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No welcome mat from Terry Branstad for unaccompanied immigrant children

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 13:46:09 PM CDT

For two days I've been trying to find the words to react to Governor Terry Branstad slamming the door on unaccompanied and undocumented immigrant children who are staying in crowded facilities near the U.S. southern border. Since last fall, at least 50,000 children are estimated to have entered the country via Mexico from various countries of origin, mainly Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The Obama administration has asked governors to help house the kids. During his Monday press briefing, Branstad made clear he doesn't want any of the children sent to Iowa.

It's not that I expected Branstad to welcome any of these kids. This is a guy who demagogued on illegal immigration during his last campaign and disagrees with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows undocumented children to be educated in public schools. Still, for those of us old enough to remember Governor Bob Ray welcoming refugees from Asia to Iowa during the 1970s, it's dispiriting to hear Branstad trot out tired excuses and talking points. He wants "empathy for these kids" but doesn't want to "send the signal to send these children to America illegally." As if these children deliberately broke the law. As if families in desperate circumstances, trying to save their kids from murderous gangs in central America, would be influenced by "signals" from generous Iowans.

I have nothing profound to say, I just find it depressing to hear the governor cite some charitable work by his wife as an excuse not to do anything to alleviate a humanitarian crisis. After the jump I've posted some news clips on the story, along with a call to action from the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S.- What a disgrace for WHO-TV to allow reporter Aaron Brilbeck to file a story referring to human beings as "illegals" in the headline and the lede. Where were the newsroom editors? I expect that kind of language in a press release from Representative Steve King's office, not from a reputable media organization.

P.P.S.- Philip Brasher, formerly of the Des Moines Register, filed an excellent feature for Roll Call about "The Other Side of the Border."

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End of two eras: Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman on CBS Late Show

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 21:10:00 PM CDT

It's been nearly twenty years since I watched David Letterman regularly, so I didn't take much notice when he announced recently that he will retire sometime in 2015. Today's news hits home, though: Stephen Colbert will end his run at Comedy Central to replace Letterman on the CBS Late Show next year.

The Colbert Report is the late-night program I've watched most often during the past several years, even more than The Daily Show. I am concerned about how Colbert will make the transition from performing as a right-wing caricature to playing it straight on a major broadcast network. Still, I can't blame him for wanting to make a change after what will be a full decade at The Colbert Report. Supposedly he plans to bring his whole writing team with him to CBS, so that's promising.

Any comments about Letterman or Colbert are welcome in this thread. The word "legendary" is overused, but Colbert's performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner was one of the greatest comic routines I've ever seen. You can find the video on various YouTube pages and read the full transcript here.

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Mid-week open thread: Ripoffs, real and imagined

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 21:18:18 PM CDT

Here's an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Iowa Policy Project has called wage theft "an invisible epidemic" costing Iowa workers an estimated $600 million each year. Click here for a few examples of how wage theft works. Last week the Iowa Senate approved on party lines a bill to address common forms of wage theft (full text here). However, that bill is not moving in the Republican-controlled Iowa House.

Joseph Williams published a depressing account of his short career in low-wage retail after losing his journalism job. Even though he made more than minimum wage, it wasn't enough to cover basic expenses. Williams also experienced wage theft and the small humiliations inflicted by "loss prevention" policies.

The Center for Public Integrity's Daniel Wagner wrote a disturbing piece about aggressive debt collection tactics targeting Americans doing military service.

Sometimes feeling cheated and getting a raw deal are very different things. After the jump I've posted an excerpt from a Detroit News feature on a Michigan woman now starring in a television commercial attacking health care reform as "unaffordable." Turns out she will save quite a bit of money under her new "Obamacare" health insurance--but she doesn't believe it. Classic case of cognitive dissonance.

Your unintentional comedy for the week is a letter to the editor from the March 7 Des Moines Register, in which a man complains of being ripped off at a "Duck Dynasty" speaking engagement.

