Kamala Harris Campaign Seeks Iowa Interns


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

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

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

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

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Could Kamala Harris Be America’s Promise?

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


“Tough. Principled. Fearless”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She also spoke of unity:

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

Chants of Kamala!

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

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

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Gardening The Climate Crisis

Garden Soil Turned over with a Spade

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

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

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

Reduce or eliminate synthetic fertilizers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plant Trees and other perennials

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

Atmospheric CO2 Levels

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

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

Reduce water use

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

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

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

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

Focus on soil health

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reduce tillage

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

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

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

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

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

Opt for hand tools

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

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

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


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

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

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Did Trump Traffic Cocaine?

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

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Corporate Anti-Science Tactics Similar To Political Propaganda

Some corporations manipulate science to hide the truth about faulty or dangerous products.  No different than political propaganda, they rely on the similar tactics.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has identified these tactics and given them a name, the “Disinformation Playbook.”

Here are five of the most widely used “plays” identified by UCSUSA which have been used to block regulations or minimize corporate liability, often resulting in negative consequences for  public health and safety.

Video links are included for more about each of these tactics.

Visit the UCS website for famous examples of how these tactics have been used by big corporations.

According to UCSUSA, the five major disinformation strategies are the Fake, the Blitz, the Diversion, the Screen and the Fix.  You will recognize some of these tactics used by Fox News and other political propaganda outlets, and of course by Trump.

The Fake – Conducting “counterfeit” science and passing it off as legitimate. https://www.youtube.com/TheFake

The Blitz – Harass scientists who speak out about unfavorable results. https://www.youtube.com/TheBlitz

The Diversion
– Manufacture uncertainty where little or none exists.  https://www.youtube.com/TheDiversion

The Screen
– Buy credibility through alliances with academia or professional societies.  https://www.youtube.com/TheScreen

The Fix
– Manipulate government officials to influence policy.

Click here to read more

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How Does America Protect Itself From 24-7 Propaganda?

Dave Bradley’s civics quiz will be back next Sunday.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Propaganda works.  CNN/WSJ poll:  Half of Fox viewers say the Mueller report cleared Donald Trump.  The average for people who watch any other media is 16-17%.  61% of Fox viewers say Trump has been honest about the Russia probe.  73% of Fox News viewers approve of Donald Trump. For consumers of all other news media it’s well under 40%.   Any questions?

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Nuclear Weapons Must Be Eliminated

Hiroshima, Japan after U.S. Nuclear Attack. Photo Credit: The Telegraph

I’m mad about nuclear weapons spending.

The Trump administration plans to spend far more than President Obama on the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. Depending on time frame, the administration will see Obama’s trillion dollars and raise it another half trillion.

Why do we continue to spend money at all on a weapons system we are required by treaty to eliminate? Why do we spend money on weapons that should never be used?

I’m mad and that’s not the half of it.

I’m mad at President Harry Truman for dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. I read Truman’s explanation in his memoir, Year of Decisions, and understand he thought it was a good idea. However, after Hiroshima, when our government understood the destructive capacity of nuclear weapons, dropping a second on Nagasaki was criminal.

I’m mad at the greatest generation for failure to comply with Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which was signed in 1968 and went into effect two years later. By now, we should be finished with nuclear weapons. The treaty binds us as follows:

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

The United States and Russia continue to hold the largest number of nuclear weapons even though reductions were made through treaty negotiations. Treaties are being dismantled by the current administration. If nuclear states had disarmed as the Non-Proliferation Treaty compels us, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

I’m mad at my generation of baby boomers. As the torch of nuclear non-proliferation was passed to us, my cohort chose to focus instead on personal liberation and financial well-being.

There was a resurgence of interest in non-proliferation during the nuclear freeze movement in the 1980s. This global advocacy contributed to negotiation of the INF Treaty between the United States and Soviet Union on the elimination of their intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. It was signed by President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev on Dec. 8, 1987. The current administration announced plans to abandon the INF Treaty.

Why am I so mad? The problem of the existence of nuclear weapons should have been solved soon after society found their destructive capacity. I don’t want to pass that problem along to our daughter and her generation.

Our community has outgrown our fire station and tax levies aren’t sufficient to build a new one. Fire fighters are determined to raise the funds and implore us to “fill the boot” they leave at local businesses. If we had eliminated nuclear weapons, we might have enough money to build thousands of fire stations. Where are our priorities?

As a society we must create a nuclear weapons free world. There is no cure for a nuclear war. We must prevent what we cannot cure.

