Trump FCC To Waive Ownership Rules For Murdochs

This is outrageous. Sign the FreePress petition:

Chairman Pai has just announced a plan to waive media-ownership rules for Fox and allow the Murdoch family to control even more TV stations and newspapers in the New York City market.

Take action now: Tell the FCC that this is unacceptable.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is hellbent on doing as much damage as possible before the Biden administration takes office. And that includes doling out one last favor for Rupert Murdoch.

Fox asked the Trump FCC to permanently waive a restriction that limits Fox’s TV station and newspaper ownership in the New York City market — where the company already owns two local-television stations and one local newspaper. This move would make Fox’s ownership of WWOR, WNYW and the New York Post permanent — despite the agency’s own rules that prohibit one company from controlling this many broadcast stations and newspaper outlets in a given market.

Chairman Pai is trying to quickly push this Fox request through the FCC, allowing for public comment only until Dec. 4. He’s hoping that this big-media handout will fall under the radar during the holiday season. But we’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen. Sign our petition and make it clear to Chairman Pai that handouts to Fox and the Murdoch family are not in the public interest.

It’s clear that the outgoing FCC’s Trump-allied members are set on doing as much damage as possible before they leave their positions in January. They’re moving quickly with their review of this proposal to bend the rules for Fox — even after House leadership called on the agency to refrain from making such controversial decisions in the final days of Trump’s term.

Chairman Pai’s eagerness to grant a permanent waiver to Fox is part of a pattern of bending over backward to put industry interests before those of the public. 
If we’ve learned anything over the last year, it’s that the Murdochs don’t have the public interest in mind. The last thing we should be doing is awarding them with more control over the public airwaves.

Tell the lame-duck FCC that any decision to waive media-ownership limits for Fox is unacceptable.

P.S. Fox already wields way too much control over our media. Urge the FCC to ditch its plan to permanently allow Fox to control even more TV stations and newspapers in the New York City market.

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When Fools Rush In

Atmospheric Haze

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” was written by Alexander Pope in An Essay on Criticism in 1711. I’m no angel yet it’s time to let the dust settle from the disastrous general election before devising schemes to react to the loss.

With two key races waiting for certification of results, for president and for the Second Congressional District, we should be in no hurry to implement solutions when we don’t understand the problems. We can wait for the haze to settle so we can survey the landscape in better light.

The delays provide needed time to collect data and discuss the future of Democratic politics in Iowa. Brainstorming of solutions is to be expected, politically active Democrats will not be suppressed. Settling on a course of action should wait at least until the new chair of the Iowa Democratic Party is elected and has a chance to organize their team.

As recently as a few hours ago National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told reporters in the Philippines, “On Jan. 20 we’ll have continuity of government. We’ll either have a second Trump term or we’ll have a Biden-Harris administration.” Republican elected officials have begun to weigh in that it will be the latter and transition assets should be released by the GSA. The president’s legal challenges to the election have proven in court to be like the slight of hand trick of an aging carnival magician in the last weeks before leaving to winter in Florida. There will be a 46th president.

The recount in the Mariannette Miller-Meeks – Rita Hart contest is ongoing. It’s anyone’s guess how things will turn out. In a press release last night, the Hart campaign said, “The Secretary of State’s office has repeatedly made clear that the Recount Boards have discretion over the mechanics of conducting the recount.” As the difference between the two candidates is revealed, and Miller-Meeks loses ground, her campaign questions the integrity of the Recount Board in Scott County, the district’s largest. With Secretary of State certification of the election on Nov. 30, this can only be seen as an attempt to run out the clock before all votes are recounted. We need to let the county boards do their work.

While we wait, a couple of things seem clear.

Centralized political organizing using current technology to text, mail and phone voters did not work for Democrats. Republicans appear to have had the same kinds of tools. Republican political action groups I follow offered the same kinds of volunteer opportunities as did Democrats. In fact, the solicitations for volunteers were almost interchangeable. Neither party seemed short of volunteers. Both parties had the technology to canvass during the coronavirus pandemic.

