Sunday Funday: Sorry I Was Away Edition

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two weeks left 

I feel it necessary to explain to those who enjoy this little quiz just what happened the last couple of weeks:

  1. Thanksgiving and a house crawling with family followed by:
  2. A series of computer troubles set off by one of those family members being a nice guy and upgrading my ancient system without telling me. Well, I needed a new one anyway…… (note to the administration: I do have a need for one piece of coal. Could I get it by December 24th?)

Right now the sun is setting at its earliest times and will do so for a few more days. I intend to enjoy these days in front of a warm, crackling TV set.

Just wish the world would slow down for a few days. I can’t keep up anymore.

1. Just who was chosen as TIME’s person of the year?

2. When is the vote to fill Session’s senate seat in Alabama?

3. How many House Democrats supported a resolution to impeach the president on Wednesday?

4. Wild fires near Los Angeles are being fanned by winds known as what?

5. The week started out with what former Florida congress woman being sentenced to 5 years in prison for mail, wire and tax fraud?

6.  The move of the Israeli embassy by the administration put the lives of Americans abroad in jeopardy for the second week in a row. What did the administration do last week to endanger Americans abroad?

7. According to our senior US senator, just what do we non-rich spend our pennies on?

8. What three member of the US congress resigned this week in connection to sexual allegations?

9. Thirty-seven years ago Friday, Dec. 8th, 1980, whose death shocked the world?

10. What MSNBC contributor was fired, then rehired over one 8 year old sarcastic tweet?

11. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has declared what state’s National Monuments off-limits in the administration’s downsizing?

12. Voters in Iowa who do not have other state approved IDs for voting will be getting one in the mail that will not have what supposedly necessary piece?

13. What Texas Republican congressman has yet to resign despite using $84,000 in public money to settle a sexual harassment claim against him?

14. In Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis picked up an opponent in next year’s election, someone to whom she had done what to a couple of years back?

15. What drug store giant has made a bid of $69 billion to buy health insurance giant Aetna?

16. James O’Keefe of ultra right wing fake news Project Veritas received an Impact Award from the wife of what major Washington, DC person?

17. The Supreme Court heard arguments concerning a wedding cake in a case that could have major implications for what currently illegal practice?

18. The DOJ is moving to open an investigation on Planned Parenthood concerning what once debunked sting videos?

19. What major country was banned from the upcoming Winter Olympics?

20. What political hot spot country will be hosting the upcoming Winter Olympics?

John Fugelsang on Facebook: “The Federalist reminds you that lgbt ppl can’t be trusted because they prey on children and Roy Moore should be trusted even if he preyed on children.”

Answers:

1. “The Silence Breakers”

2. this coming Tuesday, Dec. 12th

3. 58

4. Santa Ana winds, some up to hurricane force

5. Corrine Brown

6. retweet bogus videos of Muslims committing acts of terror from an ultra right wing British source

7. booze, women and movies. Well I admit we did go to a movie this year

8. Al Franken, John Conyers and Trent Franks

9. John Lennon

10. Sam Seder

11. his home state of Montana where he is rumored to be preparing to run for governor

12. a photo

13. Blake Farenthold

14. illegally denied a marriage license to her future opponent David Ermold and his same sex partner

15. CVS

16. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife Ginny Thomas

17. discrimination

18. the discredited videos concerning the transfer of fetal tissue

19. Russia

20. South Korea

Andy Borowitz on facebook: “People who say Trump should resign because he is a sexual harasser are not telling the whole story. He’s also the worst President in history.”

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Horse And Sparrow Economics

 

About 4 minutes

Listening to Them Hartmann last week I heard a discussion concerning the long history of trickle down economics. Like most I thought that trickle down was a creation of of people like Arthur Laffer and his infamous curve or Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman and their supply side theories.

