Thursday, April 30, 2009

When There is Nothing Left to Burn, You Have to Set Yourself on Fire: Part 2

Nate Silver at 538 looks at polls that show party identification and finds that Republicans are trending downward.

I knew Republicans weren't that popular (just take a look at the results from the last election), but check out the drop since late February.

The following chart combines the numbers from these six organizations since August 2008, while adding LOESS regression trendlines.

Per the LOESS curves, the number of Republicans has decreased by about 5 percent since Inauguration Day, from roughly 27 percent to 22 percent. The number of Democrats has also decreased slightly, however, from 38 percent to 35-36 percent. The gains have been made by independents, whose numbers have increased from 30 percent to about 36 percent, such that there are now roughly equal numbers of independents and Democrats.
This makes me think back to this post I wrote in February called When There is Nothing Left to Burn, You Have to Set Yourself on Fire. These poll numbers show that Republicans have been pretty successful at setting themselves on fire the past couple months.

Operating Coal Plants are Getting More Expensive

In November the EPA said coal-fired power must limit CO2 emissions. Earlier this month, the EPA began the process of putting this policy into place.

From the Washington Post...

The Environmental Protection Agency today plans to propose regulating greenhouse gas emissions on the grounds that these pollutants pose a danger to the public's health and welfare, according to several sources who asked not to be identified.

The move, coming almost exactly two years after the Supreme Court ordered the agency to examine whether emissions linked to climate change should be curbed under the Clean Air Act, would mark a major shift in the federal government's approach to global warming.

This action by the EPA, that occurred during the Bush administration, is probably one of the main reasons Alliant decided to drop plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown. Alliant knew the costs of running coal plants would be increasing, but didn't know how much.

From Michigan Liberal...
The costs to building new coal plants, already up compared to a couple of years ago thanks to the rising costs of construction materials, will go up also, either because the utilities will need to invest in clean coal technology (which doesn't exist right now in the market) or to buy carbon credits to make up for the excess pollution. Neither is cheap, and the costs for both will be passed along to rate payers.
When the Iowa Utilities Board agreed to a 10% return on investment after Alliant asked for a 12.5% return, Alliant knew they would be unable to pass the cost of this increase onto customers.

Iowa, like Michigan, depends on electricity from coal plants. Now is the time to chart are path for our future energy needs. State leaders need to continue to strongly push renewable energy and need to announce that coal is going to be a declining part of our energy future.
This state can either acknowledge that federal action on this is imminent, or it can continue to pretend that an energy plan crafted last year remains relevant in terms of today's political and economic environment. The costs of coal are going to go up, and the federal carbon program is aggressive enough, it's not unimaginable that the costs for coal could pass on their way up the declining cost for renewable energy, made cheaper thanks to improvements in producing technology and the electrical grid.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nate Silver: What's the Matter with Arkansas?

Nate Silver asks "What's the matter with Arkansas?" in his Ted Talk about how race affected the 2008 election.

Summary of 2009 Legislative Session

I plan on writing some about the 2009 Legislative Session, but haven't had time.

Here's a great summary of the session that I found at Covering Iowa Politics.

BUDGET/BONDING: Lawmakers approved a fiscal 2010 general fund budget of $5.78 billion but added $500 million of federal stimulus help for total spending of $6.258 billion beginning July 1. That compared with a revised $6.11 billion for the current year and Gov. Chet Culver’s fiscal 2010 recommendation of $6.46 billion. Majority Democrats also approved Culver’s multi-year infrastructure bonding plan of $715 million and $115 million mostly for University of Iowa flood recovery. The bonds are funded from several sources, most notably about $50 million in annual gambling profits for 20 years. The proceeds are expected to finance hundreds of infrastructure projects and create at least 22,000 jobs.

DISASTER RECOVERY: Lawmakers tackled disaster recovery from many angles, offering tax abatement for property owners who improve damaged properties, authorizing the sale of bonds to finance infrastructure improvements and policy changes to requires cities to participate in programs to lower homeowners’ cost for flood insurance. Included in the relief was $45 million in bonds targeted to Cedar Rapids, the $56 million Jumpstart program to help homeowners and businesses and funding for the Rebuild Iowa Office to coordinate recovery efforts.

TAX POLICY: Despite bipartisan effort to raise the state gas tax, the effort was abandoned after Gov. Culver, who had expressed reservations, finally said he would veto it. Near the end of the session, majority Democrats rolled out a plan to lower taxes for nearly 60 percent of income taxpayers while holding another 14 percent harmless. The plan encountered vigorous opposition because it ended federal deductibility, a provision that allows Iowans to deduct what they pay in federal taxes from their state tax liability. Lawmakers did decide to cap business tax credits at $185 million a year and require more accountability for refund incentives. They also raised court fees by $16.7 million.

CONSUMER PROTECTION: Lawmakers expanded health care coverage for children with a goal of having virtually all kids covered by the end of 2010. They also expanded the ability of consumers to seek damages by bringing a private cause of action against fraudulent businesses. Iowa currently is the only state without that provision. They also beefed up efforts to prevent dependent adult abuse and strengthen the state’s response when allegations of potential mistreatment arise – action triggered by the Atalissa bunkhouse situation.

LABOR: Lawmakers gave state labor officials and county attorney more tools to prosecute employers who fail to pay employees or violate child labor law. Maximum civil penalties of $10,000 can be levied per child labor violation and child labor criminal penalties were increase from simple misdemeanors to serious misdemeanors. Also, civil penalties were increased from $100 to $500 per pay period for failing to pay an employee’s wages. The time span for collecting jobless benefits was doubled for Iowans laid off due to the economic downturn.

PUBLIC SAFETY: Lawmakers overhauled the state’s sex offender laws, scaling back a law that bans some offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or daycare. The bill establishes exclusionary zones around schools and other public areas where sex offenders are prohibited from visiting. Lawmakers also voted to create a statewide electronic database to track sales of pseudoephedrine, an ingredient found in cold medicine that is used to make illegal methamphetamine.

