deserts.”

And on Thursday, NOAA predicted that Lake Erie, which provides drinking water to 11 million people, will also experience a massive harmful algae bloom, starting in late July. The bloom is fed largely by phosphorus runoff in the Maumee River basin in Ohio, where the land is dominated by corn and soybean farms as well as massive indoor hog farms. Phosphorus is a key nutrient for plant growth, and farmers apply it to fields in the form of fertilizer (which comes mainly from phosphate mines in Florida) and hog manure.

People argue in social media that algae blooms are a naturally occurring phenomenon, that they are nothing to worry about. While that is partly true, they do occur naturally, they are fed to grow very large by agricultural runoff. For political reasons, government won’t connect the dots and take action on the much larger issue of nutrient runoff.

“Science is a fundamental part of the country that we are,” Neil deGrasse Tyson said. “But in this the 21st century, when it comes time to make decisions about science, it seems to me people have lost the ability to judge what is true and what is not… When you have people who don’t know much about science standing in denial of it and rising to power, that is a recipe for the complete dismantling of our informed democracy.”

The president is addressing red algae in his back yard. What has he done about blue-green algae for the rest of us? He denied us a solution and distracted us from the problem. This while his minions in the audience for the speech stood and applauded.

We’ve go to do something better.

Posted in Environment, water | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Toward A Challenger For Joni Ernst

Two of three people running for the Democratic nomination to be U.S. Senator from Iowa spoke at State Senator Zach Wahls’ birthday fundraiser at Walker Homestead in Johnson County on Sunday.

Clutching a microphone in one hand and her hand-written speech notes in the other, Theresa Greenfield of Des Moines went second to last in a 90 minute series of speakers that included five presidential hopefuls.

Eddie Mauro of Des Moines had arrived early to the event and introduced himself to some of the more than 200 attendees. When he stepped onto the stage surrounded by straw bales, he was the last of twelve speakers.

Kimberly Graham, a Democrat from Indianola, was first to announce her bid to challenge U.S. Senator Joni Ernst. While she did not attend Wahls’ event, there was substantial press coverage of her May entry into the race.

Of the three candidates, Theresa Greenfield is said to be the front runner, however, there are challenges ahead for whoever is the party’s nominee. Joni Ernst won the 2014 general election with 52 percent of the vote and in a recent Ann Selzer poll, more than 57 percent of Iowans approve of the job she is doing. The goal for Democrats is to prevent Ernst from becoming an institution, making her a single term senator.

Democratic activists I know haven’t begun to dial into the U.S. Senate race yet, focusing more on the February 2020 presidential caucuses. Following are some links to information about the three Democratic candidates, including the verbatim about page from their websites.

Kimberly Graham

Launch video

Website

About Page:

I’m Kimberly Graham. I never thought in a million years I’d run for office. But it’s time for a government “by the people, for the people.”

Senator Joni Ernst campaigned on a promise to “make ’em squeal” in Washington D.C. and get rid of corruption, but the only people squealing are Iowans harmed by her votes.

Because our “By The People, For The People” campaign will be funded only by donors like you, and *never* by corporate PACS, the NRA or the Koch Brothers, I won’t be influenced by lobbyists and companies whose only interest is increasing their wealth. Instead, I’ll be representing the majority: you and Iowans who deserve better representation than you’ve been receiving.

What I’ve seen from Washington D.C. the last couple of years is the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer and the middle class shrinking. We need more people from working-class backgrounds serving in government, representing the majority of us and not mega-corporations. So I’m running for United States Senate.

I lived in rural Iowa longer than anyplace else, for 24 years. I chose to raise my son in Indianola.

My maternal great-great-grandfather had a farm in Zearing and my paternal grandmother was born in Mt. Ayr. My dad was one of 11 siblings born in Des Moines. He was a Marine, later a bridge-builder, and mom was a clerk at the phone company. Neither of them went to college but had good union jobs and worked hard to give my brother and me a solid working-class upbringing.

I’ve been working since I was 14: in a dry cleaner, as a waitress, store clerk, and housecleaner. I worked my way through college. I wanted to help people for a living so I went to law school, paying my own way and taking out student loans. I still have student loan debt. Now I work as an advocate for abused or neglected kids in court.

