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District Court upholds Iowa rule banning "telemedicine" abortions

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 22:46:10 PM CDT

A Polk County District Court today upheld a rule adopted by the Iowa Board of Medicine last year, which would prohibit Planned Parenthood of the Heartland from providing medical abortions using "telemedicine" (where a doctor meets with the patient via videoconferencing). You can read the full text of Judge Jeffrey Farrell's ruling here. After the jump I've summarized Judge Farrell's key findings, including background on the case and excerpts from his decision. I've also enclosed reaction from both sides in the telemedicine abortion debate, as well as from Governor Terry Branstad and Democratic challenger Jack Hatch.

Judge Farrell's ruling goes into effect in 30 days, but Planned Parenthood has already said it will appeal, so the Iowa Supreme Court may put another stay on the rule pending its hearing of the case.

I'm surprised by this ruling. In a November 2013 decision granting Planned Parenthood's request for a stay of the rule, Polk County District Court Judge Karen Romano sounded skeptical that rule would be upheld when courts considered the merits. She noted the lack of evidence of any adverse outcomes in more than 5,000 abortions using Planned Parenthood's telemedicine system, the "peculiar" fact that the Board of Medicine required an in-person meeting between a patient and doctor for abortion services, but not for other telemedicine practices, and the likelihood that denying rural women access to medical abortion would increase demand for "surgical abortion, which is much more invasive and risky." UPDATE: In the comments, Bleeding Heartland reader ahawby notes several factors that could have influenced Judge Farrell's perspective on this case.

Today's decision is a victory for opponents of abortion rights, because Iowa women in small towns and rural areas will face more hurdles to obtain abortions early in pregnancy. It's also a personal triumph for Branstad's legal counsel, Brenna Findley. As Judge Farrell's ruling acknowledges, Findley was a vocal advocate of the rulemaking, urging the Board of Medicine to act quickly on the petition from pro-life activists, against the advice of the board's own legal counsel as well as the Iowa Attorney General's office.

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Three reasons Rick Perry's indictment will help him with Iowa Republicans

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 10:54:25 AM CDT

Being charged with a crime is rarely good news for any public figure, but it looks like Texas Governor Rick Perry will be the exception that proves the rule.

Not only will his presidential aspirations survive the criminal case launched against him last last week, the governor's prosecution will improve his standing among Iowa Republicans, for three reasons.

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Rest in peace, Jim Jeffords

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 20:50:00 PM CDT

Former U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont passed away today at the age of 80. When he was first elected to Congress in 1974, New England Republicans were well represented in Washington, DC, and were more progressive than many southern Democrats in the Capitol. By the time he retired in 2006, only a few Congressional Republicans hailed from states to the north and east of New York.

Jeffords will be most remembered for becoming an independent in May 2001, shifting control of the Senate to Democrats just a few months into George W. Bush's presidency. Emily Langer notes in her Washington Post obituary that Jeffords had been out of step with his party on many occasions before then.

In 1981, while serving in the House, he was the only Republican to oppose President Ronald Reagan's tax cuts. Later, as a member of the Senate, Mr. Jeffords opposed President George H.W. Bush's nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court and publicly agonized before supporting the president on the invasion of Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

During the Democratic administration of President Bill Clinton, Mr. Jeffords broke with his party by backing the president's health-care plan and voting against the articles of impeachment brought against him in connection with the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Even so, leaving the GOP caucus was a difficult choice for Jeffords. You can watch his May 24, 2001 speech here or read the transcript at the Burlington Free Press website. Iowa's senior Senator Chuck Grassley was among the GOP colleagues most hurt by Jeffords' defection. Speaking to reporters on that day in 2001, Jeffords said his meeting with Republican senators had been

the most emotional time that I have ever had in my life, with my closest friends urging me not to do what I was going to do, because it affected their lives, and very substantially. I know, for instance, the chairman of the finance committee has dreamed all his life of being chairman. He is chairman about a couple of weeks, and now he will be no longer the chairman. All the way down the line, I could see the anguish and the disappointment as I talked.

So many elected officials have remained loyal to parties that no longer represent their views. It's hard to redefine one's political identity and jeopardize longtime relationships. Jeffords stands out because he took a painful step for principles he believed in.

