Elizabeth Warren First Democrat To Stand Up To Right Wing Media

Elizabeth Warren so far is the only Democratic presidential candidate I know of who has refused to do a town hall event on Fox “News.” Other candidates are still offering the same old lame, cliche excuses, basically perpetuating the problem by saying they are trying to reach the voters who watch Fox (which is impossible because Fox viewers are essentially brainwashed).  Fox “News” is nothing more than a fake, reality TV show.  Do Democrats think they will be able to prod the viewers into voting Democratic by simply explaining things?

This is an excerpt from an article  by Jen Senko that appeared on Citizentruth.org on May 16 after Warren announced her decision not to appear on a Fox “News” town hall. Senko is the writer and director of the outstanding documentary about the rise of right wing media in America, “The Brainwashing of My Dad.” The film is a chronicle of how she lost her father after he became addicted to Rush Limbaugh, and became someone unrecognizable to her and the family.

Click here to see Blog for Iowa’s review of “The Brainwashing of My Dad.”  Click here to find out where you can view the film.


Fox News is “designed to turn us against each other, risking life and death consequences, to provide cover for the corruption that’s rotting our government and hollowing out our middle class.”  – Elizabeth Warren

By Jen Senko

Offered by Fox TV to do a Fox town hall, Elizabeth Warren made the tough decision not to accept this past Tuesday. Elizabeth Warren needs to be recognized and encouraged for taking a stand and speaking out about the problems Fox News is causing with American political discourse in the age of Donald Trump.

I am heartened that a major candidate is finally speaking out about what Fox has become: a right-wing propaganda machine that feeds its cult followers lies, distortions and conspiracy theories which ends up just widening our nation’s already dangerous divide. Instead of appearing on Fox’s arranged forum where they have control, Warren has opted to go right into the heart of Fox country and reach that Fox audience in person by doing town halls in 17 red states. That’s brave – like walking into a lion’s den. It’s also just as effective.

I, like millions of others, lost my father to Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and all of the right-wing propaganda dreamed up by right-wing think tanks, too often funded by libertarian billionaires whose goal – for the last forty or so years – is to have one party rule for the benefit of themselves and their corporate backers.

My father had been an open-minded, not very political Democrat, but on a lengthened commute to work he discovered talk radio – which was the gateway drug. Sometime after, he discovered Fox News. After he retired he spent his days listening to Rush Limbaugh and watching Fox – often simultaneously. My family watched in alarm as he changed into a very angry, fearful, radicalized far-right Republican who spouted right-wing talking points and propaganda as if in a fever dream.

I made a documentary called, “The Brainwashing of My Dad.” I soon found out losing loved ones to right-wing media – especially Fox – was a common phenomenon.

It is time for all of the candidates to confront the reality that Fox “News” and right-wing talk shows like Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones have taken hold of almost 40% of the country.

We need to realize that the rise of right-wing media has not only divided families but put our democracy in jeopardy. It also ultimately created a Frankenstein – Trump. The divide will only continue unless more courageous politicians like Elizabeth Warren have the courage to call Fox out for what it is.

Click here to read the entire article.

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Iowa Drops In “Best State” Poll

Well, that didn’t last long – from 2018: (1.5 minutes)

Healthcare Education Economy Opportunity Infrastructure Crime & Correction  Fiscal Stability Quality of Life

Iowa 2019. (#14)

 20                      9           32              23                    2                      17                             19                       32

Iowa 2018 (#1) 

  3                         5          17               4                      1                      15                             21                         9

The above rankings were taken from US News & World Report for 2018  and 2019.

Iowa was ranked #1 in 2018 and #14 in 2019. That is a fairly steep drop. Considering that the rankings are supplied by a national survey, it appears Iowa is no longer thought of as the idyllic place it was once thought to be.

“The Best States rankings from U.S. News & World Report shows how each of the 50 U.S. states ranks in 71 metrics across eight categories. The data behind the rankings aims to show how well states serve their residents in a variety of ways. 

In calculating the rankings, each of the eight categories was assigned weightings based on the average of three years of data from an annual national survey that asked a total of more than 50,000 people to prioritize each subject in their state: “ (The various metrics are then listed here)

What was it that made such a difference? 

If I were to venture a guess one of the biggest factors would be Trump’s trade war that he is fighting using the farm community’s livelihood as his weapons. Hard to be optimistic when your major industry is the focus of a trade war with the world’s second leading economy.

