Memory Problems

Chuck Grassley, Iowa’s octogenarian senator, still has a good memory. Following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the rush of those who are bringing our democracy to its knees to install a conservative majority on the highest court that will last a generation, Sen. Grassley seems to have taken the high road, acknowledging his role in undermining the Constitution and enabling a wannabe dictator who lost the popular vote, and suggesting we need to proceed carefully.

Under the headline “Grassley joins call to delay Supreme Court nomination,” The Des Moines Register quotes the good gentleman from Iowa as saying:

The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year. Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this President, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.

Wait, sorry, didn’t check the dateline. That’s from 2016.

He has since performed some amazing acrobatics for a 87-year-old man to explain his complete reversal. He’s done everything short of suggesting he said all those things with his fingers crossed on Opposite Day, and if we just used the right decoder ring we could understand how this time is different.

In conclusion, United States Senator Charles Ernest Grassley is a lying hypocritical liar.

24 Hours After Caucusing, Nevada’s Results are Coming Slower Than Iowa’s Were. Why Won’t Nevada be a Punchline?

As some folks are pointing out, the results from the Nevada caucuses (results currently show 60% reported 24 hours later) are behind where Iowa’s were (about 62% reported after 24 hours) after a day, even with Nevada’s four-day early voting head start, but we’re not getting rending of cloth from the press. The Nevada Caucuses, even with a challenge from Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, won’t be labeled a disaster, debacle or worse.


I think it’s pretty simple.

Democrats in Nevada did a better job setting expectations than we did in Iowa.

When the Iowa Democratic Party said it would have results rolling out starting in the evening of the caucuses, media laid its plans, including live coverage. When, unexpectedly, there weren’t results to report, all the press had to report was the lack of results.

So it did.

In Nevada, they made no such promise.

Having failed to set realistic expectations, the IDP failed to fill the information gap so it was filled with freaking out and conjecture.

When a space exists between what people want to know and what knowledge is publicly available, there’s what I call an information gap. And that gap creates a vacuum that will be filled, if not with real information, then with conjecture.

The political press calls this punditry.

Remember how the IDP phone lines were being clogged by media asking for updates (and a bunch of 4chan assholes)? In a crisis, staying quiet and hoping it will blow over is always attractive to the people who have to talk to the press, but it rarely works out well.

Iowa’s results were supposed to be primetime programming. Nevada’s weren’t.

There’s a huge difference between what the press will do on a Monday night in primetime and what it wants in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.

Weekends are when you’ve got the B team on the anchor desk. The big Sunday stories were filed on Friday. The press and its audiences are out to dinner, watching sports or drinking.

Late Friday is the traditional time to dump news you don’t want covered. Saturday afternoon is a good day for voting, but a bad time for news coverage.

Monday night, in primetime, is high-viability, especially when you’ve got your A team all ready to talk about results from the first-in-the-nation contest.

Nevada has a clear winner and thus a story.

This is the most important one. “Media bias” isn’t left or right. It’s a bias towards narrative and conflict.

Bernie Sanders won first in Nevada and the AP called it pretty early. The story is now “Sanders is the true frontrunner for the nomination” while other campaigns fight it out for second place.

And the conflict piece has been nicely filled in, too, with anti-Bernie and pro-Bernie and anti-anti-Bernie factions fighting over if he can or can’t beat Trump and what needs to happen next for a non-Sanders candidate to get the nomination.

Media needs a narrative. Without a clear winner, Iowa’s was “disaster”. With a winner, which is kinda the point of these nominating contests, Nevada has a narrative.

“The door for real change has opened a crack. Put down your shoulder and hit it as hard as you can.”

Amid the world’s chaos — which is exactly why this is the right time to talk about this — I’d like to step back and talk about why I’m all in for Elizabeth Warren

Last night, we had our local Warren organizer, Zoe, who is great, over for dinner.

We talked about things we care about: reproductive justice, racial justice. Social justice. Debt-free education. Climate change. Healthcare. And so on. 

There’s a lot of things to care about — worry about — right now. I bet you care about a lot of these things because a lot of people do.

