Friday, December 31, 2004

Quote of the era

Quote of the era

"America failed its exam as a superpower. They are a military and economic superpower but not morally or politically anymore. This is a tragedy for us." - Lech Walesa

"Washington's ebbing influence in this most pro-American swath of Europe reflects a broader phenomenon this series of articles has explored: Some of the largest challenges facing the U.S. now flow from the sources of its great power.

Its democratic domestic politics can leave it deaf to even its closest friends abroad. America's sheer size and might breed resentment and, in the geopolitical marketplace, stir competition. Its economic example spurs Europe to band together to compete. Its faith in elections prompts an effort, in Iraq and Afghanistan, to impose democracy through arms. For many abroad, America's goals inspire, but its actions often exasperate..."

The Year of the Blogger

The Year of the Blogger

ABC News has declared bloggers the People Of The Year. I prefer their pick to Time Magazine's, but maybe I'm just biased by the flattery. Since I have to share the honor with all other bloggers, the glory is diluted by several million times so I should be able to keep my ego in check.

It's especially timely since New Year's Eve is the anniversary of John Deeth Blog. Two years ago tonight I started this thing up back in The Monk's Cell, the back bedroom to which I retreated during the last couple months of my marriage. The blog has since followed me to Monk's Cell 2 (the interim micro-apartment) and has now been headquartered here at Bohemian Paradise for the past year and a half.

This New Year's Eve we're having global-warming weather and the earth has been shifted an inch off its axis. This blog probably hasn't shifted the world - judging from my traffic and links the biggest impact on the larger world was probably publicizing an attempted book burning in Cedar Rapids among the Wiccan community.

But blogging has been fun and interesting this year, and maybe my rambling has entertained my loyal readers a little too.

Lessons Learned (huh?)

Lessons Learned (huh?)

In these post-Kerry era days of doom and gloom, Democrats are like physicists looking for the Grand Unifying Theory. Every blogger seems to have identified the One Thing That Explains It All.

New Donkey calls this "Lessons Learned" and joins many many others in looking at the culture wars. The magic answer: it's all Janet Jackson's fault!

"The obvious place to start is by extending the routine Democratic demand for corporate responsibility to the entertainment corporations which purvey the sex-and-violence saturated products that emblemize the threat to traditional culture so many Americans perceive..."

Great way to turn off those 18 to 29 year old who actually moved TOWARD the Democrats in 2004! You want to create a generation of Greens? Just keep plating Tipper's tune, and pretty soon Ralph Nader will be looking as hip as he did in 2000...

New Donkey immediately gets defensive and stumbles into this constitutional chasm:

"Others change the subject by claiming that any effort to promote some self-regulation of entertainment products amounts to censorship or even repression, as though the utterances of Paris Hilton, as opposed to those of Joe Camel, merit judicial protection."

Uhhh... last I checked there was no clause in the First Amendment that required one's free speech to be tasteful or intelligent. Good thing, too.

"And still others resist the very idea of 'compromise' with the yahoos who watch reality shows three hours a night but profess to deplore the hellbound direction of American culture."

That would be me.... There's no way to compromise with that degree of cognitive dissonance anyway! It's a cultural war, all right. Time to declare which side we're on and fight it. I don't want to live or talk or think like Alabama.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

GOP Got More Bang For Its Billion

GOP Got More Bang For Its Billion

"Two relatively small expenditures stand out for their impact: the $546,000 ad buy by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush campaign's $3.25 million contract with the firm TargetPoint Consulting. The first portrayed Kerry in unrelentingly negative terms, permanently damaging him, while the second produced dramatic innovations in direct mail and voter technology, enabling Bush to identify and target potential voters with pinpoint precision."

Not going to get too deep into the Swift Boat thing other than to note that was all about subtext. Many others have discussed Vietnam as Civil War, the conflict that won't end politically until the generation dies off. While it was ostensibly about what Kerry did during the war, the REAL importance of the Swift Boat ads was bringing up his later protest activity. Since the whole Kerry strategy was vets-as-secret-weapon, it was a body blow.

But I'm not a message guy. In politics I deal in demographics and data. The Democrats need to do some serious catch-up work in this department. Iowa keeps getting touted as a model for data-based mobilization. But we've had unpleasant experiences with lists prepped by the state party the last couple cycles and ESPECIALLY at the caucuses.

One of the great strengths of the GOP this cycle was going local. Instead of relying on 527's and paid staffers, the Republicans build a huge network of local volunteers - friends and neighbors. We Iowa Deaniacs learned the hard way that the fresh-faced enthusiasm of a volunteer who's trekked halfway across the country to "make a difference" can backfire.

We need to match the GOP volunteer for volunteer, precinct by precinct, red states and blue states. And this can best be done not at the national or state level, bot locally. Put simply, we need a database geek in every county. The broad base of the netroots has proved that Democrats with computer skills, savvy, and vision are everywhere, and this resource can be put to better use.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Building A Bridge To The 19th Century

Building A Bridge To The 19th Century

And you though we here at John Deeth Blog had lost the trail of the All Important Amish Vote story:

"'Yup, we voted this time,' said an elder Old Order Amish man approached at his home-based quilt shop on Route 340. He had a beard that straggled down to his chest and bright blue eyes. His first name, he said, is Amos, but in keeping with the Amish edict against calling attention to oneself, he would not give his last name.

'I didn't vote for the last 30 years,' he said, puffing on a pipe. 'But Bush seemed to have our Christian principles.'"

Republicans registered more than 300 new voters in each of three mostly Amish districts. In Leacock Township, the GOP nearly doubled its voter rolls, from 1,000 to 1,800, with all but a handful of the new voters being Amish or Mennonite.

Biking at Noon

Biking at Noon

That's one of the ways I lost 30 pounds this year: Biking at noon since the laptop transmogrified into a small desktop with the death of the screen.

This noon I got dived at by a hawk and saw a bald eagle (a bird I can relate to) from a safer distance.

I really shouldn't be able to be cycling at this latitude on December 29th. But it's 45 degrees outside and after the cold wave a couple weeks ago I take what I can get. I passed a fellow in full ski gear riding roller skis and looking disgusted by the lack of snow.

My biggest problem with biking is the convention while passing someone of politely hollering "on your left!" (or right). For some strange reason I have never ever ever been able to instantly distinguish left from right. I mean spatially, of course; politically I know my left from right quite well. But I I have to think it through - every single time - something like this:

  • Hmm. I write with my right which is THIS one so that means... "On your left!"

    So if I run you over with my bike it's not for lack of trying.
  • Defensive about the Minister of Defense

    Defensive about the Minister of Defense

    As anyone who's ever looked at this blog or knows me casually is well aware, my professional football allegiance is deeply encoded in my Wisconsin born and bred DNA.

    The immensity of the tragedy in South Asia makes looking at the death of one man seem small. But still I find myself processing the premature death and mixed legacy of Reggie White.

    The vicarious psychology of the sports fan fascinates me even as I indulge in it. I stumble into work on a Monday morning and pull my green and gold hat off my head.

    "How'd your Packers do yesterday?"
    "We won."

    WE. Like I somehow had anything to do with it. Like I was down on the field throwing that key block that left Donald Driver open in the end zone. Sure. We.

    Yet millions of us get caught up in it, our moods wildly swinging from elation to hopelessness based on the performance of a few dozen physically abnormal men who most often have no real identification with or relationship to the team's town beyond some high profile feel-good PR/charity projects. The contracts expire, the bidding begins, the players move on.

    But the team stays. The fans stay and still say "We won". The tears on their faces as "We Are The Champions" plays are real. The joy I saw - and yes, experienced - in 1997 when the Packers won the Super Bowl was one of the most genuine and happy feelings I have ever known. And my vicarious emotions were reinforced and amplified by my father and brother who shared that day with me. I was four years old the day of the Ice Bowl and so I had literally waited my whole life for that moment.

    For that, I must thank Reggie White.

    I learned of Reggie's death on a football Sunday, the day after Christmas. My dad the coach was in the room and my brothers - scattered to hostile Bear, Lion and Viking territory but still loyal Packer Backers - nearby.

    The highlight reels and spontaneous, heartfelt tributes filled up the pregame shows. And every commentator felt the need to expound on Reggie's off-field personality He was a big man with a big heart, a deeply religious person who offered friendship to teammate and opponent alike.

    My own emotions were genuinely mixed. I fought my distaste for Reggie White's personal politics for the first couple days, even though The Speech was mentioned in passing even in the first obituaries.

    Sports fans like to give each other a hard time about their opposing loyalties. I see someone in a Bears hat, he sees me, and we exchange The Look like a couple of territorial bucks. But there's a commonality despite the hostility. We've bonded in our enmity. You've got your team, I've got mine, and our teams are bitter rivals - but we are Loyal To Our Teams and that produces a begrudging mutual respect.

    But once one gets outside the psychology of the sports fan and rejoins the real world, the team colors take on other meanings. The only time I've ever been seriously chided for wearing my green and gold was in the spring of 1998.

    The tributes last Sunday all showed the briefest of clips from Reggie White's speech to the Wisconsin Legislature. None of them included the content of what he said:

    "Homosexuality is a decision, it's not a race. People from all different ethnic backgrounds live in this lifestyle. But people from all different ethnic backgrounds are liars and cheaters and malicious and back-stabbing."

    And there was a lot more.

    At the time I was working on a local political campaign that ultimately elected the first out lesbian to public office in my state. Some of my friends on that campaign took deep offense at the G. In my real world where boycotts and protests are coin of the realm, my team loyalty was interpreted differently. Not as an endorsement of Reggie White's remarks, they knew me too well for that. But my defensive "I've been a Packer fan my whole life" was certainly insufficient.