Living in rural Iowa and raising my son, I watched as the furniture, clothing, shoe stores, and other businesses on the square closed after fast-food chains and mega-stores moved in.

I’ve watched farmers struggle with increasing costs while being paid less for crops, with fewer companies from which to purchase seed and being treated unfairly as our current president enacts tariff after tariff, harming family farms. Iowans want and deserve a level playing field and a real chance at thriving small towns and thriving cities.

I’ve watched medical insurance premiums, mine included, rise to the point that families are paying more for medical insurance than for housing. Many simply can’t afford insurance anymore. Medical care costs of a serious illness are bankrupting families and forcing them to spend their life savings. It’s not right, that in the wealthiest nation on earth, this is happening.

In my work as the guardian ad litem and attorney for kids of participants in Family Treatment Court, I’ve watched the opioid and meth epidemics rip families apart and damage our communities. I’ve seen veterans return from service, experiencing trauma, and not receive services quickly or locally enough.

Iowans deserve better. As I mentioned above, Senator Ernst campaigned on a promise to “make ’em squeal” in Washington D.C. and get rid of corruption, but the only people squealing are Iowans harmed by her votes. I support major campaign finance reform and sweeping anti-corruption legislation to return our government to The People. We must get Big Money OUT of politics. No more politics as usual.

I’m running for U.S. Senate because the government should truly be “by the people, for the people.” It should work for the benefit of the majority, not the small number of wealthy. I’m not worried about them. They’ll be fine whether they have 50 million dollars a year income or 40 million. But I am worried about the rest of us.

We need Medicare for All, farmers to be treated fairly, good jobs all over the state and a level playing field so monopolies can’t destroy farms and small towns. Iowans need clean air and water, a justice system that treats everyone fairly and equally, and good public schools that provide the same high-quality education to all children, regardless of whether they live in Clive or Creston. We need representation in the U.S Senate that isn’t bought by corporations, drug companies or any special interests.

My goal is to be the best senator money *can’t* buy. Please join me in a movement For the People, By the People of Iowa.

Theresa Greenfield

Launch video

Website

About Page:

Theresa Greenfield grew up on a family farm, where she and her four siblings learned the value of hard work and self-reliance. Her father Derald encouraged his daughters to do everything the boys did on the Greenfield farm, and at 16, Theresa and her sister began helping with the family crop-dusting business, meeting with farmers to negotiate terms, and mark out fields while Derald was in the air lining up his plane for the next job.

When the farm crisis of the 1980s hit rural families like Theresa’s, she did not give up on her dream to attend college. With the help of financial aid and multiple part-time jobs, she put herself through school. Theresa married and as she and her husband were expecting their second child, he was killed in an accident at his job as a union electrical worker. Theresa set out on a path to provide for her two boys as a single mom.

Theresa worked as an urban planner and then joined Rottlund Homes, where she rose quickly through the ranks and soon moved to Des Moines to lead the company’s Iowa Division. Today, she serves as President of Colby Interests, one of Des Moines’ oldest family-held real estate and development companies. She lives with her husband Steve in Des Moines and together they have four grown children: Tanya, a media specialist; Nick, a horticulturist; Phil, a healthcare consultant; and Dane, a soldier in the U.S. Army.

Now, more than ever, Iowans need more leaders like Theresa in the U.S. Senate: a farm kid with farm kid values whose get-it-done attitude will help get things done for working families — from investing in education, to making it easier for small businesses to thrive, to cutting healthcare costs.

Eddie Mauro

Recent Video

Website

About Page:

Eddie J Mauro is a business owner, father, coach, community volunteer and former teacher who is committed to working hard to improve the performance of our government and empower people.

Additional links to resources about the candidates would be welcome in the comments.

Posted in 2020 election campaign | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can Democrats Change The ‘Roberts Five’ Majority?

United States Supreme Court, Washington, D.C.

If Democrats hope to undo the conservative lean of the United States Supreme Court it won’t be as simple as Republicans had it in 2016.