Having the trade wars as a background may make many stop and look around a bit more closely at other aspects of living in Iowa.

Certainly Iowa’s Medicaid mess is also a black mark on the state. This can be noted by the major drops in the categories for Health Care and Quality of Life.

It is also interesting to note that the state of Washington is now listed as the top state to live in. As we noted here at blogforiowa a couple of weeks ago Governor Jay Inslee has been a driver for running Washington on progressive values. That appears to be appreciated by  Washingtonians.

My guess is that many of the policies that have been enacted with our one party rule in this state from union busting to voter suppression to revenue cutting for cities and towns to squashing local minimum wage raises to the first in the nation insane abortion policy. 

In the last few years Iowa has changed from a real leader to a state that wants to emulate the likes of Mississippi. The citizens have noticed and we are headed that way. 

Posted in Blog for Iowa, Kim Reynolds, Republican Policy | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Julian Castro: Community At The Core


Julian and Joaquin Castro

Julián Castro and his twin brother Joaquin Castro standing with their mother Rosie Castro (from: https://www.julianforthefuture.com/about/

NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo will host the first 2020 presidential primary debate in June of 2019. This is the seventh in a series of BFIA’s coverage and commentary of the announcement speeches by the declared Democratic candidates for president for 2020 in no particular order.  To view the previous candidate announcement posts type the candidate’s name in the search box on this page.


“America isn’t just my home and my country — it’s always been a promise for a better life. A promise that every American deserves.”

That is the statement at the top of presidential candidate Julian Castro’s website. Beneath that is a quick synopsis of how the grandson of an immigrant became a candidate for president:

Immigrant roots, American dreams

“My path to public service did not begin with me. It began when my grandmother, Victoria, came to the United States at seven years old. She never made it past the fourth grade, but worked hard to teach her family the value of hard work as she cleaned houses and worked as a maid.

She passed on those values of hard work and perseverance to my mother, Rosie, who grew up to become a strong Chicana activist, educator and single mom to myself and my twin brother Joaquin.”

Time and again in various ways in his speech, Castro referenced a main pillar of his candidacy, community:

“There are no front runners born here (note: San Antonio). But I believe that with hard work anything is possible.” 

“The American Dream is not a sprint or even a marathon, but a relay. …..  but right now the relay isn’t working. We are here today to make sure the promise of America is available to everyone.”

“If we want to compete in this world we need everybody’s help”

Castro then goes on to discuss the need for education for all from pre-K through college. He vowed to do this without students having to incur huge debts.

Reimagining the justice system in this country is one of Castro’s big issues, especially for people of color. This includes the bail system that gives the rich an upper hand while the poor often end up locked up.

Immigration is very high on candidate Castro’s agenda. 

As Secretary of HUD, Castro visited areas of the US seldom visited by federal officials including Puerto Rico and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Having been Mayor of San Antonio he has a unique perspective as our urban areas become larger and more diverse with bigger problems.

Climate change simply can’t wait. As President, Castro would rejoin the Paris Pact immediately.

Julian Castro is the very epitome of the American dream. The grandson of immigrants who worked hard for low pay so that their children and grandchildren might have a chance to achieve. Julian and his twin brother, Joaquin are the product of his family’s dreams and his community’s dreams. 

As he pointed out his candidacy is built on the hard work of those who went before. Julian Castro is now running to continue to build for the future – but now his “community” includes the whole country, especially those who have not been treated equally in this country.

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Sunday Funday: Uterine Support System Edition

Sam Bee teaches sex education to senators: (10 minutes)

Women will now be reclassified (hat tip to Mike Lukovich for this term) as “Uterine Support Systems.” 

It is certainly too bad that humor can’t get through to the Trumpist Party member. Sam Bee’s humor in the above segment is spot on, but probably way over the head of most Trump Party legislators. Their job is not to question or delve into problems, their job is to do what they are told.

Another dark week.