After shelling out a considerable sum for a VIP meet-and-greet session, I arrived to stand in line with over 300 other VIP patrons. I was told I would have 7.5 seconds with each of Willie and Phil Robertson. When I finally made it to their table, I was rushed through in seconds. I handed my Bible to Phil for an autograph and he scribbled an illegible name. My "VIP Seating" ended up being in the 15th row next to non-VIP patrons who paid nearly one-tenth the price of my experience.

When the program started, Willie spoke about the makings of their show. Phil then took the stage with a few minutes of duck-calling, followed with a lengthy rant about how Americans are being denied the rights written in the United States Constitution.

Disgusted, I got up and left before it ended. The event was nothing but a marketing scheme that took money from hard-working Americans.

A marketing scheme--who could have guessed? But seriously, isn't it blasphemous to ask a television celebrity to sign your Bible?

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Weekend open thread: Time-wasting edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 20:15:48 PM CST

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? I've decided that the best way to deal with NBC's horrible Olympics coverage is to tape and watch later or the following day, fast-forwarding over the endless commercials and filler material. It's amazing how few events and competitors you see during hours of watching NBC. Prime-time is the worst, but even the daytime coverage is very light.

Ever heard the old blogging expression, "Don't feed the trolls"? New psychological research shows that it's good advice, because being an internet troll is correlated with personality traits such as "Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others)." I appreciate commenters who bring substance or a different perspective to the table, but engaging with trolls is pointless.

Speaking of wasting time, how would you like to be one of the people who supposedly helped lay the groundwork for Bob Vander Plaats to run for Iowa's U.S. Senate seat? Whether sincere fans or soulless political consultants, they turned out to be props helping him drum up publicity for his new pet project. Outside a certain conservative subculture, few people would have cared that this has-been wrote a book, if not for the extensive media speculation in recent months that Vander Plaats would join the IA-Sen Republican field.

This is an open thread. All topics welcome.

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Five links for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 17:35:00 PM CST

Government offices and many public school districts were closed today in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Bleeding Heartland has compiled links about King to mark this day for the past three years, as well as on last summer's 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Here's a new batch:

The civil rights leader was a fan of the "Star Trek" television series and persuaded Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura) not to leave the show during the second season.

Thomas J. Sugrue on Restoring King: "There is no figure in recent American history whose memory is more distorted and words more drained of content than Martin Luther King."

Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon on The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV: "[N]ational news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years."

Daily Kos user HamdenRice on why Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did: "his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general. His main impact was not to make white people nicer or fairer."

Todd Dorman on King's visits to eastern Iowa in 1959 and 1962:

"We have come to the point,' Dr, King said, "where we can say in the South to those who use violence against us:

"We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering.

"We will meet your physical force with soul force.

"Do to us what you will, and we still love you."

P.S.-"Abigail Van Buren" published this quote from Dr. King in today's "Dear Abby" column. It was new to me, but I agree with her that it "applies to many aspects of life": "All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face-to-face with another problem."

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CBS finally acknowledges Benghazi story debacle

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 06:50:00 AM CST

"60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan and her producer Max McClellan are taking a leave of absence after an internal review at CBS News acknowledged major problems with a segment broadcast last month. Logan highlighted an alleged eyewitness's sensational account about the 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. compound at Benghazi, Libya. But much of that security contractor's story appears to have been fabricated, leading to his publisher taking the extraordinary step of pulling his book about Benghazi.

Here's a timeline of the "Benghazi Trainwreck", and here are seven major problems with the story Logan aired.

Among the unanswered questions surrounding this black eye for the flagship CBS news program: "why the hell did CBS News continue to defend this story after evidence emerged that Davies had fabricated his tale?" Jay Rosen chronicled the network's "reckless denials" here.

Also, did Logan's husband play a role in getting some unsourced allegations on the air in her Benghazi piece? Perhaps most important, why hasn't Logan been fired, rather than merely asked or forced to take a leave of absence? After an inaccurate "60 Minutes" story aired in 2004 about George W. Bush's National Guard service, CBS commissioned an independent panel (rather than an internal review) and eventually fired several employees who were involved in producing the segment.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.  

