Sunday, January 31, 2010

Clips from the road

Clips from the road

It's a human being weekend in Wisconsin (more on that story soon) so we'll stick with clips:

  • Amidst a lengthy Nate Silver analysis of Democratic messaging, this gem:
    The number of politics "fans" probably numbers somewhere on the order of 10 or 20 million out of a country of 250 million adults. Most people have lives and have better things to do than to follow politics all the time.

    So if you're reading this, you don't have a life. This isn't just snark, it's to the point:
    Only 26 percent of Americans know that it takes 60 votes to overcome a Senate filibuster -- and only 32 percent know that Senate GOPers voted unanimously against the Democrats' health care plan... They're developing impressions based on limited information, often gleaned from partisan news sources and politicians who have an incentive to tell them anything but the truth.

  • Fired for a bumpersticker? It can happen.

  • DC as fantasy league: "You've got to love a game that lets James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) be on the same roster (though I wouldn't take either of them before the fourth round)."

  • Fox News has an Obama approval poll, which is about as smart as televising Obama's question time with the House GOP. You know what to do.
  • Friday, January 29, 2010

    Democrats in Academic Strongholds

    All's Well for Dems in People's Republic

    Larry Sabato joined the post-Massachusetts doom and gloom chorus yesterday. I'm not convinced--I still think it's primarily Coakley's fault.

    But amidst Sabato's rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, which was clearly written before the damn solid State of the Union, I found a silver lining:
    As for the Obama coalition, only the liberal wing held fairly firm for Coakley. While she ran 15 percentage points worse than Obama statewide, Coakley was down only 3 or 4 points in leftish academic centers such as Amherst and Cambridge and the gay-friendly resort town of Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod.

    Gay-friendly leftish academic centers... pretty much describes my own People's Republic of Johnson County. The very week of the Massachusetts Massacree, we were declared the third gayest city in America.

    One of the things the Advocate gave us points for was our out local elected officials, a barrier we first broke a dozen years ago. And on the very day of the Massachusetts election, we added one more to the list, with voters strongly backing Janelle Rettig (who was already in office by appointment).

    More to Sabato's point, the special election saw Rettig polling close to Obama's percentages in the urban parts of the county. True, Republican Lori Cardella won big in the rural area, but as I said before the rurals treated the special as a purely local election. In town, they voted partisan. Which bodes well for Chet Culver, Dave Loebsack and the Senate nominee.

    Chet Culver pulled 68% here in 2006, a record that Obama broke with just short of 70. But percentages aren't what matters this fall--it's sheer numbers. Johnson County's job is to overcome big GOP wins in the northwest corner of the state. Culver took a 17,000 lead over Jim Nussle in Johnson County, better than Tom Vilsack's 12k win over Doug Gross in `02.

    Good turnout at the State of the Union Party -- over 50 mostly young people in downtown Iowa City just to watch the speech on TV with no bigshot attending in person -- bodes well. The question, as always with Dems these days, is how to translate that personal like for Obama (who is still PERSONALLY more popular than party of perceived policy) into votes for other Democrats.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010

    Joe Walsh Sues Joe Walsh

    Joe Walsh vs. Joe Walsh

    Geezers like me remember guitarist Joe Walsh's foray into the Pat Paulsen territoy of parody political candidacy. The silliest Eagle "ran" for president in 1980 on a "Free Gas For Everyone" platform. 12 years later Joe announced a vice presidential candidacy and even wrote the most politically to the point song this side of Alice Cooper's "I Wanna Be Elected": "Vote For Me."
    I’d like to announce my candidacy,
    I’d appreciate it if you’d vote for me.
    I want to be Vice President.
    Vote for me.

    If I was Vice President you know what I’d do?
    Pretty much anything I wanted to.
    Vote for me. Vote for me.

    I’d have a first class seat on Air Force One.
    An awesome pad in Washington...D.C. (If you vote for me)
    Play golf all day with heads of state,
    If they brought beer wouldn’t that be great? I can’t wait!
    Vote for me. Vote for me.

    Pretty much says it all.
    I don't know much of Joe Walsh's political views, but he did spend a lot of years hanging out with Don Henley, so some leftyness may have rubbed off.

    Now Joe Walsh is running for Congress, and Joe Walsh has a problem with that. See, candidate Joe Walsh is a different Joe Walsh than musician Joe Walsh. And candidate Joe Walsh is using musician Joe Walsh's Joe Walsh music.

    And musician Joe Walsh is sending in the lawyers:
    A lawyer for singer Walsh wrote to candidate Walsh to demand he stop using the music from "Walk Away" -- a pre-Eagles Joe Walsh hit with the band James Gang -- in a campaign music video.

    The Walsh campaign reworked it as "Lead the Way." The line "seems to me, you just turn your pretty head and walk away" becomes, in the candidate's version, "seems to me, Joe Walsh is just the perfect guy to lead the way."

    So candidate Joe Walsh may have to do without musician Joe Walsh's Joe Walsh music--but at least he has the endorsement of the Lake County, Illinois Tea Party.

    iPad and DRM

    iPad and DRM

    The first look at the iPad yesterday reminded me of those giant remote controls that are sold half-seriously as a you won't lose this gag. Looks like an iPhone that's waaay too big for your pocket.

