Sunday, April 30, 2006

When bugs fly

When bugs fly

No, it's not Weird Al's belated parody of Prince's "When Doves Cry" ("Maybe I'm just like my mother/she's got a hundered eyes...") It's the return of....

the jet powered Slug Bug!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Wasted Drive: Why I Left The 2nd CD Convention

A Wasted Drive: Why I Left The 2nd CD Convention

I did not leave the district convention simply because there was no internet available. I sat down and started a little pseudo liveblogging during the first major speech (Blouin).

I left because after that speech I tried to track down WHY there was no internet at a 21st century congressional district convention, and Iowa Democratic Party Staff and the local arrangements folks acted like my expectation was unreasonable. The local guy said "no one ASKED, so we didn't think it was that important." The state party staffer told me I was biased against non-metro counties hosting the convention.

The convention was at Mt. Pleasant High School, built in 1999 and presumably wired like any decent sized school in the state. I shouldn't have to ask "will there be internet?" any more than I would have to ask "will there be a telephone?" or "will there be an electrical outlet?" Maybe it's the Iowa City in me but the only wifi issue I've ever had at an Iowa City school district site - weekday, weekend, or evening - is that their network has MySpace blocked as "not kid-safe." WiFi at that convention should have required one phone call to the school district, one router, and a few minutes of one geek's time.

So I decided that rather than write it up and post it on an eight hour delay, I'd rather have a human being day. At least when I tanked up in Mt. Pleasant it was a dime cheaper than here in Iowa City.

Supposedly there will be internet - wired only - at the state convention, so be sure to throw an ethernet cable in your bag and prepare to be anchored to one spot.

Living With War On A Listserv

Living With War On A Listserv

Got in a debate yesterday on the icprogressive listserv; reader Beky Sharp took issue with my post on the "Living With War" album. I share the dialogue in nice reverse blogger order. If she responds again, I'll update.


I'm not defending the Patriot Act. And I remember the PMRC well: I was a college DJ in 1985, it was horrible, and I've spent twenty years reminding people of it as any local Democrat will tell you. I voted for Nader over it in 2000, and lost a few friends over that.

No one - not even Neil Young himself - can defend every political or musical statement he has ever made in public over the course of a 40 year career. A conspicuous number of albums have mysteriously gone without CD release; unavailibility = repudiation? (In the case of that 1983 rockabilly album that may be a good thing.)

But is consistency a priority for an artist? I'd say Neil Young's very unpredictability, volatility, and inconsistency are among his greatest strengths. A decade ago Neil wrote a wonderful elegy to Kurt Cobain called "Change Your Mind" and apparantly he has done so. The statement you quote citing Young's support of the Patriot Act is from late 2002. Yet on the song "Let's Impeach The President", written only weeks ago, he sings:

Let's impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

Sometimes the zeal of the converted makes a statement more powerful. And for any movement to grow, converts must be sought and welcomed, especially converts who bring with them a constituency of their own.

I won't call Neil Young a hero, though he has done some good, concrete things for people over the years such as Farm Aid and the Bridge School benefit concerts. Maybe it just seems strong to me because he speaks in the artistic medium I love most, guitar based rock music. But all I'm asking anyone to do is evaluate "Living With War" on its own merits, as a major statement by an important musician, and not measure it against past positions Neil Young now seems to be reversing.


From: Beky Sharp
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 6:45 PM
Subject: [icprogressive] Neil Young - Living With War: Hear It NOW

What a dump load of crap, Mr. Deeth.

Anyone who defends the Patriot Act is not a progressive, let alone an anti-war hero.

I can't believe how naive some people are.

Also, for those of you who remember, the PMRC (Parents Media Resource Center) was the illegitimate baby of Tipper "the ripper" Gore, who wanted mandatory warnings and ratings on all records and CDs. And Al "the bore" Gore's later running mate, Joe Lieberman, eagerly climbed on board.

Censorship = good. Is that what you progressives are all about?

Give me a break.

- Beky Sharp


Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 5:04 PM
Subject: Re: [icprogressive] Neil Young - Living With War: Hear It NOW

john deeth writes:

Dave Marsh is my favorite rock writer and I had a very deep conversation with him over dinner once, the memory of which I treasure. In fact, Neil Young was one of the musicians we'd discussed, it was right at the time his album with Pearl Jam was released and Marsh had just interviewed Young.

But none of us is 100% consistent, and people change over time. Neil Young has flipped flopped politically three or four times over his career, and even went through a Reaganite period back around the 1985 "Old Ways" album. But that didn't invalidate "Ohio" or "Southern Man." In 2002 he was gung-ho with "Let's Roll," but he's hardly the only person who was for it before he was against it. Perhaps that's why he has reacted so strongly - like so many people, he was misled.

Neil Young is not a politician, he's an artist. Consider his current, very powerful statement on its own merits.


----- Original Message -----
From: Beky Sharp
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 3:56 PM
Subject: [icprogressive] Neil Young - Living With War: Hear It NOW

This is the real Neil Young:

Neil Young: Give Up Your Rights
Broken Arrow
By Lee Ballinger and Dave Marsh

from Counter Punch magazine

People for the American Way, which once described the goal of the PMRC censors as "to bring children and parents together on music selection," gave Neil Young its Spirit of Liberty award at a December 11 Beverly Hills banquet. Young used the occasion to proclaim his support of the USA/Patriot Act, which became law on October 26. "To protect our freedoms," Young said, "it seems we're going to have to relinquish some of our freedoms for a short period of time."

League Forum: Last of the Last

League Forum: Last of the Last

Tail end of the league forum here. LWV rep asked about public finance "clean elections" bill; all were supportive.

All in this case means Jacoby, Mascher, Dvorsky, Bolkcom. The GOP is again conspicuiously absent. Foege's at the 2nd CD convention. More on that later.