Many said the 2016 general election was as much about the Supreme Court as it was about electing a president. It was a unique historical opportunity, where appointing two associate justices could impact the court for decades, with Iowa’s senior senator Chuck Grassley playing a key role as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

With the 2005 appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts and two recent associate justice appointments, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, Republicans have remade the high court in a way that consistently delivers opinions in favor of their interests.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wrote about the Supreme Court and the “Roberts Five” majority in an April Issue Brief for the American Constitution Society:

It turns out that Republican appointees to the Supreme Court have, with remarkable consistency, delivered rulings that advantage the big corporate and special interests that are, in turn, the political lifeblood of the Republican Party. Several of these decisions have been particularly flagrant and notorious: Citizens United v. FEC, Shelby County v. Holder, and Janus v. AFCME. But there are many. Under Chief Justice Roberts’ tenure through the end of October Term 2017-2018, Republican appointees have delivered partisan rulings not three or four times, not even a dozen or two dozen times, but 73 times. Seventy-three decisions favored Republican interests, with no Democratic appointee joining the majority. On the way to this judicial romp, the “Roberts Five” were stunningly cavalier with any doctrine, precedent, or congressional finding that got in their way.

These cases fall into four categories according to Whitehouse.

(1) controlling the political process to benefit conservative candidates and policies;
(2) protecting corporations from liability and letting polluters pollute;
(3) restricting civil rights and condoning discrimination;
(4) advancing a far-right social agenda.

Even if a Democratic president returns to the White House in 2021, something far from assured, there may be only two opportunities to appoint associate justices when octogenarians Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer die, retire or otherwise move on. Such appointments wouldn’t impact the ideological balance of the high court. In fact, if justice were blind, would there even be an ideological balance to talk about?

No amount of liberal outrage will fix this Republican-made court. What’s a Democrat to do?

First, understanding what’s taking place in the Roberts Court should be a high priority. A beginning is to read Senator Whitehouse’s article here to understand the damage done since Roberts was appointed chief justice.

Second, the Republican strategy of holding judicial appointments open until a Republican president was elected was a multi-year, long-term strategy that worked. Whether or not politicizing the court system is a good idea, one has to ask, what is the Democratic plan to change the mix of justices? There may be one. If there is, how is it actionable for rank and file voters? I’m not sure chasing third tier Democratic presidential candidates around Iowa before the caucus is a positive contribution to the effort.

Finally, Democrats must do a better job of picking their battles. Outrageous behavior is a feature, not a bug of the Trump administration and Republican legislators. There will always be an outrage as long as Trump is president, because if nothing is going on, he will gin something up. When Republicans make us feel outraged, they also maintain control of public dialogue. In order to break their hold on voters we must work differently that we have recently. It begins by de-emphasizing social media and talking directly to friends and neighbors about how to resolve the issues society faces.

It’s not a flawless approach, however, we have to do something.

Posted in SCOTUS | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Can A Democrat Beat Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell?

Amy McGrath Photo Credit – Campaign Website

Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath announced she was running to beat Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in the Nov. 3, 2020 general election.

She raised $2.5 million during the first 24 hours after her announcement.

With 20 years in the United States Marine Corps and 89 combat missions under her belt, she demonstrated substantial courage and grit. If she can focus on one thing, beating McConnell, she may have a better path to election than any other recent challenger.

People are nit-picking her campaign apart after her July 9 announcement and it boils down to one thing: do Democrats want someone to take on McConnell or not? It won’t be easy for McGrath and it wouldn’t be easy for anyone. If there are better candidates out there, they should step forward.

What seems obvious from the blow back to McGrath’s campaign is we need a reminder of why Mitch McConnell has to go. Here’s Thom Hartmann interviewing Senator Jeff Merkley on that topic at Netroots Nation over the weekend.

It’s hard to tell whether anyone can beat Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Democrats must step up and have Amy McGrath’s back if they are serious about taking the senate back.

Here’s McGrath’s biography from her campaign website:

Amy McGrath, a retired US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel raised in Kentucky, is running for the US Senate to fix Washington and give Kentuckians back their voice.

