Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 In Review Part 1: Top Ten Posts

New Year's Eve is a retrospective day for most politico-journalists. More so for me, because December 31 is also the day I launched this blog, 13 years ago.

This year's review is handicapped at the moment by some connectivity issues with Twitter - now my primary medium, though the blog is still important for long-form pieces - and by a nasty cough that's had me down the last couple days.

So while I struggle to grab my tweets for the year I'll review the year statistically rather than chronologically. And I'll do it in countdown format, because New Year's Eve is about the countdown.

I hate to use traffic as my metric, especially since my highest traffic post of all time was also one of my lamest. But this year I think the top posts are mostly a good indicator of what the regular readers are interested in.

11. Because this list goes to eleven. 2nd Annual Charity Beret Auction: The countdown starts out self-referential. Since I'm stuck with the beret as a trademark, I may as well do something good with it, and this year Peter Byler donated $211 to charity for a $2 hat.

10. Someone's Polling Dems in Iowa: I got surveyed on February 2 and posted details of the call. "My guess is someone in Hillaryworld is message-testing and looking for the best way not to run against Warren - because as much as I wish it I don't expect it - but rather for the best way to co-opt Warren's message and rhetoric, to fend off a challenge from the left."

9. Iowa City Council: Can't Wait For Election Day The big caucus stuff, like the debates and cattle calls, didn't show up high on the charts, because the real-time focus was on Twitter and because there were so many national people covering them. Instead, local posts got the traffic and this post is the prime example. It was one of the first articles anywhere that talked about a "Core Four" slate running in the Iowa City council election. 

8.  Patel Out in 1st CD: No major insights here, but I think people assumed I had the inside scoop on the news that Ravi Patel was withdrawing for the 1st Congressional District race in June.

7. A Meal With Martin O'Malley. One of only two caucus pieces to make the list - when you get a one on one with a candidate, even one polling in low single digits, you get readers. This was a lot of fun.

6. Former Council Member Steven Kanner Dies. A local story that got a lot of non-local traffic from people who knew Kanner after he left Iowa City when his term ended in early 2004. His name comes up in the next piece, too...

There's a BIG leap forward in traffic to the next tier of stories:

5. Core 4, Old Guard 0. My late election night number cruncher, analysis, and celebration of the epochal Core Four city council win.
"For the first time ever, the People's Republic of Johnson County has voted, in a city election, in a way that resembles the way we vote in general elections. And it's not just a win for the next four years. In a very big way, this is a permanent win for Iowa City progressives. Because the old guard lost something more important than Dobyns and Payne and Hayek's open seat today. They lost their scare tactic."
4. Split Decision In Iowa City School District. The same post only for school board - interesting that the school board vote got (slightly) more traffic than the more historically important city vote.

3. Hayek's Last Act. This was fun to write - and may have actually helped.
Hayek long ago chose the unnamed de facto party of traditional local Iowa City power, a party he was literally born into, over the Democratic Party. And in that unnamed party (ya gotta admit, Core Four is at least catchy), there's nowhere to go up from mayor.

So this city election, in which he is not seeking re-election, is likely to be Matt Hayek's last act in local politics. And he's chosen to go out with no class.

As he was in 2010, Hayek is the designated deliverer of the Scare The Townies message, a stink bomb dropped in Thursday morning's Press-Citizen... 
The lame duck mayor's ham-handed editorial backfired and was widely shared, along with rebuttal, to motivate the Core Four's supporters. Plus it's not every day you can use the mayor in a Scumbag Steve meme.

2. The Ministry Is Interfering At Hogwarts. It's a close race between the Core Four win and the Bruce Harreld hiring for Story Of The Year in Iowa City. I've backed down some since September, as I think Harreld's opponents are overplaying their hand by pouncing on little stuff rather than saving their ammo - sorry! gun reference! - for the first substantive fight.

But I still think political payback is the best explanation of the hire, and that "the Ministry is interfering at Hogwarts" the best analogy.

