Christmas in a year of loss and uncertainty

The holiday season tends to be a particularly difficult time for those who are bereaved, and 2020 brought loss to the world on a scale most people in developed countries had never seen. The U.S. is on track to set a record for deaths occurring in one year, primarily because of the coronavirus pandemic.

At least 3,744 Iowans are known to have died of COVID-19, according to the state’s website (3,741 according to the latest figures published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control). Our state’s death toll from March through December will surely top 4,000 once we have final data. The new, more accurate counting method the Iowa Department of Public Health adopted this month often involves weeks of delay. An analysis the New York Times published on December 16 estimates that Iowa experienced about 3,900 excess deaths from March 15 to December 5, compared to the same period in a typical year.

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Norman Vincent Peale talked the talk. Dietrich Bonhoeffer walked the walk

Herb Strentz reflects on two Christian spiritual leaders of the 20th century. One is viewed as an influence on Donald Trump. -promoted by Laura Belin

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

That’s a line from the 1990 movie The Godfather Part 3. It is a curse and a statement of fact by the Mafia don, Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino.

Well, thanks to the election, I thought I was out— “out” from the nonsense about Donald Trump being a gift from God, a 21st century version of the 6th century B.C. Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, anointed by Jehovah to rescue Jews from Babylon.  You’ll find Cyrus chosen by God in the 45th chapter of the biblical book of Isaiah. That makes it crystal clear: God chose Donald the Great as our 45th president!

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Needed: A ceasefire

Ira Lacher calls for Republicans and Democrats to declare a ceasefire in four areas that escalate tensions on both sides. -promoted by Laura Belin

“Since Election Day and for weeks prior, Trump has all but ceased to actively manage the deadly pandemic, which so far has killed at least 244,000 Americans, infected at least 10.9 million and choked the country’s economy,” reported for the the Washington Post reported on November 14.

In doing so, Trump has disregarded every imperative set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution. His latest impeachable offense is one of many throughout his term. But what did Congressional Democrats impeach him for? A quid pro quo with Ukraine that no one understood.

It’s just one example of how the Dumpstercratic Party has lumbered from one blunder to another: from failing to take advantage of its majority status in the Senate under President Barack Obama (“Maa … Mitch McConnell hit me!”), to spending a two-year primary season quibbling over what it stands for, to feebly sponsoring weak candidates in the general election. The party needs a massive reboot. But not the one you’re thinking of.

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Lessons of 2020: Iowa Catholics stuck with Trump

Third in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

White non-Hispanic Catholics supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a wide margin in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of exit polls and subsequent survey of validated voters.

Preliminary exit poll data suggests that Joe Biden improved his standing with those voters, losing white Catholics by 57 percent to 42 percent, compared to Clinton’s 64 percent to 31 percent deficit. That’s consistent with some polls taken during the campaign, which showed Biden gaining support among white Catholics–not surprising, since the Democratic nominee frequently referred to his Catholic faith and upbringing in public appearances.

I expected Biden to improve substantially on Clinton’s performance in Iowa’s most heavily Catholic counties, where “Kennedy Democrats” were once a solid voting bloc. But that didn’t happen.

On the contrary, Trump increased his raw vote totals and share of the vote in those counties, as he did in many parts of the state.

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When Chuck Grassley was "pwned" by the televangelists

Richard Lindgren reviews Senator Chuck Grassley’s probe of self-dealing by tax-exempt televangelists, which fizzled out with little to show for years of work. -promoted by Laura Belin

In a recent Bleeding Heartland piece, Laura Belin contrasted U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley’s aggressive attack on then-Vice President Al Gore’s use of a government telephone in 1997 to make fundraising calls to his silence after repeated and blatant Trump administration violations of the Hatch Act. This flouting of laws and norms culminated in President Trump pulling out all stops to use the White House grounds and hundreds of federal employees to publicly accept the 2020 Republican nomination for President.

In the internet gaming language of “leetspeak,” the notoriously frugal and “by the book” Grassley has repeatedly been “pwned,” (intentionally misspelled, but pronounced “owned”) which means to be embarrassingly dominated and defeated by another “gamer.”

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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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