Al Franken’s Perfect Mitch Impression

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Iowa Republicans Ban Teaching Concepts No One Is Teaching

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The Biden Administration’s Agricultural Policies

Photo credit: Iowa Capital Dispatch

by Ralph Scharnau

Published with permission

About 20% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. Much of the rural land is arable and asset-rich, feeding and fueling the rest of the country. Rural places also provide opportunities for outdoor recreational activities.

The nation’s unique natural heritage received landmark status when Congress approved the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) in 1970. The act provides a broad national framework for preserving our landscapes. When the federal government seeks to undertake projects that modify natural surroundings, it must inform the public and permit commentary.

The provisions of NEPA were immediately addressed following the January 20, 2021 inauguration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The Biden-Harris administration officially opened a new era. Our natural environment had been repeatedly assaulted by the previous administration that gutted project public review and climate impacts and cut funding for oversight agencies. Biden moved quickly to restore environmental protections and rebuild America’s reputation as a global leader on nature preservation.

The Biden administration aims to make U.S. farming greener as part of a plan to curb planet-heating carbon emissions and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Practices like cover cropping and rotational grazing protect the soil from erosion. Along with increased efficiency and conservation measures and more energy renewable use, the ground, air, and water become more sustainable and less subject to pollution.

Expanding the above noted programs will require farmer support and significantly increased funding. Some farmers are concerned about the added costs and logistical challenges. Besides, greener farming equipment can be prohibitively expensive. The Biden administration hopes to offset these costs with incentives and paying for them by increased taxes on giant corporations

Critics of Biden’s farming initiatives say that he needs to provide a place at the negotiating table for small diversified vegetable farmers, regenerative ranchers, and organic crop growers. Thus far he, like his predecessors, only consult with the typical Farmers and Ranchers Roundtable that primarily represents large commodity producers.

The National Farmers Union and other progressive agencies advocate policies shifting away from monoculture commodity crops and toward more small, diversified farms that minimize inputs, raise animals on pasture, and sell food directly to their communities. All of this means reducing emissions and building soil that can hold carbon while increasing biodiversity.

Farm policy also has racial dimensions. After the Civil War, rural Black communities spread across the South and West, cultivating a variety of crops. By 1920 there were nearly a million Black farmers, with about a quarter of them landowners.

Jim Crow laws drove Black land-owning farmers to the brink of extinction. White backlash set in, and the Ku Klux Klan used fire bombs and armed intimidation to force Black farmers from their homes. Scores fled to cities in the North and West, where they established Black towns. These Black enclaves became flourishing centers of work, trade, commerce, and culture with operations ranging from banks to gift emporiums, and from law offices to blacksmith shops. Yet, even today Blacks and other people of color continue to face private and public instances of systemic racism.

There is a political divide on farm policies Republicans would spend less and cite the spectre of a radical/leftist/socialist philosophy while Democrats note the dangers posed by climate change and the necessity to take action to mitigate the devastating consequences of increasingly powerful and destructive weather events.

Natural areas provide food and clean air and water, providing a buffer against the worst impacts of climate change like severe drought and heavy rain.

Ralph Scharnau
June 3, 2021

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Howard Dean And Michael Steele Agree Republicans Don’t Care About Democracy

Former DNC chair Howard Dean and former RNC chair Michael Steele

Real talk about the Republican party. Watch the full video below from The Beat with Ari Melber.

Highlights:

Howard Dean: “We are watching something that we haven’t seen for a long time in this country but it happens in many democracies and it’s the weak point of democracies – when one side figures out how to use democracy to undermine democracy. So what these folks are doing is essentially what Hitler did, it’s what Victor Orban did in Hungary;  it’s what Kaczynski  is doing in Poland. Democracy dies because you no longer care about democracy. The Republicans have no commitment to democracy at this point – there are very few that do – Adam Kinzinger is standing up and Liz Cheney stood up for what is right but most of them are running around subservient to someone who never cared about democracy and that is Donald Trump. So this next few years is going to determine whether the United States survives as the cradle of democracy.

Michael Steele: “What do you think comes next? Where do we go from here? If you won’t shut up Trump saying he’s going to be reinstated in August.. kicking out Liz Cheney… What do you think comes next? This is a set up for something and we need to be prepared for whatever that something is. ”

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What A Week From Progress Iowa

Check out What a Week! by Progress Iowa

Happy Pride Month! This year, Pride is especially important as the LGBTQ community has had to face the wrath of Iowa Republicans and their attempted legislation. LGBTQ Iowans deserve to feel accepted in their own state.

Click here to listen to this week’s episode of What A Week produced by Progress Iowa and part of the Potluck Media Network.

Pride Month began on Tuesday to recognize the rights of the LGBTQ community and the resilience and strength it took to have these rights recognized. In honor of Pride Month, several Iowa organizations released an Iowa LGBTQ Media Guide to provide accurate information and encourage appropriate representation of the LGBTQ community.

