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If you’re reading this you’re probably not aware (judging by the site statistics) that we spent the past weekend on an Iowa road trip, covering two out of three 2020 presidential campaign events we intended to cover (sometimes the concession to cold weather, a blocks long walk with a load of equipment, and the fact that we’re not getting any younger weigh more than getting just a few more images).

Back to the beginning. Once Democratic Party candidates started announcing that they were running or their intention to run for President (and traveling) we started contacting campaigns – not as easy as you might think – so we could receive media notices. We’re a four hour drive from Iowa’s largest city and in past years, dating back to 2007, had regularly covered the Harkin Steak Fry (look it up in our archives) in Indianola. They’re all going to be in Iowa more than once before 2020, so why not?

If history is any indication, it’s a mixed bag. In 2008 and 2012 we managed to cover what we could in Missouri and surrounding states as we received notices. In the 2016 cycle, by the time the two major candidates in the Democratic Party primary finally started sending us media notices the Iowa caucus was long over.

So, we’ve sent requests for media notices (again, it’s not always easy to find out the “to who” part) and have started to receive them. At present six of the campaigns are sending us media notices. It’s like trying to sip from a firehouse. We’ve yet to receive notices or responses from a number of other campaigns. That’s okay – it’s either a result of our failure to contact the right person or their choice.

The dynamics of the two different candidate town hall events we covered this past weekend were very similar to the constituent town halls we covered in Missouri when Claire McCaskill (D) was still a senator. At least the later ones.

There’s a meeting room in a small town with the space to seat a hundred, maybe more, interested people. Media shows up early – well, we do. We check in and may ask a few logistics questions. The lighting can be adequate or stellar. We always mumble to ourselves about the light. There’s a portable sound system that the candidate may or may not use. The interested crowd gathers, may visit, and gets seated. The candidate is usually behind schedule (that’s normal).

Then the candidate makes remarks, takes questions from the audience, finishes speaking, and, in this age of smart phones and social media, remains for a few minutes to pose with attendees for selfies.

There may or may not be a press availability. It depends on the candidate schedule and other factors. We’re a Z-list blog.

After the event is done then it’s a matter of us downloading, processing, and choosing photos; downloading audio; transcribing audio portions; and then writing and posting the story.

We’ll take anywhere from 500 to 1500 images at an event. The audio recordings (two sources) can run up to an hour of content.

So, why bother? It’s why we exist. And for the same reasons. Old media (not so much individuals) does such a poor job. There aren’t enough people covering the content details of these events. Not that some corporate entities in the game have a lack of resources. We’re comparatively cost efficient – we try, but we’re pedaling as fast as we can.

Iowa. Why do we invest so much importance in the “first in the nation caucus”? Well caucuses are democratic and anti-democratic. You show up, stand your ground, and choose your candidate. Unless you’re a working person who can’t take off for those particular two or so hours on that day. Old media needs an answer and a narrative, and they need it quick. That’s their failing. And, there’s the matter of a diverse population in a diverse state anointing a candidate for a diverse nation.

We see that you’ve never been to Iowa.

You believe presidential campaigns start too early and take too long? We attribute that to your laziness and sense of entitlement.

There are a number of publicly spirited, intelligent, and immensely talented, experienced individuals running for President. There are others doing so who are none of the above. How are we all going to tell the difference if they’re not meeting with voters in small groups from state to state over the period of time from now to the Fall 2020 election?

Also, Donald Trump (r). I rest my case.

It is our impression that the Iowa voters who attend these events to vet candidates and who participate in the caucuses take their responsibilities very seriously. Would you want unengaged morons doing this instead? Of course, there are no guarantees that they’ll get it right in 2020. With a single exception (a right wingnut Bret Kavanaugh supporter) the Iowans we watched participate this weekend were cheerful, thoughtful, engaged, and polite.

