Follow BFIA on Twitter
Blog for Iowa Archives
Blog for Iowa Categories
Search BFIA by Date
October 2014
« Sep    

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Fight Media Bias


Iowa Rapid Response Action

First responders to biased, imbalanced or factually inaccurate media coverage

Iowans for Better Local TV


FAIR: Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

*FAIR is a national media watch group that offers well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship

Free Press

News Corpse

Prometheus Radio Project

Radio for People

Save the Internet

Save the News

Bruce Braley

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

Three Things – Iowa Senate Race

Harkin and Braley

Harkin and Braley

Partisan politics, and the manner in which the founders set up the federal government with its bicameral legislature, yielded an inability to deal with problems much beyond our noses. The founders planned it that way.

“A government of representatives, elected by the people at short periods, was our object; and our maxim at that day was, ‘where annual election ends, tyranny begins;’ nor have our departures from it been sanctioned by the happiness of their effects,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Adams in February 1800.

With due respect to a fellow Virginian, the Congress seems unable to solve the most pressing issues of our time and that is becoming problematic. In a choice between Congressman Bruce Braley and State Senator Joni Ernst, Braley is the only choice to meet today’s needs. He isn’t perfect, but who is?

The constant reference to getting things done through bipartisanship by both candidates indicates a failure to understand the nature of what the founders intended in favor of politics of the day. That is not all bad, but it misses the point.

What has changed since the 18th century is humanity’s increasingly global perspective and interconnectedness. I’m not only talking about the Internet, although that is part of it. On any given day, I run into people from most inhabited continents, but from China especially. They are in Iowa to study at the university, but they have an opportunity to make connections that was unlike anything the 1700s. These travelers will take home what’s best about Iowa, and I don’t mean corn, soybeans and pork.

Additionally, business has gone global. When I worked for the oil company, we did business in 89 countries. With their merger with BP, the footprint grew even broader.But that is not all of what is different.

A global perspective on business was evident in the 18th century, and one might say the “discovery” of the Americas was part of business growth. At the same time, the need and desire to comprehend laws and culture throughout the globe and leverage that information for profit has grown to a scale unimaginable three hundred years ago. The U.S. is not isolated from the rest of the world, and it is unbecoming for politicians to assert that we can do what’s best for Iowa without examining a global context.

That said, there are three things I would like to hear from the Republican contender to be Iowa’s junior U.S. Senator, but likely won’t.

I would like to hear something other than that there is a problem with Social Security. Ernst is a parrot of the Congressman Paul Ryan plan for Social Security. In a cynical ploy to retain votes, she asserts keeping the sacred trust to seniors and those approaching retirement, but advocates doing something else, although she hasn’t decided what, for younger people. She indicated privatizing Social Security is on the table, but what she really means is that future retirees will have to fend for themselves.

She recently criticized Braley for not solving the problems with Social Security during his eight years in Washington, but the truth is that Republicans have never been fans of Social Security and have worked to chip away at its benefits since its inception. Ernst is no different, and Braley has defended Social Security.

I would like to hear how Ernst would address our nuclear complex. The late Robin Williams pointed out, “remember the big weapons− huge weapons− the ones that really can do us in− are not in the hands of us. Something much bigger. Whether you believe in intelligent design or just a guy named Phil who’s pissed.” The threat of nuclear annihilation is not funny, even if Williams was. Would Ernst have the U.S. join the international humanitarian campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, or is she already under the spell of John Bolton and other conservative hawks that continue to assert U.S. hegemony through a weapon that could end or change permanently civilization as we know it without solving any of our most pressing problems?

Finally, I would like to hear what Ernst will do about the tangible impact on business and society of our changing climate. I heard and previously wrote about her lack of understanding about climate change as stated in the debate with Braley. Either she is incompetent to be a U.S. Senator, or she can learn. If she can learn about climate change, what is she willing to do to protect our common interests in air, water and the conditions that currently nurture life in Iowa and throughout the globe? Bet we don’t hear from her on that either.

The challenge this election cycle is the media and its corporate backers have created such a firestorm of disbelief among voters, that many are expected to skip this cycle. There are more than three things I’d like to hear from Ernst, but I am already confident of where Bruce Braley stands, so why should I insist. That would be time taken away from convincing people to vote for Bruce Braley.

Click here to get involved with the Braley campaign.

With Ernst It Will Be Government Of The Koch Brothers

Sam Osborne

Sam Osborne

by Sam Osborne

What did the Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst debate demonstrate?

Beyond Ernst insisting it’s fine for her and anyone else’s chickens to come home to roost in destruction of your garden and poop all over you doorstep, it is the fox in the chicken house of the life of the American people that comes with Ernst sneaking into the halls of Congress in the pay of government of the Koch brothers, by the Koch brothers and for the Koch brothers.