1. JJ Post Mortem. Bucking the local trend, the top post of the year is a caucus piece that drew some national pickup, and a lot of Bernie Sanders blowback, around this observation:
The image that sticks with me from last night is of Sanders supporters leaving after his speech, through O'Malley's and into Clinton's.

Sanders leaders are aware it was a bad optic, especially since Press Row was a peninsula surrounded on three sides by Team Bernie while the Clinton sections were on the other side.  They're trying to get word out that the early departure was forced by transportation, as the crowd was largely students who bused over. (A problem solved by paying the bus drivers whatever overtime was needed.) And fingers are pointed at the security check in, which pushed the start time back an hour.

But walking out on the other speakers is very telling...
One of the reasons I'm staying neutral is so I can make candid and fair assessments of all three campaigns. I'll keep doing so in person when possible for the next month, and from a distance for as long as the nomination race continues...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Datapanik In The Year Zero

Here's what little smart stuff I can see in the middle of the shit storm:
  1. Everyone needs to calm the hell down before things blow up even worse. Bitter primary disputes lead to losing. Iowa veterans of Kerry and Dean in 2004, you know what I mean. STILL NEEDED
  2. This needs to get fixed and fixed fast - if possible, before the debate tomorrow night. DONE
  3. Team Bernie needs to be more upfront about what happened with the data and fully cooperate with internal investigations. PENDING
  4. The DNC and NGPVAN need to investigate fast - and I mean around the clock fast - and get Team Bernie back on line as soon as possible. DONE
  5. And yes, someone on Team Bernie needs to apologize to Team Hillary. NOT YET
  6. And Team Hillary needs to graciously accept, even though:
  7. Data that's taken is taken. There's no giving it back and no way to prove it hasn't been used. So Team Hillary has suffered damage that can never be made good.
  8. A ground campaign is dead in the water without its data. So Team Bernie has also suffered damage - a day and a half that can never be made up, and unless they got run on Thursday morning, there won't be any walk or call lists for this weekend.
  9. Even so, “we need the data that has been stolen by the DNC” is remarkable chutzpah from the campaign that did the stealing or looking or whatever it was in the first place.
  10. A simple version of why this matters: Two of the queries - and it's pretty clear there was some systematic work happening - were for strong and weak Hillary supporters respectively. You add the Sanders supporters Hillary has identified to your list of "ones," you cross the Hillary die hards off your call list and save hundreds of hours of calls - and use that time to call the weak supporters who might be persuadable.
  11. Weak Hillary supporters, you may need to turn off your phones for the next seven weeks. Even if Team Bernie didn't keep the data, Team Hillary will be trying to control the damage.
  12. Very very few people in the national press, and even fewer real world voters, understand any of this. But in the insular world of campaign organizing, this is a Where Were You When moment.
  13. Everyone needs to calm the hell down before things blow up even worse. 
  14. Try to look at facts without filtering them through your campaign's official line.
  15. The DNC probably needed to pull the plug, at least long enough to figure out what happened.
  16. But because of other issues - the debate schedule and her obvious preference for Clinton - Debbie Wasserman Schultz is mistrusted and hated in the other campaigns. (Also, for me, there's her foreign policy views that put parochial district pandering ahead of national interest.)
  17. So I doubt this is a Grand DWS conspiracy... 
  18. ...but I can totally see how someone could think that and I don't even blame them.
  19. Best analysis:
  20. The incident has also called into question Sanders' control over and engagement with the mechanics of his own campaign - he didn't know about the incident till  Debbie Wasserman Schultz told him.
  21. There's also some risk to damaging Sanders' Not Just Another Politician brand, depending on how the investigation turns out.
  22. Suing the DNC is a double edged sword. It reinforces support among Bernie's self styled outsiders...
  23. ... but "he's not really a Democrat" and "he won't do anything to help the down ballot candidates" are still live issues for a lot of near-left undecided Democratic activists. The near-left undecideds are where my county at least will get decided... and to these folks, suing the Democratic Party that you either did or didn't just join is terrible optics.
  24. And supporters talking about third parties because they've been locked out of data for 28 hours is even worse optics.
  25. Headline refers to.
  26. The argument that Sanders staff grabbed data to prove there had been a breach is analogous to the reporter who sneaks a fake bomb onto an airplane. It makes the point, but it's still a big no-no.
  27. And it's not a fake bomb. It's a real bomb that may or may not have been detonated. Give the techies a few hours to see if it's ticking.
  28. Everyone needs to calm the hell down before things blow up even worse.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Howard Dean Retro Liveblog