~Published on May 5, 2019 as a guest opinion in the Cedar Rapids Gazette

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Lindsey Graham Senate Seat In Danger

Many of our readers may not know that this blog began with the Howard Dean presidential campaign of 2004.  And so we continue to honor the doctor’s requests if we can.  It’s not like we don’t have enough places to put our money right here in Iowa, but if you have more cash than you know what to do with, why not throw some at the guy looking to unseat Lindsey Graham?

Here’s the note from Howard Dean:

Lindsey Graham has gone completely off the deep end.

Lindsey abandoned any principles he might have had by trying to gut the Affordable Care Act and becoming Trump’s rubber-stamp in the Senate.

Democrat Jaime Harrison has a real shot to DEFEAT Lindsey Graham. 52% of voters want Lindsey gone!

But Lindsey already called in Mike Pence to boost his campaign. It’s going to take a major grassroots effort to win this race.

That’s why I’m asking you: Can you give $10 to help Democrat Jaime Harrison defeat Lindsey Graham?

I used a 50-state strategy when I was in charge of the Democratic National Committee because I know Democrats can win ANYWHERE.

No matter where you go in America, voters don’t like incompetent leaders who try to please their friends instead of work for the people.

That’s why I’m proud to support Democrat Jaime Harrison in South Carolina:

He’s ready to fight for our health care — Jaime knows the people deserve access to affordable care. And he won’t let Graham take it away.

He’s ready to fight for our children — Jaime wants to fund rural schools that have been left behind and give everyone a chance to succeed.

And he’s ready to fight for our democracy — Jaime will stand up to Trump’s attacks on the press, the courts, and the right to vote.

If Democrats work together, we can flip Graham’s seat and elect Jaime Harrison — a Democrat who will always fight for the people.

But Jaime needs our help to win — can you chip in $10 right now to help Jaime DEFEAT Lindsey Graham?

Click here to make a contribution.

Visit Democrat Jaime Harrison’s campaign website. https://jaimeharrison.com/

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Joe Biden’s Ode To The Middle Class

NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo will host the first 2020 presidential primary debate in June of 2019. This is the fifth in a series of BFIA’s coverage and commentary of the announcement speeches by the declared Democratic candidates for president for 2020 in no particular order.  BFIA is not endorsing any particular candidate.

Former vice-president Joe Biden announced his candidacy for President of the United States in a video, followed by a rally of union workers in Pittsburgh, PA.

In this powerful video, Biden references the Declaration of Independence and draws contrast to a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  He describes how when he heard Trump’s response,”there are good people on both sides” he knew our country was facing the greatest threat we had ever faced.

Biden is persuasive in his argument and seems genuinely alarmed and sincere in his belief that “if we give Donald Trump eight years in the white house he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation.”

The video is an effective portrayal of a candidate who remembers when America had a thriving middle class,  who is not afraid of Donald Trump, and who cares deeply about the integrity of our democratic system of government.

First, the video:

The Biden rally in Pittsburgh, PA

The country was built by the great American middle class. The American middle class was built by you, by unions. And that’s the story of America. You are the backbone of the nation.”

It was a classic, traditional Democratic campaign speech both rhetorically and according to content. There was intermittent applause and chants of “we want Joe!”

On policy, he didn’t mention the Green New Deal, but he did mention the future of clean, renewable energy. He didn’t talk much about corporations but he did say this:

The stock market is roaring. But you don’t feel it. You don’t feel the tax break because it all went to the top. The basic bargain has been broken that when a company does well everyone benefits. Now, only the CEOs benefit.

On policy Biden mentioned capital gains loopholes, $15 minimum wage, education, health care, jobs, clean renewable energy, strong military and productive workers. I don’t think he mentioned climate change but I may have missed it.  He does address climate change on his campaign website joebiden.com

He cited three reasons why he is running for president.

1- restore the soul of the nation
2 – rebuild the backbone of the nation
3 – unify the nation

The rally music – Bruce Springsteen “We Take Care of Our Own”

And here’s the rally:

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Attend Your Local Town Hall On Iowa’s Medicaid Mess

Action alert from Progress Iowa

From cuts to services for Iowa’s most vulnerable – some people are even being denied coverage for their wheelchairs – to late reimbursements for providers, Governor Kim Reynolds’ Medicaid privatization scheme is a disaster.

We can’t let this attack on Iowa’s most vulnerable continue. Stand up against Governor Reynolds’ Medicaid Mess at your local Medicaid town hall! 

Thank you,
Amy Adams
Organizer, Progress Iowa


Des Moines – May 8 at 5:15 PM

Waterloo – May 9 at 5:15 PM

Cedar Rapids – May 10 at 5:15 PM

Sioux City – May 13 at 5:15 PM

Council Bluffs – May 14 at 5:15 PM

Davenport – May 16 at 5:15 PM

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