    I've never really used a tablet, though I've got one friend who swears by them. All a matter of user need, I guess. (I can't see myself writing a liveblog on a touchscreen virtual keyboard; remember, I'm the guy who spent months hunting down an ancient early `80s IBM keyboard because I love the hard clack of the keys.)

    But there's a bigger issue underlying the iPad rollout that has a ripple effect through the whole computing world.

    The iPad is locked down with DRM - that's Digital Rights Management for the uninitiated - and it means there's no free ride ever. DRM is essentially the evil opposite of open source. More specifically,
    Digital rights management (DRM) is a generic term for access control technologies that can be used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals to try to impose limitations on the usage of digital content and devices. It is also, sometimes, disparagingly described as Digital Restrictions Management. The term is used to describe any technology which inhibits uses (legitimate or otherwise) of digital content that were not desired or foreseen by the content provider.

    A red flag for us Linux geeks.

    There were protests at the rollout, and here's a sample of the rhetoric:
    DRM will give Apple and their corporate partners the power to disable features, block competing products (especially free software) censor news, and even delete books, videos, or news stories from users' computers without notice-- using the device's "always on" network connection.

    By making a computer where every application is under total, centralized control, Apple is endangering freedom to increase profits. Apple can say they will not abuse this power, but their record of App Store rejections and removals gives us no reason to trust them. The iPad's unprecedented use of DRM to control all capabilities of a general purpose computer is a dangerous step backward for computing and for media distribution.

    It's an ongoing question in three of my favorite things, computing, music, and journalism. We've invented Big Smart Box where all the information in the world ever is instantly available, but we haven't figured out a way to get the band paid.

    In other critiques, Davey Winder finds 15 things wrong with it, and of course I'm a sucker for numbered lists. And Steven Vaughn-Nichols says Anything the iPad can do, Linux can do better.

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    State Of The Union Chat

    State Of The Union Chat

    One last thought that didn't make the live chat: My dat the retired coach is a pure independent and I bet he loved the "don't qut" ending.

    Liveblog Tonight

    State of the Union Liveblog Tonight

    I'll be wearing the beret on the Register's behalf tonight to cover the State of the Union. Since more people is more fun, join me either at the Reg or at 7:45 at the Obama ORGANIZING for America party:
    David's Place (Iowa City, IA)
    100 S. Linn St
    Iowa City, IA 52240

    (it's ORGANIZING for America but it's still

    Monday, January 25, 2010

    13 levels of defeat

    13 levels of defeat

    That was a familiar sight yesterday: Brett Favre's last pass of the season in the NFC championship going for an interception... and it got me to thinking about the psychology of different kinds of defeats.

    ESPN's Bill Simmons wrote a piece a while back called "The 13 Levels of Losing," in which he runs though any number of defeat scenarios by increasing levels of pain. This, of course, needs to be applied to politics. Let's look at a few of his benchmarks; throw your own in the comments.

    The Massachusetts scenario best fits Simmons' Level V:, the "This Can't Be Happening" Game:

    The sibling of the Full-Fledged Butt-Kicking ... you're supposed to win, you expect to win, the game is a mere formality ... suddenly your team falls behind, your opponents are fired up, the clock is ticking and it dawns on you for the first time, "Oh my God, this can't be happening."

    So that's on the high end.

    Level XIII: The Princeton Principle. Definition: When a Cinderella team hangs tough against a heavy favorite, but the favorite somehow prevails in the end (like Princeton almost toppling Georgetown in the '89 NCAAs) ... this one stings because you had low expectations, but those gritty underdogs raised your hopes.

    A little obscure, but I thought of netroots hero Paul Hackett almost beating Mean Jean Schmidt in the Ohio House special in 2005.

    Level IX: The Sudden Death. Definition: Is there another fan experience quite like overtime hockey, when every slap shot, breakaway and centering pass might spell doom, and losing feels 10 times worse than winning feels good (if that makes sense)? ... there's only one mitigating factor: when OT periods start piling up and you lose the capacity to care anymore; invariably you start rooting for the game to just end, just so you don't suffer a heart attack .

    The 2008 Democratic primaries, no question. Everything after Super Tuesday had the psychology of overtime.

    Level XI: The Alpha Dog. Definition: It might have been a devastating loss, but at least you could take solace that a superior player made the difference in the end ... unfortunately, he wasn't playing for your team.

    Ronald Reagan promising not to use Mondale's youth an inexperience.

    Level VIII: Dead Man Walking. Definition: Applies to any playoff series when your team remains "alive," but they just suffered a loss so catastrophic and so harrowing that there's no possible way they can bounce back ... especially disheartening because you wave the white flag mentally, but there's a tiny part of you still holding out hope for a miraculous momentum change ... so you've given up, but you're still getting hurt, if that makes sense.

    This must be how John McCain felt.

    Level VI: The Full-Fledged Butt-Kicking. Definition: Sometimes you can tell right away when it isn't your team's day ... and that's the worst part, not just the epiphany but everything that follows -- every botched play, every turnover, every instance where someone on your team quits, every "deer in the headlights" look, every time an announcer says, "They can't get anything going," every shot of the opponents celebrating, every time you look at the score and think to yourself, "Well, if we score here and force a turnover, maybe we'll get some momentum," but you know it's not going to happen, because you're already 30 points down ... you just want it to end, and it won't end ... but you can't look away ... it's the sports fan's equivalent to a three-hour torture session.