EDUCATION: Majority Democrats protected the commitment to raise teacher pay to the national average by using a share of $386 million in federal stimulus money to fully fund a 4 percent allowable growth for K-12 schools and provide nearly $280 million for salary compensation. Money prospects were less rosy for other educational sectors that face spending cuts due to budget constraints. A couple of perennial issues lawmakers have argued over will be around for a fresh debate next year. The lawmakers again could not agree to increase the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 17. Neither did they agree to change the start date for schools to prohibit schools from beginning classes before the fourth Monday in August.

AGRICULTURE: Efforts to ban so-called “puppy mills” appeared to have failed until funding for an additional state department of agriculture inspector was included in the catch-all $2.7 billion standings bill. Opponents said the bill would unfairly restrict reputable dog-breeding operations. Lawmakers also moved to restrict the application of liquid manure on snow-covered fields and frozen ground to keep it out of waterways. They also made changes to the grain indemnity fund to address volatility in the ethanol production market.

ENVIRONMENT: Gov. Chet Culver’s bonding plan passed by lawmakers includes $25 million for watershed, water quality and soil conservation projects, as well as flood rebuilding and prevention. Another $55 million would go to sewer infrastructure needs, in an effort to improve Iowa’s water quality. Lawmakers also approved incentives for small wind energy projects and for producers of wind energy components that locate and expand in Iowa.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Lawmakers cut spending for the state’s top economic development program, the Iowa Values Fund, by $5 million next fiscal year to $45 million. The bonding plan would spend $12 million for the Community Attraction and Tourism program and other $10 million for river enhancement projects.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: Procedural hurdles and top Democratic leaders kept lawmakers from considering a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman. The issue is guaranteed to resurface in the 2010 election-year session given that an Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage becomes effective next week. Several labor-backed changes that stalled this year are likely to resurface next year as well. Bicyclists likely will push a Senate-passed safety measure that stalled in the House. Likewise for a biodiesel mandate, expanded mental health insurance coverage and vehicle emission standards. Efforts to raise the state gas tax may rekindle next session but more likely in 2011.

100 Days of No

A new web ad from the DNC about the Republican strategy during Obama's first 100 days in office.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taxes, Tea Parties, and Tax Fairness

David Sirota appeared on CNN to discuss taxes and mops the floor with conservative Ben Ferguson. Sirota points out that a recent Gallup poll shows 60% of Americans believe upper income people pay too little taxes Ferguson is dumbfounded.

Specter to Switch Parties, Gives Democrats 60 Votes in the Senate

I read on Political Wire that Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter is switching his political affiliation to Democrat.

Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run for re-election in 2010 as a Democrat, according to the Washington Post.

Specter's decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Al Franken (D) is eventually sworn in as the next Senator from Minnesota.

Said Specter: "I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary. I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election."
Specter won't fall in line with Democrats on every issue, such as the Employee Free Choice act, but gives Democrats a fillibuster proof majority on many issues.

Here's more from Kos.

Fix Our Broken Health Care System Now Because We aren't Very Good and We're Broke

The Des Moines Register published an editorial on Sunday that shows how much must be done to fix our broken health care system...

If someone tells you the United States provides the best health care in the world, they're not telling the truth.

The truth is this country came in 37th - far from the best - in the most recent World Health Organization ranking.

The organization took a close look at the health systems of nearly 200 countries. It evaluated measures such as spending, longevity, affordability and access to care.

France ranked No. 1. The 35 others that scored better than the United States include Italy, Costa Rica, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

The Register then looked at so-called rationing in other countires and concludes that the United States must say that all people have a right to basic health care...

'Rationing' may be same as what's happening here

All of these countries - in fact every country on the planet - spends less than the United States on health care, both per person and as a percentage of gross domestic product. This year, the United States is on track to fork over $2.5 trillion for health care. If that doesn't sting, consider that in countries that spend less, people enjoy longer lives and better outcomes for some medical conditions. Fewer of their babies die. More of them are immunized.

Critics of other countries' health systems are quick to point to so-called rationing of care and waiting lists for surgeries. Yes, there are waits for elective surgeries, such as knee replacements and cataract removal. Some health systems won't pay for certain drugs and treatments. That's how they try to control costs.

But it's not clear such limitations are any worse than what exists in the United States. Insurance companies and public-insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid don't cover every drug and service people want. Some Americans wait weeks to get a hip replaced and can't find psychiatrists for their children. Some veterans can't get mental-health services. Some seniors hit the doughnut hole in Medicare drug coverage and have to pay the full cost of their drugs before coverage kicks in again.

These are attempts to control costs by limiting access to health care. And the epitome of limiting access is leaving millions of Americans uninsured.

Make this idea our own: Health care is a right

So what do other countries do that we don't do, and what should we consider borrowing?

The most important approach the United States should adopt is a fundamental premise: All people have a right to basic care. Other developed nations have embraced the principle that health services are a necessity, just like food and housing.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Queer Eye for the Hawkeye

Here's the Daily Show's take on the Iowa Supreme Court decision on gay mariage.

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Today is a day for Equality and for Hope

Where do people get married at?

I have a question for Rightwing Republicans who are protesting against the Iowa Supreme Court's decision to grant gays equal rights under Iowa's constitution.

Where do people get married at?

a) a Church
b) a Courthouse
If you answered b) and believe that gay marriage should be illegal then you have reason to upset.

However, I am pretty sure that you believe people get married at a church. The decision handed down by the Iowa Supreme Court has nothing to do with churches. The decision grants equal rights under the law when you get a marriage license from a County Recorder at a local Courthouse. People will take this marriage license to the church of their choice to get married.

If your church allows gay marriage and you disagree with that then I would suggest finding a church better aligns with your beliefs.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gronstal: Iowa has a Bright Future

Are you fired up? Sen. Majority Leader Mike Gronstal was fired up yesterday when he was discussing Iowa's economic future and helping Iowans recover from last summer's historic floods.

