Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kos, 'Sacks

Kos, 'Sacks

My worst pun since "Christopher rants." But Kos had two posts today:

  • A brief mention of Dave Loebsack as "one of the election's biggest shocker upsets."

  • In a longer overview of the presidential race:
    Vilsack announced his candidacy this morning. He also announced it the day after the election. And I'm sure he'll "announce" several times more to see if he can get anyone to care.

    Ooh! Ouch! So THAT'S what the nationals think! For more Iowa Centric coverage check Chris and O Kay and Dave Price. Gordon, are you on board already?

    The Overrated One is grouchy, probably dreading another 1992 when everyone stayed clear of Harkinland and Yepsen didn't get to go on loads of national talk shows. Not likely: Edwards was in state YESTERDAY. Selling books. Yeah, right. Obama's selling books too. And at the moment they'd be near the top of my list. It's still a big list (anyone but Gore).

    The word Kos-sack, or as it's more commonly speled Cossack, has the same roots as Kazakh. Insert your own Borat punchline here. And just to tie it in, Doug "Yoda of Voting Equipment" Jones was an observer at the Kazakhstan election last year.
  • 78 percent of Americans want 40 mpg legislation

    78 percent of Americans want 40 mpg legislation

    So Vilsack announces today. Uhhh... (embarrassed silence)

    Maybe I'll say something later. At the moment on the second cup of coffee, I'm finding this more significant and interesting:

    78 percent of Americans want the U.S. government to impose a 40 mile per gallon fuel-efficiency standard for vehicles sold in the United States...

    40 mpg? Even my little go-kart only gets 30.

    Every politico worth a shot of ethanol is talking up energy independence, but it'll take more than a technological miracle cure or a wave of the wand to make 40 mpg happen. Look at your high school physics: it takes x amount of energy to move y amount of mass at speed z, or to heat or cool things.

    It's going to take mandates and very real, sacrificial life style changes. Which may mean no, you can't buy that giant penile surrogate monster truck or Hummer, or you can't commute 186 miles each way to work. But who is going to be honest enough to say so - politicians looking for that exurban vote?

    Naah, we'll just leave that to us crazy bloggers.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    Frist Isn't Running for President

    Frist Isn't Running for President

    Cats across the nation greet the news with meows of relief and naps.

    Wesley Clark wants to avoid '04 mistake in '08

    Wesley Clark wants to avoid '04 mistake in '08

    Wesley Clark said Tuesday he wants to avoid waiting too late to make a decision on whether to run for president -- a mistake he made in his failed 2004 bid.

    The late start led to the other big mistake: the Screw Iowa strategy that worked soooo well for Gore in `88 and McCain in `00.

    This gives me an excuse to repeat my John Edwards Hard Luck theory from 2004. Clark stayed in the race after winning Oklahoma by about 100 votes. The next week he split the anti-Kerry vote almost evenly with Edwards, allowing Kerry to win Tennessee with under 50%. Clark then promptly quit. Had he lost Oklahoma and bailed a week earlier, Edwards would likely have won Tennessee and the whole dynamic of the contest would have changed - perhaps Edwards vs. Kerry would have continued all the way to the convention. (This theory also involves Howard Dean's Last Stand in Wisconsin, which screwed Edwards exactly the same way.)

    In any case Clark's Iowa effort consisted of one stop at the Hamburg Inn immediately after his announcement - he had a previously scheduled speech at UIowa - and some self-starters who got a tiny handful of delegates.

    Clark is on the extremely low end of my 2004 list. Not much he can do to persuade me; no matter what he's saying now I just don't trust a career military guy.

    Speaking of the military, a couple days back I linked to a list of top lies told by recruiters. Here's one more:
    A new video game commissioned by the U.S. Army as a recruiting tool portrays the nation's military in 2015 as an invulnerable high-tech machine.

    It's an impressive game, simulating weaponry the military is actually using or building, gamers say. But the gameplay is designed so it's hard to lose: The equipment holds up awfully well and the enemy doesn't learn from experience.

    Nash is bothered by the fantasy the potential recruits may have that they'll end up the commander riding a joystick rather than understanding what military life means.

    "You don't see the day-to-day boredom, you don't see broken legs and equipment failure," she says. "You don't see that the military is mostly grunts and only the grunts on the ground die."

    Also just for fun: a list of countries without armed forces.

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    Leach Outsourced to Bangalore Tech Support?

    Leach Outsourced to Bangalore Tech Support?:

    Cityview Online: "Here’s the latest political rumor: Jim Leach is heading for. … not the University of Iowa, not the United Nations, but the embassy in India. That’s what a very high-ranking Republican in Washington told a guy who told Skinny…"

    I think Moynihan had that job once.

    While I'm at it, Krusty has a good GOP straw poll history.

    Sales Tax Moves Forward

    Sales Tax Moves Forward

    So February 13 it is, putting Johnson County and Linn County on the same day for the school sales tax. Perhaps by that time we can go to the polls with a sense of what the new trifecta legislature will do with school funding.

    Mike Gronstal will have a whole lot to say about that; The Overrated One pulls out the key quotes from a talk with Mike. No journalistic heavy lifting here, but a useful agenda outline.

    Chris Woods does some extremely heavy lifting; I wish I had time to write at this length. It's titled “How Leonard Boswell was Saved by the Democratic Wave” and helps my case that Boswell should hang it up. Progressives need to get moving now so the seat is not taken over by an ambitious conservative Dem like Kevin McCarthy.

    The only McCarthy I was concerned with last night was Mike McCarthy and the Packers; first chance I had to see a game in weeks and I jinxed Brett and the boys again. At least they had a few decent moments in the loss to the Seahawks.

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Even Robocalls Hate Robocalls

    Even Robocalls Hate Robocalls

    Just got the Vilsack presidential announcement robocall; the second sentence begins "I'm sorry about this robocall."

    Anyway, while I would cross the street for it, I'm not up for a morning off work and an hour each way so someone else can blog it.

    Early bets on Obama

    Early bets on Obama

    Tom Beaumont, the Register's real political reporter, had an absolute must-read that the national sites picked up on yesterday while I was packing and driving back from vacation; several heavy hitters in Iowa seem to be lining up behind Obama `08. Of most interest locally:

    Iowa City Democrat Dick Myers, the former minority leader in the Iowa House, has also agreed to serve as a caucus contact for Obama, should he decide to run, aides said.

    That's a name that carries a huuuuuge amount of weight here in Johnson County. Dick Myers was a major figure for Gore in `99 and Dean in `03; in fact the first time I ever saw Dean was at Dick's house in the fall of `02.

    On the other side:

    The Iowa Republican Party has selected Aug. 11, 2007, as the date for the Ames straw poll - a signature event for GOP presidential candidates running in the state's leadoff nominating caucuses.

    Signature event? Try de facto first Republican primary:

    In August 1999, a record 25,000 Republicans turned out for the straw poll...

    Candidates were actually up on TV to compete in a straw poll at a paid admission banquet. Several people - Dan Quayle, Elizabeth Dole, Lamar! Alexander - were squeezed out of the race by poor showings five months before any actual votes were cast, and Pat Buchanan bolter the GOP for the remnants of the Reform Party soon thereafter. It even had a ripple effect on the Democratic race, with both Bradley and Gore stepping up their appearances to cash in on the old media's need for Objective Balance. With this year's wide open field you could see some Dems packing their tents around August as well.

    Office Space is allocated:

    Braley will be in 1408 Longworth. Loebsack placed 15th in the lottery and grabbed 1513 Longworth, a corner office one floor above Braley's.

    Both Braley and Loebsack will retain the telephone numbers that Iowans are accustomed to using to reach their district members.

    For Braley, it will be (202) 225-2911, the current phone number for retiring Rep. Jim Nussle of the 1st District. For Loebsack, it will be (202) 225-6576, the current phone number for Rep. Jim Leach, whom Loebsack defeated in the 2nd District race. Hmm, might be some awkward moments there.

    No word on whether Nussle and leach get to keep the red staplers.

    Saturday, November 25, 2006

    50 State Senator Approval, Women Winning and Not Winning

    50 State Senator Approval, Women Winning and Not Winning

    Survey USA again; not surprisingly the bottom four were just defeated for re-election. the women of Maine an dthe men of North Dakota top the charts with Hillary Clinton a remarkably high number five.

