Memorializing the African Holocaust

Gerald Ott of Ankeny was a high school English teacher and for 30 years a school improvement consultant for the Iowa State Education Association.

In my years, I have visited many American historical sites. When I was seven, my parents took me to the Alamo. It was 1950. My dad was a newly appointed chaplain at Lackland Air Force base near San Antonio.

If my folks knew the real history, they didn’t say. I doubt they did. We were from the North. So, the story we were told, the Alamo myth (as I now know), became the story we believed to be true.

Continue Reading...

Inflation Reduction Act puts important health care within reach

Sharon Mayer is a Pella resident and health care advocate.

Rising health care costs are top of mind for many seniors, who often live on fixed incomes and struggle to afford our care. That’s why millions of people forgo critical vaccinations, including for shingles.

Luckily, I was able to get the shot covered by Medicaid. But many aren’t able to afford this important, preventative measure. Thankfully, starting in January, seniors could save hundreds of dollars when getting vaccinated against this painful illness.

Continue Reading...

Democrats owe Iowans a complete reboot

Jack Hatch is a former state senator and was the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor of Iowa. This essay first appeared in the Des Moines Register.

Iowa Democrats were wiped out of every federal office and all but one of the statewide offices while losing seats in both the Iowa House and Senate. This is the first time in more than a half-century in which one party controlled all of the state’s U.S. Senate and House seats.

The Iowa red wave happened against the backdrop of a pretty good cycle nationally for Democrats. Conventional wisdom says midterm elections are never the best barometer of a national mood, frequently producing a predictable backlash against the performance of the President’s party. The 21st century has produced strong evidence in this direction, in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. Tough economic numbers including high inflation and interest rates supported forecasts of doom for Democrats in 2022.

Then a strange thing happened. The political center held.

Continue Reading...

Don't lose sight of what's important, Iowa Democrats

Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com

Judging from the furrowed brows and dire predictions in Iowa, you might have thought a national Democratic Party committee had voted to eliminate motherhood and apple pie last week.

Actually, what the committee eliminated was Iowa’s first-in-the-nation spot for the Democratic precinct caucuses, a coveted kick-off role for Iowans in the party’s presidential nomination process every four years since 1972.

Continue Reading...

Musings from a first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus critic

Dan Piller was a business reporter for more than four decades, working for the Des Moines Register and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He covered the oil and gas industry while in Texas and was the Register’s agriculture reporter before his retirement in 2013. He lives in Ankeny.

The pending end of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses will no doubt set off long nights of reminiscences covering a half-century among the state’s political/media intelligentsia. But I will step forward with a claim that is not to be challenged.

I was the first-in-the-nation critic of the Iowa caucuses. It happened entirely by accident.

Continue Reading...

How Iowa Democrats could have saved the caucuses

Anyone who was paying attention has seen this day coming for years.

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted on December 2 for a new presidential nominating calendar, leaving Iowa out of the coveted early group. Though the Iowa Democratic Party will hold precinct caucuses in early 2024, as state law requires, we will no longer have presidential candidates campaigning around the state.

Some activists are already focused on adapting to life without being first-in-the-nation. I applaud their pragmatic mindset and welcome guest commentaries about how to rebuild the party without the money and national media spotlight we have enjoyed during presidential campaigns for decades.

But first, let’s acknowledge what some Democrats gloss over as they fondly recall the good times or grouse about President Joe Biden’s “complete kick in the teeth.”

Iowa Democratic leaders might have avoided this outcome if they had addressed problems with the caucus system a long time ago.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Democrats, we have an opportunity!

Jackie Norris is a community leader and small business owner. She once served as the assistant to President Barack Obama and White House chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and worked in leadership roles on the Gore and Obama Iowa campaigns.

Dear Iowa Democrats,

I’m an eternal optimist and choose to focus on what’s next.

We have an opportunity.

Let’s focus on what we can control – our own state’s future.

Let’s hold on to the qualities we loved so dearly about the Iowa caucuses and apply them to help elect Democrats across our state.

Continue Reading...

Corporations exploit CO2 pipeline regulatory gaps in tax credit gold rush

Carolyn Raffensperger is the executive director of the Science & Environmental Health Network. Sheri Deal-Tyne is a researcher for the Science & Environmental Health Network.