Amy was born the youngest of three children to Donald and Marianne McGrath. Her father was a high school English teacher and her mother was one of the first women to graduate from the University of Kentucky medical school.

When Amy was 13 years old, she dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot, but women were not yet allowed to serve in combat roles in our military. So she wrote to her elected officials to ask them to change the law. She never heard back from her senator, Mitch McConnell.

Amy graduated from the US Naval Academy and overcame the odds to become the first woman in the Marine Corps to fly a combat mission in an F/A-18 fighter jet. She served 20 years in the Marines where she flew 89 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, targeting al-Qaida and the Taliban, before retiring and moving back home to Kentucky to raise her family.

Amy lives in Georgetown, Kentucky, with her husband Erik, a retired Navy pilot and registered Republican, and her three children, Teddy (7), George (5), and Eleanor (3).

Amy became a Marine combat pilot to fight and defend her country and now she is taking the fight to Washington to solve the problems Kentuckians face in their every-day lives. Amy was a registered independent for 12 years, so she always prioritizes practical solutions over partisan interests. She’s not running for Senate to get rich and join the Washington swamp. Amy is ready to take on career politicians like Mitch McConnell and bring accountability and leadership back to Kentucky.

To learn more go to amymcgrath.com.

Posted in 2020 election campaign, Progressive Community | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Medicaid MCOs Get Another Huge Raise

Image (2) MedicaidPrivatization-300x169.jpg for post 34454

Coming on the tail of an 8.4% raise to the MCOs last year, the administration of Governor Kim Reynolds awarded the MCOs a raise of 8.6% this year. In real dollars those numbers that is a raise of $344 million in 2018 and $386 million in 2019. In total that $730 million in RAISES in the past two years.  

The Medicaid program is not bringing in any more money. From my understanding Medicaid in Iowa is about a $5 billion a year proposition, so that $730 million in the last two years is coming from the program itself. That means that the patients in the medicaid program have taken approximately a 20% cut in funds that should be going to care.

From day one Iowa’s privatized medicaid program has been accused of huge cuts in service to patients, denials of service and long delays in paying provider bills. Taking another nearly $400 million from the patients this year is not going to make it any better. 

Unfortunately the people who are directly affected by the Medicaid shenanigans (taking public moneys and syphoning it to private companies) are often the people with the least voice in society. Thus their complaints are often ignored and go unreported.

I am not sure of this figure, but somewhere in my memory I seem to remember that the state was able to run the Medicaid program for about 2% or $100 million of the $5 billion fund. Just the last two raises equal about 8 times that figure and the MCOs (Managed Care Organizations) claim they are losing money on that. Sounds like they must have a real problem handling money to begin with.

According to Senate Democratic Leader Janet Pederson:  

“The outrageous contracts with two out-of-state corporations are more evidence that privatized Medicaid in Iowa is unsustainable, unaffordable and unpredictable,” said Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen.

Petersen said Governor Kim Reynolds and Republican lawmakers can’t back up their claims that privatizing Medicaid management would save the state money. She said the state-managed system costs grew an average of 5 percent each year in the 10 years before privatization.

A great timeline of Iowa’s involvement with the MCOs can be found here at the Iowa Public radio website.

As an aside as if things weren’t bad enough already for Medicaid in Iowa, remember that Republicans have a court case now before a three judge panel in the US 5th district to rule the ACA unconstitutional. Medicaid is directly tied to the ACA, so a ruling that the ACA is unconstitutional will no doubt greatly affect Medicaid in Iowa. 

Posted in #trumpresistance, Affordable Care Act, Republican Policy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Funday: Loose Screws Edition

Warning – Not safe for work due to language. George Carlin on finding himself: (4 minutes)

From CNN:  

A container of screws that fell off a vehicle and littered the roadway in Jackson County, Mississippi, caused flat tires along nearly 30 miles of interstate.

Mississippi Highway Patrol responded Tuesday after getting numerous calls about stranded motorists near the Pascagoula River Bridge. When officers arrived, they discovered sheet metal screws scattered across Interstate 10 West. In total, 36 passenger cars and three semis each had multiple flat tires.