    MyDD looks at Democratic targets and defense:

    Democratic Targets

    1. Colorado: Wayne Allard, 44 approve - 43 disapprove
    2. Texas: John Cornyn, 45 approve - 42 disapprove
    3. Oklahoma: James Inhofe, 46 approve - 41 disapprove
    4. New Hampshire: John Sununu, 47 approve - 44 disapprove
    5. Minnesota: Norm Coleman, 48 approve - 43 disapprove
    6. Kansas: Pat Roberts, 51 approve - 36 disapprove
    7. North Carolina: Elizabeth Dole, 52 approve - 40 disapprove
    8. Georgia: Saxby Chambliss, 52 approve - 36 disapprove
    9. Tennessee: Lamar Alexander, 53 approve - 36 disapprove
    10. Kentucky: Mitch McConnell, 54 approve 39 disapprove
    11. Oregon: Gordon Smith, 54 approve - 37 disapprove

    Republican Targets

    1. New Jersey: Frank Lautenberg, 39 approve - 45 disapprove
    2. Massachusetts: John Kerry, 48 approve - 50 disapprove
    3. Illinois: Dick Durbin, 52 approve - 38 disapprove
    4. Iowa: Tom Harkin, 53 approve - 40 disapprove
    5. Michigan: Carl Levin, 54 approve - 36 disapprove
    6. Louisiana: Mary Landrieu, 54 approve - 42 disapprove

    Biggest opportunities I see here are Minnesota and New Hampshire. Coleman is a fluke - may you rest in peace Paul Wellstone - and New Hampshire is turning deep deep blue. On defense, Lautenberg is a place-holder and has already retired once; expected another ugly Jersey brawl. Kerry is up or out, probably out.

    So look at Harkin on this list. Tom is always a polarizer, a Democrats the Republicans love to hate. But they need a candidate first.

    Another Theocrats Hate Romney story:

    Mitt Romney (R) begins the 2008 campaign season in fourth place among those seeking the GOP Presidential nomination, trailing Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Condoleezza Rice. While many Republican insiders believe the Massachusetts Governor could become an attractive candidate to the party’s social conservatives, a Rasmussen Reports survey finds that Romney’s faith may initially be more of a hindrance than a help.

    Half (53%) of all Evangelical Christians say that they would not consider voting for a Mormon candidate.

    Women Winning, Not In Iowa:
    When the new elected officials take office, women's share of political offices in the U.S. will be:

  • Governors 18%
  • U.S. Senators 16%
  • House Members 16.3 % (pending two undecided races)
  • State Legislators 23%

    The Dems' strong majority of women office-holders notwithstanding, the total figures are still less than impressive. The clear challenge for all national, state and local Democratic organizations is to recruit, train and support more women candidates.

    In terms of statewide elective offices, women actually lost two seats nationwide (from 78 in '04 to 76 in '06).

  • One of those net losses is in Iowa where Sec of Ag went from a Democratic woman to a GOP man.

    Some parliamentary systems have addresses the gender gap by using "women-only short lists" in which only female candidates are considered for certain seats. The parties are stronger in a parliamentary system and in an American political culture of wide-open primaries, it won't happen. What the Democratic Party does to achieve a gender-balanced end is electing men and women separately. State Central Committee, Male. National Delegate, Female. With some reconfiguration of districts, or a larger legislative body, this could be done nationally. Obviously, it would a gigantic change in the political culture.

    Just pointing out that there are other ways to do things.

    Friday, November 24, 2006

    Rangel Feels a Draft, Leadership Says No, Who Knows?

    Rangel Feels a Draft, Leadership Says No, Who Knows?

    This was something we didn't need to be dealing with:

    Key Democrats, including the incoming House speaker, House majority leader and chairmen of the House and Senate armed services committees, said they do not support a resumption of the draft. They predicted that the idea will gather little momentum in the 110th Congress, which convenes in January. Pentagon officials also restated their opposition to a draft.

    Their comments came a day after Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), who will chair the Ways and Means Committee, said he would again introduce a bill calling for a return to the draft, saying it would force policymakers to deliberate more carefully before deciding to go to war...

    Yeah, yeah, Charlie, we get the rich-man's-war-poor-man's fight point your're trying to make. But with W stil in the White House it's too damn risky to even be TALKING about a draft. Especially with the infrastructure still in place:

    Rangel's insistent efforts to keep this issue in the body politic is allied to an underlying framework that provides for a rapid and extensive implementation of conscription, be it on the continent or within the 4th Reich of America in the form of Homeland Security Gestapo squads.

    Though influential Democrats like Nancy Pelosi have publicly shot down any chance of the draft returning to America, everything is in place to activate it, absent a nuclear or biological attack on a U.S. city or geopolitical turmoil.

    'The Selective Service System, an agency independent of the Defense Department, says it's ready to respond quickly to any crisis that would threaten to overwhelm the current all-volunteer military,' reports CNN, noting that the agency would be able to fully implement the draft in under a time period of seven months...

    In the meantime we still don't have a draft, but we DO have the Top 10 Lies Told By Military Recruiters, the lowest form of life on the planet.

    Popular Progressive, new Iowa lefty blog.

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Holiday News Hole and President Dollars

    Holiday News Hole and President Dollars

    There's no real news. It's Thanksgiving. Go listen to Alice's Restaurant.

    Gives me an excuse to ramble about a minor but interesting and vaugely political item:

    The United States Mint is planning a series of one-dollar coins to feature every deceased president, with the date stamped into the edge.

    The first coin, displaying George Washington on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other, will go into circulation in mid-February, in time for Presidents’ Day. After that, coins with John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison will be issued at three-month intervals.

    So the William Henry Harrison dollar will be minted three times longer than his term of office.

    Will the wingers be on edge?

    Notice Something Missing From the New Dollar Coin? If you guessed “God,” then you guessed right. Don’t worry–it’s not missing, it’s just been relegated to the rim of the coin. Out of sight is out of mind. The timing of this announcement seems to indicate that the announcement was held up until after the November 2006 elections.

    The announcement leads to various musings about the 35 year failure to persuade Americans to use dollar coins:

    "As long as we have the paper currency out there, dollar coins will never be successful," Gillis said. "We're going to have to discard the $1 bill or mass produce so many of these coins so they'll be out there at retailers."

    Sad stories of Susan B. and Sack o' Gawea abound. But no one mentions the 1971 Eisenhower dollar - the last non-commemoriative attempt to make a dollar coin in the size of the traditional, pre-1935 silver dollar.

    But Ike will have his day again in 2015. And the wingers will finally get their wet dream of Reagan On Money the next year. Four quarters please.

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    Iowa earns bid to Alamo Bowl

    Iowa earns bid to Alamo Bowl

    "Earns" (sic). That's a veeeeery loose use of the word "earns":

    The Hawkeyes (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten) will square off Dec. 30 against a Big 12 opponent that will be named early next month. Bowl executives acknowledged they favored the Hawkeyes over Minnesota, despite the teams' similar records, Iowa's three-game losing skid and the Gophers victory over the Hawkeyes in Saturday's season finale.

    And despite ending the season on a 2-6 skid. You think maybe there are too many bowl games?

    Dave Loebsack had a much better fall than the Hawkeyes, and got the academic version of a rousing chorus of "We Are The Champions":

    Professor-turned-politician David Loebsack returned to Cornell College on Monday for a reception in his honor.

    Loebsack, along with his wife, were joined by about 100 students, faculty and supporters at the Mount Vernon school's student commons area.

    "Dave's career is an American success story," said Cornell President Les Garner. "Thank you for spending a chapter of that story at Cornell College.

    Addressing his colleagues, Loebsack thanked Garner, his wife and his political science department co-workers, "because not everyone in the department voted for me."

    "Our department is a model department of civility," he added.

    Loebsack also praised Leach, comparing his department to the positive campaign by both candidates.

    "This was a civil campaign," he said. "I think people are sick and tired of this partisanship."

    With his closing remarks, Loebsack vowed to continue to support the college, both in Iowa and in Washington, D.C.

    "However Cornell and I work out," he said, "I'm not going to leave Cornell, and Cornell College is not going to leave me."

    Just for holiday fun, some help with the Number One On Your Birthday game. With UK and US options. My British chart topper is no problem - "I Want To Hold Your Hand" - but unfortunately my birth was just prior to Beatlemania in the US and I was born under the sign of the Singing Nun. (Independent research, however, verifies that "Louie Louie" was Number Two.)

    Mid-Vacation Roundup

    Mid-Vacation Roundup

    My convoluted vacation plans have me at the John Deeth Blog News Center for a bit so I'll tie up some loose ends.

    The Overrated One The Overrated One looooves the Murphy-McCarthy axis:

    While the party has an urban, left-of-center, base, the icing on their majority has been the recent election of rural Democrats from more conservative districts.

    'We know we got the majority, and we won it in rural areas,' Murphy said.

    It'll drive the liberals nuts, but it could keep the Democrats in power for years.

    Oh, so that solid Democratic delegation from Johnson County - including that Senate seat we picked up - and that 17,000 vote Culver margin had nothing to do with it. Must not have, as Yepsen even skips the obligatory espresso-based beverage joke.

    Once again, the Democrats play to their least supportive voters, while those of us who knocked the doors get the shaft. When are the Dems gonna dance with those of us who brung `em?

    At least some sorts of taxes are on the table:

    Shrinking state revenues available for fixing roads and rising highway construction costs could build pressure for Iowa lawmakers to consider the first gas tax hike since 1989 or other increase in licenses or fees

    Urban liberal base here: Let's make the SUV drivers pay for some buses and bike trails.

