Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dixie Chicks' 'Long Way' Nests In At No. 1

Dixie Chicks' 'Long Way' Nests In At No. 1

Here's a shot of public opinion: 526,000 copies in the first week.

"While country radio has remained cool to the group in the wake of a 2003 boycott following comments group member Natalie Maines made about President Bush, 'Taking the Long Way' also nabs the No. 1 spot on the Country Albums chart..."

Sal Sighting in IC

Sal Sighting in IC

Neighbor Sean reports Sal Mohamed in Iowa City again today, near University Hospitals.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sec of State: Summary of GOP Badness

Sec of State: Summary of GOP Badness

In best 1984, War Is Peace Freedom Is Slavery tradition, the two Republican candidates for Secretary of State endorse vote suppression and call it "ballot integrity." Here's how highly they thing of the honesty of Iowans:

"If you open the door even a crack, the cheaters come running through," said Dopf...

It's the airport security, guilty until proven innocent mindset.

  • Allison would tighten voting laws by eliminating the use of "third party" couriers to deliver absentee ballots. He also favors requiring voters to show photo IDs...

  • Dopf favors shortening the period for casting absentee ballots, as well as instructing people to give a reason why they are unable to go to the polls to vote.

  • Allison and Dopf object to Gov. Tom Vilsack's executive order last summer that restored the voting rights of tens of thousands of felons who had completed their sentences.

    Perhaps that has something to do with these stats from the Campaign to End Felon Disenfranchisement: an estimated 25% of African American citizens in Iowa have been disenfranchised. That's roughly 11,200 in a state that Bush carried in 2004 by about 10,000.

    The fact that African Americans vote nearly 9 to 1 Democratic, as well as simple justice, ought to make repeal and liberalization of felon disenfranchisement laws a priority for progressives. Felony convictions account for two-thirds of the "under registration" of African American males, who are also about one-third of all citizens disenfranchised because of criminal records.

    You can look at these stats in a cool rollover map too.
  • Monday, May 29, 2006

    Bonds passes* Babe and Who Cares

    Bonds passes* Babe and Who Cares

    No link love for The Cream and The Clear despite home run 715.

    I grew up in the 70s in a sports fan household and even if Barry Bonds cheats his way to 756 only Hank Aaron will ever be The Home Run King. (also, only Muhammad Ali will ever be The Champ.) And no matter how harsh the reaction to Bonds is, it's nothing compared to the racist hate mail and death threats Aaron got. The pressure was so great that all Hammerin' Hank could say at the moment he broke the most hallowed record in baseball was "thank God it's all over." That's right, he didn't even get to enjoy it.

    When I was about 11 my dad took us to see the Brewers, during the couple of years Aaron was playing out his string as a DH. I think he went 0 for 4 that day, I know thare was no home run. But I saw Hank Aaron play ball. Which, thanks dad, is cool enough that thirty years later I'm writing about it.

    Also a bit of trivia: Aaron is WAS alphabetically the first player in the baseball encyclopedia (Kyle is making a career of correcting me), and he was the last big leaguer to have played in the Negro Leagues.

    Sunday, May 28, 2006

    Biking By The Wooden Nickel

    Biking By The Wooden Nickel

    Even on my morning exercise ride, I can't escape the politics. Started early to beat the heat, made it to North Liberty and was headed back on North Dubuque. I'd heard about the giant wooden nickel that the stop the road/challenger folks had made but I hadn't remembered where it was. So armed with my new camera phone I did a little photojournalism.

    To incredibly oversimplify this for my out of county readers this is a build the road vs. don't build the road fight.

    The whole "Don't Tread On Me" theme is a fascinating and colorful rhetorical flourish, an anti-authority, anti-establishment jab that seems to not be a lefty or righty thing. Here's some history on the 18th century origins of the flag. How this translates into 21st century votes... we'll see in nine days.

    Dueling Endorsements

    Press-Citizen: Fallon.

    Register: Blouin.

    Yepsen gets it half right

    Yepsen gets it half right

    The Overrated One is expecting a low turnout primary. He's probably right but he's got a few things wrong. In mock tribute I'll do this in bullet points:

  • He's blaming the CITEC scandal, but to me that seems like inside the Des Moines Beltway stuff. Out here in the People's Republic of Johnson County it's a nonentity.

  • "If a dispirited Democratic base stays home in November what should be a great year for the party in Iowa may prove to be one Republicans can survive." That would be true if it were even remotely applicable. But everyone I talk to in the Blouin, Culver and Fallon camps is united on one thing: the need to beat Jim Nussle. Some indecisiveness in June is no indicator of a weak November.

    Yepsen does acknowledge the spirited 1st CD primary but doesn't apply the old Tip O'Neill "all politics is local" wisdom to other spots. Maybe that's because of his Polk County perch; if I'm right the only contested local race they have is the primary for Fallon's House seat. (I stand corrected but I'll bet it's nowhere near as hot as Newport Road) Here in Johnson County this isn't the "governor's primary", it's the "county attorney and supervisor election." Despite an apparant tendency to undervote by crossovers (my oft-repeated historic stat: in 1998 we had 1000 more votes for county recorder than for governor) this magnifies Johnson County's influence in a state primary. In 2004 we had the highest turnout in the state. I don't mean percentage; I mean more voters than Polk County.

