Tuesday, February 28, 2006

U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006

U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006

Support the troops:

29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months...

Free Iowa Wi-Fi? IC No. 1

Free Iowa Wi-Fi? IC No. 1

Weeeee are the champions, my frieeeeeeeends:

Iowa City has been judged the top city in Iowa for free wireless Internet by a Web-based director of Wi-Fi hotspots.

And weeee'll keep on blogging, till the end...

There's one huge, gaping hole in free wi-fi in midtown Iowa City, however:


You can't connect to on-campus wi-fi unless you're affiliated with the university: student, faculty, or staff. A mere Iowa taxpayer like myself? Nope.



Looks like another ticket is set:

McGuire supports abortion rights and has been active in promoting Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, a part of her resume that could help Blouin with women voters...

I'm not convinced - she may be pro-choice but she doesn't hold the veto pen.

To tell you the truth, when I heard "doctor" and "McGuire," I expected SHEILA McGuire, who ran against Latham in the `94 open seat race... I like the old LBJ maxim of campaign experience: "I'd like (her) better if (s)he'd a run fer sheriff once."

So all that's left is Fallon-_________. The pattern has been set: in 2006, serious candidates name their running mates. He either needs to set the ticket, or give a good reason to reject the premise. I think he should make an in your face pick of another uncompromising progressive just to underscore the difference.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Hit by a car

You. Yeah, you. The woman who pulled out at Hills Bank on South Gilbert and turned left without looking.

Feel a little thump on your right fender?

That was my LEG.

Let me say it in words of one syllable: LOOK. BOTH. WAYS.

It's OK, though. I got your plate number. Officer Friendly will be stopping by.

Gentle readers: I'm fine.

Edwards, The War, and the Hazards of Liveblogging

Edwards, The War, and the Hazards of Liveblogging

The liveblogging led to the two busiest days in a row on the blog - over 500 visits since Saturday AM. Y'all seem to like this stuff. Thanks. But it took a reader to point out that Edwards paid scant attention to the Iraq war.

The hyperfocus of my liveblogging style - I spent four straight hours at two events Saturday just TYPING - means that while I catch almost everything that IS said, I miss out on analysis, on what ISN'T said.

Anyway, a couple local Dems events coming up this week:

  • The central committee meeting Thursday with the election of the new county chair.
  • the county convention Saturday. My credentials work will limit the blogging somewhat but I'll check in periodically.

    Also this week, filing starts at the Sec of State. They've been good about posting in the past few years; I'll watch for surprises.
  • Sunday, February 26, 2006

    Edwards: Writeups in Old Media

    Edwards: Writeups in Old Media

  • Register: Edwards tells Iowans port deal is security risk
  • Gazette: Edwards encourages ’fight for the people’ -
    Former candidate spreads anti-poverty message at I.C. event

  • Press-Citizen: Edwards wants more help for poor - He tries to enlist young in war on poverty
  • The Archive of Misheard Lyrics

    The Archive of Misheard Lyrics

    Just for fun, here's kissthisguy.com, named for that famous line that wasn't in "Purple Haze":

    'Scuse me while I kiss this guy

    You get the idea.

    My favorite was from when my daughter was six: she loudly and enthusiastically sang along to Pink Floyd:

    Hey! Creatures! Leave them kids alone!

    I've been unable to hear it "properly" since.

    Saturday, February 25, 2006

    Edwards: Photo Thread UPDATED

    Edwards: Photo Thread

    You send `em, I'll post `em.

    More photos and a little write up here that includes a little fun poked at my mobile blogging style. :)

    Opening act and next congressman: Dave Loebsack.

    Loebsack, Edwards, and half the head of Nick Johnson.

    The long and the short of the speech.

    Patty Judge is in the foreground; also in the shot are Loebsack, Reps. Lensing and Foege, Joe Bolkcom with a shadow across his face, Supervisor candidate Larry Meyers, and Neighbor Sean. I'm just behind these folks.

    Edwards and Dave Redlawsk, who's the guy to thank for this batch of pics. He's got more up at the Johnson County Dems site.

    Edwards and some young Dems, I believe Karen is Karen Emmerson.

    Neighbor Sean and Edwards; I took this with Sean's phone.

    Sex Pistols snub Rock Hall

    Sex Pistols snub Rock Hall

    Almost as good as the turd on the gold record on the back cover of Flogging A Dead Horse:

    The Sex Pistols have refused to attend their own induction into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    In a handwritten note posted on their website
    , they called the institution "urine in wine".

    "Were not your monkeys, were not coming. You're not paying attention," continued the statement.

    How could they have done anything else?

    John Edwards' Post (FALSE ALARM)

    John Edwards' Post (FALSE ALARM)

    Nope. Didn't get it. But he THOUGHT about it. And I did get a nice little moment. Before the 2008 caucuses are over, I WILL get a live guest post from a presidential candidate.

    Anyone with PICTURES, send them my way (jdeethATmchsi.com) and I'll post some.

    Live at Edwards!

    Live at Edwards!

    Minimally edited after the fact to clean up just the very worst typos, and to ID some of the local officials. Seems I got a link from Edwards' site and I'm getting some far-away traffic.

    And it's jam packed here.

    Exciting, fun, caucuses alive and well! 2008 campaign underway! says poli sci prof and key Dem Dave Redlawsk...

    Man, this is gonna be sloppy, I'll clean up later.

    My neighbor Sean says... Dems need a candidate w/ balls, Edwards has balls size of the Old Capitol Dome!

    Music is bluegrassy, a little too North Carolina for my taste but hey.

    Schedule is supposedly tight, 5 events in 5 counties in 1 day

    We got maybe 150 people already.

    Every candidate I can think of, except the legislators who are still with the League. (League of Women Voters legislative forum, schedule conflict)

    A lot of young folks here for a political event. Edwards is still a rock star. pardon the ee cummings style.

    Thoughts: hope he runs again says a future supporter. Message on.

    Need to find a blogging friendly seat. Settling in at the side. TV lights are blinding but I can't type without looking at the keyboard anyway

    I think it’s time, Loebsack (Dave Loebsack, 2nd CD congressional candidate)is here... and the event ringleaders too.

    Introductions begin with Redlawsk. Thanking the sponsors. I'd say 200 bodies now. Intro-ing electeds: Pulkrabek (sheriff), Harney, Neuzil (county supervisors), Moody (North Liberty council) Putman (Soil/Water), Joel Miller (Robins mayor). Candidates: Maybanks, Lyness (county attorney), Meyers (county supervisor) , Nolte, Miller (both State House 89), and hey, Mike Mauro (Polk Co. auditor running for Sec. of State)! Also Kriz (county treasurer).

    Now intro-ing Loebsack. I see 4 or 5 cameras, can't tell if it's big stills or small TV. Not up on the technology, he said liveblogging.

    The band backs up, nice Gibson bass...

    Culture of corruption, nice and alliterative. Here's Loebsack.

    11:24. Praising Johnson County, always nice. Any 2nd CD campaign has to begin with Johnson. The energy is out there in the district. I'm getting $ from Republicans who want change. Govt. has helped me in my life, I'm an example of American dream. Calls Leach (the incumbent opponent) an "enabler" of the right wing. Pulling up Tom Harkin's ladder of opportunity.

    GOP being mean spirited, taking away benefits from kids. Only way to fight the DC right wing, need to take back Congress.

    Loebsack's sounding more impassioned that he has before. He's gettin' into this here campaign.

    We need to call out leach where he's enabling the GOP. Nov 2004: "it's going to be a great night for our party," said Leach. Not "our nation," "our party." Cites key Leach votes with GOP: January `05 ethics rule vote. Party line including Leach. 3/17/05 = 2 vote GOP margin for Medicaid cuts. “That's when I decided to run.”

    Legislators arriving.

    Loebsack: We have self-doubt. Admits to voting for Leach once, to friendly boos. We all need to face up to the reality of Leach, as I have. We can only win this if we do more than be the "anti." Restoring hope and opportunity.

    Here come the bullet points: I will lead when it matters, not when it's safe. Do what's right, not what's easy. (Loebsack as Dumbledore.) We'll redefine "integrity" (long time Leach slogan) Will never let the powerful turn me away from the hardworking folks of the district.

    Now we have Springsteen as warm up music. But The Boss gets cut off for Redlawsk (who also originated in Jersey.)

    Redlawsk: too many Dems vote for Leach. He casts SOME good votes but one really BAD vote: for control.

    More elected: Slockett (county auditor, my boss), Foege (state rep). Always gotta intro the electeds.

    Sounds like the man is a little late.

    Here's Patty Judge (sec. of agriculture, was running for governor, dropped out in a deal to become Sec of State Chet Culver's running mate). They're giving props to the event committee. Also Chet's spouse is here. More Springsteen.

    Ro Foege stops by: looking forward to seeing Edwards again (was 1st legislator in state to support in `03)

    Mark Nolte stops by, says Great Job Loebsack.

    "This event is blog-tastic!" -- Josh Murphy

    Now we get Mellencamp.

    Sue Dvorsky (key local activist and also spouse of legislator) blows by stickering for Blouin (Mike Blouin, gubernatorial candidate; it's well known locally that I oppose him strongly). I pass, we share a laugh.