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Iowa Supreme Court seeking public comments on new media rules

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 08:35:00 AM CDT

Via the On Brief blog, I saw that yesterday the Iowa Supreme Court made public proposed changes to rules about electronic media coverage of its proceedings. I've posted the full press release after the jump.

The new rules are based on recommendations by a Committee on Expanded Media Coverage, appointed last December. Iowa Supreme Court Justice Bruce Zager chaired that committee, which included journalists as well as court officials and submitted its final report in August 2013. You can view the proposed rule changes here; words to be removed are crossed out, while suggested new language is underlined. Instructions on submitting a public comment on or before January 6, 2014, are here. People may submit their comments in person, by regular mail, or via e-mail.  

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Iowa AG Tom Miller previews case for his re-election?

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 06:25:00 AM CDT

Although Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller hasn't made any official announcement about plans to seek a ninth term in 2014, he recently previewed what could become central themes of a re-election campaign. Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen made a splash in the Iowa newspaper world last month with editorials calling for Miller to retire. Cullen cited the attorney general's position on open records controversies and his alleged efforts to thwart the work of Iowa's ombudsman. Newspapers including the Des Moines Register and the Des Moines-based weekly Cityview republished Cullen's case for Miller to step aside and clear the path for "an attorney general for the people." Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu cited several other troubling examples of how Miller has lost his way in recent years.

To defend his work and "set the record straight," Miller wrote guest editorials for various publications. You can read his specific rebuttals to Cullen here. I was more interested in the list of achievements he cited as proof that "in the last few years," the Attorney General's office has "done more than ever to serve Iowans." It sounds like the kernel of a stump speech or television commercial to me. I've posted those excerpts after the jump.

Please share any relevant thoughts in this thread. I haven't heard yet about a Republican challenger to Miller, but I would not be surprised to see his 2010 opponent Brenna Findley take another shot next year. She is currently Governor Terry Branstad's legal counsel and just completed a six-week stint as the governor's interim chief of staff.

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Republicans suddenly see a downside to Reaganism and Citizens United

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 10:06:00 AM CDT

Your unintentional comedy for the week: Republican National Committee and Republican Party of Iowa leaders freaking out over lengthy planned television broadcasts about Hillary Clinton. Republicans now threaten not to co-sponsor any presidential debates with CNN or NBC if those networks move forward with a documentary about the former first lady and secretary of state and a miniseries starring Diane Lane, respectively. The RNC is appalled by the "thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election," while the Iowa GOP is upset by the lack of "journalistic integrity."

What a pathetic display of weakness and hypocrisy.

Under the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, corporations can make and broadcast movies about political figures, and such activity is not considered "electioneering communication" that must be funded through a registered political action committee (PAC). The Citizens United case arose because of a (very negative) corporate movie about Hillary Clinton. I didn't agree with or welcome Citizens United, but Republicans were happy to treat corporations as people with unlimited free speech in the political sphere. Who are they to tell CNN and NBC not to make money by airing films that could draw a large potential audience?

I'm old enough to remember when prime-time television about controversial political topics had to be balanced with an opposing point of view. But under the GOP's sainted President Ronald Reagan, the Federal Communications Commission voted to "abolish its fairness doctrine on the ground that it unconstitutionally restricts the free-speech rights of broadcast journalists." Democrats didn't like it, but elections have consequences. As a result, CNN and NBC can air films about any political figure as frequently as they believe they can profit from doing so.

P.S. - RNC Chair Reince Priebus and Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker wouldn't be making this threat if they believed in GOP talking points about Benghazi or Hillary being "old news."  

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Anthony Weiner overkill discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 19:51:00 PM CDT

Is anyone else sick of the media's obsession with Anthony Weiner? He's hardly the first politician who turned out to be a narcissistic, compulsive liar and cheater. True, his preferred sexual activity has never been part of a political scandal before, and he comes across as someone in need of therapy. But I am sick of the endless commentaries about Weiner while people like Dick Cheney are still welcome guests on political talk shows.