What we don’t know is whether the organizers were slug-a-beds or whether the electorate has changed. Well, we do know. It’s not the organizing effort that was the problem. The electorate has changed. It’s a change that has been coming for some time and the stark difference between Democrats and Republicans was highlighted during the coronavirus by the Secretary of State’s decision to send an absentee ballot request to every active voter. Voter turnout was notably high this cycle as a result. As I’ve written before increased absentee voting served Republican interests. If I were the Republican Party chair, I’d lobby the legislature and governor to convert our voting process to universal vote by mail because other factors are driving people to become Republicans in large numbers and vote by mail makes it easier for people to vote. No need to mention this to Jeff Kaufmann. He’s smart enough to see the efficacy of what I’m saying.

Democrats don’t need solutions yet as we don’t adequately understand the problem. I saw an analysis of Iowa voting trends Sunday afternoon and there were no surprises. Counties with less population favor Republicans, larger counties favor Democrats. Those in between appear to be in transition from Democratic to Republican. There is little the Iowa Democratic Party, on its own, can do about this other than to let go of a focus on campaigns and work on improving our cultural presence. That’s not their role.

My colleague Dave Bradley at Blog for Iowa posted an Iowa Democratic Election Post-Mortem on Saturday. In explaining what happened in the general election he points to cultural differences between Democrats and Republicans. Specifically, he discussed the impact of right wing talk radio and television on the electorate after President Ronald Reagan’s FCC abolished the fairness doctrine. The impact of this relatively new media is significant in small and medium-sized counties. President Barack Obama was unsuccessful in putting the genie back in the bottle regarding the policy so we are stuck with FOX News and right wing talkers. Creating left wing talk radio has been attempted yet none of them survived on public air waves and folks like Randi Rhodes and Thom Hartmann moved to the internet and satellite radio.

The Iowa Democratic Party is not well equipped to address cultural issues in Iowa anyway. The party should focus on key things we’ll need during future election cycles. We need good candidates (we had those in 2020), we need a source of financial support (money didn’t seem to be a problem in 2020), and we need someone to host access to the voter contact software for campaigns and continuously improve the integrity of data and user interface (also did not seem a problem in 2020). Where IDP did poorly was in messaging and to be honest they should just give it up since they and the consultants they engage are no good at it. Messaging is better left to be grassroots driven by candidates familiar with voters in their district, including those who are not Democrats. I’m going to scream if I see another “Bobble-head Bobby” ad out of the minds in Des Moines and Washington, D.C.

It can’t be said enough the dust should settle on this election before getting too carried away with “what Democrats should do,” or “what needs to be worked on,” or “IDP should do this.” For my money, what matters more is collection of observations at this point. What did we see happening that should be addressed? We should let everyone who wants provide input.

The end of year holidays are here and we’re in the middle of a devastating pandemic. Let’s just stop, take a deep breath, and let the folks analyzing the results do their work. Let’s elect a great party chair and let them get organized. It’s not unlike what I’m saying about the Second District recount. For the time being, I’m okay with being a blue dot in my red precinct. There is another opportunity to flip it coming up soon.

~ First published at Journey Home by Paul Deaton

Posted in 2020 election campaign | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Miller-Meeks Losing Ground In IA-02 Recount

Rita Hart for Iowa Statement on Latest Developments in IA-02 Recount

WHEATLAND, IOWA — Tonight, Rita Hart for Iowa campaign manager Zach Meunier issued the following statement on the margin closing in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District:

“The bipartisan Recount Boards designees have worked diligently throughout this recount process, dedicating their time, energy, and judgment to ensure that Iowans’ voices are heard and this recount is conducted fairly and thoroughly. Each individual county recount has made decisions by a majority of the three-person Recount Board and, in Scott County specifically, this fair and lawful process was agreed to by the Board more than five days ago.

The Miller-Meeks Campaign had no complaints during those five days, and is only now questioning the recount process as they lose ground. Now, they are questioning the integrity of the Recount Board members — including their own designee.

The Secretary of State’s office has repeatedly made clear that the Recount Boards have discretion over the mechanics of conducting the recount. Scott County’s hand recount process is not unique; several other counties are engaged in similar hand recounts. The reality is the Miller-Meeks campaign is simply scared of the likelihood that when all of the ballots are counted — they will lose.”

