Wednesday, November 30, 2005

MyDD: Primary/Caucus Fight Heats Up; Probably Time to Give in to New Hampshire

MyDD : Primary/Caucus Fight Heats Up; Probably Time to Give in to New Hampshire

Leading blog MyDD says major nomination schedule reform is dead. New Hampshire is threatening to scuttle the DNC proposal (two caucuses after Iowa but before New Hampshire) by leapfrogging, perhaps into 2007. The New Hampshire proposal: "two racially diverse states hold contests in January 2008, a week after the Granite State."

Chris Bowers at MyDD:

I think this is the way to go. It is hard to imagine that the DNC has enough support behind their reform plan that would allow them to actually stand up to New Hampshire and refuse to seat their delegates. Further, the importance of New Hampshire is not determine by the delegates won there anyway, so refusing to seat delegates wouldn't really be that much of a threat. Yet further, since the RNC isn't going along with the Democratic reform plan, Republicans stand poised to benefit greatly in this important swing state from any conflict between the national Democratic Party and state officials. Thus, the DNC may simply have to cave.

New Hampshire wins. And Iowa wins.

Nagle says plan threatens Iowa caucuses

Nagle says plan threatens Iowa caucuses

Dave Nagle attacks the proposed 2008 calendar, with a shot at the governor thrown in:

Nagle, a former congressman from Cedar Falls, said Iowa stands to lose its prominence in the process under plans set to be considered by a commission next month.

And he accused Gov. Tom Vilsack of failing to take a more public role to try to stop it.

"It's a real body blow to our status," he said of a proposal that would schedule caucuses of yet-to-be-named states closer to Iowa's.

"(Vilsack) needs to set aside his presidential ambitions and be the governor of the state of Iowa with a major economic development tool at stake," Nagle said.

Nagle led the Iowa Democratic Party in the early 1980s, and helped draft a state law then that requires Iowa to hold its caucuses before any others.

Nagle still wields some influence in party circles; the people who love him really love him. His loss of the house seat in the 1992 redistricting with Nussle hat a deep personal impact on Dave - somehow I don't think he really got over it. And it's too bad because he was truly a great House member in the late part of the Democratic majority era. Colorful, committed, a great and always available interview in my journalist years.

Meanwhile, Steve King wants to build a border fence.

Windows-Linux Latest

Windows-Linux Latest

Still haven't had much time to play with the Linux box yet - in part because I was tied up helping my neighbor remove spyware from his Windows machine last night. Four spyware removal programs and five hours later, he still has the nasties; our next attempt tonight will be restoring from a backup.

While that was running I managed to install the SETI@home software on the Linux machine in a half hour (25 minutes figuring out how to use the command line and five minutes actually installing the program).

Register runs state salaries

Register runs state salaries

One of the joys of working for the public is that your salary is public record. Occasionally an enterprising journalist makes a story of this. I know this joy personally, but for better or worse I don't make enough to stand out in the crowd.

So today the Register's doing it. Top salaries in the state: Coach, coach, heart surgeon, coach, coach, brain surgeon.

I'm not one of those who whines at great length about people in the athletic world getting paid too much. The joy of Your Team winning, while vicarious, is genuine.

But coach, coach, heart surgeon, coach, coach, brain surgeon gives you some perspective, huh?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Top court won’t hear sex offender case; state lawmakers cheer

Top court won’t hear sex offender case; state lawmakers cheer

The unworkable is apparantly constitutional: "Debate of a controversial Iowa law restricting where certain sex offenders can live is likely to shift from the courts to the Legislature, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a legal challenge."

And with next session being an election year. chances are any changes will make it "tougher," i.e. even more unworkable...

IA Gov: Yepsen states several obvious things

IA Gov: Yepsen states several obvious things

The Overrated One reads a poll, which matters mostly because it's Yepsen. Most interesting bon mots:

  • Blouin appears to be in reverse gear... proving the rule that you can be a big shot inside the Statehouse, but you're still a statewide election loser because no one outside the building knows who you are. (See former House Speaker Donald Avenson for details.)

    And Blouin's been tripped up by the abortion issue. He's pro-life but now says he wouldn't sign any pro-life bills into law. In other words, Blouin is still a pro-lifer but won't do anything because of it. It looks wishy-washy.

  • This poll didn't measure the respective primary contests, but the results square with what Culver's strategists have long thought — that Patty Judge, not Mike Blouin or Ed Fallon, is the person they've got to watch.

  • A quick look at the poll numbers themselves: Nussle is pretty steady against the four main Dems, between 42 and 45. But look at how the Dems fare:

  • Culver: 38
  • Judge: 31
  • Fallon: 21
  • Blouin: 18. That's not a typo, that's eighteen.

    Blouin loses over HALF the Democratic support, even more than the "extreme" Fallon. You can't write all that off to "lower name ID than Culver."
  • Monday, November 28, 2005

    Bolkcom Back For More: Re-Elect

    Bolkcom Back For More: Re-Elect

    Not a shocker but my state senator Joe Bolkcom says:

    I will be announcing my bid to seek re-election to a third term to represent Johnson County in the Iowa Senate. I want to invite everyone to my "Campaign Kickoff Celebration" and fundraiser this Wednesday, November 30, from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM at The Chait Galleries Downtown, 218 E. Washington Street, Iowa City.

    I’ve worked hard to serve the needs and interests of Iowa City and Johnson County residents. I want the opportunity to use my experience to keep benefiting Johnson County by listening and working with everyone.

    I hope you can attend my Kickoff event on Wednesday!

    There are reports of an opponent this time, but that'll just give Joe a chance to shine on the issues like he did in his `92 and `96 county races. Should make things more interesting around here, but the local Dems will still have plenty of time to concentrate on offense in the legislative contests. (More on that in a future post.)

    There. Iowa-centric political content, to make up for today's ramblings about the alleged biochemistry of love, bands that are eight or so years past the sell-by date, and some not yet well informed opinions about Linux.

    Linux vs. Windows and Champagne Supernovae

    As noted yesterday, I put together my first ever Linux machine from an old Pentium II that I literally found on the street with a FREE sign on it. I wiped the hard drive and installed Ubuntu Linux in just about two hours.

    Today I battled with Windows 2000 for 2 1/2 hours trying to get a printer driver to work.

    It should not take longer to install a PRINTER DRIVER than it takes to install an entire OPERATING SYSTEM.

    Not ready to re-partition the Firebolt yet, but many more days like today and I'll consider it more seriously.

    My ten years after the fact obsession with Oasis continues to the point that I finally bothered to learn what a champagne supernova is:

    Noel Gallagher got the title when he misheard the name of the Pixies album Bossanova. He was watching a documentary about champagne at the time.

    So it's nothing at all. Just semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower. I suspect it has a lot to do with where was Noel when he was getting high.

    Romantic love 'lasts just a year'

    Romantic love 'lasts just a year'

    "Researchers said raised levels of a protein was linked to feelings of euphoria and dependence experienced at the start of a relationship.

    But after studying people in long and short relationships and single people, they found the levels receded in time"

    I don't care what the science says. Love is more than a protein and it can last. I'm a hopeless romantic; always believed, always will.

    Born to Run - but for Public Office?

    Born to Run - but for Public Office?

    Fantasy. But too good not to share.

    As Corzine mulls over possible replacements for his Senate seat (he was elected governor of New Jersey earlier this month), there is a push among his constituents for him to name--who else?--The Boss. Anthony Coley, Corzine's press secretary, says it's not a bad idea--'especially,' he adds, 'if you're a Springsteen fan.'"