    Level I: That Game. Definition: Game 6 of the 1986 World Series ... one of a kind ... given the circumstances and the history involved here, maybe the most catastrophic sports loss of our lifetime.

    Two words: hanging chad.

    Sunday, January 24, 2010

    Sunday maps and lists

    Sunday maps and lists

    With the filibuster and U.S. Senate dysfunction now a front-burner issue, it's worth a look at what the Senate might look like if it were apportioned by population the way the House is.

    Without the benchmarks of traditional state lines I can't tell if Iowa City ends up with Lincoln or with High Plains.

    Of course, this scenario has one serious barrier: the one remaining un-amendable section of the Constitution states that no state can lose its equal Senate representation without its consent. (The other un-amendable section related to the slave trade.) I have my own idea for Senate reform; someday I might write it.

    Here's some lists:

  • Five Massachusetts myths from Chris Cilizza. "There are clearly ill omens for Democrats in the results, most notably the flight of independents from their party. But ups and downs in politics seem to occur on an accelerated timeline these days. Extrapolating from Massachusetts in January to nationwide elections in November is a dangerous game."

  • Dan Froomkin at HffPo has 7 Things About The Economy Everyone Should Be Worried About: "The principle that reducing the deficit is of the greatest urgency (and must come at the cost of entitlements) is for some reason firmly lodged in the halls of power in Washington.. But deficit hawkery right now is not just ludicrous, it's dangerous."

  • Prehistoric humans as an endangered species.

  • And internet meme followers will remember band OK Go for the "treadmill video." The follow-up album is out and the band is bummed that the record company won't let you embed their new video from YouTube. It's a springboard to a very interesting discussion of music biz economics from the artist's point of view. And here's the new video.

    OK Go - This Too Shall Pass from OK Go on Vimeo

  • Saturday, January 23, 2010

    Low Key Caucus

    Low Key Democratic Caucus in Precinct 10

    It was a much quieter caucus this year in my little corner of the state, Iowa City 10. Two year ago I herded 315 people in the Black Hole Of Library Meeting Room A. Today at Southeast Junior High, we had three.

    Single digits seemed to be the rule rather than the exception, though precincts 17 and 18 had better attendance. Off year turnout was better four years ago, when a hot governor primary and a Fallon-led effort to split into preference groups drove up interest.

    Both parties clustered a lot of their caucuses at Southeast; one consequence of the first-ever weekend date was a lack of custodial staffing at the elementary schools (and wrestlers got first dibs on City High). Democrats were upstairs, Republicans were downstairs, but I only crossed paths with a couple GOP folks who needed directions.

    Secretary of Agriculture candidate Francis Thicke chose to spend his day in Johnson County and stopped by my room. Local electeds were out in full force, but with no one present but the faithful of the faithful, they mostly stayed with their precincts and then visited with folks in the halls before and after.

    Precinct 10 didn't do any resolving but the three of us talked issues a bit. And I got elected to the central committee at a caucus for the first time since maybe 2002.

    Feel free to throw your thoughts about your caucus, either party, in the comments.

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    More Election Post-Mortem

    A Shorter More Concise Description of the Johnson County Special Election Results

    City folks voted like it was a partisan election; rural folks voted like it was a local election. And there's more city folks than rural folks and more Democrats than Republicans.

    State Notes

    Meanwhile in Des Moines...

    Playing catchup on state politics, both the legislative session and the primary. Worth noting:

  • Paul Pate launches a one-day campaign for his old Secretary of State job, filing a campaign committee on the 19th and then announcing on the 20th that he won't run. desmoinesdem has a good overview of the SOS race.

  • State rep Polly Bukta (D-Clinton) stepping down. Seat's ben in Dem hands quite some time with Art Ollie preceding Bukta.

  • Proposed legislation to expunge 18-21 year old alcohol charges from criminal records. How about just going the next step: put the drinking age back at 18 where it belongs so that these young adult "crimes" (sic) aren't crimes in the first place?

  • And Civic Skinny has the Iowa parts of "Game Change," with Madame Secretary of State doing lots of caucus bashing.
  • Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Three Perspectives on Massachusetts

    Three Perspectives on Massachusetts

    I was in the bubble of our own local election so I don't have much analysis on the Massachusetts loss. But here's some stuff cribbed from others:

  • Nate Silver: "If you follow through on the math, this would suggest that Coakley would have won by about 8 points, rather than losing by 5, had the national environment not deteriorated so significantly for Democrats. It suggests that the Democrats would have won by 9 points, rather than losing by 5, had the candidate been someone other than Coakley."

  • Kos diarist catlover72 with the All Politics Is Local perspective:
    This is about local infighting in the Massachusetts Democratic Party, plain and simple. During the primary, Western Mass backed Martha Coakley (who is from Western Mass) because her primary opponent, Mike Capuano, a current U.S. House Rep from Somerville, was from Somerville not Western Mass.

    Capuano would probably have won easily had he not lost the primary (he never has a serious challenge when he runs for his House seat).

    Coakley, on the other hand, not only dropped the ball as everyone knows, but no politicians in Boston wanted their names associated with her after she won the primary.

