Done My Part

Marcia and I ordered our absentee ballots as soon as we were able, received them in reasonably prompt fashion after they were mailed out, filled them in, and hand-carried them to our county auditor’s office last Friday. We received the postcard confirmations posted above today, but had already checked on the status of our ballots online, so knew they had been processed. We want to make sure our votes are counted, for sure.

There’s just so very much at stake this year. It makes my heart hurt and my head throb and my soul shudder when I consider it too hard, too long. Please LORD, Buddha, FSM, Allah, Cthulhu, Shiva, Ahura Mazda, Zeus, Karora, and all of your other unseen and unseeable allies, let this horrific era of grift, crime and hatred end soon. And without bloodshed. Amen.

I hope you’ve either done your part in the process already, or have an active plan for doing so — even as I recognize that your paths might be blocked or hidden by people whose primary approach to their own empowerment is through disenfranchising and discouraging others from freely and fairly participating in the electoral process. It’ll be worth the fight if enough of us turn out to overwhelm the cheating and chicanery. Get it done, as soon and as safely as you can, please please please!

(Note: You can click on the image above for information on the voting paths available to you in your own place and State, if you need such a resource).

Mask Music

It has been an annoying week in Iowa since Marcia and I returned from our wonderful trip to Minnesota. The weather has been mostly disgusting, with hot winds and high humidity making our daily walks a sweaty slog. Our Governor and junior Senator were among the cast of clowns dancing in center ring at the Von Trump Family Circus, both of them spewing the half-truths and nonsense required as acts of fealty to their ignorant overlord. Diligent and persistent community watchdogs pressed the state to admit that it has been miscalculating, doctoring and/or misrepresenting our COVID case numbers. (I’d long been observing that Iowa’s official outcomes and trends seemed improbable compared to neighboring states and other states of similar sizes, so this did not surprise me). Once adjustments were made, Iowa immediately moved into the number one national position of new case incidence by state over the past seven days.

Which also isn’t really surprising, given our proximity to several major access highways for the Sturgis Coronapalooza, the fact that we are in the bottom ten states in the nation for mask usage, and in the bottom three for social distancing. Which I experience every freaking day in our apartment building, where I swear that Marcia and I are the only people I see who conscientiously wear masks whenever we step out of our unit. Polk County (where we live) leads the state in case load, about three times higher than the second-placed county, and over 50% of cases reported are in the 18-40 year old demographic, which overwhelmingly defines the East Village neighborhood where we live. To give credit where it’s due, the Mayor of Des Moines did issue a mask mandate this week, which I appreciate, though I haven’t seen any changes to the behaviors among our neighbors. On the flip-side, after returning home from her circus performance, our Governor made a relatively short-term proclamation closing bars and making other minor concessions in only six of Iowa’s 99 counties, but still refused to make masks mandatory, because freedoms and liberties.

It’s just exhausting and sad, at bottom line. And it’s lethal. If the Governor would impose a mandatory State-wide mask requirement, and people would abide by it, the projection for cumulative COVID deaths in Iowa by December 1 would be about 1,900. (We’re at about 1,100 deaths now, officially, though I believe the state is fiddling with the reports there, too). If things just continue as they are in terms of required protective measures now, then that cumulative death prediction rises to about 3,100. And if the limited restrictions in place are lifted or reduced (which the state has done every time it has the chance to do so), then the death count is forecast to rise to 4,700. So we’re looking at a situation where our elected officials have been and will (likely) be making policy decisions that will result in killing a couple of thousand Iowans, for no lucid or cogent reason beyond currying political favor with racist rich people, most of whom don’t live here, and who don’t believe in science and social justice. Ugh! Marcia and I are (safely, distantly) counting the days until our next out-of-State trips, and until October 22, 2020, when our household goods will be packed and picked up and we will leave Iowa for good. It’s been a nice run here since we first arrived in 2011, positive for a variety of reasons at different times, but at this point, enough is enough. Stick an ethanol-subsidy-powered fork in us. We’re done.

