Kim Reynolds race-baits in new tv ad

Nothing happens in a campaign commercial by accident. Strategists plan every word and image, with the candidate’s approval. Directors may film many takes to get the perfect cadence for every line.

So Iowans should understand: the racist tropes in Governor Kim Reynolds’ latest tv ad are deliberate.

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Iowa's U.S. Senate race in 3-D

Herb Strentz examines Chuck Grassley’s recent political messaging and low points from his record in the Senate.

The home stretch of this midterm election campaign is unfolding in in 3-D format — Dire, Divisive, and Despairing. That’s particularly true of the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley, seeking his eighth term at age 89, and Democrat Michael Franken, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, who will be 65 on election day, November 8.

That 3-D nature of our Iowa politics was illustrated well in one of the Grassley campaign’s recent television commercials.

In a backhanded way, Grassley acknowledged why it is time for Iowans to vote him out of office.

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Brenna Bird's tv ad is over the top

Bruce Lear highlights misguided messages in Republican attorney general candidate Brenna Bird’s tv ad, now airing in heavy rotation.

The old saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” seems true. TV executives find the formula for a hit medical show and then order five more imitators. If one Marvel movie superhero captures our imaginations, why not dig a little deeper into the comic book vault for a dozen more?

Political commercials also imitate. For example, how many right-wing politicians shooting guns can the voters watch? How many east or west coast politicians running for president do Iowans need to see dressed in flannel shirts sitting on bales of hay proclaiming their undying love for ethanol? If it worked once, consultants repeat, repeat, and repeat again.

One political imitation ad recently caught my attention. It tries to catch the vibe of Joni Ernst’s “Make ’em squeal” ad from her first U.S. Senate campaign in 2014. Shock the viewer with crude humor, but with smiles all around. After all, if it worked for a little-known state senator from Red Oak, maybe it will work for a little-known county attorney from Guthrie County.

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Five things not to do when running for office

U.S. Senate nominee Mike Franken faced every candidate’s nightmare on September 19 when the Republican-funded website Iowa Field Report published allegations that the Democrat kissed his former campaign manager Kimberley Strope-Boggus without consent.

The Des Moines Police Department’s incident report, dated April 12, described the events that led to Strope-Boggus’ complaint of simple assault. After consulting with an assistant Polk County attorney, Officer Abby Giampolo closed the case as “unfounded,” due to “insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal investigation.”

Since Franken and the staffer he fired in February were alone when the disputed events occurred, we will never know exactly what happened between them on the evening of March 18. Franken has denied the allegations, while Strope-Boggus told Bleeding Heartland and other reporters she is unable to comment at this time.

Every candidate can learn some lessons from this episode.

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On cheating in politics

Jim Chrisinger: Cheating by violating the spirit (though not the letter) of the law corrupts our democracy and alienates us from each other.  

Fair play is a bedrock American value. Fair play follows from our egalitarian origins: all persons are created equal and endowed with rights. Fair play means we all play by the rules. Treat others as you want to be treated. Play by the spirit as well as the letter of the rules.  

We feel strongly about fair play because it springs from emotion as much as logic.  

The opposite of fair play is cheating. Cheating shows a lack of integrity and a total failure of character. No one likes a cheater.  

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ACLU dismantles state's case for reinstating 2018 abortion ban

The ACLU of Iowa filed new legal arguments last week in Iowa’s most important pending abortion rights case. Governor Kim Reynolds is seeking to reinstate a near-total abortion ban, which a Polk County District Court found unconstitutional in 2019.

Last month, private attorneys representing the state in this litigation (since Attorney General Tom Miller declined to do so) gave the District Court one big reason to lift the permanent injunction on a 2018 law that would ban almost all abortions after about six weeks.

In a response brief filed on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the ACLU gave the District Court several paths to reject the state’s request.

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Serranus Hastings revisited

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

Drumming and singing and chanting are background sound for writing this column. Video streaming from the 106th annual Meskwaki Powwow shows colorfully attired modern Iowans stepping rhythmically together, everyone off the bleachers between solo dances of various styles and meanings.