    How do I justify this? How could I genuinely identify with and cheer on a man who so deeply held such bigoted views?

    Athletes, as a group, lean politically conservative. This isn't universal, of course. My own father comes from an athletic background and is an open-minded and reasonable man. And I fondly recall my futile efforts for Bill Bradley. But if you're looking for a young conservative, particulary an African American, a locker room is a good place to start.

    I remember studying "The Super Bowl As Spectacle" in grad school, looking at football as a metaphor for American warrior corporate culture. Pro sports is a zero-sum game with absolute winners and losers. Sports values raw physical superiority and (more true in days past) the authoritarian power of the coach. And of course athletes are wealthy which reinforces the political conservatism.

    Homophobia remains the last-most-acceptable prejudice in America. Bigotry of other sorts exists, to be sure, but we've progressed to the point where it's "bad manners" to be overtly racist or sexist. Such prejudices need to be couched in more veiled, less blatant ways. But open bigotry against gays and lesbians remains open and is even encouraged in contexts such as the military and sports. People continue to use religion to excuse it, just as they once used it to justify segregation. It was telling that, in the fallout from the 1998 speech, White apologized for remarks about Asians and Hispanics but refused to retract his anti-gay statements.

    For some reason, I find such bigotry - and I will call it nothing else - more disturbing coming from an African American. Reggie White was of the first post-civil rights generation yet the battles and arguments as he grew up in the South were still fresh. And as I watch today, as the father of a young black woman, those battles continue.

    Why could Reggie White not extend that logic to the freedom and rights of gay Americans? How do we measure him in his death? By his quarterback sacks and the team leadership he showed? By his ministry, friendship, and work with children? Or by his prejudices?

    We ask these same questions of other types of artists and performers with reprehensible beliefs or controversial personal lives. How important are the political views of a football player. I went to high school with my parent's state legislator, a man whose public life indicates that he shares many of Reggie White's views. Mike Huebsch has actual power, which is far far more crucial that what some football player says. But Reggie White had the sacks and in our celebrity-driven political-media culture that's what seems to matter.

    Do we ever find the answers? I'm no closer to justifying or explaining. The Minister of Defense leaves me with my honest confusion and my genuine sadness.

    The old saying is to love the sinner but hate the sin. Reggie White and I might be able to come to common ground on that, even if we'd approach it from opposite directions. And we'd both call ourselves Christians despite our very different interpretation of what that means.

    So I offer some honest thought, a prayer perhaps. My thoughts go out to those who truly lost someone, to whom he was a father or a husband or a friend or something more than Number 92. For myself I am thankful for the joy Reggie White gave the world, both in the vicarious sports fan sense and in his very real work in people's lives. By all accounts Reggie White was a man capable of great insight and love. I truly hope that in the last years of his life, his big heart grew to embrace all of God's children.

    Tuesday, December 28, 2004

    Who the hell cares?

    Who the hell cares?

    "I can't believe how much time the liberal blogosphere wastes on the DNC Chairman contest," grumbles Blue State Grumblings. He has a couple points: the bytes expended on this are out of all proportion to its importance. I think we all understand that the DNC chair fight is just a surrogate for the Direction Of The Party debate. Then he examines the Pelosi-Reid push for anti-choice Tim Roemer and notes:

    Democrats do need to realize that unless we can win some anti-abortion, anti-flag burning and pro-privatization voters, we can't be a 50 state party.

    Fair enough - but ONLY so far as we hold our ground on the actual substance. As long as this debate is just about reframing our stands on the issues, that's a good and valuable thing.

    But he concludes:

    Establishing a litmus test for every prominent Democrat is a sure way to guarantee that these voters will never vote Democratic again and that this so-called 50 state strategy will be doomed to failure.

    This slips down the slope that so many want us to slide down, which is the argument that the problem with the Democratic Party is that it's full of too many damn Democrats. I went sledding with my nephew this weekend and that's the only slippery slope I'm going down. You go down too many slippery slopes, you get a cold dose of snow in your face...

    Anyway I'd rather see Howard Dean running for president again than running the DNC.

    Thanks for the, uh... perspective

    Thanks for the, uh... perspective

    A couple of truly bizarre items today. First, the least gut-wrenching look yet at the Indian Ocean tidal wave:

    "I was taking my morning swim around the island that my brother Geoffrey, a businessman, had bought on a whim a decade ago and turned into a tropical paradise 200 yards from one of the world's most beautiful beaches..."

    The other is actually interesting, an inmate's take on mandatory sentencing:

    I beseech you all to think about these women -- to encourage the American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines, in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for those involved in drug-taking. They would be much better served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to be prepared for life "out there" where each person will ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living...

    Signed: Martha Stewart.

    Sure I laughed a little and thought of a lot of punchlines. But if it works in using the celebrity-obsessed media culture to get just a little discussion of the issue out, more power to her.

    Monday, December 27, 2004

    Movement Interruptus

    Movement Interruptus
    I've been surrounded by nieces and nephews and unable to write, read, or think like an adult for four days. But with the holidays over the blogger is back at his desk in Bohemian Paradise and reviewing the latest from John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira.

    The whole thing's worth a read but the premise is taht the Bush actual win in 2004 is an abberation fron the trend to a Democratic majority:

    By winning back a modest share of the white working class and maintaining Democratic support among minorities, Clinton obtained a plurality of votes in ’92 and ’96. He also turned California, Illinois, and New Jersey into Democratic enclaves. And in 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote. On the basis of these trends, we foresaw, in our 2002 book, the emergence of a new Democratic majority by the end of this decade. But the movement toward a Democratic majority was interrupted by the September 11 terrorist attacks.

    Bush combined a public campaign as commander in chief and tax cutter with a more targeted campaign aimed at spurring turnout among white evangelicals and winning over observant Catholics (including Hispanics) and Jews who backed Israel’s Ariel Sharon. These were significant tactical successes, but they didn’t add up nationally to a new coalition... Bush failed to capture any of the northeastern or Pacific Coast states that Reagan had won easily in 1980 and ’84, and he failed to make dramatic gains nationally among the voting groups that had moved into the Democratic Party in the 1990s.

    Not laurels to rest on, to be sure, but certainly an objective source of some hope.

    The Parental Home never even made it to the marketplace. They told one person - the next door neighbor - that they were selling. The next day the neighbor's daughter made an offer. So the next five months are likely to include several extra pilgramages to the home of my birth...

    Saturday, December 25, 2004

    Packers savor playoff edge

    Packers savor playoff edge

    "The Green Bay Packers had the bulk of their Christmas wishes granted on Friday. After a 34-31 road win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers clinched the NFC North Division title and the No. 3 seed in the NFC, and will host a first-round playoff game on either Jan. 8 or Jan. 9..."

    This field goal with time expiring thing is getting to be a habit...

    Thursday, December 23, 2004

    The Blogger hits the highway again this afternoon for the Big Family Christmas. We'll have almost the whole family (everyone except my daughter).

    It's likely to be the last holiday in the house I grew up in. Believe it or not the folks have lived in the same house for 42 years. I'm sure it'll be the Mother Of All Rummage Sales when mom finally packs up.

    So lots of nephew-niece time coming up in the next few days and probably not so many political-chatty type updates. Grownup talk is difficult with four kids age 7 and under. I'd love to get into a good old fashoned holiday-ruining political argument. Apparantly my Grandpa Deeth (who died before I was old enough to know him) was a world champion at this and specialized in teacher-baiting. Mom was too young to know better and always took the bait, or so I hear. These days she considers such conversations Impolite and is a master at changing the subject. Anyway, these days there's too much consensus among adult Deeths to pick a fight!

    One highlight - or lowlight depending how it goes - is sure to be the Christmas Eve Packer-Viking showdown. Always fun to watch the Pack Wisconsin style: TV sound off and radio turned up to listen to the homer broadcast. And of course there's The Coach's observations. We got a nice lecture on the difficulty of catching punt returns at Thanksgiving...

    Wednesday, December 22, 2004

    I need to stop watching TV

    I need to stop watching TV

    because I keep hearing really important music trivialized into commercials:

    Look what’s happening out in the streets
    Got a revolution got to revolution...

    "Volunteers" by Jefferson Airplane is now shilling for a day-trader site. Like Grace Slick said at Woodstock, "it's a new dawn."

    I think they also said "up against the wall motherfucker" too.

    I'm old but I'm way too young to identify with this 60s stuff as emotionally as I do. This one hits me even more than the Clash - music I poersonally had a stake in when it was new - in a car ad did. But at least that was the apolitical "Should I Stay Or Should I Go."

    Population Trends Continue to Favor GOP

    Population Trends Continue to Favor GOP

    "Arizona, Florida, Texas and Utah would each gain one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives if districts were reapportioned today," according to an analysis by American City Business Journals. "Iowa, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, on the other hand, would each lose a seat."

    That's a net shift of two electoral votes to Bush... and Iowa as the smallest state to lose a seat takes proportionally the biggest hit. Looks certain that Iowa will have to go through Resistricting From Hell again in 2011.

    Fifty stores reject bottles despite law

    Fifty stores reject bottles despite law

    This one's sure to heat up next session:

    The Ames Fareway is also among those that have stopped taking empty containers. Sen. Herman Quirmbach, an Ames Democrat, criticized the timing of the change. The holiday season brings a larger number of parties and entertaining, and a larger number of empty beverage containers.

