Thinking of Running For Office? How To Tell Your Story And Get Elected

“America is currently experiencing a wave of far-right propaganda previously unimagined in our history.”

“In order to connect with people we have to break down those barriers that separate us from them. “

There’s always something interesting on the Thom Hartmann program.  This segment (video below) is a conversation with Roger Wolfson, a TV writer associated with the Writers Action Group and former counsel to Senators Wellstone, Kerry, and Kennedy.  As I watched, I thought about how Iowa Democratic and progressive activists are currently engaged in intense conversations about how to reach out to, connect with, talk to, listen to, and understand our rural, Trump-voting brothers and sisters in Iowa.

The Writers Action Group seems like they are onto something that could enhance these conversations and push them outside of the usual blame-game box, as well as help candidates.  The Writers Action Group works with progressive candidates to help them build their personal storytelling skills. In this segment Thom beautifully tells his personal story and tears up as Wolfson walks him through the process.

Here’s what the Writers Action Group does, as described on their website.  Italics are BFIA’s.


The Power of Story

Ten years ago, the Obama campaign proved that great, heart-felt storytelling can pump up donations, fire up volunteers, drive historic voter registration and turnout, and endear an African American senator with an unusual name to millions of skeptical swing voters.

Storytelling is not the same as messaging. Storytelling is the emotional glue that makes a message stick, opening voters’ minds by touching their hearts, whether a candidate is campaigning for town council or president, on TV or door to door.

Enter the Writers Action Group, founded by a former counsel and speechwriter to four U.S. Senators, who went on to write for five network TV series. Writers Action Group has assembled America’s finest screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, directors, documentarians, and creative professionals to help you find your most compelling story and express it in your most authentic way, honing the emotional hook of your campaign to make certain that all of your efforts are impactful, unforgettable, and successful.

Our Mission

To teach and share storytelling skills with candidates, officeholders, organizations, and non-profits so that they have all the communication tools needed to meet their goals. Our writers have demonstrated expertise in fostering long-term, loyal, and emotional relationships with red and blue audiences in all fifty states.

Our Story

In 2008 the Writers Guild of America went on strike, against the six largest media conglomerates in the world. We were a small group, up against a collected force that controlled the airwaves. But if we couldn’t get our side of the story out, we were going to be crushed, and our union destroyed.

The Guild asked a TV writer who had previously worked in the U.S. Senate to assemble a handful of politically knowledgeable writers, who would find creative ways to get our side of story out to the public. Thirty writers banded together,  and developed their storytelling skills into a political context.

The strike lasted for 100 days. Against all odds, and in part buoyed by a wave of positive public opinion that this room of writers helped create, the Guild won.

America is currently experiencing a wave of far-right propaganda previously unimagined in our history.

At the end of 2016, this same group of writers came together, and realized – we might have something to offer other people struggling against propaganda, once again.


Watch this fascinating interview.

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Local Activists Fight CAFOs In Johnson County

The unhappy neighbors of two local factory farms have teamed up with the 100 Grannies for a Livable Future to protest [CAFO] operations around Johnson County.

Over the years, he and his discontented neighbors on Oak Crest Hill Road have protested such operations, writing letters to the operator, making phone calls to the county, and even threatening legal action, to no avail. This past summer, they took their activism to the next level, adopting the name Iowans for Clean Air and Water and teaming up with the local organization 100 Grannies for a Livable Future.

Stopping the proliferation of those operations in Johnson County is a major goal of the Grannies, approximately 100 senior women passionate about social and environmental issues. They are primarily concerned about greenhouse-gas emissions from such facilities, as well as potential threats to air and water quality and what they consider to be inhumane conditions. 

“It’s killing our rural communities and creating enmity among neighbors,” said Miriam Kashia, a facilitator of the Grannies’ Community Activism Committee. “There’s not a lot good you can say about them except cheap meat.”