    Neighbor overheard the phone call: "10 minutes at least" as of 11:49. Now we get U2 Beautiful Day. It's every cliché campaign warm-up song. We need some Pistols or Husker Du.

    The he's here buzz is going around... and the staffer types are moving faster. Now I hear a He's Here...

    just said a quick hello to Mauro. More elected intros, the legislators.

    I'm eight feet from Edwards. Neighbor got a handshake. County chair is intro-ing.

    11:56. I missed out on every small setting Edwards event in '03-04. So this is my first shot - though we're at at least 250 now.

    Jim Larew, key Edwards mover/shaker, speaking.

    Quick high five with Bolkcom. (Joe Bolkcom, my state senator)

    "You blogging?"

    Larew quoting VP debate, dissin' Cheney.

    12:04 HE'S ON. Sends Elizabeth's love and she gets almost as big a round of applause. tells a cute Jack story. I had to plug in.

    Throws in the Dubai port issue, oil tax breaks, prescriptions, gets a 'who is the president' cadence going

    Calls W "worst president of my life."

    Dems = fight for what we believe in, show guts. yeah! this is the party tat gives voice to people who have no voice. working families, social justice, civil liberties, that's the Dem party! Wanna see some fire in our party. Huge void in moral leadership in our country right now.

    12:11 - Poverty is the great moral cause in America today. Katrina... People in poverty live on the edge of a razor every day. Geez he has some great lines...

    The face of poverty is in many ways, not always, but in many ways a face of color. Talks of his tour of flood refugee center... the stereotype of lazy poverty is a LIE. Working poor love our country and deserve a CHANCE. (yay)

    There is a hunger in America to be inspired and proud, a sense of natl. community. We help people not for THEM but for US, it says what we care about and who we are.

    But did we make mistakes in war on poverty? Sure. But we cut poverty in half. Quotes Michael Harrington(!). WE (DEMS) used to be the party of big ideas and causes, we need to again. (BIG applause line.)

    The poor of this era have never had a champion. WE need to be their voice. "There's a remote possibility some of you remember I'm the son of a mill worker" (ha ha ha). But I could never have gotten here by myself. "Heroic public schoolteachers." Great state universities, student loans. "What we do together matters."

    End the embarrassment of our minimum wage. do we believe in an America of equal worth? And if we believe that, when will we start living that? Here's a Halliburton bash... how about a WPA kind of program! (Huge applause, he was more eloquent, I was wrestling with a cord)

    Economic segregation is unhealthy.

    Can't see from where I'm at but he SOUNDS great.

    We need to look at absence of America's moral leadership around the world. World was watching Katrina. Talks about trips to UK, India, speaks of Indian poverty: "where is America?" Darfur... He's getting very big picture but coming back to where is American leadership. Democrats need to fill this void. The world has seen our power, they need to see our caring.

    12:30. Notes large number of young people... young should lead, not wait for someone to tell them what to do. Young can change America again. Winding up..;. "the leaders we've been waiting for are us."

    And we're done. Stay tuned.

    Larew giving John a book for Elizabeth. I get a laugh from the AP’s Mike Glover (Mike remembers my journalist days, I was a public radio reporter about 15 years ago, and I said “I’ve given up objective journalism for blogging.”). My neighbor says “he's got balls”. Post-speech schmoozing with and all around me.

    Edwards appears to be in the middle of the media and glad-handing scrum. Now it's Bittersweet Symphony which is also on the list of six politically screened songs.

    12:45 and the scrum is thinning... can I get Edwards to post?

    I cashed in some chips and we'll try... stay tuned.

    Down to about 50 folks now.

  • Pictures
  • Local press
  • February League Forum

    February League Forum

    Good morning! 9:34 and live at City Hall for the February LWV forum. Cosponsors ARC and ICLU.

    Present: Mascher, Lensing, Jacoby, Foege, Bolkcom, Dvorsky. Once again, all Dems, no Republicans. And they just disclaimed that.

    We start with Mascher. I'll clean up typos later...

    Mascher: Next week is funnel week. Working on budget bills. Baselines won't be final appropriations. Education budget totally inadequate; closed door discussions will produce real number. House passed 4% allowable growth. Will ripple through all education aspects.

    Death penalty, touch play... I'd like feedback. Eminent domain passed house, on to Senate.

    9:38 - Lensing. Very trying week... State govt. working on touch play, 60 speakers testified to House. State government bill is a "shell" waiting for what to include. Legislators all over the place on touch play, from do nothing to total ban. Public concerns: access by minors, monitoring. Small businesses relying for revenue, see it as "economic development." Legalities of contracts, gambling addiction. Not an easy issue. Thursday will be a long day.

    Judiciary - death penalty on fast track. Party line vote in committee. Won't come to House for debate - we've been assured (and we hope). Only political reasons behind it.

    Oversight - sentencing reform. Heard from judges, DOC, sheriffs, victims, etc. What we heard: system so complicated. Too many laws due to "tough on crime" attitude. We need to get SMART on crime. Last reviewed ion `78.

    9:43 - Jacoby. Go West High wrestlers. Hygienic lab - working on new lab. It's only a pork project if you want bird flu and anthrax in your back yard. Road use tax formula - change so more taxes come back to areas where taxpayers are. (more $ to urban?)

    HF 670 may affect public cable access, very important.

    (Aside: I see three county supervisors here-Stutsman, Neuzil, Lehman.)

    Wants $20 million for bioscience alliance. An investment to advance biotech. We need lab space.

    Touch play: let us know.

    9:48 - Dvorsky. Appropriations - looking at Hygienic lab. Don't thing federal will provide the funds we're seeking, will need more from state. University president search - several meetings with regents and passing along faculty concerns and wish for involvement.

    Education - Vilsack involved in K-12, trying to put together comprehensive plan. Allowable growth no passed yet. Vilsack won't sign before comp. plan. Want package - resources and reforms.

    Death penalty - Lensing and Foege doing good job on house side opposing. Senate will not bring out bill. And Vilsack would veto. Will just be used in election. Media Poll (see my post yesterday.) 1995 vote - I opposed.

    9:53 - Bolkcom. We are working with Linn Co. legislators on corridor issues. Dvorsky set up meeting with government. on hygienic lab, UI funding, president search.

    Commerce: predatory lending passed committee. Car title loan cap at 21%. Not much support from Rants in house. MH/DD meeting with statewide leaders, Foege attended too. Waiting list, cancelled services due to funding cap. Crisis, seeking solutions.

    Seeking home visit for all IA newborns. Renewable energy incentives -wind, biomass. Water quality bill. Cities don't like proposed rules...

    9:57 - Foege. Makes pun on being at the end of the "ro". Human services appropriations, ranking member. Medicaid biggest chunk of that. We need to protect and fund HAWK-I program and help more kids. More resources for child care - workers among lowest paid in state. PALS = Preparing For Adult Living. For kids aging out of foster care. About 550 a year, most do not complete high school before 18. We need to help them get started.

    Mental health and disability funding: need about $10 million to beef up services. Tobacco tax could do that.

    10:02 First question. Caroline Dieterle of ICLU. (I gave her mine to work into hers.) Would you introduce leg. to reclassify simple pot possession to simple misdemeanor? Praise for Pulkrabek. Needed in face of Mark Zieman's proposal to actually increase penalties.

    Bolkcom: Jails overcrowded with drug offenses. It's a public health issue more than an incarceration issue. More $ for treatment. I think proposal deserves consideration. We've gotten stricter in recent years. Special problem in college communities - what happens to ability to get into law/med schools. Deserves consideration. Sheriff has gotten heat, but will enforce law. Former IC police chief came to me in private with this three years ago. No support in Des Moines.

    Dieterle: so, will you introduce it?

    Foege: I've discussed with House judiciary chair, he said absolutely no.

    Lensing: Pulkrabek comments taken out of context: overcrowding. Present laws are so stringent and not enough $ for treatment. Problem is, former law enforcement people on committee still think it needs to be stricter. We need different people there. More hope in senate. No hope in House.

    Mascher. I will consider offering but deadlines passed for this year. I have a proposal in to eliminate mandatory minimums. We take away judicial discretion, creates more overcrowding. I introduced med marijuana and industrial hemp leg. in past.

    Dvorsky: No good to introduce now, but I applaud sheriff. Right now big issue is stopping death penalty. (But didn't they already say it's dead?) Sentencing commission should have been made permanent. But just throwing a bill out just inflames GOP.

    10:11 Question from ARC. Voc rehab funding cuts.

    Jacoby: The money won't come back from Feds. Worker retraining $also cut. Federal budget cuts will hit hard this fall but we won't know full impact till after election. PAY ATTENTION (repeats mantra from last month). He's getting passionate here - this is really his area of expertise. We need to invest in all our people with potential. $6-7 return on each dollar invested just in short term. Do we want to develop our work force in Iowa or not?

    Foege: Constant threat of federal Medicaid cuts. Lost $60 million in indigent care last year. Another $5 mill lost last year. Pedaling as fast as we can - hurts most vulnerable people. Literally life and death decisions. Irony of death penalty debate - since we spend so much effort protecting the vulnerable, then we go talk about death penalty rather than positively supporting life (profound and deep guy, he is)

    Dvorsky: No one at this table cut anything. We increased human services last year - because Senate shared Dem control.