Incidentally, Grassley focused on the policy implications of Jeffords' switch, not his personal loss of power. As it happens, he didn't have to wait long for another chance to chair the Senate Finance Committee, from January 2003 through December 2006.

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Hillary and Bill Clinton to headline the final Harkin Steak Fry

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:10:00 PM CDT

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will be the star guests at Senator Tom Harkin's final steak fry on September 14 at the Indianola Balloon Field. Doors open at 12:30 pm, event runs from 1-4. Traffic can be slow on the highway leading to the balloon field, so my advice is to allow extra time.

All of Iowa's Democratic candidates for federal and statewide office typically speak at the steak fry, but the big crowds will be there to see Hillary Clinton in her first Iowa appearance since the January 2008 caucuses. While she's in central Iowa, I would not be surprised to see her do an event for Staci Appel, Democratic nominee in the third Congressional district. Then State Senator Appel appeared at numerous events for for Hillary during 2007.

My opinion hasn't changed regarding Clinton and the 2016 Iowa caucuses: if she runs for president again, she wins here. Vice President Joe Biden and everyone else are far behind in every Iowa poll I've seen. Other presidential hopefuls are waiting in the wings, in case Clinton decides against running, but are in no position to challenge her for the nomination.

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New data bolster supporters of raising Iowa's gas tax

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:33:30 AM CDT

The average cost of owning a car is lower in Iowa than in any other state, the Cedar Rapids Gazette's B.A. Morelli reported on August 16, citing an analysis by Bankrate.com. Car insurance costs an average of $630 per year in Iowa, the lowest in the 50 states. Vehicle repairs cost Iowa drivers an average of $315 per year, also the lowest number for any state. The average cost of gasoline for Iowa drivers worked out to $998 a year, taking into account not only the price of gas but also vehicle miles traveled and fuel efficiency rates. That's "middle of the pack," Morelli noted.

Iowa's gasoline tax has not been increased since 1989, reaching a historic low in real terms. Meanwhile, Iowa road and bridge conditions continue to deteriorate. Three years ago, our state ranked third-worst in the country for structurally deficient bridges. The latest data indicate we are second-worst in that category, with more than 20 percent of the state's bridges in need of repairs or replacement.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch supports raising the gas tax, while Governor Terry Branstad has said he favors other ways to finance road and bridge work. The candidates clashed over that issue during last week's debate. Branstad has left himself some wiggle room by not pledging to veto a gas tax increase.

The current leaders of the Iowa House and Senate Transportation Committees strongly support raising the gas tax to pay for road work. Bills to increase the tax by a total of 10 cents per gallon over several years passed committees in both chambers in recent years, but advocates were unable to recruit enough bipartisan support to pass them in the full Iowa House or Senate in either of the past two legislative sessions. Iowa House Transportation Committee Chair Josh Byrnes has promised to keep working on this issue, and State Representative Brian Moore, the vice chair of that committee, said this spring that a gas tax hike is "in the works" for 2015. He has emphasized that weight limits on structurally deficient bridges are bad for businesses like the livestock transportation company he owns.

Republicans Byrnes and Moore both represent Iowa House districts that may be targeted this fall, as does Iowa Senate Transportation Committee Chair Tod Bowman, a Democrat. Prospects for raising the gas tax will depend in part on whether key advocates are re-elected in November. Regardless of which parties control the Iowa House and Senate after the midterm elections, a gas tax increase would have to be a bipartisan effort.

Democratic and Republican critics of increasing the gasoline tax have pointed out that consumption taxes tend to be regressive, hitting lower-income people harder. A gas tax hike would also disproportionately affect rural residents, who may need to travel further to work or shop. The Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has recommended reforms to address those concerns. I've posted the short summary after the jump; you can read more in depth on their ideas for "building a better gas tax" here. I would add that any increase to Iowa's gas tax should be accompanied by "fix-it first" language, so that new road construction doesn't swallow the most of the revenue that should be earmarked for repairs. Fixing roads and bridges gives taxpayers more bang for their buck and creates more jobs than building new roads or putting new lanes on existing roads, which (while sometimes needed) increase future maintenance costs.