Oops, it appears Republican Dave Miller was here - as Jacoby notes. He thanks Miller for showing up but points out the yearlong absence of Greiner, Kaufmann and Hahn.

Tom Jacobs, president of Iowa City Labor Fed. Thanks legislators for wind energy legislation. Wants performance standards for corporations taking corporate welfare - applause. Bolkcom discusses corporate accountability.

Mascher announces that the kids aren't here - the teacher who brings the kids just had a baby.

Bob Welsh, local minister and senior advocate, gets the last question. Long term health care.

Whish I'd been here for the whole thing. Next post will explain.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Neil Young - Living With War: Hear It NOW

Neil Young - Living With War: Hear It Now

Just hit the link. You can't DO anything with it, the link just plays the whole album in streaming audio, straight through. Still, that's pretty fantastic when you consider he wrote and recorded the whole thing maybe three weeks ago...

Musically it's reminding me a lot of Mirror Ball, the 1995 album with Pearl Jam, or maybe like the Crazy Horse guys are on it. It's got some horns here on song 4 ("Shock and Awe") and, though I haven't heard it, it ends with a 100 voice choir singing "America The Beautiful." Bush himself is sampled on the song that's gotten the most attention, "Let's Impeach The President." It's song 7.

Friday Farrago

Friday Farrago

I know, it's worse than "Monday Miscellany." But I'm just passing other folks' stuff along this AM. I've got enough real stuff coming later from the district convention tomorrow and Russ Feingold today; definitely decided to go to the Cedar Rapids Loebsack fundraiser rather than the Iowa City speech.. Sorry. Personal life happened.

The DI has advance coverage and also notes Mitt Romney coming in on May 8.

Speaking of Romney, I hate linking to Robert Novak but he has a must-read today on silent religious bigotry in the GOP::

Prominent, respectable (sic) Evangelical Christians have told me, not for quotation, that millions of their co-religionists cannot and will not vote for Romney for president solely because he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If Romney is nominated and their abstention results in the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton, that's just too bad. The evangelicals are adamant, saying there is no way Romney can win them over.

On other fronts:

  • Looks like the Leg and Vilsack may have cut the budget deal.

  • Supervisor forum coverage in the DI and Press-Citizen.
  • Thursday, April 27, 2006

    Soon Playing On An iPod Near You

    Soon Playing On An iPod Near You

    Let's impeach the president for lying
    And leading our country into war
    Abusing all the power that we gave him
    And shipping all our money out the door

    He'?s the man who hired all the criminals
    The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
    And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
    Of why we have to send our men to war

    Let'?s impeach the president for spying
    On citizens inside their own homes
    Breaking every law in the country
    By tapping our computers and telephones

    What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
    Would New Orleans have been safer that way
    Sheltered by our government'?s protection
    Or was someone just not home that day?

    Let's impeach the president
    For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
    Dividing our country into colors
    And still leaving black people neglected

    Thank god he's racking down on steroids
    Since he sold his old baseball team
    There's lot of people looking at big trouble
    But of course the president is clean

    Thank God

    Neil Young, 2006.

    Hopefuls cover drugs, jail

    Hopefuls cover drugs, jail

    Coverage of the county attorney debate in the DI and Press-Citizen. Similar quotes in both stories. Seems like the contrast was in resumes. Meanwhile, like spring mushrooms the yardsigns are sprouting; there seems to be more interest in this race than governor or county attorney. Except along Newport Road.

    Supervisor forum is tonight.

    Isn't there some country we can send Steve King back to?

    Isn't there some country we can send Steve King back to?

    Or can we at least ship him off to Nebraska?

    Rep. Steve King of Iowa has written a blistering broadside against the planned National Day Without Immigrants. He sent out a column to newspapers in his congressional district that dubs the May 1 event 'Nothing Gringo Day' and 'Bite The Hand That Feeds You Day.'"

    " What would that May 1st look like without illegal immigration? There would be no one to smuggle across our southern border the heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines that plague the United States, reducing the U.S. supply of meth that day by 80 percent. The lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day. Another 13 Americans would survive who are otherwise killed each day by uninsured drunk driving illegals. Our hospital emergency rooms would not be flooded with everything from gunshot wounds, to anchor babies, to imported diseases to hangnails, giving American citizens the day off from standing in line behind illegals. Eight American children would not suffer the horror as a victim of a sex crime."

    And for some weird reason he says:

    The threatened boycott fails to conjure the image of a Norwegian refusing to buy his May 1 lutefisk at the corner Fareway.

    Uff Da! Doesn't he know Syttende Mai is the 17th of May?

    It's hopeless, but just on principle here's King's opponents Bob Chambers for Congress and Joyce Schulte.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Favre tells Packers he'll be back

    Favre tells Packers he'll be back

    After four months of deliberation, the quarterback has told the team he plans to play this season, according to ESPN. The network reported late Tuesday night that Favre informed General Manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy of his decision earlier that day...

    At $3 a gallon, the Americans are squealing . . . - World - Times Online

    At $3 a gallon, the Americans are squealing

    The British perspective:

    Pump prices have risen by one third over the past year and in some parts of the US have topped $3 (£1.68) a gallon. Among the ultra-rich of Beverly Hills, the cost of fuel has even slipped over the $4 mark.

    This is, of course, still far less than the equivalent of about $8 being paid by British motorists, but such comparisons hold little sway in the US where, for many, the unfettered freedom of the individual to drive across wide-open spaces is almost part of the Constitution. By contrast, public transport has, historically at least, been regarded as un-American.

    Un-American? I ride my bike; guess that makes me positively Bolshevik.

