[Bleeding Heartland Logo]

About
Bleeding Heartland is a community blog about Iowa politics: campaigns and elections, state government, social and environmental issues. Bleeding Heartland also weighs in on presidential policies and campaigns, federal legislation and what the Iowans in Congress are up to. Join our community, post your thoughts as comments or diaries, help keep our leaders honest and hold them accountable.
Author
- desmoinesdem
Highlights
- Iowa 2012 election coverage
- Who's who in the Iowa House for 2015
- Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2015
- Iowa wildflowers
2014 Election Coverage
- Absentee ballot numbers
- IA-Sen
- IA-Gov
- IA-01
- IA-02
- IA-03
- IA-04
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of State
- State Auditor
- Iowa Senate overview
- Iowa House overview
- Senate district 5
- Senate district 7
- Senate district 9
- Senate district 12
- Senate district 13
- Senate district 15
- Senate district 17
- Senate district 27
- Senate district 29
- Senate district 39
- Senate district 41
- Senate district 47
- Senate district 49
- House district 8
- House district 15
- House district 25
- House district 26
- House district 28
- House district 30
- House district 33 (2013)
- House district 40
- House district 51
- House district 60
- House district 63
- House district 65
- House district 68
- House district 73
- House district 82
- House district 91
- House district 92
- House district 95
- House district 99

Upcoming Events
- No upcoming events
- Add Event

Search




Advanced Search


Paid Advertising


Bleeding Heartland
It's what plants crave.

Dowling Catholic High School considering request for gay-straight alliance

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Apr 18, 2015 at 14:58:17 PM CDT

Administrators at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines are considering students' request to form "a non-religious LGBT support club." The school made national news recently for withdrawing a contract offered to a teacher after administrators learned he was openly gay. After at least 150 students walked out of class to protest the hiring decision, a junior at the school who is gay started a petition seeking to form a club where all students "can feel supported and loved." Initially school officials said they would discuss the request, and at this writing, they have not announced a decision. Gay-straight alliances exist in scores of Iowa public high schools, but to my knowledge, the only Catholic school in the state with such a club is Regina High School in Iowa City.

After the jump I've posted excerpts from Liam Jameson's petition at Change.org and the full text of an e-mail Dowling Catholic President Jerry Deegan sent to parents on April 16. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

On a related note, although I could not be more strongly pro-choice, I believe students at Hampton-Dumont High School in Franklin County, Iowa should be allowed to form a "Students for Life" club, as long as staff don't promote the club and students are not required to attend.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 800 words in story)

The Phony Estate Tax Farm Confiscation Ploy

by: daveswen

Thu Apr 16, 2015 at 18:24:11 PM CDT

(Thanks for this post on an important and timely issue. Iowa's three Republicans in the U.S. House all voted for the estate tax repeal that passed today; Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack voted against it. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Dave Swenson

Senator John Thune, from my home state of South Dakota, has a degree in business and an MBA.  He knows little of tax math, incidence, or outcomes from what I can tell. Like many mouthpieces on many topics, he doesn't let facts get in the way of a heartfelt story, though.  And the best story the GOP has spun over the last decade or so is the tale of woe and intrigue associated with the dreaded federal estate tax, which they've disingenuously rebranded as the "death tax."

Thune co-sponsored the just-passed House bill to eliminate the federal estate tax and at that time said:

For too long the federal government has forced grieving families to pay a tax on their loved one's life savings that has been built from income already taxed when originally earned. Currently more than 70 percent of family businesses do not survive to the second generation, and 90 percent of family businesses do not survive to the third generation.

Without citing one example, Thune intimated that the federal estate tax was destroying or would destroy businesses and was terrorizing grieving survivors.

There's More... :: (11 Comments, 588 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday returns: Dutchman's breeches

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 15, 2015 at 23:50:00 PM CDT

After a somewhat late start, many spring wildflowers are blooming now in central Iowa. If you walk in a wooded area over the next few days, you may see Virginia bluebells, spring beauty, toothwort, rue anemone, Dogtooth violets (also called trout lilies), or today's featured native plant, Dutchman's breeches. Thanks to the distinctive shape of the flowers, Dutchman's breeches are among the easiest spring wildflowers to identify.

The arrival of spring also heralds the return of Harlan Ratcliff's Central Iowa Butterfly Forecast, updated every two weeks at the Poweshiek Skipper site.