“Wrecker response time was upwards to three hours for [motorists] waiting on tow trucks due to the number of calls for service,” the Mississippi Highway Patrol said in a statement.

Speaking of loose screws, guess who is still in charge.

  1. In one of the strangest press conferences ever, what cabinet officer defended his handling of the case of Jeffery Epstein?
  1. The USWNT won the World Cup. What country’s team did they beat in the finals?
  1. The USWNT’s coach, Jill Ellis, became the first coach to achieve what record in women’s soccer?
  1. 50 years ago this coming Saturday – July 20, 1969 – the world practically stood still as what event took place?
  1. Iowa’s second congressional district contest drew what big name Republican candidate last week?
  1. In a seeming capitulation, Dear Leader abandoned his quest to get what question on the census questionnaire?
  1. Following a rough week, what cabinet member resigned post Friday morning?
  1. Happy Birthday to what folk singer/ social activist who’ve us so many songs including “This Land Is Your Land”?
  1. As Dear Leader was giving a speech praising himself for his climate achievements, what was the weather in Washington, DC?
  1. Virginia governor Ralph Northam convened a special legislative session to deal with what issue that was highlighted by an event in Virginia Beach on May 31st?
  1. The cost of running Medicaid in Iowa went up by how much based on the new contract the state awarded to the MCOs?
  1. What once major news source for black Americans published its last print edition last Wednesday?
  1. Today is also the birthday of what only person who became president without ever being elected president or vice-president?
  1. New Orleans is reeling from the effects of what hurricane that hit this weekend?
  1. What person who ran an off-again, on-again campaign for president in 1992 died last week?
  1. One in, one out. What Democrat dropped out of the presidential race, while what other jumped in?
  1. In Oklahoma a man who was stopped for expired tags on his vehicle was found to have what dangerous substance in the car?
  1. The Seth Rich murder conspiracy story was revealed to be a total lie planted by what group and spread by Fox News?
  1. Senate candidate Amy McGrath raised $2.5 million in her quest to unseat what powerful Republican senator?
  1. US exports to what country dropped 31% in June from last June?

John Fugelsang on twitter

Remember, Evangelicals – Trump has expressed more public sympathy for Labor Secretary Alex Acosta – who illegally gave Epstein a slap on the wrist – than he has for Epstein’s rape victims.

Trump’s also criticized his own accusers’ looks more than he’s criticized Epstein’s rapes.

Answers:

  1. Labor secretary Alex Acosta
  1. The Netherlands
  1. Winning back-to-back World Cups
  1. The moon landing
  1. Former congressman from Illinois, Bobby Schilling
  1. The citizenship question
  1. Former labor secretary Alex Acosta
  1. Woody Guthrie
  1. DC got a month of rain in an hour while Dear Leader was praising himself.
  1. Guns. Republicans quickly blew the system up and adjourned.
  1. 8.6% or $386 million
  1. The Chicago Defender
  1. Gerald Ford
  1. Barry
  1. H. Ross Perot
  1. Swalwell dropped out, billionaire Tom Steyer jumped in
  1. Radioactive uranium along with a rattlesnake
  1. Russian Intelligence
  1. Mitch McConnell
  1. China – and just the other day Dear Leader said China was buying more……

Andy Borowitz: 

Following the resignation of its Ambassador to the United States, Kim Darroch, the government of the United Kingdom has disclosed that it has been unable to find a replacement for Darroch who does not also think that Donald J. Trump is a blithering idiot.

At a press conference at 10 Downing Street, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, revealed that the search for a new ambassador who does not believe that Trump is an imbecile has thus far come up empty.

“We did not want a repeat of the unfortunate Kim Darroch incident, so we made the first question on the job application, ‘Do you think Donald Trump is a moron?’ ” May said. “So far, none of the applicants has checked the ‘no’ box.”

Posted in #trumpresistance, Humor | Leave a comment

Rule Of Law? Pish!

While the video below isn’t directly related to the subject, it does have the flavor (3 minutes)

Republicans are great with little bumper sticker slogans. A few words that seemingly mean something almost as a guide for their actions. Sort of today’s version of “wise old sayings.” Someone makes up such a saying, it gets slapped on a bumper sticker and is then repeated ad infinitum by Republican candidates who have absolutely no intention to live by these words.

