Katie Porter Represents Disenfranchised Iowans

Since Iowa has no Democratic representation in congress right now, we are forced to live vicariously through Katie Porter.  Unfortunately, if you watch the video you will also have to listen to Republicans.

May as well enjoy some Led Zepplin while we wait and see if the country will survive.


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Jennifer Konfrst Goes On Offense On Iowa Press

Rep. Jennifer Konfrst

I would say House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst killed it on this weekend’s edition of Iowa Press. I hope that those of you who have said you no longer watch the show because it is worthless or too frustrating, will watch this episode because she was amazing.

Normally I do a fairly long rant about Iowa Press on Mondays. But today I’ll just post my worst question award that goes to panel member Clay Masters of Iowa Public Radio, followed by my favorite answer by the guest, Jennifer Konfrst.

Watch the program. There is so much more to see that will get your blood boiling if you like that kind of thing.

Worst Question:

Clay Masters felt obliged to tell us that he has heard from listeners – more than one actually, so possibly as many as two – or did Jeff Kaufmann contact him twice? – who think Democrats complain too much about the Republican trifecta induced legislation.  He was wondering what Democrats’ ideas might be.  Apparently, all you have to do is you and one of your friends contact Masters and give him your opinion about Republicans, and you could get your talking point on the air during the next show when he’s interviewing a Republican.. but somehow I doubt it.

Best Answer:

Paraphrasing Konfrst’s response – I thought you’d never ask….

Konfrst:  “.. We’re not just complaining. We’re being proactive about what we would do. We introduced legislation all session that was ignored by republicans but is wanted by the majority of Iowans. So, the question should be to republicans, why aren’t you doing what Iowans are asking you to do? I knocked on a lot of doors. They talked to me about affordable housing. They talked to me about reproductive freedom over and over and over again. The legislature did nothing on those issues this year. They took a page from a national playbook, ran a bunch of bills that were written by someone else out of state and they’re running a campaign for the special interests. We’re running to serve Iowans.”

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School Voucher Law Yet Another Far Right Scam

Comments on school voucher bill from January (2:30):

As if anyone should be surprised, the law granting vouchers to parents sending their children to private schools appears to be turning into a scam that will take tax dollars from Iowa’s poor and middle class and funneling that money to to Iowas wealthier citizens who can pay for private schools anyway.

Whether or not it was this was the effect that legislators and the governor expected, it became a reality as private schools across the state raised their tuition fees. Had the so-called individual education savings accounts been able to totally cover tuition before, it is doubtful they will now.

Most poor and middle class families do not have any extra money to be paying any tuition. Thus their dreams of escaping an envisioned failing public school system (as painted by far right wing  MAGA politicians around the country) for a much better private school system has been bashed as the private schools have raised tuitions once again out of the reach of those that the far right claimed this bill would help.

Let me point out that in Iowa while the right has done what it could to starve the public school system, it is still robust in Iowa. It is nothing like right wing media describes it. Nor are private schools all better than any public school. Also do not forget that private schools do not answer to a school board or any public. They answer to a board of directors as any business does.

Having said all that, by raising tuitions, private schools once again priced themselves above he poor and middle class. Thus private schools will be the home of the progeny of the wealthy. Thanks to the voucher bill passed by the legislature last January and promptly signed by the governor, those wealthy will have some portion of their school costs underwritten by taxpayers that did not underwrite those costs last year.

Gee, who could have seen that coming? Well, most Iowans among others. 

A huge thanks here to iowastartingline.com for putting some real numbers on the discussion of tuitions. Without that the discussion is esoteric. So what did ISL find for actual tuitions? Here we go:

Starting Line examined dozens of Iowa private school websites, school board minutes, brochures, annual reports, recruiting materials, and other publicly available resources to find and compare high school* tuition rates for the 2022-23* and 2023-24 school years, the latter being when the vouchers kick in.  And just as a reminder, private schools are private businesses, so even with public funding, they are not required to adhere to the same transparency standards as public schools, so the availability of data will vary by school. *unless otherwise noted.

Here’s what we found:

  • Bishop Heelan High School in Sioux City: 2022-2023 tuition rate, $7,980**. 2023-24 tuition rate, $9,900** ($7,600 state voucher plus $2,300). A 24% increase.  **Bishop Heelan waives additional fees for non-parish members or non-Catholics who pay the full tuition rate.

  • Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines: 2022-23 tuition rates: $9,132 for parish families and $12,776 for non-parish families.  2023-24 tuition rates: $9,588 for parish families and $13,416 for non-parish families. A 5% increase for non-parish families and a 4.9% increase for parish families.

  • Des Moines Christian School:  2022-23 tuition rate: $11,236. 2023-24 tuition rate: $12,360. A 10% increase. These rates are only for full-time, domestic students and do not include additional fees.

Much more at the link. It is eye opening and well worth a look.

So here we go again. The extreme right sells us a bill of goods that they claim is an improvement. Yet in reality it is a bill that does 2 things:

  • Dismantles the one proud public school system in Iowa and
  • Moves money from the poor to the rich using government as the toll to do this.

One other quick comment. This is also a scheme to pass public money to religious institutions which sure smells like a violation of the first amendment.

Gee, what a surprise.

Posted in church and state, Iowa legislature 2023, Kim Reynolds | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Funday: AAPI History Month Edition

3 minutes:

Just found out this is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month. Never knew it existed until now. Glad to see it. It is interesting that in our family as it has grown over the years we have people from many different backgrounds, including AAPI. As usual we will try to dig up some trivia about AAPI in the US.

But once again the scoundrels that call themselves the extremist Republicans are dominating news as they gear up for yet another attempt to undermine the country.

A) Today we can start with the former Mayor of NYC. He was sued last week by a former staffer for what?

B) Among  Giuliani conversations recorded and brought in evidence in this suit included one where Giuliani and Trump discussed selling what for $2 million?

C) The attempt to ban sales of mifepristone is back in court at the appeals level. The attempt to ban this drug is based on a 150 year old law known as what?

D) Look who got out of jail! What Trump associate was released – at least for a while – from jail Wednesday?

E) Who filed impeachment articles against President Biden last week?

F) What prosecutor in one of the Trump trials has requested extra security for he office for August?

G) What year did Hawaii become a US state?

H) Retiring U of Iowa professor Chris Jones will have a book published June 1st that will explore environmental water problems in Iowa. What is the name of the book?

I) President Biden attended the G7 conference in Japan last week. Among other activities Biden laid a wreath at what WWII Memorial in Japan?

J) Who made an unexpected appearance at the G7 conference?

K) Who is the highest ranking AAPI current member of the US government?

L) In the really strange case of the claims of a Biden family corruption ring, Republicans lost what key piece of evidence last week? (This includes our Senator Grassley)

M) President Biden will cut his trip to the G7 conference due to what?

N) Rumors flew that what Fox commentor had been fired after her show was no longer in the Fox evening lineup?

O) George Santos isn’t the only representative to possibly be facing expulsion. What the US rep has had a motion filed against him for expulsion?

P) After 4+ years and millions of taxpayer dollars who filed a report that said investigators did nothing wrong?

Q) Who was the first Asian American to win an Emmy award?

R) In the category of ‘it makes sense to a Republican’ Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin stated that “lack evidence indicated” who “was guilty.”?

S) Staffers in the district office of what Virginia congress member were attacked by an assailant with a baseball bat?

T) What former football star and civil rights leader died in his sleep Friday at age 87?

Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy are responsible for a QUARTER OF OUR NATION’S ENTIRE DEBT and Republicans want to cut YOUR social security to pay for it, and that’s what this debt ceiling bullsh*t is all about. f-ing unacceptable. – Jeff Tiedrich


A) Sexual harassment, wage theft and other misconduct

B) Pardons. Trump and Giuliani would split the money

C) Comstock Act

D) Allen Weisselberg

E) Margery Taylor Greene. She also filed impeachment articles against FBI Director Chris Wray

F) Fani Willis in Fulton County, Georgia

G) 1959

H) The Swine Republic

I) At the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima Japan

J) Ukraine President Zelensky

K) Kamala Harris

L) their informant 

M) the debt ceiling negotiations here in the US

N) Laura Ingraham. Fox says she has not been fired. Another missing person?

O) Adam Schiff of California. Republican Ana Luna filed the motion for Schiff’s role in Trump’s first impeachment.

