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Bruce Braley Building Bridges

Maddow Compares Joni Ernst To Failed Candidate Sharon Engle

joni with gunMaddow: “You just can’t have candidates threatening to use guns to mount an armed revolt of the government if they don’t get what they want from the political system.” Enter Joni Ernst and her “beautiful little Smith & Wesson.”


Nutella And No

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Rhonny Dam, the Good Green Witch, connected with Blog for Iowa through Al Gore's The Climate Reality Project. Hope you enjoy her latest post. Reprinted with permission. For regular updates, follow her blog here.]

This really isn’t OK.



But it’s Nutella! And it’s so good and yummy and delicious! Nutella… and breadsticks! For convenient dipping!

This plastic-sheathed product is so unnecessary that I can’t even believe anyone would be suckered into buying it. There is next to no point for it. I take that back – there is no point for it. If I see someone eating from one of these I am seriously going to smack it out of their hands. I don’t care how delicious Nutella is, there is no reason for this kind of absurd plastic waste. No reusing or repurposing is worth this package. None. No. Not. Never.

They are just being introduced over here in the US. While looking for images, I discovered there is one with a drink on the other side, making it twice as big. With a straw. It’s a lemon drink from what I could tell. Speechless.

I did my share of those plastic things with the fake cheese product and the crackers when I was little. You remember – that bright red little cheese spreader thing? I shudder to think how many of those are still out there from our misspent youth. Are we learning nothing? Are we progressing at all? Are we moving forward?

It would seem not.

~ Rhonny Dam, the Good Green Witch, is a Climate Reality Presenter out of Western Pennsylvania. She is on a mission to wake us up out of our lives of conveniences, plastics and things. It is her life’s work to get us back in tune with the Earth so that we can stick around here for awhile.

Hillary Clinton Says Joni Ernst Has Disqualified Herself

In Iowa today, Hillary Clinton claimed that Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst has disqualified herself from office by refusing to answer questions.

“I have concluded that Iowans take politics really seriously,” Clinton said. “You test your candidates, you actually force them to be the best they can be and they have to be willing to answer the tough questions.”   Democrat Bruce Braley “has been willing to do and his opponent has not,” she said.

“It truly seems like it should be in disqualifying in Iowa of all states to avoid answering questions,” Clinton added to a sustained round of applause.

Clinton’s remarks in Iowa struck on a latent hypocrisy. Republicans and Beltway media insiders like NBC’s Chuck Todd claimed that Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes disqualified herself from office by refusing to say who she voted for in 2012. The same media and talking heads have had nothing to say about Republican Senate Joni Ernst canceling several meeting with newspaper editorial boards in Iowa.

Grimes may not want to discuss who she voted for as a private citizen, but Ernst is refusing to tell the voters what she stands for and what she will do if she gets elected.

Republicans opened the door to the disqualification questions. Hillary Clinton walked right in and knocked them on their backsides. The Iowa Senate race is very close. Ernst’s refusal to tell the voters what she will do if she wins is a way for her to try to run out the clock and backdoor her way into the United States Senate.

It may not matter to voters in Kentucky who Grimes voted for, but the folks in Iowa deserve to know what they are getting themselves into if they elect Joni Ernst.

Hillary Clinton called out a giant hypocrisy, and with less than a week to go, Democrats are sending a loud message that Joni Ernst won’t be allowed to keep her positions to herself.

Hatch-Vernon Campaign Launches #IowasFreshStart Tour

Check out the Fresh Start Tour schedule.  Today’s stops:  Mason City, Algona, Ft. Dodge, Webster City, Iowa Falls, Waverly.  #IowasFreshStart


Click on the image for details.

Confirm Where To Vote Early For Climate Change Action


Ernst Disrespects Iowa By Refusing Local Newspaper Interviews

joni ernst on faux news

Ernst avoids Iowa newspapers preferring face time with Fox News.

According to Republican Joe Scarborough, Joni Ernst wasn’t smart to avoid the Iowa print media.  “You can’t run from editorial boards,” he said.  Scarborough bragged on Morning Joe yesterday that when he served in congress, even though everyone considered his right wing libertarian views to be, in his words, “crazy,” he still benefited by speaking to the press.  He asserted that it is smart for a candidate to grant interviews with the media in their state and therefore, Ernst should have done it.

But the point is not just that it wasn’t smart of Ernst to evade the editorial boards of the Des Moines Register, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald or the Quad City Times, the state’s largest  newspapers. The point is that in doing so she denied the citizens of Iowa who she claims to want to represent, a thorough vetting of her views.

Sorry Joni, but sound bytes in debates and cutesy pig ads that someone else dreamed up for you do not count as much as having to provide thorough answers and explanations of your policy ideas.  Your opponent Bruce Braley faced the media and had to answer tough questions and subject himself to scrutiny. What makes you so privileged that you do not feel obligated to give the voters of Iowa complete information about where you stand on the issues?  If you are going to be so touchy about criticism, perhaps you should not be our senator.

Here’s what the Gazette had to say about it.

Joni Ernst seems to be disrespecting quite a few folks.