  • Greg Giroux of CQPolitics rates the most interesting contests of the cycle:

    Biggest surprise: Democrat David Loebsack, a college professor, upset 15-term Republican Rep. Jim Leach in Iowa’s 2nd District and broke the GOP moderate’s hold on a constituency that overall is Iowa’s most Democratic-leaning.

    I had written before about Loebsack’s candidacy, the partisan nature of the southeastern Iowa district, and Leach’s aversion to the breakneck fundraising and smash-mouth tactics that many incumbents employ to ward off political opponents. But I just didn’t think that Leach would lose in the end.

    Other thoughts from CQ writers Marie Horrigan and Rachel Kapochunas.

  • O.Kay watches Vilsack on CNN and notes the contrast to Harkin 1992:

    "This time around, Vilsack suggested he wants other candidates to compete here to legitimize his candidacy. 'This is a much different situation and a much different time,' Vilsack said."

    Very different: Harkin has his home state party locked up; Vilsack does not.

    C-N-N anchor Wolf Blitzer directly asked Vilsack if he believes Hillary Clinton will come into Iowa to compete against him.

    Vilsack did not directly answer:

    'I don't think it's about challenging me, Wolf. I think it's about talking about the future of this country,' Vilsack said. 'You can't have deficits, you can't have a lack of discussion about health care and energy security, and a national and foreign policy that has essentially alienated most of our friends and somehow united most of our enemies. We need to have a debate about that in the state of Iowa and across the country and I welcome that debate. I look forward to that debate.'


    This plays straight into the Stalking Horse theory: The major players - Clinton, God forbid Gore - have nothing to gain by an Iowa win. Vilsack's betting they skip out. TV figures he stumbles to a 30 percent win, knocks out three or so legitimate contenders to the Not Hillary crown, and gains major points for Number Two or Prominent Cabinet Post to be named later.

    Preserve some dignity, Governor. Let this fantasy go now. Do a cycle as state party chair then start running for Grassley's seat.

  • Russ Feingold had a shot, bit won't rule out #2 either says my old hometown paper the LaCrosse Tribune
    ONALASKA, Wis. — U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold admitted Monday at a listening session in Onalaska City Hall he’d have to seriously think about it if asked to be a presidential running mate.

    Love that dateline from my old home town - where I'm headed tomorrow.

  • New blog Political Fallout from the folks who gave us Nussle and Flow.
  • Saturday, November 18, 2006

    50 State Bush (Dis)approval

    50 State Bush (Dis)approval

    Bush supporters must be hiding out in the mountains; Survey USA reports net positives for W in only Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. That's 12 electoral votes, 13 if you spot him western Nebraska. Iowa's right in the middle of the pack at a net -22%.

    The Register looks at a meeting of Iowa's new Democratic majority congressional delegation of Harkin, Boswell, Braley and Loebsack.

    Loebsack said he briefly talked about the war with the president.

    "I did mention to him my desire to work with him," Loebsack said. "We didn't have much time to talk but I mentioned the war in Iraq." He said his wife, Terry, also told Bush about her son, a Marine captain and Naval Academy graduate who served in Iraq, and her daughter-in-law serving there now.

    The last majority-Dem Iowa crew was Clark, Culver the elder, Smith, Harkin in the House, Bedell, and Blouin - back in `78. Ah, the regrets: Berkley Bedell was a winner in what's now Steve King territory but he got Lyme disease and retired in `86 when Gopher took the seat... Neal Smith lost the chairmanship he'd waited his whole career for and didn't have his heart in the race in `94... Dick Clark and John Culver got swamped by the waves of `78-`80 (as did Blouin) but were two of the best one term senators from any state ever.

    I'm vacationing these next nine (!) days and will be on and off the grid. Holiday weeks, in any case, tend to be slow on the political news front but you never know.

    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Stay on Offense: Challenge a quarter of their Caucus

    Stay on Offense: Challenge a quarter of their Caucus

    Looking waaaay ahead, Swing State Project lists targets for 2008. Paging Dr. Spencer, Code Blue in Iowa 4.

    Chris Bowers at MyDD goes across the rotunda to look at the Senate. Harkin as usual is on the defense list, but the Republicans need a candidate first...

    Dave Loebsack stays on the national radar as one of the stars of 2006, appearing in a Time article debunking midterm myths:

    MYTH: Democrats won because they carefully recruited more conservative candidates.
    REALITY: Democrats won because their candidates were conservative about their message.

    Moderate Democrats have celebrated the midterms as a victory for their brand of fiscal conservatism, foreign policy "realism" and a version of "traditional values." Certainly, Washington will see an influx of unorthodox Democrats: congressmen-elect Heath Shuler in North Carolina and Brad Ellsworth in Indiana are pro-life and pro-gun. But liberals won in some relatively conservative areas as well, and often after being largely ignored by national Democratic strategists. In the House, they include Kentucky's John Yarmuth (who supports universal health care and affirmative action), New Hampshire's Carol Shea-Porter (she was once escorted out of a Bush event for wearing an anti-Bush t-shirt) and Dave Loebsack (an anti-war liberal academic) in Iowa.

    Since when is eastern Iowa a "conservative area"? And as Gannett checks in with Dave as orientation week winds down, his message doesn't sound the least conservative:

    The former Cornell College professor said he hopes to land a seat on the House Education and Workforce Committee.

    He said his top priority is a bill that would create a national health insurance system that has 77 co-sponsors in the House and might get more attention under the Democratic leadership. Loebsack also wants to reduce the costs of loans for all students and believes the new Congress will approve an increase in the minimum wage.

    Other than the Loebsack love, the best feature of Time's article is the pictures up top: Joe Lieberman with Rove and Limbaugh in an unholy trinity.

    Onetime Lieberman leader in Iowa Kevin McCarthy wants everyone to know the Dems are going to be moderate, moderate, moderate in Des Moines, says the Underrated One, Mike Glover:

    Rep. Kevin McCarthy, of Des Moines, was picked to be the House majority leader, giving the top leader team a distinctly moderate tone.

    'We also know there are two ways to govern, one is from the mainstream and the other is from the extreme,' McCarthy said. 'We are going to be a party that governs from the mainstream. We are going to focus on bread and butter issues.'

    Joining Murphy and McCarthy is Rep. Polly Bukta, D-Clinton, who was elected speaker pro tem.

    Assistant majority leaders who were elected include Rep. Lisa Heddens, of Ames; Helen Miller, of Fort Dodge; Mike Reasoner, of Creston; and John Whitaker, of Hillsboro.

    Register has more, some good, some not so much:

    While Culver has expressed support for reinstatement of the death penalty in limited circumstances, Murphy ruled out House debate of the issue. Culver has also called for repeal of the state law making English the official language of Iowa. Murphy says that's not a priority.

    Liberals shouldn't feel left out, Murphy said.

    "When we talk about education or health care, I don't think it matters if you're a centrist or a liberal."

    What about when it comes to making lifetime vows with your partner?

    Maybe the Senate, with its relatively larger majority, will be a notch or two to the left of the House this session. In the big picture, after a decade plus of minority status, not such a bad problem to have. But it's my job, as a duly self-appointed representative of the People's Republic, to keep pushing.

    This contest in the London (UK) Times looks like fun:

    I am looking for all contact - spotting in the street yesterday, autograph collected in your youth, meeting held with, picture taken with, gift received from, or whatever - with political figures.

    Now famous is fine but semi-famous is even better, faintly ludicrous is best of all. Pictures are particularly welcome, especially if they show the semi-famous figure doing something prosaic. Bruce Babbitt shopping for a new television would be ideal.

    Waaaay too easy for a caucus-going Iowan, though.

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Where Were The Rednecks?

    Where Were The Rednecks?

    Now this is the kind of quote you don't see everyday:

    “White rednecks” who “didn’t show up to vote for us” partly cost GOPers their cong. majorities, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) told fellow Republicans today.

    Examining the 2006 midterms, Putnam blamed the GOP defeat on “the independent vote, the women vote, the suburban vote.” He said that “heck, even the white rednecks who go to church on Sunday didn't come out to vote for us.”

    Three Republicans in the room independently confirmed to the Hotline the substance and context of Putnam’s remarks. But Putnam’s chief of staff insists that the remarks were taken out of context.

    Why do we make such a fuss when politicians talk the way regular folks talk? And yet we make fun of them when they talk in that PC Conehead speak that we all recognize as a distinct dialect of Bullshit? Like I keep saying, I wish politicians could or would communicate with the frank honesty of standup comics. And it gives me an excuse to link to this long list of Jeff Foxworthy punchlines.

  • If your state's got a new law that says when a couple get divorced, they are still legally brother and sister...
  • If you think Possum is "The Other White Meat"...
  • If you think the last words to The Star Spangled Banner are "Gentlemen, start your engines..."