P) Investigator John Durham. His investigation turned up nothing

Q) Pat Morita for “Happy Days”

R) Biden. Yep lack of evidence indicates that Biden is corrupt. Diabolical, don’tchya think?

S) Gerry Connelly

T) Jim Brown

They didn’t produce a budget. What they did was produce a ransom note. That’s what the ‘default on America act’ is. And effectively, what they’re saying to the people is either you accept these dramatic cuts or accept a catastrophic default. – Speaker Hakeem Jeffries

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Couple Of Notes From The Science World

Even as the extreme right MAGAs try to undermine science on all fronts, science still marches on. Here are a few things I just wanted to make sure you hear about so it doesn’t get drowned out in all the noise out there

First – You know those electric battery cars that we are planning on to be the way we cut a huge amount of climate changing gasses that are emitted into the air? Well it looks like the world’s largest battery maker (CATL) will be start making batteries this summer that will up the power and range of their batteries. This is a game changer:

In one of the most significant battery breakthroughs in recent years, the world’s largest battery manufacturer CATL has announced a new “condensed” battery with 500 Wh/kg which it says will go into mass production this year.

CATL’s new condensed battery will have almost double the energy intensity of Tesla’s 4680 cells, whose rating of 272-296 Wh/kg are considered very high by current standards.

During the presentation, CATL said its working with partners on the development of electric passenger aircraft practicing aviation-level standards and testing in accordance with aviation-grade safety and quality requirements.

In addition to aircraft, CATL says it will soon launch the automotive-grade version of condensed batteries which it says will also go into mass production within this year.

With the density CATL’s batteries battery powered flight and sea craft are possible – very exciting.

In another area some exciting news out of Boston from last summer look to be coming to fruition. You may remember that some sketchy information about a true Covid vaccine coming out last summer. We had an update just last week, and thing’s are looking promising. The following article has a lot of information and I suggest you read the full article. But here are a couple of paragraphs to whet your appetite:

A new way to neutralize

What characteristics make SP1-77 so efficient at neutralizing the virus? Through the combined efforts of structural biology studies conducted by teams led by Bing Chen, the Rosalind Franklin, PhD Professor of Pediatrics at Boston Children’s; Jun Zhang, HMS instructor in pediatrics at Boston Children’s; and Barton Haynes at Duke, it was discovered that this antibody functions in a distinct manner.

For SARS-CoV-2 to infect human beings, it must first bind to ACE2 receptors on our cells. Many of the antibodies produced in response to vaccines, as well as those used in the treatment of COVID-19, inhibit this binding process. They achieve this by attaching to the spike’s receptor-binding domain at specific sites.

The SP1-77 antibody, however, interacts with the receptor-binding domain in a unique way that does not stop the virus from binding to ACE2 receptors.

So how would it protect us?

After the virus attaches itself to ACE2, it has to perform a concluding process: integrating its exterior membrane with the membrane of our cells. This effectively paves the way for infection. With the help of a unique live-cell imaging platform, Alex Kreutzberger, an instructor in pediatrics at Boston Children’s from HMS, and Tomas Kirchhausen, a professor of cell biology at the Blavatnik Institute at HMS and also a professor of pediatrics at Boston Children’s, demonstrated that SP1-77 halts this process.

This is just a short blurb on a couple of what should be game changers from the world of science.


Posted in Blog for Iowa | 1 Comment

Comment Evokes Some Deep Thoughts

“A patchwork” (2 minutes):

Does this ever happen to you? I bet it does. A question from a friend sent me off into a lengthy period of deep thought. The question was simply “What kind of Medicare supplement do  you have?”

For such a simple question it sure evoked a ton of thoughts. My first thought was ‘for gawd’s sake don’t get tangled up in any of that so-called Medicare Advantage which is not Medicare and the only advantage is to the giant corporations that are once again controlling your health. “

Knowing the questioner I really had little concern that would happen, but stated that warning anyway. But then other thoughts around the laughingly called “health care system” that we have in the United States. Our health care system is a series of often disconnected practitioners all trying to improve a person yet often missing the connecting problem. 