You may have read in our U.S. Senate endorsement that Ernst, Republican candidate for the office, “failed to make time in her schedule” to meet with the Editorial Board at The Gazette.

But while Ernst staffers merely strung us along, never agreeing to a meeting time or openly refusing the invitation, we learned Thursday morning Ernst reneged on her promise to The Des Moines Register. She also snubbed The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, the Quad-City Times and the CBS television affiliate in Sioux City. Even more await an answer.

She did meet with the board of the Sioux City Journal and, according to Bloomberg Politics reporter David Weigel, the Omaha, Neb. World-Herald as well. I’ve not heard chatter from the Nebraska interview, but there was noise following Sioux City when Ernst doubled-down on support of “personhood,” saying she would support a national push.

“I am a pro-life candidate,” she told the SCJ Board. “I support that. However, if you look at any sort of amendment at the federal level — amendments … come together through consensus. And, honestly, we don’t have a consensus.”

Ernst used the same flawed reasoning regarding a federal amendment that she applied to sponsorship of a state “personhood” amendment. Her answer was essentially, “Yes, I’ll support this ban on all abortions and most forms of birth control, like the pill, but no one needs to worry about it because it won’t become law.” And no one in that particular room questioned it, just like none of the moderators of the debate questioned it.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I believe Ernst is cherry picking who she will engage in real conversation.

I’m already on the record in relation to the “personhood” amendment and Ernst’s steadfast refusal to answer the basic questions at its root: A “personhood” amendment provides fertilized human eggs, before implantation, the same legal rights as people, so doesn’t it ban procedures, devices and chemicals that can result in their demise?

Since this would be the legal reality of your amendment, are you being disingenuous when you say that you will protect a woman’s access to birth control, or does your definition of what you’ve termed “reliable and affordable birth control” already exclude the pill and other methods that would come under legal scrutiny?

Similar questions need to be asked about Ernst’s position on abolishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in favor of state-run systems. Ernst says states know best how to use resources, but hasn’t explained what will or should happen when one state decides its resources are best spent on Problem A while Problem B runs amok and impacts neighboring states. In the simplest terms, if my neighbor neglects a tree that later falls on my house, who do I turn to if higher governing authorities have washed their hands of oversight?

Maybe Ernst knows. Maybe she has a plan. But it’s difficult to have confidence in her when it does not appear she has enough confidence in herself or her ideas to sit down for a conversation.

(click here to read the entire article at

Don’t Be Fooled By Joni Ernst

joni ernst the perfect Koch investment
To watch the onslaught of television advertising for Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst is to be taken for an idiot.

Her handlers have packaged her simultaneously as the conservative mom next door, or as the courageous veteran, or as the flannel wearing farmer who doesn’t reel at the smell of pig shit, depending on which thirty-second commercial you get treated to as you watch your TV shows.  The artifice is so superficially applied that, as one union voter expressed, “I’m tired of Joni Ernst’s Hallmark card moments.”

Unfortunately, the general public does not get the kind of political education the average union member gets which helps union members navigate through the constant stream of televised propaganda. According to a Rasmussen poll in September, “Over one-third of likely U.S. voters remain unaware which political party controls the House of Representatives and which has a majority in the Senate.”

If one-third of likely voters do not know enough about politics to understand the balance of power, what of the 58% of registered voters who are unlikely to vote in the midterm election next week? I’m speaking of the millions of US citizens who will wake up next Tuesday, go to work, or school, or remain unemployed, or serve in the military, or do whatever people do as they fail to engage in the political process that they, in other contexts, laud over and beat their chests to defend (“USA! USA! …blah blah blah…).

The mainstream television media is only incrementally better than the thirty second ad in helping the public understand the issues so they can become actual practitioners of Democracy. What CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox, et all should be doing with their hour long programs is delving into the issues with the point of creating a deeper analysis of how the candidate’s policies affect your life. Instead they are vehicles for careerist “journalists” to drive up ratings and the value of their own contracts with the networks.  They treat the election as simply a high-stakes competition, a surrogate to Monday Night Football (Tuesday Night Vote Olympics!). It’s all about being a winner! The concern is macho on a macro level.

The talk show hosts and their guests cite polls, they use the word “policy” without actually discussing the policy. They talk about change, status quo, and the play-by-play completion for control. It’s all dehumanized analytics.

The Ernst campaign is carefully maintaining control to not let the thin veneer crack over this perception of Joni as the Iowa Everywoman. Her debate performances have proven her as someone who sticks tight to her talking points. Ernst answered substantive questions with repeated incantations of generic platitudes: “Let’s make life better for hardworking Americans!”

Last week Joni Ernst surprised no one when she declined interviews with The Des Moines Register, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, The Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and other newspapers around the state. Why on earth would she expose herself to the last vestige of professional journalists who still exist at local newspapers (compared to those who smile with dead eyes reading a teleprompter to a camera)?

However, there is an agenda, and one even more conservative than Iowa’s senior Republican U.S. Senator, Chuck Grassley’s. Though Grassley supports the other ridiculous presumption that corporations are people, he has never proposed something akin to Joni’s personhood amendment.  The personhood amendment may sound innocuous (Joni plays it down by saying it’s simply an affirmation of life, “I’m always going to promote life – except, of course, when she is soldiering ).  But the personhood amendment is a Taliban-esque concept. One that would reduce women to nothing more than child-bearers. For anyone who has read Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, you understand the slippery slope such an Amendment would unleash on women’s rights.