Much to my surprise Hartmann and his guest (whose name escapes me) began talking about a theory that Republicans advanced in the late 19th century. The name of the economy theory was eventually accurately described by John Kenneth Galbraith as the “Horse and Sparrow” theory. As you learned in the video and as the name implies the horses get fed oats and then some of what they eat is not digested and passes through their system. Thus the oats become available to the sparrows in the horse dung.

 

Professional economists are generally skeptical of trickle-down economics for good reason: there’s little evidence that letting the rich keep more of their money actually leads to higher wages for everyone else. It’s what John Kenneth Galbraith has referred to as the horse-and-sparrow theory: “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.” It’s an appropriately vulgar distillation for a crap idea.

Another name for this would be horse shit economics.

It is way past time for us to be taking this crap idea as a serious idea. It is a swindle perpetrated by the wealthy on the poor and middle class. There is no reason to class it up in discussions as “supply side” or “trickle down” economics. Best to call it what it is  – it is horse shit economics. That will dispel any mental pictures that this is somehow a real theory with some valid points. It is horse shit and should be discussed as such.

Just in case someone doesn’t get the mental picture drawn by the phrase “horse shit economics” it should be easy to explain how the rich eat and get fat and we have to fight over what little nutritive value they leave us in their shit.

As if that wasn’t bad enough dailykos reminds us what some of the more appealing aspects are to Republicans of the current iteration of horse shit economics:

Benefits used by universities and graduate students are also on the chopping block. And the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate to buy insurance — a centerpiece of Democrats’ biggest achievement in a generation — is estimated to generate some $300 billion to pay for tax cuts.

“It’s death to Democrats,” said conservative economist Stephen Moore, who advised Trump’s campaign on tax policy.

“They go after state and local taxes, which weakens public employee unions. They go after university endowments, and universities have become play pens of the left. And getting rid of the mandate is to eventually dismantle Obamacare,” Moore said in an interview, arguing that it would accelerate “a death spiral” in the health-care law’s marketplaces. […]

“The people who are going get the most whacked by this are wealthy and upper-middle class people who live in big cities,” said John Feehery, a GOP lobbyist and former communicator for House leadership. “In other words, Democrats.”

“I don’t think there’s a conspiracy to go attack Democratic districts. But that’s how the legislative process works—if you’re not going to participate in a game you’re going to lose,” he said. “You need the revenue, and those constituencies are not really being represented because their representatives refused to participate.”

As I said, horse shit.

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Why Is Bill Dix Not Resigning?

From the Des Moines Register November 14th, 2016

Sexual harassment by the Republican caucus has been proven in court. He tried to keep the report on the incidents hidden. When the report was opened they revealed little. Many staffers said they were subjected to harassment but were afraid to speak out. Kirsten Anderson, the staffer that did speak out was almost immediately fired.

Following the court case, Dix did not remove one of the worst perpetrators of the harassment, Jim Friedrich, who has since resigned.

Add that to the $2 million that WE as taxpayers have to pay for Dix and his caucus’s harassment and cover up and I am having a hard time understanding why Bill Dix is still in office. Especially considering the toxic atmosphere around sexual harassment that is rising in this country concerning sexual harassment and Dix’s deep involvement in this one.

Also considering that this was done within the halls of government at a time when all members of society, but especially those in elected office, should have been acutely aware of that sexual harassment would not be tolerated. Time to write and call your local state senator and let them know that leaving Bill Dix as Senate leader is no longer acceptable.

You can find your state legislator here. 

I spent plenty of time in work meetings being informed against sexual harassment and signing documents stating that I had been so informed. What Dix did appears to be an egregious violation and he should pay the consequences. As one of the highest leaders in this state, he must be held accountable.

More on this can be found at:

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/kathie-obradovich/2017/11/14/bill-dix-step-down-disastrous-news-conference-sex-harassment-case/864456001/

https://iowastartingline.com/2017/11/19/bill-dix-is-a-very-dumb-man/ 

Heard on NPR yesterday on IPR that Dix was looking for huge slashes in Iowa’s tax system. Dix claimed the Kansas experiment failed because they didn’t cut spending enough and I believe he said Iowans should look for deep cuts.

