Buena Vista County part of DOJ's voter intimidation stunt

Buena Vista County in northwest Iowa is among 35 localities where U.S. Department of Justice personnel will “monitor compliance with the federal voting rights laws” on November 6, the Justice Department revealed this morning. Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned, “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.”

There is no documented incident of voter fraud in Buena Vista County, just one “accident involving human error” in 2016. So why would the DOJ single out this area for scrutiny?

Like the other jurisdictions the DOJ is targeting, Buena Vista has a large non-white population. Voting rights advocates saw Sessions’ announcement as an effort to intimidate eligible voters.

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Vacuum up the monsters

There are monsters under the bed. And they are coming for us.

They are coming for our hard-earned savings. They are coming for our property. They are coming for our children. They are coming for our way of life.

This is the agenda that the right has been pushing on Americans for the last 30 or so years. And it is working for the same reason my twins, when they were toddlers, were afraid that monsters lurked under their beds.

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IA-Gov: Notes on the final Hubbell-Reynolds debate

Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell debated for the third and last time today in Davenport. Too bad not many viewers are likely to tune in at 8:00 am on a Sunday morning, because the discussion was yet another study in contrasts. For those who prefer a written recap, I enclose below my detailed notes. Click here and here for Bleeding Heartland’s analysis of the first two Hubbell-Reynolds debates.

As during the second debate, journalists kept the candidates on topic and within the time limit, so kudos to moderator David Nelson of KWQC-TV6 and panelists Erin Murphy of Lee Enterprises, Forrest Saunders of KCRG-TV9, and Jenna Jackson of KWQC-TV6.

Both candidates recycled many talking points from their first two meetings. My impression was that Reynolds performed about equally well in all three debates, while Hubbell improved each time. For instance, after Reynolds noted that Iowa had moved up in mental health rankings three years in a row and was now rated sixth in the country for mental health, Hubbell pointed out that the study the governor cited covered the years 2013 through 2015. That was before the Branstad/Reynolds administration closed some mental health institutions and privatized Medicaid, which has led to worse care for thousands of Iowans.

For those who prefer to watch the replay, KCRG-TV posted the video in a single file, which is the most user-friendly option. You can also find the debate on KWQC-TV (with closed captioning) and WOWT-TV’s websites, but you will have to watch a series of clips, with advertisements before each segment.

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Dave Loebsack is safe, so why is he still voting like a Blue Dog?

U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack voted for yet another bad Republican bill on September 7. Despite being a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Loebsack has long had a less progressive voting record than most of his House Democratic colleagues.

Occasional conservative votes were understandable after Loebsack survived a close call in 2010 and faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside spending on attack ads before the next two general elections. But the last remaining Iowa Democrat in Congress coasted to a sixth term in 2016 with no groups spending money against him. He outperformed Hillary Clinton by about 9 points in the 24 counties he represents. Iowa’s second Congressional district is by common consent a safe Democratic seat this year. As of June 30, Loebsack’s campaign had nearly $2 million cash on hand, while his GOP challenger Christopher Peters had less than $30,000.

Why isn’t Loebsack a more reliable progressive vote in the House?

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Interview: What drives Senator Jeff Merkley

“We need to use every tool we have to reclaim our country,” U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley told me during his latest visit to Des Moines. “We are at the verge of a tipping point, and maybe we’re almost past it, in which the power of the mega-wealthy is so profound that we can’t tip the balance back in to we the people.”

The senator from Oregon spent much of Labor Day weekend in central Iowa supporting Democratic candidates for the state legislature. His fifth trip here since the 2016 election won’t be his last: he will be a featured speaker at the Polk County Steak Fry later this month. During our September 2 interview, I asked Merkley about the most important matters pending in the U.S. Senate, prospects for Democrats in November, and his possible presidential candidacy.

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Words in contrast

Des Moines resident Ira Lacher noticed a striking contrast in two commentaries published this weekend. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Page 3 of the Sunday Des Moines Register opinion section told us everything we need to know about the people who are in the top positions in America.

On one hand, there was Rob Tibbetts’ heartfelt plea for decency in the wake of the murder of his daughter, Mollie.

Below it, was Donald Trump Jr.’s pathetic attempt to sustain hatred of brown people.

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