    I doubt he's interested, and there's plenty of other electable New Jersey Democrats (they're lined up around the block, in fact). It's a blue state and there's no need for the kind of celebrity gimmick the California GOP needed. The biggest downside, though, is that politics at that level is a full time job. And the skill set required to be a U.S. senator, though uncommon, is still easier to find than the unique, irreplacable artistry of Bruce Springsteen.

    Maybe he'd do it for the year left on Corzine's term, just to use the platform. But if he'd run for a term and win, that's seven full years of Senator Springsteen. Seven full years with no new music. And they thought three years between Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town was forever.

    (Unpleasant thought: after AHnold loses next year, we'll get more bad movies...)

    So I hope it doesn't happen. But it sure would be cool. to Run War-Related Ad in Rep. King's District Monday to Run War-Related Ad in Rep. King's District Monday will air a stark television ad that chides GOP members of Congress for, in MoveOn's words, "failing to provide a specific plan" for bringing home U.S. troops from Iraq.

    Beginning Monday, the ad will run in the districts of Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Geoff Davis (R-KY), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Steve King (R-IA), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ)... and, of course, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH).

    Some of these make sense. But Steve King? In the Unwinnable Iowa 5th? Why bother? The only good thing one can say about IA-05 is it makes the other four districts at least theoretically winnable. (It would help if we had a CANDIDATE in the 4th, though.) I can't figure the strategy here, unless the strategy is "make MoveOn feel good by bashing a particularly noxious House member."

    Growth battle ties up North Liberty election outcome

    Growth battle ties up North Liberty election outcome

    The Register provides the most comprehensive article yet on the North Liberty post-election situation. Hits nearly every angle, missing only the reacts at the November 22 council meeting that the Press-Citizen got.

    Sunday, November 27, 2005

    IA Ag Sec: Some Johnson County Endorsements

    IA Ag Sec: Some Johnson County Endorsements

    Here in the People's Republic, activists are keeping their powder dry in the outwit outplay outlast governor's primary.

    But in the race for Secretary of Agriculture, at least a few people are taking sides. Dusky Terry got the unusual but unsurprising official Vilsack endorsement recently, but well before that he was the keynote speaker at a September fundraiser for Senator Bob Dvorsky (one of the first and foremost Vilsackers back in `97-98.)

    Now this hits my inbox, signed by Regenia Bailey of the Iowa City Council:

    If you care about healthy food, the quality of the air and water in Iowa, sustaining family farms and our rural landscape, Come meet Denise O'Brien, Democratic candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. Learn why the office of Secretary of Agriculture matters to urban voters.

    Sunday, December 4, 2-4 p.m.
    311 E. Fairchild Street, Iowa City
    Home of Sue Futrell & Will Jennings

    Hosted by: Sue Futrell & Will Jennings; Regenia Bailey & Jay Berry; Sharon & John Lake; Tom Carsner; Sondra Smith & David Leshtz

    I'll translate: Several of these names are prominently associated with the quote unquote progressive wing of the party. (Notice how people say quote unquote term, when it should be quote term unquote.). Berry just managed Amy Correia's first-place Iowa City Council win; Carsner is a former party chair, two-time supervisor candidate, and made a good progressive case for John Edwards in `04; Leshtz is chair of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, a former Dean staffer, and editor of the wonderful newsletter The Prairie Progressive (which really needs to get on line someday, Dave!).

    These sorts of endorsements of Terry and O'Brien are the kind of thing that get buzzed about in the back of the room at party events but only make the newspaper, if at all, as verbatim press releases.

    10 Things that make Ubuntu a Neophyte's Distribution

    10 Things that make Ubuntu a Neophyte's Distribution

    I found a spare computer literally on the street last weekend, with a sign on it that said MONITOR WORKS. So I grabbed it, shoved in a video card and an Ethernet card (the previous user had grabbed those) and fired it up. Windows 98 and an undetermined amount of software and info from the previous user. There we sat for a week.

    Since I now have three computers taking up space in my humble home, I figured might as well make one a Linux box. This post about the Ubuntu distribution provided me with the inspiration. About an hour later I was wiping the hard drive with my newly burned Ubuntu Linux disk. Another hour or so later I was up and running. It recognized all my hardware, I connected to the internet immediately, and the distribution comes bundled with a whole suite of software - Firefox, Open Office, and utilities that I'm just beginning to explore.

    So now I'm one notch geekier. Not sure I'll ever be a Linux convert; too much of what I do is in MSOffice world. But it'll be interesting to find out.

    Another Sunday, another squeaker Packer loss

    Another Sunday, another squeaker Packer loss

    First losing season since `91. Continuing the statistical quirk of a 2-9 record while outscoring opponents.

    Should have been a good game with major playoff implications. Instead, a dull battle of the walking wounded, complete with a 15 minute stop in the action while Bubba Franks got shipped off to the hospital.

    Quotes of the game while listening to Troy Aikman and Joe Buck's commentary: Number 4 says he's 50-50 on next year and "absolutely no" on playing elsewhere.

    Bears next week. They've pretty much got the North locked up, though Minnesota is still a long shot. But if we only win two more, I want next week to be one of them. That and Christmas.

    Leftovers: Turkey Curry

    This is the only thing with curry in it I ever saw my mom make. Relatively mild if you follow the directions. I usually spice it up a bit with some hotter peppers and go heavier on the veggies and lighter on the meat.

  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1/2 cup celery (I usually use carrots instead)
  • 1/2 cup peppers
  • 1/4 cup oil/margarine
  • 2 cups chicken broth or leftover gravy
  • 1 cup tomato juice (Mom used to use the juice from rinsed out catsup bottles. If you like it sweet you could use a can of tomato soup.)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. curry powder (according to Mom's mild instructions)
  • 4 cups turkey
  • rice

    Sauté onions, celery in oil. Stir in flour, gravy, spices and tomato juice--stir to thicken. Add turkey and simmer while you cook the rice.
  • Saturday, November 26, 2005

    how to be creative

    how to be creative

    Not Iowa. Not political. But I enjoyed it. My favorite:

    Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

    You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don't make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow-line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.

    This metaphorical Mount Everest doesn't have to manifest itself as 'Art'. For some people, yes, it might be a novel or a painting. But Art is just one path up the mountain, one of many. With others the path may be something more prosaic. Making a million dollars, raising a family, owning the most Burger King franchises in the Tri-State area, building some crazy oversized model airplane, the list has no end.

    Whatever. Let's talk about you now. Your mountain. Your private Mount Everest. Yes, that one. Exactly.

    Let's say you never climb it. Do you have a problem with that? Can you just say to yourself, 'Never mind, I never really wanted it anyway' and take up stamp collecting instead?

    Well, you could try. But I wouldn't believe you. I think it's not OK for you never to try to climb it. And I think you agree with me. Otherwise you wouldn't have read this far.

    So it looks like you're going to have to climb the frickin' mountain. Deal with it.

    My advice? You don't need my advice. You really don't. The biggest piece of advice I could give anyone would be this:

    'Admit that your own private Mount Everest exists. That is half the battle.'

    Rain forest developers court 2 cities at once

    Rain forest developers court 2 cities at once

    Aha! Playing both ends against the middle:

    The Environmental Project leaders have worked actively with Dubuque city officials since at least September on a possible partnership there for the artificial rain forest planned for Coralville, documents show.

    That was two months before leaders of the proposed $180 million indoor rain forest gave Coralville until next Friday to meet certain requirements before project leaders look elsewhere...

