Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dave Loebsack at Johnson County Offyear

Dave Loebsack at Johnson County Offyear

Dave takes the stage, the picketers begin the rehearsed chants. Dave thanks them and says "We wouldn't be where we are - which isn't far enough - without people like you pushing, in the streets, doing things I used to do before I was in Congress." Applause for Dave and the picketers.

It's a good thing to be in the majority. Unfortunately Mitch McConnelll can block the Senate. Congressional accomplishments, each an applause line: Minumim wage; student loan interest, stem cells. Education and Labor committee: Employee Free Choice Act makes it earier to from unions.

We've passed very popular issues, with a fair number of GOP votes, that were blocked by Bush and the GOP control. Change will be slow and incremental, but with our majority we're beginning to do it.

"If we're going to risk troop's lives we damn well better take care of them when they come home." Applause from even the picketers.

We need to finish the job, grow the majorities, and get a president to move forward.

For Edwards: Ed Fallon

For Edwards: Ed Fallon

Since the governor primary I've met most of the candidates. I feel great about this field, even though Joe Biden beat me at pool. But John Edwards resonates the most.

Edwards wants to go from "me first" to "us together." Edwards focused on poverty, even though it polls poorly and the poor don't vote. But he's though deeply and it doesn't come from an opinion poll. American needs to think big, be selfless, and return America to its position at a beacon. Need to show America cares about the least among us.

Edwards has comprehensive plans for health care and the war and energy. No PAC/lobby $ says volumes about whose side he's on. (good sized applause though the crowd has dwindled.)

We don't agree on every issue but Edwards gets the big picture. He understands the challenges that will make or break our nation and planet. He was not my first choice in 2004 but he has grown greatly. And Edwards believes in grass roots organizing which is critically important to winning caucuses and in November.

I feel great about who Edwards is personally. He and Elizabeth come across as real people. He rises head and shoulders above the field.

Beau Biden

Beau Biden

He looks a little like Dad. He notes that he and Dodd have a lot in common as Senator's sons. "He'd be a great VP for my father." Crowd thins a little as Dodd leaves.

Biden is single most qualified person to be President. Career retrospective: Vietnam, Reagan's judges, Robert Bork, Violence Against Women Act. Since this war began he's been the leading voice standing up to Bush administration. Seven trips to Iraq. Goes to get sense of what's really on teh ground. Hears things Bush refuses to hear. Joe Biden got the ball rolling to get us out of Iraq.

"The easy thing to do is get out. But what's next?" Only Joe Biden has a plan. Standing up to genocide in Darfur, in Yugoslavia.

Iowa will choose the next president: not the news media. The caucuses let you know "what makes them tick." How they've handled the tests life gives us. Talks about the death of his mother, and how his father almost did not take office as a result. But he was persuaded and commuted to Washington, which he still does. "He wanted to be there to take care of me and rebuild our family."

I've never seen my dad flinch in a 34 year career. Life's not about how many times you get knocked down, but how fast you get up. That defines my dad, and America, and what we need in a president. We can't have a president who needs on the job training.

Chris Dodd, Iowa City 3/31/2007

Chris Dodd, Iowa City 3/31/2007

Dodd invites us all to spend the night in the White House. Talks about Iowa work on early childhood ed and his own work.

Big applause for pledge to reverse Military Commissions Act. Big applause to "we ough to begin redeploying troops tonight." Protesters yell "impeach Bush now." Dodd says American people want war to end and Congress and Bush must listen.

Dodd talks leadership and experience, 26 years in Senate might be seen as a disadvantage but it's a plus now. Talks about his work on FMLA, wants to make it paid leave. I look up and Dick Durbin is two feet away while I'm all blog blog blog.

Dodd derides Bush's Latin America trip and says how far we've fallen since the Alliance For Progress/Peace Corps era. Our foreign image can be reverse, we can elect people who inspire America and the world. America has not changed, but leadership has. I remember excitement of VISTA and Peace Corps. I'm determined to live up to those ideals. We are tired from the talk, we want things done.

"All I ask of you today: Give me a chance to be heard. I have a strong set of convictions and beliefs. I ask you to give me your consideration."

Mari Culver

Mari Culver

Mari representin' for Chet. She gives props to all the legislators. Chet's home with the kids, she says. "I know some people gave Chet the advice to go slow, but we've been waiting 40 years, and we won't slow down on delivering on our progressive promises." Lifting stem cell ban, minimum wage raise, bully bill, cig tax, car title loans.

Mary Mascher speaks in praise of Chet's work with legislature.

Staffer speaks briefly for Richardson. I'm missing a lot due to my location; stressing experience. Richardson campaign to step up in near future; New Mex Lege in session now. Next scheduled visits April 18-19.

For Obama: Dick Durbin

For Obama: Dick Durbin

The funny coincidences of the trail: Durbin is at the podium and introcudes Dodd as he walks in. Timing is everything.

"Sadr City. Lower 9th Ward. Building 18." That's how Durbin sums up the Bush Administration.

Durbin recalls the 2002 war vote: He spoke to Paul Wellstone that night and he's telling the story and damnit I still get choked up. Durbin says he's proud to back a candidate who opposed it from the beginning.

Mari Culver has also arrived.

Durbin says Bldg 18 shows how Bush never understood the consequences of the war. He reads another long list of Bush screwups and much applause at the "had enough"?

Durbin: Jokes about GOP field, in contrast On our side I see quality in so many candidates. In 2004 we learned a lesson about standing together as Democrats - and what I say for Obama is no criticism of the other candidates.

As Obama's colleague and friend, I know Obama and his values. (Recitation of the well-known biography.) In 2004 Senate campaign, I had never seen such excitement, even in downstate towns and Hastert's district. "Of course, it'll die out... it hasn't. For 40 years I've been watching candidates, but I've never seen anything like Barack Obama's impact on America. What is it about this man and his message? We see a new generation of leadership, an affirmation that America can be a more just nation. He can energize America the way you've seen him energize the crowds."

Afternoon: Speeches

Senator Dick Durbin with Mike Carberry and Mayor Ross Wilburn.

Senator Becky Schmitz (with Sen. Joe Bolkcom and Rep. Mary Mascher) lists the Legislature's top accomplishments.

SEIU's Sarah Swisher talks Fair Share and SEIU names Mary Mascher Legislator of the Year.

Supervisors are speaking; Pat Harney announces for re-election. Rod Sullivan endorses Obama: "He had the common sense to oppose this war before it started."

Midday Pictures

Delaware Atty. General beau Biden talks to TV.

Our protesters got applause; we'll see what happens at speech time.

Hillary Event Update

Hillary Event Update

Tuesday 12-2, Quality Inn N Dodge St. RSVP requested, 319-471-8712 or 319-471-8713.

Off Year Caucus

Off Year Caucus

I was about to start writing but I got asked to speak instead; just doing a pitch for caucus organizing (making them HAPPEN as opposed to candidate stuff).

Now the real meat: platform resolution time.

First proposed resolution: from fearless leader Brian Flaherty. Followup on the party's endorsement of the SILO; urging the Legislature to act on more progressive taxation for school funding. Shifting from sales tax to income/proprty tax. Tom Larkin notes: Progressive taxation has long been in the JCDems platform and he was opposed to the SILO endorsement; but there was no other way to fund. This resolution helps address that. That was unanimous.

Aside: Staffers are here representin' for Clinton, Edwards, Obama and Richardson. Also old media, James Lynch of the Gazette; I told him he's getting scooped.

Rod Sullivan has another SILO resolution; this one asks the school board not to use the pennies for property tax relief. Patti Fields of the school board speaks in favor.