    "Basically, what Fareway and Hy-Vee are doing is raising people's property taxes," Quirmbach said. "Without convenient places to return bottles, some fraction will be thrown away as litter."

    Today's Register article doesn't address the money subtext like the last one did. The grocery lobby wants a raise and is playing hardball to get it.

    Which reminds me of last week's Onion:

    A bipartisan Congressional initiative passed Monday promises that relief, in the form of a national, 12-cent bottle-and-can refund, will soon come to the nation's estimated 600,000 homeless.

    "For homeless can-collectors in my home state of Michigan, the plan represents a 20-percent raise," Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) said. "For those in states like California, New York, and Iowa, it represents a whopping 140 percent wage increase. Everyone wins: The homeless enjoy a higher standard of living, and we taxpayers enjoy cleaner streets, free of cans and bottles!"

    Which is extra funny to me since Camp is from my brother's home of Midland, MI. Maybe I should send my cans back to Michigan with Brian and get the dime instead of the nickel! Wonder if Hy-Vee could try that on a large scale?

    Tuesday, December 21, 2004

    Good reason for keeping Iowa first

    Good reason for keeping Iowa first

    As an Iowa Deaniac I of course have extremely mixed feelings about the screw-Iowa dynamic building in the blogosphere. It seems to be growing of long term jealousy and some vengeance - blaming Iowa for inflicting Kerry on the rest of you.

    But Caucus 04 was hardly a vacuum, we were simply the earth that everyone scorched. Granted, Iowa turned out to be the whole ball game. But the Iowa is Unrepresenative argument fades when you consider this:

    "Steve Rosenthal (of ACT), profiled in the Wall Street Journal, "suggests Democrats place the five closest states from the previous general election (Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, New Mexico, and Wisconsin) first in the 2008 primary calendar to help tune up for fall battles."

    Younkers to close at Old Capitol

    Younkers to close at Old Capitol

    "Younkers in Old Capitol Town Center will close by the end of January, opening the anchor store's space for redevelopment that could rise up to 10 stories..."

    Hey! Maybe they can put a bar there!

    Downtown's noticably more dead than usual this week - one of the side effects of life in a college town. WInter Solstice Day and I'm STILL biking to work!

    Monday, December 20, 2004

    Learning Early That Success Is a Game

    Learning Early That Success Is a Game

    The rhetoric of the video game:

  • "You are the star. Unlike, say, Little League, where most kids will never be the star."
  • "You're the boss. The world is very responsive to you."
  • "There's always an answer. You might be frustrated for a while, you might even never find it, but you know it's there."
  • "Trial and error is almost always the best plan."
  • "It's all about the competition."
  • "Young people rule."
  • My Christmas CD

    My Christmas CD

    I haven't actually made one but it would have to include:

  • "You're A Mean One Mister Grinch" by... Boris Karloff, maybe?
  • "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)" by the Ramones
  • "I AM SANTA CLAUS" to the tune of Iron Man by Black Sabbath which it turns out is by a guy named Bob Rivers
  • The Beatles' fan club Christmas records that someone finally put on line so I can dispose of my crappy 20 year old cassette copy
  • "2000 Miles" by the Pretenders which is actually sweet AND which is both seasonal enough to be Crhistmassy and non-seasonal enough to fit right in on Learning To Crawl
  • That Charlie Brown Theme officially known as "Linus and Lucy" by Vince Guaraldi
  • "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" as sung in The Godfather while Luca Brasi is putting on his bulletproof vest (which unfortunately for him is not garotte-proof)
  • "Christmas With The Devil" by Spinal Tap which is too over the top to be sacriligious
  • Packers fall to Jaguars, 28-25

    Packers fall to Jaguars, 28-25

    They stumbled into the playoffs because everyone else lost, but it wasn't pretty:

    "The Green Bay Packers stumbled on the tundra in an attempt to take a step closer toward clinching the NFC North Division title Sunday. As a result, the Packers will have to battle the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Eve on the carpet for the right to a home game in the first round of the playoffs..."

    Sunday, December 19, 2004

    Weekend Wrapup

    Weekend Wrapup

    The news I'm interested in is entering its usual pre-holiday lull so I'm going to tie up some loose threads from the past week.

  • My Firefox conversion went so well that yesterday I took the big step and made it the Default Browser. As a professional webmaster I can't go so far as to uninstall Internet Explorer, but I don't want to touch it with a 39 1/2 foot pole.

    Speaking of 39 1/2 foot poles, 'tis the season. Some interesting culture war items of note:
  • Last week an Oklahoma school district voted down a school bond after a campaign that was summed up as "If the fifth-graders couldn't have Baby Jesus in their school play, then the school district couldn't have an $11 million school bond package."
  • This comes on the heels of numerous stories about the conservative "Chrisatian" movement to boycott businesses that advertise "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

    My feelings on these two items are profoundly mixed. My first reaction, to my shock, is to support the tenacity and directness of the tactics. It's not that much different from my refulsal to vote for a local jail as long as there's one PAULA or pot arrest, or more constructively the Buy Blue project of steering money toward Democrat-friendly businesses and boycotting corporations that give exclusively to Republicans. Progressives could do a better job of voting with their dollars.

    (I draw the line at Pagliai's Pizza, however. Armand Pagliai may be one of the biggest Republican donors in Iowa City, but he also makes the best damn pizza in town.)

    My own shopping is FINALLY finished as of today... Yet the Happy Holidays boycott and Buy Blue are just a couple more aspects of the increasing polarization of America into two countries with less and less in common. I'm even more disturbed by the kulturkampf aspects - one blogger asked if yellow stars in business windows were next.

    On that sort of disturbing level, Cornell University released a study indicating that nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim-Americans. Reminds me of the study from the 1960s that took around the Bill of Rights, not labeled as such, and found hgeavy opposition. If we trade freedom for security we have neither.

  • People travel a lot at Christmas/The Holidays, and it makes me think about why I refuse to fly: because I refuse to be treated like a criminal in an airport security line. As if any future attack will be made using the same MO as the last one. We couldn't imagine that, and we can't imagine the one that's being planned now.

    If we were serious about stopping an attack, we'd take a good long look at our foreign policy. And both parties can take blame for six decades of blind support of Israel...

    Why was it that when the world was focused on South Africa, the white proposal of a separate state was rejected and we insisted on a unitary, multicultual state, yet that option isn't even considered for Israel-Palestine?

  • Speaking of cultural warriors, Joe Lieberman did his best to ruin my Christmas and turned Bush down for Homeland Security. You know, it's been a while since I commented on how third-reichy that phrase Homeland Security sounds. Anyway, the longer Homeland Security stays open, the more Bernie Kerik jokes we get.

    Enough rambling. The Lions just blew a snap on an extra point to tie the game with :02 left, so they lost to the Vikings. Makes the Packers game with Jacksonville a little more important, and it's kickoff time...

  • Friday, December 17, 2004

    Making the Young Democrats cool

    Making the Young Democrats cool

    I'm way too OLD to qualify anymore but a neat thread is rolling over at Kos:

    I would love to see the YDs taken over by innovators. First order of business -- eliminate Roberts Rules of Order. No person should ever have to suffer through a Point of Order. Parliamentary procedures have no place in a meeting of hipsters.

    And buried deep in the comments is this gem:

    The Democratic Party's attitude turns off young progressives. It trots out people like Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton to bombast youth culture. You guys don't have to like rap, but if you lambast it you can't expect to get young people turned on to your message at all.

    Lots of clues throughout this thread as to why younger folks aren't committing to the party and the process despite sharing being close to the Democrats on issues.

    Woke up this mornin'...

    Woke up this mornin'... myself another Bernie Kerik mob connection. Maybe they can get this gut a recurring role on The Sopranos. He seems to have more girlfriends than Tony, too:

    Kerik, a Paterson native, and Hackensack attorney Linda George split shortly before George and her estranged husband were indicted by a Passaic County grand jury on allegations they owned a Paterson cafe used from 1988 until 1993 as a video gaming den.

    Prosecutors described the storefront as part of a $26 million-a-year organized-crime gambling ring. Kerik and George lived together in an East Rutherford town house bought by Kerik in 1994 after the pair had dated for several years, according to people familiar with the situation.

    Neither George nor her estranged husband, Marcello Ferreira, was convicted in the politically tinged case, as prosecutors permitted their corporation to plead guilty to the charges and pay a fine.

    Indicted with George in the case were several prominent reputed organized-crime figures, including Fortunato "Frank" Inzone, a felon who served time in federal prison for conspiring to import heroin in the famed New York City "Pizza Connection" case. Inzone received 18 months' probation in the gambling case....

    Council wants stiffer alcohol fines

    Council wants stiffer alcohol fines

    In hopes of decreasing the amount of underage and binge drinking in Iowa City, the Iowa City City Council will ask state legislators to raise fines for alcohol-related violations in Iowa City...

    With quotes from notorious student-haters Ernie and Connie.

    What the Council SHOULD be asking legislators for is an enforcable state alcohol law - that is, an 18 year old drinking age.

    "Choice Language": Taking a big risk

    "Choice Language": Taking a big risk

    I've been troubled by this article since I first saw it spreading through the blogosphere a few days ago. I feel that's it's pretty damn presumptuous for a man to talk about choice but I'll go out on a limb and do it anyway.

    "As long as I can remember, the tone of the liberal message on abortion has been defiant, sometimes even celebratory. It's an attitude that reflects the victory of legal abortion over back-alley dangers three decades ago -- a success that many who remember it still experience with deep emotion...

