John Oliver: Give Medicare For All A Chance

With the decline of newspapers in America, we still have some good reporters out there, including John Oliver who can be a journalist and comedian simultaneously. We Americans require learning to be fun, so check out this entertaining and informative segment on Tonight with John Oliver where he clearly explains the pros and cons of Medicare for all. As an added note to Trump supporters, many of you wanted the electorate to just “give him a chance.”  Now it’s your turn.

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Why You Should Support Your Local Newspaper

Support Your Local Newspaper!

American newspapers are struggling for a variety of reasons. This article by Gary Sanders of Iowa City is spot on for anyone who lives in a town with an endangered local newspaper.  To find and subscribe to a local paper near you, here is a directory of Iowa newspapers at the Iowa Newspaper Association

Reprinted with permission from the author Gary Sanders, avid newspaper reader and longtime Iowa City activist.

I’m sending this out to a lot of people, some of whom I don’t usually send emails to. But today’s [Iowa City] Press-Citizen has four exceptionally good articles by four local journalists, and I feel compelled to do this. Many of you, when I tell you I am a paid subscriber to the print Press-Citizen, scoff and say the PC isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Well, I’d like you to read at least one of the four articles I’m about to mention and tell me what you think:

1) Council unsure over 15-story towers by Zachary Oren Smith, p.1…..This is coming up for a vote at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, and this article helped me understand the pros and cons.

2) “I still do not know when I am leaving.” Former University Heights mayor still on cruise turned away from East Asia ports, by Hillary Ojeda, p.1……. A first person account by a person stuck on a cruise ship because of the coronavirus. This virus is pretty scary, but far away. The local angle made it more real to me.

3) ICCSD looks into options to prevent violence; Social media-monitoring companies considered, by Aimee Breaux, p.1…… I subbed in the district for many, many years. Obviously, things are way different than when I started. Do we really need to hire a “social media-monitoring company?” I don’t have the answer, but I am distrustful of the concept of “social media-monitoring.”

4) Remembering Lasansky’s devotion to art, by Isaac Hamlet, p.4. Story about Phil Lasansky, who recently died, and his family. I met Phil about 40 years ago in Democratic Party politics. We talked briefly over the years when we bumped into each other downtown. I am not very knowledgeable about art, but I am faintly aware of the Lasansky family and I really liked this article.

After reading those four articles I thought today was a really good day for the Press-Citizen. And yes, I remember when the PC was a lot more pages. And yes, I remember when they could cover an event in the evening and it would be in the next day’s paper. But this is still a good newspaper. And I say that as a paid subscriber to the [Cedar Rapids]  Gazette and the Daily Iowan, both of which are excellent papers. (I email their reporters and editors regularly telling them what a good job I think they are doing).

I’m asking you to think about subscribing to the Press-Citizen, either print or on-line. It’s $22/month delivered to my porch by 6:30 AM. (I have no idea what an on-line subscription would cost).

I don’t want us to turn into a city like Ann Arbor, which has a population of about 140,000 and no local newspaper. I lived there in the 1970’s, and I cannot believe that the Ann Arbor News is gone. But it is. People there have to depend on the University of Michigan’s paper, the Michigan Daily, for their local news. And I’m pretty sure that the Michigan Daily, which is an excellent newspaper, only publishes when U-M is in session.

Now I’ll get off my soapbox, and everyone can go back to their smart phones or I-pads or aerodoodles….. I’d appreciate any feedback, pro or con, by email or phone.

Gary Sanders 319/337-7739

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DFA Endorses Theresa GreenfIeld

Greenfield DFA

Yesterday we (DFA) announced endorsements in Georgia, today I’m excited to announce we’re expanding the map again — adding Iowa to our Flip the Senate slate!

For the first time in decades, Iowa’s Senate race is competitive.

We have the opportunity to replace Republican Senator Joni Ernst with someone who knows the struggle of Iowans and will give it her all to fight for them in the Senate. That someone is Democrat Theresa Greenfield.

Theresa outraised Ernst the last two quarters, has over $2 million in the bank and is building a campaign that — with our help — won’t just win the Senate seat, will also flip the state against Trump in November.

While Ernst made big promises to take on the corporate lobbyists in Washington, in reality she’s supported Trump every step of the way. And when Trump and Mitch McConnell gave tax breaks and loopholes to Wall Street, the insurance and drug companies, and the wealthiest few, Senator Ernst was a reliable vote every time.

Theresa’s a proud “farm kid” who grew up working hard on her small family farm while maintaining other part-time jobs just to get by. She knows firsthand the real needs of everyday Iowans, farmers and families. She knows Iowa doesn’t need more corporate giveaways and she’ll fight for investments in public education, small businesses, and healthcare.