    Talk is buzzing about temporary suspension of gas taxes and I'd strongly oppose that. The only, only, only thing that's proven to get Americans out of their SUVs and into their buses or onto their bikes and feet is high gas prices, and $3 a gallon seems to be the price that starts to have an impact.

    The ‘Extreme Commuters’ driving up to 156 miles - one way! - have made a lifestyle choice, and we subsidize the infrastructure that lets them do it. High gas prices? Too bad for them. I've made the lifestyle choice to live a reasonable distance from work and shopping so I can walk or bike whenever possible, in a city that makes that possible. Sure, I'm being a little smug and self-righteous about it, and I know not everyone has the health or flexibility to do that. But a lot more people could.

    Busy Week Ahead

    Busy Week Ahead

    This blogger's been slacing a bit lately. But lots of interesting stuff is soming soon:

  • State budget negotiations: Ongoing. For the forseeable future.

  • County Attorney candidate forum tonight; 7 to 8:30 Iowa City library. Doubt I'll make it but will seek reports from others. Anyone know if it's live televised?

    Russ Feingold is comin' to town Friday.

    3:30pm – 4:30pm: Speech at the University of Iowa - River Room at the IMU
    5:30pm – 6:30pm: Fundraiser for Dave Loebsack at The Science Station, 427 1st St. SE, Cedar Rapids

    I'm going to one of these two. Can't liveblog the UI event because they lock us ordinary taxpayers out of their wifi.

  • Second District Convention in Mt. Pleasant Saturday. Unsure of net availability but planning on blogging.

  • Local events are planned for the National Day Without Immigrants on Monday May Day in Iowa City, West Liberty and Washington, Iowa. In Iowa City Members of Amigos del Inmigrante and University of Iowa students from the Association of Latinos Moving Ahead, or ALMA, plan to meet at the corner of Washington and Clinton streets at 10:45 a.m. and proceed to the pedestrian mall.

  • Fallon in Iowa City Tuesday the 2nd at the Mill.

    Sorry to bullet point y'all.
  • Democratic hopefuls spar at forum: Guess The Quote

    Democratic hopefuls spar at forum: Guess The Quote

    Surprisingly little coverage of last night's televised gubernatorial debate (which I unfortunately missed) - one of the hazards attached with an event sponsored by only one media organization. In this case KCRG-TV of Cedar Rapids sponsored, and only the co-owned Gazette covers it. The sound bites they pull out shed little light. Play the matching game: Who said which quote attacking which opponent?

  • "They don't want people that have election-year conversions, that flip and flop on issues."
  • "Democracy should be about more than which candidate has the most money or which has the most big and impressive endorsements,"
  • "I'm not climbing the political ladder. Instead, all I want is a chance to work my heart out every day for you, the people of Iowa."
  • Monday, April 24, 2006

    Neil Young's protest album heads to Internet first

    Neil Young's protest album heads to Internet first

    THIS is how it should be done:

    The album will first become commercially available as a digital download beginning May 2, "and we plan to get it into retail stores as soon after that as we can get them manufactured," Bentley said.

    He said the label anticipates getting the album into retail outlets between May 5 and May 15. "Neil wants this album out there as soon as possible," Bentley added.

    The John Lennon paradigm of hit single as newspaper. And wasn't "Ohio" on the radio about a month after Kent State?

    Young's new set comes just seven months after the release of his last album, "Prairie Wind"...

    No marketing plan here... just music. IMMEDIATE. Less than a month from recording to our ears.

    Conservatives come out

    Conservatives come out

    Aside from the gay roots of the term "coming out", the College Republicans' Conservative Coming Out Week has a lot of unintentional humor:

    Each date of the four-part event will be named after a Republican president, beginning today with George W. Bush Day. Festivities will continue on Tuesday's Dwight Eisenhower Day, with a D-Day dodge-ball competition between the College Republicans and University Democrats.

    In honor of Ronald Reagan's love for jelly beans, on Wednesday, students will hand out the colorful candy. Finally, Thursday will feature the Richard Nixon house party. Originally scheduled as a bar crawl, concerns about underage drinking led the group to change the event...

    Actually that last one probably should have been dedicated to Ulysses Grant. And they forgot the Dan Quayle Speling Bee, Warren G. Harding Poker Night and the William Howard Taft All You Can Eat Buffet.

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    Brilliant anti-piracy strategy: lower prices

    Brilliant anti-piracy strategy: lower prices

    Unfortunately, the only mean "in China":

    The majority of the world's piracy is not constituted by teenagers downloading the latest hit single. Rather, organized piracy is where the real threat is at, and in countries abroad, American (and other) products are being pirated for both fun and profit.

    Burning a DVD, so I'm told, takes time and effort, and at a certain price point for the legitimate isn't WORTH the time and effort.

    Domestic Observation

    Domestic Observation

    Late afternoon sunshine streaming in through a westbound window is beautiful, especially on a weekend.

    But it really shows off the dust and the cat hair...

    The Smallest Farm Refuses To Die

    The Smallest Farm Refuses To Die

    It was planting day on the Smallest Farm in Iowa today.

    A little background for the legions of new readers since the end of last summer. I've been a displaced gardener since my move from home ownership to Bohemian Paradise in 2003. But I insist on putting something in the ground, no matter how unsuitable the setup, each year, since I live on the best farmland on the planet and it makes me feel connected to the land and the seasons. The city garden plots are on the opposite side of town (that completely failed in 2003, my only year with no garden at all). So I make do with a cubicle sized patch here on the north side.

    This is my second year in the same spot. Sun isn't great and there are walnut issues. I moved the pole bean teepee a few feet to a slightly sunnier corner. And I foolishly threw some sunflower seeds in the ground. Back in 2002, the last year at the house, I grew 15 footers, and we even harvested the seeds before the critters did.