Other electeds sighted besides those two: Amy Correia, Pat Harney, Terrence Neuzil, and Janet Lyness chairing the show. Later: Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek arrives.

That was also unanimous. Next resolving from Peter Hansen. Urging UN involvement in int'l conflict resolution. Once again no dissent.

Now the Iowans for Sensible Priorities resolution. Long reading, short speaking, no no's.

Ralph Siddall: Sudanese cultural center and Darfur discussion, unanimous. Damon Shutt - here comes some controversy. Imepachment. I propose adding Cheney's name. That passes with one silent no vote added for humor.

The usual arguments: divisiveness vs. necessity. Passes with significant dissent; I'd estimate 60-40 but no one asks for division.

Patriot Act badness: I'm missing all the details as I'm still working sign-in. Anyway it's unanimous.

More elected: Slockett, Stutsman, Regenia Bailey.

Here's the big war resolution: Withdraw with all deliberate speed, no military efforts against Iran without declaration of war. Question as to whether than encompasses UN action against Iran. Amendment to say "initiate military action" to clear that point up. With that said, it passes with about two no's. (Maybe 70 people here.)

Immigration comes up. Missed the details. The acoustics in here are lousy and again I'm getting administrivia questions; someone's being very sincere about some lunch details and is completely oblivious to my attempts to listen. A "skilled workers" amendment fails. Larry Meyers arrives which makes the whole Board of Supervisors.

OK, the nut of the resolution is a path to citizenship. Resolution passes on a quiet voice vote; a lot of people just stayed quiet.

The resolving seems to be ending down; we're pshing raffle tickets and thanking folks. So that should wind down this post and we'll have more later with speakers.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Loebsack: Trading Places

Loebsack: Trading Places

The congressman replies to questions at Hy Joseph's house.

It struck me while I was at the Loebsack fundraiser tonight: Dave and his predecessor have traded places. The professor is now the congressman, and his predecessor is in the classroom.

No fat cats; we ranged from slim cats (like me) to reasonably fed cats. Loebsack gave an update and took some questions from supporters; the living room was waaay more crowded than the living rooms were a year ago. Paraphrased highlights:

The war. Dave said he and many others had tried to get leadership to let Barbara Lee's amendment to the floor for a vote; it wouldn't have passed but Dave said it should have been discussed. The bill that did pass wasn't perfect but it was the best that was possible. He noted recent criticism (the "dubious achievement award" was mentioned) and he encouraged people to keep pushing, members to push leadership, and everyone to push the administration.

Education. Dave pointed to education when asked what aspects of his work weren't getting news and attention. The Education and Labor committee (he noted that the Dems restored the "Labor" name to the committee after it had been renamed "Education and The Workforce" in the GOP era) is working on revising No Child Left Behind; it isn't likely to be thrown out but will be improved.

Health Care. Loebsack reaffirmed his support for single payer, to applause. Says that won't pass now; change is likely to be incremental and be for kids first.

More tomorrow; Loebsack will join others at the offyear caucus.

Karl Rove's List Of Targeted 2008 House Races: No Iowans

Karl Rove's List Of Targeted 2008 House Races: No Iowans

Turdblossom lists 20 on the GOP hit list. The Iowa freshmen, Loebsack and Braley, are nowhere to be seen, proving again that the real fluke was that the GOP held these Democratic districts to begin with. But MC Rove doesn't shortlist Leonard Boswell either.

He is, however, targeting my sweetie Stephanie Herseth, and for that among his myriad other sins he will pay.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hillary In IC

Hillary In IC Tuesday

Tuesday April 3, noontime event. Full details TBA. Good to see it.

JC Dems Elect Brian Flaherty Chair

JC Dems Elect Brian Flaherty Chair

It's a good old fashioned family fight here. Two way race for party chair between Brian Flaherty and Dennis Roseman. I'll send up the white puff of smoke when it happens.

Paitiently waiting for the local fireworks to end: staffers for Obama, Edwards, and a first sighting of a Clinton staffer.

The debating is done, the voting is happenin'... I don't have a vote so I'm just spectatin', my hard work was sign in.

And the winner is... Brian Flaherty.

Moving on to first vice chair: James Moody re-nominated, Robin Roseman declines.

Second vice chair: that's the tough job of running the parades. Alicia Trimble agrees to do it again.

Treasurer: Treasurer for life Bev Jones is standing down after 17 years. Gina Schatteman steps up, takes the job, gives Bev flowers.

Secretary: I had this job a decade or so ago. Carl Fongheiser is doing it now, agrees to do it again.

Candidate development committee: Dennis Roseman takes this one on instead.

Database manager: Yawn, I'm re-elected.

Fundraising: Jeff Fields re-elected. The term starts with passing the bicycle helmet (this is Iowa City after all).

Membership: All star super volunteers Dawn Suter and Paul Deaton elected as co-chairs. Consider yourselves recruited.

Public relations; Eric Gjerde and Geoff Seamans. More `06 all-stars.

Franker steps down as North Liberty mayor

Franker steps down as North Liberty mayor

Just when you think the North Liberty Government Comedy and Drama Hour couldn't get any funnier...

Carter bashing begins

Carter bashing begins

As Jimmy Carter, Nobel laureate and architect of three decades of Israeli-Egyptian peace, launches his 2008 campaign, he's already getting attacked:

Hillel Director Jerry Sorokin said he was concerned about the UI Lecture Committee soliciting questions for Carter before the event - a request that the panel made in a university-wide e-mail announcing the lecture.

Thomas acknowledged those concerns as valid. But she said the committee is pursuing organizations such as Hillel and the General Union of Palestinian Students for questions, which will be reviewed by several people with an emphasis on diversity.

"They're not screened for [Carter's] interests," Thomas said.

Still, Sorokin addressed qualms with Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid", specifically regarding the title's use of the word apartheid.

"It's not only inaccurate, but it's inflammatory," Sorokin said.

This gives me an excuse to display a couple maps.

Closed Doors

Closed Doors

Some businesses say goodbye in Johnson County:

  • The Holiday Grocery in North Liberty is gone for good following a November fire. It was one of my bike ride stops and they had good sweet corn and very cheap breakfasts. It was also a frequent satellite voting site in big elections. The fixtures at Cub Foods are getting auctioned off today as well.

  • The Campus 3 theaters, the last place to see a movie in downtown Iowa City, will close next month. When I came to town in 1990, the Englert was still a working theater - I remember seeing "Silence Of The Lambs" there in its first run - and the Iowa Theatre was also open (their last show was Madonna's "Truth or Dare" in `91). The mall movies are victims of UI expansion and the incessant demand for a Big Flat Parking Lot. A ramp a few steps aways must be no good.
  • Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    Edwards and Edwards in CR Tuesday

    Edwards and Edwards in CR Tuesday

    TUESDAY, APRIL 3RD, 2007
    5:45 PM
    Senator Edwards to hold a town hall
    Prairie High School
    401 76th Avenue SW
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    (Doors open to the public at 5:15 PM)

    Stopped by Tom Carsner's Edwards house party; some committed folks from last time, some converts, some folks like me just sleeping around (I'm holding out for Jimmy Carter). Some committeds: Supervisor Terrence Neuzil, Aletia Morgan from the school board, former party chair Dave Redlawsk (whose polling one may have seen this week) and attorney Paul McAndrew.

    Tonight starts a bit of a busy season: the JC Dems chair election tomorrow, a fundaiser for Congressman Loebsack Friday, the offyear caucus Saturday, and now both Edwardseseses on Tuesday. These things should generate some original content for the blog.

    Jimmy Carter back on the campaign trail

    Carter 2008

    Former President Jimmy Carter will be speaking at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on April 18, the University Lecture Committee announced today...