But the thing is, it’s really none of my business

The New York Times has an article about gay marriage in Iowa. It includes this piece of advice from an 84 year old Iowan, who disagrees with the gay marriage.

“To be honest, I would rather not have it in Iowa,” said Shirley Cox, who has spent most of her 84 years in this old railroad town. Ms. Cox said she had always been proud to tell people what state she was from, but now was not so sure.

“But the thing is,” she went on, “it’s really none of my business. Who am I to tell someone how to live? I live the way I want, and they should live the way they want. I’m surely not going to stomp and raise heck and campaign against it.”

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Slumber Party at the Statehouse

For the second night in a row state legislators will be debating late into the night (or is it early in the morning?).

Radio Iowa has more on what bills are still to be debated...

Final action on a more than $6 billion state budget plan, allocation of millions from the federal government's economic stimulus package and a debate about new state regulation of so-called "puppy mills" are among the final agenda items for the 2009 Iowa Legislature.

Iowa House Passes Bill Extending Ban on Manure Application

From Blog for Iowa...

Due to widespread pressure from members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) and other environmental groups from all across the state, the Iowa House passed SF 432 with strong amendments today. This bill will ban the application of factory farm liquid manure on snow-covered ground during the winter months [extending the ban to start December 21, vs. February 1 in the original version] and bans application on frozen ground between Feb. 1 and April 1.

After receiving thousands of messages from Iowans concerned about water quality, and input from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, House members were forced to review the original proposed bill to expand the scope of regulation and close major loopholes.

Lori Nelson, a member of Iowa CCI from Bayard, stated, "We have been calling for tough regulation of manure application on frozen and snow-covered ground for a long time now. The legislature picked up this issue because of our original pressure on the Environmental Protection Commission and Department of Natural Resources to construct a strong rule, and we weren't about to let a bill to pass that would continue to allow factory farms to pollute our waterways with this practice."

While amendments to SF 432 made the bill significantly stronger, Iowa CCI Executive Director Hugh Espey said, "We still have a long way to go. This regulation of factory farm manure application is a step in right direction to protect our water quality, but Iowa must continue to stand up against corporate pressure and put people's health and our environment before polluters."

Why Torture Matters?

From a July 2002 memo from the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency...

The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Daily Show: Sh#t That's Never Gonna Happen

Hilarious segement from the Daily Show...

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Low Wages, High Student Loan Debt Drives Iowa's Brain Drain

There was a great article in the Boone News Republican last month about a talk Christian Fong, Vice-Chair of the Generation Iowa Commission, gave to the Boone Young Professional group.

The article is full of statistics that highlight that low wages and high student loan debt is what is driving Iowa's brain drain.

Between 1995 and 2000, Iowa saw a migration of 7,302 individuals with less than a high school education come into the state, enticed by wages that are $3,262 higher than the country average. For those with a high school education, the state saw a 2,534 person jump in that five-year time frame, enticed by a wage premium of $611. For individuals with an associates degree, however, the state saw a drop of 28 individuals with wages $4,077 below the country's average. For individuals with a four-year degree, Iowa had 18,362 leave the state, as a result of a $9,302 wage gap.

While some may argue that cost-of-living makes up for the wage gap, statistics in the Generation Iowa Commission's status report say otherwise. The report notes that after adjusting for cost-of-living, Iowa pay still ranks second to last in the Midwest, followed only by South Dakota. Additionally, education costs are not included in cost-of-living, which adds to the debt. Iowa graduates carry the sixth-highest student loan rate in the country, with an average of $24,990 at graduation. The repayment of large student loans creates a long-term burden that nearly offsets all other cost-of-living advantages.

Currently, Iowa's workforce is peaking in size. In 10 years, however, Iowa's workforce will lose, on average, about 60,000 people every five years as older Iowans retire. This is equivalent to losing a large company like Principal Financial every year, Fong said.

With a four percent net loss of next generation Iowans each year from 2000-2007, Iowa is cost 10 percent of its economy.

"Brain drain can cripple a town's ability to see past what's always been," Fong said. "It takes young people to not realize that something wasn't impossible before."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan To Speak at UNI on Friday

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will speak at UNI on Friday at 11 am. The speech will be at Gallagher-Bluedorn and is free and open to the public.

Earlier this week, the Des Moines Register interviewed Duncan. Duncan emphasized the need for high quality teachers.

Q. The No Child Left Behind law sought to ensure teacher quality, but U.S. classrooms still have a mix of teachers in terms of effectiveness. What policy changes are needed at the federal level, and at other levels, to assure there's a great teacher in every classroom?

A. There are a number of things we have to do. We have a chance to recruit the next generation of great teachers into the classroom [because of the wave of baby boomers who will retire]. We need to bring the best and brightest around the country into teaching. We have to do a better job of supporting that great talent when it comes to teaching.

Q. Do teacher-education programs in general need to become more selective about which applicants they admit, both in terms of academic standing and the right personality?

A. Yes. I think many schools of education have to do that. [A strong teacher-education program must be sure it is] giving students the practical experience of working in classrooms. Some schools of education do an extraordinary job of making sure their education is relevant, and some are a little too distant from the reality of what is going on in classrooms.
I don't agree with Duncan on everything. However, I do agree that our education system needs to be reformed and am glad that Duncan and Obama are willing to get input from all sides on this issue.
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Generation Iowa Commission to hold Campus Events to Highlight What Iowa has to Offer

Hey college students, be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Look at what Iowa has to offer and consider staying in the state after graduation.

From Generation Iowa...

Graduation is just around the corner. In this tough economy, searching for jobs may be right here in Iowa.

Iowa may have the career opportunities you are looking for and the Generation Iowa Commission has the tools to help. The Commission will be at Drake University, University of Northern Iowa and Western Iowa Tech Community College starting April 27th. Stop by the booth to learn about working and living in Iowa.

