Sunday, November 27

Will Congress Censor the Internet?

The Internet is a marketplace of ideas and ideals. However, governments such as China's have no interest in free exchange of ideas that are seen as threatening to their interests. In the US, the government is looking at a couple of laws that could make it possible for ordinary citizens to be heaped with sites that encourage pirating of copyrighted materials. Watch this video and, if so moved, go to and learn more.

Monday, October 24

The American Dream is Alive and Well and Living in Denmark

I'm a big fan of TED Talks for this reason, the speakers, like Richard Wilkinson, explain problems is visual terms that make them easier to see:

I especially like when he says, if "Americans want to live the American Dream, they should move to Denmark."

Saturday, October 8

Iowa City is Otherwise Occupied

Occupy Iowa supporters in Iowa City have taken up residency in College Green Park for the forseeable future to organize and protest against the shift of power from the 99% of Americans who find themselves without a clear voice defending their rights from the 1% of Americans who hold the political capital. In a way, it might seem jaded that a college town in the Midwest is joining in the fray. After all, aren't these the children of relative wealth attending a university with aspirations to join the class that they are protesting?

Turns out, not so much. Because among the young people are also older people who have seen their economic stability shift dramatically thanks to the crisis in the financial and housing sectors. There are teachers, librarians, blue and white collar workers among the group, as well as self-proclaimed socialists and libertarians.

But they have camped themselves in a place where not a lot of Iowa Citians let alone others are likely to see them. If the purpose were pure political theater, this would be a poor choice of location as it is on the fringe of downtown in a residential neighborhood. However, as these occupiers are using their time to draft a statement of occupation, it is actually an encouraging move to restore the democracy that they believe is slipping from their grasps. As this and other Occupation groups meet together, it is likely that a political movement could arise that would rival the Tea Party as a grassroots movement. The chief difference here, it would appear, is that this movement is a grassroots movement without the backing of deep pocketed interests such as the Koch brothers.
It will remain to be seen what this all means, but for now, let's wish them well and hope that they become the change that we can believe in.

Monday, October 3

Arab Spring, American Fall

Does anybody see the twisted irony of Arab Spring turning into American Fall? I sincerely hope that, whatever measures that are taken to make our democracy better and more functional, we do not forget that we all are in it together. It is exciting to see a groundswell in cities of support for the occupiers on Wall Street. This group which was derided by people on the right and left for its seemingly unfocused views on what to do has, in recent days, led to groups in other cities to join.

And, not unexpectedly, the occupiers of NYC have come forth with ideas to strengthen democracy which can be found here. In a strongly worded "Declaration of Occupation" the group has laid out what they perceive to be the grievances against corporations and their role in undoing democracy. As is stated in their declaration:

"As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

- They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
- They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses. - They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
- They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
- They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices. - They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
- They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
- They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
- They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
- They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
- They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
- They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
- They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit. - They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
- They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them. - They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
- They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
- They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
- They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media. - They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
- They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
- They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts."

Their demands are surprisingly simple: "We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power. Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone. To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal."

Ideology takes us so far then there is the living with the consequences. At the core of all the grievances stated is a sense of entitlement that these people feel that corporations have and a desire to right these wrongs. In essence, they are asking for fairness. These are not the cries of crazy lunatics, these are a measured response to a system that has gone off the rails. These people are asking for government to take an active role in making and enforcing rules that create more equitable conditions for all. It can be argued that these are unfair charges, after all don't oil companies clean up their spills and pay heavily for it? People have the right to opt out of having their private data being sold.

But the conditions that have driven these people to protest are more indicative of what happened when the rights of personhood were given and upheld by government. It is hoped by these protests that efforts to rescind much of this inequity will be addressed and that corporations will be able to carry on, but with less outright power than they currently have. Not surprisingly, this resonates with people across political spectrums. However, it remains to be seen if people power can hold its emotions in check while a reasoned approach, such as declarations and meeting with lawmakers and corporate leaders can happen.

Clearly the actions of these groups is seen as provocative, but I will hope that all will tamp down the strong emotions that will drive some to the streets and others to the authorities who are asked to clamp down on our civil liberties. I believe that we shall overcome, but we have to do it together.

Sunday, September 25

Lies We Still Believe

"War is good for the economy." For too many years we've accepted that this is true. And yet, clearly, in this moment, we have proof that war is killing not only people, but also the economy because of all the debt that has been amassed to support our military excursions.