This morning I joked that since Howard Dean is coming to town, I might go all 2003 retro and live-blog him rather than tweeting. Then I realized that the Republican debate will jam politico-journalism Twitter beyond usable capacity, so I decided to follow through.

Dean is, of course, not here in Iowa City on his own behalf. He's here for Hilalry Clinton - and while he'll no doubt try to stay on Clinton message, it's inevitable that the Vermont Factor will surface and the subject of Bernie Sanders will come up.

I'm going retro 2003 with my wardrobe. Found this in the back of the closet:

7:08 and we have about 50 people on hand eating pot luck and waiting for Howard Dean. A couple other folks have joined me in wearing Dean shirts (this is a retro endorsement of Dean and not an endorsement of Dean's 2016 endorsement, said Mr Neutral)

7:15 and Howard in the house! Dignataries on hand include Chris Tayor der burgermeiser of Swisher and the one and only Sue Dvorsky. (Mary Mascher was a late arrival)

7:26 and Dean is working the room - I was one of the first hands grabbed because of the shirt. Another arrival is Zach Wahls, who released his Hillary endorsement yesterday. That's a big deal in Johnson County, with young Iowans, and the LGBT vote.

7:35 and I'm cheating a little on the liveblog rules because it's the easiest way to get pics up fast. The tech has come a long way since 2003. Dean was on the front edge of tech in politics - Obama won with the Dean strategy and Hillary is running with it now. Hoping to chat with him about that.

Organizer drops a reference to 50 State Strategy #drink

Dean is on at 7:38. "This is almost like a Dean reunion," he says, with shout outs to Leshtz and Wahls (who tells me his first campaign event was a Dean rally when he was 13).

"I know something about Iowa politics and this is a first rate staff."

"I like Hillary a lot because she knows what the facts are. Right now there's a whole party that doesn't care what the facts are," he says referencing the GOP debate.

7:43 "Citizens United reversed the clause of the declaration of independence that says we are all created equal."

"There's only one person in this field who understands anything about foreign policy." Specified GOP field... but maybe a veiled reference to his fellow Vermonter? Dean points to today's terrorism speech that I have not had time to read about.

"The people who are most likely to help us are Muslim Americans." Says he speaks to students - they are more afraid of ISIS than the rest of America. "Who has a bigger investment in making sure ISIS goes away? We cannot turn 1.2 billion people against us by doing what Donald Trump is doing."

7:48 "None of those people on that Las Vegas stage are qualified to be president - not one."

Dean wraps up in just over 10 minutes. Leaves lots of mingling time.

8:47 and I'm home. The liveblog plan pretty much went to hell as soon as the prepared remarks were over. In my nostalgia I was mentally prepped for a longer speech and somehow I forgot that Dean is not the candidate. (I asked how old he would be in 2024: "Too old.")

So it was a mix and mingle event and Dean mixed and mingled at length with pretty much everyone, not leaving until the room was pretty much just down to staff.

He did have a few minutes for a couple more formalized questions with me. Dean very carefully avoided direct criticism  of Bernie Sanders and said they get along well. He said he chose Clinton because he had a more broad base of experience, again emphasizing foreign policy; clearly this is what the On Message message is 48 Days Pre Iowa.

Dean says Iowa and New Hampshire have an important role but that it was also important to add the diversity of South Carolina and Nevada to the early state mix (that happened in 2006 for 2008, during his tenure at the DNC). Dean also said the DNC needs to be more of an organizing committee and less of a re-election committee.