Let New Yorkers decide whether to bury Weiner's career, and let journalists stop treating him like more of a monster than people who took this country into war on false pretenses.

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Where are they now? Matt Strawn edition

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 14:25:00 PM CDT

Former Iowa GOP Chair Matt Strawn and two prominent Illinois Republicans have formed Next Generation Public Affairs Inc, Jennifer Jacobs reported for the Des Moines Register today.

The firm will provide strategies in government affairs, issue advocacy and media relations, as well as strategies in sourcing capital and structuring large-scale public-private partnership projects, Strawn said this morning.

It will have an upper Midwest focus and initial offices in Chicago and Des Moines.

"Too often comprehensive public affairs strategies for transactions that require both public and private resources are an afterthought, or used defensively in attempt to rescue failing or stalled deals," [Chicago-based business owner] Fitzsimmons said in a written statement. "The ability to develop sophisticated advocacy campaigns, source capital and navigate complex transactions to completion truly is the next generation of public affairs."

Strawn and [former Illinois GOP state party Chair Pat] Brady became close friends during their tenure on the Republican National Committee.

The concept for the firm has been in the works since last year, Strawn said. He will lead the company's social media engagement and data capturing technologies.

Strawn may have felt that he was criticized unfairly over problems with reporting the 2012 Iowa caucus vote, but in retrospect he probably benefited from stepping down early as state party chair. He can still claim credit for rebuilding the Iowa GOP while riding the 2010 wave and registration gains related to the 2012 caucuses. At the same time, Strawn doesn't get the blame for Iowa Republicans' subpar early GOTV in the 2012 general election. I believe President Barack Obama would have carried Iowa in any event, but turning out more Republicans and identifying more GOP-leaning independents would have kept things a lot closer. Strawn can say those failures didn't happen on his watch.

I am seeking comment on whether Strawn will remain involved with the 527 group GOPAC. Last year the troup tapped Strawn to chair its efforts in down-ticket Iowa races.

P.S.- Here's some free advice for Jennifer Jacobs: see how easy it is to provide a link and a mention when you first saw a story on someone else's website? If the Des Moines Register were more willing to do the same where appropriate, people like Kevin Hall might not ridicule you so much about getting scooped.

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Branstad administration punishing some immigrants for parents' actions

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:55:12 AM CST

Iowa has a lot of strengths as a place to live, but good public transportation isn't one of them. In most of our cities and towns, adults need to drive to get to work, school, or shops for necessities.

That's going to be a lot more difficult for approximately 5,000 Iowa residents who were brought to this country as undocumented immigrants during childhood.  

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Iowa political reaction to the Sandy Hook school massacre (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 16:55:00 PM CST

The horrific mass killing at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Connecticut has dominated news coverage since Friday, and almost everyone I know has been talking about the tragedy. But only a few Iowa politicians have publicly discussed the events or possible ways to prevent similar crimes.

Remarks by Senator Tom Harkin, Representative Dave Loebsack, State Senator Rob Hogg, and Governor Terry Branstad are after the jump. I'm disappointed but not surprised that the governor is not open to any new restrictions on assault weapons or large ammunition clips. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who like Branstad has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association, today called for moving "beyond rhetoric" on gun control. His comments are also below.

I've sought comment from other members of Iowa's Congressional delegation and will update this post if I hear back from any of them. UPDATE: Added Representative Bruce Braley's comments below.

SECOND UPDATE: Added Senator Chuck Grassley's comments during a December 17 radio interview.

LATER UPDATE: Added comments from Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass.

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Weekend open thread: Des Moines Register Iowa poll edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 18:48:47 PM CDT

This evening, the Des Moines Register releases partial results from its latest Iowa poll conducted by Selzer & Co. I'll update this post with the details shortly. UPDATE: Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by 49 percent to 45 percent. More information is after the jump. UPDATE: Added more details from Sunday's paper.