  1. There were several celebrity deaths this week. Perhaps the saddest was what furry little girl who became an internet sensation with her permanent sad face?
  1. What White House economics advisor accidentally admitted that yes, indeed, US consumers would be ultimately paying for the tariffs imposed by the administration?
  1. Four states passed strict anti-abortion laws last week. Georgia and Ohio were mentioned in the video above. What two other states joined the pits last week?
  1. Dear Leader has taken steps to have what major holiday celebration to put the focus on himself and a speech he plans to make?
  1. What former Cedar Rapids news personality announced a challenge to first district congress member Abby Finkenauer last week?
  1. Humorist and current Atty. General asked what prominent Democrat if they “brought their handcuffs?”?
  1. A couple of new candidates slipped in to the Democratic presidential contest this week. What governor and what mayor announced runs this week?
  1. The drums of war beat quite a bit louder as the US positioned ships near what country?
  1. A general from what country said that US claims of increased threats in the Middle East were false?
  1. Which one of Dear Leader’s golf resorts in Florida was said to be “hemorrhaging money”?
  1. Senator Grassley described himself as what as Dear Leader’s trade war with China continues?
  1. In a real surprise what long time televangelist said that “Alabama may have gone too far” with its portion ban?
  1. The 25 Alabama senators that voted for the abortion ban had what two major traits in common?
  1. What Democratic lawyer from Des Moines announced a run for the US senate last week?
  1. The governor of what state admitted that two of its counties had voting machines hacked during the 2016 election?
  1. Women protested Alabama’s draconian abortion laws by appearing at the state capital dressed like characters from what novel?
  1. Senator Ted Cruz during a committee hearing warned the country against what imaginary villains?
  1. What messaging app admitted it had a vulnerability that left phones open to spying?
  1. What three celebrities most popular in the ’60s and ’70s died last week?
  1. Calling Fox News a “hate for profit racket” what Democratic candidate refused an offer to do a town hall with them?

AOC asks Gilead CEO about the price of their HIV drug (1.5 minutes)


  1. Grumpy cat – died from a urinary infection Tuesday
  1. Larry Kudlow
  1. Alabama and Missouri
  1. July 4th
  1. Ashley Hinson. Being on TV really helps with the name recognition
  1. Speaker Pelosi.
  1. Governor of Montana Steve Bullock and Mayor of NYC Bill DiBlasio
  1. Iran
  1. Britain
  1. Doral National 
  1. “Disappointed” Every Iowan should be outraged, senator!
  1. Pay Robertson.
  1. They were male and white
  1. Kimberly Graham
  1. Florida – note that this was 2016 so there is a good chance that Clinton may have won Florida. They did not say which counties or if there were only 2 counties. Speculation focuses on Dade and Broward counties which are the two most Democratic. Nothing said about 2018 so there is a very good chance it happened in 2018.
  1. “The Handmaid’s Tale”
  1. “Space Pirates!”
  1. WhatsApp
  1. Doris Day, Tim Conway and Peggy Lipton
  1. Elizabeth Warren – good call.

Another Steve King strange statement – from radioiowa news:

Congressman Steve King and three Republicans who’re planning to challenge King in next year’s GOP primary spoke to a gathering of Christian conservatives Saturday night.

King, who was last to speak, was cheered when he started and many in the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he concluded with this: “I’m walking in the fire now and I’m going to walk through the fire and we’re going to prove their bullets aren’t real.”

What the hell does that mean? This guy sure has a strange fixation on guns and bullets and, I guess, martyrdom? Strange.

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2020 election campaign, Blog for Iowa, Humor | Leave a comment

Farmer Off The Trump Train

You may have seen this video from CNN earlier this week.  CNN’s Kate Bolduan interviews Ohio farmer Christopher Gibbs. Gibbs is having a very hard time understanding the sense of Trump’s tariff policies, as I am sure many farmers are.

Video @8.5 minutes

In the middle of the video Mr. Gibbs makes great points about how the tariffs are not actually paid for by foreign countries but by importers in the US who in turn pass the increased cost on to US retailers who pass it on to consumers. In the end the cost of the tariffs is borne by the US consumer. In most cases this acts as a regressive form of taxation that hits the poorest hardest.

The administration claims that the money to subsidize farmers whose markets have disappeared due to bad policies will come from the tariffs. As we have seen above this money actually comes from the American consumer in the form of higher costs for goods.

However, if the money raised through tariffs is not enough where then will the money come from. Well, eventually it will come from adding to our deficit spending. We finance our deficit spending by selling treasury bonds. Who are the purchasers of our treasury bonds? The major purchaser is the very same China that we are having a trade war with.  

