A Pipeline, Eminent Domain, Possible Corruption, And The Power Of The State

Governor Branstad has found himself in the middle of a great deal of controversy over the Bakken Pipeline that is about to run through the heart of Iowa farmland to benefit a private corporation, based in Texas, that has economic ties to his friends.

Personally, like 64 percent of Iowans, I don’t have a problem with a private company putting a pipeline across Iowa so long as they pay for it and as long as they don’t rely on the taxpayers to clean up any damages it causes.   What I and 74 percent of Iowans do have a problem with is a private company using big government to declare eminent domain to steal the property rights of farmers so they can run their pipeline across our state for their own monetary gain.

Some people have compared the pipeline with the state using eminent domain to build a highway or a local utility pipeline.  It is not the same.  This is a private company.  It has no major benefit to the people of Iowa unlike a road, hospital, or a telephone line.  It would not be right for me to start a corporation and then to get the state of Iowa to allow me onto your property so my new corporation can make a profit from your land.

The Republican Party of Iowa is in a tough position as well.  In their platform, they oppose eminent domain used to benefit private companies.

We oppose federal or state government taking private property away from the owner for the use of another private party. Eminent domain should be used only for public use, and we call for Congress to overturn the Kelo (Eminent Domain) ruling.

While their platform may oppose using eminent domain to benefit a private company, their Republican Governor supports, even if only on occasion, allowing eminent domain to be used to benefit private companies.  Branstad has fought to make sure that the Iowa Utilities Board makes the ultimate decision if the state of Iowa will declare eminent domain to build the pipeline.  In fact, he doesn’t want the state legislature to have any say in the matter.  Want to take a guess on who appoints this “independent” utilities board?  You guessed it.  It is Governor Branstad.

Then there was the Houston campaign event, in 2013, where Branstad held a fundraiser with former Texas Governor and Presidential candidate Rick Perry.  Branstad says he didn’t know about the proposed pipeline until the next year and, at this point, I have no proof that he did.  Perry was later appointed to the board of directors for the company trying to get the Bakken Pipeline to run through Iowa.

Earlier in the year, Branstad’s former Chief of Staff joined the Bakken Pipeline as a paid lobbyist. Additionally, KCCI had reported in May that a large amount of the pipeline has been brought into Newton which sounds very confident when the Iowa Utilities Board won’t make their decision until at least December or January.

You can see the power private companies have over our government when compared to the local farmer wanting to keep the rights to their land.  Maybe if the farmers had more money to pay lobbyists and run for political office, the state of Iowa would be a little more concerned with their rights instead of helping a private company based in Texas.

Author Alison Weir Tours Iowa in November

Author and activist Alison Weir will visit Iowa to promote her book Against Our Better Judgment as part of her Midwest tour in November.

As reported by Iowa Free Press, Weir is an “American journalist who has given presentations and lectures about the Israel-Palestine conflict at universities across the country.” As a journalist she has written for Counterpunch,The Orlando Sentinel, Greenwich Citizen and others publications.

Weir is president of The Council for the National Interest and is the founder and executive director of the non-profit group If Americans Knew (IAK). She founded the group shortly after returning from her visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in February and March of 2001. IAK asserts in their Mission Statement, “Americans, through our blank check to Israel, are empowering the worst elements of Israeli society, and undermining those working for a just, peaceful, and nondiscriminatory nation.”

Against Our Better Judgment challenges the official narrative on how the state of Israel was established and explores the forces behind its creation in 1948. The book, released in February 2014, is described by the publisher as a work that “brings together meticulously sourced evidence to illuminate a reality that differs starkly from the prevailing narrative. It provides a clear view of the history that is key to understanding one of the most critically important political issues of our day.”

The main premise of the book is contained within the first lines of Chapter One:

“While many people are led to believe that U.S. support for Israel is driven by the American establishment and U.S. national interests, the facts don’t support this theory. The reality is that for decades U.S. foreign policy and defense experts opposed supporting the creation of Israel. They then similarly opposed the massive American funding and diplomatic support that sustained the forcibly established state and that provided a blank check for its aggressive expansion. They were simply outmaneuvered and eventually replaced.”