  • Steven Pearlstein at the WaPo on health care prospects:
    The Constitution does not require 60 votes in the Senate to pass a health reform bill -- or anything else, for that matter. There is very little in the latest version of the health-care bill that Maine's two Republican senators haven't supported in the past or couldn't support in the future. In succumbing to the intense social and political pressure from their caucus, both Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins flunked the leadership test last year. Massachusetts has now given them a second chance to redeem their reputations and political fortunes in a state that has always valued independence over party loyalty.
  • Rettig Wins

    Rettig Wins Big In Polarized Election

    Janelle Rettig comes in with an 1800 vote margin over Lori Cardella. No way to call that anything but a big win. But more than most elections, this one shows fault lines under the surface.

    Rettig won every precinct in the immediate urban area - Iowa City, Coralville, and UHeights -- save for a tie in low turnout Iowa City 7 (where the new mansions vote and Pheasant Ridge and Hawkeye Court don't.) Outside of town, Rettig won only Solon city and, by one vote, Penn.

    Janelle took Obama-like margins in the core liberal precincts: 78% at Iowa City 18 (Longfellow), 81% at Iowa City 21 (Mann). Thrown in a big 77% in Iowa City 4 (Manville Heights) where good-government types always do well. And she did better than many liberal candidates on the east side with 60s and 70s. The only close urban areas were the high-income precincts: Iowa City 8 (Weber) and 16 (Windsor Ridge) and Coralville 6 (Wickham).

    And interestingly, Rettig performed strongly on the southeast side, an area where conservative candidates for local office often run well. (The Broadway and Lakeside residents don't vote, the homeowners, many of them empty-nesters, do vote.) 68% in my own Precinct 10, 63% in Precinct 12 (Grant Wood), 61% in 14 (Twain) and 65% in 15 (Southeast). Not bad for a candidate tagged as "tax and spend" in the part of town that leans no when spending measures are on the ballot.

    The rural area turned out a couple percentage points higher (10%) than Iowa City (7%). But for Iowa City, you need factor out a lot of absentees (Rettig: 73%) and factor in the non-existent student turnout. The higher turnout Iowa City precincts had similar turnout percentages as most of the rurals, with the exception of 20% plus turnout in three north-rural precincts: Big Grove, Cedar and Newport.

    Newport was ground zero for this seat nearly four years ago, when Larry Meyers knocked off Mike Lehman in a high turnout primary. Cardella carried Newport, by a relatively close 55% to 42%. Rettig maintained dignity in rural precincts with some suburban and commuter influence, but was whomped in the pure farm precincts. Cardella rolled up 80% in Pleasant Valley and 86% in Monroe. Of course, those are two of the smallest precincts.

    More fuel to the farm vote theory: Cardella took 52% in Tiffin (all town) but jumped to 73 percent in surrounding Clear Creek (all farm), and lost Solon (all town) with 45% while winning Big Grove (mixed farm and commuter) with 63.

    In all, Rettig carried the election day vote 52% to 44% for Cardella. Total turnout landed at 11%, below any of the other recent county-wide contests.

    The overall result, a 20 point win, was as big a win as Carol Thompson got in the 1999 special, or (reversing polarity) as rural conservaDem Don Sehr won in 1994, when it was the liberals who petitioned for the special election. (The streak holds: the side that petitions loses.) It was also a very similar margin to that conservation bond from the 2008 presidential, the first time Cardella and Rettig clashed. I haven't lined the numbers up by precinct yet, but I suspect a pretty close correlation despite this year's very different electorate.

    It's hard to imagine a better scenario for Cardella: a low turnout special with the students safely out of town. As for Jim Knapp, who carried the homophobia ball this election, he finishes at 3 percent, even worse than his last place showing (behind a candidate who'd dropped out) in the 2004 Democratic primary.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Johnson County Election Day

    Election Day

    You know the routine: scattered turnout updates during the day, results after 9, analysis late. Factoid to watch: Iowa City turnout vs. rural.

    Update 1: 9:00 turnout is 796 for 0.9 percent. Running a bit hotter in the rurals than in Iowa City (1.2% vs. 0.8%), but similar in actual number (333 rural vs. 384 IC). Down from 1263 (1.45%) in last year's sales tax.

    Update 2: 11:00 is up to 1,671 (1.9%). Rural still outdoing Iowa City on percentage (2.4% to 1.7%) but not in raw vote (837 Iowa City, 673 rural.) Coralville lags behind (161, 1,45%). Pattern looks closest to, but behind, the 2007 SILO election (12,405 and 14%).

    Update 3: 3,379 at 3:00 for 3.8%. Iowa City at 1,691 (3.5%); "non-IC/CV" (that includes North Liberty and UHeights) at 1,352 (4.8%). Still closest to but a bit behind the 2007 SILO.

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    Dems hold early vote lead

    Dems hold early ballot lead

    With early voting finished for tomorrow's special supervisor election, Democrats hold a big absentee edge over Republicans. 1898 Democrats, 442 Republicans, and 329 no party voters have returned ballots.

    Of course, not every Democratic ballot will be for Janelle Rettig, not every Republican has voted for Lori Cardella, and certainly not every independent voted for Jim Knapp. But party affiliation is the strongest indicator of voting behavior, and these are the only numbers we have to play with until we get turnout reports at 9 AM tomorrow.