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

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 365 words in story)

Grassley, Ernst vote for Medicare reimbursement deal

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 15, 2015 at 19:30:00 PM CDT

Changes to entitlement programs rarely attract strong bipartisan support, but on Tuesday the U.S. Senate approved a bill to change how Medicare sets reimbursement rates for doctors by 92 votes to 8 (roll call). All of the no votes came from Republicans, but Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst both supported the bill. Follow me after the jump for background and details.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 591 words in story)

Tom Vilsack future plans speculation thread

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 15, 2015 at 13:10:00 PM CDT

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack plans to move back to Iowa after President Barack Obama's term ends, according to Radio Iowa's summary of his remarks on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program. Vilsack has served in Obama's cabinet from the beginning and said he's not interested in continuing to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture if Hillary Clinton is elected president in 2016. He wants to move back to Iowa and might teach at a university, but he doesn't want to become the University of Iowa's next president. O.Kay Henderson reports that Vilsack is open to running for office again someday.

"You know, you never want to say never," Vilsack said. After disappointing losses in 2014, the Iowa Democratic Party is in the midst of a rebuilding process and Vilsack seems personally committed to the effort. "It's going to require a lot of work and it's going to require all hands on deck," Vilsack says. "And it's going to require making sure that we are competitive and getting the message out and working in all 99 counties."

How many Iowa Democrats would like to travel back in time two years and talk Vilsack into running for Tom Harkin's Senate seat? There's no doubt in my mind that even in a Republican landslide year, Vilsack could have beaten Joni Ernst. If he agreed to take her on in 2020 (a potentially tougher race because Ernst will be the incumbent), Vilsack would be nearly 70 years old.

Governor Terry Branstad came back to his old job after twelve years--would Vilsack run for governor in 2018? He would be well positioned beat Kim Reynolds or Bill Northey (who appear to be the two most likely GOP nominees), but I don't see Vilsack going back to that job.

If Representative David Young wins re-election to Iowa's third Congressional district in 2016, some Democrats would probaby try to recruit Vilsack to run against him in 2018. But a U.S. House seat in the minority caucus probably wouldn't sound appealing. My best guess is that Iowans will not see Tom Vilsack's name on a ballot again. What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers?

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Excessive demands for personal attention hurt the Iowa caucuses

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 14, 2015 at 08:41:47 AM CDT

Hillary Clinton embarked on a road trip to Iowa immediately after making her campaign official on Sunday. She has several small-scale events scheduled for today and tomorrow in Monticello (Jones County) and Norwalk (Warren County), a sign she is committed to winning over Iowa caucus-goers.

Most politically engaged Iowans look forward to seeing presidential candidates in person during caucus season. We like to hear first-hand where the contenders stand on issues that matter to us. As a group, we are generally willing to give all contenders serious consideration before making up our minds.

Unfortunately, some Democratic activists seem to think that candidates prove their worth in Iowa by fawning over local VIPs. That mentality hurts the Iowa caucuses, especially when pooh-bahs broadcast their sense of entitlement to national reporters covering the campaign.

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 1340 words in story)

Four reasons Marco Rubio is making a big mistake

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 13, 2015 at 16:44:23 PM CDT

First-term Senator Marco Rubio will announce later today that he is seeking the Republican nomination for president rather than running for re-election to the U.S. Senate from Florida.

Even without hearing his stump speech, I have a feeling he will live to regret that choice.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1265 words in story)

Still not convinced Martin O'Malley is running for president

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 22:49:00 PM CDT

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has been laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign for quite a while. These past few days, he continued to walk and talk just like a presidential candidate would in Iowa. On Thursday, he spoke at Simpson College and headlined a fundraiser for State Representative Scott Ourth before speaking to a good crowd in a heavily Democratic Des Moines neighborhood. The next day, he taped an episode of "Iowa Press" on Iowa Public Television (video and full transcript here; excerpts after the jump). O'Malley wrapped up Friday with a well-received speech at the Polk County Democrats' spring event (click through for video or audio). The stump speech blended a summary of his accomplishments as Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor with a vision for the future. For laughs and applause, he threw in some good jabs at tea party Republicans. Before and after the speech, O'Malley worked the room of activists. His staff had put down placemats and postcards for people to take home.

Yet I still can't shake the feeling that O'Malley will not follow through with running for president.  