The national Socially Responsible Agricultural Project supports both groups. Consultant Diane Rosenberg advises the local Clean Air/Water group and the Grannies on organizational matters, including a recent meeting with Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton and a presentation to City Council they will make Dec. 18. Through such efforts, they aim to sway public opinion against factory farms.

Read more at the Daily Iowan


To help with the fight join 100 Grannies on Facebook

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Worst Person Of The Year

republicans must cheat

What the heck, if Time can name someone as “Person Of The Year” then anyone can name ‘anything of the year’ right? So we will go with a “Worst Person” award.

Upon reading a headline like “Worst Person” most people in the US would almost immediately focus on Donald Trump. Let’s face it folks there aren’t too many folks alive today that can match Trump for vileness. However, while Trump is nearly the very epitome of vileness, he did not get to where he is without a lot of help and a lot of others turning their gaze while Trump did his deeds.

So much like Time’s choice for this and several other years, this award really should be awarded to those who made the Trump presidency possible and who have helped make that presidency the worst ever. So stand up Republican Party and take a bow.

For believing a man who lied through his teeth throughout his campaign and yet voting for him; for claiming the high moral ground and yet voting for a demonstrably amoral or immoral person; for cheering loud and long as he turned the once great USA into a banana state by calling for the imprisonment of those who opposed him; for cheering on his attacks on the free press without which we will soon be the world’s next dictatorship; for all the various ways in the rule of law has been subverted so your minority still holds the levers of power.

Some within the Republican Party deserve special mention for going way beyond the limits of the law and of our cultural norms to enable Trump or the power grabs that leave a minority party actually running the show in many situations:

  • Mitch McConnell for staunching an FBI investigation of Russian sabotage of the 2016 election.
  • Chuck Grassley who as head of the Judiciary Committee refused to do his duty hold hearings to fill an empty Supreme Court seat.
  • Joni Ernst for totally forsaking her “commitment” to sexual abuse against women to vote for Brett Kavanaugh

In the Wisconsin midterm elections, Republicans won just 46 percent of the overall popular vote for the U.S. House, but 63 percent of the seats — 5 out of 8. The weekly Isthmus newspaper based in Madison reports that Democrats won 54 percent of the popular vote for Wisconsin State Assembly but, due to the Republican-friendly map, only 36 percent of the seats.

In the Ohio midterm elections, Republicans won 52 percent of the overall popular vote for the U.S. House, but 75 percent of the seats — 12 out of 16. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Republicans won 50 percent of the popular vote in state House elections, but 63 percent of the seats.

In the North Carolina midterm elections, Republicans won 50 percent of the overall popular vote for the U.S. House, but 77 percent of the seats — 10 out of 13 — though one apparent Republican victory has yet to be certified due to allegations of fraud. The Washington Post reports that North Carolina Democrats won 51 percent of the popular vote in state House elections, but just 45 percent of the seats.

In the Texas midterm elections, Republicans won 50 percent of the overall popular vote for the U.S. House, but 64 percent of the seats — 23 out of 36.

  • So many state where legislatures have worked to destroy unions
  • State and national legislatures that continue to rob from the poor while giving to the rich.
  • State and national legislatures that forego basic government services in order to give those gifts to rich
  • State and national legislatures that have ignored pleas of the populace and their own common sense to allow the absolutely insane scourge of guns to snuff out life at an incredible pace.
  • The national legislature that has turned blind eye to the atrocities committed in our names at the borders as children are kidnapped from their parents and subjected to imprisonment, even death at the hands of enforcers of insane policies.
  • And in Iowa a Governor who has put lives in danger by espousing policies that turn dollars needed for care of the poor and invalid over to “management” companies instead through an absolutely crazy Medicaid scam.
  • Finally a big shout out to every person in Iowa and the country who voted against their own best interests and voted for the very Republicans who are working every day to take away their health care, retirement, jobs and pay. If you are a white male over 60, you should never vote for today’s Republican Party. But you do anyway. 

So here’s to you, Republicans. From the lowliest voter to the current president – you are the Worst Person In The World.

