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July 2008

Responding to McCain ad, Obama plays race card

A hard hitting and substantive political ad questioning Barack Obama's ability to lead has the Democrat presidential hopeful resorting to playing the race card.

The ad also places focus on how Obama himself is more hype than substance.  But instead of addressing charges made in the ad - that Obama opposes drilling for more oil here at home and he has talked about raising taxes on electricity - Barack Obama responded to the ad by pretending to be a victim and playing the race card.

"What they're going to try to do is make you scared of me," Obama said. "You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

A saavy, sharp candiate would have laughed off the ad and explained matter-of-factly why the charges made in the ad weren't valid.  Obama didn't do that.  The comments from the first term Senator of Illinois lacked substance.

"I'm disappointed that Senator Obama would say the things he's saying," McCain told reporters in Racine, Wisconsin.

Editor's Note:  Note Obama's comment, "...he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."   We're sure the Senator knows that only George Washington appears on dollar bills and he just misspoke, but this is the kind of stuff the drive-by liberal media loves to make fun of George Bush on, and they aren't doing so with Obama.  Can you say, "Double-standard?"  Yes you can!  The drive-by liberal media wants Obama to appear more articulate than he really is, so they don't report his mistakes in speech, recall, or facts.  Oh, he's great with a teleprompter, we'll give him that, but the guy misspeaks all the time.  Stay tuned as the campaign heats up.  His many, many statement screwups will become public.  Please also be advised, this isn't the first time Obama has played the race card either.


Folks were mislead on SILO tax proposal

The Cedar Rapids Gazette was liberally pleased to report yesterday that Johnson and Linn County have collected $48 million for schools.  The amount of money reported was collected with the local option sales tax (SILO) that went into effect in July 2007.

During the height of the campaign season for that tax hike issue, some proponents made the argument that folks could afford the extra $30 or so annually the additional tax would cost them.  After all, it would be good for the schools and $30 or so a year isn't too much to ask, it's for the kids.....yada, yada, yada, emotional appeal stuff right?  Many folks bought that line and voted for the tax. 

So how much has this tax hike really cost people?  The reported $48 million that has been generated, comes from the pockets, wallets, and purses of residents from Johnson and Linn counties when they shop.  People from outside of Johnson and Linn pay the tax as well when they shop here.  That being stated and understanding that folks residing outside of Johnson and Linn counties *contribute* to our area schools (taxation without representation), Johnson County has generated $17.622 million, and Linn County has generated $30.297 with the school tax.  Divide respective county populations into tax receipts, Johnson County's 118,038 and Linn's 201,853 and that's about $149 per resident.  And again, understanding that people living outside Johnson County and Linn County contribute to the tax plan, it is clear that the pro-tax argument of, "It will only cost you about $30 annually" was a very false one. People from outside these counties are NOT contributing the entire remaining balance of that $149 per. 

The "It will only cost you about $30 a year" argument was completely bogus.  There's no data to back such a figure up.  How do we know that?  Because the checkout people in each and every store, punching the keys at the register aren't asking everyone where they're from and writing it down.  And the small number of stores that are collecting something like zip code data, are doing so for marketing reasons, they're not sharing that data with the state.  So what we have here are some tax proponents who made up a figure and intentionally low-balled the *estimated* out of pocket figure for the sake of tax hike passage.  The argument could be made that some people just flat out lied in trying to convince others that this tax would be a *good* tax.  Were pro-SILO folks tied to the schools so hell bent and selfish in seeking passage, that they willfully shoved the truth aside?  How *good* is a tax if it's based in lies?  Snake oil anyone?

Oh, and never mind that for the Iowa City Community School District, this sales tax wasn't really needed.  It was a sheer want.  The ICCSD has had all the cash it needs to successfully turn out good students since 1994.  What's not known by many folks is that Superintendent Plugge spends far too much money on administration, and not nearly enough on student education.  That's why he keeps asking for more of your money - for administrative pipe dreams and to cover his butt in other areas.  With passage of the SILO, Plugge now has his feet propped up on his desk because he's rolling in your dough, and people still aren't onto him about how bad he really is with your money.

Do you know where your money is going?  And here's another pleasant thought.....  During the campaign season, proponents predicted the tax hike would generate about $108 million over a ten year period.  Gee, another one of those arbitrary *estimates*, imagine that.  Well, in just its first year, Johnson County collected $17.622 million, far exceeding expectations.  Who are these bean counters Plugge relies on anyway?  Are they the same folks he undercounts student populations with every year?  So with the tax exceeding expectations (bad economy huh liberals?), does that mean the tax will be shut off early when budget expectations are met?  If that predicted $108 mark is achieved in say six years, do you think Lane Plugge, out of the goodness of his heart, will say, "I propose that we rescind the tax."  Heck no!  You're stuck, Plugge will gladly take more of your money even though he doesn't really need it and rest assured, before that ten year mark hits, the campaign to keep that tax going will be well under way.  Keep in mind that the $108 million figure was used in campaigning.  That mark was used for budgeting and project proposals, and a time frame was established.  Voters voted yes or no based on that data. 