As for the debate schedule, which his DNC successor Debbie Wasserman Schultz has taken a lot of flak for, Dean said he agrees with limiting the number of debates, citing the Republican's self-inflicted damage from their 20-plus debate schedule in 2012. He disagrees, however, with barring candidates who participate in unsanctioned debates (like the Black and Brown Forum in Des Moines was supposed to be) from being in the official debates.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Split Screen Organizing

I keep my Twitter feed going during my weekly football game. Mostly for the football talk...

...but I keep politically tuned in as well.

Around kickoff time yesterday I noticed a split screen battle in the Democratic race going on in my backyard.

Bernie Sanders was in Mt. Vernon, where he drew a crowd officially body-counted at 1100 people, with an intro by Linn County supervisor Brent Oleson (when he converted, he REALLY converted.)

Meanwhile in Iowa City, a Hilalry Clinton event had a full, if smaller, room, but no candidate.

(Not that Team H is neglecting the area, as Herself is in town Wednesday, and Howard Dean is here for Clinton tomorrow.)

This crowd was for a LONG precinct captain training, going over the nuts and bolts of caucus night.

So which crowd is a better indicator of strength, seven weeks out from caucus night?

Today's Register poll shows Clinton with a 48-39 lead over Sanders, with Clinton up 6 and Sanders up 2 since the last poll in October which included Joe Biden. Martin O'Malley, God bless him, is stuck at 4. (Those O'Malley second choices could matter: a delegate here, a delegate there...)

(Also, for the record, dead Register, I REALLY hate having to read a .pdf document in an embedded Scribd window.)

So is Sanders nearing the ceiling that lots of folks think he has? Hard to say - but nine points is close enough that late events and variable turnout can make a difference, and the Register poll indicates that Sanders has a strong edge among caucus rookies.

That's the challenge for Team Bernie. To get them counted, you have to get them there.

Here's a shot from a Sanders caucus training, also yesterday, reportedly in Davenport. This may not be indicative of the whole day - Team Hillary was social media-ing their events a lot more aggressively, though not as aggressively as Clay Matthews who sacked Cowboys backup quarterback Matt Cassell twice

And of course a lot of Team Bernie's energy was soaked up by the candidate event.

But there's been some grumbling from Team Bernie about the complexity of the caucus process for newcomers. That's one of the reasons I neutraled myself out. Somebody always walks into the caucuses feeling like they're gonna get screwed and not treated fairly. I know that - I was a Bill Bradley guy. So I'm keeeping all three teams in the loop in the process stuff. (Also: Neutrality means I can write frank assessments like this without people filtering it through who I endorsed.)

That said, grumbling about the rules is never a sign of caucus confidence. Hillary could tell you that, and did, a lot, in 2007. And I'm betting that at least some Bernie backers balk at checking that D on the voter registration form so they can caucus with the Democrats.

There's also a track record of difficulty getting Sanders supporters to show up at events OTHER than a personal candidate appearance. They can fill a big hall for him... but can they fill school gyms without him?

Here's an indicator that Team Bernie thinks their chances are better in next door New Hampshire, where independents can simply pick either party's primary.

It's ironic that the best bet for saving First In The Nation may be: Hillary  wins Iowa, rival wins New Hampshire, Hillary wins nomination, the reverse of how things played out in 2008.

In many other ways, Clinton is running from the Obama playbook of 2008. It wasn't just the fresh outsider energy that led Obama to his historic and crucial Iowa win - it was lots and lots and lots of field work. Sanders is doing that work, of course, but Clinton is doing it harder, bigger, and better.

At this point, caucus weeks are like dog years, and seven caucus weeks is a lifetime. But for THIS weekend, I'm guessing the organizer crowds are a better indicator than the candidate crowds.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Mein Trumpf

Ya know, I think I prefer Donald Trump's speeches in the original German.