    Friday, November 25, 2005

    Secret EU report launches scathing attack on Israel

    Secret EU report launches scathing attack on Israel

    "European governments should consider direct intervention in an attempt to curb the systematic measures being undertaken by Israel to increase its control and population in the historically - and legally - Arab eastern sector of Jerusalem, a highly sensitive EU report concludes.

    The confidential report, prepared by top diplomats representing the 25 EU governments in the city, warns that the chances of a two-state solution are being eroded by Israel's 'deliberate policy' - in breach of international of law - of 'completing the annexation of East Jerusalem'."

    Bean and Blast Calls

    Bean and Blast Calls

    Slow news day other than "Hey! People are SHOPPING!" So ABC News looks at tactics and technology:

    In hundreds of homes across Rep. Melissa Bean's district, her constituents' phones are ringing more than a year before voters head to the polls for the next election.

    Sometimes, it is Bean on the line well, her voice anyway.

    The freshman Democrat, who unseated 35-year Republican Rep. Phil Crane last year by depicting him as out of touch with voters, employs a rarely used method to make sure she remains in touch: automated phone calls.

    Bean makes audio messages that notify residents of her suburban Chicago district of upcoming town meetings, workshops on identity theft or, more typically, a chance to meet her and talk about issues...

    From the dialing end, my experience is most users HOPE to catch people not at home and just leave the message.

    So, whatcha think? Love the calls? Hate the calls?

    Thursday, November 24, 2005

    Meowy Christmas

    Meowy Christmas

    Found this at a junk shop; for some reason someone chose to give it away:

    Seasonal classics constructed by painstakingly splicing together the meowlings of several actual felines. An abomination that makes one exclaim "come back, Chipmunks, all is forgiven!" Humanly impossible to listen through to the very end.

    But I managed, of course. Rumor is there's two more volumes.

    Rain forest project gives ultimatum to Coralville

    Rain forest project gives ultimatum to Coralville:

    "If the city does not agree to the demands, project leaders 'will have to proceed with exploring other alternatives.'"

    Buh-bye. Don't let the door slap your ass on the way out.

    It'll be interesting to see how the hotel thrives without the rainforest - and without the gambling boat that was in the early stages of being hinted at. Now that Riverside is getting the next Eastern Iowa boat there's no way one in Coravlille will get the OK...

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    The rise of local political blogs

    The rise of local political blogs

    Just discovered a site called Politics and Technology that should be right up the alley for me and my readers:

    "Though readership is tiny for local political blogs, the Nevada Democrats' spokeswoman Kirsten Searer makes the critical point:

    'The beauty of bloggers is they have an audience of the right people. If they break news, then insiders in politics and mainstream media are likely to pick it up.'

    It is nice to see that the Republicans at the NRCC completely miss the point about blogs. Roll Call quotes spokesman Carl Forti:

    'The people who go to these blogs, it’s the very partisan Republicans and very partisan Democrats, and those aren’t the people we are worried about.'

    If there's a blog out there - either of the news, commentary, or activist variety - that's talking to your people... well, that's a blog worth tracking and wooing."

    The whole article is at Roll Call (which is pay to play and thus rapidly losing influence).

    As the hit counter rolls over the 20,000 mark and I evolve back up to Slithering Reptile, I've noticed a definite increase in traffic since I started focusing more on Iowa/Iowa City political items and less on redundant national stuff. And I even got 1) a nibble from one of the statewide campaigns, looking to curry my favor and 2) a nasty, private bashing and baiting from an eminence grise who's allied with another campaign. Curious if my blogging readers have had similar experiences.

    And as my three year anniversary of blogging draws near (that's about 118 in dog years), I'm working on resetting my internal censor. I've limited myself somewhat by the use of my real name.

    For example, notice how I haven't remarked on the North Liberty situation.

    But I've used my real name since I first started using the internet some 15 years ago (ISCABBS, anyone?) and I'm not planning to change now. And I always liked that byline thing back in my journalist days.

    Also thinking of shelling out a couple bucks for a real domain name and inviting a guest blogger in the near future.

    Very meta for early in the morning. In any case, as Thanksgiving rolls around and my daughter and I prepare to drive north for some Grandma-made turkey, thank for reading. Hope to make it worth your time.

    This May Be An Impeachable Offense

    This May Be An Impeachable Offense

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Cheers and Jeers: Tuesday

    Cheers and Jeers: Tuesday

    A couple punch lines worth repeating.

  • "'President Bush, is on his Asian tour now. He'll visit Japan, China, South Korea, Mongolia. Once again, he's skipping Vietnam.' - David Letterman

  • 'Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito says he's embarrassed by some of the things he wrote in the 1980's. Apparently Alito wrote the song 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.'' - Conan O'Brien
  • Packers Lose Both Sides of Rushing Battle

    Packers Lose Both Sides of Rushing Battle

    As the great Yogi Berra once said, or at least is credited with saying, deja vu all over again: another meeting with the Vikings, another Minnesota field goal with the clock expiring to win.

    One wonders if Yogi Berra could possibly have coined all those idiot savant aphorisms by himself. At least it's something to think about that's better than the Packer's dismal 2-8 record...

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Kos: IA-Gov: This will be a tight one

    Kos: IA-Gov: This will be a tight one

    Kos checks in on our top-tier race. Deems Culver the Dem front-runner; misses the Vilsack-Blouin angle.

    Senate Resolution Honoring Springsteen Gets the Boot

    Senate Resolution Honoring Springsteen Gets the Boot

    Senate GOP leaders refused to bring up for consideration a resolution, introduced by New Jersey's Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine, that honored Springsteen's long career and the 1975 release of his iconic album "Born to Run."

    Springsteen endorsed Kerry last year, and made campaign appearances that drew huge crowds...

    Guilt leads inmate to clear executed friend

    Guilt leads inmate to clear executed friend

    Breaking over the blogosphere yesterday: the Houston Chronicle's report on Ruben Cantu, who appears to have been executed for a crime he did not commit.

    Proof of the execution of an innocent person has been the Holy Grail of us death penalty opponents. There's only so much legal effort available and it's been focused on stopping executions. And research into an already completed execution is the ultimate moot point. But death penalty advocates use this against us, nyah-nyah-ing that "it's never been proven."

    This case has a interesting element: it seems Cantu was involved in a shooting with a cop that was dismissed. So there may have been a certain "let's get this guy" element to the case.

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    Sharon leaving Likud to form centrist party

    Sharon leaving Likud to form centrist party

    Oh, THIS ought to make things interesting:

    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will announce on Monday that he intends to quit the Likud and form a new centrist political party, sources close to Sharon said on Sunday.

    Sharon is to visit President Moshe Katsav on Monday and ask him to dissolve the Knesset. This would set off a process that would lead to elections in 90 days, unless a new coalition forms within the next three weeks...

    The Likud Party is breaking up. This will no doubt mean Netanyahu comes back to lead the remnant of Likud, and maybe with a split conservative vote there's an opportunity for peace. Or, more likely, another split, coalition government which can't accomplish anything.

    Meanwhile, the Palestinian half of Israel-Palestine has its own elections in January...

    Grocers lean on redemption centers

    Grocers lean on redemption centers

    They must be gearing up for this fight in the next legislative session again:

    Iowa's grocery stores are relying more on redemption centers to handle customers' empty cans and bottles.

    Since January, the number of Fareway and Hy-Vee stores that have stopped taking the recyclables has more than doubled.

    Now customers are being asked to make an extra trip to state-approved redemption centers -- a move store officials say makes their facilities safer.

    Bob Cramer, president of Fareway Stores Inc., said filthy cans and bottles pose a sanitation risk for food stores.

    "The public support for not having them in the grocery stores is loud and clear," he said.