    Bolkcom: We met this week with GOP to try to get a proposal. We are having trouble w/ county funding cap. Will we allow counties to raise more property tax (no support now) or state funding (not there). So we'll try a short-term fix. Long term = need new leadership.

    10:18 - League question. Election bill- wants paper trail ballots. How is it in House?

    Lensing: don't know if there's a bill now. We passed a bad bill - mandatory photo ID to vote. Will probably come out in House but die in Senate.

    Dvorsky: Would help if Culver would support paper trail.

    LWV - He has.

    Dvorsky - Had not heard that; Sec of State office should lobby for paper trail.

    10:21 - Jim Clayton, anti-alcohol person. Keg registration. Question gets long and LWV cuts off.

    Mascher: HyVee favoring, gives it more traction this year. Distributors and other retailers consider it an unfunded mandate and oppose it. Concern about tracking being changed, people removing registration from keg.

    Clayton: Kegs already carry serial number.

    Bolkcom: It's a struggle, organized interests opposing. Don't know if we'll get a bill.

    Clayton: Opines some more.

    10:25 - County supervisor Mike Lehman. MH/DD funding. SF69 capped funding - our present budget is $10 million. Eligibility will tighten and we'll lose people from system. Please educate other legislators.

    This will probably be my last question so I can cut out and get to Edwards.

    Bolkcom: SF69 has worked pretty well: state requires managed care plan and provides 50% of funding. But 10 years later we haven't given enough new resources. Either state picks up more (unlikely) or give counties more flexibility. Linn looking at cuts NOW, Johnson probably next year. This won't go away.

    Foege: Dvorsky pulled together mental health meeting. Bigger problem for larger counties as they provide more sophisticated services (esp. Johnson and Linn) We hurt first, the rest will. Need to tweak formula and get some $$$.

    Mascher: Many people signing no new taxes pledges, no matter what. Stanley's doing. We need people who say we won't support if you sign that pledge. It's irresponsible. Ask those questions. Some area legislators signing that.

    Jacoby: Thanks for coming, it gets word out. I'm frustrated: we don't give local govt. the tools. Many people in leg. don't have local govt. experience and don't understand. There's no fat in local budgets, despite what some legislators claim. (He's ex city council).

    Dvorsky: Now we're seeing effects of past cuts. Senate Dems trying to address. Fixing formula is an incremental step.

    Off I go. As I left, the League moderator was asking the questioner to finish her lengthy anti-touch play statement and ask a question.

    Friday, February 24, 2006

    Radio Iowa: Death penalty bill appears doomed in Senate

    Radio Iowa: Death penalty bill appears doomed in Senate

    Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa counts 29 NO votes and - great work! - lists every senator's position. Check her story for the full list; I'm only cribbing the Johnson County delegation.

  • Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, no. (my senator)
  • Senator Robert Dvorsky, a Democrat from Coralville, no.
  • Senator James Hahn, a Republican from Muscatine, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
  • Senator David Miller, a Republican from Fairfield, yes (co-sponsor of bill).

    A big thanks and way-to-go for Joe and Bob.
  • Mercury and Comet Pojmanski

    Mercury and Comet Pojmanski

    Warning: space geek alert.

    MERCURY AT ITS BEST: Tonight is the best night of the year to see Mercury. Step outside at sunset and look west. Mercury is the bright pink "star" shining through the glow of the setting sun. (If you miss the planet tonight, try again tomorrow. Mercury will remain visible at sunset all weekend long.)

    NEW COMET: A new comet is emerging in the morning sky. Comet Pojmanski has been brightening since its discovery in January and can now be found just east of Venus before sunrise. The best way to see the comet is through binoculars or a small telescope: It looks like a fuzzy 5th-magnitude star with a small tail.

    Edwards tops a busy weekend agenda

    Edwards tops a busy weekend agenda

    Edwards will speak at Vito's Restaurant, on the pedestrian mall. The event begins at 11 a.m. In addition to Edwards, 2nd District congressional candidate David Loebsack will speak.

    The JCDems are asking $25, but if you can't do that show up anyway and do what you can. That's how we handle things in Johnson County. Planning full court press live blogger coverage.

    Also going on this weekend:

  • The monthly League of Women Voters forum, which overlaps with Edwards so I'll miss part of it. I'm prepping a question and hoping for a chance to rock the mic with it.
  • The Feingold meetup, Sunday 3 PM at Terrapin Coffee in Coralville. May be late for that one.
  • Some JCDems credentials stuff.

    The open thread didn't draw the reactions I wanted (England, this means YOU) but by request, a cure for what this blog needs:

    Scary fact: I used to look exactly like the guitarist in this pic, back before I grew my backwards mohawk.
  • Many bills, but not much hope for wage - Metro

    Many bills, but not much hope for wage

    Here's some of what the legislature's NOT getting done:

    "It has been a very long time since Iowa raised the minimum wage," said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, who is co-sponsoring numerous bills. "Iowa has a lot of people struggling from paycheck to paycheck, and putting money in their pockets is a way to help this."

    Iowa's minimum wage is pegged to the national figure, at $5.15, last raised in September 1997.

    That's more than eight years, matching the long long Reagan era when the minimum wasn't raised. This is always an issue where there's a real, significant difference between the parties.

    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    From the Inbox: Kubby and Fallon

    From the Inbox: Kubby and Fallon

    Karen Kubby, one of the leading lights of the Iowa City progressive community, sent this out to her friends and supporters yesterday. Republished in full and with Karen's okee-dokee:


    Below are two opportunities to support Ed Fallon's bid for Governor. He is the most progressive candidate in the field. If those who support his politics could support his campaign, he would have a fighting chance. Please offer him a chance to win.--Karen

    I. Health Care Tour - Iowa City
    Friday, February 24, 2006 - 1:30 PM
    University of Iowa
    Iowa Memorial Union

    Ed will outline his "Triple AAA" plan for Health Care for Iowans

    II. The Get 10 to Win Program

    Ed Fallon is a Democrat who supports truly democratic ideals: universal healthcare, voter-owned elections, and fully-funded education, to name a few. He's been a state legislator in Des Moines for 14 years, and now he's ready to be governor. He got elected with the support of the peace, land use, and sustainable agriculture communities, and he's gained popularity with progressives of all stripes, including those prioritize civil rights. He's running a
    grassroots, clean-money campaign: nothing from PACs, paid lobbyists, or big donors. And now he's asking for our help. Rather than bombarding Iowans with ads, he plans to build a grassroots network of supporters.

    If you support Ed, and if you know other people who support him, you can help the campaign. They're calling this effort "Get Ten to Win," and it simply consists of telling the campaign who plans to vote for them. This will be the foundation of their voter-turnout drive (plus they won't have to try to persuade you if they know you're already on board).

    So, if you think you have even an hour to spare, email volunteerATfallonforgovernor.org, and say "I can Get Ten!" If you can do more, you should. They can always use help with mailings, calls, and other miscellaneous tasks on the campaign trail. Again, just email volunteerATfallonforgovernor.org. Their office phone number is 515 244 3113, and the new-and-improved campaign website is www.fallonforgovernor.org.

    Karen served three terms on the city council (1989-99) and has been director of the Emma Goldman clinic since `99. One of the best grassroots political leaders I've ever had the fun of helping. This may have some positive ripple effect for Ed here in the People's Republic.

    Open thread: reader feedback and unsolved mysteries

    Open thread: reader feedback and unsolved mysteries

    Self-obsessed, I know, but yesterday was the top-traffic day in my blogging history. Things have really taken off in the past few months and I appreciate the interest. A nice little progresive Iowa blogosphere is developing and I'm glad to play a part in that.

    Now I'm looking for feedback, especially from the regulars. What do you like? Not like? What are you not seeing that you'd like to see? It seems like the most interesting subjects at the moment are the county attorney candidates and, well, me.

    Everybody, feel free to chime in. But I'm especially interested in two opinions:

  • The long time reader in the UK
  • The afternoon reader at the Tucson Public Library

    Rousing chorus of the Who with owls on backing vocals: Whoooo are you, who who, who hoot.

    (Note to younger readers: it was a real song about the time you were born, before it was a TV theme. It was not on the album The Who Sell Out, though it is a good example thereof.)
  • National Journal: Top 25 US House Races

    National Journal: Top 25 US House Races

    Tucson is in the top 10 (Jim Kolbe's open seat), and Iowa has two in the top 25. They rank the open Nussle seat number two, and Boswell vs. Lamberti is in the mix.

    Sandwiched between the two in a bad GOP year, count Dave Loebsack as a sleeper. Remember, folks: a vote for Leach is a vote for GOP control. Looks to be no CANDIDATE against Latham, and the only way to get rid of the embarrassment that is Steve King would be a primary.

    However, it seems the GOP is incapable of embarrassment, judging from the immigrant-bashing rhetoric in the 1st CD primary...

    South Dakota passes abortion ban

    South Dakota passes abortion ban

    Here comes the holy war:

    South Dakota became the first U.S. state to pass a law banning abortion in virtually all cases, with the intention of forcing the Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 decision legalizing the procedure.

