The lie wasn't the worst thing Ernst said about Biden, Afghanistan

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst became fodder for fact-checkers last week when she wrongly said of President Joe Biden, “Not once has he expressed empathy and gratitude to the men and women who have put the uniform on and have fought so bravely overseas the last 20 years to keep our homeland safe. And I feel that by not acknowledging his gratitude for them, he’s diminishing their service.”

Before demolishing Ernst’s claim as “plain false,” CNN’s Daniel Dale pointed out that Ernst had pushed the same talking point on Fox News in August, “saying Biden has ‘yet to fully, fully thank the men and women that have served in the global war on terrorism” and declaring that ‘Joe Biden is a disgrace not to thank these men and women that have protected us.’” Dale found six examples of Biden publicly expressing his gratitude to military service members just in the past five months.

As shameful as it is for Iowa’s junior senator to lie repeatedly about the president, another part of Ernst’s short September 1 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper was arguably more dangerous.

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VA vaccine mandate won't apply to Iowa Veterans Home

Staff at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown, where a recent COVID-19 outbreak killed two fully vaccinated residents, are not subject to a new vaccine mandate issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced on July 26 that coronavirus vaccinations are now required for “Title 38 VA health care personnel — including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries and chiropractors — who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities, visit VHA facilities or provide direct care to those VA serves.”

The Iowa Veterans Home is a state-run facility, but it receives some federal funding, is certified by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and has residents who use VA health care. At least 900 employees work at the Marshalltown facility, which is Iowa’s largest nursing home. Families and guardians were informed in late June that 70 percent of staff had already been vaccinated for COVID-19. That would leave more than 250 unprotected by any coronavirus vaccine.

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Iowa delegation tries again to address military suicides (updated)

UPDATE: The U.S. Senate passed the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act of 2021 by unanimous consent on June 24, and President Joe Biden signed it into law on June 30. Original post follows.

From the earliest Memorial Day observances organized by freed slaves following the Civil War, this holiday has focused on remembering military service members who died in wars. More than 26,700 Iowans have died in wartime service, with the Civil War accounting for nearly half of the fatalities.

Far too many Americans with military backgrounds die by their own hands. Hundreds of active-duty troops and more than 6,000 veterans take their own lives every year. That death toll exceeds the total U.S. military fatalities in Iraq from 2003 to 2020.

Iowa’s members of Congress have tried again this spring to improve mental health services for veterans. Unlike in previous years, legislation named after Sergeant Brandon Ketchum made it through the U.S. House and now awaits action in the Senate.

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The case for a simpler, values-driven Democratic Party platform

Jeremy Dumkrieger chairs the Woodbury County Democrats. -promoted by Laura Belin

In 2018, the Woodbury County Democrats approved the platform pasted below. It wasn’t perfect, but it was simple. It was intended to be. In fact, it could be simpler.

We wanted something we could put on a palm card to let folks know what we believe. Far too often we are bogged down by complicated rhetoric that serves only to obscure the direct message intended for everyday Iowans.

Soon the Iowa Democratic Party will host the Platform Committee’s work to finalize our state platform. I suggest they ignore specifics and finally see the bigger picture.

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Joni Ernst turned her back on Iowans

Kay Pence is Vice President of the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans. -promoted by Laura Belin

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is no longer working for Iowans. She is working at the behest of President Donald Trump, no matter what he says or does. She has become a puppet to Trump no matter how low he sinks, voting with the president more than 91 percent of the time and following his lead to attack our healthcare and defund Social Security.

The Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans recently invited Ernst and her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield to virtual forums celebrating the anniversaries of Medicare and Social Security. I was not surprised when Ernst failed to show up for either forum, because she has such a dismal record on both issues.  

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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.

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