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 1223 words in story)

Weekend open thread: Neal Smith memories edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 10:12:16 AM CDT

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

The Polk County Democrats' spring awards dinner on Friday night exceeded all expectations. Hordes of journalists showed up to cover speeches by former U.S. Senator Jim Webb and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. I enjoyed both speeches and have posts in progress on their messages. C-SPAN put up video of both speeches here.

You had to be there to experience the evening's other high points. Beautiful videos honored the memories of veterans who died overseas and three legendary local Democratic supporters who passed away during the past year (including Paulee Lipsman). Tireless Urbandale volunteer and letter-to-the-editor writer Rick Smith was recognized for his activism. Before Webb and O'Malley spoke, Iowa Democrats honored Representative Neal Smith, who represented Polk County in Congress from 1959 to 1985. Unfortunately, Smith couldn't be present, having suffered a minor injury last week. He sent a letter to be read on his behalf, while former Senator Tom Harkin shared memories by videotape and Representative Leonard Boswell told the crowd a few of his favorite stories about Smith. After the jump I've listed six new things I learned on Friday about the longest-serving member of the U.S. House in Iowa history.

In 2012, Smith sat down with Polk County Democratic Party Chair Tom Henderson to reflect on his life and long political career. Those videos are well worth your time: part 1 and part 2.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 385 words in story)

Iowa Wiccan priestess displays amazing power

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 10, 2015 at 16:07:33 PM CDT

to make other people act like idiots.

I didn't think anything could top some people's freak-out over atheist ads on Des Moines buses, but the reaction to yesterday's Wiccan invocation in the Iowa House is a contender.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 1081 words in story)

IA-03: Two questions for Democrats seeking alternatives to Matt McCoy

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 10, 2015 at 08:39:15 AM CDT

Iowa's first U.S. House district will be the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's top pickup opportunity in Iowa next year, but the third district will be on the DCCC's target list as well. Recognizing the competitive nature of IA-03, the National Republican Congressional Committee has put first-term Representative David Young in its incumbent protection program. However, Washington insiders are not keen on State Senator Matt McCoy, one of several Democrats who may challenge Young.

I'm not sold on any candidate for this race and won't make up my mind until after the Democratic field has been set. That said, Democrats could do a lot worse than McCoy. I challenge those who would dismiss him as a credible challenger to answer two questions.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 929 words in story)

Hillary Clinton's Iowa campaign team taking shape

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 12:40:00 PM CDT

As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to formally launch her presidential campaign later this month, her team continues to hire capable staff who are well-known to Iowa Democratic activists.
There's More... :: (1 Comments, 706 words in story)

Stop pretending Donald Trump is a real presidential candidate

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 08, 2015 at 22:40:00 PM CDT

Donald Trump spent today in central Iowa, hanging out with Iowa House and Senate members at the state Capitol and speaking to college students in Indianola. I don't care how many "advisers" Trump hires here, and I don't care how many hints he drops about running for president (see video from his press conference). This guy is a publicity hound, not a serious candidate. His name recognition is sky-high, yet he drew support from only 1 percent of respondents in the last Des Moines Register poll of Iowa Republicans by Selzer & Co.

Reading Brianne Pfannenstiel's Des Moines Register story on Trump's event at Simpson College, it's clear the would-be candidate can't answer basic policy questions without turning the conversation back to himself. According to WHO-TV's report, Trump provided few policy details in Indianola. Anyone can promise to "end ObamaCare and replace it with something terrific," and promise to end America's debt crisis while increasing military spending. Show us the money.

The most interesting thing about Trump's pseudo-campaign is that the billionaire was able to hire Chuck Laudner. A legend on the Iowa GOP's social conservative wing, Laudner used to work for Representative Steve King, was active in the 2010 campaign against retaining three Iowa Supreme Court justices, ran Rick Santorum's 2012 Iowa caucuses effort, then led the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Sam Clovis. I wouldn't have pegged him for a Trump guy.

Speaking of Santorum, he's in Iowa again this week. But Laudner's decision to join Trump of all people is another sign that Santorum has little chance to repeat his strong Iowa caucus showing.  

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Dowling Catholic High School at epicenter of gay rights controversy (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 08, 2015 at 13:01:39 PM CDT

As a religious institution, Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines is exempt from Iowa Code provisions that have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 2007.

But as local Catholic leaders are learning this week, a legal exemption can't immunize Dowling from political fallout over the decision to withdraw a teaching contract offered to an openly gay man.  