In an odd sort of way we had a chance to elect a president in 1972 who promised hope and change and would have likely delivered on that promise. George McGovern stated in his nomination acceptance speech that he would have ended the war in Vietnam on the night of his inauguration. Sadly the American people and political operatives were more afraid of those people who were included in his campaign than with their better angels or wisdom.

Fast forward to 2011 and we have a president who continues wars without a real end because he is playing a dwindling deck of cards and it requires him to hold on to the families of military families while ignoring the families of the nearly 60 million people who are unemployed. But not just him, but those robber-barons who build wealth for themselves and select others while pick-pocketing from their own workforce.

As a result of the lie we still believe, it is believed that we don't have the wiggle room to make mistakes with what resources we do have and so the conventional wisdom is to reduce the national debt while families suffer, poverty increases, and the elderly and those approaching retirement worry about what will happen to their nest eggs.

There is a second lie we shouldn't believe, "What is good for business is good for America." Business is not a person with a mortgage, a health condition, or even with children who serve in harm's way. And yet we afford it the rights of personage.

America is a great country because of its people and not in spite of them. But we need a national leader who will stand with us and not with CEOs, bankers, and financiers. We need our president to say what needs to be said, there is a war, but it is between those who have ruined the financial markets and the rest of us.

War is not good for the economy, but paraphrasing what Walter Kelly the creator of Pogo once said, "We have seen the enemy and he is being treated better than the rest of us." We need to clamp down on grossly paid corporate employees and people whose sole earnings come from reinvesting long-held family assets. If the rest of us are seeing our incomes remain flat or declining, they should join us be being taxed for their greed or forced to put people to work by enforced investment. We have tried voluntary incentives, but that only creates a culture of going to where the grass is greener somewhere else.

Wall Street has failed us, it is time for Main Street principles to be applied. On Main Street, we all do well if we are all working and using what each other is able to make or do. Main Street fails when we forget about our duty to each other. This is something that the wealthy, the middle class, and the poor can agree.

We can no longer live in ignorance of truth. Wars don't make economies better. Business is not more important than what is in the best interest of the rest of us. I believe that effective government is being an enforcement tool to fix what private enterprise has no interest in doing; that is making sure that democracy works. Maybe this is a lie too?

Sunday, September 11

Lessons from 9/11

On September 11, 2001, I walked to work. It was a cool, crisp Iowa morning. As I often did, I took a path through Hickory Hill Park, a local nature conservancy area, and I ended up lost causing me to be late. When I arrived at work, there were already people asking each other, "Did you hear?" or "Can you believe it?" The first plane had already struck Tower 1 of the World Trade Center and, as I sat in my cubicle looking for updates on CNN and any other news site that had a different perspective of the developing story, I was dumbstruck.

There was no way of knowing who had done it or what was really happening, but I felt a fear I had never known. As I looked around and talked to others, I realized how connected we were all in that feeling of shock and abject ignorance. We hoped it had been a bizarre accident, but when the second plane hit Tower 2, there was no doubt and a deeper fear arose--this was planned and all of us might be in danger. When the third plane struck the Pentagon, the surreal nature of what was happening began to sink in. Could our country really be under attack? Why?

In the following days, long after the fourth plane crashed in the fields of Pennsylvania, after the first-responders and others walked like ghosts from the ash of midtown Manhattan and later rescue workers began digging through the wreckage searching for survivors, people were talking. "Did you know anyone who was there?" Neighbors were reaching out, complete strangers talked to each other--what would happen next?--an eminent war that would be supported because of the callous nature of the acts.

We were a united people in that brief moment, united in our grief, our anger, and our belief that we had been wronged. President Bush, who I and many others thought was the wrong choice of a leader when he was elected by the narrowest of margins, became vastly presidential in announcing that we would not let it stand. The very night of the attacks he said, "Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts," "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve," and "The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts...we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." And we believed that was the right thing to do: To find those who had done this and exact justice.

Fast forward to March of 2003, long after we had forged ahead on breaking up Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, we were told that we needed to go into Iraq because they too were a danger to us. Then we began secretive forays into Iran, Pakistan, Syria and other places that the US government was sure were harboring those who were against us.