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Weekend open thread: Matt Schultz comeback attempt edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 09:29:10 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

Lots of politicians have come back after one or more electoral setbacks. Tom Harkin lost his first campaign for U.S. House in southwest Iowa. Bill Clinton lost his first re-election bid as Arkansas governor. But it's rare for a politician to win a general election after losing a party primary for a different office in the same year. Two high-profile Iowa Republicans are now attempting this feat in 2014. Sam Clovis, who finished second in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, shifted gears to run for state treasurer.

This past week, Madison County Republicans nominated Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz to run for county attorney. Schultz finished third in the GOP primary to represent Iowa's third Congressional district after choosing not to seek re-election to his current position. (He also finished third in Madison County, behind David Young and Brad Zaun.) The Vote Matt Schultz website now focuses on his plan to fight crime in Madison County. I've posted text from the "issues" page after the jump. In keeping with his relentless hyping of voter fraud as a major crime problem (in the absence of evidence), Schultz is now stoking fears that suburban sprawl will allow "more big-city crime" to "spill over" into nearby areas.

Schultz lived in Council Bluffs, where he served on the city council, before relocating to the Des Moines area after winning the 2010 secretary of state election. Dar Danielson reported for Radio Iowa on August 15,

Schultz moved to Truro a year-and-a-half ago and was asked about those who say he hasn't lived in the area long enough to represent the people there. "This is a situation where it's not about money, and I could have made a lot more money working at a law firm in Des Moines, I've got a lot of legal experience and professional experience," Schultz says. "I have a passion for public service and I really care about the community I live in. I love Madison County, it is like heaven for us."

According to the Winterset Madisonian, the county attorney position is a full-time job with a salary of roughly $73,500. I would be surprised to hear that Des Moines law firms are lining up to hire an attorney who spent a relatively short time in private practice before presiding over an underwhelming term as secretary of state. But perhaps there's an untapped market for lawyers who are able to spin any courtroom defeat as a victory and have attempted to enact rules that were eventually slapped down by not one but two district court judges.

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State Representative Henry Rayhons charged with abusing his incapacitated wife

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 07:25:00 AM CDT

When I criticized State Representative Henry Rayhons for announcing his retirement so late in an election year, I had no idea this was coming down the pike:

Today, 78 year old Henry Rayhons of Garner, Iowa was arrested after charges were filed against him for 3rd Degree Sexual Abuse, a class C Felony. [...]

The criminal complaint states that on or about May 23, 2014, Rayhons committed sexual abuse upon the victim [Donna Rayhons] by performing a sex act upon her as a person suffering from mental defect or incapacity, after he had been told that the victim did not have the cognitive ability to give consent to any sexual activity.

You can view the complaint and affidavit here (pdf). After the jump I've posted the full text of the Iowa Department of Public Safety press release, a statement released by Henry Rayhons' attorney, and excerpts from relevant news coverage. Henry Rayhons has been released from jail after posting bail. Donna Rayhons passed away on August 8.

It appears that the prosecution's case against Rayhons will rely on testimony from Donna Rayhons' roommate at the nursing home, surveillance camera footage from the nursing home, and statements the state lawmaker made while being interviewed by a Department of Criminal Investigations agent on June 12. Judging from comments made yesterday by Rayhons' son and by his attorney, the defense will argue that Rayhons is the victim of a "witch hunt," that he loved his wife, and that the "sexual contact" he admitted to "could be anything from a hug or a kiss."

Rayhons' late retirement makes a lot more sense now. By the way, on August 14 local Republicans held a special election to nominate Terry Baxter in Iowa House district 8, the seat Rayhons will vacate. Baxter will face Democrat Nancy Huisinga in a district that strongly favors Republicans in voter registrations and presidential voting in 2012.

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IA-04: A despicable comment, even by Steve King standards

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 07:26:00 AM CDT

Anyone who has followed Representative Steve King's career knows that he is prone to racially insensitive comments that minimize realities of how African-American people are often treated in this country. Specifically, he has long defended racial profiling by law enforcement. King's most recent comments on this topic made national news yesterday. As the country reacts to yet another police shooting of an unarmed black man, King has determined that we don't need to worry about racial profiling by police in Ferguson, Missouri. You can watch his whole Newsmax interview here or read the highlights here:

"This idea of no racial profiling," King said, "I've seen the video. It looks to me like you don't need to bother with that particular factor because they all appear to be of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that."  

