Christina Blackcloud would fight for the underrepresented in IA-01

Khadidja Elkeurti was field director for Kimberly Graham’s 2020 U.S. Senate campaign. -promoted by Laura Belin

Growing up in Cedar Rapids as a child of Algerian immigrants, many people ask why my parents chose to move to Iowa of all places. When my parents received their green card in 1995, they chose the small town of Elkader because of its historical relevance in being named after the Algerian revolutionary who fought for independence from colonial France. Despite their thick accents and unfamiliarity with American culture, my parents were welcomed to the town with open arms.

Many years later, they decided to stay in Iowa because of its renowned K-12 public school system, and the strong and diverse Muslim community found in Cedar Rapids.

In recent years however, our current leadership has threatened the future of a prosperous Iowa. Public education in our state is being undermined, and the current rhetoric around immigrants and people of color is becoming increasingly dangerous.

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Populisms Left and Right

John Whiston contrasts two strains of American populism and ponders how a populist agenda could unite diverse Democratic constituencies.-promoted by Laura Belin

You hear a lot of anxiety these days about the rising tide of “right-wing populism.” How in God’s name did Donald Trump increase his share of the vote in localities like Lee and Clinton counties in Iowa and Kenosha and Dunn ounties in Wisconsin?  So, maybe it’s time to take a step back and think about what “populism” really means – today, historically,  and for the American future.

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We deserve a break today. Two folks well worth "hooray"!

Herb Strentz profiles the most trusted figure of the COVID-19 pandemic and a Sister of Charity whose service to the targets of the Postville raid was legendary. -promoted by Laura Belin

Pardon the trifling with the McDonald’s jingle, but it catches the refreshing touch intended to recognize a couple of wonderful people — one you’re familiar with and one you’ll be delighted to meet.

They are Dr. Anthony Fauci, 79, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, and Mary McCauley, 81, a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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Axne, Finkenauer vote against latest Democratic COVID-19 relief bill

Iowa’s two first-term members of the U.S. House were among fourteen Democrats to oppose the latest bill drafted to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The so-called HEROES Act cleared the lower chamber on May 15 by 208 votes to 199 (roll call). It called for an estimated $3 trillion in spending, including “nearly $1 trillion in aid to battered states, cities and Native American tribes, and another round of bolstered jobless benefits and direct government payments to Americans.”

Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate oppose the bill, so its passage in the House serves primarily to communicate preferred Democratic policy.

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Highlights, dog whistles from an Iowa Senate debate

Matt Chapman closely follows Iowa legislative affairs, especially bills like the one discussed here. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa Senate Republicans have approved another bill targeting people receiving public assistance, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Senate File 2272, which passed along party lines February 26, would require the state to contract for extra screening, looking for evidence of Iowans enrolled in more than one state. Labor and Business Relations Committee chair Jason Schultz introduced and floor-managed the bill. He has been attempting to pass versions of this legislation for years and sponsored five bills in a similar vein in 2019.

The vendor that would receive the contract, LexisNexis, does similar work in other states, often flagging 15 percent of beneficiaries as possibly fraudulent. In the five southern states that have adopted this screening, further checks have confirmed dual participation by just 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent of enrollees, on average.

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Iowa Democrats dismiss Julián Castro's critique at our peril

“If you didn’t know anything about this process, and I told you how it was set up, you would think that a right-wing Republican set this process up, because it really makes it harder to vote than it should be,” Julián Castro told a room full of Iowa Democrats at Drake University on December 10.

Castro’s campaign organized the town hall (which I moderated) to highlight problems with the Iowa caucus system and a calendar that starts with two overwhelmingly white states.

Now that Castro has ended his presidential bid, it may be tempting to dismiss his critique as sour grapes from a candidate who wasn’t gaining traction in Iowa.

That would be a mistake. Castro is only the most high-profile messenger for a sentiment that is widespread and growing in Democratic circles nationally.

If Iowa Democrats want to keep our prized position for the next presidential cycle and beyond, we need to acknowledge legitimate concerns about the caucuses and take bigger steps to make the process more accessible.

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