    Huh? The last statement is just implausible. I doubt a great public outcry for consumer inconvenience is being heard anywhere except in the fantasies of grocery store executives.

    Just admit the truth, HyVee and Fareway: YOU WANT MORE MONEY for doing it. And maybe that's a case you can make. It might be time to look at going the Michigan route, making the deposit a dime, and while we're at it adding all the waters and juices that have become a part of the drinking habit in the last 25 years.

    The Michigan dime has long intrigued me, since I have a brother in Michigan. I've contemplated whether that extra nickel a can would pay for itself if I went to visit my brother and took all my cans and bottles..

    Mapquest tells me it's 495 miles from Iowa City to Midland, Michigan. That's a 990 mile round trip.

    My reasonably fuel efficient car gets me 30 miles a gallon. So I'll burn 33 gallons of gas. At the $2.039 they're now chargin in Iowa CIty (I filled up for $1.959 last night in Cedar Rapids - what's with that?) that's $67.29 in gas.

    That's 1,346 cans: $67.30 in Iowa, $134.60 in Michigan. At 12 ounces a can, that's 125.63 GALLONS of one's preferred beverage. Feel free to divide that by the cubic volume of your vehicle or your bladder.

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    Space Station Viewing Tonight

    Space Station Viewing Tonight

    A decent pass over Iowa City between 5:34 and 5:39 tonight, if the clouds don't move in before that.

    House Iraq Vote and Mad-Eye Leach

    House Iraq Vote and Mad-Eye Leach

    The Republican-proposed measure was rejected 403 to 3, a result that surprised no one.

    The idea was to force Democrats to go on the record on a proposal that the administration says would be equivalent to surrender. Recognizing a political trap, most Democrats -- including Murtha -- said from the start they would vote no.

    But the maneuvering exposed the chamber's raw partisan divisions and prompted a tumultuous scene, which Capitol Hill veterans called among the wildest and most emotional they had ever witnessed...

    I watched the last couple hours of this and the hooting and hollering sounded like a particularly rowdy Prime Minister's Question Time. Murtha was eloquent and powerful. The point that made him flip - that the US troops are such inviting targets that they're fueling the insurgency more than they're stopping it - is very persuasive to the "support the troops" crowd and must not be lost.

    But I was disappointed in the interpretation of the resolution as a "trap." It would have been better, certainly, to have had a vote on Murtha's original draft.

    But the Republican "alternative", while cynical, expresses my views precisely:

    Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

    Only the ever-controversial Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, Jose Serrano of the Bronx, and Robery Wexler of Florida had the nerve to vote YES. Six more called the vote for the sham it was and cast a PRESENT: Mike Capuano of Boston, Bill Clay Jr. of St. Louis, New Yorkers Maurice Hinchey, Jerry Nadler and Major Owens, and Jim McDermott (WA). A hat tip for them too. Would have been nice to see more.

    Aside to Leonard Boswell: Your absence will be noted. You have served long and well, but you need to decide what to do NOW. Retirement with honors is a more suitable end to a career that a defeat in ill health. I'm just sayin'.

    Leach voted with the Dems on the procedural questions. That's good, but in honor of a Harry Potter weekend, I've decided that Leach is the Mad-Eye Moody of the GOP.

    For my Muggle political readers: Leach, like the new teacher at Hogwarts, has one "magical" eye swiveling around in constant vigilance. Leach's magical eye is fixed back here on the district - like Moody, he needs to keep up appearances, to fit into a place he really doesn't belong.

    UPDATE: A couple of my readers have noted my bad manners at not having a big flashing SPOILER ALERT in this post. I had imagined I was the only political Pottermaniac. Anyway read on at your own risk.

    Both Leach and Moody are on the surface kind and helpful. But deep down, Moody is not what he appears to be - he's a genius at the Dark Arts who serves an evil master. He does several things that seem to help Our Hero, while behind the scenes he commits some nasty treacheries.

    Culver voices support for Knapp

    Culver voices support for Knapp

    Secretary of State Chet Culver, who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for governor, called land developer Bill Knapp an "honorable man" and "a lifelong friend" Friday.

    Knapp, who is part of Culver's campaign, is at the center of controversial land transactions with the state transportation department and a public charity.

    A lot of inside baseball subtext in this article.

    The Blouin-Culver battle is in some ways a proxy war between Vilsack and Harkin. The two Toms have been uneasy allies for seven years. The Iowa Democratic Party is now a wholly owned and operated Vilsack subsidiary, and now the governor has visions of the presidency. Harkin, entering the twilight of his remarkable career, no longer has such visions, but would probably like to see himself back on top as the undisputed leader of Iowa Democats.

    The governor is clearly the driving force behind Blouin, and has whipped most of the legislators (Johnson County delegation excepted!) into line. Harkin's backing of Culver is more subtle, but seems to be present.

    Reader Dave In Minneapolis looks at yesterday's Blouin statement on choice and picks out the phrase "I would not sign any legislation":

    The governor can decide not to sign a bill in Iowa and it will still become a law. A distinction from a veto! To pass abortion restrictions the leg only needs 50% +1 not 67% if he had used the word veto.

    Agreed. Blouin is showing a little progress but he needs to keep feeling the pressure. And we need a full court press to win back the legislature, to keep those restrictions off any governor's desk.

    Inevitably, Greg Connell has ended his campaign after the fatal car accident. A sad end for someone who showed some promise - maybe not as governor but perhaps for something else.

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    Should You Go to Graduate School?

    Should You Go to Graduate School?

    "Short answer: no."

    Blouin vows he won't support abortion restrictions

    Blouin vows he won't support abortion restrictions

    I'm wary. But if this holds true this is the biggest news of the campaign and the whole ball game changes.

    Mike Glover reports:

    Mike Blouin, known for his anti-abortion views, told The Associated Press that if he is elected, he will not support any new restrictions on abortion.

    "Regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court's future actions regarding Roe v. Wade, I would not sign any legislation to further restrict or expand access to abortion in Iowa," said Blouin, the state's former economic development director and a former congressman from eastern Iowa.

    That statement sounts drafted, vetted, and stamped. Continuing:

    While Blouin said his beliefs are "at the very heart of who I am as a person, I also understand that our laws must be acceptable to and enforceable within society."

    Among the five current Democrats seeking their party's gubernatorial nomination, Blouin was the only one to hold anti-abortion views. The others are pro-choice, though they have in the past supported minor restrictions.

    Still not great; I don't like that "or expand" line, and I'd prefer to see the word VETO in there somewhere. But Glover's smart enough to know a good lead, and he quotes this initial react:

    Judy Rutledge, of Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, found Blouin's position interesting: "It might help some with the issue. I've never heard him make that statement before."

    Rutledge said the shift likely came under pressure.

    "We are glad to see him changing his mind," she said. "He must be feeling the pressure from pro-choice Democrats."

    Now let's hear a similar "clarification" from Chet Culver on capital punishment...

    1 candidate joins race, 1 drops out in top ag job campaign

    1 candidate joins race, 1 drops out in top ag job campaign

    Longshot Dem gets squeezed out, endorses Terry: "Eddie Peterson, a former Webster County Board supervisor, said he saw Vilsack’s endorsement as 'the writing on the wall' ..."

    Squeezeouts are one of the uglier things in politics that outsiders really don't know about. I know absolutely nothing about Eddie Peterson, but I know how it works: a few thinly veiled conversations involving an incredibly small number of people, the plausible deniability for the squeezers afterwards. The only odd feature here is Peterson's directness; usually the squeeze-ee has some sort of dignity-salvaging excuse.