    Let's start a wild rumor: He's still constitutionally eligible for one more term, and has more credibility in the Middle East than any living American... maybe he heard about that one delegate he won in the Burge Dorm caucus in 1992.

    Some are sure not to like this:

    Carter will also be signing copies of his new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” on April 18 for a limited period of time.

    Priority tickets to UI students and staff.

    More Election Changes

    More Election Changes

    Most of Those Darn Bloggers have been focused on the VOICE public campaign finance bill, but a fair amount of other election stuff is moving forward in the first trifecta session.

    The most important reform, of course, is same-day registration which passed the Senate yesterday and is on its way to a certain Chet signature. This long-needed change is the biggest step forward in expanding the franchise since the 26th Amendment gave 18 year olds the right to vote (but not necessarily have a beer).

    But still more changes are on the table. Remember I promised to talk about equipment once we got election day registration?

    The Senate approved several election-law changes, including a measure that will invest $3.5 million in a statewide system of optical scanning machines and ballot-marking devices that will create a "paper trail" for balloting in all counties by the 2008 election.

    But Iowa Voters still isn't pleased...

    And the DI and no one else picks up on electronic campaign finance filing:

    House File 413 - which would require campaigns to electronically file statements showing how their efforts were organized and how they had closed fundraising accounts from other campaigns - was referred to a Senate committee on March 26.

    Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, who voted for the bill, said it has a good chance of progressing beyond its current spot in the senate.

    "I think it will go through," he said. "We want to kick up technology and transparency."

    But Rep. Mary Gaskill, D-Ottumwa, who served for 16 years as Wapello County auditor, said on Tuesday that the resources aren't quite available for a state board to handle the proposed electronic forms.

    Well, then, let's find the bucks to move the Iowa Ethics web site beyond the unsearchable scanned image .pdf files we have now. And while we're at it let's get rid of the useless ballot courier law; the main impact has been to keep spouses from bringing each other's ballots in, and it still didn't prevent the "staffer forgot the ballots" problem that prompted it in the first place.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2007

    3-Way Tie (For Last)

    3-Way Tie (For Last)

    Latest Iowa Zogby Poll Post Cancer Post Vilsack Endorsement Holy Crap Is This Close:

    Edwards 27
    Clinton 25
    Obama 23

    Chris Bowers, MyDD
    : "While Edwards must win Iowa in order to stay in the hunt, if Obama wins Iowa he will probably win the nomination."

    Lots of details in the story, or listen to the Minutemen instead.

    Food stamp fraud or survival?

    Food stamp fraud or survival?

    "Food stamp fraud" brings up the image of Ronald Reagan's apocryphal welfare queen, and the Des Moines Register tut-tuts its disapproval. But they don't have tales of thousands of dollars or even tens of dollars.

    Instead they exhibit the usual shock that comfortable people display when confronted with the unpretty details of the poverty lifestyle, the hoops people jump through to convert food stamp money into cash, where a jug of water is valued for its liquidity - not the liquid water but the ability to cash the bottle deposit.

    Yes, some of the actions described in the article seem tacky to someone raised in the middle class. But the tone is condescending. Every example in the article is the stereotype of cash for cigarettes. But there's a few other things you can't buy with your food stamp cards. Like toilet paper. Or food for the pet that may be your only source of comfort, your only "luxury." (I've long believed that the need to live with and love animals is a deep an defining human characteristic, one that does not vanish with poverty.) Or a newspaper full of want ads. Or soap of any sort for your clothes or dishes or body. We support our weakest neighbors with just enough money to fill their bellies with sugar and starch, deny them a hand in getting a bar of soap, then look down upon them because they're dirty. We brainwash people with cigarette ads, berate them when they're too poor to sustain the addiction, and won't even pay for a patch to slap on their arms.

    Instead of asking why people dump pure water to cash in a bottle, we should ask why society abandons people to a degree that they'll take such a step to meet their small needs, and how much dignity we demand that the poor give up for assistance.

    Neo-Prohibitionists Getting The Names

    Neo-Prohibitionists Getting The Names

    The 21 bar folks continue toward the ballot - or do they?

    “Our hope is to get a significantly more than what is necessary as a way to speak to the city and City Council of the importance of this issue,” Martin said.

    So is the goal a referendum, or - and this is an option under the city charter - to get passage of 21 bars aftr the petition succeeds and keep it off the ballot?

    Here's hoping the council lets it go to the ballot. Biggest. Student. Turnout. Ever.

    Iowa Senate OKs protection based on sexual orientation, gender

    Iowa Senate OKs protection based on sexual orientation, gender

    Priceless image of the debate:

    ``I think we are opening the door to some very serious unintentional consequences with this bill,'' said Sen. Nancy Boettger, R-Harlan, who argued she did not want to see cross dressers teaching in Iowa's public schools.

    On the roll call GOP leader Mary Lundby actually supported the bill, along with Republicans Jeff Angelo and Pat Ward. So in the house urban Republicans may be persuadable. Dubuque area Democrat Tom Hancock was a no, what's the deal?

    Monday, March 26, 2007

    Busy Week in Legislature and Iowa City

    Busy Week in Legislature and Iowa City

    Cleaning up the inbox and I've got countless emails on these three bills:

  • HF 92 (SF 224) the equal rights bill, (passed Senate but facing problems in the House. Non-discrimination is a core Democratic issue and while the votes of Johnson County legislators are solid, they may be more likely to persuade their colleagues with some backup from back home. We've been told for years the barrier to non-discrimination is no trifecta; it's trifecta time.

  • HF 805 (SF 553), the Voter-Owned Iowa Clean Elections law (VOICE). In Appropriations sub-committee; Coralville's Dave Jacoby is chair. Several folks have passed along his comments: Most concise is "I like the bill, but we are struggling to find the money."

  • HF 873 (Kuhn-Frevert) would require large-scale confinements to follow environmentally friendly guidelines and be placed farther away from neighboring residences, schools, churches, lakes and tourist destinations. Stuck in an unfriendly Ag subcommittee. I campaigned on the hog lot issue ten long years ago and we're still dealing with the shi.. uh, mess.

    Call/email as needed.

    The JCDems have a big week: the blizzard-postponed (was it really snowing just three weeks ago?) chair election on Thursday and the off-year caucus and lunch Saturday. I'm making my muy caliente Tancredo-proof chili so bring an asbestos esophagus. Confirmed speakers:

  • Chris Dodd
  • Ed Fallon for Edwards,
  • Dick Durbin for Obama,
  • Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden for his dad
  • and our very own Dave Loebsack

    Also the Edwardians are meeting Wednesday night at Tom Carsner's house.
  • Brownback and the Base

    Brownback and the Base

    Johnson County must be the hot spot on the conservative circuit: Tancredo and Brownback in the same week! You'd think we were Sioux County. But still, even though percentage-wise we're about dead last, we're still among the top ten GOP counties in the state in terms of raw numbers due to sheer population and that's significant enough for a visit.

    Brownback is clearly working the dog-whistle politics of the base, talking about issues that make regular folks go huh? but make the theocrats swoon:

    To help support the family, Brownback has proposed Marriage Development Accounts, which would provide a three to one financial match to couples who marry and develop a family unit. The money could be used for job training or for buying a home or car, he said.


    “I think we’ve got to rebuild the family,” Brownback said. “If you don’t get this one right, we’re not going to be able to do a lot of things down the road.”

    But no Brownback Mountain funny business:

    Brownback said he views marriage as being solely between a man and a woman. If the definition is changed, the number of heterosexual people who get married will drop, as shown by what has happened in other countries, he said.