    Still, for those of us who came after
    Roe v. Wade, there is a significantly different reality. The context has changed. Back alleys and coat hangers are not part of our visceral memory. Liberalism's vocabulary of 'rights' when it comes to abortion rings a little hollow. It's constitutional, intellectual -- and not nuanced enough to absorb the emotional or even legal complexity..."

    This is an extremely risky road to go down. You can't defend a freedom in a half-assed, apologetic way. You can't gove a rhetorical inch, because the moment you do you start to imply that choice is Bad. And that implication is all the anti-choicers need to get their feet in the door, to pursue their assault on this extremely fundamental freedom under the guise of fetus-worship.

    I used to all-but-ban this topic from my speech classes because persuasion on this subject is impossible. Even neutral language is impossible. Either you believe a zygote is a human being or you don't. I don't and we shouldn't kowtow to those that do.

    Video game controls facing a tough road

    Video game controls facing a tough road

    "We respect the governor for having a concern about video games, but we agree with the Entertainment Software Association that these matters are better left up to being resolved in the marketplace," said the MPAA's Stevenson, who was involved in videocassette litigation in Illinois last decade. "With all due respect to the governor, who is very supportive of the arts and motion pictures and games (sic), it's not a role for government."

    Well, I'm not sure how much respect is due. In any case, the surefire way to make a game Cool And Exciting is to ban it.

    And I'm going to step off the partisan ranch for a moment:

    The first Democratic governor of Illinois in a quarter century gives us this, while his Republican predecessor retired with the Profiles in Courage move of commuting every death sentence.

    Maybe I'll write the anti-Profiles In Courage with examples of shameless pandering and cheap shots. Profiiles In Cowardice, perhaps.

    Guard Reports Serious Drop in Enlistment

    Guard Reports Serious Drop in Enlistment

    File that headline under "Well, DUH".

    Best quote:

    "People have the misconception that everyone goes to war and gets killed," said Sgr. Daniel Mak, an Army Guard recruiter in Brooklyn.

    Scariest quote:

    General Blum's remarks come just a few days after the chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, told The Dallas Morning News that the Army Reserve recruiting was in a "precipitous decline" that if unchecked could inspire renewed debate over the draft.

    Thursday, December 16, 2004



    Maybe they didn't get Sopranos Season 5 out on DVD for Christmas, but this is almost as fun:

    The Bronx District Attorney's Office said yesterday it will investigate allegations that Bernard Kerik used a mob-connected contractor to renovate an apartment he purchased.

    He said his office will try to determine whether Kerik had a relationship with the mob-connected contractor who did the work. The project's contractor was Ed Sisca, who had previously been arrested in a bid-rigging scheme, according to reports.

    Sisca, of Englewood, N.J., is the son of a Gambino capo. He was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for the scheme...

    Wednesday, December 15, 2004

    Tiebreakers break against Packers

    Tiebreakers break against Packers

    Well, not quite. That's only if we lose Christmas eve. Now for the ridiculously complex:

    Meanwhile, the Packers can clinch a playoff berth this weekend under nine scenarios. Green Bay returns to the playoffs by beating visiting Jacksonville on Sunday. The other eight scenarios, as deciphered by some guy from the NFL with too much time on his hands:

    1. Green Bay tie and St. Louis loss
    2. Green Bay tie and Carolina loss
    3. Chicago loss or tie and St. Louis loss and Carolina loss and Dallas loss or tie
    4. Chicago loss or tie, and St. Louis loss, and Carolina loss, and Tampa Bay loss or tie, and Seattle win
    5. Chicago loss or tie, and St. Louis loss, and Giants loss or tie, and Dallas loss or tie.
    6. Chicago loss or tie, and St. Louis win, and Giants loss or tie, and Tampa Bay loss or tie and Seattle win
    7. Chicago loss or tie, Giants loss or tie, Dallas loss or tie and Carolina loss.
    8. Chicago loss or tie, and Giants loss or tie, and Carolina loss, and Tampa Bay loss or tie and Seattle win.

    Best Bernie Kerik Line Yet

    Best Bernie Kerik Line Yet

    From Electablog:

    How do you spend a lifetime in law enforcement and not have a better idea of how to get away with stuff? Forget homeland security. This guy is a friggin reality show waiting to happen.

    Sources: Lieberman rejects White House overtures

    Sources: Lieberman rejects White House overtures

    Sure, once I get my hopes up...

    Democratic (sic) Sen. Joe Lieberman has twice in recent days said "no" when approached about the possibility of a major job in the second Bush administration, CNN has learned.

    The Cabinet vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security was the subject of the latest overture, according to congressional and other government sources. Those sources said the earlier overture was to see whether Lieberman might be interested in becoming ambassador to the UN...

    Tuesday, December 14, 2004

    DCCC Leadership Post Void

    DCCC Leadership Post Void

    Interesting post in all at MyDD but here's the key:

    "Rather than targeting 15-20 races, hoping against the odds that D's win 90% of those races to gain a slim majority, how about we target 5-10 all the way through, and base-target another 100-150 median-partisan CD's with enough resources to keep the GOP incumbents in the districts. That's one alternative, maybe it's some other strategy. But the 'slim majority' strategy that's been employed by the DCCC to regain the House in the last 5 cycles has failed 5 cycles in a row..."

    I'd be the world's worst poker player. I'm a heart on my sleeve guy and my face gives me away. But the odds, the numbers aspect, that's interesting. And even I know the stupidest move in poker is drawing to an inside straight. You have to get EXACTLY the right card or you're left with nothing.

    We've been drawing to inside straights since 1994. The deck may be stacked, but if we reshuffle it we just might improve the odds.

    Bush wants Lieberman for Cabinet (Deeth wants Lieberman out of Senate)

    Bush wants Lieberman for Cabinet
    (Deeth wants Lieberman out of Senate)

    Have I been such a good boy this year that Santa is gonna gimme something I want for Christmas?

    President (sic/elect) Bush is courting Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D (sic) -Conn., a former Democratic vice presidential candidate, for a Cabinet post, presumably sec-retary of homeland security.

    Lieberman couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday, but an aide said that if Lie-berman were asked to accept a nomination, it would most likely be the homeland security post.

    The Washington Post, citing two anonymous sources, reported Sunday that Bush wants Lieberman for a Cabinet position...

    So the interim Republican governor would appoint an interim Republican Senator. I'd rather have a Republican who admits it that a fraud like Joe-mentum who doesn't.

    Meanwhile Pandagon is having a argument that Joe and his pal Tipper might love. What is a progressive to do when faced with a sexist and violent video game, to wit, Grand Theft Auto?

    Being uncompromising on free speech is a lot like opposing the death penalty. It's easy to let the opponents back you into the corner of defending the content or actions, thus removing the principle from the discussion. Even so, I'm not comfortable with the whole "Sister Souljah Moment" thing of attacking the content someone else's free speech. Maybe it's all that debate and persuasion I grew up on, but I always felt like the best way to beat an argument is to out-argue it, not to supress it.

    I'm a slippery slope guy on this issue. If I let them take away Junior's smash-em-up game, they'll be prying my Clash CDs from my cold dead fingers next. Not to sound like the NRA or anything. But I can almost comprehend why someone would be as passionate about their misinterpretation of the Second Amendment as I am about the reality and intent of my First. That doen't make them right, it just means I understand the strength of their emotions.

    I've found that my free speech absolutism has not been compromised by fatherhood. I still make a great effort - more self-conscious than many, I guess - to pay attention to my daughter's media messages. And I learned, while I still lived with her, that she has a good innate sense of what she is and is not comfortable with.

    So no, I don't think we need politicos bashing video games, or movies, or Britney Spears (unless they want to note that she can't sing). My teenager and I can make those decisions ourselves.

    Monday, December 13, 2004

    Bernard Kerik Sleeps With The Fishes

    Bernard Kerik Sleeps With The Fishes

    I thought the GoodFellas analogy yesterday was wild. Now we've got THE REAL THING. Bush nominee and Sammy The Bull Gravano in the same breath. Waaaaaay more interesting than an undocumented nanny.

    When he headed the city's jails, Bernard Kerik became deeply entangled with a New Jersey construction company long under fire for its alleged mob ties...

    Kerik's troubling connection to the company, Interstate Industrial, began in the fall of 1998, when the company held major city contracts, including one to cover the massive Fresh Kills landfill...

    Charges that Interstate, based in Clifton, N.J., is controlled by organized crime resurfaced last month when a mob turncoat, Anthony Rotondo, testified in Manhattan Federal Courtthat Interstate paid protection money to the Gambino crime family.

    The company first raised regulators' eyebrows when it bought a dirt transfer station from Edward Garafola, a notorious mobster and brother-in-law to mob turncoat Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which investigated the deal...

    Aside that didn't fit elsewhere: they really do play hardball in the Ukraine, huh?

    Minnesota elector votes for Edwards, not Kerry

    Minnesota elector votes for Edwards, not Kerry

    Looks like someone attended the Electoral College on a football scholarship:

    After the Electoral College ceremony concluded, no one stepped forward as the Edwards voter. Most electors chalked the vote up as a mistake rather than a purposeful political statement.

    "I'm sure somebody made a mistake," said elector Michael Meuers of Bemidji. "I'm certainly glad that the Electoral College is not separated by one vote."

    Edwards received all 10 Minnesota votes for vice president in a separate round of balloting...

    Uff Da! This is even better than the Washington DC elector in 2000 who protested the District's lack of voting representation by abstaining (Huh? Protesting not having a vote by not voting?!?) but at least that was intentional. Near as I know this is the first instance in Electoral College history of what we election pros call a spoiled ballot.