    Democrats hold roughly a 2.5 to 1 registration edge over Republicans in Johnson County, but their absentee edge is more than 4 to 1. (Greens are the true early voting champs, with nine of their 71 people already voted; no Libertarians at all voted early.)

    Put another way: 5 percent of Democrats, 3 percent of Republicans, and only 1 percent of no party voters have voted early. That's one more indicator of a polarized electorate with candidates targeting their bases and Democrats doing a better job of it. Of course, Republicans have shifted away from pushing early voting since the turn of the century in favor of stressing election day efforts.

    Most of the unreturned ballots are of the automatic overseas type, and those will have an even worse return rate than usual due to the compressed special election time line. 98 domestic mail absentees are still out: 62 Democrats, 22 Republicans and 14 no party. More of those than usual are out of town thanks to the unusual time of year.

    Overall the early voting trend lines up pretty close to last May's sales tax election. So does that mean a similar turnout in the 15 percent ballpark? Or are we looking an election where people had their minds made up and voted early, like the 2003 Iowa City school bond with its 50 percent absentee rate?

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Sunday Clips

    Leftovers from the week

    Cleaning out the tabs and passing it along:

  • At FiveThirtyEight, a good look at the Democratic nomination reform committee and its hopes to promote regional or semi-regional primary "clusters."

  • Prosecutors have discretion: in Seattle, new DA plans to dismiss all simple marijuana possession cases.

  • All is doom and gloom out of Massachusetts. Cedit an inept candidate for that; Martha Coakley started picking out office furniture after the primary and forgot to work on winning the general.

  • But in the big picture, all is not lost, according to Washington Post polling:
    Obama continues to benefit from GOP weak points. Three-quarters of all adults lack confidence in the Republicans in Congress to make good decisions for the future, and when it comes to assigning blame for the nation's economic woes, about twice as many fault the George W. Bush administration as do Obama's.

    So Democrats benefit from their opposition. Case in point...

  • ...the Iowa governor's race. desmoinesdem asks: Could Vander Plaats pull off an upset? I won't even call it an upset; my money's on BVP, and that'll save Chet's bacon. Branstad rolled out his committee list this week and it's more interesting for the missing names.

  • Shane Vander Hart thinks the Iowa Family Policy Center stepped on its own message by endorsing BVP at its marriage inequality rally, and he wants to give also-rans Rants and Roberts a chance. But he's firmly in the Anyone But Terry camp:
    Vander Plaats is the only one who has said he would issue an executive order in regards to the same-sex marriage ruling. A move that I believe is not only foolish, but likely unconstitutional. Both Roberts and Rants have significant experience which Vander Plaats does not...

    I share IFPC’s concern about Terry Branstad... I also am troubled by Gross and Corning. I could completely support Iowa Family Policy Center making a statement of non-support for the Branstad campaign sharing that they would not endorse him if he were the Republican nominee. But there are two other excellent candidates, who in my opinion, would make a far better governor than Bob Vander Plaats.

    If Rants and Roberts spinter off, say, 10 percent each, that lowers the bar for Vander Plaats winning a plurality nomination.
  • Saturday, January 16, 2010

    Cardella's Spotty Voting Record

    Cardella's voting inconsistent--in frequency and geography

    The Gazette's Greg Hennigan posts the candidate's voting histories and notes a gap: "Supervisor candidate Lori Cardella did not vote in Johnson County between November 2000 and June 2008."

    This story has been played in other local elections in recent years; I remember it being especially hot in a 2003 Coralville city election when most of a challenger slate had skipped local elections. Few candidates, few people for that matter, get a gold star for perfect attendance at the polls. But missing something as big as the then-record turnout 2004 presidential election is unusual.

    Janelle Rettig fesses up to missing a school election weeks after she moved to town in 1990, and maybe one other uncontested election, but says she's voted 69 times in 19 years in Johnson County. Jim Knapp has missed a few more than than that, but has a fairly solid record of diligence.

    As Iowa City residents Rettig and Knapp get two more chances to vote every two years, in city elections and the Iowa City primary, than rural resident Cardella. Still, by my count Lori's had at least 40 chances to vote in 17 years, and only made 10.

    In a letter to the Press-Citizen, CJ Voci and Jae-Jae Spoon have one way to explain it:
    Florida license plates, though, are only part of Cardella's troubled story. Cardella registered to vote in Broward County, Florida, in February 2004. On three occasions since then, Cardella cast ballots in Broward County. She voted by absentee ballot in the November 2004 general election and she voted at the polls in the 2006 general election. She again voted at the polls in the 2008 primary election.

    Hennigan also called Broward County--yes, the home of the original hanging chad--to fact-check, but didn't get a call back before his deadline.

    (For the record, the only election I've missed is the 1992 school board: uncontested with a record low one percent turnout. I'm still mad at myself for not making it; I was a campaign staffer in full presidential gonzo mode working a county away and I just plain forgot.)

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Rettig rally and endorsement

    Rettig rally and endorsement

    Janelle Rettig picks up another endorsement from the Gazette: "Rettig impressed us with her understanding of how government works, her balanced approach to land-use issues in the county, her sense of fiscal accountability and her direct, responsive style." In contrast: "Cardella offered mostly vague, ideologic statements in response to our questions."