Make no mistake, the proposed SILO was nothing more than a money grab, and quite frankly a repulsive one. The ICCSD is now fat, never mind that property tax growth in the area has outpaced student population growth.  Simply put, that means the SILO truly wasn't necessary.  There was and is plenty of money available in pre-SILO existing sources for our children's education (as opposed to the school board's wish list of 'nice things to have'), and those sources are growing, along with the SILO. The property tax base in Tiffin is growing, Solon is growing, North Liberty is growing.  School Superintendents should be challenged on their money management, not given blank checks simply because and when they ask for it.

Folks were mislead on the SILO tax proposal.  School districts in Johnson County truly didn't and now most certainly don't need additional funding.  But we're stuck for another 8+ years with a tax that cannot be repealed.  School districts need to spend the millions they have already been given, responsibly.  Don't give somebody like Superintendent Plugge, another blank check. 


More Doctored Polling & Liberal Media Manipulation

The most recent Gallup tracking poll - an average of three days' worth of interviews with registered voters - Gallup gave Barack Obama a comfortable lead over John McCain, 49% to 40%.

Those interviews with registered voters were conducted July 24 - 26.  Liberal media outlets were quick to jump on those results, telling just one side of the story. 

And then there's this, what you won't see in your liberal paper:  From the same data set, but narrowed down to those Gallup *judged* most likely to vote: McCain leads, 49% to 45%.  Yes, the same three days' worth of interviews, providing different results.

Editor's Note:  Grain of salt anyone?  Is objective mainstream journalism dead?  Here we have a mainstream polling outfit manufacturing news, and media outfits going along with it.


Using Federalism to Reform Education: Reagan Style

By John R. Hendrickson

“It’s time to face the truth. Advocates of more and more government interference in education have had ample time to make their case, and they’ve failed,” stated President Ronald Reagan in a radio address to the nation in the spring of 1983. Reagan’s point is still true today.

"Each year, the United States spends more than $550 billion on K-12 public schools — more than 4% of the nation’s gross domestic product,” noted Dan Lips, who is an education policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation. In addition, Lips reports that “a student attending a public school in 2008 can expect taxpayers to spend an average of $9,266 on his or her behalf — a real increase of 69 percent over the average per-pupil expenditure in 1980.” In other words public education is not starving for more taxpayer dollars.

On all levels from K-12 education to higher education students are not receiving the proper education that they deserve or need in order to function in today’s economy. Taxpayers are also being asked to provide more money for education when academic results are declining. For example, Lips reported that “on the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test, 33 percent of fourth-grade students scored ‘below basic’ in reading.”

The solution to the education problem should not include further increases in national or state funding or even the continuation of federal programs such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), but rather is found in limiting federal involvement, strengthening and supporting parental and school choice programs, and allowing states and localities greater control. States should also ease restrictions on both charter schools and parents who choose to home-school their children.

Article 1, Section 8, of the United States Constitution lists the enumerated powers of Congress, and education is not listed as a power of the legislative branch. Although the Framers believed education to be highly crucial and important to a civil and moral society, they believed that issues such as education could best be handled at the state and local level or by private institutions such as church affiliated colleges and universities.

In the early 20th century, the progressive movement, led by individuals such as John Dewey, pushed to centralize, bureaucratize, and regulate the federal government, which included involvement in education. The Nation is still dealing with the “progressive education” theories of intellectuals such as Dewey, but the current record shows that perhaps, yet again, the Founders were correct.

In the 1980s President Reagan wanted to reverse the course of education by abolishing the Department of Education and limiting federal involvement, while returning education policy back to parents and state and local governments. Reagan wanted to use federalism to reform education. Reagan wanted to work toward the passage of “tuition tax credits, vouchers, educational savings accounts, and voluntary school prayer.”

President Reagan’s solution to reforming education is much different than the approach taken by President George W. Bush and NCLB, which has only required more red tape and more taxpayer dollars. Dan Lips has noted that the administration has “requested $24.5 billion for NCLB programs for fiscal year 2009 — an increase of 41 percent over 2001 levels.”

In order to reform education, we need to follow Reagan’s direction, which in reality is the correct constitutional direction to follow. Continuing the status quo of educational policy is not only unfair to children and taxpayers, but it is dangerous to our national identity and security. “If you think education is expensive, you should try ignorance,” stated Reagan.