    Just one more reason to get rid of the thing.

    U2, O'Jays Are Rock Hall of Fame Inductees

    ABC News: U2, O'Jays Are Rock Hall of Fame Inductees

    "Irish rockers U2, R&B singers The O'Jays and soul balladeer Percy Sledge are among five musical legends to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the foundation's 20th annual induction ceremony next year, the organization announced Monday."

    The accolade was inevitable when the time arrived, but has it really been 25 years since those first low-fi Irish singles?!? U2 was really the first band taht was my age, and this moment is one more tick on the clock, even if they're still cool enough to debut at #1.

    Had to burn some Britney Spears for my daughter this weekend. Not a pleasant task but at least by doing the work myself I didn't give Spears any money.

    I'm not going to bash the looks and persona too much because it's too Tipper-like for comfort, though building a career out of a jailbait fantasy is kind of creepy. My real problem is that she can't sing and has nothing to say.

    But the last thing I want to do is discourage my daughter's taste in music. I have to remember that I'm the parent now, and for 15 year olds everywhere parental disapproval of music is a definite plus. Just like when I was 15.

    So when asked I just offer an honest opinion and a couple other current people I prefer who have more interesting messages (Pink, Gwen Stefani) or who can actually sing (Shakira, pre-skanky Christina Aguilera).

    And sometimes the minds meet by accident - she actually likes the new U2. It seems the parental disapproval thing doesn't work both ways and parental approval is not an automatic killer.

    Another chance for good riddance?

    Another chance for good riddance?

    With Bernard Kerik pulling his nomination as Secretary of Homeland Security, the Wall Street Journal notes President Bush "could cross party lines and offer the slot to a prominent Democrat (sic), Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an early proponent -- over initial White House objections -- of creating the department."

    Would be great to get rid of Joe ASAP, and joining Team Bush would sure show his true colors. But part of me would love to see the humiliation of a 2006 primary defeat.

    The other name in the mix seems to be ex-drug czar Asa Hutchinson, who could have a ripple effect on the `06 Arkansas governor's race:

    The former Congressman, with a network of national donors, would be a tough competitor for a likely Democrat seeking the job -- former General and presidential candidate Wesley Clark...

    Kos weighs in:

    "As far as war policy is concerned, Joe seems to live to the Right of the neocons, dismissing Abu Grahib as irrelevent and drooling over the possibilities of widening the war past Iraq. It seems like a Lieberman nomination would be a no-brainer for the Bush Administration. And few Democrats would miss his departure."

    Packers persevere, take over first place

    Packers persevere, take over first place

    It was windy. It was ugly. But it was up and it was good:

    "The way the wind was swirling, I don’t think anything was real sure," coach Mike Sherman said. "The only sure thing is Ryan Longwell."

    Longwell’s winner, with the wind from 23 yards out with 2 seconds left, was his third field goal of the second half. Hanson had connected twice in the first half but never got another chance largely because of the Lions' astonishingly inept passing attack.

    Thus, the Packers (8-5) finally were able to assume full-fledged possession of first place in the NFC North from the Minnesota Vikings, a 27-23 loser to the Seattle Seahawks...

    Sunday, December 12, 2004

    Rove's Gangland Hit

    Rove's Gangland Hit

    A GoodFellas political analogy! Love it!

    Jimmy Conway (played by Robert DeNiro) was never more elated than when he discovered that a member of his crew, Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) was about to get "made." Having a made man on his crew would give Conway (an Irish-American) standing in the NY Mafia that he never had before. And nothing crushed Conway more than to learn that Tommy's initiation ceremony was a sham, just an ambush to knock off Tommy and put Jimmy back in his place.

    Make no mistake, Bernie Kerik got whacked this week by Karl Rove -- and Rudy Giuliani was the target of this sham nomination...

    Even funnier since mob prosecutions were Rudy's first claim to fame...

    Saturday, December 11, 2004

    Either I'm cool or old

    Either I'm cool or old

    The downstairs neighbors are having their weekly party and here's the playlist:

  • "I Ran", A Flock Of Seagulls
  • "Our House", Madness

    NO! They've just topped themselves! The everlovin' SAFETY DANCE!!!

    I wonder if they know that Safety Dance segues perfectly into "Undercover of the Night" by the Rolling Stones. I wonder if they were born when these records were made. I wonder if they would laught at the concept of "records" the way my daughter does...

    They always miss both the truly obscure - no Plimsouls, no Undertones - AND the really good stuff that was mega-popular like Prince who was ALWAYS good for a party. No, they go with the same ten official MTV Cheesy 80s Hits, like "Mickey." Not even the Spanish version of "Mickey" that's on one of my compilations.

    Anyway. A minor update on my own life. Old Baby Blue, the trusted Schwinn, is now in the possession of my daughter, replaced with a old discontinued Trek 820 Antelope that's actually a male-gendered bike. Nice for the price too. I should stand out a little less in a crowd.

  • Friday, December 10, 2004

    Gotta love those private Social Security accounts

    Gotta love those private Social Security accounts

    General benefit levels have been significantly lowered, future benefits are impossible to forecast, and administrative costs have quadrupled — mostly because of the mutual fund part — to 2.0% of total benefits. (If real investment return is 3% per annum, the amount accumulated after 30 years of regular annual savings will be 22% lower if the cost factor is 2.0% instead of 0.5%.)

    Everyone in the new system is forced to speculate in mutual funds and results in the first years have been disastrous. From March 2000 until March 2003, the Swedish stock market declined by 68%. As of 31st January 2004, 84% of all accounts had lost money, despite the upturn in the market since March 2003.



    Springer goes to talk radio, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. (NOT the National Enquirer):

    "The former Cincinnati mayor and TV anchor will launch a 9 a.m.-noon call-in show on WSAI-AM (1530) when the Clear Channel station switches from oldies music to liberal talk in January. He wants to syndicate the show nationally from Cincinnati, he said.

    For almost a decade, Springer has talked about his desire to change his image from trash TV show ringmaster to serious political thinker..."

    Working Around The Evil Empire

    Working Around The Evil Empire

    So. I'm jumping on the bandwagon and trying this Mozilla Firefox thing. The last straw was a particularly stubborn piece of malware that Ad-Aware and Spybot couldn't remove, which periodically opens up a sidebar in Internet Explorer. Not really vicious, just irritating.

    So I'm checking it out. So far so good, the look and feel are almost indistinguishable from IE. There's been times I've had to look at the title bar to remember which browser I'm in. The built in popup stopping seems good. I'm not quite used to the tabbing for multiple windows. Anyway it's good enough that I'm going to use both Firefox and IE for a while.

    I have a copy of Linux gathering dust on the shelf if I ever get really ambitious. Now if I had only gotten on the StarOffice bandwagon before they went to pay...

    Hmong Defendant May Use Cultural Defense

    Hmong Defendant May Use Cultural Defense

    Among the factors that might come into play:

    • Did reported tensions between Hmong and white hunters play a role in the shooting?

    • Had Vang been racially harassed in the past, prompting him to react with fear and anger?

    • Was Vang confused about American private property and hunting laws, having been accustomed to roaming freely in the woods of his native Laos?

    Haven't followed every twist of the case, but just from having been back to western Wisconsin a couple times recently, I'll observe that the backlash to such an argument would be immense... I'm having bad memories of the Native treaty battles of the late 1980s - except this would be worse since we're talking about murder, not fishing and game limits.

    Thursday, December 09, 2004

    Recruiting's tanked -- the draft's next

    Recruiting's tanked - the draft's next

    "Retired Col. David H. Hackworth, still shooting from the sidelines at Soldiers for the Truth, says the recruiting numbers are far worse than anyone is hearing. Hack's talking to the recruiters first-hand and the problem, no surprise, is in all branches of the military -- Regular Army, Reserves and Guard. Recruiting is at half of expectations. They've lowered standards for recruits...

    A Guard retention NCO says: "The word is out on the streets of Washington, D.C. `Do not join the Guard.' I see these words echoing right across the U.S.A."

    Looks like they want more than doctors. I had nightmares about being drafted when I was 18, 19 years old. I got lucky, today's young men* might not.

    * Oh, like Bush's base would ever accept drafting women. Not that any of us should accept ANYone being drafted...

    Wednesday, December 08, 2004

    Quotations from Chairman Dean

    Quotations from Chairman Dean

    "Let me tell you something: there's only one thing Republican power brokers want more than for us to lurch to the left -- and that's for us to lurch to the right.

    What they fear most is that we may really begin fighting for what we believe -- the fiscally responsible, socially progressive values for which Democrats have always stood and fought.

    The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our Democracy is a moral value. Honesty is a moral value.

    If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won."

    Creating the Next Hawkeye Pierce

    Creating the Next Hawkeye Pierce

    Can't they draft Frank Burns instead?

    "The Selective Service System is updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses, and other health-care workers..."

    (the whole article is on, requires a sign-up)

    Not to make light of this, it's a story that deserves to be a lot bigger. But my brain is stuck on M*A*S*H tangents:

  • Remembering the entire dorm floor watching the last episode
  • Watching reruns late at night with my dad and having some very brief but very interesting conversations. I strongly identified with brilliant bad boy Hawkeye's pacifism and contempt for authority. Contrast that with the firm but wise and ultimately gentle father figure of Colonel Potter - give Sherman a coach's whistle instead of a stethescope and that's Dad.
  • The key cast change was the loss of Larry Linville. Charles Emerson Winchester - THE Third - was pompous and obnoxious... but when push came to shove he was as good a doctor as Hawkeye and he would always do the right thing. He'd be insufferable about it, sure, but in the end he was a Good Guy - and that ruined the dynamic the guys had with inept crypto-fascist Frank. Not that I blame Linville for quitting, Frank was a Johnny one-note character - but what did he ever do after that?