And, if we are to judge the entire Democratic Party field of candidates from the two campaign events we witnessed this weekend we’ll be in the good hands of an experienced, intelligent, and compassionate nominee in 2020 who believes in doing the best for all Americans.

Reporter: “Where does [this candidate] stand with you?” Iowan: “Oh, they’re on my top twenty list.”

Welcome to Iowa.


Sen. Cory Booker (D) in Indianola, Iowa – March 16, 2019 – “Hope is the active conviction that despair will not have the last word.” (March 16, 2019)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa – March 17, 2019 – keep the peace, tell the truth, obey the law (March 17, 2019)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa – March 17, 2019 – keep the peace, tell the truth, obey the law


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In the second leg of our Iowa presidential campaign road trip we left Altoona, Iowa early this morning for Cedar Rapids. There had been some overnight snow along Interstate 80.

Iowa [photo: Joan Ferguson].

Late this morning well over a hundred individuals (and quite a few media people) gathered in an upstairs meeting room in Cedar Falls, Iowa to hear from Senator Amy Klobuchar (D), a candidate for President in 2020.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D).

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D): [on education]…there are many paths to success in this country. There isn’t just one pat to success. And I see immigration reform as a part of this as well. Uh, we need workers in our factories, in our fields. We’ve got people here that are working in the shadows, right, and I believe comprehensive immigration reform is the answer. Just to give you a sense, the President always talks about it with security. Yes, we want to have security at the border. Not his wall, okay, that’s not what we need.[….][comprehensive immigration reform]… hundred fity-eight billion dollars in savings on that bill that passed the Senate, in ten years. People come out of the shadows, pay their taxes, hundred fifty-eight billion dollars in savings. Think about how that would help with the debt, think about how that would help our country. I see this as an economic issue. Twenty-five percent of our U.S. Nobel laureate were born in other countries. Nearly seventy of our Fortune Five Hundred company CEOs, state from a while back, born in other countries. Immigrants don’t diminish America, they are America….

…when they say there’s an urban rural divide. I will not do it. I go [in Minnesota] not just where it’s comfortable, I go where it’s uncomfortable. I visit every single county every year. I meet with Republicans, I meet with Independents, I meet with Democrats. I have people yell at me, I have people hug me. I don’t care. I think you have to get out there and you have to listen to people….

…and then I see these words on the wall [at the Carter Presidential Library], um, that they put up there, and this is before Trump. [….] Now it is so meaningful. It was Mondale, looking back at their four years….And the words on the wall said this: “We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace.” And I think that is a minimum that you should expect from any President and Vice President. And that is, that you try to keep the peace, and that you tell the truth, and you obey the law. And that is what I promise you I will do.

Early in the afternoon Senator Klobuchar walked in the Cedar Rapids St. Patrick’s Day parade with Linn County Democrats.

It was a rerun


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Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…

Early this morning:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
It’s truly incredible that shows like Saturday Night Live, not funny/no talent, can spend all of their time knocking the same person (me), over & over, without so much of a mention of “the other side.” Like an advertisement without consequences. Same with Late Night Shows……
6:59 AM – 17 Mar 2019

Says the 21st century’s most obvious beneficiary of the FEC’s 1987 repeal of the “fairness doctrine”.

So fragile, eh?

Sen. Cory Booker (D) in Indianola, Iowa – March 16, 2019 – “Hope is the active conviction that despair will not have the last word.”


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Early this evening over a hundred indivuduals gathered at a winery across from the balloon field in Indianola, Iowa to hear from Senator Cory Booker (D), a candidate for President in 2020.