John R. Hendrickson is a Research Analyst with the Public Interest Institute in Mt. Pleasant, IA. 

Web site: www.limitedgovernment.org.

E-mail: public.interest.institute@limitedgovernment.org


UI awards scholarships to six 2 Plus 2 transfer students

The University of Iowa has awarded 2 Plus 2 Transfer Scholarships to six Iowa community college students who will be transferring to the UI this fall.

Recipients of the new scholarship, which is worth $1,000 per year for up to two years, include four students from Kirkwood Community College and two students from the Eastern Iowa Community College District, which includes Scott, Clinton, and Muscatine community colleges.

Kirkwood recipients include Anthony Pompo, Casey Everts, David Rainey of Cedar Rapids; and Giorgio Daddezio of North Liberty. Recipients from the EICC District include Travis Overton of Long Grove and Osama 'Malki of Muscatine.

The 2 Plus 2 Guaranteed Graduation Plan provides valuable planning resources for Iowa community college students in select majors who intend to transfer to UI after earning an associate of arts degree. Participants who follow the plan's degree-planning checkpoints are guaranteed a UI bachelor's degree after just two additional years of study.

Eligibility for participation in the plan was expanded to all Iowa community colleges in 2007, and the university expects to award more scholarships as participation grows.

Editor's Note:  Enrollment numbers are up, there's cash being awarded to colleges and students in the forms of grants, scholarships and donations.....  and liberals still pretend that higher education is just too tough to obtain these days? 


Road Trip! Young Republicans Blog and Twitter Their Way Across the U.S.

By Sarah Lai Stirland

They're like the Merry Pranksters, without the merriment or the pranks. A group of four college Republicans have set off across the country in a rented Ford Explorer to remind America that not all young people are Barack Obama supporters, and that it's still possible to drive 2,500 miles without once crossing a Democratic district.

Whereistheredroadsign
Better get going: The Where Is The Red team have a lot of ground to cover
Credit: Whereisthered.com

The quartet, who call their project "Where is the Red," left from Tampa, Florida in June, and are currently in Gahanna, Ohio. They plan to end their tour in conservative Orange County, California in late August. As they travel, they're doing volunteer work for GOP congressional campaigns, and broadcasting the trip in Twitter updates, blog posts and a Google Maps application tied to their GPS.

"We believe in Republicans, and we know that we have every chance in the world to regain our seats in Congress and win the presidential election," says Christie Jackson, 22, one of the four young Republicans. "We're just trying to draw attention to all the young people who are already excited, and who sometimes get ignored by the media."

Conservative bloggers have been despairing over the enthusiasm gap between supporters of John McCain and those backing Democratic rival Barack Obama. Polling data shows that 60 percent of Democrats under 30 voted for Barack Obama during the primaries, while only 34 percent of Republicans in the same demographic voted for John McCain. Sites like Things Younger Than John McCain poke fun at the presumptive Republican nominee's age, and a torrent of anti-McCain videos are flooding YouTube.

The Republican road trip - organized by the College Republican National Committee -- is meant to energize McCain's younger supporters. All four of the traveling quartet are blogging, and one of them, Chris Caraballo, a 24-year-old film student at the University of Southern California, is shooting video. Joining Caraballo and Jackson on the road are Kerry Donnelly, a 21-year-old Fordham University graduate, and Jeremy Harrell, 22, a University of Miami at Ohio graduate.

"One reason we're using the technology that we're using now is to draw attention to the fact that there are new, interesting, relevant, and extremely efficient ways to get information to people," says Jackson, who just graduated from Clemson University. "That's why we're keeping track of our trip ... through our blog and other Web 2.0 tools."

The venture's use of syndication, GPS and mapping software is generally more interesting than the content of the entries themselves -- many of which document the tedium of volunteer political work, with discourses on envelope-stuffing and other office tasks, though they occasionally produce video spots, like this faux-public service spot in Ohio's contested 15th congressional district.

Jackson is excited to be fighting for her party, at a time when the GOP is widely expected to suffer significant losses on Capitol Hill. The Cook Political Report predicts that Democrats could pick up between five and seven seats in the Senate and 12 and 17 seats in the House this year. The report says that the presidential race is a toss-up.

"I think it's really been encouraging," Jackson says of her trip thus far. "I think all of us feel really excited for November, and I think that's one of the reasons we're doing this. It's to show that Republicans our age are excited about winning in November."


Fewer Mandates = More Affordable Coverage

MOUNT PLEASANT, IA – In trying to help those Americans who do not have health insurance, is the answer more government involvement or getting the government out of the way?  The state of Florida is implementing a plan that will test the latter theory — by allowing Floridians to purchase health insurance exempt from the many government-imposed coverage mandates that have driven up the cost of health insurance.