Deep cuts? I have already heard rumors that the property tax cut backfill will be gone. Losing that money will make will make towns and cities make decisions that may destroy city parks, libraries and cemeteries and probably cripple many other services including police and fire. Schools? Everybody goes private or goes to a vastly inferior public school? Is that Iowa’s future

And this fantasy people like Dix have that businesses will be beating down the door to get here? One of the few draws Iowa used to have was good schools and universities. That is going fast. Ruin the small towns by cutting off their money and the allure of ‘small town Iowa’ dies quickly.

If you can it may be a good time to jump off the Titanic.

Can we look forward to another signing ceremony with our guv and Drew Klein behind closed doors like the union busting bill? Still one of the most obscene photos I have ever viewed.

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Branstad, Drew Klein shake hands after Branstad signs the union busting bill.

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Recount Shows One Third of Votes Could Have Been Miscounted

Thom is joined by the Coordinator for Wisconsin Election Integrity to discuss the malfunctioning voter machines and how as many as one third of votes could have been miscounted.

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Section 702 Of The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Set To Expire

by Ralph Scharnau

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a warrantless surveillance law, seeks to track and foil foreign terrorists. This enables the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other US bodies to gather and/or search private communications without a warrant. The law will expire on December 31, 2017, unless Congress acts to renew or revise it.

The law authorizes warrantless telephone and internet monitoring programs. The massive dragnet potentially includes a vast number of calls, emails, chats, texts, and other conversations. The information obtained might include family photographs, love letters, personal financial matters, discussions of physical and mental health, and political and religious exchanges.

This widespread spying without safeguards against abuse violates the fundamental rights to speech and privacy guaranteed by the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. It also sweeps up the electronic data of innocent Americans who may be communicating with foreign nationals, even when those foreigners aren’t suspected of terrorist activity.

The activities conducted under Section 702, moreover, lack transparency and oversight. Intelligence officials refuse to tell Congress how many and how often unknowing Americans have had their personal data collected. This operational secrecy of FISA activities opens the door for violations of constitutional, civil, and human rights. It can undercut privacy and dignity while having a chilling effect on freedom of expression, religion, association, and thought.

Human Rights Watch warns that Americans exercising their legitimate free-expression rights are also at risk of discriminatory or arbitrary monitoring. The FBI has identified some of those associated with the Black Lives Matter movement as black identity extremists. This casts those objecting to racism and injustice as extremists and can lead to racial profiling. Besides, recent reports of attacks on police officers come overwhelmingly from those in the white community, not blacks. .

The Trump administration wants Section 702 renewed without alteration. But reform of 702 requires fortifying civil liberties without compromising the nation’s ability to surveil foreign threats. This can be done by making surveillance of American communities dependent upon getting a warrant from a FISA court

A major debate over electronic spying that defies usual partisanship is underway in Congress. The debate centers on NSA’s incidental eavesdropping on Americans via its warrantless surveillance program, which spies on foreigners abroad whose communications pass through American phone and internet services.

A bipartisan coalition of privacy-minded lawmakers has circulated draft legislation that would impose new limits on the government’s ability to use incidentally gathered information about Americans in contact with foreign targets. Wyoming Democrat Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, promises to put a hold on any bill that allows the government to continue warrantless domestic spying. Representative Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, warned other lawmakers that not requiring a warrant betrays privacy in the name of national security.

In its current form, Section 702 fails to comply with the government’s obligations under the Constitution and international law. Furthermore, the Section’s sweeping nature results in the collection of information from individuals who pose no threat to national security. A beginning reform, as Senator Wyden and Representative Poe advocate, would prohibit the government from searching through information obtained under Section 702 without a warrant.