    The double conjuction appearance of Tancredo and Brownback is interesting as they represent distinct strains of conservatism, each with deep roots: the fundamentalism and nativism. Despite the recent emergence of Tommy and Fred, the Thompson Twins, Tancredo and Brownback are the two guys competing for the True Believer vote. Think of Tancredo as Pat Buchanan and Brownback as Alan Keyes...

    Proud Enemy Of America

    Proud Enemy Of America

    DI covers Tancredo and even has video. But the best quote goes to Tancredo's Iowa consigliere Bill Salier:

    "Securing the nation's borders proves critical to preserving American culture, which is being destroyed by some Democrats, Salier said. He continued saying that America has a '100 percent enemy in liberalism.'

    So I guess I'm on Bill's enemy list. And if I'm an enemy of Tom Tancredo's closed door America it's a badge I wear with pride.Register has more:

    Craig Halverson, director of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps of Iowa, which invited Tancredo to the event, said the Colorado representative is the most solid potential candidate.

    "He is a Christian conservative, and the Ronald Reagan people should be flocking to support him," Halverson said.

    It's gonna be all Hilly and Villy today. Supposedly this is a big organizational coup, but I don't see a Massive Vilsack Infrastructre that HRC can plug into. It's Edwards and Obama who are on the ground and starting the organizing, and Vilsack, frankly, is yesterday's news. The real pre-built Hillary infrastructure is likely to be the women's political community (think things like DAWN); already the Vote For Her Because and It's Time arguments are buzzing about.

    In addition to the Big Announcement Hillary was doing a TV enent in Des Moines this AM: closed door, invite only, screened questions. Again.

    DI has the only old-media coverage of last weekend's DFA workshop.

    I have a new toy over to the right. Kinda My-Spacey, I know, but it may give you some insight into what makes this blogger tick. The list is not definitive and in some cases NSFW (Rage's "Killing In The Name" is presented in the FULL version and not the radio edit that dumps the entire conclusion abruptly).

    Saturday, March 24, 2007

    Tancredo's Kulture War

    Tancredo's Kulture War

    Konservative kandidate Tom Tancredo in IC last night:
    "'There are more issues than jobs we're losing,' said Tancredo, an outspoken advocate for immigration reform. 'It's an issue of our culture.'

    Lax immigration laws that don't support assimilation are fostering what Tancredo called a 'culture under attack from within.'"

    Harsh hard-right words in front of the Jim Leach Johnson County Republican Party. The article lacks any local reacts or renunciations. But the Press-Citizen wins points for its sense of humor: I don't know if he immigrated or not, but I'm guessing a reporter named Hieu Pham has a family background that includes relatively recent immigration. Nice touch.

    Friday, March 23, 2007

    Final Vote Results for Roll Call 186


    Speaking of crazy peace freaks, a 218-212 yes vote on an imperfect measure: funding for the war but a withdrawal date. Kos sums it up:
    This is a message battle since our options to end the war with King George in the White House are slim. What we need to do is lay the foundation for overwhelming victories up and down the ballot in 2008, which would then give us the tools (i.e. the White House) to end this boondoggle once and for all. And on that front, this is what America is seeing today:

    House OKs Timetable For Troops In Iraq (CBS News)
    House Narrowly Backs Iraq Timetable (NY Times)
    House approves end date for Iraq war (ABC News)
    House OKs timetable for troops in Iraq (Houston Chronicle)
    House approves deadline for ending Iraq war (Reuters)

    The next batch of headlines will feature Bush's threat to veto Democratic efforts to end the war.

    Dems vote to END war, not Dems vote to FUND war.

    Roll call and the short version: the handful of Dems no and GOP yes. (Did Dennis Kucinich's insistent plugging a no vote in the halls actually push people to a yes?) Iowans were split on party lines.

    The inevitable veto leaves the war unfunded and leaves time for the people to push the leaders. This WILL be back again and we can still shut the money off sooner (now) rather than later (August '08). For now, this was the art of the possible. We can expand what's possible...

    If you disagree, or if you think it'll help push the envelope a bit, folks will be gettin' together at 5pm on the Pentacrest corner of Clinton and Washington streets.

    Vilsack Endorses Hillary, Surprises No One

    Vilsack Endorses Hillary, Surprises No One

    Thing was, he was supposed to stay in the race longer to give Hillary an excuse not to deal with us crazy, peace freak Iowans. (We still haven't seen you in Johnson County, Senator, closest we've had was a closed door invite only in Cedar Rapids...)

    Maybe Vilsack's endorsement will do her as much as it did for Mike Blouin...

    So, what Cabinet job does he get? Or is the Holy Grail of the Vice Presidency on the table?

    Meanwhile, my inbox is filling up with Edwards schedules and announcements, so the campaign is definitely continuing strongly.

    Smallest Farm Gets Early Start

    Smallest Farm Gets Early Start

    Don't feel like writing about basketball beyond "good riddance" so just the briefest of updates on what I call The Smallest Farm in Iowa, the tiny garden patch out back of my apartment complex.

    I may be abandoning Bohemian Paradise when the lease runs out so I planted early, early stuff. Non-gardeners may think it's too damn early, but some stuff does well four to six weeks before last frost. The old superstition was to plant peas on St. Patrick's Day. I was just a few days after that. Some spinach and lettuce is also in the ground and radishes will follow. Everything should be good and dead by mid-August, and if one of the places I have my eyes on work out the 2008 farm will no longer qualify as the smallest.

    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Gonzales at UI Law graduation?

    Gonzales at UI Law graduation?

    The DI article just says he's been "invited" and not that he's committed. Still, the timing is hilarious. Of course, by May Alberto may have a lot more free time...

    The Campaign Goes On Strongly

    The Campaign Goes On Strongly

    All best wishes to Elizabeth, John and the family. With good luck and care, here's hoping Elizabeth recovers soon and that we don't miss John and Elizabeth on the campaign trail.

    My guess at suspension was off, but there were false reports of that all over the web this AM.

    If Edwards does get out?

    If Edwards does get out?

    First of all best wishes to Elizabeth Edwards.

    Second, I expect the announcement at today's press conference will be a temporary suspension of campaign events.

    But. IF Edwards would get out?

    Helps everyone but Hillary. She is stuck at a 35%, 40% level and neeeds a third strong candidate to split the anti-Hillary vote with Obama. Folks who are backing Edwards have already rejected her. The "experience" rap against Obama will matter less, since that rap also exists, to a lesser extent, against John Edwards and his one Senate term. It opens an opportunity for the three credible also-rans as well.

    Enough speculation, we'll know more soon.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2007

    Durbin in for Obama 3/31

    Durbin in for Obama 3/31

    Obama campaign announces its guest speaker for the March 31 Johnson County Dems event: Obama's senior Illinois colleague Dick Durbin (#2 on the senate cloutometer below).

    Congressional Clout Calculator

    Congressional Clout Calculator

    Here's a fun tool: calculates the relative power or "clout" of every member of the House and Senate. You can sort by tenure, state, party, everything but shoe size. Naturally, Reid and Pelosi top the charts. There's also a special page for the presidentials - Tom Tancredo is in the bottom 5% of the House.

    Aside: anyone else remember the "Top 5% Of The Web" logo from the 1996-era internet?

    As for our Iowa delegation, Harkin ranks 17th in the Senate but Chuck Grassley is 25th, not bad for a minority party member but a huuuge drop from the #3 he held as a majority party chair of a major committee last year.

    The House delegation doesn't fare as well - freshmen (2) and minority Republicans (2) rate lower. Boswell is up at 45th, putting him near the top of the `96 class. The next most powerful House member is - ready for this - Dave Loebsack, in the upper third of the freshman class and just below the middle of the House overall. Braley is near the middle of the freshmen. Latham is on the low end even of the 1994 class. Krazy King is the back end of the dog but who needs actual clout when you have talk shows?