    Who does that help? Blouin's organization? Fallon's committeds? Culver's name ID? Sal's tenacity?

    Didn't write about the Friday Night Concert yet; it was more of the same faces. Crowd was a bit smaller due to the holiday weekend and the different music. Instead of high school jazz and the parent rich crowd we had blues rock and a verrrry attractive and talented lead singer. Interesting: a couple of my friends in the Culver camp who read last week's post went out of their way to tell me they'd be there. Attempts were made to interpret my green and gold hat as Culver support but it was really intended as Packer support. I'm being scrupulously chicken on public support but will stick my neck out for Dave Loebsack, Mike Mauro, and all other uncontested Dems. Gutsy, I know.

    Speaking of Mauro, the Underrated One, Mike Glover, picks up on the real issues in the Secretary of State race:

    Polk County Auditor Michael Mauro, unopposed for the Democratic nomination, points to his role in boosting voter turnout in the state's largest county, and takes pride with expanding the absentee ballot effort by making request forms available online.

    Republicans Chuck Allison and Bob Dopf say they are worried about ballot security and argue that the dramatic expansion in the use of absentee balloting should be slowed or stopped.

    Or: Democrats want to help you vote. Republicans want to keep you from voting.
  • Saturday, May 27, 2006

    Stephanie Herseth In Close Race

    Stephanie Herseth In Close Race

    It's been just about two years since my obsession with Rep. Stephanie Herseth peaked with her special election win. I've had other obsessions since (Oasis, anyone?) but Herseth remains noteworthy as a Dem who wins in a very red state. She's also, well, rather attractive.

    Herseth is the defending incumbent in Politics1's "Hottest Woman in American Politics" poll and she's up for re-election this weekend. Unfortunately, the Democrats are splitting their votes while Republicans have largely united behind one candidate (not NEARLY as well qualified). Vote often and early, polls close Monday night. Stephanie Herseth has an excellent record on this issue (rrrowr) and this is one election we just can't lose to the GOP.

    Note 1: the guys are next week.

    Note 2: Much more significantly, Congressional Quarterly rates Herseth as "Democrat Favored" for re-election; okay but it's tough turf. So maybe shoot her some bucks. Here's her site. For incentive there's lots of pictures of her there. Not Congresswomen Gone Wild or anything but there's a nice one of her with that other noted South Dakota Dem, George McGovern, right on the top of the front page. Which is a really cool thing for a red state Dem to do.

    The ULTIMATE Junk Store Find

    The ULTIMATE Junk Store Find

    I've been looking for this for years.

    There is no logical reason for human beings to deliberately expose themselves to Mr. Boone's new wash-off tattoo, Harley fixation, and deadpan milktoast delivery as he, his cookie-cutter female background chorus, and underachieving big band samba their way to Deep Purple's 'Smoke on the Water,' and jive to Guns N' Roses' 'Paradise City,' and swing through the most ludicrous read imaginable of Metallica's 'Enter Sandman.'

    Note the satanic gleam in Pat's eye.

    I used to have a dubbed cassette of this and it's Godzilla atrocious. True proof of the junk crawling mindset that one person's trash is another's treasure.

    Busy Blogger

    Busy Blogger

    A little swamped these days but I'm out here. Hoping the muse will visit sometime this weekend.

    Voter registration deadline today. Auditor's offices are open so I'll be working.

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    Final section of Saints' Highway in Iowa open

    Final section of Saints' Highway in Iowa open

    "The Avenue of the Saints four-lane highway has completed its march through Iowa at a cost of $541 million — two decades after Iowa community leaders began lobbying for the massive construction project."

    This was Dave Nagle's baby. And how this year would be different if he'd have got 1000 more votes in 1992...

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    SurveyUSA - 50 State US Senator Approval

    SurveyUSA - 50 State US Senator Approval

    Tim Johnson (D-SD) wins by about 100 votes in 2002, now he tops the charts. Three GOP senators up for re-elect are in the negatives: Rick Santorum and Conrad Burns win the booby prizes but Jon Kyl of Arizona is in the below zero zone. Surprise pickup?

    World's most expensive mobile number is 666-6666

    World's most expensive mobile number is 666-6666

    The world's most expensive phone number was auctioned for charity yesterday in Qatar.

    The number, 666-6666, sold for 10m Qatari riyals or £1.5m.

    And I got a 666 in MY phone number without even asking.

    Splitting on Sales Tax?

    Splitting on Sales Tax?

    School board forum last night on sales tax, and the two most recent pasrt chairs of the Johnson COunty Dems take opposing positions:

    The right thing for Johnson County now is this sales tax, and this sales tax is for kids," said Sarah Swisher, who has a daughter at South East Junior High.