As part of her book tour, Weir will be visiting Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Iowa City and Des Moines. Throughout the month she will also speak in Arkansas, Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri.

This year IAK sponsored billboards in Des Moines with the following caption: “$10 Million A Day To Israel? Our Money is Needed in America!” These billboards have been displayed in other cities to raise awareness on the Israel-Palestine controversy during the political season.

Weir has been criticized by groups like the Anti-Defamation League, which referred to her as “a prominent voice in the anti-Israel movement.” She has found support with groups like American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), both of which have bestowed awards to her.

For more information, visit http://www.ifamericansknew.org/


Dates for Against Our Better Judgment Book Tour:


Cedar Rapids, IA

Tuesday, November 3

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Beems Auditorium, Cedar Rapids Public Library

450 5th Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401


Dubuque, IA

Wednesday, November 4

10:30 am – 11:45 am

Roberta Kuhn Center, Sisters of Charity BVM

1100 Carmel Drive, Dubuque, IA 52003


Iowa City, IA

Wednesday, November 4

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Coralville Public Library

1401 5th St, Coralville, IA 52241


Des Moines, IA

Friday, November 6

7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Trinity United Methodist Church

1548 8th Street, Des Moines, IA 50314


Opinion: Universal Backgrounds are Universally Unenforceable

Isn’t the concept of “Universal Background Checks” rather moronic? It’s an “Honor System Law” and there’s absolutely no way to enforce them. Under the 5th amendment you cannot be forced to incriminate yourself, which would be about the only way law enforcement could ever prove you bought or sold your gun to another person with out a “background check”, which is really none of their damn business in the first place.

On a further note “Prohibited Persons” who are banned under federal law from owning firearms are also protected by the 5th amendment from these laws. You can’t force a criminal or somebody who is mentally ill to undergo a background check, register a gun or prosecute them under these laws as that would also be an attempt to get them to self incriminate; which is also a violation of the 5th amendment. The only charge you can get them on is being a “Prohibited Person in possession of a firearm.” This was decided almost 50 years ago via Haynes Vs. United States which is summarized as such (thanks Wikipedia) –

“The National Firearms Act of 1934 required the registration of certain types of firearms. Miles Edward Haynes was a convicted felon who was charged with failing to register a firearm under the Act. Haynes argued that, because he was a convicted felon and thus prohibited from owning a firearm, requiring him to register was essentially requiring him to make an open admission to the government that he was in violation of the law, which was thus a violation of his right not to incriminate himself.”

“As with many other 5th amendment cases, felons and others prohibited from possessing firearms could not be compelled to incriminate themselves through registration.[1][2] The National Firearm Act was amended after Haynes to make it apply only to those who could lawfully possess a firearm. This eliminated prosecution of prohibited persons, such as criminals, and cured the self-incrimination problem. In this new form, the new registration provision was upheld. The court held: ” To eliminate the defects revealed by Haynes, Congress amended the Act so that only a possessor who lawfully makes, manufactures, or imports firearms can and must register them”, United States v. Freed, The original Haynes decision continues to block state prosecutions of criminals who fail to register guns as required by various state law gun registration schemes.”   

No to mention the fact that thinking that you’re going to get a criminal to abide my these laws is idiotic, or that you’re going to stop a criminal who wants a gun in a nation of 350 million plus firearms is idiotic. A tracing system is already in place for guns and it’s called a serial number and much like background checks or registration, once the gun is lost or stolen any chances of tracing it beyond that point are all but made impossible.