    I saw an interesting squeezeout a couple cycles ago that invoved a three-way job swap - and the squeeze-ee was the only one who ended up with an office afterwards!

    An Unlikely Lonesome Dove

    An Unlikely Lonesome Dove

    John Murtha's call for immidiate withdrawal from Iraq will one day be seen as a key turning point. This ain't Dennis Kucinich - Murtha is one of the last of a breed. A hard-hat lunch bucket Pittsburgh Steelers Hubert Humphrey Scoop Jackson hawk.

    And he's saying bring them all home now.

    My friend Ed Flaherty, a long-time JCDem, writes:

    We have seen in the past how the Bush propaganda machine does anything possible to devastate opponents, and in particular how they have smeared veterans like McCain, Cleland, and Kerry. They are doing the same thing to Rep. Murtha. Leonard Boswell is our only Dem congressperson from IA, and he is a Viet Nam veteran, with honors. I suggest that everyone contact him and ask that he stand in support of Murtha. It would be great if he agreed with Murtha's resolution. More to the immediate point, though, is that he should be vocal & visible right now in speaking out on Murtha's integrity,sanity, vision, and leadership. The toll-free # of Boswell's Des Moines office is 888 432-1984. DC office is 202 225-3806, and DC fax is 202 225-5608. e-mail address is

    Tom Harkin should do the same thing, but I doubt he needs urging.

    As a citizen and as a veteran, I am sick to death of chicken-hawks (or anyone) smearing veterans.

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Powerful Magnetar Blast from Another Galaxy

    Powerful Magnetar Blast from Another Galaxy

    For two-tenths of a second, it doused Earth with a higher rate of energy than any previous observed object outside the solar system. The culprit was a highly magnetized neutron star — a magnetar — known as SGR 1806–20.

    And all this time I thought it was just a word that Kurt Cobain made up:

    "She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak
    I've been locked inside your Heart-Shaped box for weeks
    I've been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap
    I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black

    I've got a new complaint
    Forever in debt to your priceless advice..."

    Of course, I also mis-heard it as "Hey! Wait! My name is Kurt Cobain..."

    SurveyUSA - Latest 50 State Bush Disapproval

    SurveyUSA - Latest 50 State Bush Disapproval

    Bush down to an 18 electoral vote base of Mississippi, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, with Nebraska and Oklahoma (12 EV) tied.

    That probably doesn't mean 508 Democratic electoral votes, but it's a nice thought.

    Stupidest reality show ever

    Stupidest reality show ever

    I ignore "reality TV" as much as possible. The very term is a misnomer: take a group of people, put them in an artificial and highly contrived situation, and call it reality? "Non-professional actor entertainment television" is more like it. My idea of reality TV is... THE NEWS.

    But this one is so stupid I just can't ignore it.

    A new reality TV show is aiming to pull off the biggest hoax in TV history - by persuading a group of Britons that they have been blasted into space.

    Nine people will be told they are set to visit the final frontier as space tourists and that in preparation they will undergo intensive training in Russia courtesy of the Space Tourism Agency of Russia, but in reality the groups will be "trained" for space in a disused airbase in a secret location in the UK.

    I would HOPE anyone thinking they'd been launched into orbit would notice the lack of weightlessness...

    O'Brien runs for ag secretary

    O'Brien runs for ag secretary

    "Denise O'Brien, an Atlantic farmer and longtime rural activist, announced her candidacy Wednesday for Iowa secretary of agriculture. O'Brien, a Democrat, said her top priority would be the environment, especially advocating local control for livestock confinements..."

    This primary is going to be an interesting subtext just beneath the surface of the gubernatorial race. Vilsack's drawn the line: Dusky Terry is his guy. But O'Brien is clearly staking out the progressive, Fallon turf - and there's implicit criticism of Patty Judge in her raison d'etre.

    So are there progressive votes in this race? Can either Terry or O'Brien, down lower on the ballot, cut through the noise of the governor's race? And will urban voters participate, or leave Sec of Ag blank?

    More in the Gazette, also Drew Miller offers his thoughts.

    I'm still uncommitted and checking it out.

    Also in today's Register: Yepsen uses the prison break as an excuse to beat the death penalty drum yet again. And my burst of blog traffic post-Iowa City election has made me a Slithering Reptile again.

    SETI@home Upgrade

    SETI@home Upgrade

    For the last six years my screen saver has been searching for space aliens. I haven't found any yet.

    The SETI@Home folks have re-done their software and now have other distributed computing projects to choose from. The theory is, millions of normal computers can analyze sata faster than one big computer.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Conversational Terrorism: How NOT to Talk!

    Conversational Terrorism: How NOT to Talk!

    An interesting look at some nasty human speech patterns. Wish I'd had this for a handout back in my teaching days.

    And then there's squirrel speech patterns.

    And in San Francsico, environmentalism is taken to the point where the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement has been founded:

    "'We can't be breeding right now,' says Les Knight. 'It's obvious that the intentional creation of another [human being] by anyone anywhere can't be justified today.'"

    Don't look at me, I adopted...

    Reasons New Harry Potter Film is PG-13: The Onion

    Reasons New Harry Potter Film is PG-13: The Onion

  • Full frontal nudity of house elves
  • Number of adult men there seeing movie by themselves

    Lies, lies, lies from the Onion. The house elves got cut, and I'm taking my daughter.

  • SurveyUSA - 50 State Cheney Approval

    SurveyUSA - 50 State Cheney Approval

    Ouch! He'd win a Landon-esque 12 electoral votes (WY, UT, ID)...

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    Rothenberg: Redistricting? Who Cares?!?

    Rothenberg: Redistricting? Who Cares?!?

    A few days late, from the pay to play Roll Call, Stuart Rothenberg discusses the failure of redistricting initiatives in OH and CA:

    In both Ohio and California, some voters almostcertainly opposed the ballot measures simply because they regarded the entire matter as arcane, complicatedand confusing.

    As one insider who supported the Ohio redistricting ballot measure told me Tuesday, it’s far easier to explain the benefits of simplified absentee voting orthe advantages of campaign contribution limits than itis to first explain how districts are drawn, then explain why that system needs to be changed andfinally to propose a new system for drawing the lines.

    Days before the results were in, true “reformers” —I’m not talking about partisans who jumped on the reform bandwagon but only wanted to redraw districtsto improve their electoral opportunities next time —were claiming victory of a sort. They insisted that they had already begun to “educate” voters and would press on with the battle to change the way districts are drawn.

    Sorry, but that dog won’t hunt.

    A dispassionate assessment of the Ohio and California ballot measures can only interpret the results as a blow to those who want to change how district lines are drawn. Voters simply don’t care enough about theprocess of drawing legislative and Congressional districts, and it will be hard to motivate them in other states to support changes via the ballot.

    Agreed. Redistricting, for all its importance - and I'd put it at the top of the list even ahead of campaign finance - is too inside-baseball for Real People.

    Some Late Tuesday Iowa Briefs

    Some Late Tuesday Iowa Briefs

    San Fran mayor comes to Iowa, wants all our base to belong to us:

    "I don't think we have anything to be ashamed of in our party, standing up for the foundation of those principles, which have been historic," Newsom said. "It's what's made the party a viable party in the past."

    "I want a liberal message that we don't have to be afraid of our core issues," said Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, who organized the reception that raised $50,000...

    The latest in a round of stories about the crashing and burning of the rainforest:

    Coralville City Council member Jean Schnake said the fact that the project was spending the grant money was a concern for her.

    "They are spending federal money, yours and my tax dollars, without apparently getting anywhere," Schnake said...