Meanwhile, back home, the USA Patriot Act was passed and many people were being summarily rounded up, Muslims or people who looked like they might be, were under attack just because they resembled the people who had attacked us. Our privacy was being invaded to allow law enforcement officials to have access to information that might incriminate us. People were being held without charges. Guantanamo opened and renditions occurred.

Today, ten years after the fact, trillions of dollars have been spent, thousands of lives have been sacrificed, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are dead, and we are still at war; and would appear, a war without real resolution. Our way of life has changed, but mostly because how we have reacted after the fact.

9/11 has taught me many things. Freedom is not free because it is easily taken away--and often freely given away. The safety that we wanted so badly after 9/11 opened the door for horrible policies to gain legitimacy--waterboarding, FISA--the surveillance act, the non-compliance to the Geneva Convention protocols, among them.

Like most, I grieve the lives of those innocent lives that were lost on that fall day and all those lives since then swallowed up in war, but mostly I grieve the loss of our way--we had a brief defining moment that brought us together as a people and look where we are now?--distrustful of each other as much as we are of our government. Instead of doing what in our national interest, we are witnessing a rolling up of the sidewalk by corporations who could make jobs, by consumers who are afraid of the consequences of buying homes or donating to charities or paying our fair share of taxes to make sure everyone can get through this.

9/11 also showed me that we are better than this. We are a nation of people who will do herculean things when the cause is just. The pictures of those who were first on the scene and the way they gamely tried to save others, in some cases giving up their own lives, will be forever etched in my mind, It's really hard to know if 9/11 will be remembered as the Pearl Harbor of our time, as President Bush was noted as recording in his journal the night it happened or if it will be remembered as the time when America forever lost its way. The next generation has to decide if we will be a united nation or if we will fracture.

9/11 also showed me that if events like those that led to "Arab Spring" can happen, that freedom and peace are also attainable. If we truly wish to live in a world that resembles our remembrances of pre-9/11, we need to acknowledge that our security was predicated on others being persecuted. 9/11 showed us that our being free is only as good as all people being free.

Sunday, August 7

I Formally Declare My Independence

For a long time, I have been using this blog as a way to promote both progressive and populist visions. Like many progressives, I have been more likely to align myself with Democrats than Republicans due to philosophy differences, although there are some issues which I and many people agree--regardless of party line. However, after the latest debacle regarding our economy and the debt ceiling, I see that being an Independent is the only recourse I or any populist has left to combat a two party system that is fundamentally broken. To declare my independence allows me the freedom to support only candidates who will uphold a progressive/populist agenda and, I hope, this includes Independents with a wider vision than either party will allow.

However, it also prevents me from caucusing in my state, which is very sad to me. Iowa does not have the ability to have an Independent caucus, and unless there is an Independent Party, there is mandated need. As long as there is a two party system, most people who care about the future of the country are left out in the cold.

And here are some reasons why:

1) Corporate interests have taken over politics. In each of the branches of government, there has ostensibly been a corporate takeover of the funding of candidates and issues. As such, neither party is immune to big monied interests who write many of the bills that Congress votes for, the Executive branch make exceptions for, and the Courts support interests of in interpreting Free Speech law. We are left with a blind taste test where it doesn't really matter much if you like Coke or Pepsi better.

2) The government has stopped working for the people who particularly need it to function well for: the poor, elderly, and the young. Most debates that have centered around the economy have, at best, place held the defense of retirement, health care, and education. By withholding funds for these groups, the social net has frayed to the point of breaking. Rather than working on ways to secure these budget lines, both parties are beginning to dismantle the system to the benefit of the wealthy and to the detriment of the rest of us.