    Team Rettig's big weekend event is a get out the vote rally at the Iowa City Rec Center with featured speaker Congressman Dave Loebsack. 11 AM Saturday.

    And don't forget to vote, both for real and in Coralville Courier's on-line poll. There was a post a couple days back bragging about Cardella's six point lead (only six points? on a staunchly conservative site?) but now Janelle appears to be ahead...

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Special election: endorsement and finance

    Janelle Rettig wins the Press-Citizen endorsement. That in itself isn't much of a surprise. The P-C could have written a tepid endorsement that focused on the appointment process, but instead the tone is glowing:
    For two decades, in fact, Rettig has shown rare ability for a would-be politician: She examines issues from multiple perspectives. In her work with many local and state boards and commissions, Rettig repeatedly has shown she can seek and actually find compromise and common ground.

    Rettig's past experience ranges from land use planning, to civil and human rights, to environmental and conservation issues, to government openness.

    There's only brief mentions of the appointment process the paper opposed, and even briefer mentions of the other two candidates.

    The three candidates get their own space to make their cases. Rettig is solid, but Cardella manages to ramble even more than Jim Knapp. "The challenge before me is to string together a series of 500 words," Cardella begins, and that's kinda what she does.

    Cardella has filed her campaign finance report (pdf). She reports raising $5,751. The donor list looks a lot more like a Republican Party list than a local business-conservative list. The John Balmer types seem to be sitting this one out, the way the lefties sat out the city election.

    More interestingly, Cardella reports $9,863.55 of in-kind contributions, primarily from herself and husband Tom Cardella (who also made a direct contribution of $500 included in the $5,751 above). There is no mention of the pre-Christmas robocall that went out to every phone in the county, presumably from the telemarketing company the Cardellas own. And $8,284.52 seems an implausibly low figure for a glossy mailing that went to every postal address in the county, including the Democratic Party's post office box.

    Reports are due tomorrow.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Supervisor Silliness

    Chaotic forum, vanishing video

    Chaos at the Senior Center forum yesterday, an event I truly regret missing. Highlights:

  • "Rettig, the Democratic candidate, encouraged the audience to exercise their right to vote next week, which is 'a right many people in this country were denied for a long time...'

    Said Cardella: 'And would have been with the appointment process.'

    'Thank you for interrupting me, Lori. ... You thought the vacancy process was fine, as long as you were supporting Edgar Thornton,""

  • Knapp gay-bashes yet again, which seems to be his whole function in this campaign;

  • "Moderator Bob Welsh read through the final questions submitted by attendees that he was unable to get to because of time constraints.

    One of the anonymous questions asked why Cardella's car had Florida license plates and why she voted in previous Florida presidential elections if she was running for office in Johnson County.

    Several audience members shouted protests about the question, while others demanded that Cardella should answer the question."

    Maria Conzemius again has the play by play of the forum proper, though she misses the after-the-debate debate.

    And I wasn't going to go there with the "Catholic school girl" videos, since every other lefty blog in the state had been there and done that. But newcomer Coralville Press and Herald sees that "This video has been removed by the user." For those of you who missed it (refs here and here):
    A video of Republicans donning Catholic school-girl uniforms and singing a parody bashing President Barack Obama was stumbled upon by the liberal site Blog for Iowa.

    The clip, which was uploaded in November by the conservative blog Coralville Courier, features five women singing a parody of the school children’s song from last year, with lyrics that include “his teleprompter tells us lies,” “he wants one-world unity,” and “some wonder where he was born, long before he knew ACORN.”

    Sometimes the cover-up makes it worse... best video to hit Johnson County politics since Steve Snyder's horse.
  • Monday, January 11, 2010

    Forum Followup

    Forum Followup

    I'm a little behind the curve, but the big event late last week was the LWV/FAIR forum between the three supervisor candidates.

    I had a schedule conflict but Maria Conzemius has a live-bloggy play by play that's pretty matter of fact till the very end.

    New kid on the block Coralville Post and Herald has snark that's on the mark. (Feel free to use that as a slogan.)

    And surprisingly, the Gazette leads with... gay marriage? First off, I'm surprised that the League even asked the question, which is more relevant to state government and the courts. (Not that addressing issues at the correct level of government has ever mattered to Cardella, who seems to think county government gets money from Iowa City's franchise fee.)

    Perhaps it was a gotcha question, designed to expose Cardella and Knapp's homophobia. If so, it worked, but the Gazette choosing it as the most important moment of the forum? It's the first time the issue's come up in the public portion of the campaign. Of course, it's likely that all sorts of under the radar ugliness is being directed at Janelle Rettig, so maybe it helps.

    But still, that's not the most important aspect of the forum. What's clear is Cardella's ignorance of, and hostility to, government. The latter is her (misguided) right; the former is inexcusable.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Sunday Clips

    The Week's Whatever

  • The big political gossip this week will revolve around “Game Change,” the 2008 election post-mortem by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Most of the chatter will be about the sad and tawdry revelations of John Edwards' self-destructive affair, or with Senate leader Harry Reid's slight verbal awkwardness discussing Obama and race that the President has already forgiven and forgotten.