    Hm. So this this mean SEIU's significant clout is going to get behind this?

    But others were unconvinced. Rod Sullivan, a Johnson County supervisor who said that he was speaking as a father of three rather than as a county official, said that with the number of children from low-income families, "I'm of the opinion the sales tax puts kids last, not first.

    Also in the Gazette:

    Dow Voss of Iowa City said he'd like to see the district look at other sources for additional revenue, such as expanding the amount the district collects from an income tax surcharge.

    DIng! We have a winner. I'm with Rod and Dow on this one.

    The Most Coverage Sal Has Gotten All Year

    The Most Coverage Sal Has Gotten All Year

    Press-Citizen hangs out on the corner with Sal"

    Mohamed, who has raised $6,000 for his campaign, spent an entire day at the corner of Grand Avenue and Riverside Drive on Monday talking to passersby and waving to motorists.

    'This is the most effective way to get direct contact with the people. ... Politicians don't have to raise a lot of money to get into office,' said Mohamed, who held a 3-by-5-foot sign, a small American flag and an umbrella in case it rained.

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    Sal in Iowa City

    Sal in Iowa City

    From Jeff Fields:

    Sal Mohamed, Democratic candidate for Governor of Iowa, is in Iowa City this morning, Monday May 22, 2006. I saw him at the corner of Riverside Drive and Burlington Street with his large banner.


    Why? Because Sal Mohamed is the 4th candidate in the Democrtic primary, and appears to be running a one person statewide campaign. He has criss-crossed Iowa, campaigning as if he does not know he's a very distant 4th. He's got a message, and he's making sure everyone hears it. I do not know a single person who's supporting him publicly. I'm not. I'm voting for Ed Fallon in the primary. But I have great respect for Mr. Mohamed, his hard work, and his message.

    Even if he only gets 1% of the vote, as many experts are predicting, Sal Mohamed is the American dream hard at work. Even as a distant 4th, he is a constant reminder that every voice is critical to the future of our state, our counties, and our neighborhoods!

    Have a good day, and beep for Sal Mohamed and others like him.

    Sunday, May 21, 2006

    Lieberman's In Trouble

    Lieberman's In Trouble

    Connecticut state convention: Lieberman puts the screws and calls in the chips, and Ned Lamont still gets 35%:

    The Lieberman crowd was beaten, even with 65 percent of the vote. A curiosity in January, the Lamont campaign has become a growing army that could overthrow the incumbent in the Aug. 8 primary. For 90 minutes, party loyalists who have known Joe Lieberman for decades rose and turned their backs on him in favor of an engaging stranger.

    So does Joementum bolt the party when he loses the primary?

    Saturday, May 20, 2006

    Thoughts on Fundraising Reports

    Thoughts on Fundraising Reports

    Out earlier today on my usual weekend junk crawl I spotted a Vote Yes For Public Power t-shirt, an unwanted souvenir of a hopelessly outspent campaign.

    Coincidentally this happened just as campaign finance reports came out.

    When you're outspent by a 25 to 1 or 50 to 1 margin, like we were on Public Power, there isn't much you can do. But what if you're being outspent, say, 3 to 1?

    A good candidate with a good message and a good plan can win without matching the opponent dollar for dollar, as long as they can buy enough advertising to be visible. Conversely, the political graveyard is littered with the remains of self-financing millionaires who had no message, no experience, no reason for running other than wanting the title Senator or something.

    The money matters more the higher the electoral turnout. In a congressional race in a general election, it takes a lot of air time to cut through the top of the ticket noise and real life. But in a primary or a local election, where turnout wanders in the 10-25% range, you're largely preaching to the choir and things like organization make a bigger difference.

    What TV buys in a low turnout election is credibility. A lot of the eyeballs you pay for are wasted - folks who vote only in generals if at all. (Which is why targeted cable is smart.) But what you're really paying for is credibility: "I'm on TV therefore I'm a serious player." If your opponent has four ads in the newscast-rerun hour and you have one, you're still on the map.

    Friday, May 19, 2006

    Politicking on the Ped Mall

    Politicking on the Ped Mall

    A Friday night in summer on the Iowa City Ped Mall is about as close to an old town square as you'll find. Food carts and restaurants galore, and free live music. So if you're running for office in Johnson County it's THE place to be.

    Tonight was the first summer concert and with a high school band playing the crowd was parent-heavy and thus extra rich with voters. So it was impossible to turn around without running into a candidate, and no lapel was left unstickered. Some sightings:

  • Congressional candidate Dave Loebsack wearing Mardi Gras beads, acquired at an Emma Goldman fundraiser and not by the, uh, traditional New Orleans method. (Thus avoiding scandal and remaining in the bounds of taste.) It's an eat-and-run night for Dave (in this case grilled cheese, a Ped Mall fixture) and a quick chat about Leach's budget vote.

    Dave Loebsack issued a statement Thursday responding to Iowa Congressman Jim Leach's recent vote in favor of the Republican sponsored 2007 budget resolution.