DFA is proudly backing Theresa in this race to win Iowa and Flip the Senate: will you help us keep up the momentum and build the campaign by pitching in $10 or more today?

Thank you for everything you’re doing to flip the Senate this November,


Mondale Robinson, Political Director

Democracy for America

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Sunday Funday: President’s Day Edition

A short reminder that ice can be slick:

Hey, hey, hey, don’t check the mail tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day that we commemorate most of the presidents. You can guess which one this scribe will not be commemorating. Actually there will be two – the current one and the one on Roger Stone’s back. 

So we will try to wedge in some presidential questions, some black history questions and some current stuff. The current stuff may be hard since things are so quiet.

Let’s go:

  1. What major newspaper chain filed for bankruptcy Thursday?
  1. The administration has begun destroying parts of what natural National Monument to build their wall with Mexico?
  1. What president does Roger Stone have tattooed on his back?
  1. When is Roger Stone expected to be sentenced for his conviction on lying to congress and obstruction?
  1. Some people have all the luck. What former big time Iowa politico won a $150,000 lottery prize last week?
  1. Sometimes people are overlooked by history. Claudette Colvin made what act of defiance and was arrested some nine months before Rosa Parks?
  1. What former governor of Massachusetts was among those who ended their run for president after the New Hampshire primary?
  1. The current president offered a very blatant quid pro quo to the governor of what state Thursday?
  1. What did the current president want in return from the governor referenced in question 8?
  1. Four top Justice Department lawyers resigned due to whose meddling in the Roger Stone sentencing?
  1. The first protest against slavery in the Americas occurred in 1688 in Philadelphia by members of what religious sect?
  1. In a strange twist 3 former White House employees returned to White House employment. Which of these returnees was last seen “Dancing With The Stars”?
  1. What recently departed ambassador received a huge standing ovation at Georgetown U. where she accepted and award?
  1. What Republican US representative was named publicly in the Ohio State wrestling team coverup of sexual abuse of the the 1980s and 90s?
  1. Wilson Elementary School in El Cerrito, California will be renamed in honor of what former First Lady?
  1. Botswana is selling permits to kill what ‘big game’ animal for $39,000 a head?
  1. The US House Oversight Committee vote Tuesday to advance statehood for what US district?
  1. In a surprise what Democratic presidential candidate finished a solid third in New Hampshire?
  1. “Parasite” won the Oscar for best picture. What country was “Parasite” made in?
  1. The best documentary Oscar went to “American Factory” which was made by a production company owned by what former DC power couple?

The debate of our time in the US is not right vs. left but reality vs. fantasy – Bob Cesca on the Stephanie Miller Show


  1. McClatchy
  1. Organ Pipe National Monument
  1. Richard Nixon
  1. Feb. 20th
  1. Tom Vilsack
  1. She refused to change her seat – move to the back of the bus – on a Montgomery bus
  1. Deval Patrick
  1. New York ( Gov. Cuomo)
  1. He wanted New York to quit investigating his (the president’s) finances. The investigation is being done by the NY Attorney General Leticia James.
  1. AG Bill Barr who appeared to be acting on orders from the Chosen One.
  1. The Quakers
  1. Sean Spicer – the other two were Reince Priebus and Hope Hicks.
  1. Marie Yovanovitch
  1. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan
  1. Michelle Obama
  1. Elephants
  1. Washington DC
  1. Amy Klobuchar
  1. South Korea
  1. Barack and Michelle Obama.

What normally happens when a public official retaliates against a witness who testified about the public official’s criminal conduct is that the public official goes to prison. – George Conway (from All hat, No Cattle)

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STATEMENT: Does Chuck Grassley Think Iowans Are Idiots?

Image (1) progress-iowa.jpg for post 17381

Senator Grassley launches 99 county tour… without listing any events, times, or locations

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2020

Contact: Matt , (515) 423-0133

Des Moines, Iowa — Progress Iowa executive director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement in response to Senator Chuck Grassley kicking off his annual 99 county tour without listing any specific dates, times, or locations for constituents to meet him in a public setting:

“How can you kick off a 99 county tour without any public events? Senator Grassley must think Iowans are idiots, but we are watching him closely and he’s not fooling anyone. It’s a shame that Grassley is hiding from his constituents at private events, instead of holding open to the public town hall meetings. But it’s not surprising, since Grassley has sold us out at every turn over the past few years.”