Does it feel a bit to you like we are going into battle against our banker? Sure does to me. Plus as we go deeper in debt, China among others will be purchasing this debt and making some money on it. Brilliant plan, don’t you think?

Mr. Gibbs also notes that purchases he has to make to keep his farm running are made with a lot of steel and aluminum which the administration has also imposed tariffs on. Therefore, Mr. Gibbs as the end consumer of the steel and aluminum products is the eventual tariff payer. As a farmer, Mr. Gibbs is getting royally screwed by the administration on both ends.

Add to the mix Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas trying to shut farmers up by claiming taking the brunt of poorly thought out and poorly executed policies is patriotic. Not by a country mile, Mr. Cotton. The patriotic thing to do when an administration enacts demonstrably bad policies that are really putting the screws to people is to speak out loudly as Mr. Gibbs is doing.

Instead of going into debt to create the funds to subsidize farmers hurt by the bad policies, perhaps the Trumpist party should roll back some of the huge tax cuts given to the very wealthiest in December of 2017 that are driving our deficits through the ceiling as well as the national debt. 

Ballooning the national debt has been a Trumpist party strategy since the Reagan years. The idea was to get the national debt so high that programs would have to be cut – social programs of course. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education etc. Funny thing is that Trumpists keep ballooning the debt with foolish wars and tax cuts for the wealthy.

The current situation leads to a couple of questions I have not heard discussed. Maybe I am not paying attention.

Will farmers be planting this year? If they do what will they be planting? If there is no end to the stalemate, where will the harvest go? As I understand it, most storage is still filled with last year’s harvest. I would imagine this is causing some sleepless nights  on farms around the country. 

One last comment – Trump claims he wins and wins and wins. What has he won? He claims to have won with Kim Jung Il, yet Kim is still sending up missiles. His border policies are a disaster causing one of the great humanitarian crises of all time with thousands of children locked in cages. 

We treat our allies in the world like they are our enemies. Even Angela Merkel called for greater European cooperation to guard against Russia, China and the US.   

We have broken treaties and taken giant strides backward in so many areas since January 2017.

What we are seeing is not winning. What we are seeing is an incompetent leader diverting attention daily from yesterday’s incompetent screw up. All that to divert attention from his crimes before and while in office.

And if you think Trump will wrestle Xi Jing Ping into submission on trade, all you have to do is look to see how he has fared against a much lesser light in Kim Jung Il. 

Posted in #trumpresistance, Blog for Iowa, Trade | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Rita Hart Running In Ia-02

Some exciting news in the old email bag Tuesday – former state senator and lieutenant governor candidate in the Fred Hubbell campaign last fall – Rita Hart – has announced that she will be a candidate to replace the retiring congress member, Dave Loebsack.

From Rita Hart’s email:

You may have heard the whispers, and now I’m excited to officially say it out loud: I’m running to represent Iowa’s 2nd district in Congress!

Dave Loebsack has served our district so well for over a decade, and I have been proud to call him my representative. Now that he’s retiring, our community needs someone who will continue his hard work and legacy, and serve as a strong voice for the interests of working Iowans.

When I was growing up on a farm outside of Charles City, my mother didn’t have a voice. Before I was born, she went into heart failure, and the months she spent in the hospital on oxygen left her voice at barely a whisper. The doctors told her she wouldn’t live past 25 — well she did, and she had seven more children, including me. Though her voice never did come back, she was a fighter for her whole life.

I learned a lot of things from my mom — how to fight, how to defy expectations others set for me — but mostly, I learned how to listen. I’ve spent my life standing up for people who weren’t being heard, as my mother’s daughter, a former educator, and most recently, a State Senator. Now, I want to serve as your voice in Congress.

I’m running for Congress to be a voice for Iowans who don’t have one and to bring those people to the table to solve our toughest challenges: Making sure health care is affordable for all of us, helping families crippled by student loan debt, and growing our economy with stable, good-paying jobs.

I know that the people we should be listening to aren’t always the ones with the loudest voices. Iowa’s hardworking men and women deserve a resounding voice in Washington who will listen to their needs and then put those needs first, every single time.

Learn more about Rita Hart and contribute at http://www.ritahart.com


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Kamala Harris Campaign Seeks Iowa Interns


Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is launching a program in Iowa that pays interns $15 an hour to become involved in the campaign and recruit and train supporters.

