My personal blog about politics, religion, gossip and sometimes...sex. All the stuff your Mother said to "Never talk about!" I know, sort of makes folks uncomfortable and so many have become so good at being haters. Nothing like that here just some short stories to make you think...maybe. Grab a cup but, remember, it's hot!
Last week was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish Calendar. It was also the day Pope Francis landed in the United States. I shared with my congregation that things like this just "don't happen" and if I wasn't Jewish I'd consider converting because of this Pope. It has been an amazing adventure to watch and read and learn from. Maybe, just maybe some will find meaning and purpose following this visit and we'll stop hating. Maybe but don't count on it.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) made the decision, the day after the Pope addressed a joint session of Congress (another first), to call it quits. It, perhaps, was the biggest political story of the season. Some said it was because of what the Pope said. Other suggest that he is tired. I think it's both. I've never been a fan of Mr. Boehner as he has been a colossal failure in his job as Speaker. But maybe, just maybe, he is now free to put his energy to work without the Freedom Caucus. Who are they? Some of the most rabid right-wingers in Congress. Now, free of them, perhaps he can allow his heart to rule and champion a budget that will not de-fund Planed Parenthood. His replacement? Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) seems to be the front runner and his track record is nearly non-existent. Prepare for more of the same.
But why take my word on it...if you click the video above Rachel will explain so much better than I. BTW...I have a sincere crush on her! Just sayin'.
Speaking of Doing Nothing...
My friend, a great progressive and former Mayor of Clive, Les Aasheim, sent me something interesting about Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA). Senator Grassley, last week, when Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) quit the GOP Presidential Campaign had glowing words about the Governor. About how he stands up against "special interests" (Unions) and "...works on behalf of the Middle Class!"...yeah, right. Since the fall of the unions the middle class has continued to shrink...but, I digress. Anyway it seems that Sen. Grassley hasn't been doing HIS JOB. You see, the Senator is the chair of the Judicial Committee and prior to the GOP take-over, he was the ranking Republican. OK...but congress has failed to take action on dozens of judicial appointments and things are getting out of hand. Here is the story from George Mason University and the History News Network. Oh, those pesky facts...
See what you learn when you drink a little coffee...
Doing Nothing Often Works...Until Now
Several months ago I was visiting with some "chamber types" in West Des Moines about legislative forums. You know those local meetings that are held and state legislators stand up, offer glowing reports about themselves and the progress they are making on behalf of us "little people". Yeah, those. I asked how their events go and was told, "Pretty well but we just can't get Rep. Peter Cownie (R-WDM) to come. He doesn't even respond." I didn't think anything about it until I heard the same comments from some folks associated with the West Des Moines Schools. "Doesn't show, won't communicate..." Disclaimer: I do not live in West Des Moines. I do not know Mr. Cownie. I only share what I've been told and they may have been lying to me...but...maybe not.
However, I did see Mr. Cownie take part in a chili cook-off this past summer. He was a...judge in his role at the CEO of the Blue Ribbon Foundation of the Iowa State Fair. (Photo)
Mr. Cownie has held that office since 2009 and his challengers have been, mostly, weak. Until...now? I am not at liberty to share with you who is going to announce. I made a promise but...this...will be...fun! Don't you LOVE GOSSIP?
Drugs and Cars
Last week social media lit up when the private drug manufacturer Touring announced it would raise the price of the drug Daraprim by over 5,000%. Martin Shkreli, a 32-year-old former hedge fund manager who runs Turing Pharmaceuticals made the rounds of the talk shows telling us the price increase was required so they could pour more money into a new drug to treat Toxoplasmosis. Except nobody is calling for a new drug. In round two of the talk shows, 24 hours later, Shkreli walked back that line and said the price would increase but did not give a price.
Meanwhile Hillary Clinton tweeted that she was going to look into "price gouging" and that sent the drug sector stock prices down some $15 billion.
Meanwhile Volkswagen admitted they cheated on emissions standards by installing software in...oh...about 11 million vehicles. That little tidbit was enough to cause VW to lose about $26 billion as it's stock plummeted by 30%.
Hey, wasn't Pope Francis in town recently? And, can somebody tell me, again, why we can't import drugs from Canada and why the Medicare/Medicaid and the VA are not allowed to negotiate prices with drug companies? Bastards...all! No, not you Pope...those other guys. (Cartoon - Tim Lloyd) Yes, we loved the GOP response to the Pope...what a bunch.
Speaking of Fraud...
It seems as if Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) has a thing for companies that cheat. The governor made the decision to turn over the health care of about 500,000 Iowans to four private insurance "handlers" and save the state $51 million in year one. No doubt we will then hand that cash over to already successful companies like fertilizer plants, Facebook, Google...you get the idea. Anyway the Des Moines Register has a great story about how three of the four companies have faced all sorts of legal troubles for cheating. Go ahead and have a look IF you can get through the paywall.
Last week I had the opportunity to interview Lyle Muller the executive director of Iowa Watch - The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism who was at Drake University speaking to a class of budding journalists about the Iowa Caucus. This organization has, as it's mission, the job of "encouraging explanatory and investigative journalism in Iowa". In other words, going beyond the "talking points" and "sound bits". They have an event coming up on 8 October "Celebrating a Free Press & Open Government". Here is the link to that event and come on...get a ticket for something very cool.
If you want to check out the interview have a listen.
Today, along University Avenue in Des Moines between Noon and 4PM is DSMove an "Open Streets" event from 41st Street to 23rd Street. Here is a link to the event!
Tonight, at sundown, starts the Festival of Sukkot. Today we get to finish the Sukkah in our back-yard. The festival of what? And what is a Sukkah? Here's a link to learn.
Have a great Sunday a superior Open Streets Event and if you are celebrating a wonderful Sukkot! - Thanks for reading!