Congress explicitly intended FISA to strike a balance between the legitimate requirements of national security and the need to protect against presidential abuses and safeguard personal privacy. Unchecked NSA monitoring violates our constitutional rights to privacy and free speech. And excessive government secrecy menaces human rights and the rule of law.

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Republicans Are Destroying Government

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Rallies Today At Grassley Offices in Des Moines and Waterloo

Des Moines/Waterloo, Iowa – Iowa Citizen Action Network, the Main Street Alliance of Iowa and Americans for Democratic Action Iowa are hosting rallies on Tuesday, December 5th at 5:00 pm outside the offices of Senator Chuck Grassley in Des Moines and Waterloo protesting his recent remarks to the Des Moines Register.

Iowa’s Senior Senator, Chuck Grassley, thinks that getting rid of the estate tax will help people who are investing instead of everyday Iowans.  Apparently he thinks Iowans should be working harder instead of “just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.” Not only is his comment sexist, and elitist, it shows just how far removed he has become from the hard working Iowans he is supposed to represent. 

According to the Des Moines Register article, the seven-term senator runs an operation in Butler County with his son and grandson and frequently describes himself as a farmer. When asked if his own family farm would be subject to the estate tax, Grassley initially said it would not. Then, after mulling it over a moment, he backtracked, noting that if he and his wife died on the same day the estate would be subject to the $5.5 million exemption rather than the $11 million exemption and likely would have to file an estate tax return.

Family farmers and small business owners represent a very small portion of the estate tax payers and in fact fewer than .00007% of Iowans owe estate taxes.

We will be gathering outside the Senator’s offices in Des Moines and Waterloo … along with our empty booze bottles… to give citizens a chance to tell him what Iowans really need.  We will also have available results from an online survey on this issue http://iowacan.org/booze-women-movies-or/

Grassley’s Des Moines office is located at The Neal Smith Federal Building, 210 Walnut St, Des Moines, IA 50309

Grassley’s Waterloo Office is located at 531 Commercial St, Downtown Waterloo

Hashtag #ChuckSoDrunk

Waterloo Facebook Event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/165160884091333/

Des Moines Facebook event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/303018126876137/

Sponsored by Iowa Citizen Action Network, Main Street Alliance Iowa and Americans for Democratic Action Iowa.

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Nicholas Johnson: Net Neutrality A Modern Day Pillar of Democracy

Nicholas Johnson, former FCC Commissioner

“For the FCC to repeal Net Neutrality, ownership limits, or the Fairness Doctrine, or politicians to say media are “the enemy of the American people,” chops away at democracy’s pillars. (Now 46% of voters believe media make up anti-Trump stories.)”

Defending Democracy

by Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, December 3, 2017, p. C4

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Til it’s gone

— Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”

There are many divisive issues these days: climate change, renewable fuels, perpetual war, health care, tax reform, higher education, trade policy. The list seems endless.

However, most agree on preserving democracy’s fundamental pillars: free speech, public education, voting rights, and an independent judiciary.

Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison offered us insights.

Media. Jefferson wrote, “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Media are one of the few industries expressly protected by the Constitution (First Amendment). They were to serve all the people, creating a “marketplace of ideas,” a check on abuses by the powerful, from which “truth” would emerge. There would be no central control of media by either government or big business.

Americans’ 19th Century “Internet,” its “social media,” was transportation -– rivers, roads, a trans-continental railroad, and pony express. Our “e-mail” was their postal mail. Low postal rates encouraged the distribution of books, magazines and newspapers.

For the FCC to repeal Net Neutrality, ownership limits, or the Fairness Doctrine, or politicians to say media are “the enemy of the American people,” chops away at democracy’s pillars. (Now 46% of voters believe media make up anti-Trump stories.)

Free public education and libraries. Jefferson continued, “But I should mean that every [person] should receive those [newspapers] and be capable of reading them.” In his epitaph, he chose to be remembered as “Father of the University of Virginia” –- omitting any reference to his presidency.

Madison agreed: “a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

Free public schools would enable citizens to inform themselves. Free public libraries would provide every American access to the information resources of kings.