And the world agrees with us.

Posted in #trumpresistance, Blog for Iowa, Republican Policy, Trump | 1 Comment

Sunday Funday: Some Christmas Suggestions Edition

Image (2) Santa_Claus-and-snowman-253x300.png for post 32346 

 As the holidays creep very close and you are looking for something meaningful to do with your time or money I have a couple of suggestions:

  1. Donate blood. At this time of year blood donations are generally low due to travel or illness, but the need for blood stays steady. If you have never donated or donate on a sporadic basis, consider donating around the holidays. The blood is dearly needed and you will be a lifesaver. In total it may take about an hour or a little more, a short amount of time to do something so important. If you don’t know where to go simply google “Blood donation sites in … “ your area. Pick a site and give them a call.
  1. Send some money to “Toys For Tots.” Most people heard that Toys ‘R’ Us went out of business earlier this year, a victim of future capitalism. Part of the story that few heard was that Toy ’R’ Us was THE major donor to the Marines annual “Toys For Tots” drive. Losing those donations from Toys ‘R’ Us will put a real crimp into Christmas for many poor families. Once again , Google can be a big help here. Just google “toys for tots in …” your area and you can get donation locations or a donation screen where you can donate online.

Well it looks like this week the roller coaster is headed down the hill and my stomach is about to churn.

  1. A young girl from what country died in the custody of the US Border Patrol Thursday?
  1. Last Friday (December 14th) was the 6th anniversary of what horrible event in American history?
  1. Dear Leader: The Jobs President – What major communication company announced it will cut 10,400 jobs by mid 2019?
  1. Which Iowa congress member asked the CEO of Google why his grandchild got a nasty picture of her grandfather (him) on her iPhone?
  1. Who said in a live TV event that he alone would own any government shutdown Tuesday?
  1. Well, who is finally, definitely leaving (or maybe has left) his Oval Office job?
  1. The British PM withstood a no confidence vote in Parliament this week. Who is the current British Prime Minister?
  1. “Black Peter” is a very controversial character who accompanies Santa Claus in what European country?
  1. What Russian spy reached a plea deal and will cooperate with prosecutors in the burgeoning Russian investigation?
  1. $150 million of student loans will be cancelled by the administration despite efforts by what cabinet member to keep the loans on the books?
  1. A terrorist attack at a Christmas market in what European country left 4 people dead early last week?
  1. 44 former what sent an open letter to the US Senate stating that “we are at an inflection point on the Russian investigation” and that the Senate must defend democracy?
  1. James A. Fields was sentenced to life in prison in Charlottesville, Va. for what crime(s)?
  1. Who told Politico that she wants to be remembered as being “transparent and honest” after she leaves her White House post?
  1. Perhaps the most aptly named person in the whole Russian investigation, David Pecker is the editor of what magazine?
  1. What European country’s Prime Minister announced he would seek a 22% raise in. Minimum wages starting in January?
  1. The second man made object left the solar system last week. What was the name of the object?
  1. Federal officials announced last week that what drug replaced heroin as the most dangerous drug in the US?
  1. Who said “It’s a manhood thing with him” when discussing Dear Leader and the border wall?
  1. And another one bites the dust! Who turned down the White House Chief of Staff job Friday?
  1. In a video released Thursday a former staffer from “The Apprentice” claimed Dear Leader used what drug on the set?

John Fugelsang

“If your religion:

-prioritizes power & domination over kindness & love

-makes you feel unworthy & inadequate

-values myths but not reality

-worships male power & subjugates women

-glamorizes suffering

-has really bad music

then just remember – you can get all that with bad porn.”


