Iowa's unstrung quartet — Chuck, Joni, Kim, and Terry

Herb Strentz envisions a musical inspired by top Iowa Republicans’ “unquestioning obedience” to President Donald Trump. -promoted by Laura Belin

We’ve had Broadway musicals inspired by American history, such as 1776 and Hamilton.

Now how about an Iowa take on the nation’s future with a political song and dance called Iowa’s Un-Strung Quartet? The musical would deal with U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst and Governors Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds in their attempts to harmonize with the persistently off-key Donald Trump.

The dark humor driving the discord would be the fact that Trump does not demand loyalty from his aides and his supporters.

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Four questions Iowa reporters should ask Terry Branstad

Former Governor Terry Branstad is back in Iowa, having resigned as U.S. ambassador to China in order to campaign for President Donald Trump, Senator Joni Ernst, and other Republicans on the ballot. He’s defending Trump’s trade policy toward China, despite the impact on Iowa farmers. Speaking with reporters on October 10, Branstad “discounted polls showing President Trump and Joe Biden tied in Iowa.”

It’s a waste of time to ask any politician about polls, and Branstad has already spoken to the media at length about U.S. foreign policy toward China. Here are four more salient matters Iowa reporters could raise with the former governor.

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Iowa agriculture, climate change, and "SWAPA"

Paul W. Johnson is a preacher’s kid, former Iowa state legislator, former chief of the USDA Soil Conservation Service/Natural Resources Conservation Service, former director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and a retired farmer. -promoted by Laura Belin

In the early 1980s there was a serious farm crisis in Iowa. Land and commodity prices were falling, so banks were calling in farm loans and foreclosing on farmers who couldn’t pay up. Maurice Dingman was bishop of the Des Moines area during those years, and he was speaking up strongly for farmers who were suffering during this time. I was impressed by his defense of family farmers.

In 1987 David Osterberg and I were serving in the Iowa legislature–he representing Mount Vernon, I representing Decorah–and working on groundwater protection. Industrial agriculture sent their lobbyists to weaken our legislation, and newspapers were carrying stories about their fierce opposition to our work.

During this time, Bishop Dingman phoned us and suggested we have lunch together. 

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We live here, too: Dirt road Democrats in the arena

Former Republican C.J. Petersen on the values and issues that drove him to run for the Iowa Senate and become the new chair of the Carroll County Democrats. -promoted by Laura Belin

In the fall of 2010, I knocked on the door of a 70-year-old woman in rural Grundy Center, Iowa. I was there on a mission: get Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds elected governor and lieutenant governor of Iowa.

The woman was kind, and we discussed the issues of the day–jobs, health care, and her feeling that our state and nation were on the wrong track. “Trust me,” I told her. “Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds are ready to lead Iowa’s comeback.”

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What the voting rights order revealed about Kim Reynolds

“Quite simply, when someone serves their sentence and pays the price our justice system has set for their crimes, they should have their right to vote restored automatically, plain and simple,” Governor Kim Reynolds said on August 5, shortly before signing a critically important document.

Executive Order 7 automatically restores voting rights to most Iowans who have completed prison sentences or terms of probation or parole associated with felony convictions. The Iowa-Nebraska NAACP estimated that the order paves the way for more than 40,000 people to vote this year. Going forward, approximately 4,700 Iowans who complete felony sentences each year will regain the same rights.

Reynolds had publicly promised to sign such an order seven weeks ago, after Republican senators declined to advance the state constitutional amendment that was her preferred way of addressing the problem.

Both the substance of the measure and the way the governor announced it revealed aspects of her leadership style.

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Three notable Iowa events that happened on July 4

Independence Day was established to celebrate the July 4, 1776 vote by the Second Continental Congress to adopt Declaration of Independence. But many other noteworthy historical events also happened on this day. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826. New York state abolished slavery on this day in 1827.

July 4 has also been a significant date in Iowa history. Two of the events described below happened within the lifetimes of many Bleeding Heartland readers.

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