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Vilsack endorses Terry for Ag Secretary

    Vilsack endorses Terry for Ag Secretary

    No shocker since Terry was a Vilsacker way back in `98.

    Denise O'Brien looks good in this race, too... this is the OTHER one with a multi-candidate, maybe settled at convention field.

    Red and Blue with George McGovern

    Red and Blue with George McGovern

    "I have trouble remembering from one day to the next what “blue” and “red” mean. They used to call us Democrats “reds” because they thought we were too liberal, too pink. I’m glad the Republicans have assumed that label now."

    Hm. I LIKED red better...

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    MyDD : Embryonic Stem Cell Research as a Wedge Issue for Democrats

    MyDD: Embryonic Stem Cell Research as a Wedge Issue for Democrats

    What was I just saying?

    This race (NJ Gov.) confirmed the speculation that embryonic stem cell research is an important, emerging Democratic wedge issue.

    Separating Democrats from Theocrats in general elections... and in primary elections.

    Yepsen: Stem-cell law is hurting Iowa

    Yepsen: Stem-cell law is hurting Iowa

    The over-rated pundit actually makes sense today:

    Already, the 2002 stem-cell law is one reason a top scientist left the U of I, and it may be a reason why some of them don't bother to come to the state in the first place.

    Patty Judge seems to have succeeded in putting this issue on the map. It's a nice way of exposing Mike "let's talk about anything except choice" Blouin for what he is: an extremist. Even most conservatives seem to support stem-cell research. It's the issue that separates the zygote lobby from the real world.

    Saturday, November 12, 2005

    Warning: Driving Kills

    Warning: Driving Kills

    "We welcome cars into our lives when, rationally, we should be emblazoning them with public health warnings in the same style as cigarette packets."

    Very thoughtful article that imagines things do not have to be as they are...

    I.C. panel rejects 21-only bar ordinance

    I.C. panel rejects 21-only bar ordinance

    The no-21 crowd (I count myself among that) is on the offensive after defeating Rick Dobyns. From behind the Gazette moneywall:

    A downtown bar owners’ group has released a laundry list of initiatives to reduce problem drinking in Iowa City but maintains that a 21-only ordinance would be unrealistic.

    ‘‘I don’t believe there’s support for that in the city; I don’t believe we’d have the support of the City Council,’’ said Leah Cohen, co-chairwoman of the Iowa City Alcohol Advisory Board, about enacting a law prohibiting anyone under the age of 21 from entering Iowa City bars.

    ‘‘In lieu of that, we need to look at what we can do,’’ said Cohen, who owns Bo-James, 118 E. Washington St.

    Many of the proposals sent to the City Council and University of Iowa President David Skorton this week aren’t new. Included are calls for increased police bar checks, more training of bar staff, increased alcohol education for university students, promotion of non-alcohol events for young people and reduced advertising of drink specials.

    The board, though, is recommending such potentially controversial ideas as taxes on bars and/or downtown businesses that are open past 11 p.m. and the legal identification of problem bars deserving of increased police attention.

    Rejected were calls for new limits on beer kegs — it would drive people to hard liquor, the thinking goes — and inflexible zoning regulations to limit the number of downtown bars.

    The recommendations come one year after the creation of the 10-member advisory board and will likely face their first consideration with a newly elected City Council.
    Currently a 4-3 council majority is opposed to a 21-only ordinance.

    Cohen is to speak briefly about the recommendations during the Tuesday night council meeting at City Hall.

    Still, no one is mentioning my approach: lobbying the legislature for a change in the drinking age.

    Student s new course: Mayor

    Student s new course: Mayor

    An 18 year old in Michigan is getting a great deal of attention - including a top ten list on Letterman - for winning a mayoral election.

    But he's not the only one:

    A week ago Sam Juhl was celebrating his 18th birthday; now he’s celebrating a victory as Roland’s new mayor.

    Juhl, a Roland-Story High School senior, won Tuesday’s election without any political experience or an extravagant campaign.

    Of course, it helps when no one else is on the ballot. Juhl beat out 12 write-in candidates, a victory he credits to his classmates, their parents and neighbors who spread the word...

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    Scaling Counties in a Checkerboard State

    Scaling Counties in a Checkerboard State

    Interesting alternate mapping of Iowa caucus results. More interestingly, it grades various results web sites: ("Iowa Democratic Party: F.")

    Thank God for $3.50 gasoline

    Thank God for $3.50 gasoline

    Charles Krauthammer has a radical solution for energy independence:

    Put a floor at $3. Every penny that the price goes under $3 should be recaptured in a federal gas tax so that Americans pay $3 at the pump no matter how low the world price goes.

    Why is this a good idea? It is the simplest way to induce conservation. People will alter their buying habits.

    I don't agree with every word of the column - he also makes a pitch for ANWR drilling - but it's not only the simplest way to get people to conserve, it's the ONLY way.

    Judge seeks end to stem cell research ban

    Judge seeks end to stem cell research ban

    Seeking the reasonable, nontheocrat vote, as opposed to the zygote vote:

    The only Democratic gubernatorial candidate to oppose repealing the law is former Iowa economic development Director Mike Blouin, who also opposes abortion rights.

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Recycling Idea

    Recycling Idea

    Grab as many red and black VOTE NO signs as you can, and save them for when Mid-American tries to renew its franchise agreement. You can get stickers to slap over the "8" in November. (One reason I think signs should be as generic as possible; they're pricey enough to want to re-use them on the re-elect, and information like election dates and district numbers will change. Not that money was any object for Mid-American...)

    Connell suspends campaign after crash

    Connell suspends campaign after crash

    "Shenandoah Mayor Gregg Connell suspended his campaign for governor Wednesday, a day after he was ticketed for running a stop sign in a fatal accident that killed a western Iowa man..."

    Obviously this is a personal tragedy, for the victim and his family and for Connell. But it will have Virtually no impact on the governor's race.

    Connell had just gotten a little bit of decent publicity, meriting a mention in Yepsen's post Jefferson-Jackson column. The gist was he's a third-tier candidate but a serious guy (the implication being that Sal Mohamed is a third-tier candidate and a flake).

    The official withdrawal should follow soon.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Women Winning in Iowa City

    Women Winning in Iowa City

    When Amy Correia starts her term in January on the Iowa City Council, it will mark the first time women have outnumbered men on the seven-member council...

    Anyone taking bets on mayor yet?

    Partying at the Okoboji Grill

    Partying at the Okoboji Grill

    The last couple campaigns, the Okoboji Grill has become the election night hot spot for the conservative victory party. (Always used to be the University Athletic Club.)

    Not on line, but in the print newspapers, let's see who was there last night:

  • Terry Smith and the Mid-American contingent
  • Connie Champion, seen hugging Mike O'Donnell
  • O'Donnell pictured with... the student liaisons to the City Council?!?

    That seals it: the student/bar owner vote succeeded in their main goal of defeating Rick Dobyns, and making Mike O'Donnell a rather surprising advocate for the young people of Iowa City. Outwit, outplay, outlast.
  • November 8, 2005 Iowa City Election

    November 8, 2005 Iowa City Election

    Welcome to the council, Amy! Correia cleaned up in the usual progressive zones and did well with students (turnout low, but still up), and maintained dignity everywhere, nowhere below 42%. Great candidate, great message, great campaign.

    Mike O'Donnell is saved by anti-public power voters and wins yet another term by his characteristic close margin. Did the students make the difference? I don't think the numbers bear it out, but 104 of his 185 vote win came from student precincts where Dobyns was dead last, and he won the absentees (just barely over Correia). Maybe with those small in number, but overwhelming in percentage, student votes, the bar owners finally won one - ironically, giving victory to the same candidate they nearly beat four years ago.