    So play and enjoy.

    IC marches for peace, Latham puts troops at risk

    IC marches for peace, Latham puts troops at risk

    DI and PC have coverage of yesterday's four year anniversary march.

    Kos reports on Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee who, given the chance to require that troops sent back into harm's way in Iraq be properly prepared for their mission and protected with body armor, unanimously voted no. And there's an Iowan on that list: Tom Latham. Way to "support" the troops. Paging Dr. Spencer, code blue in the 4th district...

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Edwards House Party in IC

    Edwards House Party in IC

    From the in box. Not a candidate appearance, but:

    Learn about John Edwards and listen to a Conference Call from John Edwards

    and Watch 2 Edwards DVDs and mingle with great people!

    What: John Edwards House Party at Tom Carsner's Home

    When: Wednesday, March 28th at 6:00 PM

    Where: 1627 College Court Place, Iowa City

    Edwards cancelled an event in Indianola tonight to head home to North Carolina and be with Elizabeth for a medical appointment tomorrow. Sincere personal wishes aside - I liked Elizabeth Edwards when we met in January and she seems pretty darn net-savvy - it doesn't hurt to be seen as The Loving Husband and I say that with no cynicism meant.

    So anyway. Edwards getting organized in Johnson.

    Same Day Registration Passes Iowa House

    Same Day Registration Passes Iowa House

    54-44 which sounds like an almost party line vote to me. Update: Kudos to Walt Tomenga, only Republican to vote yes. (Dems were unanimous) Libby Jacobs, the woman who single handedly blocked paper trails last year, rambled on about "serial voters" as if Hannibal Lecter and Jeffrey Dahmer were in your polling place. (Aside: I always wondered what what happen if you had the ultimate in unpopular candidates and each party nominated their respective serial killers: Republican Ted Bundy and Democrat John Wayne Gacy...)

    I mentioned paper trails (I know, that's soooo 2006, and 2007 is all about Ban The Touch.) Long time readers will note that I have seemed dismissive of the issue. That's only because I think same day registration is far far far more important. Once Culver signs this, then I'll talk about equipment with joy in my heart.

    In any case this post at Kos looks at allegations of fraud in same-day registration Wisconsin in 2000 and finds teh charges wanting:

    Every investigation -- including investigations by the local district attorney -- found no evidence of any actual voter fraud. As more investigations were made, it became clear that the story was entirely a fabrication. Not only that, it was fabricated intentionally. The incident at Marquette was part of a number of Republican efforts to generate controversy in Wisconsin in 2000. Why? Because they needed a counter story to signs of clear voter suppression elsewhere, including in Florida. As the drama in Florida unfolded, Republicans invented incident by incident in Wisconsin, all in an effort to distract the press and drum up righteous indignation. Six years later, this utterly disproven incident is still being used in an editorial to defend the polls from 'voter fraud.' In fact, the 'fraud at Marquette,' has become one of those events enshrined in Republican mythology.

    That poster is definitely gonna lose her job as a United States Attorney.

    NYTimes: Iowans A Bunch Of Meskin-Hating Rednecks

    NYTimes: Iowans A Bunch Of Meskin-Hating Rednecks

    New Yoork Times has a must read on McCain and Brownack's adventures here in the heart of whitest Iowa, and how Iowa Republicans only want to talk about one thing:
    On Saturday morning in Des Moines, Mr. Brownback stood for 30 minutes at a breakfast with Republicans as question after question — without exception — was directed at an immigration system that Iowans denounced as failing. “These people are stealing from us,” said Larry Smith, a factory owner from Truro and a member of the central committee of the state Republican Party.

    Finally, Mr. Brownback, with a slight smile, inquired, “Any other topics that people want to talk about?”

    “What are you going to do with illegal immigrants who come here and become criminals?” demanded Jodi Wohlenhaus, a Republican homemaker who lives outside Des Moines.

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    Ugly Moment Downtown

    Here's what I just saw.

    Teenage kid on ped mall talking on phone.

    Middle aged woman plows directly into him from behind without breaking stride...

    ...and then says to the kid, who was stationary the whole time, "Watch where you're going."

    Why didn't she just say what she meant: "You're talking on a cell phone and because of that I don't like you."

    Why do cell phones piss some folks off so much? I used to see a really harshly worded, anti-cell sign at one of my favorite junk stores: "no one here is interested in your conversation." They've toned it ddown, but only a notch.

    It's the 21st century, folks. The times have changed and people have telephone conversations in public now. And we don't wear powdered wigs and knee breeches anymore, either.

    Hide Your Hot Sauce, Tancredo's Comin' To Town

    Hide Your Hot Sauce, Tancredo's Comin' To Town

    Certain to be muy caliente rhetoric at the JC GOP's fundraiser Friday night with their Special Guest Tom Tancredo!

    Even better, he's going to Muscatine, home to one of Iowa's largest Hispanic communities, Saturday.

    And here's a blast from the past: "For more information, please contact Bill Salier..." That's right, the Bill Salier who damn near blindsided party insider choice Greg Ganske in the 2002 Senate primary. After that nar disaster, the national GOP pretty much wrote off Ganske. Heard his name the other day on WOI public radio: as a sponsor uh, supporter. That's right, he's back in the plastic surgery business.

    Anyway, it's like I've been saying: Tom Tancredo's round `em up and send `em back neo-Know-Nothing rhetoric represents the dark soul of the modern GOP. Watch for that Better Than Expected finish next January.

    JCDems Offyear Caucus: Four Campaigns Representin' So Far

    JCDems Offyear Caucus 3/31: Four Campaigns Representin' So Far

    Quiet on the presidential campaign trail this weekend in Johnson County. The next big stop appears to be the March 31 combo of the Johnson County Dem's offyear caucus and the Linn County Dems' Hall of Fame dinner.

    So far the only candidate committed to the Johnson County event is Dodd. Some teams have surrogates lined up:

  • Attorney General Tom Miller is coming in for Obama (who is working the western side of the state that day) Update: I guess I'm wrong on that, oops. Reports are Obama will be represented by someone else...
  • Miller's Delaware counterpart Beau Biden, son of the senator, will represent for dad
  • and Ed Fallon is in for Edwards.

    Where's Hillary?

    The offyear caucus is a curious event; required of all counties by state party rules, the meeting is able to pass resulutions but not much else and has less official standing than a monthy central committee meeting. Still, it's an excuse to get together. Reports are that some other Eastern Iowa counties have passed Withdraw Troops Immediately resolutions but I don't have details.
  • Sunday, March 18, 2007

    Events This Week: Peace Vigils, The Return of Krista Jacob

    Events This Week: Peace Vigils, The Return of Krista Jacob

    Things hapening this week as Iowa City comes back to life after spring break:

  • Barring a sudden change of heart by Bush and a massive troop withdrawal today (we wish), the 4th anniversary of the Iraq War is this week. Three events:

    Mon , March 19th, start 6:45 PM, corner of Washington & Linn, Iowa City. Candlelight vigil

    Tues, March 20th, start 5PM, Pentacrest, organized by U of Iowa Anti-war Committee

    Friday afternoon, 5:15 - 5:45, corner of Washington & Clinton Peace Vigil. This is an ongoing weekly event.