  • In any case, Putnam bluntly captured the essence of the GOP base in two words, without offending said base which has embraced the term with perverse pride. (More substantive: his criticism of former Rep. J.C. Watts' leadership of the House Republican Conference.) And the GOP is making fast moves to recapture the white redneck vote, returning Trent Lott and his fond memories of the Dixiecrat `48 campaign to the Senate leadership.

    Iowa House Dems make disappointing choice

    Iowa House Dems make disappointing choice

    Rep. Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines, is in line to become the new House majority leader. Selection of (Murphy and McCarthy) would put a relatively moderate face on the new Democratic majority in the House. Neither comes from the party's liberal wing and both are considered centrists.

    McCarthy was far enough right that he was state director for Joe Lieberman back in 2003... which made him one of about seven Iowans who backed Joementum along with party switcher Doug Struyk. (Maybe that's where Joe got the idea?) So you combine that with an anti-choice Speaker... Lord, do I miss Dick Myers.

    The biggest cloud in last week's silver lining election is that Joe Lieberman holds control of the US Senate in his traitorous hands. If it weren't for that "Harold Ford wants to sleep with white women" ad, we could have assigned Lieberman to the Bathroom Inspection and Toilet Scrubbing Committee where he belongs.

    Please. God. No.

    Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said in Des Moines Wednesday that he hopes to run for president.

    Is he timing this just to mock me, an expatriate cheesehead who's still lamenting the demise of the Feingold campaign?

    The root of terror is clear

    The root of terror is clear

    The Brits, at least, are allowed to talk about the real problem:

    "Afghanistan, the Balkans, Chechnya, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Kashmir and Lebanon are regularly cited by those who advocate terrorist violence as illustrating what they allege is western hostility to Islam." Code-crackers will note note that she goes way back before 9/11, so these "roots" go very deep.

    And where, in any meaningful sense, can they be reckoned to start? The loose threads of this tapestry lead inescapably back to what she calls "Israel and Palestine". Maybe bringing peace to the Middle East after over half a century of vicious strife wouldn't bring total generation shift, the lessening of a fury, the erasure of hatred. But it would be a beginning, a symbol, a chance to start afresh...

    We pretend that withdrawing from Afghanistan or Iraq will do the hearts-and-minds trick. We pretend (with America's triumphant Democrats as the worst offenders, alas) that Israel can somehow be set to one side while the al-Qaida terror debate rages.

    But these are the malign thoughts of the new power kid on the block, Avigdor Lieberman, deputy prime minister of Israel and passionate advocate of ethnically cleansing his adopted land. Meanwhile, dozens more Palestinians die while the enfeebled government that needs Lieberman inside the tent shells Gaza day after day.

    "None of this can be tackled by my service alone," says Dame Eliza. Others "must tackle the causes". And - coded or not - we damn well know where those causes lie.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    Is Vilsack a Stalking Horse for Hillary?

    Is Vilsack a Stalking Horse for Hillary?

    So is TV really running for VP? Rolling Stone opines:
    If you’re the DLC and you’ve got a great shot at another Clinton White House, why muck things up with a 1000-to-1 longshot bid like Vilsack? It makes little sense, unless Vilsack is a stalking horse for Hillary.

    Iowa is hard to win. It requires time, and more time, and a degree of face-to-face human warmth and interaction to win. Politically interested people in Iowa expect to shake hands with the person they caucus for. Retail politics is not Hillary’s bag, to put it mildly.

    If she can opt out of Iowa that allows her to plow her mass market media dolars into Las Vegas and the rest of Nevada (which is the number two race on the revamped primary schedule). If she takes the Silver State, she could roll into New Hampshire, where geography is already her friend, the prohibitive frontrunner.

    Vilsack maybe raises his name recognition enough to be a viable veep candidate. Or at the very least sets himself up for a plum cabinet post in the second Clinton White House.

    Sounds more plausible to me than President Vilsack. He boxed himself in with his self-term limit and now has nowhere else to go.

    Way back in the bossed era of brokered conventions, candidates used to run as "favorite sons". The goal was to control the home state delegation and position yourself to Make The Deal. Maybe, just maybe, the convention would deadlock and lightning might strike...

    Vilsack 08 is a glorified version of the old favorite son strategy. But odds are he won't even get to that "control the home state delegation" stage. Unlike Harkin in 1992, someone will take TV on in Iowa. People are excited about Obama and Edwards, waiting on Gore (Please God No), and checking out the others - the Bidens and the Bayhs. Kerry draws a crowd but the buzz is "had your chance." Hillary hovers over it all, probably with her solid 30 percent and no one's second choice.

    I'm giving him Vilsack the same consideration I'm giving all the rest. The DLC thing is a big minus for me. Good governor, sure (I'm still pissed about English Only, though). But PRESIDENT? Not so much.

    Speaking of new employment for job hunting Iowans, more buzz on Leach for UN:

    Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Rep. James Walsh, R-N.Y., are developing a letter to other members proposing that Leach be named U.N. ambassador.

    Although President Bush has resubmitted John Bolton’s nomination, it’s not clear there will be enough votes in the Senate to confirm him.

    Aides to Leach said that he had no immediate comment on the proposal.

    Jerome Armstrong at MyDD says "the suggestion that Jim Leach be the UN Ambassador is probably the best idea to come out of the Republican Party this decade." I thought it was Carol deProsse's idea, though.

    In that same post Jerome name-drops our House race:

    Is part of the reason we won seats like IA 2nd just because the DCCC stayed out? It's worth thinking about, particularly having in mind that the '08 election for the DCCC will be about incumbent protection, that people-powered congressional campaigns should not count on the establishment, but instead to make it happen themselves.

    E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post also mentions Our Man Dave, who seems to be rapidly emerging as one of the bright stars of the Class of `06:

    The notion that this election produced a different kind of "conservative" majority is simply wrong. Yes, Democrats won in part by nominating moderate candidates in moderate areas. But every newly elected Democrat was, by any fair reckoning, somewhere to the left of the vanquished Republican, especially on Iraq and economic issues.

    Moreover, voters on Tuesday sent to Congress a pack of unapologetic progressives, including Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Senate, and such new House members as John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire and Dave Loebsack in Iowa, among many others.

    Meanwhile Bruce Braley picks Hoyer over Murtha in the House Majority Leader race.

    Christopher rants:

    Republicans lost both the House and Senate in last week's election, largely by losing a string of very tight elections where the huge effort Democrats put into absentee and early voting provided the margin of victory.

    "We were 1,471 votes away from staying in the majority," Rants said.

    State and national GOP strategists have dismissed the focus on absentee voting, preferring to focus on delivering voters to the polls on election day. The result, Rants said, was a shelling in the midterm election.

    "I think they've got their head in the sand," Rants said of GOP strategists.

    "Danny Carroll had 1,000 votes against him before the polls opened," Rants said. "Republicans have got to change strategies and it has to be a party-wide effort."

    Since it's not my place to offer the Other Party advice, I'll confine my comments to Nyah Nyah, Nyah Nyah Nyah and Neener Neener Neener. See, bloggers are capable of sophisticated political discourse.

    But Rants' rant is a reminder of how last weeks' victory didn't just happen, of all the hard work that went into it, and just how narrow the margins are. Get out the vote is about the margins - the best GOTV in history couldn't have saved us in `94. But for Landslide Rich Olive, it makes the difference.

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    The Grand Tour of Their New House -

    The Grand Tour of Their New House

    Professor Loebsack Goes To Washington; the Washington Post reports.

    David Loebsack, 53, a political science professor from Iowa, is another improbable congressman. The Democrat who had never before won public office defeated 15-term Rep. Jim Leach (R). Yesterday, Loebsack was absorbing the notion that he would be making public policy instead of studying it.

    "I grew up in poverty with a single mom who had mental illness," Loebsack said. "If anyone had told me I'd grow up to teach at Cornell College with a PhD, I would have thought they were crazy. If anyone had told me that I would get elected to Congress, I would have thought they were from another planet. I'm living proof of the American dream."

    Yesterday evening, Loebsack and the other freshmen were invited to a reception at the White House, another moment he said he would cherish. "I didn't know we were going to the White House -- I just found out," he said.

    Novelty Wearing Off Fast In Riverside

    Novelty Wearing Off Fast In Riverside

    The Gazette article isn't linkable, but this much tells the story:

    The new Riverside casino saw its gaming revenue drop 13.6 percent and its attendance decline by 19.9 percent in October compared with its first full month of operation. Chief Executive Officer Dan Kehl of the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort said he expected the numbers to go down after the first month as the ``newness'' wore off. ``We're tracking about where we thought we'd be,'' he said. ``It may have been a little bit lighter (in October). There were a couple of days ... that knocked us a little bit off of our projections, but nothing we're concerned about.''

    As I've said so many times: the gambling pie is only so big. Opening more casinos doesn't expand the pool of gamblers, it merely cuts the pie into thinner and thinner slices. There are people (like me) who wouldn't go to a casino if it were across the street. This isn't job growth, it's a temporary redistribution.