November 22, 2020

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Edward Norton: Call. His. Bluff

Randy Rainbow’s latest (4 minutes):

Edward Norton

@EdwardNorton  twitter thread unrolled

  1. I’m no political pundit but I grew up w a dad who was a federal prosecutor & he taught me a lot & I’ve also sat a fair amount of poker w serious players & l’ll say this: I do not think Trump is trying to ‘make his base happy’ or ‘laying the groundwork for his own network’…

2) …or that ‘chaos is what he loves’. The core of it is that he knows he’s in deep, multi-dimensional legal jeopardy & this defines his every action. We’re seeing 1) a tactical delay of the transition to buy time for coverup & evidence suppression 2) above all, a desperate endgame

3) …which is to create enough chaos & anxiety about peaceful transfer of power, & fear of irreparable damage to the system, that he can cut a Nixon-style deal in exchange for finally conceding. But he doesn’t have the cards. His bluff after ‘the flop’ has been called in court…

4) His ‘turn card’ bluff will be an escalation & his ‘River card’ bluff could be really ugly. But they have to be called. We cannot let this mobster bully the USA into a deal to save his ass by threatening our democracy. THAT is his play. But he’s got junk in his hand. So call him.

5) I will allow that he’s also a whiny, sulky, petulant, Grinchy, vindictive little 10-ply-super-soft bitch who no doubt is just throwing a wicked pout fest & trying to give a tiny-hand middle finger to the whole country for pure spite, without a single thought for the dead & dying

6) But his contemptible, treasonous, seditious assault on the stability of our political compact isn’t about 2024, personal enrichment or anything else other than trying to use chaos & threat to the foundation of the system as leverage to trade for a safe exit. Call. His. Bluff.


Let me add that perhaps the main reason for delaying and in Trump’s eyes never having a transition is that during the transition there will be tons of exposure of evidence of corruption. At some point it will be exposed, but Trump may already have transportation to a more friendly climate arranged.

Don’t doubt for a second that shredders and burners are busy as we speak. There may be a lot of vital missing data when President Biden finally takes over. Therefore the first several months may be a bit rocky. Thank goodness the Biden team should be about the most experienced ever total over. Therefore we will survive.

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2020 election campaign | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sunday Funday: Turkey Of A Thanksgiving Edition

I don’t know about you, but we will be spending the day inside the same bubble that Dear Leader condemned us to back in March. We will use the computer to contact the outside, but all in all Thursday won’t be a lot different than other days. This will be followed by a Christmas shopping season that will not include going into stores. 

My suspicion is that this Christmas season will be a major bust for brick and mortar stores. As the pandemic reaches new heights daily going into crowded stores sounds like a suicide mission. Ironic that the real “war on Christmas” is being pushed on us by the very groups (Republicans and religious) that claim to care so much about Christmas. As for us, we are just looking to stay alive.

Joe Biden of Wilmington, Delaware turned a cool 78 last Friday. Happy birthday young fellow.

  1. Today is the 57th anniversary of the assassination of what President?
  1. New details in the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer included a plan to televise a week long series of what of public officials?
  1. Iowa’s corona virus statistics surpassed two ignoble milestones this week. What milestones did Iowa pass in cases and deaths?
  1. Friday was Biden’s birthday. What highly thought of Democrat of the past did Biden share his birthday with?
  1. A memoir “A Promised Land” by what up and coming author sold a massive 887,000 on its first sale day?
  1. As president, Thomas Jefferson refused to declare Thanksgiving a holiday. Why?
  1. The numbers are finally in for the last state to be called for the 2020 presidential election. Which state and who won it?
  1. Michigan has been in the center of an attempt to subvert the way the voters voted and give the state electors to Dear Leader. How much did Biden win Michigan by?
  1. As Iowa staked its claim to being one of the world coronavirus hotspots, Gov. Reynolds finally broke down and ordered what?
  1. Chuck Grassley announced he would quarantine because he had been exposed and later tested positive for Covid-19. What is Grassley’s rank on the oldest senator list?
  1. Instead of a parade this year, Macy’s will be doing what this year?
  1. When was the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade held?
  1. According to a study by Oxford University in England, how does a state’s coronavirus restrictions correspond to their rate of infection?
  1. Who did US House Democrats pick as their Speaker of the House for the 2021-2022 session?
  1. Pfizer and BioNTech say final analysis shows their vaccine to be how effective?
  1. What once ubiquitous American meal idea developed when a Swanson employee accidentally ordered a massive excess of turkey in 1953?
  1. Moderna also announced a high coronavirus effectiveness last week. What was their effectiveness?
  1. Dear Leader threatened to deny access to coronavirus vaccine to what state last week?
  1. What major country singer found that her $1 million donation to fund coronavirus vaccine research had been used by Moderna?
  1. The Northwest Arkansas Council’s Life Works Here Initiative has offered what incentives for people to move to their area?