3) We are applying 20th Century solutions to 21st Century problems. For instance:
- Whether we like it or not, the world around us has changed and is not going back to the good-old-days ever again. This means we can no longer be the bull in the China shop and throw our weight around in the world in the same way we used to. We cannot afford to police the world without causing pain to our people and innocent people elsewhere. Proof of this old world vision is Barack Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. If I were the Nobel organization, I would demand it back with an apology to those who preceded him in receiving it.
- Also, if we want to bring back industry in America, companies who are here have to put aside a pure profit motive mentality and put people to work. Greed is not good and, as we've seen, corporations lack the emotions of people. Therefore, it should be criminal for companies to do business in the USA without a large percentage of their workforce being in it.
- We need to change the way we educate kids. We cannot afford for one child to fail and our education system should be changed to reflect that challenge. Our teachers are good and can be better, but the systems they work in are so dysfunctional that in many cases schools are no longer places where kids can learn. School systems that are unable to properly manage schools to help their kids to be successful and parents who don't value education enough to help their kids to succeed need to be brought to task. And we shouldn't be afraid of technology to bring our best teachers in front of students. The fact that we have teacher shortages in key areas should not stop kids from being educated. Teachers need help, make sure there are aides and tutors in the budget. Also make sure that their promotions are a result of teaching excellence, not seniority.
- We need to change the way colleges work. Every person who has the mental acuity to get one, needs a post-secondary education, whether in a trade or a specialty. Students should not be allowed to continue their educations until they have provided two years of service in either the military or in human services. When they complete their years of service and have a plan for college, their education should be paid for. Colleges should be either trade/teaching colleges or research colleges. Students with the talent to complete terminal degrees should earn the privelege and their further education funded by taxes.
- Basic human rights: we should not be arguing over who can or should be married. If the laws really worked, we all would have the same rights and the same protections under the law.
- Governments should not be in the business of deciding what we can do with our bodies, but should be able to levy taxes to offset the results of poor decisions and/or rehabilitation which the person would have to pay back, either in service or in reparations.
- Religion has a place in democracy, but it has no place in government.

4) Democracy needs defending by those who are stitting on the sidelines. Gaming the system is a capitalistic power-brokering notion--aka: counting your chicken before they have a chance to hatch. However, as democracy is not the same thing as Capitalism, the system only works when democractic principles work. Therefore, there should be a national referendum that calls for the immediate dismantling of the two-party system. That all elections would be non-partisan, that all funds would have to come from individuals, and that there would be a maximum amount of money that could be raised and spent in an election cycle. But we have to be the one's who push it.

Have I given up hope? No, but I won't support those who promise hope and can't or won't deliver. Nor will I give in to the idea that only the powerful count and their interests are paramount. This is still our America and we know we can do better. We need an Independent people's movement to bring about equitable change. We won't get there unless misguided fear is replaced with pragmatic plans that people can easily understand and support. Ready to roll up your sleeves?

Saturday, April 16

Hold These Untruths to Be Self-Evident

As has been widely reported, Arizona Senator John Kyl was caught in a bald-faced lie about the amount of funding that goes toward abortion services. Said Kyl, abortions are "90%" of what Planned Parenthood does." In fact, 3% of Planned Parenthood's budget goes to abortions. In trying to provide cover for his boss, aide Ryan Pimintra said Kyl's remarks were "not intended to be a factual statement."

He later said, "Senator Kyl misspoke when he incorrectly cited a statistic on the Senate floor last week regarding Planned Parenthood. Rather than simply state that in response to a media inquiry, I responded that his comment was not intended to be a factual statement; a comment that, in retrospect, made no sense. Senator Kyl neither saw nor approved that response."

The aide is correct that the quote made no sense, but, more importantly, the misstatement of fact really made no sense. However, untruths are often spoken for political or ideological gain.

For instance West Virginians for Life's communications director, Mary Anne Buchanan, said "Planned Parenthood are the abortion giant in this country. One-third of their revenue comes from abortions [appears to be true]. They perform about 27 percent of all the abortions in this country [appears to be true]. One out of every eight people who walks into a Planned Parenthood clinic comes out with an abortion [appears to be false]." Planned Parenthood provided 11,383,900 total services and 332,278 abortions. That means less than 3 in 100 services provided were an abortion from Planned Parenthood. Even in taking into account Planned Parenthoods' own numbers of serving over 3,000,000 clients, the statistic for abortions performed was still 1 out of 9 people that went to one of their clinics.-- less than the 1 out of 8 people that Buchanan states as "fact." In fact, 7 out of 10 people went to Planned Parenthood for either contraception or STI/STD testing or treatment. It also appears that Planned Parenthood plays an important role to provide health services to those who do not have or choose not to go to private physicians.

Also, while about 1/3 of its funding comes from government funding, zero of the federal dollars can be used to perform abortions. Planned Parenthood’s government funding comes from two sources: the Title X Family Planning Program and Medicaid. About $70 million is Title X funding. The rest — about $293 million — is Medicaid funding, which includes both federal and state money.