    State legislatures in Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky also have introduced similar measures this year...

    The law awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Michael Rounds and people on both sides of the issue say he is unlikely to veto it.

    But would Mike Blouin veto it?

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    GOP misquoting Pulkrabek

    GOP misquoting Pulkrabek

    The stats tell me there's a lot of interest in the sheriff, the drug war, and the county attorney's race.

    Anyway, the Republicans get it wrong. As usual:

    Johnson County Republicans have lashed out at Pulkrabek, arguing that his advocacy of changing the penalty for having small amounts of marijuana from a serious to simple misdemeanor is reckless.

    "It's a very irresponsible position to take," said Johnson County Republicans head Todd Versteegh of Oxford. "If he wants to be sheriff, he needs to enforce the laws on the books."

    No, no, no, no, no. What the sheriff is talking about is changing the law, not ignoring the law.

    And speaking of the law, here's the lawyers:

    Aspects of the proposal have gained the support of Democratic Johnson County attorney candidate Nick Maybanks.

    "I agree with the sheriff; there are times we can use a citation in lieu of jail time for small amounts of marijuana," he said. "We're dealing with critical jail overcrowding. We're getting to a point where we have to make tough choices."

    Maybanks' opponent, Assistant Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness, did not immediately return phone calls for comment Tuesday.

    I haven't heard back from her yet, either; Nick's prior comments are here and I'll be happy to share Janet's too.

    Register writes idiotic headline

    Register writes idiotic headline

    The Idiot Amendment became a debate issue the other day. Huh?

    Seems a good hearted legislator attuned to mental health issues decided it was time to clean up some archaic language in the Iowa Constitution to remove the terms "idiot" and "insane." Good thing.

    `Twas supposed to be on the ballot this fall. But someone at Chet Culver's office goofed up the official publication and that's caused a two year delay. It seems to be old news, Culver `fessed up long ago.

    Blouin tried to make hay out of it in a debate. But HERE'S where the Register missed the boat - by burying this exchange deep in the story:

    A short time later, Culver asked Blouin whether Iowa pharmacists should be required to dispense the so-called "morning-after pill." Blouin said the issue was a federal matter, which prompted Culver to ask

  • "So do you favor dispensing the morning-after pill to women in Iowa, yes or no?"

  • Blouin replied, "I'll tell you, you tell me why you screwed up on the constitutional amendment."

  • Language is important - but it's symbolic. Choice is REAL.

    Tangent. Back in `92 a similar amendment was on the ballot: the Iowa Constitution prohibited anyone who'd participated in a duel from holding office. The late Clay Spear of Des Moines County made it his mission to remove this ancient language. The upshot was it really slowed us down chasing absentee ballots in what was then a record turnout year; people didn't understand what the fuss was about and were stymied.

    And it was even worse for auditor's offices, who had to try to explain the amendment in neutral, non-leading language.

    "Dueling?!? You mean like with guns!??"
    "Uh, huh..."

    So the election workers of Iowa won't face feeble-minded humor this year.

    SurveyUSA - 100 US Senator Approval Ratings 02/06 Sort By Net Approval

    SurveyUSA - 100 US Senator Approval Ratings

    McCain and Obama tied for first. Good news: three of the five senators with net negatives are Republican incumbents up for re-election this year (DeWine, Santorum, Burns).

    Harkin is in the 70s but still nets +12%; he's always been a love him or hate him guy. Grassley is +38%; I simply don't get the guy's appeal.

    The wannabees:

  • McCain +48
  • Biden +26
  • Clinton +23
  • Feingold +16
  • Frist +15
  • Kerry + 14
  • Yepsen on Blouin, AFSCME

    Yepsen on Blouin, AFSCME

    The overrated one opines on yesterday's big endorsement. But he gets it wrong near the end:

    The next big development in the campaign may also be Blouin's to make. It comes when he chooses a running mate. He's expected to do that before the June primary, and when he does, he'll enjoy a nice boost of publicity, just as his rivals have. He's also expected to name a pro-choice woman, a move that may finally get the abortion issue behind him.

    No. For all the buzz about Judge and Vander Plaats, the reality is that running mates don't make a damn bit of difference. (Two words: Dan Quayle.)

    What would get the choice issue behind Blouin would be a statement along these lines:

    "While I personally oppose abortion, I will not impose my personal beliefs on the women of Iowa. I will veto any legislation which restricts choice, and I will support and sign any legislation that enhances choice."

    In other words he needs to become fully pro-choice politically, and if he personally does not like abortion he should not get one. Blouin is trying to have it both ways; if he's going to play games with a core Democratic issue like choice in order to win over some "moderate" votes that aren't really there, he needs to pay a price with progressives.

    Right now I'd rank Blouin fourth in my choices for governor, behind Fallon and Culver (not necessarily in that order!) and Welty.

    Three candidates - 2 incumbents -- join Board of Supervisors race

    Three candidates - 2 incumbents - join Board of Supervisors race

    I had this three weeks ago. Incumbents Stutsman and Lehman; challengers Meyers and Schneider.

    Meanwhile the Newport Road platform is summed up: 'Leave the darn road the way it is.'

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    As Promised, Loebsack Pix

    As Promised, Loebsack Pix

    The Loebsackers have photos from Saturday's open house up. None turned out to be too incriminating, and these link to really big ones:

    Dave speaking to supporters (that would be us)

    Terri Loebsack has the really tough job: partner of the candidate!

    Middle aged white guys for Loebsack: Tom Carsner, The Blogger Himself, Supervisor candidate Larry Meyers, and Paul Deaton. Yep, I'm 42 years old and I wear Nirvana t-shirts to political events. That actually sums me up pretty well.

    More here.

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Geeksta rappers rhyme tech talk

    Geeksta rappers rhyme tech talk


    "I'm the root node kid and you're just a leaf,
    so show me respect before i remove you in log n time,
    cause you know my trees are balanced all the time,
    man, ill eliminate you like dead code,
    I don't discriminate; I'll delete your node"

    "The most interesting thing that happened to me was that a TV producer from L.A. contacted me and said she had been commissioned by a German variety show to do a short feature on nerd rap. So she asked if she could come to Stanford and film me and my geek posse in our natural habitat. I said yes, but then I realized I didn't have a geek posse.

    So I called up a few of my friends and we dressed up in these ridiculous nerd rapper outfits, with Linux T-shirts and soldering irons in our belts and Blackberries on chains around our necks, and did goofy [stuff] like cruise around campus on our bikes and smash up old electronic equipment..."

    Third Party update: Libertarians have a candidate

    Third Party update: Libertarians have a candidate

    The IA Libertarian web site has nomination petitions up for Christy Welty for governor. She used to live here in the People's Republic then moved to Fairfield and got elected to the city council; she's run for something each of the last three partisan cycles. (legislature `00, state auditor `02, US Senate `04)

    I've heard the Greens don't have anyone for governor and are focusing on the party status lawsuit instead. So if Blouin wins the primary, Welty could be the only pro-choice candidate on the ballot...

    (I first posted this in comments at Patriot Skullface.)

    Vander Plaats bows out

    Vander Plaats bows out

    Most of the Iowa blogosphere beat me to this but my local readers may be interested:

    Bob Vander Plaats will end his bid for the Republican nomination for governor Wednesday and become U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle's running mate, party leaders said Monday.

    The Nussle campaign told high-ranking party members Monday of the decision by the campaigns to join forces, ending what some believed could have become a bitter primary battle between the eight-term congressman from Manchester and the Vander Plaats, a Sioux City businessman...

    To repeat my previously stated points:

  • This increases the pressure on Blouin and Fallon to name running mates
  • Outside the 1st CD, the top GOP race is Ag Secretary, which will be less of a draw than Democratic governor. This reduces the chances that Blouin will do the right thing and say VETO in public pre-primary - gotta get that crossover vote...
  • Locally it means Republicans will be drawn to the Democratic courthouse contests...
  • In N.C., GOP Requests Church Directories

    In N.C., GOP Requests Church Directories

    Faith based political initiative:

    The North Carolina Republican Party asked its members this week to send their church directories to the party, drawing furious protests from local and national religious leaders.

    "Such a request is completely beyond the pale of what is acceptable," said the Rev. Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    During the 2004 presidential race, the Bush-Cheney campaign sent a similar request to Republican activists across the country. It asked churchgoers not only to furnish church directories to the campaign, but also to use their churches as a base for political organizing...

    Creepy? Or crafty?

    Arrivederci, Al Neri

    Arrivederci, Al Neri

    Richard Bright, a character actor who appeared in all three "Godfather" movies and more recently on "The Sopranos," was struck and killed by a bus Saturday, New York police said.

    Bright played mob enforcer Al Neri in the "Godfather" movies, a bodyguard to the Corleone family patriarchs played by Marlon Brando and Al Pacino...

    One of seven actors to appear in all three films. Can you name `em? (Three are easy, three are obscure)

    Dems eye toppling Leach

    Dems eye toppling Leach

    DI at the Loebsack open house:

    And while ousting Leach has proved an insurmountable task for past hopefuls, Loebsack and company say the absence of a major national campaign and a growing distaste for what they characterized as quiet ambivalence will leave Leach looking from the outside in this fall.

