Rest in peace, Leonard Boswell

Former U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell passed away on August 17 at the age of 84. He had long battled a rare cancer called pseudomyxoma peritonei. Boswell publicly speculated in 2015 that exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War could have caused his abdominal tumors. According to a former staff member, a link to the powerful herbicide was later confirmed. In a recorded message to Iowa Democrats last year, Boswell said his doctors agreed that his disease stemmed from getting “pretty well soaked” while flying a crop-duster mission.

Surviving two tours of duty as an assault helicopter pilot in Vietnam was itself beating the odds. Boswell received numerous honors for his actions in that extremely dangerous role.

Following 20 years of military service, Boswell became a cattle farmer in southern Iowa. First elected to the Iowa Senate in 1984, he served three terms in the legislature, the last as Senate president. He was well-liked in Democratic circles. When I met him briefly during the 1994 campaign (he was the lieutenant governor nominee on a ticket with Bonnie Campbell), he seemed to have a larger-than-life personality.

After winning an open U.S. House seat in 1996, Boswell represented parts of central and southern Iowa in Congress for sixteen years. His proudest legislative accomplishment was sponsoring the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, which President George W. Bush signed in 2007. Though he belonged to the conservative “Blue Dog” caucus, Boswell voted for the major legislation of President Barack Obama’s first term, including the economic stimulus bill and the Affordable Care Act.

Continue Reading...

Obama's caucus victory 10 years later: A look back in photos

Many thanks to Jordan Oster, a public affairs consultant and clean energy advocate from Des Moines, for this review of a remarkable Iowa caucus campaign. -promoted by desmoinesdem

January 3 marked the tenth anniversary of Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 Iowa Democratic Precinct Caucuses.

Like a number of supporters and former staffers, I took to social media earlier this week to share photos and memories from his campaign. You can check out the full Twitter thread here.

As this anniversary approached, I began to gather photos and recollections of the Obama campaign. The Iowa caucuses have long captivated me, and I have tried to do my part to preserve and keep its unique history alive. A camera is usually a required accessory when I attend presidential events, and I have filled many memory cards with photos of presidential candidates since I first got involved with campaigns in 2003.

Continue Reading...

3 ways Matt Lauer failed to press Donald Trump on his Russian entanglements

Donald Trump’s potential to be unduly influenced by Russian President Vladimir Putin has been worrying me for some time, so my head nearly exploded when I watched NBC’s Matt Lauer question Trump about Putin during last night’s “Commander-in-Chief forum.”

Other commentators have already noted how Lauer interrupted Hillary Clinton repeatedly but let Trump get away with long-winded non-responses, didn’t follow up when Trump lied (again) about supposedly having opposed the war in Iraq and military intervention in Libya, and didn’t mention controversial Trump statements of obvious relevance to an audience of veterans.

Lauer also flubbed a perfect chance to scrutinize Trump’s Russia connections.

Continue Reading...

Six questions Iowa Republicans should answer about Donald Trump

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump continued to disgrace himself over the past five days, feuding with the parents of fallen Captain Humayun Khan and revealing shocking ignorance about a foreign policy challenge the next president will face.

The response from prominent Iowa Republicans has been inadequate (in the case of Trump’s insulting comments about Khizr and Ghazala Khan) or nonexistent (in the case of his latest statements about Russia and Ukraine).

Every Republican candidate or office-holder in this state, aside from #NeverTrump State Senator David Johnson, should answer the following questions.

Continue Reading...

Weekend open thread: Off-the-wall GOP debate edition

Who watched the six remaining Republican presidential candidates debate in Greenville, South Carolina last night? It was such a free-for-all that the Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri had trouble satirizing some of the exchanges: “nothing I can say is actually more ridiculous than what the candidates in fact said.”

The New York Times posted the full transcript here. I’ve enclosed some excerpts below.

What struck me most about the debate was how Donald Trump kept playing to the nationwide audience, ignoring the crowd that booed many of his comments. In contrast, Ted Cruz seemed to do better with the house, but I’m not convinced he came across as well on television. Jeb Bush continues to gain confidence on the debate stage, but where he can start winning states remains a mystery. Marco Rubio seemed relieved to have most of the attention on others and neither reverted to “robot mode” nor lost his cool in a heated exchange with Cruz over immigration policy. Carson and Kasich failed to make any case for their candidacies. The Ohio governor’s whining about negative campaigning won’t win any votes, nor will his defense of expanding Medicaid–though I agree with him on that issue. Carson’s only memorable comment was a Joseph Stalin quote that turned out to be fake.

As has so often occurred since last summer, pundits quickly concluded that Trump “went too far” and would be hurt by some of his attacks, especially denigrating President George W. Bush’s leadership. I’m not so sure. A sizable number of Republicans may share Trump’s views: Bush didn’t “keep us safe” on 9/11, the Iraq War was a disaster, and the Bush administration lied about weapons of mass destruction. The only comment likely to do significant harm to Trump with the GOP base is his admission that Planned Parenthood does “wonderful things” for women outside of its abortion services.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Continue Reading...
View More...