    "Leach has proved he is now a champion of big deficits, big debts, and a great tax burden on our children and the future of America. Not only has
    Leach shown his disregard for responsible budgets and spending, but has also succumbed to bully pulpit pressure from the Republican Party,"
    Loebsack said.

    In a recent news story published in The Hill, Alexander Bolton reported House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) made a thinly concealed threat
    to GOP incumbents warning of possibly losing choice committee appointments if they failed to vote for the resolution. Leach was included on a list of
    Boehner's GOP members who could hinder the Republican leadership's goals, however, in the end Leach fell in line with the House Republican majority.

    "The vote for the budget resolution, and a clear lack of leadership in failing to stand up to the Majority leader, reaffirm it is time for a
    change in Iowa's second district."

    Eight vote margin. Close, but not hold the vote open two hours close. Leach made a choice here: the ever-tighter party whip is more important than the actual constituents.

  • Ed Fallon was also enjoying a hand-held meal when I said hi. He had volunteers out and about, Mike Blouin though not present also had volunteers out and about. I half expected to see Sal Mohammed in his sandwich boards, but no such luck. But eighteen days before the primary there was no visible Culver presence at all.

    Now that I think of it there was no visible Republican presence of any sort either. Of course, downtown Iowa City is about as GOP unfriendly a spot as you can find in the state, and it's primary time so even Republicans are "Democrats" at the moment. Closest thing I could find was some folks running an anti-"DaVinci Code" table.

  • Locally, both county attorney candidates and both county attorney candidate spouses chatting with everyone in sight. Also supervisor candidate Larry Meyers out and about. He needs to target his campaign theme to the all important heavy metal vote by using Metallica's "don't Tread On Me" in an ad. They'd love it on KRNA.

  • Not on the ballot but follow up on Monday's bike-bus-car race from two mayors. North Liberty burgermeister Dave Franker continues to claim victory despite his chronological third place finish, citing the phone calls and reading he got done on the bus. (I do miss the laptop work I got done on the bus, but the tradeoff for the bike exercise is fine by me. All I accomplish in the car is changing radio stations.) Meanwhile Ross Wilburn says he could have made better time with a different route. A three minute stop at 10th Street in Coralville cut the margin of victory close.

    It's important to be where the people are and at the same time be yourself. When and where I ran, where the people were was at the high school football game. But if you're going to do that, you'd better have been at the game most Friday nights for the last 20 years - like my opponent had. I hadn't. I would have looked really phony if I'd tried. People may ignore a no-show but they actively dislike a phony. I still remember a story about a candidate who showed up at a church social at a church he'd never been at before. Worse yet, it was his opponent's church! Probably LOST the guy votes.

    The Iowa City Ped Mall, though, is pretty much acknowledged as open turf. There's every-Friday regulars and there's people who are drawn to a particular performer. Doctors and professors milling about in the same physical space as (though not actually mingling with) young people with hair in several unnatural shades. Even my folks love it when they visit. Hint to Iowa City: Play to your strengths.
  • Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Labor Liveblog: Endorsement

    Labor Liveblog: Endorsement

    Greetings from the City Fed of Labor meeting where we're talking candidate endorsements.

    Board of Supervisors first: Pat Hughes reports on surveys. 26 questions, here's the scores:

  • Mike Lehman 23
  • Larry Meyers 26
  • John Schneider 18 (borderline for consideration) "A bit of a libertarian bent. He's just against regulation."
  • Sally Stutsman 21

    Motion to endorse Larry Meyers only. That passes after a few minutes discussion. The horse race discussion says Stutsman's in and it's a contest between Meyers and Lehman for the second slot. Some grumbling about not making a second endorsement but no one makes another motion.

    On to county attorney.

    Janet Lyness 25 of 26, Maybanks 23. Some discussion of whether the questions on binding arbitration were clear; are binding arbitration and right to strike mutually exclusive?

    Discussing candidate priorities and I can't type that fast.

    Motion to endorse Lyness. Discussion of no endorsement. Discussion of Maybanks endorsement.

    Lyness endorsement fails. Maybanks endorsement fails. Motion for no endorsement passes.
  • 2006 Election Forecast Map

    2006 Election Forecast Map

    Congressional Quarterly gives us a fun Flash toy this morning.

    Hire Mexicans to guard our border for only 5.50 an hour.

    Hire Mexicans to guard our border for only 5.50 an hour.

    From Daily Kos, a solution to all our "problems":

    If we train the aliens we capture entering our country illegally, to guard our borders from the other side, well, you get the idea. We can pay them minimum wage which is probably more than what Tyson pays them for chopping off chicken heads. We could hire even more to build the WALL that everybody seems to want. The average bricklayer in Mexico now makes 150 dollars a week and has six kids. We can afford that for security, for sure...