And oh yea... you can sign up to win a FREE IPOD TOUCH. Studying for finals won't seem so bad when you have a new IPOD touch.

Event information:
Drake University: Helmick Commons
Monday, April 27

University of Northern Iowa: Maucker Student Union
Tuesday, April 28

Western Iowa Tech Community College: WITCC Days Event
Wednesday, April 29

Look for the Generation Iowa street team and yard signs around your campus for more information!!

Hope to see you there and good luck studying for those finals!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TV Ad From One Iowa Supporting the Freedom to Marry

From their press release...

Today, One Iowa released a television advertisement to support the freedom to marry in Iowa. As committed gay and lesbian couples prepare to wed in Iowa, the ad celebrates the April 3rd unanimous Iowa Supreme Court decision that continues Iowa's tradition of civil rights leadership. "More than anything, this ad is a celebration of Iowa and the values of fairness and decency that Iowans hold dear," said Carolyn Jenison, Executive Director of One Iowa.

House Approves Wind Energy Bill

© Guerito 2005Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, the Iowa House approved a bill that would encourage wind energy production and research in the state.
The Iowa House approved a package Tuesday that will expand wind energy production, renewable tax credits, create wind innovation zones and encourage more renewable energy research.

The package “will create good-paying jobs in communities across Iowa and keep Iowa a world leader in renewable energy,” said Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City.

She said the package includes Senate File 456, which expands existing state tax credits for wind energy projects of all sizes.

Wind innovation zones were created in House File 810 to help local communities streamline regulations to help individuals launch small wind projects.

House File 817 expands tax credits to increase research of renewable energy generation components.
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Easy Earth Day Activites

Image via WikipediaHere are some easy Earth Day activities...

For $10

  • Make a $10 donation (or more!) to Replanting the Rainforests, an organization collecting donations to help restore and permanently rebuild some of the 80% of the world’s native forests that have been destroyed.
  • Offset your carbon footprint. allows you to see how much your carbon footprint is for your home, car, travel, or event and allows you to offset it. Or just select the Gift option to choose your offset in $10 increments (it’s tax deductible!).
  • Go see Disneynature’s first film: Earth, adapted from the Emmy Award Winning Planet Earth, which follows three animal families and their journey. During opening week Disney will plant a tree for each ticket purchased.

For Free

  • Volunteer at a community garden, animal sanctuary, or other pro-green organization. Make a once a month commitment.
  • Start a green habit. Buy reusable bags, get biodegradable poop bags for your pooch, start timing your showers, carpool, walk, take the bus, whatever you’ve been meaning to do, use Earth Day as a green New Years Eve.
  • Plant something. Nothing feels greener than planting a tree or a garden.
  • Get outside! Take a walk in the park or a hike in the woods and say thanks to Mother Nature up close.
Something easy that I did this morning was walk around and unplug any chargers and appliances. I found 2 cell phone chargers, 1 laptop, a coffee pot, and I shut down my computer.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Investing in Brain Drain

Waverly IowaImage via Wikipedia

A new book, called Hollowing Out the Middle: Why America's Small Towns are Dying and What Can be Done to Save Them by Patrick Carr and Maria Kefalas, looks at what is left behind after brain drain occurs.

The authors spent 18 months living in a small Iowa town to better understand the causes and effects of brain drain on rural communities. Their findings show that Iowa is investing tax dollars and have policies in place that encourage the best and brightest young people to leave the state.

They discovered that in spite of being hit hard by the loss of talented young people, these small towns put enormous resources and energy into encouraging them to go. Motivated by the best of intentions, they watch those who are most likely to succeed leave to make their fortunes elsewhere. But while bemoaning the fact that young people are their most valuable export, they invest little to nothing in the young people who choose to stay behind. And it is those young people who are their best chance for a future.

Talented people have always left small towns for bigger cities and brighter opportunities. But at the dawn of the twenty-first century the loss of educated young adults could spell the end of small-town America. Maria Kefalas and Patrick Carr suggest that there are signs of hope for the future of the rural town, but that it is a future that will look very different from the present.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Nate Silver to Speak at ISU Tonight at 8 pm

Nate Silver will be speaking at Iowa State tonight at 8 pm in the Sun Room. I have some plans tonight, but am going to try and get out of them, so I can attend this.

From Bleeding Heartland...

Nate Silver, the statistician who was once known as "poblano" and blogs at, will give a public lecture at Iowa State University at 8 p.m. The topic is "How Obama Really Won the Election."
Here's more information from Iowa State...
Nate Silver was already celebrated among baseball fans for developing PECOTA, now recognized as the most accurate system for forecasting how athletes and teams will perform in the future. The University of Chicago economics graduate, sold his system to Baseball Prospectus, staying on as a writer and consultant. In 2007, turning to politics, he fed a database with every poll available, along with state demographics and election results from 1952 forward, adjusting for a variety of factors. The model he built simulated elections and outperformed every established pollster in the primary season, and so he launched the political web site FiveThirty By the end of election night, he had predicted the popular vote within one percentage point, predicted 49 of 50 states’ results correctly, and predicted all of the resolved Senate races correctly. In addition to running the political-prediction Web site and being an analyst and writer for Baseball Prospectus, he writes an Esquire column called "The Data."

Desperate Actions to Deny Gay Marriage

The Des Moines Register writes about the desperate actions Republican lawmakers are taking to defy the Iowa Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage.

By trying to allow county employees to defy a Supreme Court ruling, desperate lawmakers are taking desperate actions.

And it appears at least one lawmaker's staff took things a step further. A county recorder sent an e-mail to colleagues about a call she took from Republican Rep. Kent Sorenson's clerk. When the clerk asked the recorder how she was going to handle the gay-marriage issue, the recorder rightly responded she would process the application, just as the law requires.

According to the recorder's e-mail, the clerk "inquired as to why I thought I had to do that - it's not a law, it's an opinion."