A contentious battle wages in the Midwest, Gulf states, and California over Carbon Capture and Storage and siting of CO2 pipelines. One key issue in the battle: the federal pipeline regulatory agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), does not have regulations in place that can assure the safety of these extraordinarily dangerous pipelines. PHMSA itself acknowledges that CO2 pipelines are underregulated, and the agency currently lacks the technical knowledge required to inform minimum safety standards.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which Congress approved and President Joe Biden signed in August, is driving the rush to site these pipelines. That law unleashed a gold rush in 45Q tax credits for carbon capture and storage, and the thousands upon thousands of miles of CO2 pipelines, which would be required to transport the CO2 away from facilities where the CO2 is captured to the disposal or usage sites in distant states.

Continue Reading...

Good people making bad gun decisions

Bruce Lear lives in Sioux City and has been connected to public schools for 38 years. He taught for eleven years and represented educators as an Iowa State Education Association Regional Director for 27 years until retiring.

Educators need quite a few things. They need unlimited paper, markers, books, pens, glue, multicolored construction paper, and high-speed internet. They also need more school funding, freedom to teach, more preparation time, more respect, more salary, better benefits, and smaller classes. 

But they don’t need guns.

Continue Reading...

Joni Ernst chooses right side of history

Iowa’s U.S. Senator Joni Ernst was among twelve Republicans who helped Democrats pass the Respect for Marriage Act on November 29. Her vote reflected both a personal evolution and a smart political calculation.

The bill would repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which banned same-sex marriages when it was enacted in 1996. It would also “require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.” Finally, although the bill would not require states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it would require states to give marriages performed elsewhere “full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Senate rules require at least 60 votes to overcome a filibuster by the minority party, and the vote on final passage was 61-36 (roll call). Iowa’s Senator Chuck Grassley was one of the 36 Republicans who opposed the bill.

Continue Reading...

Iowa governor still ducking public questions

Three weeks after her re-election victory, Governor Kim Reynolds continues to avoid unscripted interactions with journalists. She has not held a news conference for 20 weeks, and her public appearances since the November election have not even built in “gaggles” where reporters could informally ask a few questions.

Reynolds cut off press conferences about four months before the 2018 midterm election as well, but during that year’s campaign, she participated in three televised debates and pledged to hold weekly news conferences if elected. Though she didn’t keep that promise, she provided several opportunities for reporters to ask about her plans soon after winning the 2018 race.

This year, Reynolds agreed to only one debate with her Democratic challenger and made no commitment regarding future news conferences. The governor’s spokesperson Alex Murphy has not replied to Bleeding Heartland’s questions about plans for media availabilities.

Continue Reading...

New film puts new definition on “Woke”

Gerald Ott of Ankeny was a high school English teacher and for 30 years a school improvement consultant for the Iowa State Education Association.

I saw the trailer for Will Smith’s new film “Emancipation.” Smith’s character Peter is the enslaved man whose terribly scarred back was photographed in 1863 and viewed by millions during the Civil War era and beyond.

I immediately thought of Governor Ron DeSantis saying, “Florida is the state where WOKE goes to die.” He was speaking, wife and kids at his side, just after the November election where he was re-elected with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

Continue Reading...

U.S. schools teach too little Native American history

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

By the time you read this, Native American Heritage Month will be almost over. I admit I missed most of it again this year, too. I wouldn’t have known except for seeing a banner on the Washington Post website, calling special attention to Native American articles during November.

Why is there so little education in the U.S. about Native Americans? Possible causes include ignorance, oversight, pedagogy obstacles, and fear. Undoubtedly, it’s a blend.

News under the Native American heading often relates to changing offensive school mascots and team names, decisions usually prompting considerable controversy. Still, the name changes are a significant step in the right direction. Meanwhile, politicization of this issue underscores the need for education while simultaneously foreshadowing challenges facing advocates of a more inclusive curriculum.

Continue Reading...

On gratitude and Sylvan Runkel

This post was supposed to be a book review.

I bought a copy of Sylvan T. Runkel: Citizen of the Natural World at the Okoboji Writers’ Retreat in September, thinking it would be perfect to review for my Iowa wildflowers series. Runkel co-authored some of the best Iowa wildflower guides, and I’ve used Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands and Wildflowers of the Tall Grass Prairie countless times.

Co-authors Larry Stone and Jon Stravers both knew Runkel and interviewed many of his friends, relatives, and former colleagues while researching their biography. As expected, I learned a lot about how the famous conservationist grew to love the outdoors and became passionate about native plants and natural landscapes.

The book also struck a chord with me as I’ve been coping with the most physically challenging year of my life.

Continue Reading...

Clark farm on Muscatine Island

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

Alexander Clark became extraordinarily wealthy for a Black man in 19th-century America, but nobody yet has assembled all the details we could learn. 

Muscatine’s entrepreneurial barber is remembered for achievements as churchman, lawyer, masonic grand master, publisher, and statesman.