    More likely to succeed are the carious mints: catnip and lemon balm, both growing from transplants from the old house, and bee balm which broduces pruble flowers surrounded by black and gold bees that are far more interested in the flowers than in stinging you. And this year there's mint, transplanted from the parental homestead. My hope is that these self-starters all establish themselves and become part of Gaslight Village lore.

    The Midwest — Competition Fierce in Many Districts

    The Midwest — Competition Fierce in Many House Districts

    Congressional Quarterly looks at US House competition in the midwest and sees three Iowa districts - 1, 2, 3 - on the charts. Worth a read for people who want to understand the battle for the House the way it really matters: seat by seat.

    Also look at the northeast, south, and west, and the Senate.

    Chris at MyDD
    has a Senate overview too with one must-share note:

    Wisconsin remains on the board because Tommy Thompson has once again threatened to enter the race. Mostly, however, I bet he just doesn't want his indecision to be overshadowed by Brett Favre's.

    When I was up nort' a month ago, I saw SEVERAL Herb Kohl ads on local broadcast TV. He's not taking any chances.

    Friday, April 21, 2006

    SurveyUSA - 100 US Senator Approval Ratings

    SurveyUSA - 100 US Senator Approval Ratings

    Ben Nelson, a nominal Democrat in Big Red Nebraska, tops the charts. He doesn't vote great, but a vote for control out of one of the four states still backing Bush is more than one can dream of. Rick Santorum and Conrad Burns, Republicans up for re-election, are dead last. Burns is getting primaried, let's hope he gets beat up bad but squeaks through.

    Grassley's at the inexplicable +32% approval; I'm just never gonna get the Grassley love thing. Harkin, gearing up for the re-elect with the relaunched web site, is +21%. Here's hoping Steve King is dumb enough to make the run, so Harkin can add his scalp to the collection (Bill Scherle, Roger Jepsen, Tom Tauke, Jim Ross Lightfoot, Greg Ganske...)

    Litter On A Stick

    Litter On A Stick

    Ron Gunzburger at the amazing Politics1 writes:

    I attended law school in Vermont, a state that entirely banned billboards because of the unpleasant 'visual pollution' of boards blocking the scenic view of trees. Contrast that with what is going on right now here in the Florida legislature: a bill is rapidly speeding towards passage, with little opposition, that would prohibit state and local governments from planting any trees in right-of-ways within 500 feet of billboards if the trees would obstruct the view of the signs.

    This gives me the opportunity to pass on a couple great links:

  • Ron's own site Politics1, the ultimate resource for links to EVERY candidate in the country.

  • Scenic America, the little lobby group for clean, billboard-free highways. I summer interned for them waaaay back in the summer of `89. The summer internship in DC was an interesting adventure that I embarked on for the wrong reason (a redhead was involved) but I learned a lot and have had an aversion to billboards ever since.

    "Litter on a Stick" was our boss's soundbite for billboards, and I spent the better part of a week gluing together thousands of copies of a pop-up press release. You'd open it up and a little billboard that said LITTER ON A STICK would jump out. Tedious, but that's what interns are for.
  • Thursday, April 20, 2006

    Godfather Marathon on AMC

    Godfather Marathon on AMC

    The marathon you can't refuse
    All weekend long starting
    Saturday, April 22 @ 8:15AM

    Courthouse roof suffered major damage

    Courthouse roof suffered major damage

    Tornado update.

    “The roof of the courthouse took the brunt,” facilities manager David Kempf told the Johnson County Board of Supervisors at its morning meeting, estimating roof repair to cost $375,000 to $425,000. The slate part of the roof will have to be completely replaced, as well as work to repair copper damage.

    I bike by every day on the way to the Admin Building (20 years old and oldtimers still call it the "new" building). It doesn't LOOK all that bad compared to, say St. Pat's Church, but it's still pretty significant.

    Iowa's population slide accelerating

    Iowa's population slide accelerating

    So how do you divvy up Iowa into four congressional districts? 100 years ago, we had eleven and a Speaker of the House...

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    SurveyUSA - 50 State Bush Approval

    SurveyUSA - 50 State Bush Approval

    I count a Mondale-esque 17 electoral votes...

    Warner in DM for Boswell

    Warner in DM for Boswell

    From the inbox:

    The Leonard Boswell for Congress campaign is hosting a
    fundraiser with former Virginia Governor Mark Warner on Thursday, April 20th
    at 5:30 p.m. in Des Moines...

    Interesting nationally (it's Warner, it's Iowa) and locally (Lamberti bests Boswell in fundraising).

    Maps and Maps and Maps

    Maps and Maps and Maps

    I've loved maps since I was small and today I'm sharing a couple interesting sites:

  • Prof. Jon T. Kilpinen at Valparaiso has an American Ethnic Geography course with all sorts of maps on Ethnic Groups, Culture Regions, Religion, Language, and more.

  • On the global scale, here's a look at 195 countries: area, population, and density. (One quibble: lumping Denmark and Greenland together throws them both off.)
  • Monday, April 17, 2006

    No Political Damage To Loebsack in Tornado

    No Political Damage To Loebsack in Tornado

    Dave Loebsack HQ is in the building next to the Happy Joe's that was leveled in Thursday's tornado! From Melanie Friedman of the Loebsack campaign:

    It is a mess around us - amazing how quickly they are cleaning it up. They are planning to level a couple of the buildings behind us - the Happy Joe's building and the one next to it (where Tony's is located). They are still assessing whether the corner building has to come down as well. Crazy!!

    TIME: America's 10 Best Senators

    TIME: America's 10 Best Senators

    Old Media takes an Objective insider look at who's doing the job and who isn't. Saddest portrait is of the disengaged Jim Bunning (R-KY) who, as senators go, is... uh... well, he threw a perfect game once.