Now I’m sure some of you will point out Oregon and California already have “Universal Background Checks” which they do or that these laws didn’t and won’t work for a number of other reasons. But one thing I think all people can agree on after being armed with reading “Haynes Vs. United States” is that “Universal Background Check” legislation is nothing more than feel good legislation for the simple minded who likely think “no guns signs” and “gun free zones” keep criminals from bringing guns into those areas or that “duck and cover” might actually help them survive a nuclear attack. Continue reading “Opinion: Universal Backgrounds are Universally Unenforceable”

Opinion: Confederate Flag Controversy Doesn’t Pass Tinker Test

“It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” 1969 Supreme Court Majority Opinion

In 1969, the United States Supreme Court decided in a 7-2 decision in the famous Tinker v. Des Moines case that the first amendment also applies at public schools after the schools forced Des Moines students to remove arm bands protesting the Vietnam War.

This week, a student in Vinton, Iowa was removed from school for having a Confederate flag in the back of his truck. Other students have joined in protest by flying and displaying their own Confederate flags. The school administration only exacerbated the problem by removing the student. While I will disagree with flying the Confederate flag, I will defend the student’s rights to do so as long as they are not harming others. Just because people don’t like something and have strong opinions on something doesn’t mean they can have the state ban it. It is dangerous to ban books, speech, or armbands because one day your speech that is popular today may become unpopular and stifled by the state.

The issue is not about your opinions of the Confederate flag. The issue is free speech and the first amendment and when we defend free speech we sometimes find ourselves defending the speech that we don’t like or find offensive. Defending our neighbors free speech, even when we disagree with them, is as American as baseball and apple pie. Apparently, some school administrators in Vinton need to be educated on the first amendment and the Tinker v. Des Moines case. The student with the Confederate flag doesn’t pass the Tinker substantial disruption test which requires that something “materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school” before the school can prevent it.

Instead of pushing ideas and opinions underground, we should be talking about issues. The fact that we have for far too long ignored issues is the reason we are in the mess we are in today. You don’t have a right not to be offended by someone else’s speech and that is the fundamental basis of our system of government.

Iowans should be able to fly a United States flag, the Iowa flag, a rainbow gay pride flag, and a Confederate flag all at the same time if they really want to without interference from the state. Of course, that doesn’t mean that if you fly the Confederate flag that you are free from criticism and the free speech of others.

UNI School of Music students Invited to Perform in Costa Rica

A group of University of Northern Iowa School of Music students will travel to Costa Rica on September 26 through October 6. The UNI students have been invited for the fifth time to Costa Rica as part of the Promising Young Artists of the 21st Century program.

The UNI music students will perform around the region in two concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, and three concerts in San Jose and Guanacaste.

UNI students Aaron DeSantiago of Council Bluffs, Aaron Brown of Urbandale, Kayla Kjeldseth of Sioux City, Megan Grey of Cedar Falls and Michael Gookin of Fairfield with associate professor of opera and tour director Mitra Sadeghpour will travel to Costa Rica.

The UNI music student group spent one week in August rehearsing with the assistance of student assistant director Alexandra Saulsbury.

“In preparation for our tour, in addition to learning the music, staging and dancing, the students have presented on the history, culture and ecology of Costa Rica and met with Costa Ricans living in Cedar Falls,” Sadeghpour said. “We also learned the Costa Rican national anthem and are looking forward to sharing American Musical Theatre with our audiences in Costa Rica.”

Student musician Megan Grey said, “Rehearsals of that magnitude are so exciting, and I can’t wait to see how our group can feed off of the energy that Costa Rican musicians will bring to the music and the collaborative experience.”

“This is an extremely prestigious invitation for the UNI School of Music to send talented singers and a pianist to Costa Rica as promising young artists of the 21st century,” director of the UNI School of Music John Vallentine stated.

Man Sent to Jail for Stabbing at Missouri Valley Gas Station

An Iowa man has been taken into custody for allegedly stabbing another man at a Missouri Valley gas station early Sunday morning.

30-year old Tyler Jenkins, 30, of Logan was booked into the Harrison County Jail and charged with Willful Injury. Other charges are under consideration and may be forthcoming, authorities said.

At about 2:50 am on Sunday, September 20, the Missouri Valley Police received a 911 call about the stabbing that had occurred at the Shell gas station.

