November 26, 2015

Southwest Iowa farmer carves half-an-acre Sanders ‘yard sign’ in field

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. (file photo)

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. (file photo)

A southwest Iowa farmer has carved the first name of his favorite presidential candidate into the landscape.

“I had a couple of yard signs stolen and I was out on my tractor there that day and it just kind of hit me. I though: ‘Geez. I’ve got a perfect place for this.’ It’s soybean stubble which would make it show up good, over next to the road. So I just thought: ‘I’ll go try it. It probably won’t work. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just scratch through it if it doesn’t’ and it just seemed to turn out perfect,” says 68-year-old Michael Pattavina of Clarinda, a Bernie Sanders supporter.

He didn’t map out a plan for the “Bernie” in his bean field. Pattavina just used a chisel plow on the back of his tractor to cut a seven-foot-wide swath as he wrote out the six letters in his field.

“It probably took me about 20 to 30 minutes to do it,” Pattavina says. “The ‘B’ is about 60 feet tall.”

Pattavina’s “flat Bernie” billboard is the talk of the town.

“Whenever I see somebody on the street, they talk to me about it and say they really like it and everything — even the conservatives,” Pattavina says. “I might mention that I live in an ultra-conservative area.”

The sign can clearly be seen from the air, as the name “Bernie” covers about half an acre in Pattavina’s field. Pattavina says he didn’t do it “to be popular” but he would love to hear from his favorite candidate at some point.

“It only cost me a few cents for the fuel and a little bit of time and that’s exactly what Bernie’s all about,” Pattavina says.

The farm Pattavina lives on has been in his family for 158 years and Pattavina has farmed the ground all his life.

(Reporting by Alisa Nelson of the Missourinet)

New poll finds little change in Democratic presidential race in Iowa

Hillary Clinton (file photo)

Hillary Clinton (file photo)

A new Quinnipiac University poll finds the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in Iowa is “virtually unchanged” from October.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has the support of 51 percent of Iowa likely Democratic Caucus goers. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is nine points behind, at 42 percent.

“Not much has changed, but there’s news in that,” assistant poll director Peter Brown says. “Essentially Secretary Clinton has taken a solid, not overwhelming, but solid lead in the Caucuses and for her, that’s just fine.”

Brown says the only way Clinton will lose the nomination would be if Sanders is able to beat her in the early states of Iowa or New Hampshire.

“That might allow him to generate some momentum and perhaps, then, create some problems for Secretary Clinton,” Brown says. “But if she stays 10 points ahead of him, whether or not some pundit says: ‘Well that’s not a very big win,’ sometimes in politics, a win really is a win.”

Pollsters asked likely Iowa Caucus goers to rate which candidate they believe would best manage the economy.

“Historically, the candidate who is judged the best able to handle the economy generally always wins the Democratic nomination and yet we have here is a situation here where Senator Sanders is viewed as best able to handle the economy,” Brown says. “It doesn’t seem to be making a difference in the horse race numbers.”

The poll found Martin O’Malley, the other Democrat running for president, had the support of four percent of likely Iowa Caucus-goers.

Quinnipiac University conducted its poll from November 16th through the 20th and released the results for the Republican presidential race in Iowa yesterday. Likely participants in both party’s caucuses were asked about a key topic on the campaign trail.

“Eighty percent of Iowans who are going to vote in the Republican Caucuses say they don’t want any Syrian refugees allowed in the United States or Iowa,” Brown says. “Conversely, 80 percent of Democrats say: ‘Sure, we as a country should admit them.'”

Brown says it shows how strongly this issue splits along party lines.

“The question of whether the United States and Iowa should take in Syrian refugees is a great way to see the huge division among Iowans,” Brown says.

A national poll conducted last week by Bloomberg Politics found 53 percent of all Americans oppose admitting Syrian refugees and Brown says that shows independent voters are leaning against allowing refugees from Syrian into the U.S.

Clinton touts $6,000 federal tax credit for family caregivers

Hillary Clinton (file photo)

Hillary Clinton (file photo)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says it’s time to pay more attention to the “caring economy.”

She is proposing a new federal tax credit that would offset some of what people spend to care for an elderly or disabled relative.

“The bottom line for me is caregiving takes a lot of love,” Clinton says, “and a lot of challenging experiences that often test one’s emotional and physical well-being.”

Clinton also is proposing a recalculation of Social Security benefits for caregivers.

“All the time that people take out of paid work to care for a family member can end up putting a big dent in their retirement benefits,” Clinton says.

Clinton says it is predominantly women who leave the workforce to care for a spouse or a parent.

“I want to expand Social Security by taking into account the often overlooked and undervalued work of family caregivers,” Clinton says.

Clinton made her comments during a town hall meeting in Clinton, Iowa, today. About 400 people attended and Clinton told them her husband is a “fanatic” football fan who’s been following the Iowa Hawkeye’s winning season.

“Three weeks ago he goes: ‘You know, I think Iowa is really for real.’ And I said: ‘Yeah, it looks like it.’…And he goes: I’m wondering whether I can get there before the season’s over,'” Clinton said, laughing along with the crowd “And I said: ‘Well, let’s try to figure that out.'”

Iowa played its final home game this past Saturday. The undefeated Hawkeyes play their final regular season game at Nebraska on Friday.

(Reporting by Dave Vickers, KROS, Clinton; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)



Democrat Loebsack joins Republicans in vote on refugee resettlement

Congressman Dave Loebsack.

Congressman Dave Loebsack.

All four members of Iowa’s congressional delegation voted for the bill that would suspend the program allowing Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the United States.

