Ernst, Grassley silent on reported bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan

As Donald Trump’s presidency continues to spawn scandals that would seem farfetched as a movie plot, top Iowa Republicans remain silent whenever possible on news that reflects poorly on their party’s standard-bearer.

The latest shameful example: U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have said nothing in public about reports indicating a “Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.”

Ernst’s silence is particularly striking, since she built her political brand on (and still frequently invokes) her career of service in the Iowa National Guard.

Continue Reading...

Why I support Mike Franken for U.S. Senate

Nancy Bobo is a retired non-profit executive, founder of the Democratic group Women for a Stronger America, and a Democratic volunteer in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

In early March, the week before everything started shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I hosted a house party for Mike Franken, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. A friend had introduced me to Mike several weeks earlier, and I was exceptionally impressed. I was pleasantly surprised when our house filled wall-to-wall that morning with the biggest crowd we’ve ever hosted for a political candidate.

Guests arrived curious to meet Mike and knowing little about him. Numerous guests had come supporting another candidate and changed their allegiance that day. Mike’s background, experience, and a certain degree of Iowa charm were compelling. He left with a pile of checks and new supporters. Today, Franken’s support is clearly growing.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Senate district 28 preview: Michael Breitbach vs. Matt Tapscott

UPDATE: Breitbach announced on February 10, 2020 that he will retire. State Representative Michael Bergan is expected to run in Senate district 28 rather than for re-election in House district 55, but he has not clarified his plans. LATER UPDATE: Bergan will run for the House again. Spillville Mayor Mike Klimesh will seek the GOP nomination in the Senate race. I’ve added background on him below.

A few words about the title: Republican State Senator Michael Breitbach has told some constituents and people connected to the legislature he does not plan to seek a third term in 2020. So Matt Tapscott may end up running for an open Iowa Senate seat.

In response to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiry, Breitbach commented via e-mail on October 14, “There is plenty of time for me to make my decision whether to run again in 2020. I was very happy with the support I received in my last election and I feel I have been successful during my time in the Senate.”

Having covered the Iowa legislature for more than a decade, I’ve learned to be skeptical about retirement rumors. Party leaders have a way of talking reluctant incumbents into seeking re-election. Breitbach has good committee assignments; not only does he chair the Senate Appropriations Committee, he also serves on the Commerce and Transportation panels.

So until Breitbach publicly announces he’s done, I assume he will be on the ballot next November in one of eighteen Iowa Senate districts where voters favored President Barack Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016.*

Continue Reading...

Memorial Day: Iowans fallen in wars

President Donald Trump reportedly considered pardoning Americans accused or convicted of war crimes on this Memorial Day. Fox News personalities, not military officials, have pushed for the pardons, which “could erode the legitimacy of military law and undercut good order and discipline in the ranks.”

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner wrote, “These contemplated pardons represent a degradation — not a celebration — of Memorial Day.” Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan, commented that Trump’s “idea that being sent to fight makes you automatically into some kind of war criminal is a slander against veterans.”

Since Memorial Day (first known as Decoration Day) is supposed to be about honoring Americans who died during military service, let’s take a moment to consider those soldiers.

Continue Reading...
View More...