I was sitting with a friend yesterday, who happens to be Irish, and asked him what he was doing at this business meeting rather than attending the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Des Moines. He said, as he tipped back a Guinness,"Those are for people who want to be Irish." I'll take it and welcome to Sunday Morning Coffee. Inside are some of the political/social issues you may have seen or, perhaps missed, but all laced with my commentary. Because? It's what I get to do before the sun comes up on Sunday. Let's go!
Our Culture of Hate
Descending into barbarism is easy. One barbaric act is followed, a few years later, by another and then another. Society is horrified for a moment and then we go back to our lives without taking any action. The places of terror become history and "thoughts and prayers" become forgotten because they are meaningless words.
We take that lipid response at its face value and we do...nothing.
We live with hate-mongers and "dog whistles" that call those barbarians to action.
And, we do nothing.
Perhaps we are doomed or perhaps it is time to, as Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said yesterday, "It is not enough for one to proclaim he or she is not a racist. It is time that we become anti-racists."
Maybe that is a start.
In the wake of the murder of 50 people at two mosques the Prime Minister of New Zealand took action demanding that the gun laws in her nation change and is moving forward with a plan to outlaw, buyback semi-automatic weapons. There, unlike in the United States, government officials are, at least, talking about what would be unthinkable here.
The shooter in Christchurch could not purchase his weapons of mass destruction in his home country of Australia. That nation banned many firearms following a mass killing in 1996. Australia further tightened gun restrictions several years later and the result has been impressive. For that report, feel free to click here. No, the terrorist purchased his firearms in New Zealand. He had a gun license acquired in November 2017 and carried out the killings with two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever-action firearm.
Now New Zealand has decided it will take action. Meanwhile, here in the United States, we will offer "thoughts and prayers".
I have friends, mostly on the Right, who once carried around with them miniature booklets of the United States Constitution. It became quite fashionable back in the day along with Gadsden flags and oversize lapel pins.
Today my friends have, clearly, misplaced their treasured booklets or choose to ignore those hallowed words. How do we know?
Both Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) voted to allow "45" to trash the separation of powers and vote against a resolution to deny siphoning off billions of dollars from congressional appropriated funds to build a wall at our southern border.
Astounding isn't it? These self proclaimed "Champions of Constitutional Law" decided it was too tough to stand up to "45" so they caved. What proud and bold leadership we have in the United States Senate.
Closed Door Meetings
Meanwhile there was a big meeting last week in Des Moines as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Governor Kim Reynolds (R-IA) huddled with folks that hold great disdain for public education and wish to take your tax dollars and shovel them to folks who want to enrol their kids in religious or for-profit schools. Ms. DeVos flew in to salvage the plan that had seemed to have been sidelined in recent weeks. For a list of attendees feel free to click over to Progress Iowa.
Iowa is in trouble and nobody cares. For those of you living in "The Burbs" with a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's around the corner I know you don't think much about this. "This" is Rural Iowa. Following six years of debilitating commodity prices and now a self imposed trade war that has China buying soybeans from Brazil our rural brothers and sisters are...starving. The other day a supporter of the trade war was on Iowa Public Radio saying, "We're going to get a better deal so we need to stand with the president. Take a little pain now for something much better in the future."
No, he really said that.
I've been writing about the "Crumbs from the Table" phononomim for years. This is when starving serfs would fight each other for the crumbs that would fall from their masters table. They continued to support their master while they fought among themselves for...the crumbs.
Consider the reality:
- Bankruptcies in the Midwest are up 98% in the past two years;
- Loan officers are demanding more collateral for farm loans;
- Last year Wisconsin lost over 7% of their family owned dairies;
- The suicide rate in Iowa is up 38% year over year.
Yet in a recent Iowa Poll much of the rural community say they continue to support the efforts of the GOP. Meanwhile the true answer to reversing those horrible numbers come in the wake of progressive public policy espoused by the Democrats.
But, it seems, crumbs digest...better.
The Media & Questions
I was at the Iowa Asian Latino Coalition reception for Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) yesterday morning where spoke to a packed room at the Iowa Capital. The senator is on a multi-day swing through Iowa to bolster his presidential campaign. I have now seen him, in person, three times in five months. Not as a supporter but as a media person reporting on the business aspect of each of the candidates or those seeking to run. So far I've racked up interviews with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former Congressman John Delaney (D-MD), businessman Andrew Yang and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NY). As well as some who have decided not to move forward with a campaign like L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, "Move to Impeach" Tom Steyer and former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Here is something that I've noticed. Everybody shows up for the event. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Radio Iowa....the various newspapers. the list gets pretty long. The candidate, like yesterday with Booker, gets to the event, speaks and once the event is done most, if not all, of the reporters leave. Mind you, they all heard the same words. They all have the same video but few stick around to ask follow up questions.
I get it. No, really. Usually the candidate is busy having photos taken, doing selfies, answering voter questions and that all takes time. It's agony to wait around until the crowd thins out and then, if there is not a "media gagle" where we all have access to the candidate, reporters just...leave. Missing out on the opportunity to have the candidate explain things he or she said.
Me? I stick around. Yesterday that paid off and I was able to ask Senator Booker a couple of questions even if we had to "walk and talk". I don't have the time this morning to edit that piece but it will be up later this week on the Business News Hour and has to do with agriculture and the constitutional issue of providing for the safety of Americans. Sorry for the tease but I gotta get this out. (Photo - Brian Powers - Des Moines Register)
This afternoon at 3pm there will be a gathering at the First Christian Church, 2500 University, Ave in Des Moines. In the press release from the Iowa Interfaith Alliance it is being called, We Stand Together with the Muslim Community and Against Hate. Expect speeches from many area religious leaders including, "..calls to action in how we must address hate, bigotry, and violence together."
If you are so moved...see you there.
It is a bit ironic that we're doing this just days ahead of the Jewish Festival of Purim. Which you can read about in the Book of Esther. It was yet another attempt where a majority culture made plans to annihilate the minority culture. Worth a read.
Yesterday was the first statewide meeting of a group known as Podcast Iowa. It is part of a network of podcasters from across the country. There are now 10 states that boast of such a group and it's rapidly expanding. More to some on that in the newscast this week but it's a media reality that is sweeping not only the United States but the world. And, media companies are taking notice.
We went shopping the other say at a second hand clothing store. My grand-daughter, Jovie loves, loves, loves The Dollar Store and second hand clothing stores. Mostly because she can buy stuff on her own. Jovie and her Mom have lived with us for the past three plus years and have recently moved to a place of their own.
Anyway I look at these times as filling a void for a male role model in her life and it's more than fun.
Thought you might get a kick out of this photo of our 10 year-old "model" trying on a jacket. Ya gotta love it...
Thanks for reading and have a great Sunday.