The victim, Dustin Swanson, 27, was sent by private vehicle to Alegent Health Community Memorial Hospital and later life flighted to University Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Swanson suffered several stab wounds to his torso, and was in surgery most of the morning and is currently in stable condition.

The Missouri Valley Police Department, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office, the Harrison County Attorney’s Office and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are working the investigation.


Photo Credit: Iowa DCI

Dawn Porter Will Join UNI’s Clohesy Documentary Film Series

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Dawn Porter will visit the University of Northern Iowa to screen two of her works on October 5 and 6 as part of the William and Stephanie Clohesy Documentary Film Series.

Porter will screen “Gideon’s Army” at 7 pm on Monday, October 5 and “Spies of the Mississippi” at 7 pm on Tuesday, October 6 in Lang Hall Auditorium. She will join discussion sessions on the films.

“Gideon’s Army” received the American Bar Association’s 2014 Silver Gavel Award for Media and the Art. The film also won received the Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize.

Porter completed graduation from Swarthmore College and Georgetown Law Center. She is the fourth visiting filmmaker in the William and Stephanie Clohesy Documentary Film Series.


Photo Credit: gideonsarmythefilm.com


ABC’s Juju Chang to Speak at ISU on September 29

Juju Chang, ABC ‘Nightline’ co- anchor, will deliver a lecture in journalism at Iowa State University on September 29. The Chamberlin lecture will take place at 8 pm in the Memorial Union Great Hall.

She will focus on the Iowa caucuses in her talk ‘What Does It Take to Win the Iowa Presidential Caucuses?’

Chang, who was awarded a number of prizes for her work in television news, started career as a desk assistant at ABC news. She reports regularly for ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘20/20.’

She was born in Seoul, South Korea and brought up in California. She completed her graduation from Stanford University with the Edwin Cotrell Political Science Prize.

The lecture is free and open to the public, which is co-sponsored by the Chamberlin Lecture Fund, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, and the Committee on Lectures.


Photo Credit: Iowa State University

An interview with author Adam Kokesh

Marco Battaglia: You have called for a “New American Revolution” and for the “orderly dissolution” of the Federal Government. How did you come to feel that this is necessary?

Adam Kokesh: It is not a matter of feeling. It is a matter of knowing. I don’t believe in believing. I practice knowledge, awareness, and critical thinking. I have actually come to think of it more as an evolution than a revolution. This is a shift from statism to volunteerism. I believe that his is shift to a free society. The revolutionary aspect is the specific initiation of taking governments apart from the top down. I think that the orderly dissolution of the Federal Government is a good first step. What led me to feel that this is necessary was the unsustainability of our current system. The Federal Reserve note is going to collapse when enough people realize it for the scam that it is.

MB: You are a veteran. Can you briefly describe your service?

AK: I joined the Marine Corps Reserve in the delayed entry program when I was 17. I wanted to have my life on the line for something that I believed in. I called myself a Libertarian but yet out of ignorance I wound up in Fallujah in 2004 doing 7 months as a Sergeant on a civil affairs team. I was part of the effort to rebuild Iraq.

MB: You have been identified as anarchist, an agorist, and a volunteerist, to name a few is there one of these or any other movement that you prefer to be identified with?

AK: I think Libertarian is the great catch all term for people that have a passion for freedom. Sure, it can and has been misunderstood and distorted at times, but I do think that all of those other terms fit under the banner of Libertarian. I do not mind Libertarian being applied to myself and for me it is the most practical.

MB: Are you fluent in any other language besides English?

AK: I speak four languages besides English, none of them close to fluent. I could get to practical speaking level pretty quickly in Spanish. My Arabic, German, and French are rusty but functionally conversational. I taught myself Arabic before I deployed to Iraq and got to the point functionally where I could run a check point without a translator. I could explain the procedures politely in Arabic. I took my job very seriously.

MB: How has being multilingual had an effect on the way that you look at the world?