“Iowans want good, quality health care. Grassley sold us out by voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act time after time. Iowans want to retire with dignity. Grassley sold us out with his party’s plan to gut Medicare and Social Security. Iowans believe in the rule of law. Grassley sold us out by supporting a rigged impeachment trial in the Senate, not even allowing new witnesses or evidence to be entered into the record.”

“We deserve to hear from Senator Grassley at public meetings across this state. You have avoided public meetings in Iowa’s largest counties for nearly a decade, and now you have the nerve to kick off your so-called statewide tour without any public events.”

“Senator Grassley, Iowans are a lot smarter than you think. And we deserve answers about your record. We’re ready to ask you tough questions, are you ready to do your job and answer?”

Senator Grassley’s so-called launch was covered by KCRG:

“The schedule posted on Grassley’s website does not list exactly when or where the meetings will be held in those eastern Iowa counties this week.”

Progress Iowa is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization with a network of more than 75,000 progressives. Year-round, Progress Iowa advocates for a stronger middle class, first-class public education, and fairness for all Iowans under the law.

Additional background:


Grassley has been doing his best to avoid real Iowans since his bizarre part in the 2016 refusal to hold hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. He has spent the past 3+ years defending the most unpopular president in our history. After voting last month to let an obvious law breaking criminal president walk free, Grassley is now simply afraid to show his face in Iowa.

We try to post notice of appearances by our senators especially and sometimes our representatives here on BFIA. Before 2016 such information was usually sent out from the senator’s office. If we missed it there, it was always posted on their websites well in advance. In 2016 in the midst of the Garland affair, such information became harder to find to the point last year when appearances would be posted on the morning of a morning appearance.

Not only have both senators become much more evasive about their appearances, they have also begun avoiding public appearances in Iowa’s larger cities. In those venues both senators often meet with private groups but still count it toward their “99 county tour.”

In the past 6 months Senator Ernst who is facing election this year has started once again to at least post appearances on her website slightly more in advance. But essentially both of Iowa’s senators have tried to do their best hide their tours while claiming they are not.

Image (1) Grassley-Trump-300x200.jpg for post 33850

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2020 election campaign, Blog for Iowa, Charles Grassley, Joni Ernst | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Rachel Maddow: Experts Warn Democracies Facing Autocracy

It is becoming hard to write something topical these days. Just as a person sits down to write a commentary on the latest scandal, there is a new and more serious scandal. But all of the ebb and flow of our history in the 21st century has been in the theme of the Republican Party careening toward autocracy and ending the nearly 230 years of constitutional government. 

It feels like every day the breaking news brings us another major lurch toward ending our democracy and setting up an autocratic government under the current president. Fortunately, we still have MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow  in her anchor chair ready to give a much broader view than most of us are taking. Maddow often sews together bits of history, with often little known facts and current major headlines to make us understand just what has happened.

Wednesday night, Maddow outdid herself with an 8 minute discussion of some of what has led us to our current situation in the US as we seem to have turned a corner and picked up speed on our descent into autocracy:

This is 8 minutes of video you need to listen to.

Maddow discusses such topics as “Believe the autocrat when he tells you who he is” or “Institutions will not save you.” We depend on the players to play by the rules. We have seen Republican presidents of this century bend and break rules without so much as a fare thee well. While many of us believe the current president is the worst ever, once he has broken and beat rules without penalty you can bet the next Republican will push the limits even farther.

One last point that I want to discuss is Maddow’s discussion of Tim Snyder’s book On Tyranny. In it Snyder lays out some rules to at least slow down advancing authoritarianism. The first rule is “Do Not Obey In Advance.” This one really hits home when we consider the recent impeachment trial.

It really hits home in Iowa where we have two of the most acquiescent senators of all in bowing to the authoritarian president. 

First we have long termer and long time “party before country guy” Chuck Grassley. Grassley announced shortly after his vote against impeachment that he would use the power of his senate committee to go after potential Trump opponent former VP Joe Biden. This is of course not unprecedented since Republicans, including Grassley, have spent decades and squandered millions of dollars chasing Hillary Clinton to find she did nothing, nothing wrong.

And of course Iowa is also home to one of Trump’s biggest backers, Joni Ernst. In a laugher of a statement on her vote to acquit Trump on his impeachment, Ernst claimed something to the effect that ’Trump has learned his lesson and won’t do that any more.’ Now anyone with a post-fourth grade education risked doing themselves damage laughing at that line.

Such a statement proves that Ernst is either a total fool and thus unfit for congress or (and most likely) thinks Iowans are fools that she can just say anything to and we will take her at her word. Considering her performance in the China embargo and in the Renewable Fuel Standards issues, she appears to be all in for the autocrat and ready to tell Iowans just about anything. In short she is a very, very willing tool for the coming autocracy.