Senator Cory Booker (D)

Cory Booker

Senator Cory Booker (D): …So, I want to end by telling you hope, and why this has been two of the most hopeful years of my life. Because hope is the active conviction that despair will not have the last word. When there was the Muslim ban I, I ran out to Dulles Airport because I was a lawyer and I heard that they were detaining people without access to lawyers. And I got to Dulles Airport and the concourse was full of one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen as an American. Hundreds and hundreds of Americans piling into that concourse demanding justice, demanding the release of detained people. And every time a Muslim family not from this country emerged out of the gate everybody erupted into songs. Singing patriotic songs. There were guys with yarmulkes…cheering Muslims coming off a plane. That’s America. [….] Hope is the active conviction that despair will not have the last word. [….][after the inauguration] …And so I went home that night, and I’m telling the truth, I’m being seduced by despair now, I curl up in a ball and I’ve got a headache, I’m worrying. And the next morning I wake up to a chorus of Miss Virginia Jones’s, millions of women from coast to coast, said to me, Cory, despair will not have the last word. I’m bringing the hope. hate won’t have the last word, I’m bringing the love. Sexism won’t have the last word, I’m bringing the equality. They said to me, Cory Booker, as if they were pointing to me…this is not a time to curl up, it’s not a time to shut up, it’s definitely not a time to give up. It’s time to get up. It’s time to rise up. It’s time to speak up. And so I ask you all right now, in this moral moment in our country what will we do? Each and every one of us has the power to make change in greater ways than we think. We’re stronger than we know. We’re more beautiful than we realize.[….] This is a moment now where we need the best of who we are. We need our traditions, the ones that go back to Birmingham, Selma. The ones that go back to Stonewall. And Seneca. When American gathered together and said our country is going wrong we’re going to make it right. I want to ask everybody in tis room right now. I want you to caucus for me, but whatever you do, between now and six hundred days from now, what ever you do, don’t let this election be small. Don’t let it be about just one man and one office. Don’t let it be just about what you’re against. Let this be the moment in American history that we can again revive ideals of civic grace. That we call upon our neighbors to have a more courageous empathy for those people who are hurting, those people who are left out, those people who can’t afford their healthcare, those people who are getting starved in public education. Let this be a moment where we not just show courageous empathy, but we revive ideals of love and seek a loving community. If we can make this a big election, a big moment for America, yeah, we’re in the pit but we can go to the palace.[….] Well, it’s time for this generation to dream again. Dream that we can save this planet from peril. Dream that we can have cathedrals of learning for our kids. Dream that we can have healthcare for all. It’s time for defiant dreams.
Daring dreams. And bold dreams. And if we dream together, and work together, and struggle together, and turn common pain into common purpose I promise you, we won’t just elect a new president in the White House, we will as a whole, as a nation, we will rise. Thank you.

H.J. Res. 46: nope, it’s still not an emergency


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Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…

Yesterday, in the United States Senate:

Question: On the Joint Resolution (H.J. Res. 46 )
Vote Number: 49
Vote Date: March 14, 2019, 02:24 PM

Required For Majority: 1/2
Vote Result: Joint Resolution Passed

Vote Counts:
YEAs 59
NAYs 41

Blunt (R-MO), Yea
Hawley (R-MO), Nay


Donald Trump (r) finally goes one step too far for Roy Blunt (r).

Roy Blunt (r) [2016 file photo].

Josh Hawley (r), constitutional scholar and strict constructionist hopeless sycophant and puppet, is more than good with Donald Trump’s (r) historically expansive view of presidential power.

Josh Hawley [2016 file photo].

H.J.Res.46 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Thursday,
the third day of January, two thousand and nineteen

Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, pursuant to section 202 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622), the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844 (84 Fed. Reg. 4949) is hereby terminated.

Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Vice President of the United States and
President of the Senate.

Mike Pence (r) has to sign the document? How awesome is that?


H.J.Res.46: it’s not an emergency (February 26, 2019)

Campaign Finance: millionaires need not apply

Yesterday at the Missouri Ethics Commission for a PAC:

C190784 03/13/2019 Believe in Life and Liberty – BILL PAC Rex Sinquefield 9 Hortense Place 9 Hortense Place St Louis MO 63108 retired retired 3/13/2019 $75,000.00

Last month:

C190784 02/04/2019 Believe in Life and Liberty – BILL PAC David Steward PO BOX 1724 Maryland Heights MO 63043 World Wide Technology, Inc Executive 2/4/2019 $75,000.00

[emphasis added]

Like it’s the Bill-ionaire PAC? Just asking.