    Budget, education haggling requires overtime

    Budget, education haggling requires overtime

    Register has a decent overview of the Legislature's not yet over session.

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    Tornado Map

    Tornado Map

    The Register has a funky interactive Flash thing that traces the path of destruction. My office is just north of the word TIRE in Linder Tire.

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Neil Young Rules The Planet

    Neil Young Rules The Planet

    Tin soldiers and Bush is coming:

    "Neil just finished writing and recording – with no warning – a new album called Living With War. It all happened in three days."

    Young has long worked under the "strike while the iron is hot" mentality, often working in creative spurts and never forcing it. Well, it seems the iron must have been burning bright for him to create a complete album in three days!

    Details are sketchy at best, but the featured song, "Impeach the President" contains Bush's voice accompanied by a choir chanting "flip/flop."

    Worst. President. Ever. Even Richard Nixon has got soul...

    Tornado Pictures

    Tornado Pictures

    Neighbor Sean of the John Deeth Blog Action Storm Watch Team shares some early morning photos of the downtown damage.

    Nicholas Johnson: Storm Action Team!

    Nicholas Johnson: Storm Action Team!

    Nick Johnson: Law professor, political activist, and now storm damage reporter!

    Riding The Storm Out 2

    Riding The Storm Out 2

    Four news trucks in front of the courthouse: the three locals and Channel 13 from Des Moines. Lots of rubberneckers. I turned back a block from St. Pat's Church but the roof is GONE, just structural framework.

    Traffic looks especially heavy on Highway 6 and the Kirkwood/Benton corridor.

    Neighbor Sean has pictures, will post later.

    Riding The Storm Out

    Riding The Storm Out

    All is OK for me and the Furry Four here at Bohemian Paradise. The tornados missed me by a few blocks either way, all I see here is twigs down.

    The UI is closed for the second time in my 16 years here and FEMA is telling people to stay home.

    However, Johnson County has a "we never close" policy. Obviously, certain departments are essential (sheriff, ambulance, roads, etc.). But the story I hear is the courthouse closed for a blizzard 50 or so years ago, and a very angry farmer - a TAXPAYER! - ranted so loud at the next Supervisors meeting that they haven't closed since.

    Any reports from other civil servants on their policies would be interesting.

    UPDATE. The COURTHOUSE is without power and closed. Judge Lewis held morning court at the jail. Admin Building is, as noted, open, so are Iowa City departments (except the library which appeared undamaged.)

    For fairness, base taxes on income

    For fairness, base taxes on income:

    Iowa City's Peter Fisher in the Register:

    "Rather than creating mythical arguments for giving tax cuts to a select portion of Iowa citizens, policymakers should return to the basic principle of fairness: As long as you live in Iowa and benefit from the services provided by the state, you pay your share, based on your ability to pay."

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    A Penny for Their Thoughts

    A Penny for Their Thoughts

    Some quotes from the joint Iowa City-Coralville-North Liberty-Board of Supervisors-School Board Meeting:

    Several officials at the meeting said they are in favor of the "shared penny" option, in which the school district would share revenue with another government such as Iowa City or Johnson County.

    Iowa City Councilor Connie Champion said the city could use the money for additions to its infrastructure, such as additional staffing for the fire department.

    "Iowa City desperately needs another stream of income," Iowa City Councilor Bob Elliott said.

    The money would benefit the schools by bringing in money for building and technology needs.

    "I thought this was a very necessary discussion," said Elliott after the meeting. "I would not like to see the rest of the money go out of the county."

    Although many voiced approval of the shared penny option, Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan said he is concerned with the fact that the tax is regressive.

    A regressive tax, often a fixed rate, takes a harder hit on people with lower incomes since it is a larger percentage of their income.

    "We've got a lot of people in this county with serious needs," he said. "(More than) 70 percent of the poor people are kids. ... They are the ones getting hurt the most."

    This is colloquially know as the "mega-meeting." Reminds me of the tradition at the State Of The Union address where they leave the junior cabinet official out in case, uh, the bad guys attack. Anyway, kudos to Rod for taking the lead on this one.

    McCain in Iowa

    McCain in Iowa

    Register takes a look at the ground war in Iowa 21 months out, reminds folks that McCain blew off Iowa in 2000:

    "His relationship with Iowa at best has been lukewarm, and in some quarters it appears to have been hostile," said Johnston Republican Dave Roederer, Bush's 2004 Iowa campaign director.

    Lots of goodies here if you know the names and faces in the Iowa GOP. Message seems to be: train leaving station. But will the theocrats get on board - or would they prefer a train wreck?

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Solon Official and GOP Activist Resorts To Stereotype

    Solon Official and GOP Activist Resorts To Stereotype

    I don't want to play language police, but some once-common phrases have fallen out of common parlance because they reinforce hurtful stereotypes.

    Kevin Samek of the Solon City Council appears not to get this. This week's Solon Economist paper, reporting on council discussion of water bills and deposits:

    Samek said he had no problem charging a deposit, but the time frame for refunding it was not likely to have much effect on bill collection.

    "Trying to put a month thing on it is not going to benefit anybody. If someone is going to try to jew us out of a water bill, whether it's 18 months or 12 months or 36 months, it's not going to make a big difference," Samek said. "They'll figure out a way to do it."

    Councilor Samek also represents Solon on the Johnson County Republican Central Committee. (pdf)

    Old Media on Soup

    Old Media on Soup

    Bush gets the bigger headlines of course; the ball game ain't fair but their team has the ball. (Aside: Baseball is the only major sport where the defense, not the offense, controls the ball. Discuss.)

    Press-Citizen catches the flavor of the soup reasonably well. The DI zooms in on their interview with Blouin and his tuition-freeze proposal. The Gazette has something too but their site is acting wacky this AM.