I don’t normally rant like this here on Ye Olde Blog, but I put all of that forward just to give you a sense of my head-space as I was out driving between errands this morning, and this song queued up on the car stereo:

It’s a beautiful song by a favorite artist. Like most great art, its complexity and layers of meaning made me feel better and worse at the same time while it spun, and in the quiet afterward. The lyrics are adapted from the poem of the same title, by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The author wasn’t writing about protecting himself and his neighbors from infection, but rather about the experience of being Black in America in the post-Civil War years, and the ways in which people are forced to wear happy and harmless masks to cover their real faces, which may be wrenched in suffering and pain by their own circumstances, internal and external. So it works on many levels today, with pandemic and institutional racism vying for top-billing in the Nation’s news feeds, between the steady stream of malformed blurts that our Grifter-in-Chief barfs upon us throughout his waking hours, with no mask worn (and none strong enough anyway) to filter the infectious virality of his awful words and sentiments.

Me being me, listening to “We Wear The Mask” got me to thinking about what other mask-related songs might be found in my collection, and whether they carry explicit or implicit resonance with the spirits of our age, malign, benign and/or sublime. I came up with the following playlist about masks, veils, and other face coverings, literal and figurative. Maybe if I crank it off of my apartment balcony it might subliminally inspire my oblivious neighbors to cover their faces before they go bumbling into the hallways which we all share. Probably not, though. I guess I’ll just have to enjoy it here in my home office. Do you have some other good recommended mask songs for me to add to the mix?

Power to the People and the Beats: Protest in Song (Part Two)

Last week, I posted a listing of my 40 favorite protest songs. We’ve been spinning those choice cuts around the apartment since then, appreciating their timeless topicality. As the contents and concerns expressed in those songs continue to churn, at home and on the streets, several other great protest songs popped to my mind or were suggested by others. I’ve been adding them to a core list of a dozen or so that I’d kept off the original post in the interest of (relative) brevity. This morning, that growing list of protest songs reached the “Top 40” level again, and so I share a second collection with you, for your thought, reflection, action, and/or inspiration. The links below will take you to each of the songs online, and Marcia again made a full Spotify playlist that’s embedded at the bottom of this post for those of you who stream your music. Spin the songs in power. Good in your ear holes, good for your motivated souls!

  1. Revolution,” Arrested Development
  2. Full Metal Jackoff,” Jello Biafra and D.O.A.
  3. Rebel Girl,” Bikini Kill
  4. Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud),” James Brown
  5. For What It’s Worth,” Buffalo Springfield
  6. Beat Down Babylon,” Junior Byles
  7. Be Free,” J. Cole
  8. We Come in Peace,” Bobby Conn and the Glass Gypsies
  9. A Change Is Gonna Come,” Sam Cooke
  10. They’ll Never Keep Us Down,” Hazel Dickens
  11. Kill for Peace,” The Fugs
  12. Biko,” Peter Gabriel
  13. Mannenberg,” Abdullah Ibrahim
  14. Soweto Blues,” Miriam Makeba
  15. (Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go,” Curtis Mayfield
  16. 16 Shots,” Vic Mensa
  17. The Big Stick,” The Minutemen
  18. Americans,” Janelle Monáe
  19. Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Melba Moore
  20. Mathematics,” Mos Def
  21. There But For Fortune,” Phil Ochs
  22. Like Really,” Oddisee
  23. Young Girls,” Princess Nokia
  24. By the Time I Get to Arizona,” Public Enemy
  25. U.N.I.T.Y.,” Queen Latifah
  26. My Country ’tis of Thy People You’re Dying,” Buffy Sainte-Marie
  27. Asimbonanga,” Savuka
  28. Where Have All The Flowers Gone?,” Pete Seeger
  29. Bristol and Miami,” The Selecter
  30. God Save The Queen,” Sex Pistols
  31. Swimsuit Issue,” Sonic Youth
  32. Free Nelson Mandela,” The Special AKA
  33. Apartheid,” Peter Tosh
  34. Sunday Bloody Sunday,” U2
  35. Hombre Gris,” Vakeró
  36. Trouble,” Josh White
  37. Better Must Come,” Delroy Wilson
  38. Shipbuilding,” Robert Wyatt
  39. Oh Bondage! Up Yours!,” X-Ray Spex
  40. Trouble Every Day,” Frank Zappa and the Mother of Invention

If someone came for you one night and dragged you away, do you really think your neighbors would even care? (See track two for the answer).