thanks to ohiogirl on


  1. JFK
  1. Executions
  1. 200,000 cases and over 2,000 deaths
  1. RFK (November 20, 1925)
  1. Barack Obama
  1. He felt that was a violation of the separation of Church and State
  1. Georgia. Biden won by 12,000+ votes
  1. 153,000 votes
  1. She order a partial mask mandate
  1. Chuck is the second oldest senator behind Dianne Feinstein of California by about 3 months
  1. Holding a large presentation at Herald Square in front of their store
  1. 1924 – nearly 100 years
  1. The looser the restrictions, the higher the infection rate (see North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa)
  1. Nancy Pelosi
  1. 95%
  1. The TV dinner
  1. 95%
  1. New York
  1. Dolly Parton
  1. $10,000 and a new bike.

Posted in #trumpresistance, Covid-19, Humor | Leave a comment

And Now It Is Reality Vs. Fantasy

Here is a quick reminder of WWII rationing (4 minutes):

As we come to the end of the reign of King Donald, I just want to note that he has left the country severely divided. While people on on each side seem to have many similarities with their brethren, the fault line appears to be those who are believing more and more in fantasy interpretations of the world and those who believe in science and facts, who let the evidence lead them to decision.

This has been a split that has been growing every year since the days of Ronald Reagan – one could make an argument for Nixon – but the Trump years have really widened the gap with the whole corona virus pandemic fantasies becoming the line of greatest division.

While one side believes tales like “one day the virus will just go away” and “the virus is just a creation of the left” and “it is fake” – I could go on for paragraphs – the other side believes not only that the virus is real and very deadly, but we  do have some tools at our fingertips to help us through this pandemic. The tools at our fingertips include soap and water, alcohol, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and covering our mouths and noses with face masks when in public.

It is so hard to believe that Americans elected and continue to elect those who believe fantasies as cures and preventions to lead us. Such leadership, or maybe better said lack of leadership is getting a lot of Americans killed. We have lost over a quarter of a million with no end in sight. While some vaccines seem to hold great promise, they have done nothing yet.

At a quarter of a million in less than nine months we are killing our fellow citizens at an incredible pace. No segment of the population is exempt from death. We are killing those trained to save us in pandemics – health care workers – at an incredible pace. Health care workers are also terribly overworked right now.

The only way we can beat theses a full out effort that includes everyone. We are in the middle of a war with an inhuman adversary. Not giving it your all will cause others to die.

In World War II the whole country pitched in. We grew “victory gardens” and had ration books that limited our use of materials the armed forces needed such as gas, rubber tires, even fat that was used to make bullets. It was an all out effort from coast to coast and border to border.

If we had approached WWII the way we have approached the pandemic we wouldn’t have lasted a month. Besides Donald Trump is no FDR. For one thing, based on his actions in his four years, Trump’s first move would have been to surrender.

With the holidays coming do what you can to help the country survive the pandemic and bring us all closer to that day when the vaccine is being distributed and maybe even a treatment has been found.

Wash you hands, use sanitizer, don’t touch you face and most of all wear a mask over your mouth and nose when in public!

This is also a good time to assess fantasy from reality. Reality may be a bit harder, but rewards are better.

Posted in Covid-19, Republican Policy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Iowa Democratic Election Post-Mortem

still a valuable tool

It is Thanksgiving week of what has been one of the most intense years in our lives. Not only were we tasked with removing the worst president ever from office in an election that saw incredible voter suppression of many styles, but we had to do so during one of the worst and deadliest pandemics that the world had seen in a long time. This was not an easy lift.