Sorenson said he didn't put his assistant up to making the call, but it leaves Iowans wondering what's going on at the Statehouse. Are the staff of elected officials - working on the public dime - embarking on a fishing expedition to find a county recorder who is willing to defy the law or to encourage them to do so?

County recorders have taken an oath to do a job. As of next week, that job will include processing the paperwork for gay couples who want to marry. It doesn't matter whether the government employees personally disagree with such unions. Just like it didn't matter when a gay county recorder wanted to grant such licenses before the law allowed it.

They don't get to decide which laws they follow. And if some refuse to do their jobs, they should face consequences - and find new employment.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have a job to do as well - including dealing with state budget shortfalls in the final days of the session. They should focus on doing the important work Iowa needs done - not embarrassing themselves and this state with desperate attempts to deny people their rights.

If people have a problem with a county recorder granting a marriage licence, then change Iowa law so that county recorders give a civil union certificate that would grant equal rights under the law. Then the couple could take the civil union certificate to a church of their choice if they want and get married.

I thought rightwing Republicans would believe couples get married in a church and not at a courthouse.

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Investing in Creativity is the Key to Economic Recovery

The Des Moines Register reported on Saturday that Iowa's unemployment rates has risen to 5.2%.

Iowa's unemployment picture darkened in March as the global recession hammered the state's manufacturing industry, pushing factory job losses to 20,400 and driving the jobless rate to 5.2 percent.

The state's unemployment rate was last that high in December 1987, the backside of the farm crisis that pushed the state's unemployment rate to 8.5 percent. A year ago, the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent. In February it was 4.9 percent.

Despite more people joining the ranks of unemployed Iowans - which hit 87,800 in March - some analysts believe the state's economic decline is ending. That would start the state's long road to recovery.
That leads to the question of how is the state going to recover. I believe the answer is in renewable energy, education, and creativity.

Iowa has invested in renewable energy and education over the past couple years. State leaders have stressed the development of renewable energy and that investment has pushed Iowa to become the 2nd largest producer of wind energy in the country. Since 2006, the Iowa legislature has invested in early childhood education and have helped teacher salaries rise to 25th in the nation.

Iowa now must invest in harnessing the creative abilities that exists in each community in the state.

From Richard Florida...

Like all advanced economies, ours is in the midst of a great transformation - to an economy in which creativity, skills, and knowledge matter more than strength and muscle… At bottom, today’s challenge is the move from jobs oriented to routine to jobs that hinge on creativity. Routine-oriented workers carry out standardized tasks, often repetitively and in a preset sequence.

Traditionally, many of these jobs have been in manufacturing - Henry Ford’s assembly line is the classic example. But the greater portion of them now are in service occupations: waitresses following standard procedures in restaurants, or clerical staff and their paperwork.

Over the coming decade, they will account for about half of all jobs created in Canada and the U.S. alike. Yet we still undervalue creative jobs and the key skills on which they depend - consider the controversy over funding cuts for research and innovation in the recent federal budget. [...]

If we want a high-wage economy, we also have to ensure that our training programs and schools develop social and analytical skills, and focus our efforts on attracting businesses that invest in the creativity of their workers.

To be successful, we must tap and harness our most important resource: the creative capabilities and talents of all…

We can build upon what makes our communities unique and what talents people have to create business, improve local communities, and put people to work.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Progressive Revolution: Interview with author Mike Lux

Last month I attended a blogger meeting with Mike Lux, author of The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to be.

Lux was in Des Moines to speak at the ICAN 30th Anniversary Celebration. Lux said he was excited to be back in the state because he got to see some old friends and he loves the politics of Iowa because it is the classic Midwest swing state.

Lux worked as executive director of ICAN in the 1980's before taking a leave to work on Biden's 1st prescidential campaign. He later worked for the Clinton campaign and recently was part of the Obama transition team. Lux currently blogs at Open Left.

The Progressive Revolution focuses on how the progressive movement has produced many of the great changes in American history.

The book develops a coherent, compelling narrative about the historic battle between progressive and conservative thinking, and makes the case that when our side has won the day, the big changes that happened moved America forward and built a country we can be proud of: the Bill of Rights, the abolition of slavery, the national park system, women's suffrage, the New Deal, the civil rights movement, the New Deal, the civil rights movement -- all part of a progressive heritage that is the best of America.
A lot of the talk centered around how he marketed his book, blogging, and the progressive movement in general.

Lux used his blogging connections to help market this book because he had a very small budget from his publisher. Blogs are donating ad space and writing reviews. So far, 21 blogs gave free ad space including Iowa's Bleeding Heartland. As they were marketing the book they emphasized building a progressive movement and be putting book profits will go back to building the progressive movement.

They viewed the book tour as a movement building tour by speaking at independent book stores, contacting local bloggers and community organizing groups. Lux said that he participated in book discussions at Firedog Lake and Crooks and Liars and the following each one they saw a jump of sales on Amazon. This shows there is a market out their for progressive ideas and it's just a matter of reaching that market.
Through this book tour we are learning a great deal about books. We want to help other progressive authors and even progressive musicians to help build a progressive media.
Lux stated that this movement building is important because progressives have been the leaders in American history. Progressives have been the ones to produce the change we have seen and will continue to do so.

I asked him about what the progressive solution to health care crisis is and if there was any chance to for a single-payer health care system.

He said that it is a 2 step process. First, we must prohibit insurance companies from denying care for pre-existing conditions. Then we must offer a public alternative to private insurance. Tell the American that if you like your plans and love your insurance companies, then stick with your current plan. If not, here's a public plan that will be same as Congress's. The public plan can compete with private insurance and the market can decide which one is better. He said Republicans will fight this because they know the private, for profit health care plans will lose to the public plans. Once this plays out then maybe in a few years it will be politically possible to pass a single-payer health care system.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Republicans Should Back Universal Health Care Coverage

Marc Ambinder has a fascinating article on why the Republicans should back universal health care coverage.