When legislatures don’t fully fund public universities, adding to the trillion-dollar debt of graduates, they are undercutting democracy’s pillar of “free public education.” This not only hampers America’s ability to compete with the nations that do provide tuition-free college, it also strikes a blow against democracy.

Voting rights. Over time, the opportunity to vote – a democracy fundamental — was expanded from white, male, landowners over 21 to everyone over 18.

State legislatures that pass laws making it more difficult, rather than easier, for all to vote, or that draw district lines enabling a minority of voters to elect a majority of their representatives, are attacking a democracy fundamental.

Independent judiciary. The founders created a respected, independent branch of government, the judiciary, as a constitutional check on Congress and the executive branch. Federal judges’ independence was protected by their lifetime appointments. Justice would be delivered under a “rule of law” rather than a law of rulers.

To disparage the judiciary, charging bias, or lack of competence, to appoint those unqualified, weakens a democracy’s last, best protection of our civil rights.

We can probably survive most wrongheaded public policies. What our democracy can’t survive are attacks on its fundamental pillars. Let’s defend what we’ve got before it’s gone.
_______________
Nicholas Johnson is a former FCC commissioner who maintains www.nicholasjohnson.org. Contact: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

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Reminder: Protests To Save Net Neutrality December 7th

by Dave Bradley

5 minutes

See BFIA’s previous post on the upcoming protests
https://blogforiowa.com/2017/11/30/protests-against-fcc-plan-to-kill-the-internet-dec-7-in-ames-des-moines-cedar-rapids/

This is a reminder that net neutrality protests will be held across the country this Thursday. It is very important that there is a show of force to let congress know just how important internet neutrality is to the whole country. Bring a friend.

One of the least reported aspects of the whole internet neutrality issue is its use as an organizing and resistance tool. Anti-Trump, progressives and liberals are not the only groups using the internet. Neo-Nazis and the far right have been using the internet to organize for a long time now. With the new controls, corporations and the powers that be can decide which websites will be easy to access and which ones won’t.

Want to take a guess which websites won’t be easy to access? The very first thing that any dictatorship will do when it takes over a country is to take control of the means of communications. I learned that lesson as a young lad when Fidel Castro took over Cuba. Since then I have found this to be true in any takeover.

Taking over the media in this country just needs some trappings of legality, such as the Kochs purchasing TIME last week. The FCC couldn’t just hand the keys to the internet to the corporations or they would have. No, they need a show vote to make it seem all nice and legal. This will be followed by the media owned by those very same corporations singing praises for this move in an effort to make this anti-democratic coup seem “normal.”

At the very least call your local congress critter and your senators. I have heard that staffers are already sick of taking calls about the internet. Keep it up.

Finally let’s do a little experiment. Hold you hand in front of your face with an open palm pointed at your face.

Now let’s roll down one finger at a time as we count down ownership of the media by the corporations. First roll down your pinky for corporate control of magazines (did I mention the TIME deal?). Next roll down your ring finger for corporate control of radio. (Think Limbaugh and all the wannabe Limbaughs).

Next, roll down the middle finger for the corporate controlled newspapers (quick name one truly local paper in a town over 25,000. There ain’t many if any). Next comes the index finger for corporate control of television (think Sinclair just for starters). Now roll in the thumb for what’s about to happen to the internet.

Look at what you have! A fist ready to punch something. I think of that as the corporate fist punching the lights out of Democracy.

When the corporations get control of the internet, they will have control of all the means of communication. Surprise! How will they use this power? Just think of what a fist can do.

