All posts by Kyle Flanders

Iowa Caucus: A last minute appeal

Tonight is the night history shall be made.

Tonight is the night Iowans ignite the official primary season and put two prospective candidates on their first concrete steps to the White House.

Tonight is the night of possibilities not only in regards to the presidential primaries but also in issue choice that will dominate the primaries and beyond. And that is why Iowans must ensure that the U.S. Supreme court’s  Citizens United and the larger issue of money in politics  becomes a central topic of this entire election cycle.

Tonight is the night Iowa has an opportunity to lead our democracy not only in the primary but in our republic’s own self-preservation. Our democracy is under attack by wealthy and corporate forces that want to turn our democracy into their own private multi-billion dollar playground. With unlimited campaign donations and limited transparency these billionaires threaten to turn our government into an oligarchy in which money, not votes, is the true determinant. The process is already well under way but every election where large donations prove decisive is another nail in the coffin of the notion of truly representative government.

Tonight is the night Iowans must lead the fight against the oligarchy and for democracy.  I call upon the citizens of Iowa to go to their caucuses and submit resolutions across the state calling for the overturn of Citizens United. A combined, coordinated call of repeal across the state will serve to ensure the issue is fresh on the mind of other citizens and politicians across the nation and put these big interests on the defensive.  The campaign finance reform movement has already achieved success in the last couple months and with Iowa leading momentum can build further.

Tonight is the night Iowa has the chance to take a major step  in saving our democracy. At your caucus call for a resolution to clarify that the US Congress has the authority and duty to set campaign finance limits, and that corporations are not people, nor is money speech. Or use text from one of our other successful Iowa resolutions.
Best, Kyle Flanders

Rating: Iowa poor at tracking special interests

Citizens of Iowa – this article should be a call to action! Iowa leads the nation in the Presidential primaries; it should lead the nation in campaign finance reform as well. It’s time the Iowa Legislature passed strong disclosure legislation.

“Iowa’s practices to ensure transparency in lobbying earned an F in a recently released investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization.

The survey examined various measures of transparency and accountability in state government. was involved in conducting the survey of Iowa government agencies.

The category earned one of Iowa’s two failing grades. The other went to the Judicial Branch.

“Ultimately, I would like to believe that the power still lies with everyday Iowa citizens,” said Adam Mason, state policy director for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund. “Unfortunately I feel that by and large that isn’t the case.”

He said most Iowans don’t have time to visit the Statehouse every day and track legislation that goes through its chambers, making it hard to counterbalance the influence of lobbyists.”

Read more here

“Governing Under the Influence: Are Pentagon Contractors Driving U.S. Foreign Policy?”-talk with Col. Lawrence Wilkerson

, former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, will be speaking next week in Iowa from October 21 – 23 with our Governing Under the Influence project to address the excessive political influence of Pentagon contractors on US foreign policy. He has said that the military-industrial complex is “the principal influence on national security and ultimately on foreign policy decision-making.” You won’t want to miss these events in Ames, Des Moines, and Iowa City.
Col. Wilkerson has 31 years of experience serving the U.S. Army, is an outspoken critic of the Obama and Bush administrations’ policies in the Middle East, a member of the Republican Party, and is a regular expert commentator on television news talk shows providing analysis and opinion. Currently, he is the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Ames: Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 at 8 p.m. Iowa State University Sun Room, Memorial Union, 2235 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA.

Des Moines: Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 at 7 p.m. Drake University, Olin Hall 101, auditorium in basement. 1344 27th Street, Des Moines, IA. (Across the street from Drake Track & Field Stadium. Parking lot available in SE corner of Forest and 27th Street)

Iowa City: Friday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. University of Iowa, Becker Communications Study Building, 25 South Madison St., Iowa City, IA. (Parking in UI Main Library Parking lot)


Sponsors for the Colonel Wilkerson tour include:
Veterans for Peace #161, Catholic Peace Ministry, Methodist Federation for Social Action – Iowa Chapter, Des Moines Faith Committee for Peace, STAR*PAC, Iowa State University Lectures Committee, We the People (Des Moines), PEACE Iowa, East-Central Iowa Move to Amend, University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship  
We hope to see you next week!

Hightower: Grassroots democracy-building in Iowa

“As Henrik Ibsen said: “You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.”

Democracy is never given to us, but has to be won through constant struggle against the elites who keep scheming to siphon ever more of society’s money and power into their own hands. A Woody Guthrie song about outlaws tells this story in one stanza: “As through this world I’ve wandered / I’ve seen lots of funny men / Some will rob you with a six-gun / And some with a fountain pen.”

American democracy is the gritty story of workaday folks who get fed up with the fountain pens, get organized and get moving to stop the thievery. Indeed, not only does such gutsy grassroots confrontation work; it is the only thing that really succeeds in reclaiming, maintaining and advancing our democratic values.

To see an uplifting example of organized people-power in action, look to the heartland, where a coalition called Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has had its democracy-building work clothes on since 1975, uniting and empowering people of all ethnic backgrounds to push back against the avarice and arrogance of big-money corporations.”

See the full story here