AK: I think that taking on another or multiple languages outside of ones native tongue has a lot of value. For me there were two things that were much more fundamental to my understanding of the world. I gained the first in social studies class as a kid studying world religion, just this idea that everywhere on this rock there were people trying to understand the human experience. The second was my background in psychology. My undergraduate degree is in psych.
When I was in Fallujah what stood out to me was a deeper understanding of how the human brain works inside of all humans. How can you expect people to save for their kid’s college education when they are unable to be confident that their kids are going to survive this week?

MB: Do you have any advice for anyone that feels like they are suffering from PTSD?

AK: First I would say that you have to understand that PTSD is not really a disorder. It is a sane reaction to an insane situation. It is a sign of mental health. The fact that you are experiencing stress after an extreme situation is a sign that you can work through such situations. I would look out for the dangers of pharmaceuticals and the limitations of getting therapy in a government structured setting. I think that everyone needs to create their own outlets. For me this included group therapy, talking to other veterans independently, and art. I found solace in painting, music, and writing. I think that you need to take those thoughts that bother you and work to the point where you can comfortably put them front and center so that you can control them. I know that a lot of people that I have talked to have found success with eye movement therapy. I believe in trying out cannabis to see if it works for you. For some it helps with stress and anxiety. I encourage looking into MDMA in a controlled setting.

MB: Are there any current parties in our republic or politicians that you support or can identify with at all?

AK: I have had mixed feelings about the Libertarian Party. It started as a beautiful thing. I think that the biggest divergence that I resent was Rothbard vs Koch. I resent the watering down of the message. I think that the philosophical understanding is very important. I feel very positive about the Libertarian Party in Texas. As far as the nationally, Gary Johnson, I love to death. His resume as a candidate is impeccable. A two term Governor who, during his tenure, he vetoed more bills than the other 49 governors combined? He represents integrity in my mind. I see the party in a beautiful resurgence and I am really excited to be a part of it. At the present I am looking forward to supporting Gary Johnson in 2016. I think that he will have the ability to create a very effective gateway for a lot more people to join the movement. I can stand behind him with enthusiasm and endorse him wholeheartedly. I think that Libertarians are going to win more and more races in the next couple of elections.

MB: Your philosophical treatise, which you call “Freedom”, is now available for free. Can you describe your inspiration?

AK: Freedom is free in every digital format possible. It is completely open source. It has been beautiful to see how people have understood this. I wrote it to be the most effective way to get people to think for themselves. The book has made it possible for me to do the American Campfire Tour that I am on right now. The book is a tool to share the message of individual freedom.

MB: The Federal Government is no more. What is the future?

AK: 3D printing ships to explore the cosmos? I don’t know but I can tell you that I look forward to collectively evolving to this point.

MB: What can people do to support you?

AK: People can choose to pay money for the book. People can keep watching and sharing my videos. People know how to spend their money better than I do.The most important thing that people can do to support me, to support the evolution to a voluntary society as quickly and as peacefully as possible, is to live their lives according to the values of liberty, freedom, and justice for all. This does not entail spending more currency or bartering more than you already do; it just means supporting others that believe in these values.

Adam Kokesh is on a nationwide tour in support of his treatise, “Freedom”. You can catch up with Adam, as well as, purchase or download the book for free at www.thefreedomline.com.

Photo of Adam Speaking in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Tuesday August 25th

Door-to-Door Meat Sales Company Assures of Changing Its Sales Practices

Rancher’s Pride LLC, a door-to-door meat sales company, has agreed to change its sales practices and pay the state $30,000 in a settlement with Attorney General Tom Miller.

The South Dakota-based company allegedly violated Iowa’s Door-to-Door Sales Act, as it could not provide consumers an oral and written notice of their right to cancel their purchase within three business days. They also made false and deceptive statements about its products, a news release said.

Rancher’s Pride agreed this week to follow Iowa’s Door-to-Door Sales Act and refrain from misrepresentations to consumers, including costs and fees. The agreement also obliges the company to respond to future consumer complaints within ten days.