Medicare is perhaps the best health care system we have in the US for what it costs, yet to get the best coverage you still have to pay for a supplemental insurance and  a drug insurance policy to get the maximum mileage out of Medicare and those aren’t cheap. Plus there is no dental, vision or hearing coverage all of which can be critical to senior health. 

The thought of all those additional insurances that are needed to make Medicare really work made me think of the many proposals that have come to the fore in recent years only to be beaten back by the regressive far right Republican Party plus a few misguided Democratic politicians. 

As I have said many times before, we pay twice as much as any other country for health care and we get 1/2 of the benefits that other countries get. That makes our health care a long ways from being as effective as it could be. As noted above critical dental, sight and hearing problems are often ignored or put on the back burner due to costs. This does not happen in other first world countries.

As extreme right wing MAGA Republicans threaten to totally crash the nation’s economy, I just can’t help but think that if they had not purposely driven the country deeply into debt and given massive tax cuts to the wealthy what kind of a health system could America afford.

Driving the country deeply into debt was not an accident, it was a strategy. The far right’s calculation that as the debt grew to humongous proportions, those on the left would have to give up their beliefs that government could be a tool to level the playing field for the poor. Having comprehensive and universal healthcare would be a big component of that leveling.

So over the past several decades Democrats have proposed various forms of Medicare For All, perhaps best epitomized by Bernie Sanders proposal that is a fairly simple and straight forward proposal that covers all citizens in all aspects of health. That would include dental, sight and hearing along with the other basics.

This is what other first world countries do. In the US our health care system is throttled by a few extremely wealthy individuals and corporations that can buy politicians. Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of they whole system is that for much less than what we pay now, we could have a fully functioning health care system. Were the extreme far right truly concerned about the budget and deficits and debt, they would see Medicare For All as a no0brainer.

But the far right will not budge. They refuse to even discuss a truly universal health care system that would save us money and lives. As they hold the economy hostage what were once achievable dreams such as universal health care, free high quality public schools through 4 years of college and good housing for all seem to have faded in light of the right wing’s dominance of the political system and their threats to the political world.

I bring this up now because even though it seems like the next election is an eon away it is actually only 18 months. Government led by Democrats can resurrect these dreams so that the US can once again reach for the dreams like universal health care. We need to turn away from the hate and fear that the far right runs their party with. We need to dream again and work to achieve those dreams.

President Biden gets it. Young people get it.What was once the middle class is starting to wake up to what can be. Stand up and speak out. We want an America where health care is available to all and covers all aspects of health care, including abortions, including dental, hearing and sight. 

Let the Democrats show you how we can have better care and lower costs. It has been done everywhere else. It can be done here with the right leadership.

Posted in debt ceiling, Health Care & Medicare, Medicare for all | Tagged | Leave a comment

Beaker Street Remembered

Friday love to BFIA readers.  If you’re of a certain age you remember historic Beaker Street well. If not check out this podcast anyway for some radio history.  Beaker Street was on K double A Y, Little Rock, Arkansas.  Seems like it came on around 11:00 or  midnight. KAAY is now a Christian talk radio station. Listen to the sound of Beaker Street in the podcast at about 12:45. And you can still stream great music at Arkansas Rocks FM.  Be sure and check out Podcast by George! on YouTube.

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Another Bad Vote By Miller-Meeks

Hey voters in Iowa Congressional District 1, your accidental congress person Mariannette Miller-Meeks just voted to keep professional liar George Santos in congress.  This and many other bad votes mean she and George both do not belong in congress.  Democrats need only five seats to flip the House. Here are the details from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – DCCC.  You know what to do.


Mariannette Miller-Meeks Stands With George Santos, Votes to Protect Serial Liar

Miller-Meeks, House Republicans back George Santos in U.S. House

Today, Marianne Miller-Meeks voted to protect serial liar George Santos just a week after Santos was indicted on 13-counts by federal prosecutors and admitted guilt to criminal charges in Brazil.

House Democrats introduced a privileged resolution to expel Santos from Congress on Tuesday to ensure the people of New York’s Third Congressional district have a voice in Congress. Miller-Meeks and a majority of House Republicans voted to refer the resolution to the House Ethics Committee, thereby delaying accountability for voters in his district.

A motion to refer expulsion to the Ethics Committee only serves to protect Santos for the remainder of his term.