According to the campaign, the “organizing fellows” will be deployed across the state, including in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, and work from June 1 to July 31. The campaign said it could not say how many paid internships in total it would have. Interns working on political campaigns typically are not paid.

Organizers said they were reaching out Iowa colleges and community colleges and school districts to share applications for the program.

“This campaign will compete everywhere and engage young people across the country who know we need a new direction for our country,” Harris, a U.S. senator from California, said in a statement. “Our paid fellows program will ensure that no one is left out of this process and all communities can be included and represented as we continue to grow our people-powered campaign.”

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Could Kamala Harris Be America’s Promise?

NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo will host the first 2020 presidential primary debate in June of 2019. This is the sixth in a series of BFIA’s coverage and commentary of the announcement speeches by the declared Democratic candidates for president for 2020 in no particular order.  To view the previous candidate announcement posts type the candidate’s name in the search box on this page.


“Tough. Principled. Fearless”

Senator Kamala Harris made her announcement speech in January in her hometown of Oakland, California.

She opened by saying that she is the daughter of an economist who came from Jamaica and a scientist who came from India. “We were raised with a deep belief in the promise of our country. We were raised to believe public service is a noble cause and the fight for justice is everyone’s responsibility. My mother taught me, don’t just complain, do something.”

“Nearly thirty years ago as a young district attorney I walked into the courtroom and said the five words that would guide my life’s work. Kamala Harris for the people.”

“In our system of justice we believe that a harm against any one of us is a harm against all of us. That’s why when a case is filed it doesn’t read the name of the victim. It reads ‘the people.’ In my whole life I’ve had only one client: the people.”

Prominent themes of the speech included decency, moral integrity, speaking truth, fighting for the people, defining who we are as a people, and reminding us of the American story.

Harris took time to say what is not our America. Without mentioning names, she called out the current administration’s attack on the free press, public schools, our institutions, the American dream and our Democracy.

“Let’s understand what’s happening here. People in power are trying to convince us that the villain in our American story is each other. But that is not our story. That is not who we are. That is not our America.”

A sizable portion of the speech focused on truth. Taking special care to enunciate each word clearly and slowly, she said, “We must seek truth, speak truth and fight for truth.” Harris did an original thing when she transitioned into the issues portion of the speech by prefacing each issue with “Let’s speak the truth about…”

She covered many of the issues Democrats care about: the economy, student loan debt, car debt, credit card debt, pay day lenders, unions, health care, veterans, cyber-security, reproductive rights, pathway to citizenship, the opioid crisis – a national public health emergency – climate change – real and happening now. Great line: “We’re going to act based on science fact not science fiction.” “Racism, sexism, anti-semitism, homophobia and transphobia are real in this country,  age old forms of hate with new fuel.”

Speaking with the authority of someone with a career as a prosecutor, she finished the issues list with this.  “Too many unarmed black men and women in America are being killed. From mass incarceration to cash bail to policing, our criminal justice system needs drastic repair.”

She also spoke of unity:

“I’m not talking about unity for the sake of unity. I’m not talking about some facade of unity… the word unity has often been used to shut people up or to preserve the status quo…when women fought for suffrage those in power said they were dividing the sexes and disturbing the peace…when abolitionists spoke out and civil rights worker marched their oppressors said they were dividing the races and violating the word of God.. When we have true unity no one will be subjugated to others. It’s about fighting for a country with equal treatment, collective purpose and freedom for all. That’s who we are.”

Chants of Kamala!

“I’m running for president because I love my country. I’m running to be president of the people, by the people and for all people. I am not perfect but I will always lead with decency, moral clarity and treat all people with dignity and respect. I will lead with integrity and I will speak the truth.

“America’s story has always been written by people who can see what can be, unburdened by what has been. That is our story.”

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Gardening The Climate Crisis

Garden Soil Turned over with a Spade

Gardening is one of the most popular activities on the planet. Whether one lives in an apartment, in a single-family home, or on a farm, local food and flower production can be satisfying on multiple levels. A garden can be a source of nourishment, beauty, exercise, learning, and personal satisfaction. Gardening helps us to be sociable because almost everyone grows something or appreciates those who do.

Gardening is also a way of mitigating the effects of the climate crisis.