The Kochs are the boys footing the big bills for those character assassination ads on TV that deflect disgrace from an entire Republican controlled House and do-nothing-congress to no-show-for-veterans Veteran Affairs Committee, and in place attempt to pour twisted distortion and feted innuendo on the person who stands alone in keeping the Koch brothers from putting puppet-predator Ernst into Iowa’s seat in the Senate in service to government of the Kochs, by the Kochs and for the Kochs at the further expense of you and me and friends and family.

Koch governance via predator-puppet Ernst would be a tragic mistake that leaves you and yours as much on your own as veterans have been by a Republican controlled house committee that met with no productive purpose when it even bothered, did nothing of importance, and left Bruce Braley like the veterans he has been helping to heroically get it done alone.

You can watch the debate here


Braley – Ernst Debate At 5PM Today

Rep. Bruce Braley

Rep. Bruce Braley

Just a reminder that the first of 3 debates between senate candidates Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst will take place this afternoon from Simpson College in Indianola. There seems to be no statewide coverage of this event. However, there are some ways interested voters may get the debate live:

How to watch tonight’s debate

Watch the live broadcast from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at KCCI-TV or the live stream at or

C-SPAN also will carry the debate live.

It will be most interesting to see Ms. Ernst back up the claims made by her outrageous ads.
Ernst Msg on Braley Website

Iowa Early Vote Kickoff Events Today

early voting begins todayMore and more Iowans are voting early every election because it is the simplest and easiest way to make your voice heard. Iowans can vote early in person from September 25 to November 3, or they can vote by mail anytime between now and Election Day.

Iowans can find their early voting location or can request a ballot to vote by mail at

Thursday, September 25: Early Vote Kickoffs

Ames (canvass kick off) – 3:00pm
Jim Mowrer
Iowa Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Office
109 Kellog Ave

Boone – 7:30am
Jim Mowrer
Office of Jim Robbins PC
1001 W. Mamie Eisenhower Ave

Cedar Rapids – 10:00am
Monica Vernon, Jon “Bowzer” Bauman, Sen. Wally Horn, Sen. Rob Hogg
The Flying Weenie
103 8th Ave SW

Council Bluffs – 8:00am
Sen. Mike Gronstal, Marti Nerenstone, Charlie McConkey
Dean Jennings Law Firm
523 6th Ave

Davenport – 3:30pm
Congressman Dave Loebsack
Fresh Deli
421 West River Drive

Des Moines – 7:30am
Staci Appel, Sen. Jack Hatch, IDP Chair Scott Brennan, Polk County Dems Chair Tom Henderson
Java Joe’s
214 4th Street
Des Moines, IA 50309

Dubuque – 7:30am
Rep. Pat Murphy
Jitterz Coffee Shop
1073 Main Street

Iowa City – 7:30am
Congressman Dave Loebsack, Rep. Mary Mascher
Iowa Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Office
623 S. Dubuque St

Marshalltown – 9:15am
Congressman Bruce Braley, Rep. Mark Smith
Iowa Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Office
127 E. Main St

Mason City – 7:30am
Sen. Amanda Ragan
Iowa Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Office
11 E. State St

Ottumwa – 8:00am
Lt Gov. Patty Judge
Iowa Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Office
219 East Main Street

Sioux City – 7:30am
Rep. Dave Dawson, Rep. Chris Hall, Jim France
306 Virginia Street

Waterloo – 3:00pm
Rep. Pat Murphy and Jon “Bowzer” Bauman
Iowa Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Office
512 Mulberry Street

Medicare Still Working

save medicare
I am here to report that Medicare is still in full fettle. This month I joined up. What a feeling. I feel like I have just moved into a grand home with few worries. No more wondering if the landlord will toss us out on our ear because he can. In more practical terms it means I can go to see a medical person without the fear that we may lose our home and everything we worked for. For a cost way less than half of what some really bad “insurance” used to cost me, I can now get real medical care. Plus the system itself is doing well.

Even though the ACA was supposed to address problems with the health care system (or more accurately the health insurance system), insurance companies have done all and everything they can to subvert its mission. The policy I had for the past eight months was sold to me with one set of providers, but that was switched when I went to use it. Thus I was little better off than before. With Medicare that is not a worry.

Prior to the ACA, it was pretty much a given that if you were over 50 pretty much everything you would see a medical person for was a “pre-existing condition” and thus not covered by the insurance company. So for years I paid out big bucks for horrible coverage, just like most of the country. This is what led to health care being one of the central issues of 2008. Most people wanted and still want I believe a form of Medicare for everyone. What we got is protection for the health insurance industry with a few trinkets for the consumer.

Thus we are still the only major economy without universal health care and we still pay nearly twice what any other country pays per person while getting about half the results. Taking a chunk out for that middle man that adds nothing to the actual care of a patient really affects the system. Too bad a person has to wait to 65 to finally have access to decent health care in this country. Medicare is a great template for what this country should be aiming for.