“Rule of Law” is one such phrase. This is a phrase that we have been exposed to for who knows how long. Hs it been since Reagan? Or was it something created to imply that President Clinton was a law ignorer?

Whatever caused the birth of this phrase, Republicans have ridden it hard while ignoring it themselves for the most part. The implication of the phrase is that those mouthing this phrase – frequently – are those who live by it. These are the people that follow the rule of law. Evidence comes down hard that the Republican Party uses this phrase only as a prop.

We see people like Chuck Grassley ignoring the dictates of the constitution on the appointment of judges. We see congress members like Duncan Hunter literally thumbing their noses at campaign laws to dip into the cash for a high life style.   

What Republicans mean by their little phrase is that they will throw the book at marginalized groups. If a person has enough money Republicans can be quite accommodating as we have seen throughout this administration.

It is almost as if this week Republicans want to illustrate just how they really view “rule of law.” The stories coming from south Florida and the Miami Herald about how the “rule of law” was bent to favor a very rich Jeffrey Epstein are overwhelming. Yet as overwhelming as the Epstein revelations have been, we also have the current president ready to defy a decision by the Supreme Court.

As most know, when the Supreme Court ended their session at the end of June, one of their very last decisions concerned whether a citizenship question should be included on the 2020 census. In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ruled that NO such a question should be on the census form.

The administration has refused to accept that ruling and appears poised to begin printing the forms with the question included. So we have a constitutional crisis – the executive branch thought the president plans to defy the judicial branch and its decision that the citizenship question on the census is not legal.

Once again the current president has moved this country into unknown territory by refusing to follow the law. Will the executive branch defy the Court and print the census questionnaires with the illegal question? If so, how could the judiciary possibly stop it? Could the Court stop the distribution? The president will be pushing for this to come to an impasse believing that the judicial branch will back down. (ed. note: The current president has withdrawn his threat to ignore this ruling for the present time.)

Whereas on one hand the current administration has chosen to defy Court orders, on the other hand the administration has chosen to use the judicial system to accomplish one of their wet dream goals of the past 10 years. That is ending the ACA. 

After failing to end the ACA through the normal means – legislatively – Republicans have teen to the path of trying to end it through a court decision. A three judge appellate court in the 5th circuit (Texas area) is now hearing the case that turns on whether the mandate for having insurance is still valid due to changes in tax laws passed by Republicans in December 2017 and signed into law.

A group of Republican governors and state attorney generals are behind this suit. The panel chosen to hear the case appears to be hand-picked to destroy the ACA. Should this happen the Republicans will be using the judiciary to do what they couldn’t do. Very possibly the question will end up before the Supreme Court again. This time there will be different players on the Court.

We could go into a long discussion of the ACA and SCOTUS, but the point is that the party of the “Rule of Law” is really the party that is determined to do whatever it damn well pleases no matter what. This makes the constitution not worth the paper it is written on.

Prior to the current administration we had leaders who would restrain themselves from stepping into the realm of the other two branches. Stepping over the invisible boundaries would break down the unwritten barriers that have kept our constitution as the supreme law and kept the concept of checks and balances from keeping one branch take over.

The current president could care less about boundaries and barriers and he especially doesn’t’t care about checks and balances. He cares about power and accumulating power into his office. The current president is slowly leading the country toward destroying the very foundations of our democracy.

“Rule of Law?” Isn’t that for little people?

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Corporate America Invented Christian America

Historian Kevin Kruse explains how Corporate America created what we call “Christian America.” (26 minutes):

So many of us want to know how our current alignments got to be the way they are. Some are somewhat easily explainable even if they are not logical. For instance business’ alignment with the Republican Party. While Republicans are well known as the party of cutting taxes, that policy also leads to much higher costs for businesses and almost inevitably lead to recessions and depressions which often wipe businesses out.

One alignment that has always tickled my curiosity is the alignment between christians and the Republican Party.  I could never understand what ever got these two entities together. Surely they are held together these days by anti-abortion stances and hate for gays especially and other groups of people in general. 