With the actions of the past week – The DOJ becoming Trump’s personal law firm and Trump’s out in the open (and illegal) revenge blitz against anyone considered an enemy (and his brother) – we must take heed of the lessons offered on the coming autocracy.

I believe we can still head it off, but we will need a fullout commitment and effort in the elections this year. This year’s election is the last firewall of democracy.

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2020 election campaign, Blog for Iowa, Charles Grassley, Joni Ernst, Republican Policy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

New Polling Suggests Iowans Support CAFO Moratorium

A Rodger Routh video

“Last year a proposal was put forth in the Iowa legislature to increase oversight of CAFOs and to place a moratorium or ban on construction of new CAFOs and expansion of existing CAFOs.

  • 53% of all respondents from Iowa support moratorium of CAFOs
  • 53% said this was somewhat or very important
  • 77% of Dems in Iowa support moratorium
  • 49% of Independents support moratorium in Iowa
  • 35% of GOP support moratorium in Iowa

Posted in Blog for Iowa | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Fake Outrage Of The GOP

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Can Michael Franken Beat Joni Ernst?

Michael Franken

I’d just secured the last part of my barter share from a local CSA — a large bag of heads of garlic. I put seven or eight of them into a lunch bag and headed along Highway One toward Iowa City to meet with U.S. Senate candidate Michael Franken.

Franken is running for the Democratic nomination in the June 2 primary. He has a plan.

He believes he can address three key aspects of incumbent Senator Joni Ernst’s appeal: (1) He was raised in rural western Iowa and said, “We were as rural as they get.” (2) As a general grade officer he has a different kind of military experience from Ernst. (3) He had plenty of experience in castrating hogs during his farm upbringing, and worked a stint in a slaughterhouse. He believes these three things address Ernst’s popularity and provide him a good chance to win in the general election.

On Feb. 8, I had my third conversation with the retired Navy Vice Admiral at a coffee shop near Interstate 80. The first two were the result of his fundraising call time. The third was on assignment for Blog for Iowa. I presented the bag of garlic as a gift and began the interview.

Franken returned to Sioux City in 2017 after serving a distinguished naval career. His last assignment was as Deputy Director of Military Operations for the United States Africa Command. If one names a significant military action since 9-11, Franken was most likely involved. His work included military operations in Libya, Mogadishu, Somalia, and combating pirates near the Horn of Africa. Unlike Ernst, Franken has a diverse portfolio of command experience, the gold standard of military service.

Of the primary candidates in the race, Franken has the longest resume of experience working on legislation in the Congress. In 1996 his legislative work began with an assignment as legislative affairs for Senator Ted Kennedy. It continued in between other assignments, totaling ten years in legislative affairs, with his most recent assignment finishing in 2015. He believes his work as a legislative assistant gives him a sound foothold to get things done for Iowans should he succeed in the primary and defeat Joni Ernst.

The unique story about his opposition to the 2003 Iraq War was highlighted in his announcement video which can be found here.

According to Open Secrets, the campaign has raised a total of $333,719, spent $208,934, and has cash on hand of $124,784 as of Dec. 31, 2019.

BFIA: Name two or three of the major naval operations in which you participated.

FRANKEN: I’m very unique in terms of after 9-11 I only served operationally in the Navy one time. The rest of the times were all joint. Due to my exposure early on, due to my relationships developed mostly in Washington, D.C., and at U.S Central Command, and U.S. Pacific Command, I was acceptable replacement for often-times Army officers, U.S. Seals, Marines, etc. There have been eleven, as I recall, named operations since 9-11. I participated in nine of them.

BFIA: Why Iowa after military service?

FRANKEN: As you get more senior in life you’ve got options. What was reasonably apparent was I’ve worked for every president and been in the military since the Carter administration. I just didn’t care as a three-star going back to Washington D.C. with the expectation that I would have a position that close to the administration. I just didn’t want to do that. My prerogative after 36 years of active service.

I requested to retire and (it was) granted by the Trump administration. I came back to a consulting business in Washington D.C. (Chartwell Strategic Advisors, LLC.) where my wife and I owned a home. We have a special needs daughter whose treatment happens in Washington.

When it got to be after the 2018 election I wanted to ensure that the Democratic party had someone who negated the items which got Joni Ernst elected so that it was a level playing field for an aspirant in the Democratic Party. When I saw that not unfold to my liking, I gathered a team together, submitted my nominating papers, and embarked on a run to represent the State of Iowa as best I can.

BFIA: Why does your experience best qualify you to be the Democratic nominee?