Iowa Democrats did not distinguish themselves in this election. Going in it felt like we had a great set up for the year. We had great candidates from the highest levels – Biden and Harris for the top slots – Theresa Greenfield with a great story for US Senate facing a weak Joni Ernst who called for cutting Social Security in an older state and also had no idea what the price of soy beans is – great candidates at the US House level with incumbents Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne with Rita Hart in the 2nd district with a great story as a teacher and farmer. The only weak spot seemed to be the 4th district where the Republicans removed their anchor, Steve King, and greatly improved their chances.

At the state house and state senate levels we had some stellar candidates with great stories of community involvement and lifetimes of leadership. The only real glitch in the campaigns seemed to be pulling back on door-knocking where candidates can get to know the electorate face to face. Maybe it was a mistake to pull back on the door-knocking, but the reasoning behind it was sound. When a pandemic is raging, do what you can not to spread it. That caution did not seem to concern Republicans.

So what happened? I have been seeing a few post-mortem analyses posted. Most seem to focus on some party structure problems and do fault the door-knocking decision as costly. Most seem to ask the question “Why do democrats have such problems in rural areas?” Our policies have always been better for small communities and rural areas. Yet for some reason we don’t seem to connect. While no one has said this, the gap seems to get wider every year.

While I am just an average worker bee in the party like most of you, I would like to offer a reason that I never hear discussed anywhere. That reason is rural media. To be more specific, local radio.

As has been written multiple times here on, Iowa’s media is very right wing. Even in the day of access to world media through cell phones and car radios. In the small towns and rural areas of Iowa local media, especially the local radio station is still king. Working in the field or driving to town it is nice to have that companionship of the local station to listen to. As people shop in the local grocery or hardware store, the local radio is the background music to the activities in town.   

Nowadays on a lot of the local radio stations the voice of the local announcer has been replaced by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and many lesser lights, but the message they deliver is a consistent extreme right wing message. For many folks the radio sort of becomes a subliminal message deliverer. While people may not be actively listening they are getting the message. And they stay tuned because the local station has local news, weather, sports, commercials and of course commodity prices which keeps them tuned in.

This acts as an underlayment for the Republican message of whatever election or issue of the day is being pushed. Democrats or the left have no such infrastructure in the rural areas. Actually in Iowa they simply have no infrastructure like this anywhere. When a Republican shows up at a rural door, they are preceded by months and years of their talking points having been disseminated before they got there. When they are at the door, the terms they talk in have been woven into the fabric of conversations long before they showed up.

When a Democrat shows up at the same door, they are having to use the framing on issues that the Republicans developed and that were disseminated by the local radio. Even the attitudes and beliefs about Democrats have been shaped by local radio long before a Democrat comes to the door.

So it seems to me that when Democrats compete in rural areas they are not only competing against a single opponent for whatever office they are running for, they are also competing against decades of attitudes and beliefs about Democratic ideas that have been formed and inculcated through decades of incessant propaganda.

It feels like by the time the election comes around the game is already in the fourth quarter and we re two touchdown behind. Our records and achievements and honesty doesn’t really compete against constant propaganda delivered on the local radio.

All of Iowa’s major radio stations (eg, WHO, WOC, WMT, KXEL etc. etc.) are right wing stations as are many of the low power stations in the small towns.

When the local radio sets the table for what the conversations will be, we really need to have some presence setting that table. Even after 100 years, radio is still a very personal medium. A local radio with some local personalities is like a close friend out in rural areas. Not having a presence in a medium that is so personal to voters is in my opinion a major omission.

Large sums of money spent in huge batches in a short time don’t overcome years of what is essentially brainwashing. In my humble opinion the billionaires who really want to help level the playing field would do well to study the right’s media set up, especially their radio propaganda, and emulate or better it in a long term commitment.

Mine is just an opinion formed over many years of observation and many years of changing radio stations. Oh, and by the way, NPR is not in any way left wing radio. Long ago it was cowed into submission by Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay.

Posted in 2020 election campaign, media, Media Bias, Radio, Republican Policy | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Tyson Wrongful Death Suit Alleges “Willful And Wanton Disregard For Workplace Safety”

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Lawsuit: Tyson managers bet money on how many workers would contract COVID-19

A wrongful death lawsuit tied to COVID-19 infections in a Waterloo pork processing plant alleges that during the initial stages of the pandemic, Tyson Foods ordered employees to report for work while supervisors privately wagered money on the number of workers who would be sickened by the deadly virus.