    Register skips the soup and opts for the sign war instead.

    Also, The Overrated One is worth a read and even the link love today as Yepsen offers his take on the Mary Lundby coup. Good history on how she essentially won the house for the GOP in 1992 then got burned by the good ole boys who couldn't cope with a woman as speaker. Mary Lundby's been waiting a long time for payback.

    Sales Tax on Today's Agenda

    Sales Tax on Today's Agenda

    "Iowa City School District officials considered the one-cent sales tax option for building improvement needs in 2002, but opted for a bond referendum after labor unions and the Johnson County Democratic Party criticized it, calling it "regressive" against low-income residents. A $39.9 million bond referendum passed in February 2003 with 70 percent of the vote.

    The district also could pursue a 'shared penny' option, in which it would share the revenue from a one-cent sales tax with another government such as Iowa City or Johnson County. The different options will be discussed at a joint government meeting of district, city and county officials at 4:30 p.m. today at Iowa City Council chambers."

    So why does the PC feel the need to do the quote-unquote thing with the word regressive?

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Blogging for soup 2

    Blogging for soup 2

    Blouin doing press interviews; stragglers arriving but crowd's down to about half. Fallon supporters pronounce speech "content free" but to mee it seemed more big picture rather than 15 point program.

    The palace coup in the GOP senate caucus is the big topic of gossip.

    "Bush raised a million for Nussle tonight" overheard. Also much assorted Bush bashing, war on Iran? Anyway, not quite sure I caught the flavor of the soup here, but it appears to have succeeded in getting media, and a few bucks for the Crisis Center.

    Blogging For Soup

    Blogging For Soup.

    7:16 and Greetings from the counterBush soup supper at SEIU in Coralville! A dozen crock pots of soup and I'm guessing 75 of so people; dignitaries include Coralville's legislators, the sheriff, a couple soup-ervisors (sorry), lots of union folks. Crowd leaning Blouin, some Fallon suppoters visible.

    Reports are Blouin due here soon.

    The talk is mostly the usual political gossip that happens whenever such types get together; it's always a little unfocused pre-speeches. I've seen three or four print reporters. No TV but I'm guessing they were in Cedar Rapids.

    7:19 Blouin starts speaking. Rivals joining in: he's being gracious. "Our statement tonight transcends our differences." Distinction between our party's philosphies.

    They've got the bag over the head cutout of Nussle here. 5 or 10 bucks for food pantries vs. 10 grand for a pic with Bush. The bag head draws jocular booing.

    "There are people left behind today in bigger numbers than if Bush had never been elected, had Nussle never chaired budget."

    Soup money raised tonight isn't much - but best we can do until November. Praise for the Coralville legislators (both are on board), wrapping up, moving on to working the room.

    Cities show interest in local-option tax

    Cities show interest in local-option tax

    Regressivity rears its ugly head again:

    Most Iowa City and Coralville city council members prefer a 1 percent local-option sales tax that shares revenue with the cities if the Iowa City school board decides to pursue a tax, Gazette interviews revealed.

    Council members said they don’t know what voter support exists to add a local tax to the state’s 5 percent sales tax. Johnson County’s last attempt failed in 1999 when 74 percent of voters rejected it.

    ‘‘I believe, because cities are in such straights with their budget, there will probably be general interest in further exploration,’’ said Iowa City Council member Regenia Bailey.

    Iowa City Council member Mike O’Donnell said he hopes feelings have changed. He said he’d support splitting local sales tax revenue between schools and local governments.

    Iowa City Council member Dee Vanderhoef said cities would have to identify clearly how they’d spend the tax revenue to have any chance of success with voters. Vanderhoef said she is undecided on the local tax and wants to see the outcome of a bill in the Legislature to impose a statewide local sales tax for schools — a tax already collected in every county but Linn and Johnson.

    Good story, Zack, but how about a little sidebar with a roll call of quotes from everyone? (Coralville: Gill yes, Lundell maybe, Herwig read my lips.)

    Local. Option. Income. Tax. Of course, that'll mean taking the legislature and the governorship...

    Lundby takes over Senate GOP leader post from Iverson

    Lundby takes over Senate GOP leader post from Iverson

    Wo. They fired Stew Iverson. As big a diss as it gets. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for THAT caucus:

    "I know there have been some personality clashes. I know there are some people who weren't happy with me as a leader. Some felt I was too conservative," Iverson said Monday. "I'm much more conservative than Senator Lundby."

    While the leadership change could steer Senate Republicans toward party moderates' positions on some issues, Lundby and Senate Republican Co-President Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny emphasized that members of their caucus wanted a leader who would take them in a new direction. They are looking to Lundby to forcefully represent them during current negotiations over next year's state budget, and to give them the best shot at controlling the Senate again.

    So she's co-leader for a couple weeks, and minority leader in January. Lots of Kremlinology kind of quotes here.

    Gazette coverage too: "Iverson indicated Monday's development may impact his decision whether to seek re-election this fall..."

    Chomsky wows packed Englert

    Chomsky wows packed Englert

    My would-be guest blogger couldn't get in so you'll have to settle for the DI: "Would-be audience members far surpassed the venue's 725 seats, forcing Englert officials to improvise and allow people to sit outside to listen via speaker..."

    Of course, the Press-Citizen completely missed the story.

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    Remembering Gopher

    Remembering Gopher

    Nothing to do with Fred Grandy. Geek stuff for old guys.

    Feingold coming to Iowa April 28-29

    Iowa for Feingold: Feingold coming to Iowa April 28-29

    Noneed at Iowa for Feingold gets the scoop love:

    Russ Feingold is coming to Iowa on April 28 and 29th. I don't have all the information yet, but will post it as soon as I know. Here is what I got. The event on the 28th will be in Iowa City/Cedar Rapids and the event on the 29th will be in Ft. Dodge following the 4th District's Convention. The night will be a fundraiser for Dr. Seldon Spencer, who is running for Congress against Tom Latham, and Feingold will be speaking at the event.