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    Pedal promotion a gas

    Pedal promotion a gas

    It's a two wheeled win, and the play by play makes the point:

    Although Nancy Quellhorst, president of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, who drove, reached the Old Capitol Town Center first, she was unable to find a parking space before Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn crossed the finish line on his bike.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    SurveyUSA - 50 State Bush Net Approval

    SurveyUSA - 50 State Bush Net Approval

    Idaho. Utah. Wyoming. That's it. He's even losing in NEBRASKA.

    Twelve electoral votes (13 if you count one in western Nebraska).

    Wes Clark: Guest Report

    Wes Clark: Guest Report

    More shameless cribbing. Promoted from the comments, a guest post by Dale Shultz:

    The Hawkeye Labor Council put on a good hog roast Saturday night. They actually had a stuffed pig on there on the buffet table - later Blouin said he was surprised when he saw it, because he didn't know they were going to invite Nussle to this event. Blouin gave the best speech I've seen from him so far. He ripped Nussle apart, and kept everyone laughing at the same time; if he can keep that up he'll cruise through the general election. David Loebsack also gave a good talk.

    Gen. Wesley Clark was the main speaker, and I learned some new things about him; for example, his dad died when he was three years old, and his mom raised him alone without a lot of money.

    He led the NATO force in Kosovo, which was a successful nation-building exercise, and he was mad that Rumsfeld ignored all the US's institutional knowledge on reconstruction when he decided to invade Iraq. However, he said that leaving immediately would be very damaging to the US's long-term reputation.

    In the most disturbing part of his speech, he said that on Sept. 20, 2001, his former aides told him that Rummy had already decided to invade Iraq, and that by November, they were telling him about a five year plan to roll up Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Iran.

    Clark wound up with some comments on domestic policy. He supports the Estate Tax, and national single payer health insurance (like we already have in the military), and he opposes judging schools by standardized test results.

    Drinking Liberally in Iowa City

    Drinking Liberally in Iowa City

    Since writer's block continues I'm shamelessly passing along stuff from the inbox. Nicholas Bergin writes:

    A new Drinking Liberally chapter will convene for our first weekly meeting in Iowa City on May 18th. Drinking Liberally is an informal, progressive drinking club with 144 chapters across the country and one in Dublin, Ireland.

    Come raise your spirits as you raise a pint. Drinking Liberally is an informal gathering of left-leaners and progressives. Share you ideas while you share a pitcher. Everyone is welcome; you don't need to be a seasoned activist to join us in enjoying a stiff mix of socializing with a dash of politics.

    America was born in the taverns... and now we're returning to promote democracy one pint a time.

    The Revolution begins at 7pm.

    May 18th at 7:00 pm
    The Mill Restaurant (in the front room) 120 E Burlington St.
    Hosted by Nicholas Bergin

    Questions? or call (712)-899-0605
    p.s. To subscribe to the e-mail list visit

    The Stepping Up crowd will hate it but it ought to fit in with the rest of us in Sin City. Lost opportunity: didn't the semester just end? And are permanent designated drivers welcome?

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    List of words censored by search engines in Mainland China

    List of words censored by search engines in Mainland China

    A few big concepts:

    * ?? (democracy)
    * ?? (human rights)
    * ?? (dictatorship)
    * ?? (anti-communist)
    * ?? (communist bandits) — this was the term used by the Kuomintang to refer to the communists
    * ?? (selling out one's country)
    * ?? (massacre)
    * ???? (genocide)
    * ?? (oppression)

    This could never happen HERE...

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    Sullivan: Sales tax will hurt the poor the most

    Sullivan: Sales tax will hurt the poor the most

    Go get `em Rod:

    "You cannot raise money for Family Resource Centers and believe they will make up for the damage done by a sales tax. Governmental agencies cannot improve their budget situations on the backs of the poor. Parents and kids at Twain, Wood, and Hills will put more of their income toward this than parents and kids at Wickham, Lincoln and Shimek. That doesn't make any sense."

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Bike to Work Week 2006

    Bike to Work Week 2006

    Just a reminder for those of you who don't NORMALLY bike to work. Monday's goodness:

  • 7:30 to 9 a.m. Free calories to replace those you've biked off. Bicycle-commuter Breakfast at the Iowa City Bike Library, 408 E. College St.
  • 5 p.m. The Bike/Bus/Car Race from Coral Ridge Mall to the Old Capitol Town Center. This looks like the political highlight of the week. Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn is biking, North Liberty Mayor Dave Franker is driving, County Supervisor Rod Sullivan is on the bus.
  • Wes Clark in CR with Loebsack, Blouin

    Wes Clark in CR with Loebsack, Blouin

    This landed in my inbox from a few different sources.

    Podcast with General Wesley Clark and Iowans
    Brewed Awakenings
    1217 1st Ave, SE
    Cedar Rapids, IA

    Saturday, May 13, 2006 5:30 pm

    "Workers for a Better Iowa"


    At the Teamsters Hall, 5000 J Street SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    FEATURING General Wesley Clark

    Meet the Labor Endorsed Candidate for Governor of Iowa Mike Blouin
    And Labor Endorsed Candidate for U.S. Congress David Loebsack

    Tickets are $25.00 and are available through the Hawkeye Labor Council

    1211 Wiley Blvd SW
    Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
    (319) 396-8461

    at the Teamsters Hall or through local union offices

    It was followed by a note from Clark's folks subject-lined "It Begins In Iowa" and announcing his visit today for Boswell.