This man thinks it's a horrible infringement of liberty for a corporation to be required to provide contraception coverage, yet he is incapable of acknowledging the long and well-documented history of police officers killing black men for no reason. I don't think this was a slip of the tongue--King thinks ahead of time before making the offensive comments that end up on highlight reels.

I've posted the Iowa Democratic Party's reaction to King's "hateful rhetoric" after the jump.

UPDATE: Some progressives believe King is "crazy," while some conservatives believe the liberal media are out to make the congressman look bad. I say both groups are wrong. Speaking to the Sioux City Rotary Club more than six years ago, King admitted that "he plans everything he says, no matter how 'provocative' -- it's weighed ahead of time, never off the cuff and designed to stir discussion of key issues."

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IA-Gov: First Branstad-Hatch debate discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 16:08:26 PM CDT

Governor Terry Branstad and State Senator Jack Hatch are debating this afternoon at the Iowa State Fair. Iowa Public Television is live-streaming the event and will replay the debate at 7 pm tonight. Share any comments about the governor's race in this thread. I will be updating with my thoughts after the jump.

Branstad has agreed to two other debates with Hatch, but his team are refusing to allow Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds to debate Hatch's running mate, Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon. It's a strange stance for a guy who is determined to make Reynolds the next governor.

UPDATE: My live-blog is after the jump. I will add more links and discussion later. If you missed the debate, you can watch at 7 pm on Iowa Public Television. They may also keep the video up on the IPTV website. SECOND UPDATE: The full debate transcript is now available here.

THIRD UPDATE: Mike Glover saw this debate as a sign Iowa "will actually have a governor's race this year." Click through to read the whole piece; I've posted excerpts below, after the liveblog.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: St. John's Wort

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 14:10:00 PM CDT

Today's featured wildflower has been used medicinally for thousands of years and is still a common herbal remedy for depression. That said, St. John's Wort can limit the effectiveness of many prescription medications, and some drug interactions could even be dangerous.

The St. John's Wort family (Hypericaceae) includes Spotted St. John's Wort (Hypericum punctatum), which is native to most of the eastern U.S., and Common St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), a European native that has spread across most of North America. The plants are easily confused, because common St. John's Wort can also have spots, though more faint than on spotted St. John's Wort.

I think the photographs I've posted below depict common St. John's Wort. The Illinois Wildflowers website describes the leaves and flowers in detail and notes that the plant is common in "mesic to dry sand prairies, barren savannas, degraded weedy meadows, gravelly areas along railroads and roadsides, pastures and abandoned fields, and sterile waste areas. There is a preference for disturbed areas with little vegetation." That description applies to the part of the Meredith bike trail where I took these pictures a few weeks ago. Note to farmers: sheep and goats "readily graze" this plant but can die from a toxic reaction. Because common St. John's Wort can be invasive, it is considered a noxious weed in some states to the west of Iowa.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

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New Iowa caucus links and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 08:03:26 AM CDT

More than a half-dozen potential presidential candidates have visited Iowa since Bleeding Heartland's last news roundup on the field. Any comments about the 2016 Iowa caucus campaign are welcome in this thread. Lots of links are after the jump.

Lest anyone think that ordinary people are unable to influence public discourse, consider this: Rand Paul's latest Iowa visit will likely be remembered for how he ran away from the DREAMers who confronted Representative Steve King.

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Terry Branstad's misguided view of fighting for Iowa agriculture

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 10:09:07 AM CDT

Speaking to a small crowd at the Iowa State Fair yesterday, Governor Terry Branstad said he was "proud as governor to have stood up for and fought for the interests of agriculture." You can watch the video on the Des Moines Register's website and read highlights in O.Kay Henderson's report for Radio Iowa or Jason Noble's summary for the Register:

He described his defense of Beef Products Inc. and its lean finely textured beef against charges that it was unhealthy "pink slime"; his support for wind energy; his efforts to maintain the current renewable fuel standard for ethanol content in gasoline; and his opposition to California chicken cage standards that could harm Iowa egg producers.

Branstad certainly was a vocal advocate for "pink slime," even depicting the product as some kind of superior health food. He's eager to defend one company's use of methods many consumers find repulsive, but I doubt the Terrace Hill chef is serving him many meals containing lean finely-textured beef.