The Climate Reality Project posted a list of things gardeners can do to act on climate. They are easy to incorporate into a garden’s daily work. Here’s my take on their list.

Reduce or eliminate synthetic fertilizers

A few years ago I began using composted chicken manure to supplement compost from my bins. The resulting vegetables were dramatically better. This is the kind of fertilizer my local food farmer friends use and it is acceptable for certified organic crop production.

We don’t ask a lot of questions about where the chicken manure originates, and maybe we should, but Iowa ranks first in the United States for egg production with 57.5 million laying hens according to the Iowa Poultry Association. With an 18.2:1 chicken to human ratio, chicken manure is an abundant resource.

There are plenty of reasons to be wary of synthetic fertilizers, according to the Climate Reality Project. Chemical runoff from haphazardly applied fertilizer can drain into streams and lakes, making its way to our water supplies. They can disrupt naturally occurring soil ecosystems, and are a temporary solution to a long-term solvable problem.

When it comes to the climate crisis, fertilizer manufacturing is the issue.

“Four to six tons of carbon are typically emitted into the atmosphere per ton of nitrogen manufactured,” according to Dr. David Wolfe, professor of plant and soil ecology in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University.

Gardeners should be more conservative about nitrogen use in the garden. Using composted chicken manure to improve soil nitrogen levels can produce great results and avoid the greenhouse gas emissions of synthetic fertilizers.

Plant Trees and other perennials

When we built our home in 1993 there were two volunteer trees on our lot, a mulberry which remains in the northeast corner, and another that died and was replaced with a blue spruce grown from a seven inch seedling. In all I planted 17 of 18 trees here, of which 15 remain. We also have three patches of mature lilac bushes.

Atmospheric CO2 Levels

The benefit of planting trees is they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. Because of their long life and size, they store more carbon than other plants. Scientific data shows the impact of trees on our atmosphere. The NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory at Mauna Loa, Hawaii measures carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Last Saturday, the level of atmospheric CO2 rose to 415.25 parts per million, higher than it has been since humans evolved. Click on the chart of monthly CO2 levels and you can see the impact of deciduous trees. While the overall level continues to rise, as the world greens up in spring, CO2 levels predictably, consistently fall. When leaves fall from the trees, CO2 levels rise again. The thing about planting trees is do it once and the focus can turn to other things.

Trees offer cool shade in the summer and protection from winter winds, so a well-placed tree can reduce emissions and energy bills associated with heating and cooling a home. Fruit trees provide an added bonus for gardeners.

Reduce water use

Science explains that the warmer temperatures associated with the climate crisis increase the rate of water evaporation into the atmosphere, drying out some areas and then falling as excess precipitation in others. This can lead to a cycle of water misuse in ever-drier areas, and plant diseases in regions where average annual precipitation is on the rise. In Iowa we have seen all of that, with the record drought of 2012, and severe flooding that got within 100 yards of our home in 2008.

Lawn and garden watering is estimated to account for 30 percent of all residential water use in the U.S., according to the EPA, and that number “can be much higher in drier parts of the country and in more water-intensive landscapes.” And as much as 50 percent of it is lost to evaporation, wind, or runoff. Water conservation is everyone’s business. I’m not sure why anyone would water a lawn, except maybe a golf course. I don’t play golf. It is better to let a lawn survive in varying temperatures and moisture levels. Thus far in Iowa that’s been possible.

I don’t use an irrigation system or sprinkler in my garden. To ensure adequate moisture to sustain plants in seven plots, I use grass clippings as mulch. Often there are not enough clippings so I’ve been experimenting with plastic sheeting for peppers, cucumbers and broccoli. I have successfully re-used the plastic for multiple years. I use a garden hose to water at the base of the plants and do so sparingly.

“Less frequent, deep watering also encourages deeper root growth to areas where the soil stays moist longer,” according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension. “If supplemental water is determined to be necessary at a specific time and location, be sure to use no more than is needed and minimize your use of potable water.”

Focus on soil health

I have gardened non-stop since we moved into a rented duplex after our 1982 marriage. I have gotten better at gardening, but the biggest improvements came after we ceased being renters and bought our own homes, first in Lake County, Indiana, and then in Johnson County, Iowa. Owning our home enabled me to better consider soil health and long-term investing in it.