Earlier this year, the family of the late Isidro Fernandez sued the meatpacking company, alleging Fernandez was exposed to the coronavirus at the Waterloo plant where he worked. The lawsuit alleges Tyson Foods is guilty of a “willful and wanton disregard for workplace safety.”

In a written statement issued Thursday afternoon, Tyson Foods’ president and chief executive officer, Dean Banks, said: “We are extremely upset about the accusations involving some of the leadership at our Waterloo plant. Tyson Foods is a family company with 139,000 team members and these allegations do not represent who we are, or our core values and team behaviors. We expect every team member at Tyson Foods to operate with the utmost integrity and care in everything we do.

“We have suspended, without pay, the individuals allegedly involved and have retained the law firm Covington & Burling LLP to conduct an independent investigation led by former Attorney General Eric Holder. If these claims are confirmed, we’ll take all measures necessary to root out and remove this disturbing behavior from our company.

“Our top priority is and remains the health and safety of our team members.”

Fernandez, who died on April 20, was one of at least five Waterloo plant employees who died of the virus. According to the Black Hawk County Health Department, more than 1,000 workers at the plant — over a third of the facility’s workforce — contracted the virus.

The lawsuit alleges that despite the uncontrolled spread of the virus at the plant, Tyson required its employees to work long hours in cramped conditions without providing the appropriate personal protective equipment and without ensuring workplace-safety measures were followed.

The lawsuit was recently amended and includes a number of new allegations against the company and plant officials. Among them:

  • In mid-April, around the time Black Hawk County Sherriff Tony Thompson visited the plant and reported the working conditions there “shook [him] to the core,” plant manager Tom Hart organized a cash-buy-in, winner-take-all, betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many plant employees would test positive for COVID-19.
  • John Casey, an upper-level manager at the plant, is alleged to have explicitly directed supervisors to ignore symptoms of COVID-19, telling them to show up to work even if they were exhibiting symptoms of the virus. Casey reportedly referred to COVID-19 as the “glorified flu” and told workers not to worry about it because “it’s not a big deal” and “everyone is going to get it.” On one occasion, Casey intercepted a sick supervisor who was on his way to be tested and ordered him to get back to work, saying, “We all have symptoms — you have a job to do.” After one employee vomited on the production line, managers reportedly allowed the man to continue working and then return to work the next day.
  • In late March or early April, as the pandemic spread across Iowa, managers at the Waterloo plant reportedly began avoiding the plant floor for fear of contracting the virus. As a result, they increasingly delegated managerial authority and responsibilities to low-level supervisors who had no management training or experience. The supervisors did not require truck drivers and subcontractors to have their temperatures checked before entering the plant.
  • In March and April, plant supervisors falsely denied the existence of any confirmed cases or positive tests for COVID-19 within the plant, and allegedly told workers they had a responsibility to keep working to ensure Americans didn’t go hungry as the result of a shutdown.
  • Tyson paid out $500 “thank you bonuses” to employees who turned up for every scheduled shift for three months — a policy decision that allegedly incentivized sick workers to continue reporting for work.
  • Tyson executives allegedly lobbied Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for COVID-19 liability protections that would shield the company from lawsuits, and successfully lobbied the governor to declare that only the state government, not local governments, had the authority to close businesses in response to the pandemic.

While Tyson has yet to file a formal response to the new allegations, it has said in previous court filings that it “vigorously disputes” the plaintiffs’ claims and has “invested millions of dollars to provide employees with safety and risk-mitigation equipment.”

The lawsuit claims that while Tyson has repeatedly claimed that its operations needed to remain open to feed America, the company increased its exports to China by 600% during the first quarter of 2020.

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages for fraudulent misrepresentation and gross negligence.

The case was initially filed in state court, claiming violations of Iowa law. At Tyson’s request, the case was moved to federal court, with the company claiming it had remained open during the pandemic “at the direction of a federal officer” — President Donald Trump, who, on April 28, invoked his authority under the Defense Production Act and ordered meat and poultry processing companies to continue operating.