  • Wednesday, March 21, 2007 7:00 PM: That reading by author Krisat Jacob that was cancelled due to winger threats has been rescheduled. She'll be at Prairie Lights reading from Abortion Under Attack: Women on the Challenges Facing Choice.
  • Saturday, March 17, 2007

    McCain's Mystery Tour

    McCain's Mystery Tour

    Several cringe-worthy McCain just don't get it moments, bst captured in the headline:

    McCain surprised by Iowans' strong immigrant views

    You're outside the Beltway now, John, deep in the dark heart of the Steve King constituency, where people don't like hearin' folks talkin' Meskin. If he didn't get it then, this nativist paranoid question should have clued him in:

    "This is a little different than some of the questions," one woman said, before asking McCain if he knew of a plan for the United States to unite with Mexico and Canada.

    "Ma'am, I want to assure you," McCain replied, "we will not be united with any of those two countries."

    Of course, that's just because we're skipping over that step and going straight to the One World Socialist Government.

    Other wacky happenings:

  • McCan says "tar baby" even though Mitt Romney got trashed for saying the same thing last year. At least he didn't say "pickaninny."

  • And another attendee asks him about handicapped access to a building in Waterloo, which reminds me of an old joke:

    New Congressman William Hughes of New Jersey held a town meeting to keep in touch with people back home. He explained that he is a federal legislator, "I don't take care of your potholes, I don't pick up your trash."

    A woman asked a question about why her trash wasn't being picked up on the day it was supposed to be and dogs were getting into it. He explained, "You know madam, as I indicated to you, I'm a federal legislator. I work on the federal budget and national issues. And what you should do is contact either your mayor or your local commissioner of public works."

    Without a hint of sarcasm, the woman looked her hot new Congressman directly in the eye and said, "I didn't want to start that high."

    But in a sign that maybe he does get the GOP base, Mac tells the New York Times: "he has never appeared in drag." And he knows the base well enough to leave out the Seinfeld Disclaimer.
  • Friday, March 16, 2007

    Richardson to sign medical marijuana bill

    Richardson to sign medical marijuana bill

    Bill signed ya, Bill! Now you're a law:

    "So what if it's risky? It's the right thing to do," said Richardson, one of the candidates in the crowded 2008 field. "What we're talking about is 160 people in deep pain. It only affects them."

    Don't see how this hurts in the primary, in fact it helps him stand out. In a normal non-rock star year he'd be on a lot of people's minds...

    Republicans Don't Want You To Stay Here

    Republicans Don't Want You To Stay Here

    The McCain Bus sputters through Iowa, you know, the state he blew off last time. Classic just-don't get it moments.

    "What it is that lost the last election for Republicans was spending," he said, pointing specifically to pork barrel projects.

    ¿Que? You mean the war, the war, the war, scandals and the war had nothing to do with it?

    But it seems All The Base was more interested in those pesky Mexicans:

    McCain said Thursday that the frustration he has encountered from Republican activists in Iowa about immigration stems from Congress' failure to enact legislation making it tougher to cross the U.S.-Mexican border, not opposition to earned citizenship.

    'They don't want anything that smacks of - quote - amnesty,' the senator said in a Des Moines Register interview before headlining a forum with about 300 GOP activists in Ames.

    'But there is an overwhelming majority of Americans, including Republicans, who feel that we need to have a comprehensive approach and realize you can't simply deport 12 million people. They don't want anyone rewarded for illegal behavior.'

    But that is exactly what the proposal McCain introduced last year and is reworking this year does, Onawa Republican Dick Schlitter said.

    'I'm in favor of strengthening immigration law, but by agreeing to let people who broke the law stay here is allowing them to break the law,' said Schlitter, co-chairman of the Monona County Republicans. 'Then you start to say, 'Which laws are we going to enforce, and which are we going to ignore?' '"

    The GOP base, especially in a non-cosmopolitan place like our state, won't budge on this. They want people rounded up and sent south in chains. And talk American while you're at it. Tom Tancredo, your opportunity is here.

    Republicans Don't Want You To Vote: NY Times

    Republicans Don't Want You To Vote: NY Times

    The Gray Lady nails it on the US attorney flap:
    In partisan Republican circles, the pursuit of voter fraud is code for suppressing the votes of minorities and poor people. By resisting pressure to crack down on “fraud,” the fired United States attorneys actually appear to have been standing up for the integrity of the election system.

    There is no evidence of rampant voter fraud in this country. Rather, Republicans under Mr. Bush have used such allegations as an excuse to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning groups.

    COmes out yesterday that this was Karl Rove's baby; in this context that makes sense.

    Doesn't matter if Meiers, Gonzales or anyone stays or goes. This is a fish rots from the head problem.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Why I'm Not Interested In March Madness

    Why I'm Not Interested In March Madness

    What's the worst insult you can call a college basketball player? Senior.

    Obama Wins The Norris Primary

    Obama Wins The Norris Primary

    Friday, February 23, Jerome Armstrong: "Whoever lands John Norris will be the winner from Vilsack dropping out."


    Jackie Norris of Des Moines led the list of top Iowa staffers unveiled by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign today.

    Norris, Iowa political director for former Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 caucus campaign, joins an state organization led by Gore’s caucus campaign director, Paul Tewes.

    Norris, who was Gov. Tom Vilsack’s campaign finance director in 1998, will serve as a senior adviser to the Obama campaign. Norris, is married to longtime Democratic campaign organizer and former congressional candidate John Norris.

    We could infer John's on board too.

    I see a couple names here I recall from the Kerry caucus period: Steve Chasse, Marygrace Galston...

    Praise for Loebsack on Politics1

    Praise for Loebsack on Politics1

    Ron Gunzburger gives Loebsack a shoutout for the Jim Leach Building bill. If you've never checked out Politics1 you should. In addition to his own occasional commentary, Ron is the best source around for information on and links to every - and I mean every - candidate.

    Obama Palestine pile-on continues

    Obama Palestine pile-on continues

    The Lobby continues to bash Barack for implying the Palestinians have it kinda tough:

    Des Moines Democrat Paulee Lipsman said she was concerned by the idea of relaxing restrictions while the Palestinian government was controlled by a group considered terrorists by the U.S. government.

    Which is not what Obama said, but let's continue:

    'I think there's a great deal of empathy for the Palestinian people, but they need to change their government,' said Lipsman, who is Jewish and a former Democratic National Committee member. 'And the only way the U.S. and other countries have to make that clear is to withhold funding.'

    Those with long memories will note that Lipsman was co-chair of former Democrat Joe Lieberman's Iowa campaign in 2003-04. She's also top staffer at the Iowa House Democratic Caucus; one may also recall that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was a Liebermaniac in `03. The firepower here adds to my suspicion that this is being pushed by other camps.

    Non-disclaimer: I'm still firmly undecided. These last couple rants are an issue thing, not an Obama thing.

    I'll grant that the Palestinians are often their own worst enemy. Had there been a Gandhi in their midst in 1947, they'd have their country by now. But hey have a right to choose their own lousy government. In fact that gives them a lot in common with Americans. And the "destroy Israel" rhetoric is for domestic consumption. The Palestinians have rocks; the Israelis have freakin' nukes.

    Speaking of things being pushed by other camps, The Overrated One gets what's lurking behind the Matt McCoy indictment:

    We now have the specter of a politically ambitious, evangelical Republican with ties to the religious right going after a gay Democrat.

    Does this seem fair? Even if Whitaker has the goods on a south-side political kingpin like McCoy, there will always be those who wonder whether his actions are driven more by his desire to ferret out public corruption, his own political ambition or a dislike for McCoy's sexual orientation.

    "There will always be those who wonder." I love those little "objective" disclaimers like "some say." Some might say that's a... song cue!

    I still have to finish that long-delayed list of Most Blatant Beatle Ripoffs By Oasis. But I can't choose whether Number One should be Liam Gallagher naming his son Lennon, or the band hiring Zak Starkey as the drummer.