The legislation calls on key national security agencies to certify to congress that refugees from Iraq and Syria don’t pose a security risk. Iowa Republican Congressmen Steve King, David Young and Rod Blum all voted for the measure, as did Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack. Loebsack was one of 47 Democrats who joined Republicans to pass the bill. That coalition would be able to override President Obama’s threatened veto.

Loebsack issued a written statement late last night.

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after the House voted on H.R. 4038, the American SAFE Act of 2015.

“I have spent my time in Congress working to ensure the safety of the American people and the security of our homeland. This has been and continues to be my number one priority. But let me be clear: I fully support bringing in all those who are victims of terrorism in their own country that we safely can. The legislation that was voted on today does not stop that process, rather it simply asks our screening agencies to certify that those entering our country are not terrorists.

“It is reprehensible that those on the right have used this tragedy for fearmongering. It is time for that to stop. At the same time, while the Administration opposes this bill, it is their responsibility to certify to the American people that those entering our country will do us no harm. Going forward, we must work together to make sure our screening processes are strong and effective so we can welcome those who are truly seeking safety.”

Iowan named U.S. director of Asian Development Bank

Swati Dandekar

Swati Dandekar

President Obama has nominated a woman from Iowa to be a director of an international development bank located in the Philippines.

The Asian Development Bank was formed in the 1960s and modeled after the World Bank, to finance development in the Pacific Rim. President Obama has nominated Swati Dandekar of Marion to serve as the bank’s U.S. director.

Dandekar, who is 64 years old, is a native of India who has lived in the U.S. since 1973. Dandekar represented the Cedar Rapids area in the Iowa House and Senate for nine years. She resigned her senate seat in 2011 when Republican Governor Terry Branstad named her to the Iowa Utilities Board.

Dandekar left her job as a state utility regulator in 2013 to run for congress. She finished third in a five-person Democrat primary in 2014 and she had considered running again for congress in 2016.

Dandekar’s nomination must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Senator Chuck Grassley issued a written statement, saying the president had made a “good decision” in selecting Dandekar for the Asian Development Bank.

Three Democrats in DC to raise concerns about Branstad’s Medicaid plan

Three Democrats from the Iowa Senate are in Washington, D.C. to raise “issues and concerns” about Governor Branstad’s plan to shift 560,000 Iowa Medicaid patients into managed care plans. Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum of Dubuque says she left meeting with five agency decision-makers “feeling somewhat positive” the federal government may put the brakes on Branstad’s plan.

“They have truly great concerns right now about whether or not Iowa is truly ready to do this January 1,” Jochum says.

Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City says she went to D.C. to make the case that it is “very unrealistic” to make this shift so quickly.

“The system really isn’t ready for this at all,” Ragan says.

Republican Governor Terry Branstad says 26 other states have moved Medicaid patients into managed care plans. But the three Democrats say only four other states have shifted all Medicaid patients into managed care plans, while the rest of the state use managed care for small groups of Medicaid patients, like those being treated for mental illness.

Senator Liz Mathis of Cedar Rapids says federal agencies are finding “inconsistencies” with what Branstad Administration officials are telling them about the plan compared to what health care providers and Medicaid patients in Iowa are saying.

“No one should be left without care. Everyone should know who they need to go to for care. They should have basic access to care,” Mathis says. “…They are most concerned about that as well.”

Federal officials plan a “site visit” in Iowa next month to talk with Iowa Medicaid patients as well as Iowa health care providers about managed care.

Branstad met with the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week about the proposed Iowa Medicaid changes and he called it a productive meeting. The three Democrats from the Iowa Senate who are in Washington, D.C. today say they can “only be hopeful” that federal officials will reject Branstad’s bid for a federal waiver, so he can implement the managed care plan on January 1.

King calls Muslim migration into Europe ‘colossal cultural suicide’

Train station in Sid, Serbia (photo from @SteveKingIA)

Train station in Sid, Serbia (photo from @SteveKingIA)

Republican Congressman Steve King has just returned from a trip to Europe to view the migration of Syrian refugees in person.

“I saw the erosion of the culture in Europe and I’m not very optimistic about whether they can ever be formed again to be the core of western civilization that they once were because of the colossal cultural suicide that they’re committing,” King says.

King went to the Kurdish-held areas of Iraq, then he made stops in eastern and western Europe.

“I went through Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Sweden,” King says.

In a city near the border of Serbia and Croatia, King says he saw “no end” to the exodus.

“Six trains a day, a thousand people. Over 2 million people going through one single port of entry, pouring into Europe. They cannot sustain that,” King says. “If they had the money and the infrastructure they can’t sustain it because their culture will eventually be shifted over to a culture of Islam.”

King says western Europeans have too much “cultural guilt.”

“They know that their population is collapsing,” King says. “They didn’t make a decision to have babies, to reproduce themselves. They said: ‘All we can do with our demographics being what they are, the only way we save Europe is to fill Europe up with anything but Europeans.'”

On Monday, President Obama re-commited to resettling Syrian refugees in the United States. King opposes the move.

“The president is determined to import to America hundreds of thousands of displaced persons who will never assimilate into the American civilization,” King says. “That’s the fruits of Obama’s feckless foreign policy.”

Some Republicans have called on the Obama Administration to admit Christian, but not Muslim refugees from Syria. On Monday Obama called that “shameful” and said the U.S. doesn’t “have religious tests to our compassion.” Authorities in Paris say a Syrian passport was found near one of last Friday’s suicide bombers. It has raised concerns Islamic militants are inserting themselves among the refugees and migrants in Turkey who are fleeing into Europe.