FRANKEN: The prime objective is Joni Ernst rode three horses to her candidacy, a. the ruralness, b. the military, and c. the pig thing. So first of all ruralness.

BFIA: Have you ever castrated a hog?

FRANKEN: Hell yes! I can castrate a hog with my eyes shut. I worked three years in a hog-kill plant — stick pen, rendering, chitterlings table, head table, floor… four months, 2,500 hogs a day. I can do it with my eyes shut. Thank you very much young lady I know the difference between the curly end and the snouty end.

My father planted a machine shop. The nearest town was Hudson, S.D. He did it specifically so there would be a long distance between him and any city for implement repair. We got running water in our bathroom just a couple of years before I was born. I’m the youngest of nine.

I mean, I know how to make soap. We had home made soap. We all knew how to sew. We butchered animals in the back. I mean we were as rural as they get… Don’t tell me about Iowa values… piling in the station wagon all of us to go to church on Sunday morning. When I took a bath the water was the color of tea and was tepid because I was last. I’m pretty rural. All those rural homonyms, I got you on that.

BFIA: Ours is a progressive blog. What is your message to our readers?

FRANKEN: Job number one is to congeal around a presidential candidate who can win in the general election against President Trump. Step number one. When the party, when the machinations happen and we congeal around a candidate, fall in, build up your voting base, get those, convince those who are on the fence that four more years of this will not be beneficial to the State of Iowa. All they need to do to see whether I’m right about that is to look in the rear view mirror.

Ask some basic questions. From a national security perspective are you more assured of your future? Is the sanctity of the family farm better? Is education better? Is health care better? I’m sure your stock portfolio is better but how many people does that pertain to? Tell me if you like the national discourse that’s presently going on. Do you think it’s going to improve? Step number one, do that.

I’m that guy that talks about sacrifice. If you are 85 percent for candidate such and such, and 95 percent for something and you’ve got your nose bent out of line because the guy or woman got 85, then frankly be happy that we have such great candidates that you even can choose from more than one. If you look at the cast of characters from 2016, the Republicans weren’t so blessed. Yahoos versus professionals. Let’s march forward.

Step number two. We need to control the senate from the Supreme Court designation to controlling the unhelpful tendencies of a potential second term. First and foremost we need to control the senate.

When you march forward to the general election and you look at the primary. Look at the primary in terms of ties, not who is nice, who they know, who they think would be fine. “Fine” is a bad word. Who’s going to win? Don’t think in four letters think in three letters, “win.” Who can beat Joni Ernst? Who can sit toe to toe, debate her, expose her voting record, pick it apart, corral a national effort behind the person to beat her.

She will have all of the strength of the Republican party behind her. Money will be no object for the Republicans to maintain that seat. You need to win her on the essence of the discussion. You need to punish her in every debate. She needs to whimper in the corner because she’s been supporting special interests in this state, at the behest of special interests and corporate greed, and been hammering the citizens of this state into the rich soil.

If you can’t choose which candidate is that, can do that, then let’s have a debate among the Democratic candidates well before the primary. in every county we can. I’m game. I sign up.

~ Editor’s note: The garlic presented to the campaign was appreciated as some were experiencing cold symptoms. Admiral Franken posted his garlic cold treatment the next day. During the interview he provided responses to addressing the climate crisis, the national debt and the deficit. Any errors in transcription belong to the author. His campaign website is

Michael Franken’s Cold Treatment

Posted in 2020 election campaign, Candidates, Iowa Democrats | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Caucus Phone Jamming By Trump Supporters Should Be Investigated

Allen Raymond went to prison for phone jamming for RNC in  NH 2002

ICYMI.  Multiple news outlets reported about the phone lines being jammed on caucus night by Trump supporters.  Former NH Democratic chair Kathy Sullivan recalls a 2002 phone jamming scandal in her state that resulted in GOP political operatives being convicted of federal crimes and going to prison. She has called for an investigation into what happened on caucus night 2020 in Iowa.

Iowa has taken a lot of heat for the problems, and it stands to reason that if the precinct chairs had been able to get through, results could have been reported in a more timely manner, and this would not have gotten blown up by the media to the extent that it has.

NBC News reported on Thursday that the party’s hotline number was repeatedly posted on the online message board 4chan as voting took place on Monday night. Its users, who are anonymous and have trolled and harassed the president’s political opponents, urged others to call in.

Maddow reports, “NBC News and other news organizations tracked down messages from pro-Trump political message boards showing Trump supporters in real time on caucus night posting and reposting the hotline numbers for precinct chairs and encouraging others to “F” them up and to “keep clogging the lines.”

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