    But what's more significant to Iowans is Hillary Clinton's state of mind after the end of the long, bitter battle with Barack Obama for the nomination. I discuss this more at the Register.

  • Heeeeey, maaaaan: California judge orders cops to give weed back to its rightful owner.

  • A still-valid oldie: How geeks talk different.

  • I've been avoiding writing about Israel/Palestine for a year and h half (due to some personal harassment) but these articles by Glenn Greenwald ("I defy anyone to find a political figure in either major party's leadership who has, in the context of discussing U.S. policy towards Israel, ever even mentioned the fact that undying, endless American support for Israel -- making all of their conflicts our own -- increases the risk of terrorist violence aimed at the U.S. But it so plainly does.:) and Henry Siegman ("Israel has crossed the threshold from 'the only democracy in the Middle East' to the only apartheid regime in the Western world") are worth sharing. Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America, goes so far as to discuss an "imposed solution."

  • And hilariously tasteless: the nutritional content of Holy Communion. "One Christ's worth of Hosts works out to 158,400 calories of bread and 3,840 calories of wine..."
  • Friday, January 08, 2010

    In The Box

    In The Box

  • In my voice mail in-box: a robocall for the One Iowa rally on Sunday:
    This is Speaker of the House Pat Murphy. I’m calling to invite you to a special campaign kick-off for equality, Red Blue and Purple, on Jan. 10, at 3 p.m., at the Des Moines Social Club. On the eve of the legislative session we need to stand together, united for equality — Republicans and Democrats, people of faith and good will, gay and straight, young and old.

    Come show your solidarity and support for equality at a special campaign kick-off on Jan. 10, at 3 p.m., at the Des Moines Social Club.

    I'll miss it--that's kick off time for Pachers vs. Cardinals--but kudos to Pat and to Mike Gronstal for sticking up for marriage equality.

  • In the Johnson County Democratic Party's post office box: a campaign flyer for Lori Cardella.

  • Also in a box:

  • Thursday, January 07, 2010

    Cardella skips forum

    Cardella skips forum

    A classic empty chair debate last night as Republican supervisor candidate Lori Cardella refused to attend the Sierra Club's candidate forum.

    The Sierra Club always prided itself on its bipartisanship, and endorsed Jim Leach as late as 2006, much to the frustration of those of us who supported a long list of Leach opponents. But the GOP has drifted so far right, with its supervisor candidate who wants to eliminate planning and zoning ("the very existence of planning and zoning and the land use plan implies that someone or thing has more control over ones property than the private citizen."), that the Sierra Club literally isn't worth their time anymore. In the process, they've driven out environmentalists like... well, Janelle Rettig.

    So that's the big story out of last night's forum: no Cardella. Unfortunately, the Press-Citizen headline (at least online) is the innocuous "Candidates talk environmental issues." Another weakness of "objective" journalism is that it fails to catch the, um, rhetorical flair of Jim "last place behind the candidate who dropped out" Knapp.

    Another forum tonight, 7 PM at the Iowa City Library, hosted by the League of Women Voters.

    Wednesday, January 06, 2010

    Dodd and Dorgan Drop Out

    Dodd and Dorgan Drop Out

    Twin Democratic Senate retirements Tuesday shook up two of the top 2010 races. Chris Dodd? Sadly, a good thing; I offer my thoughts at the Register. Marc Ambinder thinks Dodd gets a consolation prize administration job.

    Byron Dorgan? A very, very bad thing. Nate Silver instantly bumped North Dakota up to Number One most likely seat to switch parties. And Kos diarist Wilbur has an excellent analysis and believes it's about the removal of drug reimportation from health care:
    This was so important to him. It was his legacy. He had been such a good soldier, such a stand up guy on everything else. He was not a drama queen, he did not try and undermine Obama, he did not try and make himself the center of attention like so many other senators. You could go weeks without hearing Dorgan’s name. But this was his idea, what he had promised his constituents, something everybody knew was the right thing to do. And then Obama comes in and like Terry’s brother in "On the Waterfront" tells Dorgan that it’s "not his night." Rahm and Jim had made a backroom deal with the drug companies and they were going to keep that deal.

    So Dorgan said he’s going home. He didn’t say it was because of the drug re-importation bill. That’s because he is a good guy, a stand up guy, one that doesn’t stab you in the back even when you have taken everything from him. He is the type of guy who will stand with you when the world turns against you. He is the type of guy that you really miss.

    Byron Dorgan: He could been a contenda. We've been really, really lucky to have an all-Democratic delegation out of North freakin' Dakota since 1986. Worst case scenario: Dems get their only viable candidate, Rep. Earl Pomeroy, in, but Pomeroy loses to Gov. John Hoeven (Update: Hoeven's running), and we lose both the House AND Senate seat.

    Jeez, now I gotta say SOMEthing to cheer you up. Ok. I still say Vander Plaats over Branstad and Culver over Vander Plaats.

    Monday, January 04, 2010

    Cardella backing Reed

    Cardella backing Reed in 2nd CD Primary

    Republican supervisor candidate Lori Cardella has taken sides in the upcoming 2nd District congressional primary, backing Christopher "Not Tom Harkin" Reed over `08 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Senate primary loser Steve Rathje.