    So what of the good doctor? Dobyns held his west side base but failed to expand on his first place primary finish. The vaugeness didn't wear well, and he'll go down in Iowa City history with such other all things to all people, "sure winners" as Howie Vernon and Kathy Moyers, and not run again.

    On the other hand, Garry Klein may have a brighter future than Dobyns despite his fourth place finish. His nearly 4,000 votes would have seemed far more impressive in a year of normal turnout. He was strong, but not AS strong, the same places Correia was. Maybe progressives underestimated their reach...

    The ballot issues outpolled the candidates. And the undervoting was heaviest on the southeast side, the working class Tory belt of southeast Iowa City - precincts 10, 12, and 14, where it appears roughly a quarter of the voters cast choices on the issues but not the candidates. And these were overwhelming NO votes.

    It's hard to find bright spots in a two to one loss. One could say that losing two to one while being outspent 20 to one is some sort of moral victory. It might have been a lot closer if progressives had been united, instead of engaging in the petty politics of a labor turf war.

    But even that might not have been enough. Mid-American was simply determined to spend whatever it took to win, and the detailed, intricate public power message was simply overwhelmed in a sea of doubt.

    So. We replace Ernie Lehman with Amy Correia and now have two solid progressive votes on the Council - and, more importantly, two effective progressive advocates. Despite the public power loss, it feels like a step forward for progressive Iowa City.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Too Damn Early

    96.5 FM is playing All Chrismas Music All The Time in Early November. As much of a free speech advocate as I am, I might consider banning the broadcast of Chrismas music until after Thanksgiving, with exceptions for ironic use during July heat waves.

    3:00 and the voters keep coming

    3:00 and the voters keep coming

    Counting the absentees, Iowa City has already topped 2003 - with five hours to go.

    Web Poll: Iowa Governor

    DemoChoice Ballot

    Diary of a political madman is running an Iowa governor poll. Uses instant runoff, which would be nice if we could use it for the real thing.

    Check out the poll here

    Iowa City Turnout Still Hot at 11:00

    Iowa City Turnout Still Hot at 11:00

    Now it's ahead of even 1991, and the highest in 25 years.

    Also hot: University Heights (library funding issue) and Lone Tree (the city council's been feuding for ages, and there's a batch of write-in candidates).

    Here's the details.

    Turnout on record pace

    Turnout on record pace

    9 AM turnout is the highest since `91, and that was back when absentees numbered in the hundreds, not the thousands. The Iowa City turnout record is from waaaaay back in 1977, and that year had a jail bond and a rent control ordinance...

    Victory party update:

  • Public Power Yes: Jim Larew's office, 504 E. Bloomington St.
  • Garry Klein: Red Avocado.
  • Amy Correia: North Dodge Bob's Your Uncle.
  • Matt Bahl, Rob Gardiner and Paul Osterholt, my North Liberty guys: Eggy's on HWY 965.
  • Election Day

    Election Day

  • Amy Correia

  • Garry Klein

  • Public Power Yes
  • Monday, November 07, 2005

    Music-Map - The tourist map of music

    Music-Map - The tourist map of music

    This is so fun I could play on it for hours.

    Punch in a musician. Dozens of similar artists swirl around it to approximate your tastes. Seemed to work well for me.

    Gomers: Mid-American

    Gomers: Mid-American

    Today's Cedar Rapids Gazette:

    HIGH-VOLTAGE SPENDING: MidAmerican’s spending on the public power referendum in Iowa City makes the contest look a bit like Goliath swatting at David. The company spent $527,000, although it should be noted that nearly $200,000 of that was in time that employees spent campaigning (doing things like meeting with editorial boards and going to forums).

    This is an important issue — for both sides. But that kind of spending seems excessive.

    Issues Favor Dems in 2006 Elections

    Issues Favor Dems in 2006 Elections

    The latest generic congressional ballot poll. Looks good for Dems, but I'm always skeptical, and here's why:

    Sixty percent of Americans approve of the work their own representative is doing (compared with 49 percent in October 1994).

    The old "they're all crooks, but MY local guy isn't like the rest" fallacy. We need to tie the unpopularity of Bush, Cheney and DeLay to cuddly ole Jim Leach and down home Tom Latham. (Steve King's district is a lost cause, but a primary against Iowa's own Tom Tancredo would be nice...)

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Steelers Top Packers 20-10 At Lambeau Field

    Steelers Top Packers 20-10 At Lambeau Field

    Another painful defeat; missed half the first quarter watching the thrilling end of Kansas City-Oakland. But it was worth watching the Pack if only for the look on Samkon Gado's face when he scored his first NFL touchdown. Third stringer in college, started the year on a practice squad, and now with Ahman Green out for the year he's the Pack's go-to guy on the ground.

    The most interesting Packer news of the week came out of Philly when Terrell Owens "essentially (said) the Eagles would be better off with Brett Favre at quarterback" rather than Donovan McNabb - and got suspended. I hope Brett doesn't decide to end his career like that, leaving for greener pastures...

    Junk Sales, Tongues and Tails

    Tongues and Tails by Sophie B. Hawkins is just one of the sexiest albums ever. I always wondered if "I'll turn on the Rolling Stones" meant she thought Beggar's Banquet was good music to set the mood ("Stray Cat Blues" especially) , or if she was looking to seduce Mick Jagger. And catch the way she slurs "I'll rock you till the daylight comes" on the first chorus so it sounds like she's trying to slip an F-bomb past the radio censors. She also does a credible version of Dylan's "I Want You."

    She got sidelined in the late `90s by record company politics and lost all the career momentum she had from "Damn I Wish I was Your Lover" and the subsequent "As I Lay Me Down." So today I was able to replace my long-lost copy of Tongues and Tails with a junk shop copy.

    Also from the same era I tracked down Luka Bloom's The Acoustic Motorbike; the title track is one of the only decent songs about cycling besides the obvious one from Queen, and it's not marred by a bicycle-bell solo.

    In the non-musical department, my scores include another hideous hanging lamp and a feline-friendly coffee table.

    Democrat caucuses' clout big in gubernatorial race

    Democrat caucuses' clout big in gubernatorial race

    The buzz is starting to trickle out, beyond the activist level:

    If no candidate clears 35 percent, the nomination will be decided at a party convention.

    Next year there will be incentive for the Democrats running for governor to see their supporters elected as county delegates. County delegates are automatically nominated to the party's state convention.

    Delegates elected from county conventions to the state convention would be called to vote at a nominating convention.

    "Even if you don't consider it a backup, it's a good way to get people to commit to you early," Mandernach said. "If you can convince them there's urgency to commit in January, you've got five months for them to help you."

    Not stictly accurate; the caucuses elect county delegates, then the county convention elects the state delegates.

    The GOP came damn close to this scenario in `02 with only three candidates who all landed between 30 and 36 percent; Gross won it with only 35.6! And it actually happened in the 5th CD that year with only four candidates. Steve King led in the primary with only 31 and the 4th place finisher was over 20.

    The seven way race is really a four way race; only Blouin, Culver, Fallon and Judge are likely to be above the low single digits.

    From my seat inside one county party I don't see January commitments happening. Most people I know are in my quandry: which of a bad bunch? I can't name one person in this county who is, say, a "Culver person" or "a Blouin guy", etc. I think it's more likely that some of our local progressive groups will turn out at caucuses, work to get their folks elected, and then wait to be persuaded after the fact.

