Strong_Island_Hawk

Using Republican logic on their school voucher plan

“Strong Island Hawk” is an Iowa Democrat and political researcher based in Des Moines. Prior to moving to Iowa, he lived in Washington, DC where he worked for one of the nation’s top public interest groups. In Iowa, has worked and volunteered on U.S. Representative Cindy Axne’s 2018 campaign and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 caucus team. 

I love a good argument. Maybe that’s because I hail from a family of lawyers and big talkers, all of whom very much like to argue. In any event, I love crafting a solid case for my position. Even more than that, I love to break down and pick apart weak arguments.

Over the past month, Governor Kim Reynolds’ private school funding plan has come under scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans alike—for good reason. I somewhat empathize with what Reynolds advocated. I transferred high schools, and it was certainly good to have the option—although for me, the better choice was transferring back to public school.

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Consulting firm with Grassley ties facing IRS criminal investigation

“Strong Island Hawk” is an Iowa Democrat and political researcher based in Des Moines. Prior to moving to Iowa, he lived in Washington, DC where he worked for one of the nation’s top public interest groups. In Iowa, has worked and volunteered on U.S. Representative Cindy Axne’s 2018 campaign and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 caucus team. 

Agents from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation division took the rare step in May of raiding Alliantgroup, a Houston-based firm specializing in energy tax credits Senator Chuck Grassley helped enact. Alliantgroup and its executives are frequent donors to Grassley; its National Managing Director, Dean Zerbe, is a former high-ranking Grassley staffer.

Months later, little is known about the raid, which followed IRS subpoenas and requests for documents. Some have speculated that the investigation is focused on Alliantgroup’s use of tax credits, including one provision Grassley and Zerbe had a big role in adding to the tax code.

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The liberal case for student loan forgiveness

“Strong Island Hawk” is an Iowa Democrat and political researcher based in Des Moines. Prior to moving to Iowa, he lived in Washington, DC where he worked for one of the nation’s top public interest groups. In Iowa, has worked and volunteered on U.S. Representative Cindy Axne’s 2018 campaign and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 caucus team. 

With President Joe Biden’s decision to forgive student loan debt for up to $10,000 per borrower ($20,000 for Pell Grant recipients), the public sphere has been flooded with opinions from across the spectrum. Liberals and progressives have celebrated it as a necessary economic maneuver, while Republicans have decried it as an unfair handout or vote-buying. Student loan relief is an issue that splits across class, party, generational and even urban-rural lines. It’s a great time to examine this tricky topic.

This post will not delve into every detail of Biden’s plan. Instead, I will make the general case for student loan forgiveness and thoroughly explain the liberal (or at least, my philosophy) on it.

I will also address the conservative case against the plan, which is weak given the facts. Finally, I will offer some middle-of-the-road solutions I think we can all agree on.

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Outside money returns to IA-03

Bleeding Heartland user Strong Island Hawk reviews some “issue ads” now targeting (or defending) U.S. Representative Cindy Axne.

Welcome to the Age of Dark Money. And that means All Political Ads, All the Time. Iowans know all too well the constant barrage of campaign commercials especially before Election Day or during the primaries. Thanks to long experience with the first-in-the-nation caucuses, Hawkeyes have learned to tune out the relentless stream of political messages, TV, radio and digital ads, phone calls and door knocks, which can start more than a year before the general election. But they’re also used to a respite from the electioneering activity once the election has passed. This year, most Iowans were probably hoping for a break from the noise, especially after a long and bruising 2020 campaign.  

However, the never-ending flow of dark money has made political ads a year-round reality, even in non-election years. And in a hotly contested swing district like Iowa’s third Congressional, voters can scarcely get through an episode of Wheel of Fortune or a morning news broadcast without seeing an attack ad funded by shadowy outside forces. The ads have become almost as ubiquitous as the commercials for sports betting sites. And it’s hard to believe it’s only September of a year ending in “-1” – and not even one before a presidential year. This is before a midterm election. 

One thing is clear: IA-03 is already a major electoral battleground gaining national attention. And the money is pouring in. 

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Trump pardons highlight GOP corruption problems

“Strong Island Hawk” reviews President Donald Trump’s recent pardons, which were largely political. -promoted by Laura Belin

Last month President-De-Elect Donald Trump issued executive pardons for dozens of people, including many of his former campaign officials and Republican colleagues. Many of these pardons were entirely political and, what’s worse, they absolved individuals for acts of public corruption. When this happened, a thought crossed my mind: Is the Republican Party now entirely corrupt?

In fact, I think it’s an issue that goes unnoticed by the media and even by some Democrats: today’s Republican Party may be so thoroughly corrupt it’s nearly systemic.
No party holds a monopoly on ethical behavior; Democrats have certainly had their troubles over the years. But the GOP may be experiencing an era of unprecedented party-wide corruption. I want to look at a handful of the most political cases and examine how they demonstrate the GOP’s indifferent approach to government ethics. 

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The perils of outside money

Author’s Note from Strong Island Hawk: “Outside money” typically refers to super-PACs and dark money groups. “Independent expenditure only committees,” more commonly known as super-PACs, have no limits on contributions from individuals but are prohibited from donating to candidates or “coordinating” with them on strategy or messaging. “Dark money” groups are essentially charities organized under 501(c)(4) of the IRS code and are not required to publicly disclose their donors. These “social welfare” groups can spend certain amounts of their annual budget on political activity. See Issue One’s explainer.

Iowa Democrats are once again trying to figure out what went wrong after another election night full of defeats, including a loss for Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield. Greenfield was a weak candidate: she was yet another wealthy Des Moines real estate developer who was a political novice with no compelling message or agenda. And she was neither an electric speaker nor a sharp debater. But Iowans were never really given a choice.

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