    I have an instinctive mistrust of generals but I never saw the guy up close; "It Begins In Iowa" is different for a guy who blew off the caucuses in 2004. But Al Gore learned from that mistake and it seems Clark has too. I may check this out, even if only for Dave Loebsack's sake.

    UPDATE: Real life vs. blogger life. Given the choice I chose to hang out with my daughter instead. I'll look for reports from my cub reporters...

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Romney and the deal-breaker

    Romney and the deal-breaker

    The Overrated One writes about the point Robert Novak made weeks ago:

    Some on the right are troubled by his Mormon faith. One conservative here said privately that some evangelicals believe "it's a cult" and that people would have trouble supporting Romney as a result. Others don't seem troubled because the church's socially conservative teachings on many issues dovetail nicely with their own beliefs.

    Steve Scheffler, head of the alliance, said following the meeting that Romney "did well and is hitting all the right notes. He was pretty candid. To most people in our movement, (his faith) is not a problem. There shouldn't be a religious test, like Jack Kennedy said. I don't think it will be a big issue" for Romney.

    But privately others in the group said it might be a deal-breaker for some...

    Yepsen seems to come down on the Not Fatal side, though not firmly. I think he overrates the open-mindedness of the religious right. They don't just want a person OF faith - they want a person of THEIR faith.

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Regressive Tax Talk Moving Forward

    Regressive Tax Talk Moving Forward

    Iowa City School Board members said Tuesday they hope to get a lot of comments about a proposed one-cent sales tax at an upcoming public forum...

    Oh, I'm sure they will.

    The forum, scheduled for 7 p.m. May 22 in the first floor conference room of Mercy Hospital, will cover the different options the district would have with the proposed school infrastructure tax...

    Also in the DI.

    NE Gov.: Heineman Tops Osborne by a Touchdown

    NE Gov.: Heineman Tops Osborne by a Touchdown

    Unbelievable. The Coach actually lost.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    National Day of Slayer: June 6, 2006

    National Day of Slayer: June 6, 2006

    The election day from hell:

    6/6/06 isn't a date that comes around very often (once per century, to be exact), and while plenty of stupid horror movies and terrible albums will be released for the hype value of the day that bears 'the number of the beast', we here at NDoS decided that this would be a perfect day for Hessians across the country to come together and engage in something upon which we can all agree - listening to Slayer! Also, do you really want those evangelical Neo-Cons to have all the fun with their 'National Day of Prayer'?"

    Official Statement on Participation

  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your car.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your home.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast at your place of employment.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in any public place you prefer.

    DO NOT use headphones! The objective of this day is for everyone within earshot to understand that it is the National Day of Slayer. National holidays in America aren't just about celebrating; they're about forcing it upon non-participants.
  • Romney disses own state, Dems diss each other

    Romney disses own state, Dems diss each other

    Mitt Romney in town yesterday. Apparantly the Mass Bash is a standard part of teh stump speech:

    'I do feel like a red speck in a blue sea, and I am sure you feel like that a bit in Iowa, as well,' he said to a group of UI students at a luncheon in the Pappajohn Business Building.

    The Overrated One namechecks Romney in a section devoted mostly to Giuliani bashing:

    "His trip illustrates he's got a few things to learn about presidential campaigning in Iowa. We do small-state, retail politics here, not the big-city stuff. His five-SUV caravan, security guards and staged media events for his national press entourage bring to mind other big-state politicians — like then-California Gov. Pete Wilson — who misfired in Iowa because they didn't understand the need to do one-on-one, grassroots work.

    Out here on the prairie, campaigns are more than money and media. They're about key people. George Pataki and Mitt Romney get it. Giuliani doesn't. When we see Hizzoner meeting with a couple of dozen Republicans at a house party in Brooklyn — Iowa — we'll know he's for real."

    Mister Overrated devotes most of the column to noting the shocking news that Chet Culver and Mike Blouin are saying Not Nice things about each other: "If they're not careful, Blouin and Culver can do Nussle's dirty work for him by carving up the eventual nominee." Try to restrain your glee a little bit there, Yepsen.

    Meanwhile Fallon is doing the classic underfunded candidate move of making a token TV buy to create a news story.

    One of the ads is almost silent, using captioning instead of sound of Fallon saying, "I'm running for governor because special interests and paid lobbyists have taken away your voice."

    Another ad makes light of the "big-name" endorsements that other candidates have trumpeted...

    A couple notes of caution:

  • Primary attacks can cause internal problems, as well as he kind of ammo for the other party that Yepsen is so delighted about. Should you win the nomination, Ed, you'll need those legislators and labor unions in your corner. This plays into the "he can't get along" image. I know Fallon supporters see this as a strength, but it's only a strength to a point.