    I heard rumblings of this late last week but swore a vow of omerta; word is there's a late afternoon event on the U of I campus the 28th. If that's the case I need to work on a coverage plan; the UI campus is a wifi dead zone unless you're faculty/staff/student. A mere Iowa taxpayer like myself is SOL.

    Afternoon In-Box

    Afternoon In-Box

    Two quite interesting items:

  • Issue 1: IDP press release on Des Moines counter-Bush events lists this lineup:

    Lt. Governor Sally Pederson
    Secretary of State Chet Culver
    Representative Ed Fallon
    Iowa Federation of Labor President Mark Smith
    Dr. Andy McGuire

    So Chet has some buy-in on some level. (Apparantly Blouin is touring soup suppers.)

    A commenter asks: "How do we know Culver didn't ask (to get in on the soup) and Blouin didn't tell him where to go?" Answer: Not plausible. Why would Mike welcome Ed but not Chet? Plus, if Mike says no to Chet, Chet could turn that around, make it "the other candidates are uniting agains me" or something.

  • Issue 2: A Fallon press release:

    State Representative and gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon (D-Des Moines) announced Monday that the strong support his campaign is attracting means that he will not run as an independent if he loses the Democratic primary on June 6...

    That notion had been bouncing around the blogosphere for a bit and Ed seems to think it was time to quash it. On a scale of 1 to 17 with 17 being "helps him achieve Absolute Metaphysical Certitude with moderate Democrats" and 1 being "alienates him from lefty independents and ex-Greens," How do you rank this announcement Fred Beadle Barnes? WRONG! Eleanor I Think Your Swellanor? WRONG! The correct answer is (Cp+x2).
  • Noam Chomsky: The Assault on Democracy

    Noam Chomsky: The Assault on Democracy

    A taste of Chomsky in honor of his Iowa City speech tonight. Not planning on going; I hate fighting lines at first come first seated events. Though I did once own a shirt that said "I'd trample you to see the Who."

    Monday Morning Miscellany

    Monday Morning Miscellany

    Not often one gets to use triple M alliteration unless discussing Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky. Ahem. At least it's better than "Miller Lite."

    Getting national this AM:

  • Joe "Anonymous Klein blames TV and consultants for everything that's wrong with politics in the last 40 years and makes a decent case.

  • Washington Post: "An entrenched majority, battered by ethical scandals involving its top leaders, is running what many see as a politically polarized and profligate House of Representatives." Dems 1994? GOP 2006? Was it Pogo who said "we have met the enemy and they is us"?

  • At MyDD, thoughts that Lieberman bolting the party is a done deal. Which will give us Dems for Nader 2000 the last, bitter laugh.

  • First cookout of the year last night. Some things you never outgrow, and roasting marshmallows on a stick is one of those.
  • Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Thoughts on the Soup Supper

    Thoughts on the Soup Supper

    Bloiun gets points for launching it. I've heard of similar events before - low dollar event to contrast the fat cats - but it's still unusual enough that it gets attention. Journalists love this stuff. The straightjacket of objectivity forces them to find The Other Side, whether or not there is an Other Side. Usually that means a five second clip of Sign War. Here, they're literally forced to cover the soup supper. And the charity angle is a nice touch.

    Fallon was crafty for latching on to it. Blouin welcomes him and Fallon shares the spotlight. Had Blouin rejected him, he would have stepped on his own event and made Fallon the victim. And the mandatory "balance" story becomes "Democrats feud while GOP welcomes Bush." It was no lose for Fallon and no choice for Blouin.

    So where is Chet Culver: still running it by the focus group?

    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    Favre: No News Is... No News.

    Favre: No News Is... No News.

    "There was widespread speculation that, finally, that time had arrived. Favre called a news conference, as he does every year, at the site of his golf tournament - this year, at a casino in the Mississippi Delta some 400 miles across the state from his hometown of Kiln. A spokeswoman for his family said a 'scoop' was expected.

    Instead, Favre spent about 15 minutes discussing his indecision - and his golf game.

    'The fact that we're sitting here today at this press conference, to me, is a joke because I don't have anything to tell you,' Favre said. 'Somebody assumed that I would.'"

    Brett, I love ya man. You've given me more years of vicarious happiness than any sports fan deserves. I want you to do what's best for you, Deanna, and the kids. You don't owe me anything.

    But damn, this morning was frustrating.

    Maybe you want to wait till after the draft to make a real announcement. But please, clue the team in. It's a great draft pick, and a huge decision, and they need to know which way to go.

    P.S. Enjoy the golf.

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    Total Solar Eclipse From Space: I'm Being Followed By A Moon Shadow

    Total Solar Eclipse From Space: I'm Being Followed By A Moon Shadow

    Neat NASA photo of last week's solar eclipse. It nicely illustrates how the eclipse is the shadow of the moon on the earth.

    Which reminds me of how creepy the song "Moon Shadow" by Cat Stevens is. I remember hearing it on the radio when I was a kid and being very disturbed by the litany of dismemberment: "if I ever lose my eyes" etc. Maybe Warren Zevon should have covered it.

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Iowa's Gov. Vilsack stumps for PA Dems at AFL-CIO meeting

    Iowa's Gov. Vilsack stumps for PA Dems at AFL-CIO meeting

    The Guv not a big Lynn Swann fan:

    Alluding to Mr. Swann's longtime role as an on-field reporter for ABC-TV at college football games, he dismissed him as "a sideline commentator."

    "'He wasn't even qualified enough to get in the booth,' he said, 'And as a lifelong Steelers fan, I can tell you that John Stallworth was a better receiver.'"