Update: The Full Grassley Reimagined

Iowans love a lot of weird things. Food on a stick, for example. Or bacon, Maytag Blue Cheese, de Burgo sauce, and/or La Quercia prosciutto being included in staple dishes that absolutely do not warrant or require them. Iowans love humble-bragging about how modest and friendly they are. The most modest and friendly, in fact. And by golly, they’ve got the stats to prove it. Though they’re too modest and friendly to rub your noses in them. Much. Daytime drinking is also quite well-loved in Iowa, as are unique regional wines and cocktails. The fetishes about the two major state universities’ sports teams are mind-boggling and absurd in their intensity and frequency of expression, and I say that as someone raised in the sports-mad Cocks vs Tigers and Heels vs Pack parts of the country. (There are some other unique sporting events hereabouts too). Pork tenderloin sandwiches, Federal subsidies, caucus miscounts, and biking while blasting boomboxes (grrrr!) on the way to daytime drinking are also well-loved by Iowans.

Perhaps particularly odd among Iowa’s greatest loves are its array of tiny counties (99 of them!), and the widely-held expectation that Presidential wannabes and State-wide politicians must visit them all. Completing that circuit is known as “The Full Grassley,” after our senior citizen senior Senator’s oft-stated annual habit. I completed my own Full Grassley in 2011-2012, just because. Following that grueling exercise in road trippery, I had written a piece noting that the sizes and populations of Iowa’s counties were well out-of-line with national norms, and I made a modest proposal regarding a possible fix for that situation. In short, I deemed 17 counties to be “keepers” for a variety of reasons, and then suggested combining the other 82 into 41 to reduce governmental expense and redundancy in parts of the state where the interests and concerns of neighboring counties are virtually indistinguishable one from the other.

I re-ran that article a couple of weeks back to mark the occasion of COVID-19 completing its own Full Grassley. I ended it with this open appeal: “I would love to see someone with mad map skills take a crack at demonstrating how to best double up those 82 box counties, so if you think like I do, how about getting out your colored pencils and sharing what a new and improved Iowa County Map can and should look like in the 21st Century and beyond?”

I’m pleased to report today that I’ve had a taker for that request, and I love the outcome she sent me. Long-time reader Liz Cruz is also a long-time cartographer, and is married to a native Iowan, so she clearly possesses the chops and perspective to tackle the job. Here’s what she came up with (click the image for a larger PDF version of the map):

It’s an elegant and aesthetically pleasing solution to the exercise. The counties in red are the 17 that I deemed worthy of preservation as they currently stand. The other county combos are built around a mix of vertical, horizontal and diagonal pairings that effectively break up the monotonous box culture of the current map. The merged populations of the counties are also very helpful to see, as none of the newly configured counties would break into the Top Ten by population, affirming my sense that there’s a fundamental difference in that current most-populous roster (all included in the red counties) and the rest of the state. Also noteworthy: the smallest new county would have just a hair under 10,000 residents; right now there are 25 counties below that threshold.

I do note that Iowa is not completely homogeneous, and that there are subtle cultural, industrial, religious, and agricultural differences in various regions of the State, but (again) having visited all 99 of the current counties, I see none of the proposed pairings that would dramatically cross any of those regional barriers in ways that would make such pairings ineffective or inefficient. The options for new county seats are also interesting: in many of the paired counties, there’s clearly one of the two current seats of government that’s larger than the other and could effectively continue to serve its leadership role, while its sister former-seat’s municipal facilities could be used for other value-added community purposes.

Good stuff, on all levels! Thanks to Liz for taking a stab at it! I guess now I just need to convince the Governor and the State Legislature to get this done. (Iowa’s State and Federal legislative districts are not tied to county lines, meaning their own seats would not necessarily change in any ways beyond normal ten-year redistricting). So who knows a good lobbyist who doubles as a map nerd and is a fan of tilting at windmills? (The metaphorical ones, I mean. Not the ubiquitous Iowa wind turbines, that harvest the never-ending breezes hereabouts, and generate nice rental income for farmers). We’ve got a concept, we’ve got a map, we’ve got a cause, now we just need to get a political patron. I can state with certainty that this undertaking is less absurd than countless others that lobbying interests represent, in Iowa and elsewhere!

Fight The Power: Protest in Song

As I sit alone at home working at my computer tonight, public protests against institutional racism across the country continue to swell, in both size and number. It’s extremely powerful to see that energy unleashed, yet tragic to consider what motivates it. I understand and appreciate the empowerment that comes from taking to the streets on behalf of social justice causes held dear. Marcia and I marched numerous times when we lived in Chicago, in some immense gatherings of people, and it did heart and mind and soul good to know that we were not alone in our outrage at public policy and pronouncements that were hateful and loathsome to us both.