Yep, it's time for a repeal of Godwin's law, because nothing short of "fascist" captures the essence of Trump's proposal to bar all Muslims - even US citizens temporarily abroad - from entering the United States.

The Donald repeated his remarks to standing ovations last night, though it's not clear whether the crowd was chanting HEIL! or just SIEG! He did clarify that he would allow Muslim members of the US military to return home, a position modeled on Hindenburg's progressive policy of exempting Jewish war veterans from the first wave of Nazi laws.

Consider if you can these policy proposals:
4. Only those who are our fellow countrymen can become citizens. Only those who have (majority ethnic group) blood, regardless of creed, can be our countrymen. Hence no (member of specified minority religion) can be a countryman.

5. Those who are not citizens must live in (nation state X) as foreigners and must be subject to the law of aliens.

6. The right to choose the government and determine the laws of the State shall belong only to citizens. We therefore demand that no public office, of whatever nature, whether in the central government, the province, or the municipality, shall be held by anyone who is not a citizen.

7. We demand that the State shall above all undertake to ensure that every citizen shall have the possibility of living decently and earning a livelihood. If it should not be possible to feed the whole population, then non-citizens must be expelled from (nation state X).

8. Any further immigration of non-(majority ethnic group) must be prevented. We demand that all non-(majority ethnic group) who have entered (nation state X) since (tragic date in national history), shall be compelled to leave (nation state X) immediately.
24. We demand freedom for all religious faiths in the state, insofar as they do not endanger its existence or offend the moral and ethical sense of the (majority ethnic group) race. 

Pretty simple: Deny citizenship to an unpopular minority - and we're already talking about repealing 14th Amendment citizenship and railing against "anchor babies." Next step:  deny human rights to non-citizens.

And, just for fun, let's bash the media:
23. We demand that there be a legal campaign against those who propagate deliberate political lies and disseminate them through the press.

These are, of course, from Adolf Hitler's 25 Point Nazi Party platform. But they're easily recognizable as mainstream points in American political debate today, and it's Donald Trump who put them there, shoving the Overton Window so far to the right that we can turn our head and see the Reichstag burning.

Mass deportation used to be only whispered, not openly discussed. Even Steve King only went so far as to imply it. Now it's been mainstreamed, and as MSNBC's Christopher Hayes noted yesterday. "Pretty soon 'not rounding people up' will be the moderate position." I think we're already there, and I'm expecting the Anschluss of Canada any day now.

Am I hysterical here? Well, we're living in a district where the lone Republican congressional candidate is openly talking about killing people. You know who else...

A small part of me wants to see the Republican Party sink with Trumpism. Let them lose a Goldwater landslide, let President Hillary or Bernie or Martin sweep in with a filibuster proof majority, fix some stuff, and appoint Supreme Court judges who will sit till 2050.

But a bigger part of me wants America to back away from the edge.

One of the best parts of working on the caucuses this year has been building my relationships with the local Republicans. I know they are better people than this.

It's simply not good for democracy to have one of two major parties with less than zero (see what I did there) appeal to large and growing segments of the population. The sooner Trumpism is stopped, the sooner we can regain a more functional political culture.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

2nd Annual Charity Beret Auction

Congrats and thanks to Peter Byler of Iowa City, winner of the second annual charity beret auction. Peter sets a new record. Last year, caucus guro Dave Redlawsk and not yet school board member Chris Liebig tied and each won $210 berets.

Bidding stalled at $50 for several days till I sweetened the deal a little - I promised to throw in a Jimmy Carter button if the price hit $100. Soon after that the bidding war kicked in. Thanks to Mike Carberry for once again helping get that started; maybe next year he'll finally win. Laura Twing also helped inflate the price.

Original post November 17:

I never really wanted to be Beret Guy, you know.

It was supposed to be a one time joke, a play on use of "wear a lot of hats" as in play a lot of roles. I got a professional writing job and decided I needed a literal blogging hat. The readers voted, raspberry beret won. (I was lucky given what happened and given the other options.) I bought one. I wore it as a ONE TIME JOKE. The next day it was on Page One.

