This Old House

Paul W. Johnson is a preacher’s kid, former Peace Corps Volunteer, former state legislator, former chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service/Natural Resources Conservation Service, former director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and a retired farmer. -promoted by Laura Belin

As my life’s journey winds down, I often wake at night and mull over the wonderful life this world, my country, my state, my community, and my friends and family have given me.  Music has been an important part of my life. 

The gospel songs I learned in church, the country and western and pop music of the 1950s came first. Then came classical music.  Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto in D – tense, boisterous, serene. It could be the theme music of my life. Or the theme music of the 300-year-old white oaks in our woods. Or of the Monarch butterflies that stop by our prairies in fall and feast on the nectar of the late-blooming asters before the north winds send them on a wild ride to their winter hangouts in the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico.

Recently Stuart Hamblen’s song of the 1950s, This Old House, has washed over me. It goes, “Ain’t a gonna need this house no longer, Ain’t a gonna need this house no more.” 

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All I wanted was to scream at a billionaire

Tanya Keith is a Democratic activist in Des Moines and author of the recently published Soccer Stars on the Pitch. -promoted by Laura Belin

I am the Cory Booker precinct captain for my precinct in the River Bend neighborhood of Des Moines. When I heard he dropped out last Monday morning, I was gutted. Senator Booker was a unique candidate of hope in a sometimes angry field.

I was so firmly in his camp, I told people I didn’t need a second choice, I only needed to work hard to make him viable in my precinct. So after he left the race, I was lost, and I decided to go yell at a billionaire.

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Why I will caucus for Elizabeth Warren

Matt Chapman is a Democratic activist in Waukee. -promoted by Laura Belin

A few years after the great recession kicked in, I was listening to the latest Ry Cooder album while mowing my lawn and came across the song “No Banker Left Behind.” It spoke perfectly to the mood of the time, and I remember shutting the mower off and going inside to listen to it a couple more times.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill had passed a year earlier, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created (an idea Elizabeth Warren came up with). At that time, Professor Warren was asked to help set up the bureau, made a temporary chair, and given some liaison responsibilities. But she was never given the role of director.

Luckily for us, efforts to recruit Warren to run for the Senate instead paid off. Now she is campaigning to be our first woman president.

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Inaction on climate change in 2019 will be costly for Iowans

Floyd Gardener of the Progressive Minds of Iowa and Tyler Granger of the National Wildlife Federation co-authored this commentary. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa experienced enormous natural disasters in 2019, and climate change accelerated the devastation. 

The National Wildlife Federation released an interactive national climate disaster report in November, which illustrated that Iowa’s historic floods and extreme heat were attributable to climate change. The report also predicted continued disastrous weather conditions as the effects of climate change continue to build.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2019 guest authors

More than 125 authors contributed to the 290 guest posts Bleeding Heartland published this calendar year–way up from the 202 pieces by about 100 writers in 2018 and the 164 posts by 83 writers the year before that. I’m immensely grateful for all the hard work that went into these articles and commentaries and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, such as John Morrissey’s exclusive reporting on Sedgwick landing a lucrative contract to administer Iowa’s worker’s compensation program for state employee, despite not submitting the high bid.

The most-viewed Bleeding Heartland post this year was Gwen Hope’s exclusive about the the Hy-Vee PAC donating $25,000 to the Iowa GOP, shortly before President Donald Trump headlined a Republican fundraiser at Hy-Vee’s event center in West Des Moines.

Several commentaries about major news events or political trends were also among the most widely read Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019. I’ve noted below pieces by Ed Fallon, Tim Nelson, Bruce Lear, Randy Richardson, J.D. Scholten, Dan Guild, State Senator Claire Celsi, and others that were especially popular. (This site has run more than 630 pieces since January 1.)

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