Stimulus checks have been proven to significantly reduce hardships, according to the Census Bureau. The two most recent checks aligned with food shortages falling by 42 percent and anxiety and depression even falling by more than 20 percent. This is significant as all of the Representatives and Senators from Iowa, except for Rep. Cindy Axne, voted against the most recent check.

The Tulsa Race Massacre occurred 100 years ago, when the wealthiest Black community in the US was burned to the ground and many Black Americans were murdered. This tragedy shows the reality we live in, with systematic racism being especially prevalent, as this massacre has been hidden from history.

Efforts to expand vaccination rates are underway as many sports teams and companies are offering free tickets, drinks, and more to vaccinated individuals. President Biden also announced this week that if the U.S. reached the goal of 70% of adults being vaccinated by July 4, Anheuser-Busch will give a free drink to all individuals over 21-years-old.

Gov. Reynolds disappointed Iowans once again as she refused to create incentives, such as a lottery, to increase vaccination rates. This refusal to take action against COVID-19 has become a strong pattern in the Reynolds administration.

Stay tuned for more next week, and if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to the What A Week podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you listen.

To celebrate Pride Month, we would greatly appreciate if you could support great organizations in Iowa including One Iowa and Iowa Safe Schools.

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Reynolds Continues Stink-o Leadership

About all that Kim Reynolds has done during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis in Iowa has been to grab opportunities to advance her name while actually doing little in the way of helping Iowans crawl out from under the weight of the pandemic.

Her early decisions to force Iowa meat packing plants to remain open with little mitigation of conditions that were helping to spread the disease helped put Iowa in the upper echelon of deaths per population in the US. Her slow response to deaths in old age homes also contributed to that sad statistic.

She has used funds from the federal government meant to be spent to battle the virus instead to pay staff and upgrade an IT system. This was later pointed out by State Auditor Rob Sand to be an illegal use of the funds. The state had to return the money.

As reported by TV station KTIV:  

DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) – Gov. Kim Reynolds has directed the Department of Management to return $21 million to Iowa’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Back in October, Iowa’s auditor warned that the governor’s decision to spend $21 million in federal pandemic relief funds on a new executive branch software system would not be allowed and should be abandoned.

State Auditor Rob Sand said that using the federal money to pay for Workday was an inappropriate use under the law. In a letter sent to the director of the Iowa Department of Management, Sand advised that the millions of dollars used for the system was not allowed under CARES Act expenditure requirements.

Fast forward to today and we find the Governor once again being cited by the State Auditor for questionable use of state funds. In this case Reynolds has been cited by Rob Sand for using state funds to promote herself. From the Iowa Capitol Dispatch:  

The governor’s “Step Up, Stop The Spread” media campaign, which was announced in November 2020, was part of an effort to encourage Iowans to do their part in slowing the spread of the virus.

According to Sand’s report, Reynolds spent more than $500,000 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. Specifically, money from the act’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Enhancing Detection supplement were used for the campaign, with $152,585 of the total spent on television, radio and internet advertisements.

In questioning the legality of that expenditure, Sand cited a state law that says statewide elected officials “shall not permit the expenditure of public moneys under the control of the statewide elected official for the purpose of any paid advertisement or promotion bearing the written name, likeness, or voice of the statewide elected official.”

The law goes on to say that any official who willfully violates the statute “shall be subject to a civil penalty of an amount up to the amount of moneys used to fund the communication,” with the penalty paid by the official’s political candidate’s committee.

To go along with that the state of Iowa is falling far short of goals set by the governor for percent of population vaccinated. This should be of little surprise considering that Reynolds has spent much of the past year pretending the corona virus was not a big deal. Now when she wants to feather her cap with gaudy vaccination numbers, many Iowans still think that the virus is not serious or is a hoax. You reap what you sow, Governor.

At a time when leadership and ideas are desperately needed, Reynolds refuses to adapt any programs that have shown to be successful in other states. As pointed out by startinglineiowa:  

With vaccination rates stalling and demand plummeting in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters yesterday she doesn’t plan to offer incentives for getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

That means no lottery, no giveaways, no cash payments.

Reynolds said pop-up clinics at sporting events and the Des Moines farmer’s market are enough to catch those who haven’t yet taken advantage of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re still doing everything we can,” she said at an event yesterday. “We are working with every venue we can.”

Pop-up clinics at sporting events and Des Moines farmer’s markets? She just doesn’t get it does she? She is out of touch with Iowa, but in touch with the Trump wing of the Republican Party that could care less about you or your family or the concept of following laws. For Iowa’s sake she must be replaced as soon as possible.