  1. Guatemala
  1. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School
  1. Verizon
  1. Steve King. The Google CEO replied that the iPhone was a different company.
  1. Dear Leader – he is now trying to blame a looming shutdown on Democrats
  1. Chief of Staff John Kelly
  1. Theresa May
  1. The Netherlands
  1. Maria Buttina
  1. Betsy De Vos
  1. France (Strasbourg)
  1. US senators
  1. Fist degree murder for killing Heather Heyer with his car at the ‘unite the right’ rally in Charlottesville, Va.
  1. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (quit laughing!)
  1. National Enquirer
  1. Spain
  1. Voyager 2 which was launched in 1977
  1. Fentanyl
  1. Nancy Pelosi
  1. Chris Christie – that makes 3 that have turned it down I think
  1. Adderall

Andy Borowitz

“Trump’s lawyers claimed that the Constitution contains “no provision for removing a person from office when that person was installed there by a foreign power.””

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

Couple Of Events Coming Up Of Interest

Image (1) progress-iowa.jpg for post 17381The first event is the Annual Progress Iowa Holiday Event coming up next Thursday (December 20th)  in Des Moines.  Tickets can be ordered online here.

It looks like it a great line up for what could be thought of as a bit of a celebration for the midterm victories. Iowa’s new congresswomen (gee that felt good to type) will be there along with what looks like some people that are thinking of making that big run for president. Here is the line up for the night:


Congresswoman Elect Cindy Axne 

Congesswoman Elect Abby Finkenauer

Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Senator Jeff Merkley 

Representative Eric Swalwell

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang 

Thursday, December 20, 2018
5:30 – 7:30 PM

Temple for Performing Arts

1011 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309

Google Maps

Parking: Metered street parking available, or free parking after 5:30 p.m. in the Nationwide garage at 12th & Walnut.

Questions? Click here to email us!


Women's March 2019

Then next month it will be time for another Women’s March.  January 19th, 2019 is the date for the main march in Washington and for sister marches across the country. 

Considering how successful the midterms were and how much of the heavy lift was done by women, Democrats need to make sure they support and work with women. March locations can be found here. So far Iowa has a march scheduled in Des Moines:

2019 Women’s March Iowa

January 19, 2019 • 11:00 AM

Des Moines Capitol

1007 E Grand Ave

des moines, IA 50319

Another march is scheduled just across the Missouri River in Omaha that same day for the folks in western Iowa:

Omaha Women’s March

January 20, 2019 • 1:00 PM

Downtown Omaha


Omaha, NE 68102

Keep an eye on that page, though. I have a feeling more marches will be popping up before January 19th. 

There is also a facebook page for the Women’s March which may have some additional information. There is also an Iowa page on facebook which includes march merchandise for sale.   


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

Think Progress On Abby Finkenauer


The other 29-year-old who Democrats just elected to Congress”

While Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is getting headlines and much press, Iowa’s Abby Finkenauer as a slightly older new member of congress is getting ready to represent Iowa’s working families, farmer, students and children in the first district. Finkenauer has been a rising star in the Iowa Democratic Party for a few years. She has earned the trust of her district through her hard work and honesty.

From an instagram post cited in the article, Finkenauer lets out a lot of frustration on the last session of of the Iowa legislature:

View this post on Instagram

Around 7 AM one of the worst legislative sessions for Iowa families, finally came to a close. Walking out this morning I thought about how different I felt walking out after my first adjournment in the House when I was a Page at 18. I was so excited to be starting my adult life in Iowa after picking to stay in Iowa for college, and how I knew Iowa was a place that would put value in my future and be a place of equality and respect. We raised the minimum wage that session and added sexual orientation to Iowa Civil Rights Act, just to name a few things which absolutely changed Iowa for the better. This year, walking out, I'm reminded about how quickly progress hard fought can be taken away. 4 months. That's all it was and yet that's all it took to gut workers rights for 180,000 Iowans, lower wages, pass provisions making it harder for every hard working Iowan who gets hurt on the job to receive fair compensation, restrict a woman's right to her own health care choices as well as gut funding making it harder for men and women to receive family planning services, and underfund our education system from K-12 to community colleges and our public universities – again, just to name a few. On that note, this eastern Iowa girl doesn't forget when you mess with the lives of her friends, family and neighbors. Although we all may need some rest now after 24 hrs straight at the Capitol, tomorrow we get back up and I promise you, this fight for Iowa is only getting started. 💪🏻

A post shared by Abby Finkenauer for Congress (@abby4iowa) on

So it was good to see do an in depth article on Iowa’s new 1st district representative highlighting her background and the reasons she is a traditional Democrat. At a 2015 fundraiser, Finkenauer herself explains where she got her political leanings: (7 minutes).  