There have been recurring rallies and marches (and, alas, attendant violence likely perpetrated by those seeking to undermine the credibility of the cause) in our Des Moines neighborhood over the past week-plus, although we have largely steered clear of the crowds out of COVID-19 concerns. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not supportive of the causes in question, and willing to apply resources, thought, encouragement, time and the power of our votes on behalf of social justice and equity, here and elsewhere. Change is necessary, both structurally and politically. Hopefully the magnitude of the national gatherings communicates that clearly, convincing those in power to accede that “we’ve always done it that way” is not a viable long-term response, or forcing them from office if they’re unwilling to respond, adapt and lead.

Given who I am and what I do, I will note that one thing that I miss from being a part of that large crowd energy in person, up close and personal, is hearing the ways in which music can be deployed to educate, inspire, motivate, rally and energize. Having recently posted articles about my jazz, gospel and international listening during these our diseased days of late, Marcia suggested that I also share a playlist of my favorite protest music as a small statement of solidarity with those out on the streets today, and those cheering them on from home. Great idea! Always happy to make a list, especially a musical one!

As per my normal practice in such little projects, I did some research to frame my argument on what, exactly, defines the genre of “protest songs.” One surprising thing that emerged from my reading was that the way in which we use the word “protest” is a surprisingly modern one, per this definition from the wonderful Online Etymology Dictionary (italics are mine for emphasis):

protest (n.)

c. 1400, “avowal, pledge, solemn declaration,” from Old French protest (Modern French prôtet), from preotester, and directly from Latin protestari “declare publicly, testify, protest,” from pro- “forth, before” (from PIE root *per- (1) “forward,” hence “in front of, before”) + testari “testify,” from testis “witness” (see testament). Meaning “statement of disapproval” first recorded 1751; adjectival sense of “expressing of dissent from, or rejection of, prevailing mores” is from 1953, in reference to U.S. civil rights movement. First record of “protest march” is from 1959.

Using that modern civil rights definition as a guide, I started jotting down obvious favorites, and the list quickly swelled well beyond the normal 10-12 song videos that I would share for such an article. But having developed the long list, I didn’t feel like cutting it. They’re all important songs. Well worth spinning, well worth hearing, well worth considering and well worth acting upon. Every song I included does indeed express “dissent from, or rejection of, prevailing mores,” with varying degrees of explicitness. Many offer alternative courses of action, while others simply seek to frame thought and discussion via a documentary approach to explaining the nature of the injustices in question. Some work well as simple singalongs in the moment of rally, some are definitely too dense for that, but instead seek to motivate and inspire when we’re not all together, chanting as one.

While our current national convulsion hinges on issues of racial injustice, there are also obviously a collection of tremendous protest songs decrying the plights of workers, women, immigrants, the poor, victims of colonialism, and many other socially and economically oppressed communities, while also overtly challenging the societal and political conventions that foster that oppression. I’ve included a fair number of those as well. There’s lot of power in these types of songs, at bottom line. They can, have and hopefully will help to continue moving the needle.

That preamble complete, below I present 40 of my favorite protest songs (one song per artist, alphabetical by artist name), in loose recognition of the “American Top 40” trope, even though few of these songs ever appeared on those weekly lists of the Nation’s most popular tunes. We might be a better, more functional society in 2020 if they had. Not from a cause-effect standpoint, mind, but rather just because if more people were more actively interested in hearing about social injustice and how other people react and respond to it, that would be indicative of a deeper sense of acceptance of the rightness of these messages, and a deeper respect for the artists who created them.

The links will allow you to hear any and all of the songs individually, should you wish to do so. Marcia also made a Spotify playlist, which I include at the bottom of the page below the photos for those who stream your music. I figure these are better approaches than embedding 40 videos and dragging site loading time to a complete crawl. As always, I’m happy to hear from readers with your own suggestions and/or reactions to the list. I’ll certainly not complain about having some good new anthems to rock my mind and body in the days ahead of us.