  • Is campaign finance and lobby reform an issue that resonates with real world voters? Maybe it should, but just because activists WANT it to be a front burner issue doesn't make it so. Real world people, who are just barely beginning to tune in to this primary, are worrying about education and doctor bills and gas prices, and political money, despite its overarching importance, is inside baseball.
  • Sunday, May 07, 2006

    Sunday Smorgasboard

    Sunday Smorgasboard

    I've had more human being days lately and the blogging has taken a back seat; sort of lost my groove last weekend after the double live blogging cancellation of Feingold and the district convention. But I'm still here so let's do a few bullet points.

  • Governor debates yesterday; coverage from the Register and behind the Gazette wall. Focus of both articles is the Blouin-Culver exchange of Chet's long-ago registration as a lobbyist. Will that resonate? Perhaps but this soto of Mike's may be more relevant:

    "Blouin took a shot at Culver’s support for reinstating a limited death penalty, saying, ‘‘I would never allow capital punishment to come back. It’s racist to its core, and it’sirreversible.’’"

    Both articles shunt Fallon off to the side almost but not quite with Sal who gets a token quote in each.

    Just a take on what I see locally: a lot of Blouin people, a lot of Fallon people, not a lot of Chet people, a lot more interest in the local races.

  • John Kerry draws 1000 in Grinnell: Gazette and Register. Bashed the administration but:

    Put on the spot by one student during a quick question-and-answer session, Kerry said his biggest regret of recent years was voting in favor of the use of force in Iraq.

    "Because of the experience we had in Vietnam and (former Secretary of State) Colin Powell, whom I trusted, I trusted the administration on that, and it was an enormous error"

    OK answer and welcome back to Iowa, Senator, but I'm in the "you had your chance" camp.

  • Architects discuss strategies for making Iowa's cities cool. Kind of a punchline headline but a decent discussion of livability.
  • Friday, May 05, 2006

    Why drivers really hate cyclists

    Why drivers really hate cyclists

    Interesting story from Wales:

    Motorists hate cyclists because they're secretly scared of hurting them on the roads, according to new research.

    Cardiff University academic Ben Fincham has formulated the theory to explain why people on bikes frequently attract rage from other road users.

    "Cycling is seen as something that's done by people who are slightly unhinged, or willfully negligent anyway. The idea that they probably break the rules of the road is going to upset people and if that is at the forefront of your mind, it will influence your experience of them."

    There tend to be clear lines of demarcation between where car users and non-car users are able to go, but cyclists operate between those lines.

    "What confuses a lot of bikers is that if you cut someone up, you will probably have abuse and threats hurled at you, but if a driver actually injured you, they'd be distraught."

    Slightly unhinged?

    I'm more inclined to buy this analysis:

    "Keen cyclist Louise Jones, from Port Talbot, said she found Mr Fincham's theory "a very strange sort of argument". Asked if she had experienced hostility from motorists, she said, "It tends to be just from youths in souped-up cars who think it's only them who are allowed on the roads."

    Or SUV's...

    Week after next is Bike To Work Week (that's every week for me). Lots of interesting events including a Mall to Mall race between politicians! Who can get from Coral Ridge to Old Capitol fastest:

  • Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn on a bike?
  • North Liberty Mayor Dave Franker in a car?
  • Or County Supervisor Rod Sullivan on the bus?
  • Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Maybanks plays Pierce card

    Maybanks plays Pierce card

    Developing in the county attorney race:

    The controversial 2002 prosecution of former University of Iowa basketball star Pierre Pierce has surfaced in this year’s Johnson County attorney race, with candidate Nick Maybanks calling for a review of what he called its ‘‘extremely unusual’’ handling.

    Maybanks, a Linn County prosecutor seeking the Democratic nomination for the post held by J. Patrick White the last 24 years, said Pierce should not have been allowed to plead his third degree sex abuse charge down to a lesser assault charge...

    The 2002 Pierce case is one of a number of issues Maybanks said he hoped would distinguish him from the six-term White and Maybanks’ competitor, Assistant Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness. Maybanks and Lyness are seeking the Democratic Party nomination in the June 6 primary. White has endorsed Lyness...

    A little bit on the moot side with Pierce behind bars... but would the second incident have happened if the first had been handled differently?

    And Lyness, still working for White, has to choose her words carefully; I think they teach that at law school.

    Lyness said an investigation into how White handled the 2002 case is not necessary. ‘‘I feel pretty confident in that Pat is not somebody who takes things lightly. He’s not somebody who makes snap judgments,’’ she said.

    Lyness said White’s decision to allow Pierce to plea to a lesser charge in 2002 caused disagreement in the County Attorney’s Office, with some in the office wondering why Pierce got the deal.

    Verrrry interesting. How does one interpret that statement? It's the classic Hubert Humphrey dilemma: How do you address the cross-tensions of advocating for change while still working in a lame duck administration?

    More to the immediate point: this is the kind of headline-grabber that folks who aren't usually tuned into a primary a month out will pick up on. The Pierce case is at once concrete and symbolic: a specific, high profile case and a handle for folks for whom the issue in the race is the outgoing incumbent.

