The 2007 votes that made 2019 a historic year for transgender Iowans

Only three months in, 2019 is already the most significant year for transgender equality in Iowa since 2007, when state lawmakers and Governor Chet Culver added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the Iowa Civil Rights Act. That 1965 law hadn’t been significantly amended in decades.

The crucial Iowa House and Senate votes on the civil rights law happened during the first year since the 1960s that Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. Support for LGBTQ equality is often taken for granted now in Democratic circles, but the issue was seen as more politically volatile twelve years ago. The bill amending the civil rights act came late in the 2007 legislative session and could not have passed without some Republican votes.

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Remember: An army marches on its stomach

Barbara Leach, president of My Rural America Action Fund, is a former Iowa farm owner and manager. -promoted by Laura Belin

Much is frightfully wrong in rural America, and 80 percent of Iowa’s counties are right in the thick of it. An unsold crop awaits sale. Sales await the repair of President Donald Trump’s broken trade agreements. Bankers await payments. The flood compounds the troubles.

These troubles affect our economy, consumer food prices, and contribute to the kind of international unrest that is driven by hunger and too often results in military action.

The upcoming Heartland Rural Forum scheduled for March 30 in Storm Lake offers Iowans the chance to kick off a national debate about what could be done to support our fragile family farm economy and our nation’s agricultural sector. Five Democratic presidential candidates (maybe more?) will attend, and there is much for them to talk about.

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On polling eleven months before the Iowa caucuses

Valuable historical perspective from Dan Guild on the latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom. -promoted by Laura Belin

If you know something about the history of the Iowa caucuses, you know three things:

1. Most people don’t really make up their minds until the last month, and often until the last week. Just before the 2016 caucuses, I wrote a post here called “Front runners beware,” which turned out to be fairly accurate.

2. But. BUT. – Iowa caucus polls are consumed like some sort of smartphone app you just can’t put down. You know it isn’t good for you. BUT it HAS to mean something, right? Isn’t the best prediction of what people do in elections is what they say the will do know.

3. And when it is the Des Moines Register poll, people listen. It’s a bit like the old Merrill Lynch television commercial: When Ann Selzer talks, people REALLY listen.

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Dream big again

Ira Lacher: “America doesn’t dream big anymore. Even before the ascension of Donald J. Trump, or the Tea Party, or the Contract with America, we set our sights ridiculously low, the way we do when driving in fog.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Saw the new Apollo 11 documentary Saturday night. And I noticed two things immediately: how so many people were fascinated by an event that took place half a century ago … and how many of them were young people. It wasn’t just nostalgia that drove a crowd to a movie theater on an awful weather day.

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"Wall" and white fear - a step-by-step guide to understanding racism

Gwen Hope examines the deeply-embedded racism surrounding President Donald Trump’s “Wall” and those who typically advocate for and support it. -promoted by Laura Belin

The president’s emblematic “Wall,” while envisioned to become physical, is more accurately a political symbol – an ideological device. It is a symbol of power and might for the traditionally quintessential U.S. citizen – the white Protestant.

This especially goes for men, who have traditionally led the patriarchal U.S. society. This illusory power is summoned and bolstered to defend against what that quintessential citizen typically fears the most – diverse, multicultural society, and those they see as the harbingers of their fall from power most typically – the Latinx and the Muslim. This originates from an ethnocentric and racist mindset of a group of people would would prefer a homogeneous society.

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How one Democrat's work will let Iowa Republicans pack the courts

Republican lawmakers and Governor Kim Reynolds are poised to give GOP officials and their proxies control over what has been a mostly non-partisan system for choosing Iowa judges since 1962.

Until a couple of months ago, I didn’t realize the Republican trifecta could blow up our judicial selection process in a matter of weeks. The Iowa Constitution spells out how vacancies on the bench are filled, and altering any language in our state’s founding document takes years.

Unfortunately, a time bomb has lurked in Article V, Section 16 for more than five decades. While most elements of the system can be changed only through a constitutional amendment, the manner of forming judicial nominating commissions (half appointed by the governor, half elected by attorneys) is specified only “Until July 4, 1973, and thereafter unless otherwise provided by law.”

How did that language end up in the constitution? A Linn County Democrat offered a fateful amendment 60 years ago.

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