    Feingold: Yes on Gay Marriage

    Feingold: Yes on Gay Marriage

    Politics1: "In a shift from even his own past position -- i.e., pro-civil unions but anti-same sex marriage -- US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) this week became the first of the major 2008 White House hopefuls to endorse gay marriage."

    Meanwhile I'm hearing tell that Russ may be in Eastern Iowa soon; details later.

    Senate Dems Tax Plan (DOA)

    Senate Dems Tax Plan (DOA)

    Which do Republicans love more: the myth of federal deductibility, or the reality of regressivity?

    "Senate Democrats unveiled an income tax cut for Iowans making less than $60,000 a year in a package that would also sharply reduce taxes for most who are getting some form of pension income.

    'This proposal will, in essence, end the middle-class tax penalty,' said Senate Democratic Leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs.

    Elements of the plan include:

    • Ending the ability to deduct federal tax payments when calculating state tax liability, a move that would bring a windfall of about $430 million a year to the state. Taxes would increase for anyone who makes $100,000 a year or more. Those making more than $250,000 a year would see a 38 percent increase.

    • A roughly 10 percent income tax cut for those who make $60,000 a year or less.

    • Exempting Social Security income from taxation, and exempting pension income for all who make $100,000 or less.

    • Doubling the state's earned income tax credit to 13 percent of the federal credit.

    The plan was offered as an alternative to a Republican-backed proposal calling for a $300 million phaseout of taxes on Social Security and other pension income.

    Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Clarion rejected the proposal..."

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Man held as terrorism suspect over punk song

    Man held as terrorism suspect over punk song

    Joe Strummer remains dangerous, even from beyond the grave:

    Anti-terrorism detectives escorted a man from a plane after a taxi driver had earlier become suspicious when he started singing along to a track by punk band The Clash, police said on Wednesday.

    Detectives halted the London-bound flight at Durham Tees Valley Airport and Harraj Mann, 24, was taken off.

    The taxi driver had become worried on the way to the airport because Mann had been singing along to The Clash's 1979 anthem "London Calling," which features the lyrics "Now war is declared -- and battle come down" while other lines warn of a "meltdown expected".

    Could have been worse. He could have been singing The Guns Of Brixton:

    When they kick at your front door
    How you gonna come?
    With your hands on your head
    Or on the trigger of your gun?

    This hits me waaaaay too close to home...

    No Child Left Behind? Ask the Gifted

    No Child Left Behind? Ask the Gifted

    The substance is there - with limited budgets, districts are looking to cover themselves on the low-score and while gifted programs lose out. But the color is priceless as a gifted class takes an Ellis Island field trip:

    "Ms. Braverman is a perfect teacher for the gifted, since she herself likes to do 12 things at once. While the buses headed north on the New Jersey Turnpike, the students eating their bagels, Ms. Braverman put on the video she always shows for this field trip, 'An American Tail.' ('The story of Steven Spielberg's family's journey to America, except the characters are cartoon mice,' Ms. Braverman explained.) The thing the children love about Ms. Braverman is that as many times as she has seen that video, she still thinks it is hilarious when the mouse says the streets in America are paved with cheese."

    Way back when, our gifted program consisted of getting skipped a grade, with drastic social consequences. Seems a shame to step backwards...

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    Once TouchPlay is gone, target casinos next

    Once TouchPlay is gone, target casinos next:

    The Register gives space to Tom Coates, director of Consumer Credit of Des Moines. He pulls no punches:

    Perhaps (the Touch Play debate) is merely the start of a larger drama about to unfold - a drama where Iowans finally awaken to the scam served up by elected officials of all stripes who have told them gambling is the latest form of economic development.

    Decide now that gambling is really a bad bet. Gambling's negative economic impact, coupled with a dark moral character, may sufficiently be manifested to persuade Iowans to recriminalize it all. That's my hope.

    I'm not sure if folks will go that far; sadly, a lot of people still see gambling as a quick fix, a "voluntary tax". Clearly a regressive tax - Bill Gates isn't going to but a ticket for the thrill of possibly winning a few million.

    And, to quote that great businessman Vito Corleone: "Most people want (gambling) and it is forbidden them by the pezzonovante of the church and the government."

    But the argument that a casino is "econiomic development" is clearly a fallacy. Every dollar in wages is a dollar (more, really) sucked out of the local economy. And no one looks at the saturation question. There are only so many people who will only gamble so much money. You could anchor a boat at Hancher, two blocks and one bridge from my humble abode, and I wouldn't play. And every dollar spent there would be a dollar not spent in Tama, Davenport, or Dubuque.

    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    Earless Cats

    Earless Cat

    Ugly-cute? Or just ugly?

    Midterms put focus on Iowa

    Midterms put focus on Iowa

    Gazette looks at the Iowa house races:

    In a year when national political observers expect there to be only a couple of dozen truly hot races, two of Iowa’s three (sic) U.S. House races are on the watch lists of news organizations, such as Congressional Quarterly, and a third — the 2nd District — shows some promise of heating up, they say.

    The race for the seat Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle has held since 1990 is considered to be one of the three hottest U.S. House races in the country...

    Actually, there's five races, but who's counting?

    Daily Kos: CT-Sen: Obama speaks the truth

    Daily Kos: CT-Sen: Obama speaks the truth

    "Obama, one of our party's most talented wordsmiths, spoke the truth at last week's Connecticut Democratic Party annual dinner.

    'I know that some in the party have differences with Joe. I'm gonna go ahead and say it. It's the elephant in the room.'

    The elephant in the room: Freudian slip or subtle dig?"

    Send some $$$ to Lieberman's primary challenger, Ned Lamont. Connecticut is too blue to send a de facto Republican to the Senate.