Renewable energy advocates in Iowa would not characterize Branstad as a champion for wind. I've never heard of him lifting a finger to support "distributed generation" policies, which would benefit a much broader group of farmers and landowners than the large wind farms now dotting rural Iowa.

True, the governor has argued strenuously for maintaining the Renewable Fuels Standard, contradicting his usual stance against "big government regulations" and federal mandates. However, it's debatable whether the RFS is as important to Iowa's economy as some interest groups claim.

Branstad can pander all he wants about "the State of California with its wacky ideas," but the lawsuit he joined on behalf of Iowa is lacking in logic and unlikely to overturn California's egg law. It's also ironic that a governor who claims to oppose "activist judges" is pinning his hopes on them in this case and in another lawsuit challenging a different California law.

Meanwhile, Branstad has either done nothing or actively impeded solutions on several issues that pose an enormous threat to Iowa agriculture. We're losing world-class topsoil at an alarming rate, diminishing the future productivity of our land. Yet Branstad vetoed millions of dollars this year for Iowa watershed and land stewardship projects. Nor has he ever proposed funding the Natural Resources Trust Fund, which Iowa voters approved four years ago.

"Superweeds" resistant to the most prevalent herbicides are spreading across Iowa. Branstad has never advocated for or promoted more sustainable farming methods, which could address the weed problem more effectively than dumping more toxic chemicals on the land. Incidentally, Big Ag's preferred approach to battling superweeds could could put a lot of Iowa vineyards and fruit growers out of business--never mind the potential risks to human health.

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Rest in peace, Robin Williams

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 20:06:56 PM CDT

The actor Robin Williams died today at his home. He was only 63. I am old enough to remember watching him on the "Mork and Mindy" tv show. He landed the role of an alien by sitting on his head at the audition, and ad-libbed frequently during filming. Though the show will never make any list of all-time great sitcoms, it hinted at Williams' immense talent.

I haven't seen the most recent Robin Williams movies. He won most of his numerous awards during the 1980s and 1990s, including the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for "Good Will Hunting." To my mind, his strongest performances were in "Moscow on the Hudson," "Good Morning, Vietnam," and "The Fisher King." His range was incredible. Not long ago I saw a rerun of "Law and Order SVU" featuring Williams, and he was way more terrifying than the average guest star villain.

Though the medical examiner has not made any official determination, many media are reporting that Williams likely died from suicide, which compounds the tragedy. Like many comedians, he struggled with depression over the years, and periodically with drug and alcohol use. Suicide kills roughly 30,000 Americans every year. Here's some basic information about the epidemic. Here are some warning signs that a suicide attempt may be imminent, as well as factors that put someone at greater risk of killing himself.

Feel free to share your own favorite Robin Williams moments in this thread.

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The Lord of the Ringkissers: Return of The Family Leadership Summit

by: natewithglasses

Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 18:14:55 PM CDT

(Always appreciate first-person accounts like this. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Today was the 3rd The Family Leadership Summit hosted by The Family Leader. This event has become a kingmaking event for Bob Vander Plaats and The Family Leader with national and state Republican officials coming to kiss their rings. This event has been talked about as replacing the Ames Straw Poll. For the second year in a row - I decided to make the trek to see what this is all about with allied organization - Progress Iowa.

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Weekend open thread: Crime and punishment edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 20:58:44 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

Late last week, a Virginia medical examiner determined that James Brady's recent death was a homicide, stemming from John Hinckley's attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981. I would be interested to hear from readers more familiar with the criminal justice system about precedent for charging someone with murder when more than three decades elapsed between the fatal wound and the victim's death. The U.S. Attorney's office had no comment other than to say that they are reviewing the coroner's report. If prosecutors charge Hinckley with murder, they could get around double jeopardy questions, as Hinckley was never tried for murder before. But since his previous trial ended in a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, it seems that it would be quite difficult for prosecutors to convince a jury that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of killing Brady.

In one of the last decisions announced from the term that just ended, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled a few weeks ago in State v Lyle that mandatory sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional. You can read the majority ruling and two dissents here. The majority ruling built on but went far beyond a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated mandatory sentences of life without parole for convicted killers who were juveniles at the time of the crime. Writing for the 4-3 majority, Chief Justice Mark Cady extended reasoning from three Iowa Supreme Court decisions last year related to juvenile sentencing. Cady is not afraid to be ahead of the curve here. I expect that over the next decade, other courts will take into account the growing body of research on the adolescent brain, and this ruling will be viewed as a harbinger rather than an overreach. Justices David Wiggins, Daryl Hecht, and Brent Appel joined the majority.