  1. Know Your Rights,” The Clash
  2. Orange Man Bad,” Crisis Actor
  3. Ohio,” Crosby, Still, Nash & Young
  4. Opiate the Masses,” dälek
  5. This Could Be Anywhere,” Dead Kennedys
  6. America The Beautiful,” D.O.A.
  7. Haus der Lüge,” Einstürzende Neubauten
  8. A Change Is Gonna Come,” Aretha Franklin
  9. Inner City Boundaries,” Freestyle Fellowship
  10. Biological Speculation,” Funkadelic
  11. This Is America,” Childish Gambino
  12. What’s Going On,” Marvin Gaye
  13. You Don’t Own Me,” Leslie Gore
  14. The Message,” Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
  15. This Land Is Your Land,” Woody Guthrie
  16. Who’ll Apologize for This Disaster of a Life,” Hanslick Rebellion
  17. Strange Fruit,” Billie Holliday
  18. Volunteers,” Jefferson Airplane
  19. Work for All,” Juluka
  20. Original Sufferhead,” Fela Kuti
  21. Brother Did You Weep,” Ewan MacColl
  22. Beds Are Burning,” Midnight Oil
  23. Original Faubus Fables,” Charles Mingus
  24. Dear Slum Landlord,” Napalm Death
  25. Fight the Power,” Public Enemy
  26. Killing in the Name,” Rage Against the Machine
  27. Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace,” Max Roach
  28. Universal Soldier,” Buffy Sainte-Marie
  29. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Gil Scott-Heron
  30. We Shall Overcome,” Pete Seeger
  31. Mississippi Goddam,” Nina Simone
  32. Typical Girls,” The Slits
  33. B.L.M.,” The Specials
  34. Long Walk to D.C.,” The Staple Singers
  35. Monster/Suicide/America,” Steppenwolf
  36. Equal Rights,” Peter Tosh
  37. List of Demands (Reparations),” Saul Williams
  38. Living for the City,” Stevie Wonder
  39. Pigs,” Robert Wyatt
  40. Melt the Guns,” XTC

Addendum: I later added another 40 powerful protest tunes to this mix. You can find that supplemental listing here

Scene from an evening walk in our neighborhood, just below the Iowa State Capitol.

Side view of the same crowd. People care. Lots of ’em.

A Modest Proposal: Halve the Full Grassley

Introduction: Iowa’s Decatur County recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 case yesterday. With this report, the novel coronavirus has now officially completed its “Full Grassley,” having visited (and made itself at home in) all 99 of the Hawkeye State’s counties.

I have also personally completed a Full Grassley. I did so in 2011-2012, along with various GOP Presidential aspirants doing so at the same time as a way of currying electoral favor across the State in advance of the quadrennial Iowa Dumpster Fire Caucus. One day soon after we moved here, I was sitting in a traffic jam caused by one of those GOP candidates’ tour buses blocking traffic in downtown Des Moines. As I stewed in place, it occurred to me that the Full Grassley wasn’t really as much of a chore for the candidates riding about in relative comfort in the back of the R.V. (or flying into various regional hubs from Des Moines) as it was for the unfortunate drivers who had to zig-zag back and forth across often featureless sectors of the state just to hit a series of tiny county seats. 

So I decided I wanted to see what a Full Grassley felt like for those folks, behind the wheel, at road level. I got it done (Benton County completed my collection), but it was a chore, at bottom line. I suspect I’ve actually seen more of Iowa than 95%+ of the folks who have actually lived here all their lives. But did I mention that I got it done? I did. So there.

On the occasion of COVID-19 checking off all of its Full Grassley boxes, I re-run a piece I wrote in 2015 discussing why Iowa’s 99 counties represent an absurd anachronism that feeds into an even more absurd political practice. I’ve updated the data cited to the most current information. I’m cautiously optimistic that this year’s particularly embarrassing Caucus performance ends Iowa’s reign as the distracting and non-representative first-in-Nation player in our Presidential electoral process. But beyond that, I still think the State could still benefit from implementing some form of the modest proposal described below.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Iowa has an absurd number of counties for its size and population — and I say this as a person who has visited all 99 of them by car, completing what political candidates here know as a “Full Grassley”.