    Also on the local front, IC City council meets with legislators:

    The Iowa City Council discussed changing the property tax system as a way to generate more money for city services.

    Good point there: perhaps the new trifecta team of Culver, Gronstal and Murphy will look at that rather than regressive sales taxes.

    Another topic, introduced by University of Iowa City Council liaison Austin Baeth, was protecting tenants from landlords who wrongfully retain deposit money.

    Other legislative priorities listed by City Council include:

  • Advocating for increased funding for the Iowa State Housing Trust Fund to make affordable housing more available.
  • Maintaining control over local cable franchise to better endorse public television.
  • Giving city government the power to increase its hotel/motel tax.
  • Allowing home rule so local governments can determine their own public smoking regulation.
  • Eliminating the tax break for licenses on pickup trucks that originally was intended to benefit farmers.

  • Doesn't look like a sensible, enforcable, consistent drinking age of 18 was on the agenda.

    Quick and dirty links:

  • MyDD looks at the excessive credit given Rahm Emanuel for last week's win with the funniest post of the year.
  • Election Central has the rundown on 10 US House races still in the too close to call zone.
  • Old music in new packages from a couple of my obsessions: Neil Young finally starts to release the archives with a 1970 live set and Oasis does the greatest hits thing in odd fashion: two CDs running just 87 minutes and denying the existence of Be Here Now. No new songs but the upside is Noel Gallagher picked the tracks himself so you get a good sense of what he thinks is his best work.
  • Todo el repentino, republicanos quisiera que los hispanos votaran

    Todo el repentino, republicanos quisiera que los hispanos votaran

    The GOP has taken a sudden interest in the Hispanic vote after last week's debacle. And, as usual, their approach is tokenism:
    Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a prominent Hispanic who previously served in President Bush's Cabinet, will assume the high-profile post of Republican National Committee general chairman, GOP officials said Monday.

    Wrong on just so many levels:

  • Just like the Rumsfeld firing, it's a ready-fire-aim too late move. Look at the numbers:
    73 percent of Hispanics voted for the Democratic Party on Tuesday, while only 26 percent voted for Republican candidates, CNN exit polls show. In the 2004 presidential elections, 55 percent of Hispanics voted Democrat and about 42 percent voted Republican.

    Gee, Steve King, why would that be?
    Republican sponsorship of a law to build a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border and Republican House members' efforts to pass a bill that would have turned millions of undocumented workers into felons fueled a climate that many Hispanics saw as veiled racism.

    When they accused Hispanic immigrants of draining Social Security coffers, clogging schools and hospitals, being potential terrorists and bringing infectious diseases into the United States, millions of Hispanic-heritage U.S. citizens felt insulted. It was as if all Hispanics were suddenly cast as potential national security threats.

  • A week after an election that was a repudiation of George W. Bush and the scandal-riddled Republican congress, the GOP names as its head... a former Bush cabinet official who's currently serving in Congress and who you can at least use in a sentence with the name Jack Abramoff.

  • Kos makes the point that Hispanics are a diverse group:
    There's a wide culture gap between Cubans and most other Latinos. Politically, Cubans have more in common with Vietnamese immigrants than they do other Latino groups.

    Talking Points Memo puts it well:

    One of the big campaign gambits from Republican candidates was Democratic Candidate X is going to ruin Social Security by giving away money to illegal aliens (pan to pictures of Mexicans).

    It's a pretty sad but also really familiar story. GOP spends years 'reaching out' to [insert minority group of your choice] until they find themselves losing an election and go hog wild with race-bating or whatever other nastiness looks like it will yield short-term political benefits.

    It'll be interesting to see how this plays with the Don't Talk Spanish In Front Of Me In The Wal-Mart Line Republican base. I assume they'll be able to manage the War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery cognitive dissonance they usually handle, or at least a level of I'm Not Prejudiced One Of My Best Friends Is Hispanic But I'm Just Saying tokenism.
  • Monday, November 13, 2006

    Halloween is over, don't scare me

    Halloween is over, don't scare me

    Register's Jane Norman is looking ahead to Harkin vs. ??? in `08 and drops this frightening concept:

    Rep. Steve King emerged from the Republican bloodbath with 58.3 percent of the vote, the highest re-election percentage of any of Iowa's congressional incumbents (though down from 63 percent in 2004). Now he has to decide whether he wants to stay in the House, where he's likely guaranteed to keep his seat forever unless Iowa City is somehow redistricted into the 5th District, or challenge Harkin for his Senate seat.

    I've been waiting for Democratic representation since the day redistricting took Dave Nagle away from me; don't even scare me like this!

    Sunday, November 12, 2006

    Russ Is Out

    Russ Is Out


    U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has decided against seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, saying he wanted to focus on his work in the Senate...

    Best part of the e-mail:

    While I've certainly enjoyed the repeated comments or buttons saying, "Run Russ Run", or "Russ in '08", I often felt that if a piece of Wisconsin swiss cheese had taken the same positions I've taken, it would have elicited the same standing ovations. This is because the hunger for progressive change we feel is obviously not about me but about the desire for a genuinely different Democratic Party that is ready to begin to reverse the 25 years of growing extremism we have endured.

    While the two-divorce barrier may not have in and itself been insurmountable, one of my Wisconsin contacts notes that on paper Russ is the poorest Senator with a net negative worth; apparantly the second split was costly in the financial sense. I guess we'll leave it to Mitt Romney to test the religious barriers.

    Not an entire bad weekend for Wisconsin, however:

    Favre threw two touchdown passes without a turnover and Donald Driver had a career-high 191 yards receiving in a 23-17 Packer victory over the Vikings.

    And I heard the Badgers had a good weekend too though my feelings are less positive about that.

    Back to Feingold: it was always about the message. Sure, I liked the messenger too, but Feingold's personal decision does not set back the message.

    Congressman-Elect Loebsack takes the message to the New York Times:

    Dave Loebsack, a political science professor in Iowa who unseated the veteran Republican moderate, Representative Jim Leach, said he intended to sign on to proposed legislation to create a single-payer, national health insurance program “as one of the first things I will do when I get to Congress.”

    “I have no idea where it’s going to go next year,” Mr. Loebsack said, “but at least we can give it a fair hearing.”

    reports on Iowa Senate Republican caucus infighting. Lundby is re-elected but:

    Before the vote was taken, Senators, McKinley, Zieman, Boettger, Zahn, Hahn, Kettering, Behn and Senator-elect Hartsuch walked out of the meeting.

    For those reading the leaves, that's the right, the old Iverson loyalists. Including Jim Hahn, the Senator from David Stanley and last Republican Senator left representing a square inch of Johnson County...

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Friday Short Cuts

    Friday Short Cuts

    The long march is over and I'm actually getting a three day weekend. But I can't hit the road without offering a few items.

  • Carol deProsse writes:

    Senator Chafee has stated his opposition to John Bolton's nomination as Ambassador to the UN, which makes Bolton dead in the water.

    I'd like to suggest Jim Leach for the position. He's got the education, the background, the diplomatic skills, and the demeanor to be a fine ambassador.

    Not a bad idea, though Chafee's opinion is only of relevance a few more weeks. But Bush will NEVER name the only anti-war Republican to anything...

    Meanwhile the Press-citizen picks up on the Deeth-fueled rumor:

    With defeated U.S. Rep. Jim Leach out of a job, speculation -- or at least curiosity -- about him being in the mix of candidates to become the University of Iowa's next president has surfaced once again.

    But two days after he lost his bid for a 16th term in Congress, the Iowa City Republican is mum on the topic.

    'I have no idea about that and it would be very, very inappropriate for me to comment,' Leach said Thursday. 'Of all subjects you've asked about, this is one I'll refrain from.'

  • Now that the Dems have the trifecta, we can no longer excuse a regressive sales tax as "the only way to raise revenue for The Kids."

  • Looking ahead: Kos examines Senate 2008. "Not likely competitive at this time: Harkin (D) in IA..." Steve King is nuts but not dumb.

  • Is ANYONE ever going to give Chuck Grassley a serious run? It's still four years off, but by 2010 Chuck Grassley will have served 52 consecutive years in elected office. His freakin' GRANDSON is in the Legislature now. The last time Grassley had to break a sweat was 1980 - if you think about it, literally a political generation ago. This is the kind of guy who maybe, just maybe, has let the political skills atrophy. Maybe, just maybe, the aw-shucks bit won't play in an increasingly urbanized Iowa.

    Maybe, just maybe, Tom Vilsack should think about that instead of fantasizing about the White House.

  • Dianne Bystrom at the Register looks at Women Winning:

  • Record 16 women in US Senate
  • At least 70 women in US House, also a record (and of course that House will be gaveled by Speaker Pelosi)
  • Record 34 women in Iowa Legislature (still below national average, though)

    Iowa is still in the club with Mississippi, though: the only two states that have never elected a woman to Congress of the governorship. How about finding a strong progressive female candidate to succeed Leonard Boswell (51.6% in the best Democratic year in decades) in `08? Names, readers; send me names.
  • Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Soil and Water: Fundamentally Undemocratic

    Soil and Water: Fundamentally Undemocratic

    Did you know there's an office that you can win with less votes than your opponent? Other than President of the United States, I mean.

