• STATE GOP POLITICAL FORUM REPORT 2-25-17

    • Posted on Mar 05, 2017

             

      A few takeaways from the GOP Forum at VGM which I attended on Saturday, Feb. 25 in Waterloo.

    • Conservative social proprieties were evident throughout the two-hour meeting: decorum, orderliness, hierarchy and authority (one man controlled the discussion for all two hours), religiosity, (they began with a prayer), patriotism (they also began with the Pledge of Allegiance and placed an open American flag on their table) and tradition—no signage, no disorder of any kind were allowed.  The message was:  we’re in control. 
    • No criticism of (m) President Trump* was allowed. When a young women asked about how anyone could support him, the moderator cut her off. 
    • Walt Rogers insisted that “collective bargaining has not been damaged” in his response to a UNI faculty member who insisted that the University’s United Faculty union’s bargaining rights had been gutted. When the hooting and loud disagreeing started, the moderator immediately shut them down.  This is a long argument that I’ll continue elsewhere.  (See “Did Walter Rogers Lie?” above) 
    • Several bills which are on the table in the current legislator may or may not get anywhere: allowing mentally ill people to purchase guns, the bottle/can deposit bill, capital punishment and others which have been part of the fabric of Iowa life for decades.  The message here was:  contact your legislators and tell them what you think.  (Unfortunately, the GOP’s recent track record of actually listening to constituents is utterly dismal.)
    • Waterloo City Council member Pat Morrissey told the panel that “Home rule has been eviscerated” by the legislature with their recent actions on a state minimum wage, civil rights, and other new initiatives.  Morrissey asked them why they would overrule a city’s initiatives to make life better for citizens—and that home rule was a big step toward doing that.  The panel had no real answers—Rogers citing competition as though it were bad. (And here I thought Republicans were all for free market competition—which home rule does encourage.)
    • One interesting exchange occurred between Justin Scott, a local atheist and activist, and Walt Rogers.  Scott asked if GOP legislators are basing legislative decisions on scientific evidence and not faith—using abortion as an example of faith-based objections that might become law.    Rogers insisted that religions do run institutions for the general good—such as hospitals.  “What’s the difference between a religiously-run hospital and religiously-run school?” he asked Justin Scott.    Scott gave no clear answer—and I wish he had:  It’s ideology.  A hospital, no matter who runs it, is bound to abide by health care rules and laws.  Their religious ideology makes no difference to the care of patients.  In a religious school, in contrast, religious ideology pervades everything—from classes to lessons to prayers during school hours.  This should be unconstitutional if supported by taxpayer dollars. 
    • How is the GOP going to avoid misusing their power?  Do they have any checks and balances in place other than their own good will?   When one party has all the power, very bad things can happen.  That’s the question that needs to get asked, over and over. 
    • The contrast between Friday morning’s Parkersburg town hall with Senator Grassley and this “forum” could not be more stark:  this one was controlled, managed so as to keep questions within narrow parameters, and clearly meant to show that the GOP is the party of tradition, authority, and control.  The Grassley town hall was exciting, engaging, freewheeling, and open to all thoughts of anyone on anything, and ranged from eloquent to silly and all points in between.  
    • Parkersburg was democracy in action; the VGM forum was the Iowa Republican party in action. 

    * (m) before President Trump serves as a reminder that he was elected by a minority of the electorate.  

    Go comment!
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  • Tale of Three Billionaires

    • Posted on Oct 16, 2016
    Sunday, October 16th Courier column--showing how being really rich reveals your real character.  

    ++++++++++++++++
    Much of what we think and do depends on how much money we have.   

     Imagine you control billions.  

     A whole new world opens up, and stays open.  Everyone around you is on your staff, and you only hire the best.  You don’t really need friends, since everyone’s your friend when you have unlimited resources.  In fact, you can never be sure who really likes you, since all that money attracts toadies and opportunists by the hundred.   

    Having thousands of millions becomes a major reveal for one’s truest self.  Are you generous and connected to mankind’s ongoing needs?   Or are you a piker, only concerning about amassing more millions?  

     Consider three billionaires and how they handle their money mountains: Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, and Donald Trump.   

    Gates made his massive fortune, now estimated at 81.8 billion, as CEO of Microsoft. We’re now digital thanks partly to Gates and his software. Truth be told, he probably used a few monopolistic business practices that remain questionable.  

     But his philanthropic role model is not questionable.  When Gates resigned as Chair of Microsoft in 2000, he and his wife formed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world.  It funds dozens of humanitarian causes from disease control to K-12 education.  

    Gates became a “venture philanthropist,” funding fledgling humanitarian causes to
    help them grow.  Along with Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg, Gates has signed a pledge to donate half of his billions to charitable causes. 

     Without question, philanthropist Bill Gates and his multiple million-dollar contributions has made the world a better place.  

    Steven Spielberg’s worth has been estimated at around 3.7 billion, most of it made from directing/writing/producing memorable films, from Jaws to Amistad to Empire of the Sun to Schindler’s List to Saving Private Ryan to Lincoln.  All made by a billionaire director/writer/producer whose first love remains films and filmmaking.

     Spielberg’s model:  Keep working, keep learning, keep contributing, keep making a positive difference in the culture, billions or no billions.   All profits from Schindler’s List went to promote understanding of the Holocaust, and he generously funds dozens of charities worldwide.   

    Last and least, there’s Donald Trump. Born into wealth, he created the Trump brand, which helped turned his inheritance into billions.  Until we see his tax returns we can’t know how many billions, nor can we know about his charitable contributions, though he certainly brags about his generosity.  

     However, we do know that he has not made a personal contribution to his own charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, since 2008, and his other contributions amount to “crumbs from his well-filled plate,” as one article puts it. 

    In fact, he’s the “least charitable billionaire in the world,” and Google that phrase for evidence.  Trump really doesn’t have a philanthropic bone is his body, and does no work that contributes to the betterment of anyone except Donald Trump. 

    Billionaires have no real obligation to contribute to anything. What they do with their money shows who they are.  

    Gates and Spielberg: generous and positive givers.   Trump:  miserly taker.    
    Go comment!
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