A lot of people whan to see something different. They want to see meaningful change. 

“The door for real change has opened a crack.” Real change. Big, structural change.

This morning, I woke up to The New York Timesprofile of Elizabeth Warren, listening during my morning run through the darkness.

It focused on the time, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when a door was open a crack. Through that opening Warren pushed the establishment of a consumer safety agency for financial products. 

You know it today as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

The CFBP is good for people. Big bank folks kinda hate it because it means regulation and accountability. Some politicians kinda hate it because people in big banks kinda hate it.

But accountability and regulation is good. Not ruining lives because of bad financial products is good. 

Warren’s able to push these things because she has the ability a good teacher has to explain complex issues clearly, and she can do it to big audiences. That’s her super power.

That and empathy. She cares. 

Anyway, Warren’s moment starts with her puking before going on The Daily Show

It ends with her offering a masterfully clear vision of where we go “after we pull the bus out of the ditch.” 

So she’s got plans. Green New Deal. Blue New Deal. Plans to farmers and workers. Plans to address immigration and our climate crisis and transition to Medicare for All. Lots of plans. 

Progressive plans. 

And you can go and read them

But what runs through them all of her plans is accountability and empathy. Lost in the talk about her progressive stands is that they are centered on anti-corruption.

We don’t make progress on issues we care about because the system isn’t set up for most of us. Our current administration is corrupt and abhorrent and our president should be impeached. But our problems didn’t start — and won’t end — with Trump. 

We’ve nibbled around the edges for years. I’m tired of trying to start in the middle and getting steamrolled. So is Elizabeth. 

“You don’t start out by saying there are people who are going to oppose this, so let’s just ask for 2 percent.” 

Elizabeth Warren can compromise, but we’re going to have to fight for even moderate changes, so why only ask for a little? 

We want to get the money out of politics, but when I get calls from folks who are running for office asking for money, the ask always starts this way: “Gosh, we gotta get the money out of politics. But until then, can you write me a check?” 

Elizabeth is walking the walk. She knows we’re not going to get the money out of politics by keeping money in politics. Or that we’re going to get transparency from our politicians unless we get transparency our political leaders.

 She keeps asking why things that are popular with voters don’t get traction in Washington. And the answer she keeps coming to is corruption. Power and influence and money and access. Systemic, built-in corruption. And it’s been here. 

“It’s about having a vision about who you want to work for.” 

Elizabeth Warren knows who she wants to work for, and she’s doing the work to show she’s legit. 

The door is open a crack. Don’t be afraid to put your shoulder down and push hard.


All In on Big, Structural Change

With local elections now passed, my attention turns to the Iowa Caucuses and the vital work of 2020.

The field of Democratic presidential candidates is deep and diverse, and people I respect are committed to many of them. We all want someone who can win.

Our country faces myriad serious issues: racial inequity, a climate crisis, income inequality, mass incarceration, Go Fund Me for healthcare debt, out-of-reach housing, childcare deserts, tax-free corporate profits, crumbling infrastructure, bought-and-paid-for politics, a hallowed-out safety net, disenfranchisement, forced childbirth, gun violence, and a world unraveled and leaders indifferent to the pain they’re inflicting on humans.

Lots of our candidates care about these issues. But that’s just table stakes.

The Iowa Caucuses, whatever their faults, operate outside of the usual choose-one-of-two of elections. It’s our chance to follow our hearts.

And my heart says Elizabeth Warren.

Warren has the skills and the plans for the desperately needed — say it with me — big, structural change.

She’s a big thinker who designed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, then ran it. She’s a hard fighter who isn’t afraid to stand up against big banks, big tech and big energy. And she’s an inspiration and a teacher who can clearly explain the plan, how it works, and why it’s important, and then lead the way.

But can she win? Yes, of course she can. If we don’t let ourselves get tied up in I-like-her-but… knots outthinking ourselves.

I hope you’ll allow yourself to dream big, follow your heart and join me in supporting Elizabeth Warren.

Follow-up on foodies and farmers unite against “The Man”

The end of the story, for now, anyway.