I was stuck. I tried to kill it; I was still stuck.

So I embraced it, and it became an accidental trademark. Yes, I know it looks goofy. But when the Vice President remembers Beret Guy, you're on to something.

Last year I decided to do some good with it. I've picked up a few spares over the years - always, as the song says, at a second hand store. I wear them in turn at events, to make them official game worn jerseys. And I popped one up on top of the county's mitten tree last year and auctioned it off.

Egomaniacal and attention-seeking? Maybe. But these days a writer has to self promote. And more importantly, it worked. The auction ended in a statistical tie, so I sold off TWO berets, that I paid about $2 a piece for, at $210 each for the Crisis Center of Johnson County.

With that good a track record, I better do it again. This year I'm upping my game.

This year I'm donating a beret and a press kit to the Johnson County Employee Charity Drive. Let's look at what you, yes YOU can have with your charitable donation. Top row, left to right:

Item 1 is a POLITICO note book. For the past several months I've been part of Politico's "Insider Caucus," a group of early state activists who make off the record comments and predictions. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we (I mean me) predict Scott Walker will win it all.

The centerpiece of the package is the beret itself, with attached $2 price tag. I've worn it at many events and retired it on Saturday, when I wore it to cover the Democratic debate in Des Moines. Behind it you see the as yet incomplete Certificate of Authenticity, which will include photos of this beret in action at the November 14 debate.

At right to hold it all is a Face The Nation goodie bag that was picked up off either my chair or the floor at the debate filing room.

On the bottom row we have a VOTE button from debate co-sponsor Twitter, glow sticks (unused) from a Bernie Sanders rally, and a Hillary Clinton press pass from an Iowa City event.
Attesting to authenticity.

Republican bidders may, at their discretion, substitute a McCain-Palin press pass from 2008.

Bids are being taken through the Johnson County Employee Intranet, but I'll handle all outside bids for this one. Send me your bids by email ( OR - subject line Silent Auction; Deeth Press Kit), Twitter direct message, Facebook message, phone or text. I'll update the leading bidder on the Deeth Blog home page (just below the exit sign). Bidding ends at noon November 30 December 3. Be generous!

Supervisor Election January 19

Democrats to choose nominee December 16

Things moved fast Wednesday and Johnson County will go directly to a January 19 special election to fill Terrence Neuzil's soon to be vacant seat on the Board of Supervisors.

Democrats almost immediately scheduled a December 16 nominating convention, and two names surfaced even before the decision was made to hold an election. Lisa Green-Douglass, who narrowly lost the 2014 primary, and first time candidate Kurt Friese have already announced for the June 7 primary. (More on that confusion below.)

The three member committee charged with filling the vacancy - Treasurer Tom Kriz, Recorder Kim Painter and Auditor Travis Weipert - met for a half hour Wednesday morning and opted for an election, with Kriz dissenting and favoring appointment.

The vote followed a public feedback session that illustrated some of the Democratic divisions going into the abbreviated election cycle. I've been through six of these over the years, and I've seen a lot of people, myself included, on both sides of the appoint vs. elect dynamic depending on the circumstances.

Green-Douglass and Friese both attended the meeting, with Green-Douglass speaking in favor of election. Tom Carsner, who is chairing Friese's campaign, argued in favor of appointment.

More pointedly, Caroline Dieterle argued for appointment and in favor of something she called "the Slockett rule." Former auditor Tom Slockett had an absolute policy that he would not consider anyone for an appointment who had previously run and lost. The mention of the "Slockett rule" seemed aimed at Green-Douglass, who ran 126 votes behind Mike Carberry in the 2014 primary (she actually led in the election day vote, but lost on absentees).

By coincidence, the January 19 date parallels the 2010 special election calendar. Janelle Rettig was appointed to the Board October 31, 2009 following the death of Larry Meyers, but a Republican-led petition drive forced a special election. It was high-profile and contentious, but Rettig handily beat Republican Lori Cardella.