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Sunday Funday: Remembering D-Day Edition

WW2 – D-Day. Invasion of Normandy [Real Footage in Colour] (4.5 minutes)

There is not much I can say to add to the solemnity of this day. Most of the brave soldiers that stormed Omaha Beach that day have passed on. All they left us was a legacy of democracy and the end of the worst monster who ever walked the world stage. For that we thank you very much. Let us all strive to be worthy of that legacy.

Yes we will include some D-Day and WW2 questions today.

A)  The Us Army Corp of Engineers proposed building a 6 mile, 20 foot high, $6 billion seawall within 5 years to protect what coastal city?

B) Here we go again. Every presidential year states start changing first primary or caucus dates to precede Iowa or Vermont. Which state has already taken that step for 2024?

C) Everybody else versus the Prime Minister. In Israel, all opposition parties formed a coalition in order to remove what long standing Prime Minister?

D) In a surprise turnabout, what country has updated its two child policy (that was once a one child policy) to a 3 child policy?

E) President Biden commemorated war dead at Arlington National Cemetery. To whom did the land for Arlington Cemetery once belong?

F) How many troops from the Allies (US, Britain & Canada) invaded Europe on June 6, 1944?

G) Facebook has suspended Donald Trump until 2023 for what reason?

H) In a special election in New Mexico to replace Interior Secretary Deb Haaland the Democrat won by 25%. What reason was given for Republicans not showing up?

I) Democrats in the Texas House walked out of a late session in order to stop the passage of what bill by the Texas House?

J) What Iowa based company is offering a $10 gift card to those who get a corona virus vaccine?

K) To deflect a full force defense by the Nazis on D-Day, the Allies created a fake invasion plan that was headed up by what highly feared American General?

L) What meat packing giant with plants in Iowa was shut down after ransomware attacks on the company?

M) A study by The Washington Post showed what major warehousing company had injury rates far above industry norms?

N) What blogger abandoned his blog less than a month into the effort?

O) How soon after the D-Day invasion did the War end in Europe?

P) The President and First Lady celebrated the First Lady’s birthday with a bike ride in Delaware. How old is the First Lady?

Q) Vice President Kamala Harris was tasked by the President to lead the Administraion’s effort on what critical issue?

R) What city was the focus of media last Monday as commemorations of a century old massacre of black citizens took place?

S) The FDA recommends NOT eating cicadas if you are allergic to what other type of food?

T) Where is the National D-Day Memorial?

The largest meatpacker in the world was shut down by an attack from a Russian group of cyber hackers.

So, turns out it wasn’t Biden coming for conservatives’ burgers – it was Putin. – Wallis Weaver

Answers:

A) Miami Florida. Climate Change, folks

B) Nevada has moved up its primary date before all other contests

C) Bibi Netanyahu

D) China

E) Confederate General Robert E. Lee. 

F) 153,000 (73,000 Americans)

G) Because he is a public risk

H) Stories of election irregularities made them believe their votes wouldn’t be counted

I) Voter suppression bills

J) Hy-Vee

K) George Patton

L) JBS

M) Amazon

N) Donald Trump

O) less than a year (May 8, 1945)

P) just turned 70

Q) Voting Rights

R) Tulsa Oklahoma

S) Seafood

T) Bedford, Virginia. The spot was selected because this community suffered the highest losses on D-Day in proportion to its populace.

As bad as attacking the Capitol was, pretending it didn’t happen, and doing nothing about it, that’s far worse. – Jeremy Newberger

A reminder that Obamacare is on the Supreme Court cases to be decided this month:

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Reminder: Scott County – Three More Days To Sign Petition To Elect Auditor

This is a reminder that residents of Scott County have until 4:30 PM on Tuesday to sign petitions to force a special election to replace the retiring Roxanna Moritz as Scott County Auditor.  

From an email from the Johnson County Democrats:

Action alert from Johnson County Dems

## Republican Cronyism in Scott County, and How To Stop It

Our friends in Scott County need our help.

An elected Democrat has held the office of Scott County Auditor for many decades. (I’m not exaggerating – this has been true since at least 1977.) After the current Democratic auditor Roxanna Moritz announced that she would resign her office earlier this year, it was clear that a Democrat would be elected to take her place.

Enter the Scott County Board of Supervisors, which is currently 3R – 2D. They convened to decide on how Moritz’s seat would be filled. Can you guess what they decided to do?

From Laura Belin’s report in Bleeding Heartland:

Scott County’s three Republican supervisors voted on May 25 to appoint Kerri Tompkins as the county’s new auditor, having considered no other candidates for the position, and giving members of the public no opportunity to comment.

…The three Republicans on the five-member board did not solicit applications for the vacancy or interview candidates. Rather, they decided to appoint Tompkins in a backroom deal, possibly violating Iowa’s open records law in the process.