    Sorry to tangent. The draft is going to be a front-burner issue in a matter of months and we need to be ready. For motivation I suggest watching the M*A*S*H episode where Henry Blake is killed...
  • Alabama Amendment finally fails

    Alabama Amendment finally fails

    Still making excuses:

    "Gov. Riley and state lawmakers have pledged to reintroduce the 'clean,' original version of the amendment during the next legislative session, which begins in February. But that might also cause continued harm to the state's perception by outsiders, Stewart said.

    'It would be pointed out to people that if you go to Alabama you don't have a right to public education, it's a privilege,' he said.

    Some black legislators have said they would only vote for the amendment if that declaration were once again up for removal.

    'That's the most racist part,' black Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, told The Associated Press on Friday. 'They were saying if schools are integrated the state's not going to pay for them.'"

    Tuesday, December 07, 2004

    Kerry to visit Iowa, thank backers

    Kerry to visit Iowa, thank backers

    Oh, please, I'm not even in the mood to be polite about this anymore.

  • He didn't win one vote beyond the core anyone-but-Bush vote.
  • He had an incomprehensible and indefensible position on the war.
  • He didn't even TRY to reach out to anyone except Vietnam vets - and if I EVER hear one more word about Vietnam...
  • His Massachusetts people were stubborn, arrogant, and refused to listen to us locals.
  • They stomped and crushed the most important and legitimate grassroots movement the Democratic Party had seen in 30 years, and slaughtered it on the altar of "electability."

    Been there. Done that. No thanks. Not again.
  • Now we KNOW it's another Vietnam

    Now we KNOW it's another Vietnam

    "An immigration panel in Toronto opened a hearing on Monday that will decide whether a former paratrooper who fled the United States to evade the war in Iraq should be allowed to stay in Canada..."

    Didn't get this story from a US news source, no, no, no... it's the CBC!

    Monday, December 06, 2004

    How to Sell a Candidate to a Porsche-Driving, Leno-Loving Nascar Fan

    How to Sell a Candidate to a Porsche-Driving, Leno-Loving Nascar Fan

    Really interesting demographics and targeting article in the New York Times. Studded with lots of gems; this was my favorite:

    "The data also yielded unexpected insights. One of the shows most popular with Republicans, especially Republican women ages 18 to 34, turned out to be 'Will & Grace,' the sitcom about gay life in New York. As a result, while Mr. Bush was shoring up his conservative credentials by supporting a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, his advertising team was buying time on a program that celebrates gay culture..."

    Hypocrisy watch aside, it seems like the GOP still has a grasp on this very basic concept. While Kerry's targeting was almost all GEOgraphic, Bush's was also DEMOgraphic, which played a big role in switching at least the popular vote his way.

    Sunday, December 05, 2004

    JS Online: Green Bay embarrassed in NFC showdown

    Green Bay embarrassed in NFC showdown

    “We’re certainly not as bad as we looked,” Packers coach Mike Sherman said...

    Good God, I HOPE not... the miracle is that despine the 47-17 thumping (and 14 of those Pack points were gimmies after they pulled Favre in the 4th quarter), we're still in first place thanks to the Bears beating the Vikings.

    Painful, just painful.

    Friday, December 03, 2004

    Can we have one too, please?

    Can we have one too, please?

    The Supreme Court ordered a rerun of the head-to-head presidential contest between Kremlin-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko on Dec. 26, setting off rejoicing Friday by opposition supporters who waved orange flags and ignited fireworks as they chanted “Yushchenko! Yushchenko!”

    Thompson resigning as HHS secretary

    Thompson resigning as HHS secretary

    "Thompson submitted his resignation to Bush, and planned to announce his departure at a Friday afternoon news conference, said an official close to the former Wisconsin governor who asked not to be identified."

    Ah, Tommy Thompson. The guy who turned my parents into Democrats.

    So. Who's he running against: Jim Doyle or Herb Kohl?

    A Rough Ride for Schwinn

    A Rough Ride for Schwinn

    Today's model, which projects the rough look of a motorcycle, comes from China, where the average factory worker makes less than a dollar an hour. It is a symbol of a different sort -- an illustration of how global economic forces and the sometimes clumsy responses of U.S. companies transformed middle-class jobs into low-wage work both at home and abroad...

    I grew up on a Schwinn, spending endless solitary hours riding and exploring the trails in the fields behing my house, fields that have now turned into a school and a dozen subdivisions. That was in the dirt-bike era of the `70s but I was strictly pedal-powered.

    I'm still on a Schwinn now - a clunky old baby-blue three speed that I was given for free when a co-worker left town. In Iowa City I can get away with being quirky enough to ride a women's bike.

    This is a good article, a sad tale of globalization captured in the demise of one company.

    Shuffling the Deck in Nebraska Senate Race

    Shuffling the Deck in Nebraska Senate Race

    "Among a dozen names emerging as prospective GOP Senate candidates in the wake of Johanns' departure are Reps. Tom Osborne and Lee Terry, Congressman-elect Jeff Fortenberry, Attorney General Jon Bruning and Republican State Chairman David Kramer.

    Osborne is viewed as a more likely gubernatorial candidate in 2006, having previously signaled his interest in pursuing the post. But Heineman's elevation also changes that dynamic, raising the prospect of an incumbent Republican governor seeking election two years from now instead of an opening in the governorship."

    Tom Osborne is the 800 pound gorilla in all this. Any job he wants he gets; reports are he doesn't like Washington. But the dynamic changes from an open governor's race - Johanns was term-limited - to a challenge to an relatively new incumbent. The GOP can hold the governor's seat with almost anyone... my guess is Bush is already trying to talk The Coach into taking on Ben Nelson.

    Second guess: Johanns is being disingenuous with this "dream job" thing and will bail on Ag in a year or so for the Senate race. I'm waiting for the Sherman Statement...

    Thursday, December 02, 2004

    AHnold pulls a DeLay?

    AHnold pulls a DeLay?:

    "Democratic leaders are wary of Schwarzenegger's intentions. They contend that his aim to change how legislative district boundaries are set is a backhanded effort to stack the Legislature with more Republicans.

    The minority party picked up no seats in Sacramento in the Nov. 2 election despite extensive campaigning by Schwarzenegger.

    New district boundaries can transform the state's political makeup. Some Republicans may oppose any move to upset a status quo in which they are virtually assured of winning reelection. But Schwarzenegger and other Republican leaders say a new map would create more competitive seats, which could cause Democratic legislative and congressional majorities in California to dwindle."

    Phil Burton is spinning in his grave... A "nonpartisan" re-remap of Kah-lee-FORN-ya could swing half a dozen more seats to the GOP and put the House further out of reach... watch this story, it could be big.

    Wednesday, December 01, 2004

    CBS, NBC refuse to air church's television advertisement

    CBS, NBC refuse to air church's television advertisement

    It's hard enough to get a progressive Christian message out, now it seems such a message can't even be BOUGHT:

    "'Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations,' reads an explanation from CBS, 'and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks.'"

    Liberal Christian tolerance is the single biggest threat to the Bible-thumpers and one of the big gaps in the left's message. No wonder they fight it so hard...

    More commentary here and here and here and here.

    Or see it yourself...

    Get rid of Election Day, FL election chiefs say

    Get rid of Election Day, FL election chiefs say

    "Florida's election supervisors, impressed by the success of early voting, proposed dramatic reforms Tuesday that would eliminate Election Day, replace it with an 11-day election season and do away with precincts.

    'I think the voters spoke loud and clear in the general election of 2004 that they want other options than to be limited to 12 hours on a Tuesday to vote,'..."

    Tuesday, November 30, 2004



    Almost effortlessly, Favre carved up the Rams with 18 completions in 27 attempts for 215 yards. The Rams had no component defensively to slow the Packers’ offense, which piled up 452 yards, including 178 yards in 19 carries by backup running back Najeh Davenport...

    Ibogaine: Cure for Addiction?

    Ibogaine: Cure for Addiction?

    Maybe it will help some folks but one mention of the word 'Ibogaine' around a political junkie triggers a Hunter S. Thompson riff:

    Thompson, who never liked “Big Ed” anyway, began to write extensively about how it was rumored that Muskie was addicted to a West African drug called Ibogaine, an upper of sorts that keeps a person awake in a very menacing fashion. Thompson speculated that this was probably the reason why Muskie had been acting so “erratic” of late. Unfortunately, he could not confirm it one way or the other because he had been banned from the campaign. Readers and other reporters took the allegation seriously and questions were put to the Muskie campaign. Denying the charge, Muskie expressed outrage. After the campaign ended, Thompson stated that he never accused Muskie of using Ibogaine. “I said it was a rumor to that effect,” Thompson explained. “I made up the rumor.”

    Monday, November 29, 2004

    And it's LONG overdue

    And it's LONG overdue

    Sometimes it takes decades to recognize greatness:

    "Godzilla will receive the 2,271st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Monday to commemorate both the 50th anniversary of his first film and tonight's premiere of his latest film, 'Godzilla Final Wars.'..."

    Thursday, November 25, 2004

    Pigskin Pet Peeves

    At halftime of the Lions-Colts game I have to complain about a couple critical issues of the day:

  • Moving camera angles that are so sweeping and dramatic that I can't see the damn ball. I'm watching a FOOTBALL game, not The Matrix.