    If Fred Thompson Runs For President...

    If Fred Thompson Runs For President...

    does that mean we won't have to see all those Law & Order reruns? (Kos is fished in by an article speculating that Fred would run on a ticket with co-star, and Unity08 activist, Sam Waterston. April Fools Day isn't for a couple weeks yet, Markos...)

    Bold statements at MyDD:

  • Jerome Armstrong: "Brownback could win Iowa, he really could, especially if they believe he can beat Clinton. All it really takes is for Giuliani and McCain to split the electable and next-in-line vote in Iowa, and Brownback could then win with 30% of the vote." Maybe, but I'm still betting on the Tancredo Surprise.

  • Chris Bowers continues to set the bar high: "Edwards must win Iowa to have any shot in the nomination process."
  • Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    Obama Fails To Say Palestinians Eat Kittens For Breakfast

    Obama Fails To Say Palestinians Eat Kittens For Breakfast

    Barack Obama, or as he is know in Mayor Daley's precincts Barack O'Bama, is taking a minor dust up over the Palestine-Israel question:

    Obama, speaking Sunday to a small group of Democratic activists in Muscatine, was quoted in the Des Moines Register as saying 'nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.'

    David Adelman on Tuesday wrote a letter to Obama calling the comment 'deeply troubling' and asking Obama to clarify his comments. Adelman is a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which lobbies in support of a strong relationship between the United States and Israel...

    By "strong relationship" we mean "nuke Iraq." It's been a sad spectacle this week, watching the presidentials and congressional leadership travel cap in hand to AIPAC's conference, watching opposition to the next war scuttle into oblivion. Now, even a mild statement of sympathy toward the Palestinian people is treated as if it were Kristallknacht.

    This almost feels like a zinger with its source in another campaign...

    Adelman, a Des Moines attorney, is a politically active Democrat and works as a lobbyist, but he said he has not yet made a choice on whom he will support in 2008.

    The FEC reports he gave Vilsack $250 on November 21, which doesn't do much good now.

    Even the Iowa blogosphere's most blatant Israel apologist James Eaves-Johnson saw no problems with Obama's AIPAC remarks last week. The only Democrat who'll challenge AIPAC's premises is the safely retired for 25 years Jimmy Carter. I hate to have to quote from the right, but here's a relatively long but key bit from a must-read at The American Conservative:

    Pressed by Huffington to explain why he was sure Bush would attack Iran, Clark answered, “You just have to read what’s in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers.”

    This was an awkward way to put it; the euphemism surely sounded more contentious than anything Clark might have said straightforwardly. And of course some people chose to ignore Clark’s correct assertion that the Jewish community was very divided on the Iran issue. Within days, the general was in caught in a familiar crossfire, smeared as an instigator of anti-Semitism by some Republican Jewish organizations, his remarks headlined as “Protocols of the New York Money People” by a Wall Street Journal columnist.

    In early February, Glenn Greenwald, a New York attorney who recently published a book on the Patriot Act, wrote a blog entry that focused on the New York AIPAC gathering attended by both John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. Greenwald quoted an article from the New York Sun—there is no more unimpeachably right-wing Zionist source—that featured Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf’s claim that “New York is the ATM for American politicians. Large amounts of money come from the Jewish community. If … you want dollars from that group, you need to show that you’re interested in the issue that matters most to them.” The issue that matters most, the article went on to say, is Israel, and what this group most wants to hear with regard to Israel is commitment to bellicosity toward Iran.

    Greenwald went on to point out that these articles made exactly the same point that Clark made, adding, “It is simply true that there are large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups which are agitating for a U.S. war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests and they perceive it to be in Israel’s interests for the U.S. to militarily confront Iran.”

    Matthew Yglesias, a young writer with a blog and similar political orientation, also addressed the Clark issue, noting that while Jewish opinion was divided on Iran, “Everything Clark said, in short, is true. What’s more, everyone knows it’s true.” Yglesias pointed out that it is seemingly permissible to refer to the financial clout Jews wield in the Democratic Party if one is being supportive of America’s self-proclaimed “pro-Israel” forces, but if you’re critical of this influence, you’re denounced as an anti-Semite.

    Back to Obama, his camp is doing its explaining:

    "Sen. Obama has always said that the security of Israel should be America's starting point in the Middle East," Vietor said. "As he stated in his speech (at AIPAC) and again in Iowa, he also believes that in the end, the Palestinian people are suffering from the Hamas-led government's refusal to renounce terrorism and join as a real partner in the peace process."


    Now, I don't expect any presidential candidate to support my preferred solution to Palestine-slash-Israel: the same one person one vote one state solution we asked and got in that other apartheid state, South Africa. And even my second choice solution: two states with the UN's 1947 (not 1967) borders is considered beyond the pale. But if we can't even acknowledge the pain of the Palestinian people without slapping their faces for their choice of leadership, we will continue to have zero credibility in that part of the world, and that can't be good for America's security.

    Republicans Don't Want You To Vote: Federal Free Twinkie Edition

    Republicans Don't Want You To Vote: Federal Free Twinkie Edition

    So now it turns out that one of the driving forces behind the US attorney purge was the Bush administration's desire to prosecute more voter fraud cases, whether or not they actually existed. (Like Reagan said: "Facts are stubborn things.") Get the words "voter fraud prosecution" out there often enough, and those pesky black and brown people might not show up at the polls.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney Matthew Whitaker seems to be doing a hack of a job, by Alberto and Harriet's standards, by going after Des Moines Democrat Matt McCoy. McCoy's an ambitious sort, and even better was outed last year making him a really nice GOP target. Whitaker, you may recall is the ambitious sort too: the former Hawkeye football star ran against Mike Fitzgerald in 2002 and has been subsequently floated many times since as a potential candidate for higher office... don't forget, the US attorney's office was a nice springboard for Rudy Giuliani's career.

    Talking Points Memo has been all over the US attorney stuff and (in re: Carol May, the fired US attorney who put crooked GOP Rep. Duke Cunningham in jail) has the best quote:

    For most White House's a US attorney involved in such a politically charged and ground-breaking corruption probe would have been untouchable, even if she'd run her office like a madhouse and was offering free twinkies to every illegal who made it across the border.

    It's Pi Day!

    It's Pi Day!

    The party starts at 1:59.

    (Recycled from last year, but too geeky to skip.)

    Also: Courtesy of Cyclone Conservative, a politics as NCAA brackets cartoon. Would have been funnier, though, if they had included a #65 play-in game of John Cox vs. Mike Gravel.

    And Dave Loebsack continues the classy transition by co-sponsoring the Jim Leach Federal Building bill.

    Stock Up On Smokes

    Stock Up On Smokes

    The House passes the dollar; off to Chet's desk for the autograph. Final passage was 58-40 but the key vote was a 49-47 no on a 62 cent alternative.

    The GOP adopted the killer amendment approach again:

    Democrats blocked other Republican amendments to 'perfect' the bill. They included an attempt to ban the sale of all tobacco products in Iowa, raising the legal age to buy tobacco to 21 and exempting from sales tax any over-the-counter smoking cessation or nicotine replacement products.

    The first two I have problems with: prohibition doesn't work and I've been arguing for a consistent 18 = grownup stance for years. But I sure wish the tax-free patches had passed. That would have strengthened the public health argument.

    Pushing up the ante, I know you wanna see me

    Pushing up the ante, I know you wanna see me

    I know, I know. Second Motörhead reference this week. But the competition for the finite gambling dollars keeps getting fiercer, as this Gazette story notes in discussing all the casino "improvements:

    Linn County will find itself in an especially competitive environment, with casinos about an hour's drive away in all directions once the Waterloo facility opens this summer.