I hadn’t thought of Clark being involved in farming until I received this question from Louisa County historian Frank Best: “Did Alexander Clark own a farm out on the Island?”

Continue Reading...

Republicans' next move: Rewrite the U.S. Constitution?

Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and a freelance writer who receives no remuneration, funding, or endorsement from any for-profit business, nonprofit organization, political action committee, or political party.      

Now that the November 8 midterm election has passed, Republicans have maintained their trifectas in 22 states (losing only Arizona), and control one or both legislative chambers in at least half a dozen others. Don’t be surprised if the GOP’s next move in some state legislatures will be to call for a U.S. Constitutional Convention.

Permit me to explain.

Continue Reading...

Did low turnout sink Iowa Democratic candidates?

Fourth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2022 state and federal elections.

Many people have asked why Iowa experienced the red wave that didn’t materialize across most of the country. While no one factor can account for the result, early signs point to turnout problems among groups that favor Democratic candidates.

Although this year’s turnout was the second-highest in absolute numbers for an Iowa midterm, participation was down about 8 percent compared to the 2018 general election. The number of Iowans who cast ballots this year (1,230,416) was closer to the 2014 level (1,142,311) than to the high-water mark of 1,334,279, reached four years ago.

My impression is that the decline in turnout was not evenly distributed, but was more pronounced among registered Democrats than among Republicans, who have long been more reliable midterm voters in Iowa.

That alone could account for the narrow defeats of U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (who lost to Zach Nunn in the third Congressional district by 2,145 votes, a margin of 50.3 percent to 49.6 percent), Attorney General Tom Miller (lost to Brenna Bird by 20,542 votes, 50.8 percent to 49.1 percent), and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald (lost to Roby Smith by 30,922 votes, or 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent).

Continue Reading...

Democrats prevail in three Iowa House races after recounts

Democrats have officially won three close Iowa House races following recounts completed this week, confirming that the party will hold at least 36 of the 100 seats in the chamber next year.

In House district 20, covering part of Council Bluffs and Carter Lake in Pottawattamie County, the final vote tally narrowed Josh Turek’s lead over Republican Sarah Abdouch by one vote. He ended up winning by six: 3,403 votes to 3,397 (50.0 percent to 49.9 percent). Turek, who uses a wheelchair, will be the first disability rights advocate elected to the legislature.

In House district 42, covering part of Ankeny, Heather Matson remained 23 votes ahead of GOP State Representative Garrett Gobble: 6,991 votes to 6,968 (50.0 percent to 49.8 percent).

This area is by far the “swingiest” current Iowa House terrain. In a district covering much of the same territory, Republican State Representative Kevin Koester held off a challenge from Matson in 2016, then lost to the Democrat two years later. Republican Garrett Gobble narrowly defeated Matson in 2020, only to lose an even closer race this year.

In House district 72, covering part of the city of Dubuque and some areas of Dubuque County outside the city, State Representative Chuck Isenhart’s lead over Jennifer Smith shrank from 95 votes to 94. Final tally: 6,164 to 6,070 (50.3 percent to 49.6 percent).

Click here for maps, voter registration totals, and recent voting history for all of the districts where Republicans requested recounts.

Continue Reading...

Will Pat Grassley's power play get school vouchers through Iowa House?

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley sent Governor Kim Reynolds a message this past week: her school voucher plan will need to go through him before it reaches the House floor.

In an unusual move, the speaker put himself in charge of a new five-member Education Reform Committee “dealing with bills containing significant reforms to our educational system.”

The decision could signal Grassley’s determined to get a “school choice” bill to Reynolds’ desk, after House Republicans couldn’t find the votes for the proposal over the past two years.

Alternatively, it could give more cover to GOP holdouts by sparing them from voting against the governor’s plan in committee.

Continue Reading...

Miller-Meeks touts ag tech, nuclear power at climate summit

U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks advocated for precision agriculture, biofuels, and expanding nuclear power in comments at the recent 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as COP27.

Miller-Meeks attended COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt as part of a delegation of six House Republicans who belong to the Conservative Climate Caucus. U.S. Representative John Curtis of Utah formed that caucus last year with support from fossil fuel industry and influential conservative advocacy groups. Miller-Meeks is the only Iowan among the 76 House Republicans currently listed as Conservative Climate Caucus members.

The Conservative Climate Foundation sponsored the House Republican delegation to COP27 and coordinated a panel discussion for the media. Little is known about that organization’s finances; its tax filings are not publicly available on the Internal Revenue Service’s website or ProPublica’s database of tax returns from 501(c)(3) nonprofits.

Continue Reading...
View More...