I know most of us can’t wait until the new congress is sworn in and the new Democratic majority can get to work turning this country back from a country that attacks its workers, teachers, poor elderly – in short everybody who is not rich – and goes back to work for those people once again.

Finkenauer will be one of three Democrats representing Iowa in the new US House. That feels so nice to say that. Along with Abby Finkenauer Iowa will have Cindy Axne representing the third district and of course old hand Dave Loebsack from district 2. 

Unfortunately that leaves us with Iowa’s singular major embarrassment in congress in the person of Steve King.  In a very embarrassing exchange this week in a Judiciary committee hearing where Republicans were trying to claim that Google’s search algorithms made Republicans look bad, King had this exchange with Google’s CEO:  (video at link)

  • At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was asked by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) why his 7-year-old granddaughter saw a photo of the congressman with inappropriate language while playing a game on her iPhone.

  • Pichai answered, “Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company.”

  • The Democratic staff table erupted in laughter at Pichai’s reply, according to Business Insider’s Joe Perticone, who attended Tuesday’s hearing.

  • Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) told the Iowa congressman later in the hearing that if he wanted “positive search results, do positive things.”

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

Rep. Eric Swalwell To Hold Gun Violence Town Hall In Des Moines

Rep. Swalwell has said he is considering running for president in 2020. He will also be a speaker at Progress Iowa’s Sixth Annual Holiday Event.


Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15) will host a student town hall on gun violence featuring Cameron Kasky – a student activist and survivor of the February 2018 mass shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. – on Thursday, Dec. 20 in Des Moines.

Co-sponsored by the Youth Polk County Democrats and the College and Young Democrats of Iowa, this event – free and open to the public – will foster discussion of how the incoming Democratic House majority can take real action to curb America’s plague of gun violence.

“No more moments of silence, no more thoughts and prayers without real action,” Swalwell said. “There is no right more important than the right to live, and as a mass-shooting survivor, Cameron Kasky knows this better than most. His generation refuses to be shackled by the NRA; so does our incoming House majority. Together, we can work to banish the specter of gun violence that haunts our schools, our places of worship, our communities.”

Armed with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, the Parkland gunman killed 17 students and staff members and injured 17 others – the deadliest shooting at a high school in United States history. Kasky, now 18, co-founded the student-led Gun Violence Prevention advocacy group Never Again MSD, and helped organize the March for Our Lives nationwide student protest last March.

“As our country continues to lead the world in mass shootings, it is long past time we stop pulling punches and tackle gun violence for the horrific epidemic it is,” Kasky said. “I haven’t a shred of doubt in my mind that Congressman Swalwell is the person to do this. Rep. Swalwell is not afraid to advocate for gun control legislation that others are too scared to touch, and we need a fearless leader on this issue now more than ever.”

WHAT: Gun Violence Student Town Hall

WHO: Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and Cameron Kasky, student activist and Parkland shooting survivor

WHEN: 4 p.m. CT Thursday, Dec. 20

WHERE: Franklin Junior High, 4801 Franklin Ave., Des Moines, IA 50310

MEDIA RSVP: Josh Richman,


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Update: Iowa’s CAFO Problem

Updated YouTube link:

Tim Wagner, Izaak Walton League, Agriculture Outreach Coordinator
Rodger Routh Video

Posted in Blog for Iowa | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Sean Hannity Is The Real President

It has been cast about that Fox News is the real president.  Actually, it appears to be Sean Hannity.