    SOIL & WATER CONS. BD. (Vote for 2)
    Cindy Asmussen 16,407 37.28%
    Terry Dahms 12,538 28.49%
    Ed Ruppenkamp 11,747 26.69%

    It's an obscure provision that I was only vaugely aware of: A county can't elect two soil and water commissioners from the same township. Asmussen and Dahms both live in the same township. In this situation, the candidate with the next highest number of votes wins.

    In order to be elected, Dahms would have had to have finished in FIRST place. And Ruppenkamp was in a can't lose situation. Despite getting the fewest votes, he is elected.

    There was virtually no information available on this race - believe me, I looked, it was a question I heard a lot. I got a lot of hits from people searching on it, because I briefly mentioned it at filing deadline.

    If geographic diversity is so important on this board the Legislature should find another method, such as districts, to ensure it. In the meantime, Ruppenkamp should do the decent thing and resign. The commission itself would appoint a new member. It still couldn't be Dahms because of the township thing, and I wonder whether such an appointment is less democratic than an election. But at least it wouldn't be someone who was explicitly rejected by the voters. Sorry to nitpick but though this was legal it doesn't seem fair.

    Vilsack 08: That Didn't Take Long

    Vilsack 08: That Didn't Take Long

    Tom Vilsack is striking while the iron is hot:

    Vilsack said he will officially launch his presidential campaign Thursday when he files documents with the Federal Election Commission.

    The filing comes two days after his fellow Democrats scored overwhelming victories in state and national elections.

    Vilsack heads the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist group that former President Clinton used to help launch his candidacy. He has also traveled the country campaigning for Democratic gubernatorial candidates while considering a presidential run.

    After the near sweep in Iowa he figures his stock is up.

    Timing his announcement to the Democrats' gains this week will show national donors that Vilsack can take credit for victories, a key asset when soliciting contributions, Texas A&M University political science professor George Edwards said.

    Does this kill the caucuses? Or did the caucuses get a bye, one last exemption, in 2008 because the nationals figured Vilsack will make them irrelevant anyway? I'm not convinced of that:

  • Sunday in Iowa City, Vilsack didn't get nearly the reception that Barack Obama, Chet Culver, and Tom Harkin did. Nobody started spontaneously chanting "Run, Tom, Run." They DID, however, spontaneously chant "LOEB-SACK! LOEB-SACK! LOEB-SACK!"
  • That's twice in a row I've seen him that his speeches have ended with the screaming thing. Worked really well for Howard Dean.
  • Tuesday's results were hardly a mandate for DLC me-too politics. It was unapologetic progressives like Dave Loebsack who picked up seats.
  • He's not going to be governor anymore, and Governor Culver will likely want to leave his own imprint on the state political scene, no doubt eclipsing Vilsack to some extent.

    Bottom line is I wish this wasn't happening. I was mostly proud of Vilsack as a governor; he did a good job playing defense on choice, but I never did get that totally nude dancing he promised. And he should have taken the hit and vetoed English Only - he might have beaten the hapless Doug Gross by a couple less points but he still would have won in `02. I feel no sense of enthusiasm like I did in 1991 for Harkin, and not even a sense of favorite son obligation.

    Press-citizen and Register look at the Loebsack win:

    His first order of business as a congressman will be to vote for a single-payer, universal health care plan, Loebsack said. He also wants to help pass a minimum wage increase and hopes to serve on the education and work force committee.

    "Now that we have control of the House of Representatives, Democrats will be in charge of the committees, and we will be able to put our agenda forth," he said. "We're going to have to compromise. I think it's really important that people know that."

    "People liked him, but they wanted change, and he was in the party that they wanted to see changed, so he had to go," University of Iowa associate political science professor Cary Covington said. "I think in virtually any other circumstance, Leach would have weathered the storm, but this was one where I think Loebsack made exactly the right argument and he hammered it home.

    "In a way, it was almost like, 'Vote against Jim Leach for a greater good that I stand for,'" Covington said. "I think (Loebsack) stands for a lot of things people like ... but I do think it was the opposition to President Bush that put him over the top."

    Loebsack and Leach ran what were seen as polite and civil campaigns, attempting to spell out their policy differences rather than engage in attacks. Leach was not viewed by national pundits as endangered until almost the last minute, when he made the national political tip sheet Hotline's list of endangered incumbents at No. 59.

    Leach raised $444,000 while Loebsack raised $368,000 for the campaign through Oct. 18, small sums compared with the millions raised in two other Iowa congressional districts with more high-profile contests.

    Not to bash Braley - and he was a great help to Dave Loebsack early on when almost no one believed - but the contrast is striking. Here outside the 1st District, Braley seemed to have higher name ID than Loebsack. It was TV, TV, TV to the north, and shoe leather here in the south. Number One Race In The Country vs. Dave Who. Dave won it the way it's supposed to be but all too rarely is.

    The Overrated One has some bullet point postmortems for the GOP:

  • Quit being a subsidiary of the religious right. This may be the toughest balancing act of all. Yes, religious conservatives are an important part of the GOP constituency. But they need to be told they aren't, or can't be, the only foundation.

    In Iowa, 35 percent of likely voters describe themselves as "fundamentalist" or "born again." That also means 65 percent aren't. Yet, too often, the GOP seems like a branch of some evangelical church, and it moves too far to the right on social questions.

    So, for example, when a little-known candidate is chosen at the last minute to run for secretary of state based on her religious views and not her electability, well, it just cedes the job to a Democrat.

  • Well, yeah... but it also kinda sorta a little helped that Mike Mauro was incredibly more qualified for the job.

  • End the Iraq war. It's politically smart for Donald Rumsfeld to leave as defense secretary. Other heads should roll, too. Bush could do worse than offer outgoing Iowa Congressman Jim Leach a job helping to fashion a new administration plan for the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

  • Sounds like a good man for the job and a good job for the man. (Though I'm stubbornly sticking to my U of I president theory, a rumor Leach is already having to no comment on in the Gazette (no link).

    Dance with meeeee, I want to be your congressman, can't you seeeee, my first term is just starting: Rep.-elect John Hall (D-NY). His politics are way better than Sonny Bono's, but "Still The One" is no "Needles and Pins."
  • Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Bob's Your Uncle, Dave's Your Congressman

    Bob's Your Uncle, Dave's Your Congressman

    Randy Larson makes the best Democratic pizza in Iowa City (that, however is the only race the Republicans win around here; Armond Pagliai is as unbeatable as we once though Jim Leach was.) And so the tired Johnson County Dems gathered at Bob's Your Uncle for what I believe was officially the victory party for county attorney-elect Janet Lyness - it's still a victory even if you're unopposed - but became a joint victory party with Dave Loebsack.

    Everyone else still seemed to be in pinching themselves shock but Loebsack is taking it all in stride. The voice mail is full, he's off to Washington on Sunday for congressional orientation.

    Loebsack: That's your taxpayer dollars paying for my trip.
    Deeth: It's money well spent.

    The political scientist in Dave wanted to talk numbers, and we chatted about the margin at different times and which counties were reporting. The campaigner notes that today is the start of a new campaign financial cycle and that his contribution page remains active.

    This was a local operation from the get-go, a total contrast from the last "serious" attempt by DC and Des Moines at this seat, Julie Thomas in `02. That race was almost consulted and DCCC'd to death, and simply assumed that getting out the Democrats to vote would do and partisan voting index would do the rest. Which succeeded in getting out a lot of votes... for Leach.

    Dave Loebsack realized that Leach was a unique situation and he needed to persuade the Democrats to come home - which they did yesterday.

    Other than the national wave, a few other subjects popped up in various talks:

  • Leach was gracious in defeat. But few bought into my U of I President theory.
  • Staffers can get really deep in the bubble - I met one so preoccupied with GOTV that the dead cows story was news.
  • Jim Nussle has been in college, law school, and elective office his entire adult life. What the hell is he going to do next?
  • I looked at the numbers and I was wrong: Culver's Johnson County percentage was in fact 0.1% HIGHER than LBJ in 1964.
  • Last time Iowa Democrats held majority of US House delegation was 1970's - Harkin, Blouin, Smith, Bedell.
  • Upset of the Nation: In 1996 it was Loretta Sanchez knocking off B-1 Bob Dornan. Two years ago it was Melissa Bean taking out Phil Crane. Left unsaid was the 1990 Minnesota Senate race, won by an unknown political science professor from a small college...

    Damn I'm tired.
  • The Faces of Victory

    The Faces of Victory

    'They said it couldn't happen, but you know what, there were some of us who thought it could happen,' Congressman-elect Loebsack told a crowd of about 300 jubilant supporters about 12:30 a.m. today. 'People really want real change. They really want this country to go in a different direction.'"