There's More... :: (11 Comments, 1740 words in story)

Shorter Terry Branstad: It's good to be the king

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 07, 2015 at 20:26:59 PM CDT

Governor Terry Branstad made a remarkable claim at his latest press conference: because "the people of Iowa elected me to reduce the size and cost of government," he has the authority to "make tough decisions" on closing state-run mental health facilities and reorganizing Medicaid services for more than half a million Iowans.

To justify his position, Branstad channeled President Harry Truman: "The buck stops with me." But his view of governance reminds me more of Mel Brooks in the movie "History of the World, Part 1": "It's good to be the king."

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1767 words in story)

Gary Kroeger claiming progressive niche in IA-01 Democratic primary

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 06, 2015 at 18:20:00 PM CDT

Gary Kroeger launched his campaign in Iowa's first Congressional district a few minutes ago in Cedar Falls. His full official statement is after the jump, but here's the "elevator statement" for his candidacy:

I am an unapologetic progressive, lifelong progressive and a proud lifelong Democrat. Many recognize the need for a new kind of leader in Washington yet rely on the same pool and the same candidate profile, while expecting to get different results. [...]

As this primary moves forward it will become very clear that I am not a country club democrat.  I am a middle-class, progressive Democrat, and I'm running to represent our shared progressive Iowa Values in Congress.

That sounds like a direct challenge to Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, who was a registered Republican until 2009. Several well-known progressive Iowa Democrats have already endorsed her, along with the pro-choice PAC EMILY's List. But Vernon's Republican roots and business-friendly image were an issue for some voters in the 2014 primary to represent IA-01.

Kroeger's campaign logo includes the words PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT FOR CONGRESS, and his campaign website and Facebook page prominently feature the candidate's policy stands.

The third declared candidate in next year's IA-01 Democratic primary is Ravi Patel, who has reportedly raised more than $525,000 since launching his campaign in February. Former State Senator Swati Dandekar, the third-placed candidate in the 2014 primary (behind Pat Murphy and Vernon) is also considering this race.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 356 words in story)

Ted Cruz's first tv ad, plus highlights from his latest Iowa trip

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 06, 2015 at 14:07:21 PM CDT

On Easter Sunday, Senator Ted Cruz became the first presidential candidate this cycle to run a television commercial. The video and transcript are after the jump, along with highlights from Cruz's events in Sioux City, Dubuque, Durango, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines on April 1 and 2.

Nothing I've seen or heard from Cruz lately changes my view that he will crash and burn in the Iowa caucuses.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1388 words in story)

Weekend open thread: Iowa marriage equality anniversary edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Apr 05, 2015 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Happy Passover or Happy Easter to all who are celebrating this weekend. In past years Bleeding Heartland has posted links about those religious holidays. For today's open thread, I'm reflecting on the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien ruling, announced on April 3, 2009.

Lambda Legal, which represented the Varnum plaintiffs, published a timeline of the case. The LGBT advocacy group filed the lawsuit in December 2005, banking on the Iowa Supreme Court's "extraordinary history" of independence and "civil rights leadership."

If Iowa lawmakers had approved a state constitutional amendment on marriage, the Varnum case might never have been filed (in anticipation of Iowans approving a ban on same-sex marriage, as voters had done in many other states). But during the 2004 legislative session, the marriage amendment failed by one vote in the upper chamber, thanks to the united Senate Democratic caucus, joined by GOP senators Maggie Tinsman, Don Redfern, Mary Lundby, and Doug Shull. All four Republican moderates had left the legislature by the time the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Varnum. Redfern retired in 2004. Tinsman lost her 2006 primary to a social conservative challenger. Shull retired from the Senate in 2006 and unsuccessfully sought a seat in the state House that year. Lundby retired from the legislature in 2008 and passed away the following year.  

Reading through the early Democratic and Republican reaction to the Varnum decision should make all Iowa Democrats proud. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and former House Speaker Pat Murphy deserve credit for their leadership at a time when some Democrats would have run for cover on an issue perceived to be unpopular. Minority civil rights should never be conditional on majority approval.

As for the Republicans in the Bleeding Heartland community, you can be proud that your party's state legislators seem less and less interested in fighting the losing battle to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.