Protest in Iowa:

Des Moines Verizon Protest, Thursday, Dec 7 5:00pm at Verizon. 3714 Merle Hay Rd Des Moines

Protest outside Verizon store against the rollback of net neutrality protections. Thursday, Dec 7 4:30pm at Ames Verizon store. 806 S Duff

Protest outside Verizon store against the rollback of net neutrality protections. Thursday, Dec 7 4:00pm. Collins Ave. Verizon Store. 151 Collins Rd NE Cedar Rapids

Check here for updates:
http://verizonprotests.com

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Republicans: “Tax Cuts Must Be Followed By Structural Changes To Medicare And Social Security”

by Dave Bradley

25 minutes – Democrats tear Republican Tax Bill Apart

Let that sink in really deeply. Republicans want structural change to Social Security and Medicare. From Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida:

“I analyze this very differently than most,” Rubio said. “Many argue that you can’t cut taxes because it will drive up the deficit. But we have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.” He suggested reducing benefits and raising the retirement age for future retirees, so people can prepare for the changes. “Tax reform is the economic component of this equation,” Rubio said. “When more people are working, there are more taxpayers and more revenue, but that alone won’t be enough. You are still going to have a debt problem in the absence of spending cuts.”  LINK

Translated that means the concept of treating all older Americans the same will vanish. The two core programs that older Americans have depended on will be gone. While Rubio doesn’t say what the restructuring will consist of, Republicans have more than hinted at what they have in mind.

They plan to privatize Medicare using the same insurance companies that base your health decisions on their profits. While Republicans will claim that there will be no pre-existing conditions tests in this arrangement, be assured that like most things they will be lying about this one also.

One plan that has been floated would give each older American $5,000 to purchase INSURANCE on the open market. For an 80 year old person that should get him or her month, maybe two. Insurance companies have to protect their profits after all. What happens then is out of pocket and most likely also out of the pocket of their family, since filial responsibility laws (laws that say the children must pay) will most likely be part of that restructuring.

It isn’t too hard to contrast this Republican plan with the Democratic proposal of universal health care. This would be paid for by all, administered by a separate commission and provide health care for all either free or at a nominal fee. We wouldn’t have to create a new system, just adapt our current Medicare system to handle all citizens and also perhaps adopt some practices and protocols from other countries that have had success with universal health care for decades.

Remember that if Republican plans are adopted and you have a parent over 50 years of age, you had better fix up a room in your house for them or plan their funeral because they will either be broke or dead in a short amount of time. And living with them while they are alive won’t be any fun because they will be constantly belly aching about the pain they are in because they can’t see a doctor.

How about Social Security? I believe budget director (and now CFPB head also) Mick Mulvaney views those of us who are on Social Security as little more than parasites that are sucking the life out of the system, you can imagine that any empathy or sympathy for the elderly is somewhat lacking.

Most of the plans that I have seen floated turn Social Security into a type of welfare program. Instead of the everyone being treated the same, the elderly (maybe the disabled also) will have to prove they need “aid” just as if it were a welfare program. Once that is implemented you can bet the restrictions will get tighter and the payments less. Just exactly what has happened to anything that is even remotely welfare.

As if that weren’t enough the federal government would no longer administer the program which they currently do very well for a very low fee. Instead the Republicans plan to turn the administration over to companies that will charge high fees. This will dramatically cut into funds available for elderly which will in turn result in more restrictions on recipients and lower payments.

And of course those administering the program will invest in Wall Street (essentially gambling with your money) which in turn will generate more fees and more cutbacks.

Once again, if you have parents over 50, you’d better prepare a room for them to live in and plan their funeral because they will soon be broke or dead in a short time under this plan.

It isn’t hard to contrast Republican plans to those that Democrats have. Just look at what we have now – a well administered plan that is funded fully for the next 15 years or so and funded at at least 80% for many years thereafter. By extending the SS tax beyond the current income limit, Social Security could be funded long into the future with a raise in payouts.

If you haven’t regretted voting Republican yet, think long and hard about what this mean in your family. This is what full Republican control of government means. They won’t stop abortion and they won’t kill every terrorist, but I can guarantee they will make your life harder and more miserable for you and your family. How do I know this? It is what they have done since 1880.

You vote next fall can help turn this around.

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