    "There's no doubt in my mind whether I can do this," said Loebsack, a Cornell College professor of political science who says he's got the expertise and the wherewithal to avoid an elongated learning curve on Capitol Hill.

    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    Loebsack open house

    Loebsack open house

    Looked like close to 100 folks passed through Dave Loebsack's HQ during today's open house. Saw an old Muscatine friend who I see far too infrequently, who helped me immensely on my long-ago campaign. Also both county attorney candidates, Supervisors Sally Stutsman and Rod Sullivan, and Supervisor candidate Larry Meyers.

    The Loebsack campaign is threatening to post photos...

    Friday, February 17, 2006

    Jojo left his home

    Jojo left his home

    in Tucson, Arizona For some california grass...

    Beatles kick for the three day weekend? Maybe. Been a while.

    Iowa for Feingold: IC Meetup Feb. 26

    Iowa for Feingold: IC Meetup Feb. 26

    Hat tip to Patriot Skull Face:

    The Russ For President meetup will be held in Iowa City on Feb. 26th at 3:00.

    Venue TBA. I may or may not make it - some time overlap with Johnson County convention prep, but I'll try to work fast on that...

    Blogrolled this one. Not an endorsement - just very interested.

    The Electric Company—the glory days of kids' TV

    The Electric Company—the glory days of kids' TV

    Now THIS DVD release is dating me. Even worse: I remember it well but I was TOO OLD for it; my kid brothers were the Electric Company fans. I saw it a lot because back in the era of the Bicentennial Minute we only had four channels of TV - six on a really good day if you rotated the antenna to point to either Rochester or Mason City.

    Still, Spidey's always cool. On the Christmas list for the nieces and nephews?

    Caucus Date 2008: NH Getting Aggro

    Caucus Date 2008: NH Getting Aggro

    Manchester Union-Leader:

    In a move to protect New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation Presidential primary, the House yesterday passed a bill that lets the Secretary of State change filing deadlines any time he thinks it necessary.

    Just like Dick Cheney can declassify top secret information.

    In the second of a two-day session, the House passed the bill on a nearly unanimous voice vote.

    Rep. James Splaine, D-Portsmouth, who sponsored HB 1125, said the bill “will make it very clear to the national parties, but more importantly to other states that we are ready to do what we need to do.”

    He said the secretary of state already has the power to set a primary election date.

    “This kind of completes the package and closes the door,” Splaine said. “This will make sure all political parties in all the 49 other states get the message that we are living up to our first-in-the-nation tradition in 2008, 2012 and beyond.”

    When we passed a resolution at our caucus opposing having the caucus on a legal holiday, we meant MLK Day, not Christmas...

    SurveyUSA: 50 State Governor Approval Ratings

    SurveyUSA: 50 State Governor Approval Ratings

    And Connectut Republican Jodi "Not A Crook" Rell is still number one on the countdown. Ohio's Bob "Is A Crook" Taft's faded genes remain dead last with an amazing 82% negative.

    Vilsack is dead middle of the pack at #25. favored 52%-40%. Other highlights and lowlights:

  • AHnold is at 65% negative and set to begin filing Terminator 4 in January 2007.
  • As for recent guests in Iowa, the home town folks still like Mike "The Biggest Loser" Huckabee. Pataki? Not so much.
  • Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Steve Martin: Cheney Shoots Three Presidents in Oval Office Mishap | The Huffington Post

    Steve Martin: Cheney Shoots Three Presidents in Oval Office Mishap

    Constitutional quandry from the wild and crazy guy:

    Vice President Dick Cheney, while hunting wild geese in the Rose Garden, accidentally shot President Bush twice, once in the heart and once in the head. "I didn't really shoot the President twice," said Cheney. "The second time I shot him, I was president. It wasn't until my third shot, where I accidentally shot my own foot, that I had shot the president twice.

    I was officially injured and unable to govern, when Dennis Hastert came in, and stepped on the butt handle of the rifle causing it to swing up like a rake and shoot his hair off. I guess I'm officially responsible for that too, meaning I shot the acting president for a total of three occupants of the oval office. I'm not proud, but it is a record."

    Hey, it could happen...

    Gingrich, Hannity headline April GOP dinner

    Gingrich, Hannity headline April GOP dinner

    Newt's comin' to Iowa...



    Coooooooool. Would have been a great title for an AC/DC song, too.

    Israel's circuitous wall puts chokehold on Palestinians

    Israel's circuitous wall puts chokehold on Palestinians

    The Seattle Times dares:

    Americans have seen photos of Israel's wall in the West Bank. It looks much like the old Berlin Wall, which was built to keep people in. Israel's wall is supposed to keep terrorists out. It is labeled a defensive wall.

    Americans will recognize its shape: It is gerrymandering, the redrawing of boundaries for political gain. Israel drew this new line and, as you might expect, every square inch of the gain is Israel's. The wall does not loop into Israeli territory to favor Palestinian towns. Here it loops into Palestinian territory to favor two Israeli settlements, Zufin and Alfe Menashe. These land claims act as pincers, squeezing Qalqilya into a congested enclave...

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    More thoughts on Culver-Judge

    More thoughts on Culver-Judge

    The height differential in this photo illustrates one more barrier female candidates face:

    From our worship of athletes to our habit of electing the taller presidential candidate, we tend to think of "leaders" as big, physically imposing people. Witness the endless negotiations on podium height, standing vs. sitting, and who walks over to who in presidential debates.

    But leaders come in all sizes: I remember with a bittersweet tear in my eye a photo of Bill Bradley and Paul Wellstone campaigning together. Wellstone stood above Bradley on the plane steps, and Bradley crouched down as low as he could so petite Paul was towering over him. Both had broad grins on their faces as they poked fun at themselves in their impromptu role reversal.

    Both of them would have been damn good presidents. And Patty Judge, despite some shortcomings, might have been a damn good governor but we won't find out this year.

    As for this year: Is this going to put pressure on Fallon and, especially, Blouin, to name pre-primary running mates? Especially if the Nussle-Vander Plaats deal happens? Does Blouin name an unimpeachable lefty to cover that flank while he courts the anti-choice vote? Does anyone cast a general election vote based on who the running mate is?

    I.C. will consider school sales tax

    I.C. will consider school sales tax

    PC misses the story, Gazette runs with it. Interesting note: "A local-option sales tax for schools is collected in every Iowa county except Linn and Johnson."

    Regressive taxation was crushed in 1999, with the Democratic Party and labor playing key roles. And I wouldn't be surprised if things break out along those lines again:

    Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan, speaking on his own behalf, opposed consideration of a sales tax, saying it would have a disproportionately negative effect on the county’s poorest residents.

    First step is to persuade four school board members to vote no.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Clear Creek Amana Results: YES

    Clear Creek Amana Results: YES

    Register: Culver-Judge


    Breaking: "Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver is expected to announce Wednesday that he will make one-time rival Patty Judge his running mate, should he be nominated in June, leading Iowa Democrats said today.

    Judge, Iowa's secretary of agriculture, is expected to withdraw from the Iowa governor's race Wednesday and endorse Culver at a morning event at the Iowa Capitol..."

    Sigh. Fallon is looking better all the time. This pretty much precludes the possibility of a brokered convention, though...

    It seems a prominent if non-prolific Iowa blogger got handed the scoop but I won't give him the link love due to his poor choice in guest bloggers. Still, the Gazette gave him credit.

    Fallon in IC this weekend

    Fallon in IC this weekend

    From Tim Weitzel:

    Johnson County Democrats will have a great opportunity this week to hear Ed introduce his plan for universal Triple-A health care in Iowa: accessible, affordable, and adequate for all.

    Ed is barnstorming Eastern Iowa with eight events in two days. At each, he will speak about the problems with Iowa's health care system, and why we can't wait any longer to fix it.

    So please come see Ed.

    Friday, February 17th
    1:30 p.m. Memorial Union at Univ of Iowa

    There will also be a pancake breakfast on Saturday Morning, Feb. 18th, at 10:30 at 200 S. Summit St. Call 325-6765 to RSVP and find out more.

    Vilsack supports civil union law

    Vilsack supports civil union law

    Happy Valentine's Day - not bad, not great:

    "A civil union set of rights would honor that. It doesn't have to be marriage and I don't think it should be marriage," he told reporters today. "I think marriage is already defined and I don't think we need to change it and I don't think we need a constitutional amendment to change it."

    Half a loaf. Actually, none of a loaf:

    Vilsack said he would sign legislation that would establish civil unions in Iowa, but added "I don't think it's likely to happen" in the current General Assembly.

    Letters from Deeth, Maybanks

    Letters from Deeth, Maybanks

    My letter to the editor in praise of Lonny Pulkrabek ran today:

    Honest talk on taboo topics

    Thank you, Lonny Pulkrabek, for having the guts to stand up to the drug war mentality by calling for more sensible penalties and policies for small-amount simple drug possession and public intoxication ("White responds to marijuana ideas," Feb. 10).