    Congressman-elect Loebsack. I like the way that rolls out. Con-gress-man-e-lect Loeb-sack.

    I'm on about two hours sleep so I'm just cribbing at the moment.

  • Register summarizes Iowa legislative seat changes.
  • MyDD has a look at What We Accomplished, well worth the read.
  • DI has nice local pics.
  • The Upset Of The Nation

    The Upset Of The Nation

    US House Dist 2
    US House
    338 of 338 (100 %) Precincts Reporting
    * Dave Loebsack (D) 107,097 51 %
    Jim Leach (R) (i) 101,386 49 %

    Every cycle someone does it. Someone who no one thinks has a chance, in a race that's literally not even on the map, comes out of nowhere and shocks the country.

    Tonight it happened in my town. This is the biggest win I've ever been a small part of.

    I remember sitting around living rooms in about February, brainstorming messages, trying to find a way to do the impossible, to beat a 30 year incumbent. I remember a quck spoken genial professor who I've worked with on campaigns successful and not, watching him struggle with telling his story of a difficult youth - I knew him for at least a decade before I heard it - watching him grow into a powerful messenger for change and for Democratic values.

    I'm proud to call Dave Loebsack a friend.

    Tonight I am proud to call him my congressman.

    I knew it would happen at about 10:15, when I saw the numbers from Iowa City precincts coming in 15, 20% higher than they were four years ago. Tonight the Democrats of Johnson County came home and voted like Democrats. That was the difference between the near-misses of Bob Rush and Julie Thomas and tonight's win. We knew all along that if even half of the Leach Democrats came home Dave would win. He carried Johnson County with 60%.

    Jim Leach will be named president of the University of Iowa before Christmas. And the moderate House Republican is now officially extinct.

    Governor-Elect Culver won 68% here which may be the biggest Democratic margin since, get this, LBJ in 1964. I need to look that up.

    It's a turnout record too: just over 44,000 votes.

    Mike Mauro wins handily over the Invisible Woman; how long till she goes back to Virginia? Only real tarnish on the night was that Denise O'Brien couldn't get the green bus across the line.

    The Dems pick up a state senate seat in Johnson County as well, as Becky Schmitz knocks off Dave Miller to become part of a 30-20 majority. Joe Bolkcom beats the guy with the long name 78-22. On the House side Ro Foege whomped Emma Nemecek 61-39, Mark Nolte made a respectable showing, and Clara Oleson got beat even worse than I did.

    Split Your Vote appears to have accomlished little more than venting some Newport Township steam, as the voting patterns in the other 56 precincts seem to follow lines that are explained by other factors. Other than Newport, Curry's best spots were places Republicans usually do well. Sally Stutsman comes in first and is the first four term supervisor in at least a couple generations. Larry Meyers is a close second and the Dems keep the solid 10-0 hold on the courthouse.

    Elsewhere in the state Braley overwhelms Whalen but despite the national trend Leonard Boswell only beats Lamberti by six. The wave saved Boswell, who really should announce his retirement now.

    I'll take me a day or two to absorb the national scene but I can't wait to see Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid take on the Bushies... Dennis Hastert will return to the back benches before the month is through.

    For tonight I'm just enjoying the moment: the giddy staffers at the end of the victory party, the emotional release of the end of this particular long haul. I doubt I'll get any sleep...

    Comments from others:

  • The Johnson County Republicans are concise.
  • Common Iowan and Political Forecast had play by play on results.
  • In Muscatine, Nathan Reichert is re-elected and the Democrats have taken contol of the Board of Supervisors.
  • Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    The Longest Day Starts

    The Longest Day Starts

    You won't hear much from me today, maybe an early evening update and a verrrrry late look at the local big picture. Just a couple things to share this morning:

  • The big secret weapon of the GOP 72 Hour Fiendish Plan seems to be, you guessed it, vote suppression:
    This year's heavy volume of automated political phone calls has infuriated countless voters and triggered sharp complaints from Democrats, who say the Republican Party has crossed the line in bombarding households with recorded attacks on candidates in tight House races nationwide.

    Some voters, sick of interrupted dinners and evenings, say they will punish the offending parties by opposing them in today's elections. But critics say Republicans crafted the messages to delude voters -- especially those who hang up quickly -- into thinking that Democrats placed the calls.

    Many voters hang up as soon as a robo-call begins -- without waiting for the criticisms or the NRCC sign-off at the end -- so they think it was placed by the Democratic candidate named at the start...

    Even worse:

    In New Mexico yesterday, the state Democratic Party accused its GOP counterpart of calling Democratic voters and falsely telling them their polling place has changed.

    Even Even Worse:

    Tim Daly from Clarendon got a call saying that if he votes Tuesday, he will be arrested. The transcript from his voicemail reads:

    "This message is for Timothy Daly. This is the Virginia Elections Commission. We've determined you are registered in New York to vote. Therefore, you will not be allowed to cast your vote on Tuesday. If you do show up, you will be charged criminally."

    Daly has been registered to vote in Virginia since 1998, and he has voted for the last several cycles with no problem. He has filed a criminal complaint with the Commonwealth's attorney in Arlington.

    If you really really don't know where to vote, call me at work or look it up. I'll also be posting the turnout updates and the returns - there not here so that explains the lack of blogging.

  • Just How Confident Are House Republicans?

    Some Republican members have already suggested that the conference may consider an entirely new leadership team if the party ends up losing control of the House. Among those mentioned as possible members are Policy Chairman Adam H. Putnam of Florida and Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.

    Parties that are expecting to win -- or even to lose narrowly -- don't let leak discussion of the defenestration of their leadership the day before an election.

  • Loebsack and Culver win the Hamburg Inn Coffee Bean Poll:

    Culver defeated Republican candidate Jim Nussle 1,475 votes to 260 votes. Loebsack defeated incumbent Jim Leach 1,123 votes to 446 votes.

    Remember: the Ronald Reagan table is also the Jim Leach Table...
  • Monday, November 06, 2006

    Obamarama: Old Media Roundup

    Obamarama: Old Media Roundup

    Lots of stories and pics this morning:


    The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver got an almost picture-perfect rally Sunday night.

    "I think I heard the sheriff say something like 5,000 people are here," said Taylor West, Culver's press secretary. "I think it's indicative of the huge momentum build we've seen over the last few weeks."

    I'll take Lonny Pulkrabek's word for it; it was beyond my capacity but perhaps they teach you crowd estimating at sheriff school.

    Gazette covers the other team too, and zooms in on some of the same things I did on the fly:

    ``It requires audacity to believe in things not seen,'' he said, adding that ``to hope is not to ignore the challenges we face, but to say we can do something about it.''

    From the birth of the nation to the abolition of slavery to women's suffrage, unionization and the influx of immigrants, he said, ``this country was built on the audacity of hope.''

    Tuesday's election will reaffirm that Americans, ``at their core, are decent people,'' Obama said.

    ``When American people pay attention, good things happen,'' he said, and they are paying attention in this election cycle.

    PC has a photo gallery (you can spot me if you look close) and article:

    "Our party is about hope and opportunity," said Culver, who spoke at the end of rally. "But we're also the party of dreams."

    Some of those "dreams" include raising teachers' salaries, providing health care and early education to all children, giving women the right to choose what to do with their bodies, and lifting the ban for stem-cell research, Culver said.

    Iowa City is the second to last stop in the last minute campaign to rally votes by Democrats. The rally will end in Des Moines, at Hoover High School where Culver was a teacher and coach.

    Mike Glover has two pieces - the "well, there's gonna be an election" angle:

    Both had their party's biggest names in tow, and they were getting plenty of help from national figures as well.

    Nussle was fresh from a swing last week by President Bush seeking support in overwhelmingly Republican western Iowa.

    Culver was taking a page from that playbook on Sunday, bringing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama into overwhelmingly Democratic Iowa City on Sunday night for a rally with other big-name Democrats such as Gov. Tom Vilsack and Sen. Tom Harkin. Like Nussle's western Iowa effort, Culver was looking to boost turnout in a region he's certain to carry.

    And the 2008 angle:

    Obama was making his third swing this year through Iowa, where precinct caucuses traditionally launch the presidential nominating season.

    Though he's only in his first term in the Senate, Obama has risen fast inside the Democratic Party. He energized many with a keynote speech at the last Democratic National Convention, and he's widely sought as a fundraiser for Democrats across the country.

    That role may soon change as he mulls a run at the White House.

    "After the election, I'm going to sit down and give the possibility the serious consideration it deserves," said Obama.

    Forgot to mention I ran into Dien Judge last night. Smoky Hollow should be back sometime soon...

    This kind of big rally is almost anachronistic - a century or more ago, before electronic media, political speeches were a major form of mass entertainment, and voter turnout was much higher than it is now (at least among the white males who were allowed to vote back then). It's nice to know people can still get fired up by in person politics. There's a lot more drudgery to activism than hoopla, but hoopla is a nice reward.