The Democratic convention nominee would seem to be the favorite - but that's not how it worked out in the March 2013 special election for the Board when Democrat Terry Dahms lost a shocking, low-turnout upset to John Etheredge, the first Republican to win a Johnson County supervisor race since 1958. Etheredge lost that seat to Carberry in the 2014 general election, and is not believed to be interested in running again.

The special election cycle overlaps with caucus season, the holidays, and most importantly the Hawkeye football team's improbable national title run. But that's just how Neuzil's life events worked out, as he landed a county manager job in Michigan a year before his term expired.

It also overlaps with the first stages of the June 7 primary season as well. Three supervisors are up in 2016 - Pat Harney, Rod Sullivan, and the soon to be former Neuzil seat (the resignation takes effect December 20). De facto announcements will be happening soon, as candidates traditionally pass nomination papers at the caucuses. Sullivan and Harney both seem likely to run, and Friese and Green-Douglass have announced.

The top three Democrats go into the November general election as heavy favorites. Even as a personally popular incumbent, Etheredge managed just 39% in 2014 with an R after his name.  Pushing against the straight ticket tide is even harder for a Republican in a presidential year.

The upcoming primary also affects the special election cycle and enforces at least a minimum of party unity. You could call that the "Sehr-Lacina rule." After losing at a convention in 1997, then-supervisor Steve Lacina ran as an independent in a special election for recorder, losing by 17 votes to appointee Deb Conger. Lacina then ran for the same job in the 1998 Democratic primary, but his special election defection from the party was an issue and he lost to Painter.

Similarly, in 1994 Don Sehr, a rural conservative Democrat, was appointed to a Board vacancy, but the more liberal, party-active Democrats petitioned for a special election. (Like I said about people being on both sides of the appoint vs. elect issue at different times.) Sehr lost the nomination at convention, and won the election as an independent. But two years later, that defection was still an issue, and he lost the 1996 primary to Jonathan Jordahl.

So if it still matters to primary voters a year or two later, it would be VERY awkward for a losing convention candidate to bolt the party in January to run as an independent, then immediately file as a Democrat in March for a June primary.

Green-Douglass has more or less kept running since the 2014 race, and seems likely to pursue the convention nomination. Friese got a somewhat later start, but has been testing the waters for a few months. His convention plans are less clear.

In contrast with recent complaints that Democrats have run too many Iowa City candidates, both Friese (Penn Township) and Green-Douglass (Madison Township) are rural residents.

The December 16 Democratic convention is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Coralville library. The convention delegates are people who got elected at the off-cycle 2014 caucuses - another reason caucuses are important.

No word yet from the Republicans; independents can file with 250 signatures. The deadline is December 28.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Loose Threads

12 days without a post may be some kind of modern Deeth Blog record. But contrary to rumor I'm still here; everyone needs a vacation sometime. Anyway I'm making up for it with two today.

I have little to say about Colorado Springs that I haven't said before or that someone else has already said better. I'm numb to the idea that Americans simply accept periodic mass murder (with the intervals seeming to be increasingly brief) as the price of a free society.(Buried that same day, the most American headline ever: "Mississippi man guns down Waffle House waitress after she asks him not to smoke.")

The First Amendment doesn't come with a trigger warning, kiddos:
The items listed here would have been a MUCH better answer than the rejecting the premise "I won't have to work with Republicans because Political Revolution #drink" answer he gave in the Iowa debate:
Credit where it's due to Joni Ernst for retiring from the National Guard. I doubt it was because of my post a year ago, but post-election I noted:
Your continued personal military service at this point is largely symbolic, more about maintaining that public persona than about actually defending the country.  You have a new role in public service, a different role in defending the country.