Near Tama, just off the Lincoln Highway, the Meskwaki Nation settlement is distinct because their settlers weren’t immigrants from Europe or elsewhere across oceans. They came from natives who were here when the rest of us arrived.

Coinciding with our big state fair, the pleasant little festival reminds us our “beautiful land between the rivers” is a crazy quilt of distinct ethno-historical communities—however some pieces fade and however melting-potted our strip malls.

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Ongoing transparency problems in Iowa's GOP-controlled government

Doris J. Kelley is a former member of the Iowa House and former Iowa Board of Parole Chair, Vice-Chair and Executive Director.

When former Republican Governor Terry Branstad signed executive order 85 in March 2014, he stated, “transparency provides Iowans the necessary access to information to hold our government accountable and our Open Records Act is essential to ensuring openness,” adding, “Our administration has maintained a steadfast commitment to a transparent government.”

Branstad held weekly press briefings to answer journalists’ questions.

However, when Kim Reynolds became governor in 2017, a few months after Republicans gained full control of the legislature, transparency went out the window. Accessing many kinds of government data has become more difficult.

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Iowa House Democrats endorse legal weed

One of these things is not like the others.

Three parts of the Iowa House Democrats’ “People over Politics” agenda will sound familiar to anyone who has followed legislative debates over the past decade. The minority party, which now holds 40 of the 100 House seats, will fight to raise wages and lower costs for essentials like housing and child care, protect reproductive freedom, and invest more resources in public schools.

The fourth part of the Democrats’ campaign platform is new: for the first time, an Iowa legislative caucus advocates legalizing adult use of marijuana.

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Iowa media let Grassley, Ernst dodge on nationwide abortion ban

Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate introduced companion bills this week that would ban abortion nationally after 15 weeks, with few exceptions.

The three Republicans representing Iowa in the lower chamber—Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04)—all co-sponsored the national abortion ban on the day the bill was introduced.

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst dodged questions about whether they would support their colleague’s bill. And leading Iowa news organizations gave them exactly the coverage they wanted.

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I hate door knocking

Jim Chrisinger is a retired public servant living in Ankeny. He served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, in Iowa and elsewhere. 

I hate door knocking. I’m not an extrovert; bothering people in their homes isn’t my thing. But our democracy is dear to me and I know I need to do everything I can to preserve it.  

So Sunday afternoon, door knock I did. My list consisted of 26 Democratic doors (households) with 39 voters. No one answered at fifteen of those doors, so I left Democratic campaign literature and my flyer describing ways to vote and offering my help. I’ll follow up with texts where I have a number.  

I asked those with whom I did speak what their most important issue was for November. The plurality answer was some form of abortion/Roe/women’s rights. 

Schools was second: “Don’t defund our schools.” “Reynolds is mutilating public schools.”  

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Help cover Pieper Lewis' restitution

An Iowa teenager who was abused and sex trafficked will be forced to pay $150,000 in restitution to the estate of her alleged rapist, under a decision issued on September 13.

Polk County District Court Judge David Porter did not order Pieper Lewis to serve time in an adult prison when he sentenced her for voluntary manslaughter and willful injury in the June 2020 death of Zachary Brooks. Instead, he accepted the prosecutors’ recommendation for five years of probation while Lewis lives at the Fresh Start Women’s Center in Des Moines. The judge also agreed to the defense attorneys’ request for deferred judgment, which means Lewis may be able to have the crimes expunged from her record if she abides by the terms of her probation.

But Iowa law requires restitution payments of at least $150,000 to the victim’s estate in “all criminal cases in which the offender is convicted of a felony in which the act or acts committed by the offender caused the death of another person.” Lewis’ attorneys had argued the law should not apply to their client, who was 15 years old and homeless when she was exploited by multiple men, and repeatedly raped by Brooks. But Porter rejected the defense arguments.

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Three reasons to replace Kim Reynolds

Sandy Peterson is a Democrat from Grimes.

Education

Iowans know our kids need a strong education to succeed in the future. But Governor Kim Reynolds wants to send more of our tax dollars to private schools, excluding certain children from opportunities by denying their public schools the resources they need.