  • Interviewing coaches and/or players at halftime. The Cute Sideline Gal just HAD to stop Steve Mariucci on the way to the locker room. The coach is WORKING, people. It's the middle of the GAME and he needs to be thinking about why Detroit is losing 27-9 at the half and how he'd going to adjust the game plan. He doesn't need to be thinking about how to spin the first half for the reporter.

    The Coach (i.e. Dad) says that's a league rule, they have to take the TV question at halftime. It's a stupid rule. From the moment the coaches and athletes take the field before a game they are WORKING and they should not be interrupted till the final buzzer. Insert the Dennis Miller Disclaimer here.

  • All that said, Peyton Manning is really something to watch...
  • Wednesday, November 24, 2004

    Pre-Vacation Grab Bag

    Pre-Vacation Grab Bag

    Several items today as I pack:

  • Off for yet another vacation to Wisconsin. I'm the only son home for Thanksgiving so I get all of Mom's "You've lost so much weight! Have a turkey sandwich" attention. This will have to be fought off with Dad's exercise bike. Fortunately the folks are wired these days so you my gentle readers will get updates. Whatever that's worth.

  • The soundtrack to the drive north will likely be the new U2 which, in keeping with a long tradition (do the words Unforgettable Fire mean anything to you?) I picked up on release day yesterday. The weird part was I actually BOUGHT it and didn't BURN it. I may be inspired to a full review later...

  • Looks like I got linked to a REAL blog, From The Roots, run by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That puts the pressure on to write some actual content. Hence:

  • Sally Pederson is NOT going to run for governor, it says here. I'll be honest. I've never been a big Pederson fan. She's tried to make up for it, but it always bugged me that she was donating to Republican campaigns six months before Vilsack nominated her for Lieutenant Governor. It was a symbol of her thin party credentials. (A lot like Ann Hutchinson switching parties in 2002 to run against Jim Nussle. It hurt her credibility, caused hard feeling among the Party hacks who were with Dave Nagle in the primary, and she would up losing her mayoral re-election in 2003.)

    Pederson did some great disability work before, and she's tried to build a base in the party. A role for her was a good thing but heir apparant was a poor fit. Of course, I'm a capital P Party hack, and my perspective is much more party-as-an-organization based that normal people.

    My gut instinct is that this, combined with Vilsack bowing out of the DNC chair race, means that sometime late in 2005 the governor will feel a draft and opt for a third term. Barring that, Chet Culver looks like the frontrunner at the moment - but he's got a bit of a gravitas gap that needs closing. Ed Fallon has been up and running for at least a year but that's hard to envision.

    With the election of appointee Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, Iowa and Mississippi (Mississippi? EEK!) are I believe the only two states that have never elected a woman either to Congress or as governor. And Iowa is the ONLY state that has elected only white males to these jobs. I still don't think Sally Pederson was the right woman, but this is a big problem and potentially a big opportunity for someone.

  • Tuesday, November 23, 2004

    Keyes moving to Chicago (?)

    Keyes moving to Chicago (?)

    At least until he finds another state to run in:

    Keyes will maintain his home in Maryland, where one of his sons is still in high school.

    "I'm sure they will be back and forth," Hair said. "Being on the lecture circuit, [Keyes] is always traveling. He is a citizen of the whole country pretty much, or a resident, I should say."

    Monday, November 22, 2004

    Many Who Voted for 'Values' Still Like Their Television Sin

    Many Who Voted for 'Values' Still Like Their Television Sin

    File this under hypocrisy, or just inconsistency?

    "So if it is true that the public's electoral choices are a cry for more morally driven programming, the network executives ask, why are so many people, even in the markets surrounding the Bush bastions Atlanta and Salt Lake City, watching a sex-drenched television drama?

    "We say one thing and do another," said Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC Entertainment. "People compartmentalize about their lives and their entertainment choices."

    Paging Clarence Darrow

    Paging Clarence Darrow

    "According to a new Gallup poll, 'only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence.

    A third of Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.'"

    That's been my guesstimate for years, but I always wondered if I was guessing too high.

    Some good stuff in the blogosphere on this:

  • "The religiously insane Americans who believe that the world is only 10,000 years old want to do more than steal our democracy from us, they want to steal our faith from us as well."
  • "Thanks, Gallup, for ruining my day. No wonder Bush won."
  • Sunday, November 21, 2004

    Lieberman To Homeland Security, Say The Rumors

    Lieberman To Homeland Security, Say The Rumors

    The good news is the Dems may be rid of Joe-Mentum:

    "Joe Lieberman to Homeland Security. Nancy Johnson (R-pharma) for US Senate via Gov. Jodi Rell appointment. A handful of Repubs scrambling for the special election to replace Johnson in CT-5..."

    The bad news is he may decide that anything on TV racier than an Andy Griffith rerun is a security threat...

    Supreme Court as Politburo?

    Supreme Court as Politburo?

    "Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist's health is shrouded in mystery, the extent of his thyroid cancer a closely guarded secret. Several coming events could give the public an idea about the seriousness of his condition.

  • The return of the court, which next hears arguments on Nov. 29.
  • The annual court Christmas party on Dec. 17, an event Rehnquist relishes.
  • President (elect) Bush's inauguration on Jan. 20. The chief justice normally swears in the president. Bush could choose another justice or other government official..."

    One of the things I miss most about the Soviet Union is the lost art of Kremlinology - that inexact science of looking at the Politburo lined up along the Kremlin wall and trying to figure out, from the order in which they were standing, the inner gears and workings of the Soviet high command.

    A subscience in Kremlinology was the Siberian Cold, the long-lingering mystery illness that was invariably followed by all stations cutting to somber military music for 18 hours, followed by the announcement of the new Fearless Leader.

    I kind of get that feeling following Rehnquist's health...

  • Bottle Bill Battle Brewing?

    Bottle Bill Battle Brewing?

    I love that headline, say it three times fast.

    Looks like the grocery lobby is going to try to trash the bottle bill again, and they're making a preliminary attack at the conmsumer level. I'm still amazed that Iowa not only HAS a bottle law, but I think we were the second state to have one.

    Anyway, the real gem in this article was buried deep:

    "The real reason stores want to stop taking the empties is not filth. She said the 1-cent-per-can handling fee isn't enough to cover the costs of handling empty cans and bottles.

    'We're still working on a penny a can. It's ridiculous,' Sargent said. 'No matter what Fareway says, it's not the dirt in their store that's their problem. It's money.'"

    Friday, November 19, 2004

    Bush Campaign Manager Views the Electoral Divide

    Bush Campaign Manager Views the Electoral Divide

    And the divide appears not to be geographic, but demographic:

    "The Bush campaign studied consumer habits in trying to predict whom people would vote for in a presidential election.

    'We did what Visa did,' Mr. Mehlman said. 'We acquired a lot of consumer data. What magazine do you subscribe to? Do you own a gun? How often do the folks go to church? Where do you send your kids to school? Are you married?

    'Based on that, we were able to develop an exact kind of consumer model that corporate America does every day to predict how people vote - not based on where they live but how they live,' he said. 'That was critically important to our success.'

    "If you drive a Volvo and you do yoga, you are pretty much a Democrat," Mr. Mehlman told an assembly of the nation's Republican governors. "If you drive a Lincoln or a BMW and you own a gun, you're voting for George Bush."

    This would explain a lot of small, incremental Republican on the margins - a point or two higher in some county or precinct or age bracket...

    Fascinating, a little creepy, but probably necessary for Dems to catch up with it.

    Thursday, November 18, 2004

    Dem approached for agriculture post

    Dem approached for agriculture post

    Now THIS is a neat trick: get points for bipartisanship by naming a barely-Democrat, AND pick up another Senate seat! Too bad it's not Lieberman:

    Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska has been approached about becoming agriculture secretary in the Bush administration, according to two sources.

    Republican Gov. Mike Johanns would get to choose Nelson's replacement, which could increase the GOP's advantage in the Senate to 56 seats.

    It gets worse: while Lieberman would no doubt be replaced by an actual Democrat, the odds of any Dem of any sort winning Nelson's seat in`06 are, uh... slim.

    Johanns is term limited and he wants this seat... the trick is appointing a willing place holder who'll step aside without making it look too obvious.

    Update: Oh well, whatever, nevermind.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2004

    Let the Republicans Have Him

    Let the Republicans Have Him:

    "Sen. Joe Lieberman (D (sic) -CT) 'respects the presidency and likes being wooed,' the Hartford Courant reports, so 'he's not ruling out a Bush Cabinet appointment.'

    'There's no opening the door a crack in Washington; you're in the game or you're not. And while there's no firm - or even flimsy - signal from the Bush team with regard to Lieberman, there is talk among the connected class in Washington that he could be in the mix for several positions.'"

    Since it's not close enough that a single vote for control makes a difference, losing the seat of a fake Democrat to an apointee Republican for two years is no loss. The only down side is that the media would play it up as "Bush reaches out" but I don't see how naming a "Democrat" who first won by running to the Repubican incumbent's RIGHT is any sort of reach.

    I hope this happens. It'll ease some of my leftover cognitive dissonance from 2000.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2004

    I'm from Iowa, it's time to go milk the pigs...

    I'm from Iowa, it's time to go milk the pigs...

    ...and enjoy a steaming hot cup of green tea:

    "According to Lipton's product locator, you can buy green tea in Dubuque, Iowa, at that gourmet market known as ... Kmart.