In dissent, Justices Thomas Waterman and Bruce Zager argued that the court went too far in the current ruling as well as in the previous juvenile sentencing cases. They held that a seven-year mandatory minimum was not "cruel and unusual punishment" for a violent criminal who happened to be 17 years old at the time of the crime. Justice Edward Mansfield joined both dissents. It's worth noting that the majority opinion didn't say a juvenile couldn't be sentenced to a long prison term--only that a judge must take into account individual circumstances and current knowledge of adolescent brain development when determining a sentence.

Side note: Governor Terry Branstad appeared not to understand this Iowa Supreme Court ruling, or perhaps he deliberately attempted to mislead the public about its implications. Speaking to reporters last month, the governor implied that juveniles who commit violent crimes will now have to be released at age 18. Not at all. The Iowa Supreme Court majority did not hold that juveniles could never be tried as adults, or that juveniles could not be sentenced to long prison terms. Judges simply can't apply to juveniles mandatory formulas designed for adults who committed violent crimes.

Earlier this summer, I never managed to write a post about the idiot "open carry activists" who were hell-bent on walking into chain stores and restaurants heavily armed. Even the National Rifle Association characterized the movement as having "crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness"--though the NRA wimps soon apologized for offending Open Carry Texas. Thankfully, I haven't encountered this phenomenon in Iowa, but if I see a person or group of people walking heavily armed into a store or restaurant, I will clear out immediately. There's no way to tell whether someone carrying a semiautomatic weapon is an open carry activist or a psychopath about to go on a killing spree, and I wouldn't hang around to find out. This philosophy professor had it exactly right when he pointed out that open carry enthusiasts are different from people who carry concealed weapons: "Those who conceal their guns are ready for trouble, but open-carry activists are looking for it. In general, I don't trust anyone who is looking for trouble."

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IA-Gov: Jonathan Narcisse running as "Iowa Party" candidate

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 17:55:00 PM CDT

August tends to be a slow news month, which is a good thing, because Bleeding Heartland has a lot of news to catch up on from July. For one thing, Jonathan Narcisse has qualified for the general election ballot as a candidate for governor representing the Iowa Party. (There are no other Iowa Party candidates running this year.) You can find issue positions and news clips on the Narcisse campaign's website. He campaigned in ten counties last week, and yesterday highlighted his education proposals during his speech on the Des Moines Register's "soapbox"  at the Iowa State Fair.

The former Des Moines school board member ran for governor as the Iowa Party candidate in 2010, winning nearly 2 percent of the statewide vote. Late last year he described that independent candidacy as "naive" and a "mistake." However, the Iowa Secretary of State's office determined that he did not submit enough signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot. Narcisse challenged his exclusion on what he called a "technicality" (failing to list the office he was seeking on some of the petition pages). However, a Polk County District Court and later the Iowa Supreme Court rejected his lawsuit.

Presumably, Narcisse will draw more votes from Iowans who might lean toward Democratic nominee Jack Hatch. However, his support for opting out of the "Common Core" curriculum may attract some social conservatives who are dissatisfied with Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

At least one other candidate for governor is likely to qualify for the general election ballot in Iowa: Dr. Lee Hieb, the Libertarian Party's nominee. She has until close of business on August 15 to submit enough valid signatures to the Iowa Secretary of State's office. That hasn't been a problem for Libertarian candidates in recent election years.

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IA-03: Chuck Grassley cuts radio ad for David Young

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 08, 2014 at 14:44:00 PM CDT

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is making the case for David Young in a new radio commercial supporting the Republican nominee's campaign in Iowa's third Congressional district. Young worked as Grassley's chief of staff for seven years before resigning in 2013 to run for U.S. Senate. After Representative Tom Latham announced plans to retire, Young switched to the IA-03 race.