Health insurance mandates require insurance policies to cover certain types of care or providers of care in every health insurance policy sold, even if the consumer does not want or need that coverage.  Insurance companies are setting health insurance premium rates to cover all mandates on all policies, whether or not the policy holder ever uses the services, which drives up the cost of health insurance for all consumers.  The Council for Affordable Health Insurance estimates that “mandated benefits currently increase the cost of basic health coverage from a little less than 20% to more than 50%, depending on the state and its mandates.”

The “Cover Florida” plan allows insurance companies to sell “no frills” health insurance policies that are exempt from many of the nearly 50 mandates the state would otherwise impose, and are designed to cost $150 or less per month.  The “Cover Florida” plan will be implemented beginning next year.

While “Cover Florida” policies would not cover all of the mandates that the state currently requires of insurance policies, “all benefit plans would include, at the very least, coverage for preventive services, screenings, office visits, outpatient and inpatient surgery, urgent care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, and diabetic supplies,” said Governor Crist in a May 2008 press release.

When it comes to mandates, Iowa is better off than Florida , with only 25 health insurance mandates.  This may explain, in part, why 21% of Florida ’s population is uninsured, reports The Wall Street Journal, while Governor Culver reported in a press release last August that only 9% of Iowans do not have health insurance coverage.

Without the “Cover Florida” plan, Florida consumers’ only choices were to purchase “Cadillac coverage” with all the bells and whistles or go without health insurance.  “‘Cover Florida’ will give Floridians another option, providing more choice and lower-cost options to those who wish to purchase health insurance, but could not afford to do so until now,” said Amy Frantz, Senior Research Analyst with Public Interest Institute in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Fewer Mandates = More Affordable Coverage,” from Public Interest Institute’s FACTS & OPINIONS, is available at www.limitedgovernment.org.

For an interview or more information on this issue, contact Amy Frantz, Public Interest Institute Senior Research Analyst.

A newspaper column on this issue will be released on Wednesday, July 30, 2008.


Engineers use flood of 2008 for research, future preparation

BoatIn a case of "making lemonade out of lemons," researchers at the University of Iowa College of Engineering's IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering research unit are using data collected on the flood of 2008 to study floods in general and prepare for any future floods along the Iowa River in particular.

Editor's Note:  Here's a novel idea that could save taxpayers millions of dollars - don't build in a flood plain!


'Outsiders' receive grant to study asthma

A research grant program that encourages "thinking outside the box" will allow a team of University of Iowa investigators to apply findings from heart research to the study of asthma.

Specifically, the team has received a three-year, $750,000 grant from the Strategic Program for Asthma Research, known as SPAR, to see if an enzyme known to play a role in heart failure might also affect smooth muscle cells in the airway and thus play a role in asthma. The basic science research focuses on CaM kinase II, which has been under scrutiny in other UI research.

Isabella_grumbach_2"We are taking a fresh look at the role of calcium signaling in asthma, and are applying some ideas and results from the cardiovascular field that have never before been considered in the field of asthma," said study investigator Isabella Grumbach, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

The study team includes five UI faculty members, four of whom are based in cardiology and have never studied asthma, and only one whose field of expertise is asthma. The team aims to learn more about airway smooth muscle cells.

Grumbach's lab will grow the cells and monitor their response (for example, for inflammation) to the enzyme. She also will supply mouse models to investigate the response of airway smooth muscle cells to CaM kinase II inhibition.

Roy_jThe study will be led by Mark Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of internal medicine and molecular physiology and biophysics, who has previously published, and has other studies underway, on CaM kinase II as it relates to heart issues.

"This kind of research is meant to help examine 'holes' in the paradigm of current asthma understanding. We're not asking safe, predictable questions, but getting involved because sometimes people from outside a field can help with a paradigm shift," said Anderson, who also holds the Potter-Lambert Chair in Cardiology. 

In addition to Grumbach and Anderson, the team includes Joel Kline, M.D., professor of internal medicine; Peter Mohler, Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine; and Long-Sheng Song, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine. Anderson, Grumbach, Mohler and Song also are members of the UI Heart and Vascular Center.

Kline is an asthma expert and provided precursor data to help the team apply for the study. Mohler has expertise in helping determine the mechanical and electrical function of cells, while Song brings expertise in measuring calcium responses.

"It's a great partnership, and another example of what can happen when there is a focus on innovative scientific collaboration by generous funders and motivated researchers," Anderson said.

Learn more about SPAR, which is funded by the American Asthma Foundation, at http://www.sandlerresearch.org/.

Editor's Note:  Another reality check example flying in the face of the liberal misinformation/myth:  'There's not enough money available these days for post-high school education.