----- Forwarded message -----
From: David Miller
Date: Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 9:35 AM
Subject: Re: Foodies and Farmers Unite Against “The Man”

It was standing room only at the Johnson County Planning and Zoning Board meeting last night. I think it is safe to say that the numbers of e-mails sent to board members and the number of people who showed up to support Susan Jutz had a lasting impression on every policy maker in the room.

It is now clear to the board and administration staff that local agriculture is changing, and is no longer confined to the realms of corn, beans and hogs. Most importantly, they realize the relationship between farmer and consumer is not always protracted and abstract.

It took nearly two and a half hours for Susan and her supporters to explain to the Board what a CSA is, how small farms fit into the big picture, and how it is important for people to build a relationship with a grower–which includes on-farm tours and activities.

At the beginning of the meeting, the majority of board members seemed on edge and very negative about Susan’s appeal. By the end, however, the board voted unanimously to overturn a previous ruling. That ruling placed punitive financial constrictions on small farmers and made it nearly impossible to have those on-farm grower and consumer connections.

Just as seed dealers are allowed to invite people to their farms for seed-trials, small vegetable farmers are now allowed to invite people to their farms for educational and promotional events.

The vote was precedent setting, not only in Johnson County, but for the entire state of Iowa (and perhaps even in neighboring states) as many locales struggle with the same question: “What is a farm and who should receive farm exemptions?”

*Changing the minds of the board members could not have happened without your support.*

Farmer Dave

Fwd: local foodies and farmers unite against “The Man”

I don’t usually do board-meetings-and-politicians politics here, preferring to deal with abstract food politics that don’t involve so many messy specifics, but this came to me via Matt Steigerwald of Lincoln Cafe. I haven’t done any fact-checking or looked into the background at all — nor do any really know any one involved — so take this for what you will.

----- Forwarded message -----
From: David Miller
Date: Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 10:14 AM
Subject: Local Foodies and Farmers Unite Against "The Man"


I just wanted you to know about a very important opportunity to stand up for local small farmers.

Tomorrow, many of us foodies, market gardeners and grain farmers will attend a Planning and Zoning Board meeting in Johnson County to show support for Susan Jutz.

Susan operates a CSA near Solon and every year she has held an educational event on her farm. Farm events are typically exempt from required “festival protocols” like big-fee permits, perimter fencing, crowd control. etc.

However Johnson County has suddenly decided that Susan does not grow on enough acres to constitute a “real farm.” Therefore, politicians there demand she follow festival protocols.

It is key that the board’s decision be reversed because it sets two very bad precedents in the state:

  1. the decision could affect the availability of future ag-related educational events (not good); and
  2. the decision allows a planning and zoning board to decide what is, and what is not an existing farm (a conflict of interest and really, really, really not good).

Tomorrow evening, Susan will appeal the board’s decision. Support from the public and fellow farmers is very important.

If you would like to overturn this bad decision, there are two ways you may help:

  1. Attend the P & Z meeting tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m at the Johnson County Administration Building (913 S. Dubuque St. in Iowa City); or
  2. Send e-mails to board members:

Rick Dvorak [email protected]
Terrence Neuzil [email protected]
Larry Meyers [email protected]
Sally Stutsman [email protected]
Rod Sullivan [email protected]
Pat Harney [email protected]

Also copy Susan on these e-mails so she may keep them in a file for future appeals/litigation. Her e-mail is: [email protected]

Feel free to pass on this e-mail (but please don’t do a broadcast spam). Thanks for your time and support.

Farmer Dave

Fact or fiction? Public food assistance and obesity

Ironically, people on food stamps and in WIC programs are more likely to be obese than those in the general population. This has been the case for years. And a report, from a study conducted by Middle Tennessee State University and recently released by the USDA, confirms this.

But this is clearly not the official party line. While the first report carries a disclaimer (“The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ERS or USDA.”), another study that carries no such disclaimer and was released the same day admits that this may have been the case in the past but proclaims that it is no longer.

So which is it? One suspects that the problem hasn’t disappeared — America hasn’t slimmed last I checked — but that perhaps the rest of the population has just caught up.

After all, America hasn’t slimmed last I checked.