It’s too cute by half.

The twenty-something right wingnut political operatives (motto: making billionaires millionaires) responsible for naming PACs need to work on refining their PAC naming skills in the direction of a little more subtlety.

The “responsible” forty-something right wingnut political operatives need to get out of junior high school.


Campaign Finance: Because no one else does? (February 4, 2019)

HCS HB 573: if you put marshmallows and sprinkles on a mud pie it’s still a mud pie


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The House Judiciary Committee met yesterday and voted 11-6 to move HB 573 (on gutting Title IX in Missouri) forward with a lot of amendments.

Representative Dean Dohrman (r) [2016 file photo].

The summary [pdf] of HCS HB 573:

SPONSOR: Dohrman

COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted “Do Pass with HCS” by the Standing Committee on Judiciary by a vote of 11 to 6.

This bill provides, students in higher education, due process protections and allows students to request that Federal Title IX procedural hearings be heard before the Administrative Hearing Commission (Section 173.1898 RSMo).

This bill allows any students in an institution of higher education who have received a disciplinary action in a Title IX case to appeal to the Administrative Hearing Commission (Section 173.1905).

The Administrative Hearing Commission shall compile relevant statistics on the cases it hears (Section 173.1907).

This bill provides institutions of higher education guidance for Title IX formal complaints. This guidance includes interim measures that avoid depriving any student of an education during investigation and resolution of the formal complaint.

Notice of the right to request a hearing before the Administrative Hearing Commission must be provided.

This bill sets forth hearing procedures for Title IX formal complaints.

To reach a determination of responsibility, the decisionmaker or decisionmakers shall apply either the preponderance of the evidence standard or the clear and convincing evidence standard. However, the preponderance of the evidence standard may only be used if it is also used in all other discriminatory harassment complaints involving faculty (Section 173.1910).

The bill specifies that failure to provide due process for a Title IX proceeding will entitle students to a civil cause of action. It will be considered a breach of contract for the institution of higher education and be considered an illegal act by the Attorney General for purposes of investigation (Section 173.1915).

This bill authorizes the Attorney General to investigate alleged or suspected violations and outlines information that should be collected regarding procedures and policies for formal complaints (Section 173.1925).

The bill defines “exempt record” and “personally identifiable information,” and provides that any record related to a Title IX formal complaint or investigation would be considered an exempt record (Section 173.1930).

The bill contains an emergency clause.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that, under current Title IX laws, principles of “justice for all” are lost. They system currently denies accused parties of certain rights, like being able to face their accuser or being represented by counsel. If they are represented by counsel, counsel is not permitted to speak at the hearings. The school hearings do not always occur in person; rather, sometimes they occur only in writing. Additionally, decisions can be reached very quickly, whereas, for regular trials, there is more time to prepare. It is arguably more comfortable for an accuser to go through an institution’s disciplinary process rather than proceed in court because they are not open to crossexaminations. The legislation does not address whether the hearings are confidential, but they should be. There are some institutions that are better than others at allowing the parties as much time as they need to prepare.

Testifying for the bill were Representative Dohrman; Chris Slusher; and Michael J Colona.

OPPONENTS: Those who oppose the bill say that arms are not as overreaching as they are in a courtroom, which is part of the reason people prefer not to go through the criminal process. Part of the reason school hearings do not go as far as actual criminal trials is because they do not always need an investigation and a hearing. Complainants just want to feel safe where they are; sometimes the resolution is as simple as changing classroom or dorm room. There are proposed federal changes they are waiting on, and they will know better how to proceed with hearings going forward. They also say this is incorrect to add private institutions because the hearing commission is designed to hear appeals from state agency action, and some of the institutions are not state agencies. There are many conflicts between this legislation and federal law, so some of the institutions feel like they will have to choose between the two.

