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Good news, bad news

Bleeding Heartland user dbmarin is a musician, former Register reporter and sound designer. His collaboration with video artist Oyoram (7even Stories High) is currently featured at The Des Moines Art Center’s IMMERSIVE installation.

I’ll start with the good news.

It looks as if Matthew Smith, deputy superintendent for the Des Moines Public Schools, has been tapped as the interim superintendent while the district searches for Tom Ahart’s successor.

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How we got here?

Bleeding Heartland user dbmarin is a fourth-generation artist-educator and former Des Moines Register beat reporter with roots in Buxton, Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

The last five years have been a real education for me moving back to my home state of Iowa after living in Northern California for the last 30 years. As Robert Ray-sensibility gave way to Terry Branstad and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), I wondered, what were the national and state Democrats doing about all of this? Surely, they could prevent Iowa from moving way too far away from its sensible-progressive heritage.

Apparently I misjudged something along the way because around 1988 or 1989, Rush Limbaugh arrived to stay on Des Moines radio. (During the late 1980s, I thought most Iowans would be too smart to allow caustic BS from a Cape Giradeau, Missouri loudmouth to take hold.)

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Silicon Suckers

The juxtaposition of last week’s “Waukee Scores Apple Server Farm” story with the “Iowa Nursing Home Budget Crisis” story revealed to me, the advanced rot of political obeiesance to corporations at the expense of badly frayed public resources and services.

The Los Angeles Times column on the subject put it as well as could be stated. Of course Bleeding Heartland covered the nursing home crisis here.

After reading the LA times story, it was darkly funny to read this story in the New York Times about Mr. Cook, CEO of Apple, “Barnstorming for Moral Responsibility”.

Not only are these corporate out-of-state care facilities taking advantage of our citizens on the low end of the scale, you have the richest, most profitable company on the planet, literally skimming future dollars off the top!

Those of you with Apple stock are probably grateful for your good fortune. Maybe those dividends will offset the taxes we may have to pony up to recover what Apple is taking away.

(When you look at the size of the tax breaks Iowa coughed up at a time when the DHS budget shortfall puts hundreds of people at risk,it makes me wonder if Mr. Cook might consider adding some of his latte allowance to fund Iowa’s ailing social programs? Frankly, I think we’ll have a better shot at convincing him than we will waiting for the Reynolds administration to Think Different.)

Oh Oh, She's At It Again

Well, it looks like our own (your own?) Senator Joni Ernst has been spotlighted by Glen Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and writer Jordan Smith at The Intercept: “Senator Joni Ernst Puts Planned Parenthood–and Access to Birth Control–on the Chopping Block.”

Looks like she’s set to be the face of the ‘defund Planned Parenthood’ contingent. I may be mistaken but I think she’s going to be facing a firestorm over this and Vander Plaats et.al. won’t be able to save her. Between this and Terry Branstad’s local destabilization of Medicaid, I seriously wonder how her rural constituents are going to take this.

A disappearing act?

I’m not sure what to think any more. Grassley and Judge had a debate last night. The night of the Presidential Debate. The most watched political event so far this century. They debate in Sioux City? At Morningside College.

For some reason, I missed the Sioux City throwdown (something about a presidential candidate threatening the entire voting process distracted me…,) but believe me, I would have loved to seen or heard Judge and Grassley today online somewhere. So far, I find nothing. Video, Transcripts or even a good newspaper story.

I know Grassley pulled out of IPTV debate but I had no idea that he could manage a ‘stealth debate’ so far off the radar. I would appreciate a link if someone has one.

Grassley, Ernst vote against Zika Funding (updated)

Note from desmoinesdem: Iowa’s Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst were among 29 Republican senators to vote against a cloture motion on an amendment that would add $1.1 billion for combatting the Zika virus to a larger budget bill. The motion passed yesterday by 68 votes to 29. Senate Democrats would prefer stand-alone legislation on Zika, to get the funding to President Barack Obama’s desk more quickly.

Not too much to say here friends.

Just click the link and shake your head at the callousness.

MAY 19 UPDATE from desmoinesdem: Senator Ernst’s office did not respond to my request for comment on this vote.

Patty Judge’s Senate campaign released this statement on May 17:

Statement on Grassley’s Votes Against Bipartisan Bills to Combat Zika Virus

DES MOINES, Iowa —Patty Judge released the following statement tonight after Chuck Grassley voted against multiple bipartisan bills to combat the Zika virus:

“Public health officials have warned Congress for weeks about the serious threat the Zika virus poses to the country. Yet instead of working across the aisle on commonsense solutions to help address the looming public health threat, Chuck Grassley voted multiple times today against bipartisan proposals to provide emergency funding to combat the Zika virus. Once again Chuck Grassley is refusing to do his job. Iowans expect their Senators to put their health and safety above partisan posturing, and yet after decades in Washington, it’s obvious Chuck Grassley is failing his constituents once again.”

A spokeswoman for Senator Grassley e-mailed this response to what she called a “misinformed comment from Patty Judge.”

This statement is confused and uninformed, at best. The government has already been authorized to spend more than $500 million in reprogrammed funds on the Zika threat. Sen. Grassley voted to proceed on a Cornyn amendment that was paid-for under budget rules. That amendment was prevented from moving forward. Sen. Grassley’s vote against proceeding on the next amendment was to say the legislation ought to be paid for and fiscally responsible. There hasn’t yet been a vote on that amendment. When the amendment is up for an actual vote in the next day or so, Sen. Grassley plans to vote for the legislation. Like the Senate majority leadership, Sen. Grassley understands the Zika threat and dealing with it now to protect mothers and children.