Media Matters for America

Since taking office, President Donald Trump’s relationship with chief Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity has been extensively documented, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the president is receiving inspiration for his daily rage tweets about the special counsel’s ongoing investigation from Hannity’s programming. Hannity, who has taken on the role as the face of the crusade against the special counsel, has desperately and almost comically spearheaded the public relations campaign to undermine the public’s trust in the investigation. And now, as the indictments of Trump associates and details of their crimes and possible cooperation agreements with the government begin to pile up and attract media coverage, the president is lashing out on Twitter, oftentimes employing language that can be traced back, nearly verbatim, to one person:

See this documentary to understand how right wing media (propaganda) is brainwashing America.

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Iowa Senate Democrats Release Committee Assignments

Good to know what committees your state senator is on. Here is a list of the assignments. Follow the Iowa Senate Democrats on Facebook.

2019 Iowa Senate Democratic Committee Assignments

DES MOINES– Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen released committee assignments today for Democratic State Senators for the 2019 session of the Iowa Legislature.

“Democratic Senators are committed to working with the Governor and Republican legislators on issues where we can find common ground over the next two years, especially ensuring Iowans have access to affordable health care and better-paying job opportunities,” Petersen said.  “However, if Republicans continue pushing an agenda that hurts the health care, education and pocketbooks of working Iowans, we will be fierce in our opposition.”

The 88th General Assembly will begin on Monday, January 14, 2019.

Standing Committees

13 total members
1. Kinney –RM
2. Mathis
3. Ragan
4. R. Taylor
5. Wahls

21 members
1. Bolkcom –RM
2. Celsi
3. Dotzler
4. Lykam
5. Mathis
6. Ragan
7. T. Taylor
8. Wahls

15 members
1. Lykam – RM
2. Bisignano
3. Bolkcom
4. Mathis
5. Petersen
6. Quirmbach

15 members
1. Quirmbach –RM
2. Celsi
3. Danielson
4. Smith
5. Wahls

Statutory, 6 members; 3 each
1. Jochum -RM
2. Kinney
3. Mathis

Government Oversight
5 members
1. Bisignano –RM
2. Celsi

Human Resources
13 members
1. Mathis –RM
2. Bolkcom
3. Jochum
4. Quirmbach
5. Ragan

15 members
1. Kinney –RM
2. Bisignano
3. Hogg
4. Petersen
5. R. Taylor

Labor & Business Relations
11 members
1. T. Taylor –RM
2. Bisignano
3. Dotzler
4. R. Taylor

Local Government
11 members
1. J. Smith –RM
2. Hogg
3. Mathis
4. Quirmbach

Natural Resources & Env.
13 members
1. Hogg –RM
2. Bolkcom
3. Celsi
4. Lykam
5. J. Smith

Rules & Administration
11 members
1. Petersen –RM
2. Bolkcom
3. Jochum
4. Ragan

State Government
15 members
1. Bisignano –RM
2. Celsi
3. Danielson
4. Jochum
5. T. Taylor

13 members
1. Danielson – RM
2. Kinney
3. Lykam
4. J. Smith
5. T. Taylor

Veterans Affairs
11 members
1. R. Taylor – RM
2. Danielson
3. Dotzler
4. Ragan

Ways & Means
17 members
1. Jochum –RM
2. Bolkcom
3. Danielson
4. Dotzler
5. Quirmbach
6. Wahls

Appropriations Subcommittees

Administration & Regulation
1. Celsi –RM
2. R. Taylor

Agriculture & Natural Resources
1. Mathis –RM
2. Kinney

Economic Development
1. Dotzler- RM
2. J. Smith

1. Wahls –RM
2. Quirmbach

Health & Human Services
1. Ragan –RM
2. Bolkcom

Justice Systems
1. Hogg- RM
2. T. Taylor

Transportation, Capitals
1. Lykam –RM
2. Petersen

1. Jochum –RM
2. Hogg

Posted in Blog for Iowa | 1 Comment