Regardless of how a person personally feels about abortion, to not fund Planned Parenthood at all for the many important services they do provide would be like not funding schools because they have sex education classes. Unfortunately ideology can get in the way of funding the important services that agencies like Planned Parenthood do provide. Fortunately, truth prevailed at the federal level. At some state levels, truth is in second place to ideology. See: Indiana and Iowa.

Monday, March 14

Hard Times in the Heartland of Plenty

Wisconsin killed collective bargaining, Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio are lined up to try to do the same. Michigan is asserting state rights over local governance and taxing the poor and aged to bail out corporations. While 2012 presidential Queen-wannabe Michelle Bachmann is pointing to the lessons of Lexington and Concord, real attention should be paid to the tyranny that is taking hold in the heartland. As Omar and the Howlers once said it's, "Hard times in the land of plenty."

Clearly there is nowhere else in the US that is experiencing the radical notions that Republican leaders in the Midwest have been successfully espousing and spearheading through their legislatures. In the name of balancing budgets and job creation, these leaders have put into play laws that will likely lead to less economic stability and more strains on state coffers. And for what? Retribution, an attempted power-grab, or genuine belief that these remedies will benefit all?

Whatever their reasoning, their Charlie Sheen-like attempts at "winning" are coming at great cost to the people who do the work, union and non-union alike. By changing the landscape, the sum total is that workers and management have reverted to the more adversarial past that led to violence when reasonable accommodation couldn't be reached. To de-evolve back to this old world view is likely to create a free market caste-system that has no connection to democratic values.

There is cause and effect for anything we do and, had we not already tried what is being re-enacted, it might be seen as worth doing. However American history tells us that when the rights of any group are suppressed or overtaxed, eventually the main street American agrees that it is wrong. In this case, it is clear that main street already agrees that their government is over-reaching and since they have nothing to show for their votes, the political pendulum will swiftly go back the other way.

Tuesday, March 1

The Way We War

While parts of the world seem hell-bent on democratizing themselves, here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we are marching steadfastly in the opposite direction. Case in point, the current brouhaha in Wisconsin. This has never really been about a state budget crisis, it is about making sure that monied interests are the once and future ruling class. Ever since the Supreme Court decision giving corporations relative carte blance to buy elections and the politicians that do the dirty work, American families earning less than $250,000 have been put on notice: "This land is not your land."

If you haven't noticed, the desire to strip the public employees of collective bargaining is akin to bringing back feudalism. Without the right to bargain for fair wages and work conditions, it is opening the doors to go back to the bad old days when workers' rights were met with brickbats. Notice the difference in approaches, the unions call on people to protest and they show up, the governor calls out the state police and threatens to weld the windows to the state house closed to keep people from helping each other.

In the US, we have been engaged in class warfare for as long as we thought about being a republic. Federal rights and states rights have never been about you and me, but what is best for the ruling class/monied interests. Wealthy landowners were afraid what would happen to them if the riff-raff came after them and wanted to make sure that the game was skewed in their favor, hence why a bill of rights was an afterthought.

In representative democracy there is one vote for each of us, but somebody else doing our bidding. The wishes of the people are carried out through democratic processes. However, as the road to representative democracy is paved with a money trail, the messages that people use to get themselves elected are skillfully crafted by people who sell us the American Dream (and if you don't recall what the late George Carlin said, let me remind you "they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it."). The point is, our voices are a distant memory by the time lobbying interests go to work on your Mr. or Mrs. Smith.

Electoral politics is also served by the ability to drive wedges between natural allies. For instance, are teachers the enemy of the people in Wisconsin? Of course not. But you would think they were breaking into the homes of other folks and stealing their prized possessions. This is the way the war is fought, divide and conquer. And, by the way, what do politicians call it when people act against their own self-interest--a mandate.

To those who doubt what I am saying, think about this: if unions are the last bastion of organized workers and they are removed from the equation, what is to stop employers from changing your benefits package, your salary, and your job security? If workplaces become revolving doors where it is the survival of the cheapest, who wins? If you've been awake, you already know the answer. Look to your left, look to your right, and then look at the mirror--it isn't you.

Friday, February 11

Michael Wright to Bow Out

Iowa City Council member Michael Wright is not seeking to run for re-election when he completes his term which ends in January 2012. Citing personal reasons for his decision, Wright has served as a progressive voice of reason on a council that has dealt with many highly charged issues including choosing two city managers, public safety concerns, and the issues surrounding abuse of alcohol in Iowa City.