Three of the seven justices who concurred in Varnum v Brien (Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice David Baker, and Justice Michael Streit) lost their jobs in Iowa's 2010 retention elections. Justice David Wiggins survived a campaign against his retention in 2012. The remaining three justices who concurred in the decision are up for retention in 2016: Chief Justice Mark Cady (author of the ruling), Justice Daryl Hecht, and Justice Brent Appel. It's not yet clear whether Bob Vander Plaats and his fellow-travellers will make a serious effort to remove them, or whether they will give up in the face of Iowans' growing acceptance of marriage equality.

The LGBT advocacy group One Iowa holds an annual gala around the anniversary of the Varnum ruling. Last night the group honored Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum and Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu, among others. I enclose below a statement from the group marking six years since gay and lesbian couples won the freedom to marry in Iowa.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 530 words in story)

Nick Ryan puts the writing on the wall for Rick Santorum in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 11:41:25 AM CDT

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has visited Iowa lots of times since (barely) winning the 2012 GOP caucuses, but discouraging signs for his presidential aspirations continue to mount. He has been outshined by Senator Ted Cruz and others at several events drawing large conservative crowds here. One of his former Iowa staffers jumped ship for Cruz before eventually taking a position with former Texas Governor Rick Perry's political action committee. The most recent polls by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics indicated that Santorum is the first choice of only 3 percent or 4 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers.

Yesterday Maggie Haberman of the New York Times broke disastrous news for Santorum: Nick Ryan will lead a super-PAC for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee during the upcoming presidential campaign. Iowa's dark money king is best-known for leading the 501(c)4 group American Future Fund, but in 2011 Ryan created and led a super-PAC which spent millions on Santorum's behalf before the presidential caucuses and primaries. He has also had close ties to The Iowa Republican blog's publisher Craig Robinson, who provided mostly favorable coverage to Santorum's campaign before the 2012 caucuses. The Iowa Republican has leaned toward other candidates Ryan favored in past elections, such as Jim Gibbons in the 2010 GOP primary to represent Iowa's third Congressional district and Mark Jacobs in the 2014 U.S. Senate primary.

Ryan aligning with a rival candidate is as significant as longtime Mitt Romney consultant David Kochel joining former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's political action committee a couple of months ago.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 434 words in story)

Outgoing Iowa Utilities Board member slams Branstad's attempt to "appease" major utility

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 09:45:28 AM CDT

Outgoing Iowa Utilities Board member Sheila Tipton sent Governor Terry Branstad a scathing letter after not being reappointed to the three-member board last month, Ryan Foley reported yesterday for the Associated Press. Tipton defended a board decision from earlier this year, which greatly displeased MidAmerican Energy. She warned that by removing her and demoting Iowa Utilities Board Chair Libby Jacobs, Branstad was undermining state agencies' independence "in order to appease MidAmerican Energy," thereby doing "a disservice to the citizens of this State."

Tipton also characterized Branstad's recent personnel changes as  "unfair," saying she had received verbal assurances in 2013 that she would be reappointed to a full six-year term if she accepted the governor's offer to serve out Swati Dandekar's unexpired term.

I enclose the full text of Tipton's letter after the jump, along with a statement provided by the governor's office, which defends the appointment of Geri Huser and denies that Tipton was promised a full term on the Iowa Utilities Board.

Even if Branstad or his staff did promise verbally to reappoint Tipton, the governor retains the right to change his mind. However, Tipton is unquestionably correct that the latest Iowa Utilities Board changes look like "an attempt to 'bring the agency in line' and to influence its future decision-making in a way that favors the utilities."

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 198 words in story)
Next >>
Menu

Make a New Account

Username:

Password:



Forget your username or password?


Recent Diaries
McChicken Sandwich
by: JonInIowaCity - Dec 03
1 Comments
The morning after an election
by: hamatson - Nov 05
2 Comments

Recent Comments

Iowa Liberal Blogs
- Blog For Iowa
- Iowa .Gif-t Shop
- Iowa Independent (archive)
- Iowa Policy Points
- Iowa Starting Line
- Iowans for a Future That Doesn't Suck
- John Deeth
Iowa Conservative Blogs
- Hawkeye GOP
- The Bean Walker
- Caffeinated Thoughts
- The Conservative Reader: Iowa
- The Iowa Republican
Journalists' blogs and research
- 24-Hour Dorman
- Cedar Rapids Gazette government page
- Iowa Fiscal Partnership
- Iowa Policy Project
- Iowa Politics Insider
- Iowa Watchdog.org
- On Brief: Iowa's Appellate Blog
- On the Campaign Trail with Ed Tibbetts
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats
Statistics


 
Powered by: SoapBlox