The time for universal health insurance coverage has come. Everybody seems to know that -- except for the Republicans, all too many of whom cling to traditional denunciations of universal coverage as socialism. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has been holding talks with Republican lawmakers over the past week, and all signs point to opposition from the GOP.

But for the welfare of the country and their political party, Republicans should, instead, seize the lesson of Nixon's trip to China. With one brilliant foray, Nixon converted the massive threat posed by the isolated China into an asset, secured a favorable mention in history, and stripped the Democrats of a key issue. By embracing their own brand of universal health coverage, Republicans can do the same. There's a massive constituency behind the policy. Buffeted by the recession and the threat of losing their employer-provided health insurance, the American people want universal coverage. Much of the US business community wants it too. CEOs rarely say "Know what I love about my job? Buying health care." The chore is so unrewarding -- corporate buyers have failed to create effective cost or quality improvements -- that many small business CEOs simply skip it. As a result, millions distort the efficient allocation of labor in our economy by opting for jobs in dying, big companies that offer health insurance, rather than productive ones in small companies that do not. Furthermore, our employer-based health insurance system forces American businesses to pack our massive health care costs -- about 70 percent greater as a share of GDP than other countries' -- into the cost of their exports, a huge albatross in a globally competitive economy.[...]

The Republicans could instead offer a consumer-controlled universal coverage system, like that in Switzerland, in which the people, not the government, control how much they spend on health. There are no government health insurance programs. Instead, the Swiss choose from about 85 private heath insurers. Rather than being stuffed into the degrading Medicaid program, the Swiss poor shop for health insurance like everyone else, using funds transferred to them by the government. The sick are not discriminated against either -- they pay the same prices as everyone else in their demographic category. Like the US, Switzerland is a confederation of states that, as in the US, oversee the insurance system. Enforcement by the tax authorities has produced 99 percent enrollment.

This consumer-driven, universal coverage system provides excellent health care for the sick, tops the world in consumer satisfaction, and costs 40 percent less, as a percentage of GDP, than the system in the US. The Swiss could spend even less by choosing cheaper, high deductible health insurance policies, but they have opted against doing so. Swiss consumers reward insurers that offer the best value for the money. These competitive pressures cause Swiss insurers to spend only about 5 percent on general and administrative expenses, as compared to 12-15 percent in the US. And unlike Medicare, the private Swiss firms must function without incurring massive unfunded liabilities. Competition has also pushed Swiss providers to be more efficient than those in the US. Yet they remain well-compensated. [...]

The Republican choice is clear. They can whine while the Democratic Congress enacts a government-controlled system, or they can embrace a Republican approach to Universal Coverage.
It would be a big move for the Republican Party to move away from being the party of no and working towards developing quality policy on an issue. Iowa has one Republican that could be a leader on this issue in Sen. Grassley. If a Senator like Grassley would show bipartisanship on a key issue such as health care, more Republican Senators would follow his lead and the nation would be much better off.

The Truth about Taxes

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, dispels some rightwing myths about taxes.

1. "Americans pay too much in taxes." Wrong: The United States has the lowest taxes of all developed nations.

2. "The rich pay too much! The top ten percent of income earners pay over 72 percent of all income taxes!" Misleading: The main reason the rich pay such a large percent is they've become so much richer than the bottom 90 percent in recent years. If you look at what they pay as individuals -- the percent of their incomes over and above the highest rate below them -- you'll see a steady decline over the years. When Republican Dwight Eisenhower was president, the marginal rate on the highest earners was 91 percent (after deductions and tax credits, closer to 50 percent); by 1980 it was still up there, at 70 percent (an effective rate of closer to 45 percent); under Bill Clinton, it was 38 percent (an effective rate closer to 28 percent).

Look at the after-tax earnings of families and you'll see what's really going on. Between 1980 and 2000, the after-tax earnings of famlies at the top rose more than 150 percent, while the after-tax earnings of families in the middle rose about 10 percent. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 raised the after-tax incomes of most Americans by a bit over 1 percent -- but raised the after-tax incomes of millionaires by 4.4 percent.

3. "The bottom 60 percent pay only 3.3 percent of the taxes!" Misleading again. Most Americans are paying more in sales taxes than they ever have. Property taxes have also been rising at a steady clip. And Social Security taxes have also risen (thanks to the Greenspan Commission), while earnings over about $100,000 aren't subject to Social Security taxes. So-called "sin" taxes (mostly beer and cigarettes) have also skyrocketed. All of these taxes take a bigger bite out of the paychecks of people with lower incomes than they do people with higher incomes.

4. "Obama is raising your taxes!" Wrong. Obama is cutting taxes for 95 percent of Americans, by about $400 per person a year -- not a whopping tax cut, to be sure, but not a tax increase by any stretch. Only the top 2 percent will have a tax increase, but even this tax increase is modest. Basically, they go back to the rates they were paying under Bill Clinton (their deductions will be limited to 28 percent, which is only fair). And they won't start paying this until 2011 anyway.

5. "The huge debts we're wracking up will cause your taxes to rise!" Wrong again. When it comes to the national debt, as I've said before, the relevant statistic is the ratio of debt to the gross domestic product. The only sure way to bring that debt down and make it manageable in future years is to get the economy growing again -- which requires that, in the short term, the government spend a lot of money (because consumers and businesses won't). In the long term, the biggest source of concern is rising health-care costs. And that's something Obama and Congress are aiming to tackle.

6. "We have a patriotic duty to stand up against Washington taxes!" Just the opposite. We have a patriotic duty to pay taxes. As multi-billionaire Warrent Buffett put it, "If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru or someplace, you'll find out how much this talent is going to product in the wrong kind of soil. I will be struggling thirty years later." President Teddy Roosevelt made the case in 1906 when he argued in favor of continuing the inheritance tax. "The man of great wealth owes a particular obligation to the state because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

If You're Planning Tea Bagging Across The Country...