I haven't found any official mention of the new radio ad on Young's campaign website, Facebook Page, Twitter feed, or YouTube channel, but I heard it twice in the car today. I don't know whether it's running outside the Des Moines radio market, but I hope some Bleeding Heartland readers in other parts of IA-03 will let me know. I couldn't take notes while driving, but if I can get a recording later, I will update this post with a full transcript. The essence is Grassley telling people that Young will work hard to represent them well. I only heard Young's voice at the very end, saying that he approved the message and is an Iowa candidate for U.S. Congress.

Grassley didn't endorse a candidate in the six-way GOP primary to represent IA-03, but several of his consultants worked on Young's campaign. In late June, the senator promised to do "everything he can to help" Young win in November. He was the special guest at a fundraiser last weekend in Young's home town of Van Meter. (Young went into the general election well behind Democratic opponent Staci Appel in cash on hand.)

Launching his Senate campaign last year, Young said he was "conscious that I have to be my own man," not "some kind of Chuck Grassley clone." But you can't blame him for bringing out the big gun as soon as possible during the general election. Grassley's strong ties to Young are one reason many Democrats were disappointed the IA-03 nomination didn't go to someone else at the special GOP convention. Iowa's senior senator has always been well-liked by swing voters and would not be making this kind of effort on behalf of Brad Zaun, Robert Cramer, or Matt Schultz.

AUGUST 18 UPDATE: For reasons I don't understand, Young's campaign has still not officially announced this radio ad campaign or put the spot up on YouTube. I've heard the commercial many times on Des Moines-based radio but haven't managed to record it. I've paraphrased what I can remember of the script after the jump, but it's not a precise transcription. If anyone can remember more details about the wording, please feel free to post them in this thread.

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IA-04: Jim Mowrer running second positive ad

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 15:21:09 PM CDT

Today Democratic candidate Jim Mowrer launched the second television commercial promoting his campaign in Iowa's fourth Congressional district. The video and transcript for "Together" are after the jump. Like the first Mowrer ad, this 30-second spot is running district-wide on cable and on broadcast television in Des Moines and Sioux City. As in the first ad, the candidate speaks in his own voice, which sounds more approachable to me than ads using a professional announcer. Although Mowrer doesn't mention Republican incumbent Steve King directly, the theme of working together in a non-partisan way is a subtle dig at King, well-known for fighting almost any cooperation or compromise with Congressional Democrats.

King's 2012 challenger, Christie Vilsack, also tried to run as a coalition-builder, in contrast to politicians who "scramble to the TV cameras to stir the pot." We'll see whether Mowrer's campaign can convey that message more effectively than Vilsack did. I will say that this Mowrer spot is ten times better than Vilsack's second commercial, which featured an odd "seven-layer salad" analogy.  

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Iowa State University ending VEISHEA for good

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 11:40:00 AM CDT

Iowa State University President Steven Leath announced this morning that the university will never again hold the annual spring celebration known as "VEISHEA" for more than 90 years. Leath cancelled most VEISHEA events this year after a riot broke out yet again. Last month, a task force Leath convened to study the issue recommended replacing the celebration with at least three separate events, not using the VEISHEA name and not held during the spring or on any holiday weekends. You can read the full report here (45-page pdf). Vanessa Miller summarized its key points in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Although many ISU alums will be disappointed to see the VEISHEA tradition end, Leath made the right decision in my opinion. Long ago this event's name lost its association with ISU's original colleges (Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, Industrial Science, Home Economics, and Agriculture). Anything called VEISHEA will make many people think of drunken riots, and as the task force report noted, "A major springtime event at Iowa State, even if significantly retooled and identified by a different name, may still carry with it the baggage of unofficial VEISHEA." I suspect most Ames residents will be relieved by today's news.

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Iowa State Fair tips and speaking schedule for state and federal candidates

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 09:47:06 AM CDT

The Iowa State Fair opened a few minutes ago and runs through August 17. I'm a big fan of the event, and after the jump, I've posted some of my favorite tips for enjoying the fair, along with the schedule for candidate appearances at the Des Moines Register's "soapbox" on the Grand Concourse. The Register will live-stream speeches by candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, as well as a few nationally known politicians from out of state.

The fair has almost endless free entertainment, but bring cash with you anyway, because the State Fair board had to backtrack on plans to eliminate cash purchases for food. Instead, vendors have been encouraged to accept credit and debit cards. I suspect most will stick with a cash-only system.  

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