You'll be on the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee (along with Agriculture and Small Business). The best thing you can do for the country is to be at those meetings, and to be on the floor casting votes to represent us three million Iowans.  Yes, even though those votes will mostly be the opposite of what I want.
People kicking Dave Loebsack's teeth in over the Syrian refugee vote need to remember that the alternative to Dave is NOT Dennis Kucinich. THIS is the alternative:
For border security, Chelgren believes a fence would define the border and control who enters and leaves. If one is found to have crossed into the country illegally, committed a felony while here, then been deported, he supports executing that individual if they break America's immigration laws a second time.
Way to bury the lede there, Journal Express.

Chickenman also wants to require drug tests for child support - not "welfare," child support -  thinks professors should be evaluated ONLY on student feedback, and likes to ride RAGBRAI naked. So if you want to "withhold support" for Loebsack because of a too-timid vote, you risk getting the real thing.

Still seeking a term for blood red Sioux County that corresponds to People's Republic of Johnson County without breaking Godwin's Law.

The Gazette's Lee Hermiston wins Best Lede Of The Month and it's only the 1st: "Brandon Wilson just can’t stop hiding drugs in his rectum." Which gives new meaning to the term "crack cocaine."

And bids on the beret end at noon Thursday with the current price at $50. I'll accept bids via any method of communication. It's hardly Ringo Starr's personal copy number 0000001 of the White Album, but it's still collectible.

Clinton Caucus Complaints Simmered Till At Least 2012

It's a lot to read into one line, and the context is clearly a critique of the state of the Republican race in January 2012. The word "Iowa" does not appear.

But in yesterday's batch of Hillary Clinton emails, this one stood out:

Three weeks after the 2012 caucuses, and more importantly four years and three weeks after her third place finish in the 2008 caucuses, Clinton is still a caucus critic.

I spent years obsessing over the blind quotes in Mark Halperin's Game Change, in which Hilary was quoted as asking "how many times do I have to talk to the same people?!?" and Bill Clinton is cited as charging the Obama campaign with caucus fraud. I reported the softer critiques made in public even before caucus night 2008. I've been told not to pass judgement on things people say in the moment of defeat, to focus on Now rather than Then, and asked nicely to let it go.

But it's out there again, and "Then" just got four years closer to the present. The offhand comment is consistent with all the past criticism.

It may be the wrong thing to ask, and may be the ultimate obsession of a spoiled Iowan. But I have yet to hear Hillary Clinton make a direct reference, positive or even negative, to Iowa as First In The Nation or to the Iowa caucuses as a process. There are references to the date, and asks to get out and caucus, but never a reference to Iowa's place in the process.

In fairness, Bernie Sanders isn't saying those things either (the only Democratic candidate with a deep connection to Iowa as First In The Nation is that old Gary Hart field staffer, Martin O'Malley). But Sanders doesn't have a track record of attacking caucuses as a process.

And Hillary 2016 is not Hillary 2008. The Clinton campaign seems to be working from the Obama 2008 playbook. On the staffing and organizational level, the commitment to caucuses is clear. Here in the People's Republic, you see lots of Bernie signs and t-shirts. But from my front row seat in the auditor's office, it's Team Hillary that's bringing in the voter registrations (presumably with commit cards back at HQ).

Clinton also has an overwhelming share of support from the core of elected officials and party activists, the kinds of folks who care about First, than she had in 2008 when those endorsements were splintered.

(UPDATE: She must have read this post because Hillary just announced visits to Ft. Dodge and Sioux City on Friday.)

All that's very good. But none of that is in the candidate's own words. Given the negative track record on the subject, it would be nice to hear an explicit, public Iowa Stays First from Hillary Clinton herself.

The irony is that the Iowa caucuses could play the role in strengthening Clinton's candidacy that the New Hampshire primary did in 2008. Given current polling it's very easy to see a scenario where Hillary wins Iowa, Bernie wins next door New Hampshire, and then Hillary sweeps through the South and de facto clinches the nomination Super Tuesday.

If that plays out and she wins, it puts President Clinton 45 (to distinguish from Bill H.W. Clinton) in command of the Democratic Party structure and process for 2020. Question is: when she thinks of Iowa, will she think of 2016... or 2008?