    Cardella shows up (h/t Bleeding Heartland) as a Reed county chair on Reed's campaign site.

    It's hard for me, from my perspective on the left end of the Democratic party, to measure degrees of conservative-ness, but I'll try. In the 2008 congressional primary, MMM was seen as more conservative than Peter Teahen, who she narrowly beat. But not conservative enough for RNC member Kim Lehman and Iowa "Right To Life" (sic)

    Anyway, MMM and Teahen were both a heck of a lot more conservative than Jim Leach. Reed, winner of the Senate primary, was seen as more conservative than that, and his main claim to fame in the general election (where he carried only five counties out of 99) was calling Tom Harkin "the Tokyo Rose of al-Qaida."

    So by my math (Leach > Teahen > MMM > Reed) that puts Reed, and supporter Cardella, three standard deviations from the kind of Republican who was actually able to win Johnson County over major opposition...

    Rathje, for his part, was just seen as inept; he started running two years before the primary but looked weak enough that both Reed and defeated ex-legislator George Eichhorn (now running for Secretary of State) saw an opportunity late. It was almost a three-way dead heat, but Rathje wound up at the bottom of the pile.

    (George Eichhorn: Losing your legislative seat as a stepping stone for higher office?)

    Krusty Konservative took a shot at Rathje for a poorly timed campaign launch:
    Why in the hell did he send out a press release on New Years Eve that was for release on January 3rd, that says he will having an announcement tour for his 2nd Congressional run. Just set up the tour and let us know when and where you will be. Trust me, you would get better coverage.

    Steve Rathje, you’re an idiot for sending out a press release on New Years Eve.

    Still, not the biggest dumb of the day. That goes to Dave Funk in the 3rd CD, in the form of the classic put the whole contact list in the cc: field instead of the bcc: field. Funk brags: "Funk for Congress campaign hires Iowa Tea Party Chairman as Political Director." Reply, and not from me: "I wouldn't brag about this, you moron."

    Back to Cardella and Reed, perhaps she can finance his campaign and buy him a campaign-funded haircut,... which is pretty funny, as Reed's buzzcut could easily be achieved with a pair of clippers at home. Two problems with that: 1) the rules changed, so no clothes with campaign cash 2) unlike county races, federal races have donor limits. Question: Is Cardella on track to spend more on a county supervisor race than Reed spent on a statewide run?

    And this doesn't fit anywhere else but was the scariest headline of the day: "King Reconsiders Senate Bid." Turns out it was PETER King of New York, not Krazy Steve.

    New Iowa City Council Geogaphically Concentrated

    City Council, or Northside Neighborhood Association?

    One more argument for a larger council with a true district system: With Saturday's changing of the guard at Harvat Hall, five of the seven Iowa City council members are from just two adjacent north side precincts.

    New mayor Matt Hayek and council newcomers Susan Mims and Terry Dickens are all from precincts 22, and holdovers Mike Wright and Regenia Bailey are from the next precinct to the south, precinct 21.

    Only the two members representing the other two districts, Ross Wilburn and Connie Champion, are from other parts of the city. And Wilburn is from the one District A precinct that's east of the river, leaving the west side still unrepresented since... well if you don't count Naomi Novick and Manville Heights, it's been at least since I got to town 20 years ago.

    Sunday, January 03, 2010

    Sunday Clips

    Sunday Clips

  • New blog "Coralville Post and Herald" debuts and while I generally dislike anonymity they're saying some things that need saying about the supervisor special: "Do you actually have to be a resident to be a Johnson County Supervisor?" (below a pic of Lori Cardella's SUV and its Florida plate)

  • "People are crazy if they think we win by getting more pure. We win by getting big." - Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), alienating himself from the teabag vote.

  • Andrew Sullivan takes on Rasmussen polling and their special way of getting it different than anyone else and always to the GOP's advantage.

  • John Taplin swims against the current and says 2010 can be a big Democratic year--if:
    ...Obama makes this a National Election in the same way FDR did--taking on the bankers, the corporate Republican interests as well as holding off the far left cries for nationalization. The Chicago political team better plan to have the President spend September and October on the road fighting for his agenda and his party.

  • Tech note: Remember vinyl records and analog TV? AT&T wants a death date for the land line:
    "A huge proportion of the capital resources available to some of the largest telecommunications providers in the country is being directed, not towards improving broadband speeds or bringing broadband to more customers," AT&T contends, "but rather towards maintaining an increasingly obsolete network that is no longer capable of providing the services and features that American consumers and policymakers demand."

    In which we learn the acronym POTS = Plain Old Telephone Service.

  • And a really, really interesting look at the balance between public records and privacy with voter lists. An interesting read but there's some inaccuracies about Iowa law which like the 13th stroke of the clock cause me to doubt everything else. To wit: Iowa's ID number hierarchy is Iowa driver's license number required if you have one; if not then last four of SSN required instead. SSNs, partial or full, have not been released with purchased voter lists since beginning of 2003.

  • Administrative note: The comments section is going through some transitions as Haloscan goes through some tran$itions. I decided to pay for the first year and see how it goes; note the DONATE button to your upper right. (Anyone else using Blogger has probably noted that the spam comments have been much worse in recent months, so sorry if I inadvertently moderated you out.)