    It's regrettable that lame duck county attorney J. Patrick White is hostile to reform. The candidates to succeed him, Janet Lyness and Nick Maybanks, should be asked about this issue at every candidate forum. So should our legislators and legislative candidates -- and they should not be let off easy with non-answers about how this won't reach the floor.

    Sheriff Pulkrabek has taken a step forward in promoting sensible discussion of this taboo topic, and Iowans should take advantage of the opportunity.

    John Deeth
    Iowa City

    Before publication, I cc'd it to the two county attorney candidates. Got this open reply from Nick Maybanks:

    Justice System Needs Fresh Ideas

    As a Prosecutor, I know the County Attorney can and should do more to ease jail overflow and spearhead a new method of processing criminal cases through our system.

    Sheriff Pulkrabek bravely approached the Iowa Legislature and told them that we need to change the way we process low-level alcohol and drug offenses. Despite criticisms to the contrary, the Sheriff is not proposing that we ignore laws against excessive drinking or use of illegal drugs. The Sheriff has the best interests of the community in mind, as do I. I contend it is time we take a serious look at the way in which low-level alcohol and drug offenses are overwhelming our system, burdening our overcrowded jail and taking the focus away from more serious, violent offenders.

    Since I announced my campaign, I have consistently advocated for fresh ideas. Like Sheriff Pulkrabek, I believe that Johnson County ultimately needs a new correctional facility. This facility could include a detoxification/treatment center along with additional space for violent offenders. In the meantime, police should be encouraged to cite and release marijuana offenders on a promise to appear in court and we should investigate alternate placement for non-violent intoxicated persons.

    I also believe we should supplement jail diversion programs already implemented by the Sheriff with court-diversion programs that permit low-level offenders to avoid incarceration and a criminal record by remaining arrest-free during a period of probation, seek treatment and perform community service. The community is safer from these offenders when we give them a stake in their own success, rather than the current "assembly-line" justice that incarcerates, fines, convicts and forgets about them until they offend again.

    Our current system is failing. Not only would these programs cost less than incarceration, they would more effectively encourage responsibility and compliance with the laws.

    Nick Maybanks
    Democratic Candidate for Johnson County Attorney

    If/when I hear from Janet Lyness, I'll pass that along too.

    Love Stinks

    You love her
    But she loves him
    And he loves somebody else
    Ya just can't win
    And so it goes
    Till the day you die
    This thing they call love
    It's gonna make you cry
    I've had the blues
    The reds and the pinks
    One thing's for sure

    Love stinks
    Love stinks yeah yeah
    Love stinks
    Love stinks yeah yeah
    Love stinks
    Love stinks yeah yeah
    Love stinks
    Love stinks yeah yeah

    Two by two and side by side
    Love's gonna find you yes it is
    Ya just can't hide
    You'll hear it call
    Your heart will fall
    Then love will fly
    It's gone that's all
    I don't care what any Casanova thinks
    All I can say is
    Love stinks

    Love stinks
    Love stinks yeah yeah
    Love stinks
    Love stinks yeah yeah
    Love stinks
    Love stinks yeah yeah
    Love stinks
    Love stinks yeah yeah

    I've been through diamonds
    I've been through minks
    I've been through it all
    Love stinks

    Ten ways Dick Cheney can kill you

    Ten ways Dick Cheney can kill you

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    S.D. House approves sweeping abortion ban

    S.D. House approves sweeping abortion ban

    Why Alito Matters - The Hate To Say We Told You So Department:

    The South Dakota House overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday that would ban nearly all abortions in the state, ushering the issue to the Senate.

    Supporters are pushing the measure as a means of drawing the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping to set up a legal challenge that ultimately will result in reversal of the high court's 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

    Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, said the recent appointment of two new members on the Supreme Court and the prospect of one or two more replacements within a few years as older members retire makes it a good time to mount a challenge to the earlier Roe v. Wade decision.

    "It is important, I believe, at this time in our history to protect the life of the unborn," he said.

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    Low Key Weekend: Random Update

    Low Key Weekend: Random Update

    Haven't had much urge to write this weekend. Got struck with the urge to CLEAN today instead, and I took advantage of that rare mood.

    Evan Bayh was in town meeting with "key local Democratic leaders" of which I am apparantly Not One (I think it was Honorable Elected types, not crazy blogger types.) Also missed out on Dusky Terry this afternoon. Long story but I've been car-less a couple weeks. My car is fine but we dads make sacrifices.

    Here's an geek update on the junk computer project. I am now surrounded by three machines:

  • The Firebolt a/k/a the laptop
  • A Pentium 3/450 that's one of the ones I picked up at $25 for 5 machines. This is the new Linux Clock - I don't do much with it other than let the screensaver run as a clock. It's also running Seti@Home but not as fast as it should so I'm troubleshooting. Rather, I'm learning HOW to troubleshoot a Linux box.
  • A P3/800 that I found on the street last week. It was without a hard drive but otherwise intact. It is now also a Linux box - I browse on it a bit and it turns around SETI@Home units about two per day (the Firebolt does about twice that).
  • There's also another P3/450 that my neighbor is running XP on, and a P2/350 that could be servicable soon.

    And I got off the Oasis kick long enough to get on a Neil Young kick: the cleaning and computer tweaking turned into a four-album marathon. Still waiting for the great unreleased genre-hell albums: the hip hop experiment Rap Never Sleeps and the reggae detour Rasta Never Sleeps...
  • Conservatives Nominate: George Allen

    Conservatives Nominate: George Allen

    A national note: forget Rudy and Condi and McCain. It seems on the right, the one to beat is Virginia Sen. George Allen.

    Saturday, February 11, 2006

    A Touch of France on the Side

    A Touch of France on the Side

    I love bizarre geopolitical quirkiness, factoids about isolated places on the margins.

    Here's the tale of St.-Pierre and Miquelon, two small islands just off the coast of Newfoundland that for some strange reason belong to France.

    Iowa City School Board to discuss local option sales tax

    Iowa City School Board to discuss local option sales tax

    Finally some press coverage:

    The Iowa City district opted to ask voters for a $39 million bond issue in 2003 rather than a local option tax, sensing voter opposition to a sales tax. Voters approved the bond issue to pay for new schools and remodeling of others.

    Iowa City school board President Pete Wallace said he is unsure if opposition to a sales tax has waned.

    Oh, the opposition's still there...

    The press spin seems to be that the small districts - Solon and Clear Creek Amana - are the ones asking this. But because ICCSD is more than half the county population, they make the decision for everyone. Solon and Lone Tree have both passed big bonds in recent years; CCA votes Tuewsday. So support for education is there - but support for regressive taxation is not.

    The Gazette also covers this.

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    Help Save The Youth Of America

    Help Save The Youth Of America

    Help save the youth of America
    Help save them from themselves
    Help save the sun-tanned surfer boys
    And the Californian girls
    When the lights go out in the rest of the World
    What do our cousins say
    They're playing in the sun and having fun, fun, fun
    Till Daddy takes the gun away
    From the Big Church to the Big River
    And out to the Shining Sea
    This is the Land of Opportunity
    And there's a Monkey Trial on TV
    A nation with their freezers full
    Are dancing in their seats
    While outside another nation
    Is sleeping in the streets
    Don't tell me the old, old story
    Tell me the truth this time
    Is the Man in the Mask or the Indian
    An enemy or a friend of mine
    Help save the youth of America
    Help save the youth of the world
    Help save the boys in uniform
    Their mothers and their faithful girls
    Listen to the voice of the soldier
    Down in the killing zone
    Talking about the cost of living
    And the price of bringing him home
    They're already shipping the body bags
    Down by the Rio Grande
    But you can fight for democracy at home
    And not in some foreign land
    And the fate of the great United States
    Is entwined in the fate of us all
    And the incident at Tschernobyl proves
    The world we live in is very small
    And the cities of Europe have burned before
    And they may yet burn again
    And if they do I hope you understand
    That Washington will burn with them
    Omaha will burn with them
    Los Alamos will burn with them

    Billy Bragg

    Johnson County to draft human-rights law

    Johnson County to draft human-rights ordinance

    The county human rights ordinance moved forward last night, rather smoothly it seems. By all accounts the People's Republic is the first Iowa county to do this.

    Highlights from coverage:

  • A couple digs at the legislative majority:

    Iowa Civil Rights Commissioner David Leshtz, who was present at the meeting, said he and the rest of the commission have recommended that the state expand its law to include sexual orientation for the last five years.

    And although legislation has been proposed, it has never been voted on, because Republican leaders have not allowed it through either house of the Legislature, said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City.

    "We just have not gotten debate on it," he said. "The majority party has been unwilling to bring it to the floor."

  • Pat White had been opposed to the ordinance ostensibly for financial reasons, but that barrier appears to have fallen:

    Supervisors were initially concerned money would limit their ability to enforce a human-rights law, after Iowa City said it would charge $40,000 annually to contract investigation services.

    The law gained unanimous support when the County Attorney's Office offered to take up case investigations specific to the county's inclusion of sexual orientation and identification, which could not be forwarded to the state.

    "If we find out the number of complaints are higher than we thought, I'm going to come back and ask you to fund it," Assistant County Attorney Janet Lyness told the supervisors.