Democrats want to invest $300 million in Iowa schools, but Corporate Kim Reynolds wants to give it to her wealthy donors and divert public education funds to private schools. We need a leader who will choose kids over corporations and support public schools so that every kid gets the education they deserve.

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Voters, don't let tv ads mislead you

Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com

Televisions are getting larger, but that does not make it easier to decipher the political ads that are as common these days as gnats at a picnic.

There is one thing we should understand about these ads: Their purpose is not to educate voters or inform them about the finer points of a candidate’s views. Instead, their purpose is to scare us, or mislead us, or just confuse us.

One such example tells Iowa viewers that U.S. Representative Cindy Axne, a Democrat from Iowa’s third district, refuses to sign a pledge to support term limits for members of Congress. (Term Limits Action is spending $157,203 to run the ads.)

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Exclusive: Miller-Meeks used taxpayer funds for large radio ad buy

U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks spent more than $63,000 from her office budget to pay for radio advertising highlighting top campaign issues for House Republicans. The expenditures, using the “franking privilege” available to all members of Congress, were legal during the five weeks Miller-Weeks bought the ads, taking advantage of a little-noticed provision allowing such taxpayer-funded media promotions.  

Bleeding Heartland’s review of Iowa radio station political files, archived on the Federal Communications Commission’s website, showed Miller-Meeks used franking funds to place 60-second commercials on at least eight Iowa radio stations in August or September.

Staff for Miller-Meeks did not reply to inquiries about the advertising campaign, which marked a departure from how the Republican allocated her office budget during her first year and a half in Congress.

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IA-04: Why won't Randy Feenstra debate Ryan Melton?

Every Iowa candidate seeking a statewide or federal office has agreed to at least one televised debate, with one exception: U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra. The Republican running for a second term in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district rejected an invitation from Iowa PBS without explanation. As a result, “Iowa Press” will interview Feenstra’s Democratic challenger Ryan Melton during the September 23 program, which had been set aside for the IA-04 debate.

Feenstra already backed out of a joint forum planned for the Clay County fair. According to Melton, the only joint appearance the incumbent agreed to was an event the Iowa Corn Growers Association hosted last week, which was not a debate and not open to the public.

In 2020, Feenstra debated his GOP primary opponents and Democrat J.D. Scholten during the general election campaign. What’s he worried about now?

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Dueling editors

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

I may have misled regular readers to suppose Muscatine’s early editors and lawmakers were a pretty progressive bunch.

Those anti-slavery and equal-rights figures are indeed appealing historical characters, and I confess I tell less about their opponents, mainly because I’ve learned less.

Alexander Clark’s publicist—my description for editor John Mahin—allied this paper with the Republican party when it emerged in the 1850s. There was almost always a Democratic paper in town, so he faced a procession of partisan competitors over his half-century career.

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Polk County Democrats ditch Hy-Vee for Steak Fry

Jason Clayworth had the scoop for Axios Des Moines: the Polk County Democrats have hired Orchestrate Management to cater the 2022 Steak Fry. The grocery chain Hy-Vee “had catered the event since at least 1992,” according to Polk County Democrats chair Sean Bagniewski.

Some Democratic activists have wanted to cut ties with Hy-Vee since Gwen Hope reported for Bleeding Heartland three years ago that the grocery chain’s PAC has favored GOP candidates and committees. In particular, the Hy-Vee PAC gave the Republican Party of Iowa $25,000—the PAC’s biggest donation in a decade—shortly before President Donald Trump headlined an Iowa GOP fundraiser at Hy-Vee’s facility in West Des Moines during the summer of 2019.

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Six Iowa creeks have new names, replacing derogatory term

The U.S. Department of Interior announced on September 8 that its Board on Geographic Names voted to approve new names “for nearly 650 geographic features” formerly containing the word “squaw,” including six creek segments in Iowa.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve in that role, created a Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force last year. Its first project was to find replacement names for geographic features on federal lands bearing the term squaw, which “has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial, and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women.”

The task force identified seven features in Iowa among a nationwide list of more than 660, and proposed alternate names for consideration in February. After working through thousands of public comments, the task force finalized the replacement names, which are listed here.

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