SECOND UPDATE from desmoinesdem: Ernst’s office e-mailed this comment.

Senator Ernst voted in support of a proposal that provides additional resources to combat Zika virus, without adding to our debt. This includes providing funding to the Centers for Disease Control, incentives for manufacturers to develop vaccines and treatments of the virus, and boosting mosquito control by removing layers of bureaucratic red tape so our local communities can more effectively and efficiently tackle this problem. Ultimately, Senator Ernst voted for the final passage of a larger package which does ensure we act quickly to prevent the Zika virus from spreading.

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Grassley/Garland chapter two

Grassley has long used the idea that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit doesn’t need more judges as an pretext for not confirming Democratic presidents’ nominees to the “second-most-powerful court” in the country.. -promoted by desmoinesdem

jiu jitsu politics 101

I know we’re all getting upset over the stalled Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland. President Obama is trying to get things done and the Republican’ts won’t let him. It’s unconscionable, it’s unAmerican and pretty damn unctuous.

But consider this… Why would BO pick this (conservative but) consistently fair guy to the court knowing that the petulant children on the Hill will sooner pass a kidney stone than confirm his pick for anything other than…well, anything?

I didn’t understand until I read this piece from Reuters that reminded us Garland and Grassley have some ‘history’ I hadn’t seen before.

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Hungry Chuck have you no Shame?

Reed gores Grassley

I admit I’ve been mildly pissed off ever since Dick Clark and John Culver were dismissed from public service back in the 80’s. Grassley’s odious “tax and spend liberal” mantra was simple but unfortunately too effective.

When Grassley decided to parrot Palin’s Death Panels lie during the ’10 cycle, I lost what little respect I might’ve had for this grim soul. His latest henchman role in the “screw obama’s SCOTUS picks” drama earns him 5 rotten tomatoes.

I have no problem with ‘true conservatives’ but guys like him, McConnell and others who essentially dissemble and make up stuff to suit the political moment make me ill. Apparently, Harry Reid (no Mr. firebrand) had enough and called him out today. Between Grassley, King and (unelected but embedded) Vanderplaats, I’m really starting to wonder about political sanity. Just don’t follow the advice of failed gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch and simmer down. It’s past time to wake up and fire up!

Update: 300,000 sign petition supporting charges for Grassley/Ernst+45

 Update 3/16/16 4:20pm

Over 300,000 signers of a petition over at whitehouse.gov supporting the filing of charges against Joni Ernst and the 46 others (including Grassley) senators who broke protocol by directly contacting the Iranian government to (as they hope) derail any agreement between a 5-nation coalition and the Iranian government.  

Most Iowans know (she talked about it enough) that Ernst is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. As such, she is bound by the Iowa State Code of Military Justice. Specifically, Iowa Code 29B.85 which states:

         Any person subject to this code who uses contemptuous words
      against the president, the governor, or the governor of any other
      state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which that person
      may be serving, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Do Iowans not want to deal with this?  

If you're still in doubt…or denial, Take a look at this examination of Ernst's actions so far. 

You know, there has been some controversy over whether she is still “active duty” or not. If she's not, then she can say whatever she wants and it's OK. Well,  on the campaign trail she trumpeted her rank and status so most folks would think she was still “active duty.”

So..active reserve or not, either scenario paints her, accurately in my view, as one who wants to have it both ways whenever it suits her. If she is still active reserve…her constituents deserve something definitive here considering the consequences of breaking protocol.




I was completely shocked to see  Freshman Senator Tom Cotter (R-AK) was “credited” with writing an “Open Letter” to the Iranian regime currently in negotiations with an international coalition including the U.S. to peacefully manage the Persians' desire for a nuclear power program. This deeply irresponsible, faux-legalistic “letter” was offensive enough but it also created an opportunity for the Iranian foreign minister Dr. Javad Zarif to school our sitting legislators on the nuances of International Law and our own Constitution! The fact that Grassley, Ernst, and 45 others followed this nutball play over the cliff should concern all of us. Conservative, Liberal, Democrat, Republican, Baptist or Quaker.  Between this stunt and the Netanyahu speech the words “soft coup” come to mind. 

As a good Dem, I have to admit that while I voted, not enough of us cared to vote last cycle so…..welcome to the freak show.

I don't think John Lewis got his head beaten in on that Bridge 50 years ago so we could stay home just because we don't like the choices. The more you vote, the more you control the choices. 


You Don't Know Jack!

I'm an Iowa native living in Northern California for 25 years.  Class of '67 Des Moines North High/Drake grad. This is my first comment/diary for BH even though I've been reading your cogent analysis for some time now. I'm a supporter of Iowa CCI and I spent 2011-13 in a Des Moines public high school as an arts advocate for underserved students (which was all of them).  

To begin, I just want to ask a sincere question: 

Why don't more Iowa Dems (to say nothing of national pols) actively support Jack Hatch against Terry Branstad?

I'm hoping some readers here can enlighten me to what I'm missing about Hatch or something. The lack of cohesive support beyond his own ($200,000?) campaign is palpable, obvious and frankly, considering Branstad's vulnerability on several key issues, rather troubling. Now that he's down 30 points Branstad begins to appear inevitable but how did we get here? Did Jack even get any photo ops at the Harkin event?

I'm asking for some on-the-ground perspective here.  I've got my own thoughts but before I broadcast, I sincerely would like someone in the BH community to help me understand a few things about Iowa, Inc. 2014 edition. 

Thanks and thanks for providing a forum.