The nonprofit organization Public Citizen has filed an amicus brief in the case, supporting the Fernandez family’s efforts to remand the action back to state court. In its brief, Public Citizen has said that neither the Defense Production Act nor the executive order signed by President Trump had “directed” Tyson to do anything.

The Waterloo facility is Tyson’s largest pork plant in the United States. The facility employs approximately 2,800 workers who process approximately 19,500 hogs per day.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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18,000 Ballots At Stake: Rita Hart For Iowa Calls On SOS To Clarify Recount Guidance

IA-02 recount update from Rita Hart campaign

Rita Hart for Iowa Calls on Secretary of State to Clarify Recount Guidance

More than 18,000 ballots would go unexamined if directions about complying with Iowa law not clarified

WHEATLAND, IOWA — This afternoon, as several counties began the recount process, Rita Hart for Iowa issued a letter to the Iowa Secretary of State requesting clarification on guidance issued by his Office yesterday that appears to have been interpreted by recount boards in a manner contrary to Iowa law.

After the initial canvass in the Second Congressional District, fewer than 50 votes separated the two candidates. More than 200 identified overvotes and 18,000 undervotes in the district have yet to be examined for voter intent. Due to confusion around the Secretary of State’s guidance issued yesterday, the thousands of overvotes and undervotes that are at issue in this recount, would go unexamined.

Rita Hart for Iowa has given the Secretary of State’s Office until 6:00 p.m. CT on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 to respond.

**full text of the letter below

November 18, 2020

Via E-Mail

Paul Pate
Iowa Secretary of State
First Floor, Lucas Building
321 E. 12th St.
Des Moines, IA 50319

RE:  Request for Clarification of Recount Guidance in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District Recount

Dear Secretary Pate:

As you know, my client, Rita Hart, has requested a recount of all 24 counties in Iowa’s Second Congressional District. Ms. Hart requested this recount due to the well-publicized tabulating incidents discovered in Jasper and Lucas counties and the apparent improper rejection of lawful votes in the initial count and canvass.

Unlike states that utilize a significant number of government staff persons and/or civic volunteers to conduct recounts, Iowa law requires a three-person recount board to conduct the recount in each county, regardless of the county’s size or the number of ballots being recounted. Some of these all-volunteer boards are already diligently working to complete their recounts by November 30, 2020. However, certain guidance issued by your office yesterday, November 17, after those recounts had already begun, appears to have led the boards to interpret your guidance in a way that may be contrary to Iowa law.

In pertinent part, the guidance from your office says that “after the machine count for a precinct, the Recount Board may conduct a hand recount in that precinct if it reported either undervotes or overvotes on Election Day and after the machine recount.” We understand that some counties and recount boards interpret this guidance to mean that they cannot apply the law’s voter intent standards to any ballots in a precinct where a machine recount is being conducted, unless the board conducts a full hand recount of all the ballots in that same precinct. This is significant because of the unusually large number of absentee ballots in this election (which the counties generally treat as a single “precinct”), and because of the likelihood that these ballots contain valid votes for the candidates which a machine recount will not detect.

We understand that some boards are reading your guidance to mean that they may only:

  1. conduct a machine recount, conduct no hand count, and thereby ignore all ballots containing undervotes and overvotes, which means that ballots with lawful votes will not be counted;

  2. undertake a full hand recount of every ballot in a precinct; or

  3. conduct a machine recount and a full hand recount of every ballot in a precinct.

After the initial canvass in the Second Congressional District, fewer than 50 votes separated the two candidates. There are more than 200 identified overvotes and over 18,000 undervotes in the district. Unless you clarify your guidance, it is practically certain that the recount will disregard more than 50 lawfully cast ballots with clear voter intent, in violation of Iowa law. There are enough ballots at stake here to decide the outcome of the election.

Because Iowa law clearly requires the voter intent standards to be applied in the event of a machine recount, and because it permits recount boards to conduct machine recounts, you should clearly instruct the recount boards to take the necessary steps to ensure these ballots are identified and appropriately counted.

Specifically, you should make clear that the boards conducting a machine count in a precinct:

  1. use the voting machine to count all votes that are cast using the prescribed method—that is, filling in the oval next to their preferred candidate;

  2. use the voting machine to identify the ballots which contain an overvote and the number of ballots that the machine thinks do not contain any votes in the race (undervotes);

  3. sort by-hand the batches of ballots that were sent through the voting machine to find all ballots containing overvotes and undervotes;

  4. visually analyze every ballot with an overvote and undervote to determine whether the ballot contains a lawful vote for a candidate in the race based on Iowa’s voter intent standards; and

  5. update the machine recount tally accordingly.