Testifying against the bill were Council on Public Higher Education; Chris Bowser, State Technical College of Missouri; Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri; The Associated Students of The University of Missouri; J P Hasman, St Louis University; Kate Nash; Andrea Hayes, University Of Missouri; Lyman Mitten III, Southeast Missouri State University; Kelli Wilson; Kayla Everett, Mizzou College Democrats; and Mark Falkowski, Columbia College.

Still, in the bill text:

“…Throughout the process of handling a formal complaint filed under 20 U.S.C. 78 Sections 1681 to 1688, or any amendments thereto, the institution of higher education shall:
(1) Ensure that all parties use the terms “complainant” and “respondent” and refrain from using the term “survivor” or any other term that presumes guilt before an actual finding of guilt…”

We all know survivors.

“…To reach a determination of responsibility, the decisionmaker or decisionmakers may apply either the preponderance of the evidence standard or the clear and convincing evidence standard. However, the preponderance of the evidence standard may be used only if it used as the standard for all other discriminatory harassment complaints involving faculty…”


“…173.1927. If any entity of the federal government brings suit against an institution of higher education for complying with the requirements of sections 173.1898 to 173.1935, the attorney general shall have authority to bring suit on behalf of the institution against any entity in order to defend the requirements established under sections 173.1898 to 5 173.1935…”

So, this really is about gutting Title IX.

The emergency clause:

“…Section B. Because of the importance of protecting the due process rights of individuals in Title IX proceedings and ensuring that individuals accused of sexual misconduct are able to defend their character, the enactment of sections 173.1898, 173.1905, 173.1907, 173.1910, 173.1915, 173.1920, 173.1925, 173.1927, 173.1930, and 173.1935 of this act is deemed necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, welfare, peace, and safety, and is hereby declared to be an emergency act within the meaning of the constitution, and the enactment of sections 173.1898, 173.1905, 173.1907, 173.1910, 173.1915, 173.1920, 173.1925, 173.1927, 173.1930, and 173.1935 of this act shall be in full force and effect upon its passage and approval…”

So, who benefits from the “emergency”, really?

Earlier in the bill:

“…2. Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 610, any record related to a formal complaint or investigation under 20 U.S.C. Sections 1681 to 1688, or any amendments thereto, at an institution of higher education, or at the administrative hearing commission, which contains personally identifiable information about a party to the formal complaint is an exempt record…”

That means the information would not be an open and accessible public record under the Missouri Sunshine Law. The “respondent” can “defend their character” in a closed hearing under current Title IX procedures and under these bill procedures and requirements.

So then, again, why the emergency clause? Who benefits?

On a complete reading – HCS HB573: a recipe for legislative mud pie – sprinkles, marshmallows, and baking optional.


HB 573: Why? Who? (March 9, 2019)

SB 259: Really? For what purpose? (March 11, 2019)

HB 573 and SB 259: Let the army of lobbyists go forth… (March 12, 2019)

HB 573 and SB 259: What took you so long? (March 12, 2019)

HB 573 and SB 259: What took you so long?


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Today’s expression of moral outrage on Twitter.

A pop up social media account:

Demand Due Process
America’s colleges and universities have been turned into kangaroo courts, thanks to Obama’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. I’m a mom fighting a broken system.
Joined March 2019

Ironically anonymous.

Uh, if this has been a problem since 2011, what took you so long to express your outrage, Mom? Why the “emergency clause”?

Is it privilege and/or a lot of available money?

Well, the account follows Mike Pence, Betsy DeVos, and James Lankford (Oklahoma?), so the answer is probably “yes.”

Another circumstance? Do tell.


HB 573: Why? Who? (March 9, 2019)

SB 259: Really? For what purpose? (March 11, 2019)

HB 573 and SB 259: Let the army of lobbyists go forth… (March 12, 2019)