    Myself, I expect Blouin to be leading going in, in part because of disproportionate turnout in the 1st CD. With a hot congressional primary, the northeast part of the state will have higher turnout than the rest of the state. (In my home, Johnson County, turnout is driven more by local races.)

    I may just wait till the final Register poll the Sunday before the primary and vote for whoever's best positioned to block Blouin.

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    GOP mulls end of birthright citizenship

    GOP mulls end of birthright citizenship

    "House Republicans tackling illegal immigration were reported looking closely at ending birthright citizenship..."

    This would probably require constitutional amendment... but don't put it past `em...

    No overhaul for offender law

    No overhaul for offender law

    More tough talk about the second most unrealistic law on the state books. But from a very unlikely source, a hint of leniency

    "Rep. Lance Horbach of Tama, a House Republican corrections budget expert, said he favors allowing communities the ability to grant individual sex offenders a waiver from the residency limit if, for example, the sex crime did not involve molestation of a child and occurred many years ago. He cited a 'statutory rape' case in which an 18-year-old had sex with a 14-year-old and the pair later married and had children.

    Sen. Keith Kreiman (D-Bloomfield) opposes a community waiver option, saying it could create a dangerous loophole."

    So how would it work? What are the chances of the East Pole Bean city council voting an okee-dokee for Chester the Molester to move in?

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Candidates want stem cell law repealed (except Blouin)

    Candidates want stem cell law repealed

    More extremism from Mike Blouin:

    Five of six candidates at a forum Wednesday said they support the expansion of stem cell research in Iowa, despite a state law passed by lawmakers in 2002 that banned human cloning and included restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

    Candidate Mike Blouin, a pro-life Catholic, argued that Iowa's law is a model for the rest of the nation and should be kept in place.

    "I think we ought to give it a chance to work. There is tremendous promise in adult stem cell as well umbilical stem cell (research) and nothing interrupts that, nothing at all," he said.

    Blouin declined to answer directly whether he opposed embryonic stem cell research.

    "I think we ought to tread very lightly," he said.

    Dems dominate council field

    Dems dominate council field

    Well, there's Democrats, and then there's Democrats. The DI gets a couple things wrong - Garry Klein is a registered Dem - but someone gives us a gem:

    UI College Republicans Vice-Chairwoman Bridget Henry said that though no candidates are hard-core Republicans, O'Donnell, who recently spoke to the group, would probably be the closest to agreeing with her party's views.

    "Looking at the most important issues, Mike O'Donnell, in my opinion, best represents Republican values," she said.

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Bush's Increasing Mental Lapses and Temper Tantrums Worry White House Aides

    Bush's Increasing Mental Lapses and Temper Tantrums Worry White House Aides

    Capitol Hill Blue again treading where no one else will: "Senior aides describe Bush as increasingly “edgy” or “nervous” or “unfocused.” They say the President goes from apparent coherent thought one moment to aimless rambles about political enemies and those who are “out to get me.”

    It’s worse than the days when Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s began setting in,” one longtime GOP operative told me privately this week. “You don’t know if he’s going to be coherent from one moment to the next. What scares me is if he lapses into one of those fogs during a public appearance.”"

    Only 1 hopeful backs 21-only

    Only 1 hopeful backs 21-only - Daily Iowan - Metro

    "The ordinance, which came up numerous times, was the major dividing issue among the candidates. Three of the four at-large candidates - incumbent Mike O'Donnell, Amy Correia, and Garry Klein - and District B candidate Connie Champion do not support the ordinance.

    At-large candidate Rick Dobyns does."

    MidAmerican spends nearly $500,000 on referendum

    MidAmerican spends nearly $500,000 on referendum

    "MidAmerican’s report shows that its entire campaign budget has been funded by in-kind contributions from MidAmerican itself to the tune of $490,267.

    Meanwhile, Citizens for Public Power, the group formed to get the public power item on the ballot, has spent just over $16,000 of about $19,000 raised..."

    Abortion divides Democrats at forum

    Abortion divides Democrats at forum

    Busy day. Just passing it along.

    Culver and Judge led the criticism of Blouin's abortion position, accusing him of dodging questions about whether he supports further restricting abortion rights in Iowa.

    "This is not a time for somebody to give you a wishy-washy answer," Culver said.

    Blouin has declined to say whether he would sign new restrictions on abortion.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    21-only bubbles back

    21-only bubbles back

    The Daily Iowan takes a reasonable look at this unreasonable proposal. Y'all know where I'm at: the real problem is that the 21 year old drinking age itself is unworkable and unenforcable, and I'm frustrated that none of my elected officials on the local or state levels will publicly say so. I can't take any bar-admission age or anti-binge drinking proposals seriously until we openly acknowledge that simple fact.

    I'm also somewhat frustrated at the bar owners who are backing O'Donnell. (They're also with Amy Correia which is good). Garry Klein is so much better on so many other issues AND he's also anti-21.

    This election is like a Survivor episode with its bizarre and unusual alliances. Throw in IBEW bullying labor into a non-endorsement over public power, with the resulting muddled message of "O'Donnell is bad, everyone else is OK but not perfect." Meanwhile, O'Donnell seems to have the rental property yard signs locked up, with No ahead in the business lot vote. Usually good indicators of how not to vote - just like Press-Citizen endorsements.

    Anyway. My vote is in the box. Amy, Garry, and Yes. It's not often one gets to cast a direct vote against a multi-billion dollar corporation.

    Judge criticizes Blouin on Choice

    Judge criticizes Blouin on Choice


    Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge criticized Democratic gubernatorial rival Mike Blouin on his anti-abortion stance, saying he is more extreme than many conservative Republicans.

    Judge said that Blouin sponsored constitutional amendments that would have banned abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, while he was a member of Congress in the 1970s.

    "These amendments show that Michael Blouin shares former Senator Jesse Helms' views when it comes to a woman's right to choose," Judge said in a prepared statement issued Monday. "These anti-choice amendments show that Mike Blouin is out of touch with the views of Iowa Democrats."

    Judge said pro-choice voters won't have a candidate if Blouin gets the nomination.

    At least not a major party candidate. Not that I want to go there. But I will if I have to.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Cervical Cancer Vaccine Gets Injected With a Social Issue

    Cervical Cancer Vaccine Gets Injected With a Social Issue

    "A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has set up a clash between health advocates who want to use the shots aggressively to prevent thousands of malignancies and social conservatives who say immunizing teenagers could encourage sexual activity."

    That's right: the theocrats think sex is worse than cancer. Inflicting their values on others is more important than life and death.

    '80s computer relic still connecting users

    '80s computer relic still connecting users

    Though remembered by only a few isolated computer junkies, the Iowa Student Computer Association is still connecting more than 3,000 people worldwide in a network that was once a forerunner in mass international communication...

    Ah, yes, the glory days of ISCABBS, my first connection to the Internet, way back in the fall of 1990. On my first computer (I'm now on my fifth), with a rockin' 14.4 modem, watching the text scroll by line by green text line. War-dialing to get the connection, waiting in the queue to be one of the 200 people allowed on at once...

    ISS - Visible Passes

    ISS - Visible Passes

    Some good space station viewing this week from Iowa City, with the best pass at 6:14 tomorrow night.

    Also on the space front Mars still look great, albiet very dusty. And you can't see it unless you have a Hubble Space Telescope, but Pluto has two more moons. Not bad for barely a planet.

    1991 slayings at UI still vivid to reporter

    1991 slayings at UI still vivid to reporter

    The Gazette's Lyle Muller looks back 14 years to the campus shootings. From the journalist's perspective - a perspective I shared that day, as I was live on the air when it happened.