Making this clarification is necessary and critical. As noted above, there are over 18,000 undervotes in the Second Congressional District race. More than 7,000 of those undervotes (or about 39 percent of all undervotes in the race) are in Scott and Johnson Counties alone. And in the absentee ballot precinct in Johnson County, there are over 58,000 ballots. In Scott County, there are over 61,000 ballots in its absentee ballot precinct.

Such a clarification would be consistent with Iowa law on voter intent standards. The Secretary of State has promulgated regulations that “apply to all optical scan voting systems in use in Iowa.” IAC 721-26.10. One regulation expressly specifies that a vote “shall not be rejected solely because a voter failed to follow instructions for marking the ballot.” IAC 721-26.15. The rules specify also that if a voter’s choice is clear, the vote “shall be counted as the voter indicated.” IAC 721-26.15(1). Subsequent regulations provide an example of markings that a voting machine would read as undervotes or overvotes but actually express voter intent that must be counted. See e.g., IAC 721-26.18 (examples depicted above). Moreover, “[a] voter’s definite choices shall be counted even if the recount board determines that the voter’s choices differ from the votes as counted by the tabulating device.” IAC 721-26.104(3). The examples of how to interpret voter intent in the Iowa Administrative Code ( illustrate voters who failed to follow the ballot directions but who cast votes that must be accepted and not rejected.

Further, the state’s regulations are all found under the portion of the Iowa Administrative Code relating to “Optical Scan Voting Systems,” meaning that the voter intent standards are meant to supplement a machine count, not to serve as an alternative. Recount board members conducting machine recounts must review overvotes and undervotes by hand for voter intent. If they do not, they will fail to comply with Iowa law by failing to count votes when the voter’s choice is clear based on the voter intent standards. Votes will certainly—and unlawfully—be rejected simply because the voter failed to follow directions. A recount board cannot ignore these voter intent standards, as some appear to be reading your guidance to require. Rather, the recount boards must apply the voter intent standards as a supplement to a machine recount to ballots containing overvotes and undervotes.

Recount boards that supplement their machine recounts with by-hand analysis of all ballots with undervotes and overvotes will best be able to carry out their duty to apply these voter intent standards while counting “as expeditiously as possible.” Iowa Code § 50.48(4)(a). It will also ensure that voters who live in large counties are not treated differently than voters who live in smaller counties. The law provides for countywide recounts. For that to be more than an empty promise, recount boards must have the opportunity to conduct such recounts and consider the voter intent of all ballots to be counted. The only way that will be possible here is if county recount boards supplement a machine tally with by-hand analysis of the ballots containing overvotes and undervotes excluded from the machine tally, rather than conducting a full hand recount of that entire precinct after the machine recount is completed.

For the above reasons, Rita Hart for Congress requests that you issue supplemental guidance making it clear that recount boards, when conducting a machine recount in a precinct, should (1) use voting machines to count all votes that are cast using the prescribed method—that is, filling in the oval next to their preferred candidate; (2) use voting machines to identify the ballots which contain an overvote in the Second Congressional District race and the number of ballots for which the machine does not record a vote—the undervotes; (3) identify which ballots contain overvotes and undervotes by sorting by hand the batches of ballots that were sent through the voting machine; (4) visually analyze all identified overvote and undervote ballots to determine whether they represent a lawful vote for a candidate; and (5) update the machine tally accordingly.

Please provide your response to this letter by 6:00 PM CT today, November 18, 2020.

Thank you,

 Shayla McCormally
Attorney at Law

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Rodger Routh Interviews Sara Anne Willette

Before we hear from Sara Anne Willette, please participate in this mask mandate poll by calling Governor Reynolds’ office. Who knows, maybe a little cover will help her do the right thing.

The governor’s office is taking a poll about the mask mandate: 515-281-5211. Listen to the options then hit 4 – Then to register that your support a full mask mandate select 1 and leave a message – “Yes, please do a full mask mandate.”

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