No doubt Medicare is a popular program. So popular that Republican candidates for national and statewide offices have had to couch their once outspoken opposition to Medicare in phraseology that attempts to hide their real intent. Joni Ernst has a commercial that claims she favors Medicare when in reality she will be one pushing hard to voucherize Medicare. Her loyalty is not to get good medical access for Iowans young and old, but to deliver on what the Koch Brothers tell her to do. Lying about her position is not a problem when it may accomplish her goals.

We know how Steve King feels about medical care – it is just not for the poor and middle class. David Young is using the old and long debunked lie that Obama stole $700 billion from Medicare. Anyone who tells you that is an idiot, pure and simple. In the second district we see Mariannette Miller-Meeks lining up with libertarian tea bagger Rand Paul. Her policies have shifted way to the right of the years. Her views on Medicare have moved also. I really find it hard to believe that a doctor would work to restrict access to health care, but there she is to prove me wrong.

I must say I do not know where Rod Blum stands, but I could guess and I am sure I would be close. Most of the Republican candidates say they do not want to take Medicare away from those who have it. That is simple logic. That would be political suicide. But taking it away from a generation that Reaganomics has oppressed to the point where they have seen the middle class slowly disappear is fair game to them.

Just another in their war on the middle class. Now, I believe and I think most Iowans believe that Medicare and its companion programs Social Security, Medicaid and the current ACA, are social contracts between the government and the citizens. Remember we are the government and we do direct what our representatives do.

In case you have forgotten, Terry Branstad would have been ecstatic to dump the Medicaid portion of the ACA like all his Republican buddies. But he was forced to compromise and put in at least a form of the new Medicaid due to a gutsy stand by his now opponent Jack Hatch. Branstad would love to have a chance to roll back that decision. Electing Jack Hatch would give Iowa a chance to join those at the top tier of health care. We really owe it to ourselves to send Branstad packing and to put a man with vision for the common Iowan in the governor’s mansion.

If health care is still a concern of yours and your family, and it should be if you are human, there is little question that you should vote for Democrats this fall.

McConnell: We’ll Shut Down Government

mcconnell terrorist
Mitch has an itch. His itch is to be leader of the senate once again so he can force President Obama into a bad choice for America of signing bills that would disrupt policy or if not, shut down the government. Remember all that stuff you learned in grade school about Congress compromising and working for the best for its citizens? Throw it out the window, it is about to become the stuff of legend.

With his partner, Smokin’ John Boehner, the alcoholic Speaker of the House, McConnell plans on attaching amendments changing policy to spending bills. This will then force the President to sign bills that will change policies (I doubt for the better) or stop the government as the money will not have been appropriated to run the government.

Then McConnell and Boehner will claim that it is the President who has chosen to shut down the government by refusing to give in to Republican blackmail.

You may recognize this as a variation on the debt ceiling blackmail shutdown led by that great American, Ted Cruz (do I need to say sarcasm?) last fall. The Republicans promised not to hold the debt ceiling hostage for a while and they aren’t. They are holding Americans, both citizens and businesses, hostage this time. It will be Obama’s fault if he chooses not to pay the ransom.

And the bet that the Republicans are making is that Americans are too stupid to figure out what they are doing. No doubt, they plan on a captive and compliant press to sell this as Obama’s fault. They did so in their last phony crisis.

What role do Iowans play in this game? Well, we have one of those senate races that McConnell and his cohorts are counting on to put Republicans in charge of the senate. Remember, even if McConnell loses his senate seat, the next Republican leader will do exactly the same.

Iowa’s senate race is of course Bruce Braley vs. Joni Ernst. Anyone who has been paying attention so far can easily see a very distinct difference between Braley and Ernst.

– Braley has a proven track record of working for Iowans. In a short career, Braley is one of the most respected member of the House.

– Ernst has lined up with the most extreme elements of the right wing in the country. She cares little about Iowa or Iowans. Her focus is to undo all social policy from FDR forward. She has come out against Social Security and Medicare. She has come out in favor of impeaching President Obama for no specific reason. Make no doubt that McConnell’s scheme fits right in with Ernst’s plan. In short she will be little more than a an automatic vote for McConnell.

So if you want the government to stop, if you want confrontation that will probably once more kill the economy, if you are part of the 1% you have reason to vote for Ernst. If you want to end Medicare, Social Security (and Medicaid although that hasn’t been expressed) vote for Ernst.

But if you believe that government can be a force for good and you want a person to represent the state and not a ideological fringe, vote for Braley. The choice is pretty stark.

Oh and by the way, Boehner wouldn’t be speaker if he didn’t have a majority. We could really dent that majority by sending Loebsack, Murphy, Appel and Mowrer to the House.