However, the Republican Party has never been exactly an organization that modeled Christian principles. Honestly, it has never been a secret that money gets a lot more love than Christ does in their circles.

So what was it that got these two seemingly disparate entities together into what seems to be a marriage made to conquer earth? It always helps to know where you have been to figure out where you are at.

The setting is the 1930s. America is reeling from a Great Depression that many feel was caused by bad monetary policies of successive Republican administrations and business excesses. Onto the scene steps President Franklin D. Roosevelt with his programs to attack the grinding poverty. 

Historian Kevin Kruse explains how even he was surprised to find that the roots of Christian America begins in corporate America’s reaction to FDR’s New Deal and the implicit challenge that government would be supplanting business. Note that the rise of Labor union power was one of the major drivers for corporate America to challenge FDR.

Kruse then goes into many of the events and people who then helped shape the “Christian” America over the next two decades that culminates in the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower and the change of the national motto to “In God We Trust” from “From many, one.” (E pluribus unum). Note also that Corporate America chose to exploit America’s trust in ministers.

This was a real eye opener for me. Another question I had always had was at what point did Catholics go from outsiders to part of the club. Kruse enlightens us on this also. Hint: it had nothing to do with President Kennedy.

I hope you enjoy this video and I hope it answers some questions about the unholy alliance between the Republican Party and Christians in America.

Kruse’s story ends with some reference to Nixon driving the Republican Party apart from the Christians. This then brings up the question of what reunited this alliance after Nixon poisoned it to some degree. To answer that question We turn to the Samantha Bee videos that I have posted here several times. It is the videos that explains how the Republican Party latched on to the abortion issue not as a matter of principle, but as a way to exploit the Christian vote. This also folded well into Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” that exploited race issues:

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Ernst Ignores Moms Against the Camps

Ernst makes 'em squeal.jpg

From dailykos.com by Gabe Ortiz:

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst initially refused to speak with more than 50 concerned Iowa mothers who converged on her Des Moines office this week to call on her to do something about the Trump administration’s inhumane treatment of migrant children in border facilities and prison camps across the U.S.

Ernst at first tossed the Moms Against the Camps activists to Corey Becker, an immigration policy staffer that activists found out once worked for noted white supremacist Rep. Steve King. When activists asked Becker “how Ernst’s immigration policy differs from Steve King,” Working Families advocate Shawn Sebastian tweeted, “he refused to answer because he felt it was ‘inappropriate.’”

Finally, “after 6.5 hours and about 100 Iowa moms passing through with their children,” Sebastian continued, Ernst agreed to a phone call the next day. It lasted just 20 minutes, with Ernst defending ICE terrorism against immigrant communities (“we need to keep Americans safe”) and taking the brave stance of opposing child abuse but asking them for “specific examples,” as if it hasn’t been all over the news recently. When they asked if Ernst could meet with them after reviewing conditions for herself, Sebastian said, she refused and hung up.

All the advocates wanted was for Ernst to put herself in the shoes of parents at the border for just one second, and some “carried signs that said, ‘What if it were Libby?’ referencing to Ernst’s daughter. ‘We need to ask her as a mother, would be she happy if her child was locked in a cage?’” said advocate Bonnie Brown.

Much much more at the link including twitter pics and the running story of the day.

The thing that stood out to me was that Ernst got upset and hung up on her constituents because “they are unwilling to listen.” Uh, Senator, your job is to listen to those you represent!

 

@shawnsebastian

Jul 10

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After 20 min @joniernst says”I am going to go because you are clearly unwilling to listen …” the #momsagainstthecamps ask if she will follow up with us after she visits the detention camps. Ernst refuses her own constituents and hangs up.

 

@shawnsebastian

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.@joniernst pushes back against holding ICE accountable shifting blame to the moms and children at the border, “We are a nation of laws.”

Draw your own conclusions on Ernst’s comment on “nation of laws.”

Joni Ernst simply refuses to represent Iowa and Iowans. She is representing the Koch brothers and the NRA. Iowans need to replace her. 

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