Ernst has also proposed the nonsensical concept that states need not recognize federal laws.   In Joni-land, Iowa might as well be Somalia, not having to answer to any outside entity.

Ernst’s proposals to privatize Social Security is another classic example of playing a shell game with voters. She claims she won’t privatize or raise the retirement age for current seniors (read “likely voters”), only for those future seniors, those young people out there who are currently facing unemployment, underemployment and reduction in opportunities not seen since the parents of this current generation of seniors.  [You can read the text of her statement made in the Republican primary debate at Politifact or see for yourself in the debate video aired by KCCI].

Oh, it’s clever, all right. Worth every dime the Koch brothers have invested in it. But for Iowa voters, it is indeed one of the biggest heists the state has ever seen.

Tracy Leone
Iowa Federation of Labor

Joni Ernst Should Be Asked Who Exactly She Would Shoot

joni with gunby Will Jennings

When Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst stated she wouldn’t hesitate to use her personal firearm “if government tyranny threatened my rights” she MUST be called out for this declaration of INTENT.  The statement is NOT symbolic. She wants to campaign as if it IS symbolic by making “government” the alleged “target” of her “patriotic defiance.” But she’s talking trash and is absolutely gutless when she refuses to answer the sort of follow-up questions that would be posed by all of the Iowa newsprint editorial boards she’s openly decided to ignore (also a campaign pose.)

I would ask her exactly who she would be willing to shoot if and when she felt such tyranny arose? A law enforcement officer? An IRS accountant? The men and women who pick up her solid waste and recycling? A DMV clerk? A Housing Inspector? I’m serious. Who the Frick will she choose to shoot with that gun when she FEELS her government is acting as tyrant? Who?

I want specific examples so we know what her list of targets includes.

Otherwise, she’s totally off the rails and unhinged. How can someone who “led our troops in combat” openly state that she’d violate basic rules of engagement? You don’t carry a weapon unless you fully intend to use it. And you do not chamber a round and aim that weapon unless and until you are fully prepared to discharge it with extreme prejudice. If she thinks threatening the use of a firearm is a ‘symbolic’ statement, she can explain that symbolism to the families and friends of victims and all survivors of gun violence.

I don’t give a crap about semantics here. She’s made a clear statement of intent, one with potentially fatal consequences. That deserves a clear explanation from her about who, exactly, she’d shoot with that gun.

Local Democrat Schools Letter Writer on Braley’s Record Of Accomplishment

letters to the editorBFIA tries to practice George Lakoff’s messaging philosophy of never repeating GOP talking points. And if you’re paying attention you will already know what this letter is about without us having to give the GOP an additional forum. Suffice it to say that awhile back Bruce Braley made a comment to a group of trial lawyers to the effect that it would be better to have someone with a legal education on the Senate judiciary committee, which Grassley doesn’t have.  Big deal.  Simple fact.  So of course the GOP had to lie about it, take it out of context and pretend it was the biggest insult ever to farmers everywhere and feign outrage.  Because Sherry Toelle’s rebuttal to a letter to the editor bringing this non-troversy up again may not get published in the conservative Iowa paper where it appeared, we’re sharing it here.  Great job, Sherry!  [Update:  Sherry's letter has been published in today's Atlantic News-Telegraph.]

I am writing to rebut the 10-22-14 Atlantic Speak Up written by Dan and Jan Follmann. Here are the facts:

1. There have been at least nine big name Democrats campaigning in Iowa for Bruce Braley—Senator Elizabeth Warren, Governor Martin O’Malley, Senator Tom Harkin, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, Senator Sherrod Brown, and Senator Jim Webb. Only two of them slipped up on Bruce Braley’s surname. I do not know about you, Mr. & Mrs. Follmann, but people who have known me for years still say my surname incorrectly.

2. Bruce Braley has YET to serve in the US Senate. He is currently a Congressman in the US House of Representatives.

3. Bruce believes, as I do, that the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee should have a WORKING knowledge of the judicial system and of the law. His remarks regarding Senator Grassley were taken out of context. Bruce has worked hard for the agricultural community. He helped pass the Farm Bill which Joni Ernst has said that she would have voted AGAINST.

4. No record to stand on? He introduced and passed into law the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act, wrote the New Era Act (creating a grant to train workers in the renewable energy industry), fought for a bipartisan Farm Bill, worked to make the Adoption Tax Credit permanent, passed the Andrew Connolly Veterans Housing Act to expand the adaptive housing grants for disabled veterans, won back pay for members of the Iowa National Guard, opposed tax breaks for companies that ship American jobs overseas….Need I go on?

5. As to negative advertising, it is not negative advertising to tell the facts about the opponent.

If you support Joni Ernst or Senator Grassley, that is your decision. But, when you express your opinions as facts, please ensure that those facts are correct and not the result of your party’s spin or a 30 or 60 second sound bite.

Sherry Toelle, Atlantic, Iowa