Iowa Senate Race Roundup #IASEN

Rep. Bruce Braley

Rep. Bruce Braley

The national, corporate news media has been writing a lot about the Iowa U.S. Senate race to replace Tom Harkin. Here are some links to stories so readers can follow along:

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post wrote about Joni Ernst’s criticism of President Obama in the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Saying something would likely have been impossible, or at least not doable at the time, Ernst said, “what I would have supported is leaving additional troops in Iraq longer,”  or a Status of Forces Agreement.

It looks like the Iraq war is moving up in importance in the Iowa U.S. Senate race.

“At any rate, this puts a GOP candidate in a top-tier Senate race squarely in the anti-withdrawal camp,” wrote Sargent. “Dem Rep. Bruce Braley’s aides have already telegraphed that they will characterize Ernst’s position as akin to that of Dick Cheney. They are also highlighting Ernst’s recent suggestion that “I do have reason to believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” to build the case.”

Read Sargent’s entire article on the race by clicking here.

Here is a short linkfest of articles in the corporate media about the U.S. Senate race.

Washington Post, Aug. 10. “Republican takeover of Senate appears more and more assured.”

New York Times, Aug. 9. “Uniting to Take Congress, GOP Tries to Become the Party of ‘Yes.’

Washington Post, Aug. 9. “Unlike previous midterm election years, no dominent theme has emerged for 2014.”

While you are at it, listen to Bruce Braley’s soap box speech last week at the Iowa State Fair. Link courtesy of Radio Iowa is here.

One more: the BFIA post on Nate Silver’s recent evaluation of the U.S. Senate race, which is here

Donate to the Braley campaign by clicking here.


Odds Favor Bruce Braley for #IASEN

Nate Silver - Photo Credit

Nate Silver – Photo Credit

Whatever one thinks of Nate Silver, his 55-45 odds of Bruce Braley winning in November are interesting and hopeful. It’s not the typical results of a single poll dividing the number of respondents. It’s Silver’s form of statistical probability, and his theme has been repeated ad nauseum by the Iowa political establishment and national pundits- the race is close.

On Monday he released his latest take on the 2014 U.S. Senate election. His analysis favors Republicans to take over the upper chamber. “The problem for Democrats,” wrote Silver, “is that this year’s Senate races aren’t being fought in neutral territory. Instead, the Class II senators on the ballot this year come from states that gave Obama an average of just 46 percent of the vote in 2012.”

It will be hard to win a senate race. So, what’s new about that?

Take Silver’s analysis with a grain of salt wrote the ex-professional poker player, “I also want to advance a cautionary note. It’s still early, and we should not rule out the possibility that one party could win most or all of the competitive races.”

It is early, and in Iowa the dominant theme is whether the Democrats will get complacent in repeating the tactics of the 2010 and 2012 campaigns without adapting to the times, or if the Republicans under Jeff Kaufmann can actually mount a statewide grassroots campaign that is competitive. Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register (i.e. not their GOP cheerleader who shall go nameless) wrote this truth that Kaufmann recognizes:

Obrad 2014-08-05

That said, a campaign is as much about the candidate as the campaign tactics. Violating my own rule, I looked at social media for the hash tag #IASEN. Conservative readers, feel free to follow the link and spend the rest of your day pondering the twitter.

Republicans are expected to circle around their candidate on Nov. 4, in some cases holding their nose to a Joni Ernst vote. Democrats made it clear by leaving Braley unchallenged in the primary, that if they turn out, they’ll mostly vote for Braley. The better question is who will attract the largest voter registration contingent, so called no-preference registrants, which for the most part is expected to vote away from extremes of either party. That is where the implication for the GOP of the junior senator from Kentucky is spot on.

Here is a quote from Silver’s article about the Iowa U.S. Senate race:

Iowa is another tricky case. There, we have Republican Joni Ernst with a 45 percent chance (up from 40 percent in June) of defeating Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley. The polling in Iowa has been more consistent than in Arkansas and has the race virtually tied.

Our model will view the fundamentals of the race as slightly favoring Braley. The candidate-quality measures it evaluates all come out in his favor: He rates as being slightly closer to the center of the electorate than Ernst, he’s been elected to a higher office, and he’s raised considerably more money. Iowa is normally as purple as purple states get— the sort of state where candidate quality can make a difference.

But Braley lost ground in the polls after referring to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley as a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” And President Obama’s approval ratings have been conspicuously low in Iowa. It’s hard to say why— we haven’t observed a similar pattern in demographically similar states like Minnesota and Wisconsin— and it may be a statistical fluke.

There are some very tricky races this year and perhaps we’ll see more disagreement between forecasts than we did in 2010 or 2012, depending on what factors they emphasize.

The best advice for readers is to keep calm and work to elect Bruce Braley to the U.S. Senate to represent Iowa values. Donate to the campaign by clicking here.