    So, who is the real out-of-touch elitist -- John Kerry, for drinking green tea, or Candy Crowley, for assuming that simple Iowa folk couldn't possibly be familiar with the beverage?"

    Does she have David Yepsen writing her punch lines? I need to toast them both with a double latte (tall, no whipped cream)

    Vilsack vs. Dean

    Vilsack vs. Dean

    It looks like the DNC fight is coming down to my governor and my first choice presidential candidate. The few, the proud, the 19% are in a quandry here...

    The blogosphere seems to be settling into a blame Iowa, kill the caucuses mood. I can understand that. In retrospect, Kerry's caucus win was not just critical, it was the whole ball game. And it was a huge strategic blunder, as Bush proved. The middle of the road has become irrelevant; you WIN by energizing the base. Kerry won Iowa in January by being more "electable," then couldn't win the state in November.

    It's not fair that I'm spoiled by being a Key Iowa Party Activist. Everyone should get the opportunity to chit-chat with three presidential candidates in one day, like I did in January 2003. Everybody CAN'T of course. And I like being one of the lucky ones. That's not a good or a fair argument, it's just my own bias.

    I have some parochial concerns, too. If Vilsack wins the party chair job, does he stay on as governor? It may be politically incorrect for me to bash the woman who would be Iowa's first female governor. But I've never been a big Sally Pederson fan. Her Democratic Party credentials are thin, I don't understand how one can go from being a Republican donor to a Democratic candidate in six months.

    Is it possible to separate the issues of Dean vs. Vilsack and Iowa No vs. Iowa Yes? Having followed both Dean and Vilsack closely over several years, it's clear that Dean would be a better spokesperson and a better person to energize the grass roots of the party. Which, as Karl Rove will tell you, is teh way to win.

    Senate May Ram Copyright Bill

    Senate May Ram Copyright Bill

    "Several lobbying camps from different industries and ideologies are joining forces to fight an overhaul of copyright law, which they say would radically shift in favor of Hollywood and the record companies and which Congress might try to push through during a lame-duck session that begins this week.

    The Senate might vote on the Intellectual Property Protection Act, a comprehensive bill that opponents charge could make many users of peer-to-peer networks, digital-music players and other products criminally liable for copyright infringement. The bill would also undo centuries of 'fair use' -- the principle that gives Americans the right to use small samples of the works of others without having to ask permission or pay. "

    Monday, November 15, 2004

    Last Dispatch from Vacation

    Last Dispatch from Vacation

    Greetings from the Ancestral Deeth Homestead in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Home cooking and a Packer win make a nice end to vacation. And I got to show my mom how to use eBay too.

    Saturday, November 13, 2004

    Vacation Update 3

    Vacation Update 3

    Greetings from the den and communication center of the Hotel Jenkins, stop 2 on Vacation.

    You know that scene in 2001 Space Odyssey, where the astronaut is running laps around the rim of the space station, and the horizon curves away and seems to last forever?

    Imagine that with stores. That's Mall Of America. I was completely lost without my teenage daughter's guidance.

    Late afternoon the Gopher-Hawkeye game ended and the Temple Of Materialism began to fill with black and gold shirts, all the out of towners who wanted to See It. I felt like I had taken a wrong turn and ended up back home in Iowa City...

    Anyway, this experience is goint to take a while to process and I'm on vacation. Next stop: tomorrow with Mom and Dad.

    Hundreds of ballots challenged

    Hundreds of ballots challenged

    "Frankly, an organized Republican effort was underway to challenge anything that could possibly be challenged -- or outright reject ballots if they could. Why do voters suddenly have to prove themselves not once but twice? Why was there this much effort to find things wrong with people's ballots? We know the answer when we remember that this was a tight election in a heavily Democratic county."

    The story of work last week. I didn't want to tell tales out of the office, one of the disadvantages of keeping my name on this blog.

    But my friend Emily here saw it all and so I'll share it.

    Friday, November 12, 2004

    Vacation Update 2

    Vacation Update 2

    It seems that blogging feels vacation-y to me...

    Looks like another clear starry Minnesota night up here on the far far northwest edge of the Twin Cities.

    Tomorrow we leave the tranquility of the forest for the ultimate temple of capitalist materialism. Yes, under the iinfluence of my college roomie, his spouse, and my sister in law, tomorrow we will be doing the Mall of America thing. My teenage daughter will no doubt be extremely jealous. Look for a snarky and cynical update tomorrow.

    Vote Righteously!

    Vote Righteously!

    A fascinating perspective from a defeated candidate. In Brad Carson we had the strongest possible candidate in Oklahome against the weakest possible opponent. Here's why he thinks he lost:

    "The culture war is real, and it is a conflict not merely about some particular policy or legislative item, but about modernity itself. Banning gay marriage or abortion would not be sufficient to heal the cultural gulf that exists in this nation. The culture war is about matters more fundamental still: whether nationality is, in a globalized world, a random fact or whether it is the source of identity and even political legitimacy; whether one's self is a matter of choice or whether it is predetermined, before birth, by the cultural membership of one's family; whether concepts like honor and shame, which seem so quaint, are still relevant in a world that values only 'tolerance.'

    Most voters in a state like Oklahoma--and I venture to say most other Southern and Midwestern states--reject the general direction of American culture and celebrate the political party that promises to reform or revise it. "

    The analysis is fascinating. Carson seems to fall into the move to the cultural right fallacy but this conclusion is only implied.

    My own conclusion is to fight back, to make this sort of midieval intolerance socially unacceptable just like we did in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. To argue against their basic premises. To reclaim "values" without accepting bigotry and intolerance.

    UPDATE: Great discussion of this article at MyDD.

    Postcard from the Road 1

    Postcard From The Road 1

    Greetings from my brother's studio office in the northwoods, with the wonderfully Dylanesque address of Zimmerman Minnesota. I knew I was in Minnesota when I saw lutefisk for sale in the grocery store...

    We're out in the woods and the stars are fantastic at night. The vacation mindset is sinking into the brain, especially now knowing that my co-workers are working...

    Thursday, November 11, 2004

    Blogger hits the road

    Blogger hits the road

    After a month of seven day weeks, and after two years of the 2004 presidential election, it's time for a vacation.

    The tank is full and two crates of CDs are loaded. Stay tuned for almost-live updates from the Minnesota Road Trip...

    Tuesday, November 09, 2004

    Sifting Through the Ashes of Iowa

    Sifting Through the Ashes of Iowa

    I know, I know. I'm the political number crunching guy, sitting here in the last state called, one of only three states that switched sides from 2000 to 2004. I should be making some attempt to analyze, right?

    Well, sorry, dear readers. As an Election Office Professional it's taken me a whole week just to decompress enough and grieve enough to think.

    First off the good news. Five Iowa counties switched from Bush 2000 to Kerry: Fayette, Poweshiek, and Winneshiek all have small to mid-size colleges and young voters may have played a role (both increased turnout and Nader collapse). Jefferson is an anomaly. It's home to a large community of transencental meditation followers (really!) who had voted Natural Law Party in recent elections. Looks like they went Democratic after NLP died. Jasper (Newton - Maytag) is industrial by Iowa standards. A less noticable (i.e. didn't switch sides) trend was seen in nearby/similar Marshall County.

    Four counties shifted from Gore to Bush: Cedar, Greene, Louisa, and Winnebago. Don't see a pattern here - Cedar is traditionally GOP but went for Gore by two votes after a few hours of fame in 2000 as The Only Tied County In The Nation. Louisa, which I got to know very well in my 1996 race, is pure rural and small town with a growing but largely non-voting Hispanic population. Winnebago is vacation country (Okoboji) up by the Minnesota border.

    But these relatively small shifts aren't the story. Three counties seem to tell the biggest stories: Dallas, Pottawattamie, and Sioux.

    Dallas County west of Des Moines is the fastest growing county in the state, and Bush picked up about 2/3 of the total increase in the vote to gain roughly 2500 votes on the Democrats. A similar but smaller pattern happened south of Des Moines in Warren County.

    Pottawattamie County is on the western border in Steve King's 5th CD and gets most of its media for Big Red Nebraska. It's usually one of the lowest percentage turnout counties in the state. But this year turnout was up and Bush won nearly 80% of the increased turnout. This despite Democrats holding a tough state senate seat and picking up a state house seat last year in a special election.

    The REAL story shows in Sioux County and its evil twin Lyon County, up where Iowa corners on South Dakota. These are the two most GOP counties in Iowa. Turnout was way up and Bush gained over 90% or the increase. Which makes sense in a place where he's already getting five out of six votes. Not to mention those two are in the Sioux Falls media market and had been infected for months by the Thune-Daschle Senate race. (I'll take this excuse to note Stephanie Herseth's re-election.)

    The pattern repeats in 20-odd counties across the western half of the state: turnout jumps in heavily GOP areas.

    These gains were offset by isolated Democratic pickups. Two of the three big campus counties - Story (Ames/Iowa State) and most of all my own beloved People's Republic of Johnson County (Iowa City) - trended to Kerry (in part due to the total meltdown of 90% of the Nader/Green vote). The third campus county, Black Hawk, saw little change from 2000, bit UNI is smaller and Black Hawk is less clearly a College County.

    There was a slight Democratic trend in Dubuque and the northeast (Clayton, Allamakee, the aforementioned Winneshiek which all get media from swing state Wisconsin - Kerry ended the campaign VERY nearby in La Crosse, where I was born).

    But none of this was enough to overcome GOP trends in the Des Moines suburbs and those big turnout spikes in the west.