David Schuster talking about the teabagging today by Republicans all across the country.

Money quote...

If You're Planning Tea Bagging Across The Country, "you're going to need a Dick Armey."

Aint no party like a Tea Party

Republicans across the nation are protest a tax increase on the rich by holding tea parties.

I am pretty sure these wealthy protesters probably look like this...

A Tea Party to Protest Tax Increases on the Rich?

Today, Republicans have found an issues that solidifies their conservative values. Across the nation tea parties are being held to protest a tax increase on the rich.

Led by Fox News, these Republicans are upset over Barack Obama's statements that he is going to raise taxes on the people that make over $250,000 a year to the same levels they were under in 1990's. (If I remember correctly, the economy did pretty darn well under Bill Clinton in the 90's.)

There are plans for a tea party in Des Moines today at the State Capital Building.

From Open Left...

They will provide a staged, corporate lobbyist-sponsored moment for Republicans and Fox News personalities to amplify their specious objections to President Obama's tax increase for the rich, while furthering their own right-wing conspiratorial claims about liberal values.
This story at MyDD tells about a gallup poll that shows Americans are pretty split on the tax issue and a majority believe the rich (those making over $250,000 a year) should be paying a little more...
A new Gallup Poll finds 48% of Americans saying the amount of federal income taxes they pay is "about right," with 46% saying "too high" -- one of the most positive assessments Gallup has measured since 1956. Typically, a majority of Americans say their taxes are too high, and relatively few say their taxes are too low. [...]

The slightly more positive view this year may reflect a public response to President Barack Obama's economic stimulus and budget plans. He has promised not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $250,000, while cutting taxes for lower- and middle-income Americans. The latter has already begun, as the government has reduced the withholding amount for federal income taxes from middle- and lower-income American workers' paychecks.

Which pretty much begs the question: what exactly are the teabaggers protesting, exactly, the largest middle class tax cut in history? The irony (and tragedy) is that a lot of these tea bag parties are going to entail middle class folks throwing tea into some body of water presumably (?) in protest of a slight increase in taxes on only the wealthiest Americans, who are precisely the ones, through their perches at FoxNews and on talk radio, who are riling people up to go to the protests in the first place.

I think the larger point about where the country is on this issue is that there has been a shift in attitudes toward taxes over the past few years thanks largely to Bush. Let's face it, during the Bush years, there was a direct correlation between taxes being cut and services being cut; between the amount people were paying to the government and the competence and effectiveness of that government. These teabaggers can whine all day about the big bad government but the truth is people are willing to pay for good government service. The idea that government spending or raising taxes on the rich while cutting taxes on everyone else somehow limits freedoms is, as most views the rightwing holds, a radical minority view.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rally For Bike Safety on April 15 in Des Moines

From my inbox...

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition is extremely concerned about the number of cyclists already injured by reckless motorists driving this year. We remain disappointed that the Iowa House of Representatives has failed to take up the bicycle safety bill. New laws or no new laws, drivers need to give cyclists a safety passing distance.

Cyclists will ride to the steps of the Iowa Capitol on Wednesday, April 15 at 5:30 PM in opposition to the violent crashes and road rage incidents that have occurred this spring. The ride will begin in the parking lot of Rasmussen's Bike Shop at 301 Grand Ave in West Des Moines.

The ride follows a crash near Winterset, where the driver of a truck pulling a trailer passed too closely to a group of cyclists, ran over one cyclist with his trailer and left the scene. Cyclists report the motorist was honking constantly as he passed and returned to the scene 30 minutes later.

Details are in a news story on KCCI:

Another crash this year involved Ken Sherman. Sherman was riding through an intersection in Des Moines when a car failed to yield to the oncoming cyclist and collided with Sherman causing injuries. The Des Moines Police failed to issue any citations following the incident, but determined the motorist to be at fault.

Cyclists still have the same rights and duties of the drivers of motor vehicles as specified in the Iowa Code. Incidents where cyclists are injured due to the inattentiveness of motorists are irresponsible and should be cited by police as appropriate. Incidents where cyclists are harassed or intimidated intentionally are violent and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Democrats Strengthen Plan for Middle Class Tax Cuts

The debate to end federal income tax detectability is back on the schedule this week in the Iowa Legislator. Democrats have revised their original plan after hearing from opponents and have strengthened the middle class tax cuts.

Here is information that I received from my State Senator over the weekend...

The middle-class tax cut will:

Lower taxes

o Tax rates will fall for all Iowans.

o Taxes will be cut for more than 60 percent of taxpayers in our area.

o The overall tax cut totals $55 million.

o More than 881,000 Iowans will see their standard deduction increased by nearly $1,000.

o Nearly 75 percent of Iowa taxpayers – almost 1 million households – will either have a tax cut or no change at all to their taxes.

Be better for families

o Iowa families will benefit from an increase in the child and dependent tax credit.

o Iowa households will benefit from an increase in the elderly and blind tax credit.

o Iowans will benefit from an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit.

o Iowa college students will benefit from a new $100 refundable tax credit.

Make Iowa more competitive

o Iowa’s tax rates will be more competitive for economic development and job creation.

o Iowa’s highest tax rate will be reduced by 22 percent.

A key to this plan to end federal income deductability is to lower our state income tax rates, which would make Iowa more attractive to out of state companies looking to locate here. Right now companies look at the tax rates and see Iowa with much higher rates than surrounding states. Ending federal income tax deductability improves Iowa's business climate.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Is McCarthy Going to Leave the State Legislature?

Iowa Independent had a story last week about Civic Skinny reporting that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy might not run for reelection in 2010.

A leader in the Iowa legislature tells Des Moines’ resident gossip columnist, Civic Skinny, that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been making none-too-subtle moves indicating he isn’t interested in running for re-election in 2010.