DCCC spokesperson Nebeyatt Betre:
“Marianne Miller-Meeks voted to protect the lies, deceit, and disgrace of George Santos in the U.S. House of Representatives. Miller-Meeks is too weak to stand up to her Washington party bosses – and Southeast Iowans will remember.”

REMINDER: George Santos has been charged with wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and making false statements to Congress. Last month, Santos announced his intention to run for re-election, and has repeatedly stated he has no plans to resign.

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Local Panel Discusses AI On Ethical Perspectives

“ChatBot Boundaries”
Ethical Perspectives On the News – 05.14.2023 – KCRG Cedar Rapids
Inter-Religious Council of Linn County

Moderator: Beth Parker
Dara Schmidt, Cedar Rapids Public Library Director;
Leon Tabak, Professor of Computer Science Cornell College;
Jackson, 9th grade student;
Nicholas Johnson, Former FCC & Cyberlaw Professor.

This was a fascinating discussion.

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Democrats Highlight Positives In 2023 Legislative Session

From our inbox:  Here is a summary by Iowa House Democrats of the 2023 session which has been called “the most harmful and destructive in our state’s history.” 

Follow Iowa House Dems on Facebook and Twitter


When the 2023 Iowa Legislature began in January, Democratic lawmakers focused on putting people over politics by acknowledging that Iowans are tired of politics as usual and vowed to listen to Iowans.

Democrats heard from many Iowans this session who were frustrated by Governor Reynolds and Republican lawmakers continuously playing politics with people’s lives, which included:

  • Vouchers to shift money from public schools to private schools (HF 68)
  • Taking away food from kids and seniors (SF 494)
  • Rolling back child labor laws, and allow minors to serve alcohol (SF 542)
  • Stripping power from state auditor to allow waste, fraud, and abuse of state taxpayer dollars (SF 478)
  • Banning books in public schools & instruction on AIDS/HIV and HPV vaccine (SF 496)
  • Consolidating the Governor’s power while eliminating workplace & retirement protections for some workers (SF 514)
  • Writing LGBTQ+ Iowans and families out of history and public schools (SF 496)
  • Freezing funds for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offices at state universities, which also support Iowa businesses (SF 560)
  • Banning parents from deciding on healthcare for LGBTQ+ kids (SF 538)

Democratic legislators worked on a host of bills this session that received overwhelming support from across the state, including lowering costs for Iowans, investing in public schools, protecting reproductive freedom, and legalizing marijuana. Here are just a few highlights of bipartisan work that got done this session:

  • Property tax relief for seniors, vets, middle-class Iowans, and those on a fixed income (HF 718)
  • Suicide hotline number on student ID cards (HF 602)
  • Expand access to healthcare in rural areas by designating facilities as Rural Emergency Hospitals (SF 75)
  • Expand mental health services via a multi-state counselor compact (HF 671)
  • Increased penalties for human trafficking crimes and sexual exploitation of a minor (SF 84, HF 630)

Before session begins next January, Democratic lawmakers will be touring the state and knocking on doors to listen to Iowans about what’s important to them.


House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst is back this Tuesday, May 16 at 7pm to give you an update on the end of the 2023 Legislative Session and where we go next.

Watch live on Facebook


ADDITIONAL TOWN HALLS SCHEDULED: We are continuing our town hall tour! Reminder that this weekend, Saturday, May 20, we will be in the Quad Cities at 1pm. We will also be in Muscatine, Clinton, Washington, and Fairfield in the coming months!

PEOPLE OVER POLITICS: Iowa House Democrats fought hard and offered common sense ideas to improve the lives of Iowans. We’re going to keep listening, speaking out, and putting people over politics.

NEW STATE REP. ADAM ZABNER REFLECTS ON FIRST LEGISLATIVE SESSION: “Attacks on trans youth, taxpayer money for private schools, and an erosion of oversight in state government are just a few of the backward steps that Republicans took this session.”

WATCH LEADER KONFRST’S END OF SESSION SPEECH: House Democratic Leader Rep. Jennifer Konfrst gave her end-of-session speech where she reflected on the divisive agenda pushed by GOP leaders, and highlighted the places where we could and did find some common ground.

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