They’re trying to shove one of their friends into the seat because they know they can’t win a special election. We know what Republicans do when they control voting systems: they disenfranchise as many Democrats as they can, and they implement every single barrier to voting that their handlers at the Heritage Foundation tell them to set up.

Scott County is the third-largest county in the state in terms of population; it’s no mystery why Republicans want one of their cronies to be handling elections over there when Kim Reynolds is on the ballot again next year.

The only way that Scott County voters can force a special election is to gather over 10,000 signatures by petition quickly. The Scott County Democrats are in the middle of just such a petition drive right now, and they need all the help they can get to pull it off.

If you have friends, relatives, or Democratic-sympathetic connections in Scott County, please direct them to the general petition drive signup link here. 

Please spread the word about the effort on social media. If you’re in Scott County often (or just want to drive up to help out this weekend), please sign up and help them gather signatures!

One final note: our IDP Chair, Ross Wilburn, will be joining one of the petition signing events in Davenport this Sunday (June 6th). You can sign up for that event by clicking here.

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D-Day: Five Months Since The Attempted Coup

Tomorrow is the 77th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Europe by the Allies in World War 2. This is a day that looms large in our family because my late father-in-law was among those who stormed the beach. As I have mentioned before he seldom spoke of his war experiences. It was too painful for him.

As I was thinking about this the other day it struck me that one of the most somber and important days in American and world history – June 6, 1944 – and one the most despicable days in American History – January 6, 2021 with just happened on the 6th of a month.

Not much to make a connection on. But as we come to the commemoration of D-Day, my mind couldn’t help but go back to the bravery of our soldiers in WW2 and juxtapose that with the – what? – cowardice and failure to stand up for America when they Trump Party used the cover of the BS senate filibuster rules to attempt to avoid and cover over any investigation of the January 6th attempted overthrow of our government.

Hard to think of the incredible bravery of our soldiers on June 6th, 1944 and then think of the cowardice of today’s politics without getting really mad. How many men gave their lives on D-Day? How many families were ripped apart that day? Then to have their memories just besmirched in such a way.

Don’t forget that what happened on January 6th was an actual attempt to overthrow our elected government and install an oligarchy. And as the Trump Party continues to obstruct justice, the big lie that gave birth to the overthrow attempt continues to incite folks who seem to still be willing to believe it.

Plus, as Trump himself and right wing media continue to fan the flames, at the state level laws are being passed that not only suppress voters but also have provisions that will give power to unelected bodies to be able to overturn the will of the voters. Unconscionable!

D-Day is one of the three highest of patriotic days that occur each year in the summery months. Memorial Day, D-Day and Independence Day. This year each of these should cause us to think on what has happened, and what is happening to our country that will end our democracy.

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Urgent Action Alert: Help Stop Republican Power Grab In Scott County

Action alert from Johnson County Democrats. Scott County needs help collecting 10,000 signatures to force a special election or they will have a Republican auditor appointed by Republicans during the next election.

Republican Cronyism in Scott County, and How To Stop It

Our friends in Scott County need our help.

An elected Democrat has held the office of Scott County Auditor for many decades. (I’m not exaggerating – this has been true since at least 1977.) After the current Democratic auditor Roxanna Moritz announced that she would resign her office earlier this year, it was clear that a Democrat would be elected to take her place.

Enter the Scott County Board of Supervisors, which is currently 3R – 2D. They convened to decide on how Moritz’s seat would be filled. Can you guess what they decided to do?

From Laura Belin’s report in Bleeding Heartland:

Scott County’s three Republican supervisors voted on May 25 to appoint Kerri Tompkins as the county’s new auditor,
having considered no other candidates for the position, and giving members of the public no opportunity to comment.

…The three Republicans on the five-member board did not solicit applications for the vacancy or interview candidates. Rather, they decided to appoint Tompkins in a backroom deal, possibly violating Iowa’s open records law in the process.

They’re trying to shove one of their friends into the seat because they know they can’t win a special election. We know what Republicans do when they control voting systems: they disenfranchise as many Democrats as they can, and they implement every single barrier to voting that their handlers at the Heritage Foundation tell them to set up.

Scott County is the third-largest county in the state in terms of population; it’s no mystery why Republicans want one of their cronies to be handling elections over there when Kim Reynolds is on the ballot again next year.

The only way that Scott County voters can force a special election is to gather over 10,000 signatures by petition quickly. The Scott County Democrats are in the middle of just such a petition drive right now, and they need all the help they can get to pull it off.

If you have friends, relatives, or Democratic-sympathetic connections in Scott County, please direct them to the general petition drive signup link here.

Please spread the word about the effort on social media. If you’re in Scott County often (or just want to drive up to help out this weekend), please sign up and help them gather signatures!

One final note: our IDP Chair, Ross Wilburn, will be joining one of the petition signing events in Davenport this Sunday (June 6th). You can sign up for that event by clicking here.

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