With the current issue of affordable housing policy on the table, the loss of Wright's considerable knowledge on the council could have dire affects as the members debate how best to move forward.

Friday, February 4

Civility 101: Talking with Yale Cohn

In case you are interested in what I do with my spare time, here is an example. Yale Cohn is a local media guy who has a talk show on the highly viewed PATV:

"Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Jennifer Hemmingsen, community activist Garry Klein, and blogger Matt Butler talk with Yale about how the anonymity of the internet is shaping the tone of public discourse, causing people to avoid talking to each other in person about “hot button” social or political issues, and what needs to be done to get back to a point where people actually talk with each other rather than at each other."

Wednesday, February 2

Heaven Frozen Over?

Iowa has a real problem and it is not same-sex couples with marriage licenses. Iowa's problem is that it has a legislature that is willing to create law that would explicitly treat gay and lesbian people as not equal to the rest of Iowans under the state constitution. The amendment, House Joint Resolution 6, passed by a vote of 62-37, and would prohibit not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships.

As many proponents for such a distinction use religion as the reason for their beliefs that this inequality should exist, I believe God made His viewpoint clear to them by unleashing a blizzard that closed down many roads and disrupted commerce which will cost the state millions of dollars in revenue. As He saw it, it was the only way to reach the Republican leadership on a level that they could understand--in the free marketplace.

Thankfully, the Iowa Senate is likely not to allow HR6 to go any further and that is why a bicameral system is so important. The foolish act of foolish people has always benefitted by checks and balances and fortunately Iowans recognized a long time ago the wisdom of this in drafting a state constitution that, coicidentally has the distinction of the least amended one in the US (so take that, you strict constitutionalists).

I making their voices heard, many men and women spoke against the amendment. A glowing voice of reason that should make 67 representatives ashamed of their understanding of their role as legislators came from Zach Walls, a young man from Iowa City that I've had the pleasure to watch grow-up. If you haven't seen this speech, I think you'll agree that Zach represents what is good about Iowa.

Tuesday, January 4

Semi-Popular Progressive

Happy Belated New Year. After 4 years and a month of commenting on politics, progressive and otherwise, I am continuing my last year trend of tapering off posts in 2011. Although over 10,000 people from around the world checked in on my blog last year, a fact that astounds this guy from Iowa, I feel that if I am to offer commentary at all, it should be with the same fervor that got me started in the first place.

With that in mind, 2011 will be a year with many stories emanating from Iowa. After all, the Iowa Caucuses are around the corner and the usual media blitz will follow as surely as birds fell out of the sky in Arkansas. However, as fellow bloggers like John Deeth are much better at the day to day coverage of such events and I encourage political trainspotters to follow John's blog. He is a great blogger and I tip my virtual hat to his raspberry beret.

As for me, I am writing a novel and will likely spend limited time commenting on the here and now, mostly because my novel is political fiction and I want to use the "good stuff" in that context. I will continue to post columns as events and issues strike my fancy.

A couple of 2010 notes:

The Democratic Party got an electoral whipping (yes, even in Iowa), but it should not have been a surprise. The Obama brand rose quickly and short of him genetically being fused with Annie Sullivan, ther was no way he could continue in the media-driven role of "the miracle worker." However, the party did themselves no favors by letting the narrative of 2010 to be "you're with us or against us." Clearly most voters didn't like what they were seeing and took it out on the party in power. Um, that's politics.

That being said, the repeal of DADT and the approval of the New START treaty were good exclamation points to end the year on. The Republicans take over the House with the majority of voters thinking that it doesn't matter who runs it, but will be flying up their agenda to make the case that if only there was a Republican in the White House again, they could get things done. The national agenda will be parlayed into the electioneering game as the circus comes to Iowa in the months to come. If President does not have any competition, expect Iowa to be the place where Republican candidates try to make the case for why they will be better for the country than him.

However, the thing to watch this year are the redistricting efforts across the country. In Iowa, Republicans who have the state house and governor's mansion are trying to make sure they have the state supreme court covered too by using the recent victory to not retain three justices that ruled on the side of marriage equality as a launching pad to impeach the remaining justices. What is really at stake is the tie-breaker if the plans for redistricting are not to the clear benefit of the Republican party. In Iowa, if a redistricting plan can not be agreed upon, the state supreme court is the final word. Politics, can't live with 'em, can't rule without 'em.