    She said she could have a measure ready for approval in a month.

    An interesting and shrewd work assignment on White's part. He's apparantly seen the writing on the wall, and handed this popular job to the candidate...

    More coverage in the PC and Gazette.
  • Pulkrabek and Pot: Local Reacts

    Pulkrabek and Pot: Local Reacts

    I happened to run into Lonny Pulkrabek yesterday which gave me the chance to thank him for his testimony Wednesday.

    Lame duck county attorney Pat White, however, shows his true colors:

    "I don't agree with Lonny's apparent position on marijuana," White said. "I think (changing marijuana laws) sends exactly the wrong message. We've spent years telling people not to get into the drug culture."

    White said he recommends that officers arrest and book for indictable level offenses, and that while a detoxification center is a good idea, it is not financially feasible.

    Wish the guy were running again, just so I could vote against him. But no quotes from Nick Maybanks or Janet Lyness...

    My state rep gets quoted but doesn't really say anything:

    Rep. Vicki Lensing, D-Iowa City, was part of the panel Pulkrabek spoke to. She said she was unsure what changes would occur or how quickly they would happen, but that it was important to get the viewpoint from a law enforcement official.

    "It raised a red flag that this is something we have to deal with. I understand they have some things they really struggle with, especially in Iowa City. If they don't bring it to our attention, how are they ever going to get changes?" Lensing said.

    Obviously easing the drug laws would get clobbered in this legislature - but Lonny Pulkrabek has put this very reasonable discussion on the map.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Yepsen's dumbest column yet

    Yepsen's dumbest column yet

    The Overrated One gets it absolutely backwards:

    The Iowa State Education Association has become way too partisan. It's basically a subsidiary of the Iowa Democratic Party, and that partisanship is hurting education in the state. No interest group in a state as closely divided as Iowa can expect to be effective if it works only one side of the street.

    But when one side of the street is entirely mossbacks who want to roll back the clock to 1950 and care about nothing but cutting taxes, what's the point?

    Pulkrabek: Tie penalty to pot amount

    Pulkrabek: Tie penalty to pot amount

    Johnson County's top lawman urged state lawmakers Wednesday to decrease the criminal penalties for possessing a small amount of marijuana, a move that would essentially make penalties for such an offense comparable to getting a speeding ticket.

    Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek suggested decreasing the crime from a serious misdemeanor to a simple misdemeanor and for a violation to result in a ticket.

    "It's not that I don't want to get tough on crime," he said. "I want to save the jail space for the serious offenses that are out there."

    Not the Peter Tosh statement but about as far as a mainstream Iowa politician can take it. Good Job, Lonny.

    The Daily Iowan's lead is pricesess:

    Students found stumbling home after a long night sampling the Pedestrian Mall's liquid offerings or those with an affinity for grass of the herbal variety have a new friend - and his name is Lonny Pulkrabek.

    County attorney candidates Janet Lyness and Nick Maybanks should be asked about this at candidate forums.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Loebsack: My Position On Iraq

    Loebsack: My Position On Iraq

    Nowhere has the failure of the Bush approach been more evident than in Iraq. This is a war that did not need to happen and one from which we should begin to disengage immediately. Our troops have successfully laid the groundwork for the Iraqis to construct a political system of their choosing. The costs of a continued U.S. presence will far outweigh any conceivable gains. Nor should the removal of American combat forces from Iraq be followed by any kind of permanent or semi-permanent base presence in that country or even a redeployment "on the horizon" as called for by Congressman Murtha. The continued presence of U.S. troops near Iraq would only bring more instability to the region and place U.S. troops at constant risk from enemies of America. Complete disengagement from Iraq in the next year will serve to enhance America’s security.

    Nussle-Vander Plaats: A Contest - or a Ticket?

    Nussle-Vander Plaats: A Contest - or a Ticket?

    Yepsen dropped this obvious trial balloon into the bottom of yesterday's column:

    "Think Bob Vander Plaats is ready to drop his bid for governor to become Jim Nussle's running mate? He says no, but there's talk of it in Iowa GOP circles."

    Several other bloggers beat me to it - so I'm left with the local Johnson County angle and the ripple effect on the Democratic race.

    Here in the People's Republic, the Democratic primary is the de facto election for courthouse offices. No Republican has won a county job since `84. Republicans have been known, on occasion, to cross over, and have been heard asking "how soon can I change back" immediately afterwards. I discussed this dynamic at more length in December.

    This year could be different, with a hot open seat governor's race. But for Johnson County's conservatives (few but pesky) they have to choose between that contest and the Democratic primary for the Board of Supervisors and the open county attorney's office.

    If Vander Plaats cuts a deal, that dilemma is nullified. The only remaining statewide contest is Secretary of Agriculture - not a big draw. Republicans interested in ag around here are more interested in the courthouse jobs.

    So a Nussle-Vander Plaats ticket reduces GOP turnout, increases "Democratic" turnout, and hurts liberals locally. How does it affect the state races? Because of the attention on the local jobs, Johnson County turnout is disproportionately high in primaries. However, there's a lot of undervoting in top of the ticket races.

    My gut check is it helps Blouin to the extent it helps anyone. It sure doesn't help Fallon.

    Cigarette tax supporters berate Rants

    Cigarette tax supporters berate Rants

    In which the JCDems own Sarah Swisher is pictured with, it appears, Doonesbury's Mr. Butts.

    Swisher said Rants received more than 76 percent of tobacco-related contributions to Iowa House members in 2004...

    The GOP is playing really really dumb on this one by lumping the tobacco tax in with their read my lips pledge. Smokers are less popular than anyone except sex offenders right now. People, even many smokers, don't look at cents per pack as a tax - they see it as a "stupid fee" that people "choose" to pay. That may fundamentally misunderstand the biochemical nature of addiction, but that's the political reality.

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Brothers in arms - Israel's secret pact with Pretoria

    Brothers in arms - Israel's secret pact with Pretoria

    Part two:

    "Like the Zionists who claimed that Palestine in the 1940s was 'a land without people for a people without land', so the Afrikaner settlers spread the myth that there were no black people in South Africa when they first settled in the 17th century..."

    At any rate, it's a bit of a rip-off

    At any rate, it's a bit of a rip-off

    My brother the audio professional has been making this case since the glory days of original Napster:

    Can you discern the difference between songs encoded at 128, 192 or even 320kbps and the original sound recording?

    Audiowise, we are only now reaching the point of what we already knew. While the entertainment industry has spent two decades reselling us higher fidelity versions of our music and movie collections, this is one evolution where, for the time being at least, less is definitely perceived to be more.

    The iPod era has moved music from speakers to small, bad headphones, and audio fidelity is taking a backwards step. Barry Gordy used to mix the Motown classics through a car radio speaker, because he knew the kids were listening on tinny transistor radios. So in this era, the audiophile's quality will be dumbed down to the earbud level.

    Worlds apart - Israel and South Africa - Zionism and Apartheid

    Worlds apart - Israel and South Africa - Zionism and Apartheid

    So, is Zionism the moral equivalent of apartheid? It's a question that tugs at the deepest levels of the Israeli psyche - and Britain's Guardian is taking a two-day look at it.

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Hawk 1, Squirrel 0

    Hawk 1, Squirrel 0

    Saw a hawk make a kill during my noontime bike ride along the Iowa River. A very impressive sight - but not so great for the squirrel.

    Sort of short on political commentary the past couple days. My weekend political activity revolved around the minutiae and administrivia of getting set for the convention.

    But mostly it was a human being weekend. Got the tax refund on the unbelievably early date of February 3. Did the taxes two weeks ago, on line, without touching paper, in 15 minutes. My financial life is remarkably simple: no property, no (official) dependents, no deductions since campaign donations don't count, one job and one W2. I'm actually able to do a 1040EZ, like a high school kid with a McDonalds job.

    Souped up the Linux Box (more accurately I yanked the Linux Drive from a P2 300 and put it in a slightly faster machine, a P3 450), junk crawled with darling daughter, and ate too much chili during Super Bowl Extra Large.

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    From the Inbox: Johnson County Human Rights Ordinance

    From the Inbox: Johnson County Human Rights Ordinance

    From: Jeffrey Fields:

    Dear Activists,

    The Official Agenda is not on their website yet, but the Johnson County Board of Supervisors will be discussing a county wide Human Rights Ordinance at their meeting on Thursday February 9th at 5:30 p.m. All friends of civil rights must be there. We can make a difference if we act with precision and dedication. Many different organizations have a lobbying day in Des Moines and Washington, DC, and we shall have our day. February 5th through 9th is hereby Johnson County Human Rights Ordinance Lobbying Week.

    Sunday Feb 5th is Planning Day: Let's meet 1pm at the Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A, and work out the details of Human Rights Ordinance Lobbying Week. This meeting will last 59 minutes or less. Come if you can.

    Monday Feb 6th is E-mail Day: E-mail the Johnson County Board of Supervisors
    and demand that they take action to at the very least investigate the need and feasibility of a county wide Human Rights Ordinance. Also e-mail the County Attorney, Assessor, Auditor, Recorder, and Treasurer, and any candidates for any of these ofices. These folks are in regular contact with the Supervisors and should stand up voice their support.