    Obamarama 8: Chet and Followup

    Obamarama 8: Chet and Followup

    It's a LOT later now. My souvenir for the night is a CREDENTIALED PRESS ONLY sign that I stole from the media riser. Christmas gift to self: long life laptop battery.

    When I was interrupted, Obama was wrapping up Immediate silence as he said the word "Iraq" - everyone wants an answer. But he used the "any of us here would take up arms" line again that excludes the notion of patriotic pacifism. SOme folks had improvised peace signs on paper plates.

    Big closing statement: "The American people want their decency reflected in their government - that's why we're seeing this change." He does the victory tableau with Chet and Culver takes over. A few folks drift off, but not very many. He kept it relatively short, gave Mari a smooch, and intro'd the family without having them on stage - John Culver was there but we didn't see him.

    Chet pledges a minimum wage hike in his first 100 days. The issue bullet points get big cheers with choice getting as big a reaction as Obama did. The band ends with BTO's You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet which must be on the approved list now - and the crush to meet Obama happens.

    Neighbor Sean met him on the way in and told Obama to "kick some ass" - which of course explains everything. My daughter has inherited the political bug from me and the push through the crowd skills from her mother. With a big assist from Tom Harkin, she got to meet Barack Obama, who she pronounced reeealy cute. Hardly a unique observation, but very much in character.

    Thanks for the massive traffic, all. I've had several inquiries about election night blogging and I'm afraid I'll miss out on that due to the nature of my work...

    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Obama 7: He's on

    Obama 7: He's on

    9:18 and Obama's on. Making Firefighters/crowd on fire jokes. They're letting him speak next to last: Chet, I hope you're on tonight...

    Past the intros on to the message.

    There's a mood shift, a sea change across the country. Explaining the origins of the phrase "The Audacity Of Hope." Praising the importance of grass roots work as part of his own background... "The easiest thing in the world is to feel cynical." His voice echoes of the walls of Iowa City's litte concrete canyon as people wait,hanging on his words... "but to see the world not as it is but as it can be is the audacity of hope." This has built our whole country. And he walks the audacity of hope through our history. And he ties it to the same issues we face today: gender equality, living wages, civil rights...

    "At each and every juncture people said'you can't do that - yet it happened."

    "Not a Democratic or Republican agenda, it's an AMERICAN agenda."

    Battery dying will finish later... sorry Chet. Tune in later tonight.

    ba0ara0a 6+ E3v5s 5s 5n the b453d5ng

    ba0ara0a 6+ E3v5s 5s 5n the b453d5ng

    Damn number lock.

    Chet and Mari, Tom and Christy, and Harkin hit the stage. And oh yeah Obama too.

    Vilsack speaks first.

    TV is in full YEAH! mode as he was at JJ. Actually sounding a bit hoarse. Content is trifecta, trifecta, trifecta and bullet points. First Obama reference gets screams.

    Hereeee's Harkin absolutely in his element. He's zooming in the GOTV hard work message. Calls for a 20,000 vote Johnson County margin (THAT'll be tough but why not set the bar high?)

    Some well-received Bush bashing ensues. More than a few "Impeach him!" shouts. Harkin responds "No way we're going to impeach Bush." The crowd, fished in, mutters "why not?" And Harkin gets the punch line: "Because no Democrat in the Senate wants to see Dick Cheney become President." Calls for a Dem congress and the "Loebsack" chants start.

    Nussle bashing gets good reacts too but not nearly as much as Bush.

    "Two words: Had Enough?"

    Obamarama 5: Loebsack

    Obamarama 5: Loebsack

    Loebsack points right at Leach's office which is just behind me. He's getting biggest cheers of anyone yet - can these folks taste victory?

    Sets up a rhetorical question format but stays on message: Leach's first vote for Hastert and he's a Bush backer, I'm the only Democrat in this race. Suggests that Leach can take over Loebsack's professorship after his defeat :) Hitting health care, the war, minimum wage. A spontaneous "Dave! Dave! Dave!" chant.

    "I will never, never leave behind those who most need our help."

    Thsi would be a standing ovation speech if anyone were actually sitting down.

    Obamarama 4: Here They Come

    Obamarama 4: Here They Come

    8:33 - holding pattern? We have live music again. 8:37 and I think I see politicians gathering in the hotel lobby. Best seats in the house seem to be on the Sheraton balcony though a couple folks prefer the trees. This is the definitive Iowa City location, truly the heart of my city.

    Journalist: "There's Obama! Far side of the lobby." He couldn't help but sound excited.

    8:44 and it's the state slate card. Patty Judge on the mike, Mauro's here, Denise is here, the Loebsacks too. Patty keeps it brief - re-fires up the crowd. She gives a shout out to Dien: can't wait to see him blogging again.

    I'll applaud Mike Mauro from the press riser. "We can't let Ohio and Florida happen in Iowa." Makes the straight ticket pitch.

    Denise O'Brien: Clean food, clean water, local control.

    Obamarama 3: The Show Begins

    Obamarama 3: The Show Begins

    Sue Dvorsky handles the intros of the locals and it looks like the whole slate card up there. Looks like all the contested legislative locals will have a moment. 8:19 and we have Mark Nolte. Gets the cadence going like a much more experienced pro.

    Ro and Joe talk up the trifecta, but Sue Dvorsky can't think of a loan shark joke. Bolkcom wants "Iowa to be a welcoming place to ALL our citizens." The locals are doing a good job of holding the largely student crowd.

    Pictures from up here won't work with the lighting so send em if you get 'em.

    Sue: "This is what it feels like when you know you're gonna win! This isn't just another election - this is HISTORY."

    Obamarama 2: Tighten Up!

    Obamarama 2: Tighten Up!

    Objective journalists refuse to applaud even to a statement as universal as "Y'all like James Brown?" It's 8:10 and I detect local politicians gathering backstage. Crowd is about five times your typical friday concert size. DEFINITELY the best warm up music this year.

    Doug "Yoda of Voting Equipment" says hi, he's off to monitor the Netherlands soon. They had an equipment issue: seems the machines gave off an electronic signal that could be used to tell how people are voting. OOPS...

    Obamarama Part 1

    Obamarama Part 1

    Live from the Ped Mall in Iowa City and interloping on the press platform in my Loebsack shirt. Here's to post-objective journalism! Doeesn't seem to offend the Underrated One Mike Glover who stopped by. Tried to pump him for info but he saw it coming: "Well, gonna have an election..." Note to self: Don't ever play poker with HIM.

    Music is hipper than usual with a live blues rock band. My first impression is there are a lot of lot of lot of YOUNG people here. (Including my daughter who refused to miss this.) Hope they all heeded the warnings of Robot and got registered.

    Nice weather - a little chilly for bare handed typing. A shout out to Neighbor Sean and the crew who just called lookin for me. The joys of tech...

    Stay tuned.

    Vote Suppression 101

    Vote Suppression 101

    Why get out the vote when you can get rid of the vote?
    The Maryland GOP poll-watcher program, outlined in a 13-page document, states: "Your most important duty is to challenge people who present themselves to vote but who are not authorized to vote."

    Jonah H. Goldman, director of the National Campaign for Fair Elections, said the program "raises serious concerns."

    "When you have a political party telling people their Number 1 responsibility is to challenge voters, our ears certainly perk up," Goldman said. "This could either be intended to challenge voters in a discriminatory way or in a disruptive way. A lot of times, they just try to cause chaos and long lines."

    Wonder how far and wide this sort of thing will be happening? At MyDD, Jill Tubman writes:

    There are some folks laying in plans to create voter confusion, suppression, intimidation. There are also some people working hard to prevent another round of disenfranchisement aimed at low-income people, seniors and particularly, minority voters. Things like:
  • Harsh and Burdensome Voter ID Requirements
  • Barriers to voter registration
  • Provisional Ballots
  • Long lines and inequality in resource distribution at the polls
  • Disenfranchisement of citizens with past felony convictions
  • Emerging suppression strategies

  • It's too bad paper trail has sucked up so much energy that this stuff gets too little attention. That and same day registration: Despite all the warnings issued by Robot, I've had to tell too many people "I'm sorry, you missed the deadline, you can't vote" this week.

    Register has the best writing this morning:

  • A longer story on the final Iowa Poll and Chet Culver's nine point lead
  • The Overrated One is actually worth the link love with a Nussle: what went wrong? column
  • Rekha Basu looks at the big picture of Iowa agriculture:
    Denise O'Brien isn't just the better candidate for Iowa agriculture secretary, she's one of the most exciting candidates for any office in next week's elections. Even if agriculture isn't your issue, she's talking about our identity and quality of life as a state.

    Been so busy I completely missed Friday's Daily Iowan Dave Loebsack endorsement. As I write, I'm planning to be on the Ped Mall tonight for the big Obamarama, but if you're there and don't see me, I'll be happy to pass your thoughts and/or pics along.