    Option tax vote friends may be foes

    Option tax vote friends may be foes

    A goodie from behind the Gazette wall:

    Last-minute legislation in the Iowa Legislature will end proposals for the schools and cities in Linn and Johnson counties to join forces to pass a local-option sales tax.

    Instead, the legislation (House File 2792) could pit the schools and cities in the two counties against one another in a race to see who can get a tax on the ballot first.

    Yepsen's Latest Idiocy

    Yepsen's Latest Idiocy

    Almost didn't link but you may enjoy the idiocy at full length:

    The governor and the Legislature have overwhelmingly rejected the arguments of the spenders and the class warriors in Iowa by agreeing to cut state income taxes on pensions and Social Security.

    More slams against "leftists" throughout the column but the phrase "People's Republic" is absent.

    Over time, this agreement will make the state just a bit more attractive for retirees.

    Yeah, but it doesn't make the January snow vanish... putting the whole state under the rain forest dome in the winter would do wonders.

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Democratic activist does not stop for death

    Democratic activist does not stop for death

    I remembered this article running in the DI a couple years back and just managed to Google it down. The headline's poignant now that he really is gone, but I can't help but smiling at this attitude toward mortality:

    Rick Taylor was the second Johnson County resident to vote in this year's congressional election.

    He wasn't sure he'd be around to see the result.

    "I thought I might die," said Taylor, a volunteer with the Johnson County Democrats who had been hospitalized for chronic health problems relating to his diabetes.

    "I found out later that I have to be alive through Nov. 8 for the vote to count," he said with a chuckle, sitting among a swarm of red, white, and blue fliers and posters supporting Democratic candidates.

    That's my stuffed donkey helping Rick on the phone bank. Rick was feisty and funny and a great husband and dad. And here's a little of how he'd like to be remembered:

    "Rick was a proud member of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 125 of Cedar Rapids for 27 years - working for various union plumbing companies. He was a strong believer in the strength of organized labor and was the major factor in the successful SEIU campaign to organize P & S staff at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. He was also proud to be a Democrat. Despite many health problems, he always found the time and energy to do whatever was necessary for Democratic candidates to win."

    The Air War Begins

    The Air War Begins

    Bruce Braley on Tuesday launched the first television ad among Democratic candidates vying in the hotly contested June 6 primary for the 1st District nomination for the U.S. House.

    Saw it flying by about three times in an hour - along with Blouin and Culver. 36 days out and NOW the numbers will really start shifting...

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Another Great Local Dem Gone

    Another Great Local Dem Gone

    We lost our friend Rick Taylor this weekend.

    PawSense helps you catproof your computer.

    PawSense helps you catproof your computer.

    My brain has been too mushy early in the morning the past couple days to do any serious political analysis. When the muse strikes, I'll have some.

    In the meantime this little bit of software claims to address one of my ongoing issues:

  • Even while you use your other software, PawSense constantly monitors keyboard activity. PawSense analyzes keypress timings and combinations to distinguish cat typing from human typing. PawSense normally recognizes a cat on the keyboard within one or two pawsteps.

  • If a cat gets on the keyboard, PawSense makes a sound that annoys cats.

  • Once a cat has been recognized, PawSense blocks the cat's keyboard input.

  • The spokescat above even resembles Butter, the feline who is the most frequent culprit here at John Deeth Blog.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Delegates approve Loebsack's challenge to Rep. Leach

    Delegates approve Loebsack's challenge to Rep. Leach

    Some of what I couldn't live blog; Aimee Tabor of the Burlington Hawkeye had the best roundup. Points to Team Loebsack for the Tom Petty, though I still hope someday someone will use "New Day Rising" by Husker Du.

    This post has been rewritten about three times and was mangled by a cat on the keyboard. Anyway here's a couple notes from some JC Dems who stuck out the day.

    Carl Fongheiser:

    The dreaded resolution from the district platform chair (the one
    requiring that county platforms submitted to the district be under 3000
    words) was brought up and passed after a vocal debate. The election of
    delegates to the state platform committee was also a very painful affair.

    Governor Vilsack gave a very nice speech. He hung around to talk to
    people, and I think he shook everybody's hand. He assured everyone that
    whoever ends up being the gubernatorial nominee will have a substantial
    check waiting for them.

    The roots of the platform battles and the subtext of Johnson County bashing has roots in 1994 when we actually got gay marriage into the platform (in 1994!) and Bonnie Campbell felt the need to not just ignore the platform but formally repudiate it. The platform process changed dramatically in 1996. I suppose the only recourse is to vote NO on final passage and just not have a platform...

    Monday update in from Robin Roseman:

    There were microphones for delegates to speak at which nobody could make work, which hampered everyone's ability to speak for or against the amendments, and had the overall effect of squelching participation. Sometimes it seems that the party is in a time-warp, stuck in the past, and not just technologically. We hung in there all day and hopefully made at least a little bit of a difference...