    Tuesday Feb 7th is City Council: The Human Rights Ordinance is not just a County issue. Every city in Johnson County will be effected. Did you know that on January 24, 2006, North Llberty City Councilor James Moody was appointed "to review the necessity of a human rights policy".
    Every City should be doing this. So, attend your City Council meeting or e-mail your Councilors and DEMAND that they take a stand in favor of a county wide Human Rights Ordinance.

    Wednesday Feb 8th is Outreach Day: Outreach to friends, family, and strangers on the street. Advise them of the Board of Supervisors meeting, ask them to attend, and ask them to sign the petition if they cannot.

    Thursday Feb 9th is Board of Supervisor Meeting Day: Go to the meeting and show your support for a county wide Human Rights Ordinance. The meeting starts at 5:30 pm. Can we squeeze 500 people into the chambers and the lobby? Can we get 5,000 people to sign a petition? If this is important to us, let's make it happen.

    Thanks for reading, and we'll see you on Sunday to plan.

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    The Cartoon Controversy: The Concept of Blasphemy in a Secular Culture

    The Cartoon Controversy: The Concept of Blasphemy in a Secular Culture

    The best concise commentary I've seen yet on the Mohammed cartoon battle comes from Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. I recommend the whole thing, here's a couple key points.

    The price of blasphemy is death. And among many in the Muslim world it is not sufficient that those rules apply in their countries. They should apply everywhere. European governments are supposed to clamp down on their presses to heal the breach.

    So liberal mores versus theocratic mores. Where's the possible compromise? There isn't any. On the face of it this gets portrayed as an issue of press freedom. But this is much more fundamental. 'Press freedom' is just one cog in the machinery of a society that doesn't believe in or accept the idea of 'blasphemy'.

    I know not all Muslims embrace these views. More to the point, it's not only Muslims who do. You see it among the haredim in Israel. And I see it with an increasing frequency here in the US. Is it just me or does it seem that more and more often there are public controversies in which 'blasphemy' is considered some sort of legitimate cause of action - as if 'blasphemy' can actually have any civic meaning in a society like ours.

    And there you have Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays, the Ten Commandments on the Courthouse Lawn, school prayer, choice and Terry Schaivo all summed up in one word: "blasphemy."

    Sometimes I reduce the choice controversy to "if you don't like abortion don't have one." That's a deliberate missing of the point: theocrats of all stripes reject the concept of "I agree to disagree." They believe they have access to absolute truth and all others are literally damned; thus rational discourse is impossible.

    I debated whether or not to illustrate this with one of the cartoons. In the end I decided just to give you a link.

    Pataki in Iowa

    Pataki in Iowa

    Some generic AP coverage of New York's third ranking wannabe and his trip this week.

    Leach to UI?

    Leach to UI?

    Press-Citizen writes at length on the persistent rumor that Jim Leach is being considered or may consider the UI presidency:

    "I know there's been some speculation out there, but he has nothing really to add to or subtract to -- we basically don't wish to make any comments on this," said Gregory Wierzynski, Leach's chief of staff. "He's obviously flattered by the rumors, but he's not sought this job and he's proud and pleased and happy to be representing those people of the 2nd District."

    Leach, 63, who has served in Congress since 1976, lives in Iowa City and is up for re-election this fall. Wierzynski said of the possibility of the search committee approaching Leach, "I think we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

    Regent Amir Arbisser of Davenport said that he has heard the same rumors and that Leach has talked with some officials close to the situation. Arbisser called Leach a good friend, but he said he has not talked with him about the UI opening.

    Arbisser said although he thought Leach has many skills that would make him a good president, not having a background in academic or hospital administration would be too much to overcome.

    Ultimately this won't happen for the same reason ambassadorships and the World Bank post haven't happened: the GOP knows he's the only Republican who can win this district and they don't want to lose the seat. (Of course, they may lose it anyway; David Loebsack has plenty to say on that subject...) They know an open seat primary will nominate a Steve King style winger, and that kind of candidate is unelectable in this district.

    Board of Supervisors: It's A Race

    Board of Supervisors: It's A Race

    From last night's Johnson County Democratic central committee meeting: Larry Meyers announced his candidacy for the Board of Supervisors. He lives on Newport Road - think that issue will come up in the campaign?

    The two incumbents whose terms are up, Sally Stutsman and Mike Lehman, were both there and announced their candidacies too. So that's three for two seats...

    UPDATE: Missed this last week: John Schneider of Lone Tree announced last week. He ran in `04 and came in sixth out of eight in the Dem primary, though he ran well in the south end of the county. So that makes four, with filing still a month away.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    The Gerry Index: How Gerrymandered Is Your District?

    The Gerry Index: How Gerrymandered Is Your District?

    A fascinating tool that mathematically analyzes congressional district boundaries:

    So the gerry index can be calculated using this equation:


    Where I is the gerry index, A is the area of the district (e.g. square miles), L is the length of its boundary, and X is the length of the boundary of a circle of the same area A.

    It ranges anywhere from 1, or perfectly smooth, on upwards. By experimentation, it seems a rating less than 2 is okay. Between 2 and 2.5 is suspect. Anything above 2.5 runs a high chance of being gerrymandered...

    Iowa 2 ranks pretty low (1.82), but we have that weird, pseudo-no-partisan thing. Illinois 7, the "squashed headphones" Hispanic-majority district, rates 5.32 and the editorial comment "That Junk's Gerrymandered up the Ying-Yang!" Same with North Carolina 12, the I-85 district (5.35).

    The tool is purely mathematical and doesn't look at Voting Rights Act requirements to create majority-minority districts.

    Have fun playing.

    UPDATE: I played some more; some of the wackiest districts (I looked at Florida and Illinois) don't process properly. It looks like, if the district meets at a point, the program only analyzes a piece of the district. Or sometimes (Louisiana 2) it doens't show up at all. I also can't get it to work with the states with one at large seat (I was guessing nice big square Wyoming would have an extemely low score.) Districts at the edges of states seem to score low, because state boundaries tend to be straigher than gerrymander lines.

    Still, a fun toy that I hope will get fine tuned.

    You don’t know what you’ve been a-missin’

    You don’t know what you’ve been a-missin’

    Oh boy...

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Democrats try to block Iowa death penalty debate

    Democrats try to block Iowa death penalty debate

    The tied Senate makes all the difference:

    “We remain morally opposed to reinstating the death penalty in Iowa,” Sen. Keith Kreiman, D-Bloomfield, the Judiciary Committee co-chairman, and Sen. Robert Dvorsky, D-Coralville, said in a joint statement.

    “We also reiterate that there are not enough votes to pass such legislation in the Judiciary Committee or in the full Senate. Instead, we hope the Senate will focus its attention on issues that unite us,” the Democrats said.

    Once again the Republicans are exploiting tragedy, using a genuinely horrible event to try to pass a fatally flawed and primitive penalty.

    The most eloquent argument against the death penalty I've ever heard is the song "Billy Austin," in which alt-country outlaw Steve Earle takes on the persona of the dead man walking:

    So when the preacher comes to get me
    And they shave off all my hair
    Could you take that long walk with me
    Knowing hell is waitin' there
    Could you pull that switch yourself sir
    With a sure and steady hand
    Could you still tell youself
    That you're better than I am

    Steve's site links you to Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Also, words of encouragement to legislators would be great.

    LoanMax Loves Leadership

    LoanMax Loves Leadership

    The owner of the state's largest car title loan company has over the past year poured more than $54,000 into Iowa politics, while legislation to place restrictions on the controversial industry has languished.

    And they don't even have to pay it back with 360% interest.

    One of Aycox's most vocal opponents, state Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said the donations affect lawmakers' thinking.

    "When Aycox flies into the state in his own airplane and drives around and sprinkles money around, people begin cooling off about standing up for average people," Bolkcom said. "This is a rather blatant example of what would appear to be Mr. Aycox investing in his ability to continue to make these abusive loans and to take advantage of people."

    They say we're young and we don't know...

    They say we're young and we don't know...

    No shadows here.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    State legislative battles take shape for '06

    State legislative battles take shape for '06

    "Democrats and Republicans will spar for control of more than a dozen narrowly divided state legislatures this year as they vie to break a near deadlock of party power in the nation's statehouses.

    Both parties plan to invest time and money in Colorado, Iowa and Montana -- three of the 10 states where Democrats gained state legislative majorities in the 2004 election despite losing the presidential vote."

    Loebsack outraises Leach

    Loebsack outraises Leach

    Roundup of congressional campaign finance:

    In another race in eastern Iowa, a Democratic challenger raised more than the Republican incumbent during the fall. David Loebsack of Mount Vernon filed reports showing he raised $42,000 during the quarter and has $86,000 cash on hand. He raised $95,000 in 2005.

    But Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa City, the Republican incumbent in the Second District, raised less than $22,000 during the period, though he has $122,000 cash on hand. Leach raised $186,000 in 2005.

    Of course, Leach can write himself a check if he needs to. But this race is a sleeper, and it's the most Democratic district held by a Republican in the nation. If the Dems of Eastern Iowa simply recognize that a vote for Leach is a vote for GOP control, we can win.