When we moved here the living layer of top soil had been removed and sold by the developer, leaving a hard, heavy surface devoid of earthworms and other visible life forms. Gardening, by its nature, must address soil health because if there is no life in the soil, fruit and vegetables won’t grow as well. This is the lesson of row crop agriculture where the best soil has eroded and what remains is supplemented with synthetic fertilizers and other inputs to create an artificial environment for plant growth and pest control.

The story of climate change’s impact on soil health is mostly about changing precipitation patterns, according to the Climate Reality Project.

Extreme downpours can lead to runoff and erosion, stripping healthy soil of key nutrients needed to sustain agriculture. On the other end of the spectrum, frequent droughts can kill off the vital living soil ecosystems necessary to grow healthy crops – and of course, plants can’t grow without water either.

What a gardener wants is soil rich in microorganisms that will sustain plant life through drought and heavy rains. After years of work composting and working our garden plots we can see plenty of earthworms. They are the most visible aspect of a rich miniature biome that sequesters carbon and stores water to make irrigation less needed. Healthy soil helps a garden survive short-term drought and heavy rains by sustaining moisture in the ground near plant roots.

Not many gardeners I know use cover crops, but that is an option to increase soil health. Like most, I add compost in the spring before tillage until the bins are empty.

Reduce tillage

Over the years my relationship with gasoline powered tillers has been inconsistent. A low- or no-till approach to gardening can plays a big role in building the soil organic matter. The reason is simple, when you rototill the ground, you break up the soil ecosystem.

“At its most basic, no-till gardening is the practice of growing produce without disturbing the soil through tillage or plowing,” according to the Climate Reality Project. “In addition to locking up more carbon in the soil, this approach dramatically cuts back on fossil-fuel use in gardening. After all, gasoline-powered garden tools are emitters of CO2.”

The best way to say it is I’m in transition regarding tillage. I have always turned over all the soil in a plot with a spade. What varied over time was whether or not I used a tiller. Sometimes a rented or borrowed a large rototiller to do everything at once, sometimes I used a smaller sized tiller inherited from our father-in-law’s estate, and now I break up the soil with a hoe and rake. I’ve been changing my way of thinking.

Last year I made a tomato plot but instead of turning the entire plot over and breaking the clods of soil down with a hoe and rake, I made two-foot lanes for the tomatoes. The production was excellent. Not tilling the entire plot leaves some of the soil structure in place and in the long term, that’s better for soil health.

This is an ongoing experiment, but the obvious conclusion is less tillage is better.

Opt for hand tools

My main garden tools are shovels, a hoe, rakes, a post driver, and a bucket of hand tools. Eliminating use of a rototiller was an important step in reducing emissions and using the spade, hoe and garden rake to break up the soil provides exercise. I also plant crops in four waves: early (kale, broccoli, peas, carrots, beets, radishes), succession planting (spinach, onions, leeks, herbs, beans and celery), tomatoes, and late (cucumbers, zucchini, squash, eggplant and peppers). Spreading planting over weeks helps make the physical labor of using hand tools more tolerable.

With a large garden and yard it proved difficult to make the battery-powered trimmer work: I kept running out of charge. When it broke, I got a new gasoline-powered trimmer. I also use my gasoline-powered mower and a chain saw. I used less than five gallons of gasoline between the lawn mower, chain saw and trimmer this year. Not perfect, but consistent with a practice to reduce the amount of garden emissions.

Part of my strategy of lawn maintenance is to avoid the use of chemicals completely and mow less often, maybe once every three or four weeks. The benefit of this practice is the lawn becomes a habitat for local flora and fauna. The downside is I don’t get enough grass clippings in a season for mulch. After years of the practice, the neighbors haven’t complained.


The climate crisis is real, it is now, and we have to do something about it. The lesson I learned from being a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps is there are many way to contribute to solutions in our daily lives. Among the things we do in a day, mitigating the effects of climate change must be one of them. We are all in this together and even a gardener can do something to help.

~ To learn more about the Climate Reality Project, visit climaterealityproject.org.

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Did Trump Traffic Cocaine?

ICYMI:  This has been out there for awhile in the whisper stream (Twitter) but no real coverage on MSM.  Dear Leader during the eighties seems to have been “deeply entangled with an international cocaine trafficker,”  according to David Cay Johnston, author of The Making of Donald Trump, and a Pulitzer prize reporter.

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