Speaking of the Des Moines Register, an unbelievable lapse in media ethics was the focus of this week's Civic Skinny column for Cityview, written by former Register editor Michael Gartner (from the pre-Gannett era). Long story short: the newspaper published an op-ed piece about the allegedly unfair treatment of a first-time juvenile offender, without disclosing that the 17-year-old in question is the son of Des Moines Register editorial writer Andie Dominick.

All topics are welcome in this open thread.

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Lean finely textured beef maker will regret suing ABC

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:32:42 AM CDT

The more I read about Beef Products Inc.'s defamation lawsuit against ABC News over its "pink slime" reporting, the more I'm convinced the maker of lean finely textured beef should not have taken this public relations battle to court.
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Weekend open thread: What were we thinking? edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 10:15:00 AM CDT

Hunter Oatman-Stanford's fantastic article for Collectors Weekly on "The Top 10 Most Dangerous Ads" inspired this post. Click through to see some amazing advertisements from the last century: A 1923 paint book for boys and girls, encouraging kids to have "fun with the whole 'Lead Family' of products," 1950s ads encouraging mothers to give 7-Up to young children, 1969 ads promoting sugar as a diet aid ("Sugar just might be the willpower you need to curb your appetite"), and even a 1947 ad proclaiming, "DDT is good for me-e-e!" Oatman-Stanford gives the background on the health impacts of the advertised products.

All topics are welcome in this open thread, particularly memories about idiotic things that were once widely accepted in our culture. No partisan warfare here, please: if you want to talk politics, try to focus on wrongheaded consensus ideas like Iowa's film tax credit program or the deregulation of the banking sector in the 1980s.

P.S. - I'm not nostalgic for most of the dangerous playground equipment of my childhood, like see-saws and metal monkey bars sets over solid concrete, but I have to agree with the Retro Junk blog, those merry-go-rounds were fun.

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Weekend open thread: Passages

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:35:00 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? I have been thinking about several great Americans who died this week, including Neil Armstrong, the first human being to walk on the moon in July 1969. Here's a contemporary news account of that day. NASA posted an Armstrong photo gallery here.

Like everyone who ever watched Sesame Street, I was sad to hear that Jerry Nelson, who voiced Count von Count and other Muppet characters, died on Thursday.

A giant of the Iowa journalism world passed away suddenly on August 23. Barbara Mack was a longtime professor at Iowa State University's Greenlee Journalism school, planning to retire after this semester. She previously worked as a reporter and as general counsel for the Des Moines Register. Mack's former students and colleagues are posting memories and tributes here. I posted a few of them after the jump.

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Weekend open thread: Final Olympics thoughts

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 09:01:51 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? I've enjoyed almost everything about the 2012 Summer Olympics, except for NBC's atrocious coverage. They don't even show most of the finalists in the diving or gymnastics events. Their evening broadcasts ignore almost all the events lacking Americans as medal contenders. They don't broadcast the marquee track and field events live. Worst of all, they show extended previews of lousy-looking new sitcoms during their prime-time Olympics recaps.

Other news that caught my eye this weekend: U.S. Representative Mazie Hirono won yesterday's U.S. Senate primary in Hawaii. She faces former Republican Governor Linda Lingle this November for the seat left open by retiring Democratic Senator Daniel Akaka. Veteran Iowa campaign professional Julie Stauch managed Hirono's first U.S. House race in 2006, helping her win a crowded Democratic primary.

According to this Associated Press story, Iowa's county auditors are not happy that Secretary of State Matt Schultz is paying for a Division of Criminal Investigation agent to spend two years investigating alleged voter fraud. That solution in search of a problem will not only cost $140,000 per year, but also leaves a full-time position unfilled in the DCI's major crimes unit in Council Bluffs. Priorities, priorities.

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Three Iowa Supreme Court rulings on public's right to know

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:25:00 AM CDT

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled this month on three cases balancing the public's right to know with an entity's right to keep certain information confidential. In two of the majority rulings, justices found other considerations outweighed the grounds for disclosure, but three justices dissented from each of those decisions.
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Donald Kaul appreciation thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 15:10:00 PM CDT

Donald Kaul announced in Sunday's syndicated newspaper column that his professional writing days may be over.
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