Iowa is the 26th largest State in the country by land area, and the 32nd largest State in the country by population. Our 99 counties, however, rank us ninth in the United States in number of county and county equivalents — and we would actually be eighth if Virginia didn’t uniquely count its 38 independent cities as county-equivalent governmental entities.IowaCounty

Iowa also has fewer counties defined by natural boundaries (rivers, coastlines, mountain ranges, etc.) than any other State, giving us the greatest percentage of “box counties” — formed only by surveyors’ lines — in the Nation. And we don’t even follow our own law when it comes to tiny counties: the Iowa State Constitution says no county should be smaller than 432 square miles, but ten counties are below that threshold today.

The super-abundance of neat little map boxes puts Iowa in the Nation’s bottom 20% in both average county land area and average county population. This needless plethora of counties then feeds into the “Full Grassley” phenomena, where it is viewed as a brag-worthy achievement of note to visit all 99 Iowa counties in a single year or campaign, per our senior citizen senior Senator’s loudly-proclaimed proclivity.

But really now: is that how we want our elected officials (and our visiting Presidential candidates) spending their time and money? And do we really need to financially support 100 county seats (Lee County has two) with all of the attendant layers of bureaucracy and all of the physical infrastructure associated with our profligate love of mid-level governmental institutions?

I respectfully and emphatically vote “No!”

I would rather see our citizens supported by meaningful regional governance, rather than antiquated political structures. I also find it mildly insulting that a “check off the county box” approach passes as proof that our State’s residents are being equitably seen and heard.

So consolidation makes obvious sense, but how to go about reducing Iowa’s over-abundance of counties? With apologies to Mister Swift, I offer the following modest proposal.

First, it would not make sense to eradicate county administrations that are already effectively serving sizable population centers, since that would be needlessly reinventing the wheel and/or throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

As it turns out, when you rank Iowa counties by population, there is a significant natural gap (about 35,000 people!) between number 10 (Dallas County) and number 11 (Warren County), with all of the top ten counties having over 80,000 citizens — a good functional benchmark for a State with about 3,000,000 people, based on national county averages. I would, therefore, keep the following ten counties intact, based on their current populations:

  1. Polk County
  2. Linn County
  3. Scott County
  4. Johnson County
  5. Black Hawk County
  6. Woodbury County
  7. Story County
  8. Dubuque County
  9. Pottawattamie County
  10. Dallas County

Next, there are also some existing counties that should remain intact because they are “double wides” (e.g. they break the usual grid pattern), or because they have already done their part historically to eliminate county glut, or because they are uniquely formed by geography or culture. I would keep the following counties intact under these special provisions:

  1. Kossuth County (largest in State geographically today, and incorporated former Bancroft and Crocker Counties historically)
  2. Pottawattamie County (second largest in State geographically today, already preserved due to population)
  3. Plymouth County (third largest in State geographically today)
  4. Clayton County (fourth largest in State geographically today)
  5. Sioux County (fifth largest in State geographically today)
  6. Webster County (incorporated former Risley and Yell Counties historically)
  7. Muscatine County (incorporated Cook County historically, and geographically unique)
  8. Lee County (geographically and culturally unique former “Half Breed Tract“)

So there are 17 counties that would remain as they exist today under this model: ten for population plus eight for geography, with one (Pottawattamie) on both lists. Subtract those from the current 99 and that leaves 82 counties that should be consolidated, most sensibly by doubling up the “box counties” in grids across the State.

Mills County, meet your new partner: Fremont County. Montgomery County, say hello to Page County. Please decide which of your current county seats will represent you both, and develop a plan to eliminate overlaps in your respective administrations. And so on and so on, back and forth across the State.

Take these resulting 41 new “double wide” counties, add the 17 that remain from the current map, and you’ve got a manageable 58 Iowa Counties — very commensurate with Iowa’s standing as a below-middle-of-the-pack State, size-wise and people-wise.

Senator Grassley would still have enough counties to visit to keep him out of trouble every year, and we could nearly halve county infrastructure and bureaucracy expenses. In a world of high speed road travel, cell phones, and the internet, it seems inconceivable that citizens would experience any loss of service, and municipal spaces formerly dedicated to housing county governments could be reallocated to meet real community needs: education, healthcare, libraries, whatever the region’s residents needed.

What do you think? I would love to see someone with mad map skills take a crack at demonstrating how to best double up those 82 box counties, so if you think like I do, how about getting out your colored pencils and sharing what a new and improved Iowa County Map can and should look like in the 21st Century and beyond?

My battered 2011-2015 Iowa travel map, documenting all of my Full Grassley drives, and then some.