McCarthy, who was first elected in 2003, has discussed new careers with Gov. Chet Culver and others in the private sector, sources tell Skinny. The Des Moines Democrat serves as the second in command to House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque. His district is considered one of the safest Democratic districts in Iowa, encompassing a large swath of Des Moines’ southeast side. So while McCarthy’s departure won’t mean a net loss for the Democrats, it could have impact on the workings of the House caucus.

Civic Skinny says McCarthy has talked with Gov. Culver about a job in his administration. When I first heard about this, I thought McCarthy might be eyeing a run for Congress in Iowa's 3rd district that is currently held by Leonard Boswell. This is all pure speculation, but maybe McCarthy knows Boswell is going to retire. McCarthy would be the logical choice of party insiders to be the nominee.

Get to Know Your Food Source

Posted by Gark...

My wife and I thought that buying our eggs "cage free" was a more humane choice. Turns out, we may have been deluding ourselves. A story from describes the conditions that even these so-called "humane" practices permit.

Both battery and free-range hens come from hatcheries, where after chicks are sexed in both industries all the males are destroyed. Additionally they all undergo debeaking and force molting, where they’re starved for about two weeks to trick their bodies into starting another egg laying cycle.

One investigation by Jewel Johnson of a cage-free farm resulted in her discovery of what the lives of 10,000 cage free hens were really like.

“The floor under my feet was cement, and the building was freezing cold with no heat in early April. I couldn’t see much for hens at all down the shed…it was just too dark. All I could see was black, all I could hear was crying of hens, all I could smell was ammonia – it was a cold, black cement hell,” she said.
Thankfully in the Iowa City area there are a number of egg sources that don't treat their chickens this way. My best advice now is "buyer beware", buy locally and get to know your food producer.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Future of Journalism

My family has a long history in the newspaper business. My grandfather worked for the local paper for years and my uncle works for a large newspaper in the Midwest. At family dinners the conversation would turn to the newspaper business and it is clear that now is not a good time for newspapers.

Clay Shirky, who has written for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, wrote a post on his blog called Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. Shirky concludes by saying newspapers are an old institution that isn't worth saving. Instead, we need journalism and at this point no one is sure where or what form that journalism will be in.

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society’, the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

We don’t know who the Aldus Manutius of the current age is. It could be Craig Newmark, or Caterina Fake. It could be Martin Nisenholtz, or Emily Bell. It could be some 19 year old kid few of us have heard of, working on something we won’t recognize as vital until a decade hence. Any experiment, though, designed to provide new models for journalism is going to be an improvement over hiding from the real, especially in a year when, for many papers, the unthinkable future is already in the past.

For the next few decades, journalism will be made up of overlapping special cases. Many of these models will rely on amateurs as researchers and writers. Many of these models will rely on sponsorship or grants or endowments instead of revenues. Many of these models will rely on excitable 14 year olds distributing the results. Many of these models will fail. No one experiment is going to replace what we are now losing with the demise of news on paper, but over time, the collection of new experiments that do work might give us the journalism we need.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

10 Reasons why Gay Marriage is "wrong"

I didn't write this, but it is hilarious (I especially like #2 and #7), so I had to share...

10 Reasons why Gay Marriage is "wrong"

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Gronstal calls out Iowans for Tax Relief for being against tax relief

Develop Policies to Expand Rural Broadband Access

One of the education technology blogs that I read had a post about the need for states and local communities to develop policies to access rural broadband access.

From Moving at the Speed of Creativity...

We CANNOT wait for commercial Internet providers, like AT&T, Verizon, and others, to bring high-speed Internet connectivity to rural America based on return-on-investment (ROI) calculations. These companies have not brought those services to rural America because it is not comparably profitable to do so as it is in urban population centers. When we electrified our nation in the 1930s, we did not wait for behemoth mega-corporations to conduct ROI studies, and then “get back to us with their decision.” No, we formed a variety of utility cooperatives and utilized government subsidies to get our entire nation electrified. Organizations like the Tennessee Valley Authority were created and maintained to provide electricity as well as other services in areas where businesses and corporations wouldn’t do it. The same thing needs to happen today with rural broadband connectivity. The 2006 Tennessee Taskforce on rural broadband deployment’s observations were and are exactly on target in this regard:

“Rural electrification [in the United States] was achieved only after a coordinated effort by the public and private sectors, which succeeded in driving full deployment and adoption of that technology to farms and small towns across the country,” the report stated. “Widespread deployment and adoption of broadband also will require a coordinated effort by the public and private sectors.”

Our assumptions of what is normal, expected, and standard for “high speed” Internet in the United States are in need of a MAJOR shift. Compared to parts of east Asia and Europe, our “high speed” connections are excruciatingly slow. Telecommunications companies are not going to “fix” this problem on their own.

Iowa must develop policies at the statewide and local levels to expand rural broadband access. It's a matter of economic development for rural communities. How can you expect a business to locate in a rural community when they lack basic infrastructure to run a business in the 21st century?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Jon Stewart: "Republicans...Pace your rage."

Jon Stewart nailed it last night on the Daily Show...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
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From Crooks and Liars...

Stewart: Yes, tyranny. A.K.A. our democratically elected President. You know what guys....I think you might be confusing tyranny with losing. And I feel for you because ah...I've been there. A few times. In fact one of them was a bit of a nail biter. But see, when the guy that you disagree with gets elected, he's probably going to do things you disagree with. He could cut taxes on the wealthy. Remove government's oversight capability. Invade a country that you thought should not be invaded but that's not tyranny. That's democracy.

See now you're in the minority. It's supposed to taste like a s#%t taco. And by the way, if I remember correctly when a disagreement was expressed about that President's actions when ya'll were in power I believe the response was "Why do you hate America?". "Watch what you say." "Love it or leave it." "Suck on my truck nuts."


For god's sake guys. You've been out of power for ten f*%#ng weeks. You've got a mid-term election in twenty months. Pace your rage!