    More overhead costs without more total gambling dollars. Which means a couple years down the road closed casinos, lost jobs, and white elephant hotels.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Gambling Saturation

    Gambling Saturation

    Number of dollars to be gambled = x.

    Number of casinos = y.

    If number of casinos is increased to y+1, and if x is a fixed constant:

    Continuing competition from a newer casinos (sic) in Washington (sic), Iowa, and February’s bitterly cold, icy weather kept attendance at all Quad-Cities riverboat casinos down last month and reduced revenue at two of the three operations when compared to January.

    Isle of Capri in Bettendorf, Rhythm City Davenport and Jumer’s Casino Rock Island also showed significant declines in both revenue and attendance last month compared to February 2006, according to monthly reports from Iowa and Illinois gaming regulators.

    Tip to State 29.

    Last I checked the casino (singular) was in Riverside. Also, locals: I've noted a tendency for natives of Washington, IA to pronounce it "Warshington." Anyone else get that?

    Monday, March 12, 2007

    The Seeds Of Victory

    The Seeds Of Victory

    all right with me.
    is the way it should be.
    is a good thing.
    Plant that bell
    and let it ring.

    The sun comes up
    in the morning,
    Shines that light around.
    One day, without no warning,
    Things start jumping up
    from the ground.
    - Neil Young, 1974

    Not going to try to link to every story about every stop about every candidate from this Campaignapalooza weekend. Register is a good starting point and you can take it from there.

    Instead, my brain is zooming in on a Gazette article on locally grown produce. Despite living on the best farmland on the planet, Iowa is importing a huuuge amount of food:

    Consumer demand in Iowa, according to the Iowa Produce Market Potential Calculator, Center for Transportation Research & Education and The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, outstrips the state's production of:

  • Apples, by 50 percent.
  • Cantaloupes and muskmelons, by 81 percent.
  • Raspberries and tomatoes, by 90 percent.
  • Broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, by 99 percent.
  • Green beans, by 70 percent.
  • Carrots, by 95 percent.
  • Bell peppers, 96 percent.

    "You could easily live your whole life in Iowa without eating an Iowa-grown meal," according to a report by the Iowa Policy Project.

  • I grew almost all the above in my various gardens scattered around Johnson County at one time (never stayed settled in one spot long enough to start an orchard, and I'm not a big melon fan). And all that food grown elsewhere is trucked in by carbon-belching trucks. 20 years ago they made Belgian endive jokes about Michael Dukakis, but we're rapidly approaching crisis mode and the economic drain leaves us almost like a third world country exporting cash crops and importing staples. Is the victory garden a component in the fight for energy independence and against global warming?

    And is close to come food production ultimately a more efficient use of the gift of our farmland than ethanol? It would require a greater change in lifestyle from more of us - ethanol is just replacing one fluid in the SUV tank with another, and doesn't ask the old is this trip necessary question.

    Homegrown food strikes at the heart of so many other issues, too - genetic modification, corporate control, pesticides... I have a gardener's bias, and maybe spring in the air is motivating my thinking. But this issue should be on the map, especially in Iowa.

    Duncan Stewart, you need a blog.

    Blast From The Recent Past: Bill Bradley Book

    Blast From The Recent Past: Bill Bradley Book

    In an alternate universe somewhere President Bill Bradley is winding down his second term. In this here and now, he's a tall guy with a new book:

    Out later this month is The New American Story by former Sen. Bill Bradley.

    From the book jacket: "Writing from his own experience in politics and drawing on his knowledge of history, Bradley shows how the Republican Party has built a solid pyramid structure since the 1970s, at the base of which are money, ideas, and media, whereas the Democratic Party’s structure is an inverted pyramid, with too much emphasis put on the need for a charismatic leader to hold the pyramid up. Each party, for different reasons, fails to deal with the real issues that now confront America."

    "This informed and inspiring call to action is addressed not only to the parties and elected leaders, but to citizens as well. Bradley proposes things every American can do to shape our nation’s future. He points out that if eighty percent of the electorate voted, instead of fifty percent, it would be the most important change in American politics since women got the vote. Now more than ever, he says, we need to embrace an 'ethic of connectedness,' a combination of collective action and individual responsibility, to solve our nation’s most pressing problems.

    Sounds sutibly Obaman or Edwardian...

    Sunday, March 11, 2007

    The Only Card I Need

    The Only Card I Need

    Iowan turneresq writes at Kos:

    In the game of spades, the card players want to have most in their hand is the Ace of Spades. The top card in the game, this "trump" card will give a player one guaranteed win at least and can disrupt the other players strategy.

    Translating this to presidental politics, every potential president loves to have this a "trump" card because notwithstanding the other issues in their hand, it gives them something they can rely on.

    This gives me an excuse to link to Lemmy and Motörhead:

    turneresq continues:

    For Obama, his trump card is obviously Iraq. While he was only a state senator in 2002 contemplating a run for the national senate seat, he did give a speech which was flatly opposed to the war.

    Obama is not using race as a trump card, which is positive and he and Hillary are clearly competing for the African-American vote that HRC seemed to have taken for granted.

    But is Hillary using a queen to try to trump? At MyDD, Taylor Marsh:

    Obama is gaining. Edwards holding steady. So now Candidate Inevitable, aka Hillary Clinton, has to explain and rise from a new reality. Vote Hillary: 'We'll never know unless we try.' Playing gender to win. You knew it was coming, right? But is it gender or Hillary that is the problem?

    Aside: Watching a VH1 special last night I saw excerpts of a Lemmy interview. His voice was so ravaged and accented that, even though Lemmy's alleged first language is English, they had to show subtitles.

    Friday, March 09, 2007

    Fun Funnel Lists

    Fun Funnel Lists

    Gazette and Register have handy dandy funnel guides. Some of the hot buttons are dead; same day registration moves forward.

    Everybody's Here This Weekend

    Everybody's Here This Weekend

    No, the caucuses aren't next month - but it seems like it. This weekend:

  • Obama
  • Edwards
  • Biden
  • McCain
  • Brownback
  • Thursday, March 08, 2007

    Senate backs $1 cig tax

    Senate backs $1 cig tax

    The Gazette has a nice play by play of unsuccessful GOP maneuvering to back away from the dollar. They tried raising the minimum price, they tried 62 cents, they even tried the killer tactic of five bucks a pack. I gotta admire the overkill of that one. Almost as good as the failed amendment to Steve King's English Only law in `02 that would have changed the name of Cerro Gordo county to Fat Pig County.

    Also under the dome, the Overrated One gives snarky but ultimately OK commentary to Joe Bolkcom:

    Sen. Joe Bolkcom, an Iowa City Democrat, is proposing an additional solution: He wants to start turning off some of the lights at night.

    He's even proposed hiring someone to do nothing but walk around the buildings on the Capitol complex and flick the off switches. Other state workers apparently can't do that when they leave work.

    Imagine that. Turning off the lights when nobody is around. (Those radicals from Iowa City can always be counted on for their far-out ideas.) Bolkcom figures that even after paying the salary and nice benefits of an additional state employee, the government could save money in reduced energy costs. He's got a point.

    Yepsen forgets to mention the latte. He also fails to note that while Bolkcom was a supervisor here in Johnson County, he got some automated light switches installed in the administration building's restrooms. We got a new bike rack, too.

    Ex-GOP candidates turn attacks back on national panel - The Boston Globe

    Ex-GOP candidates turn attacks back on national panel

    The Boston Globe (free reg req) looks at "independent" party expenditures and we see a blast from Iowa's recent past:
    Four months after Republicans lost control of Congress, many of their former candidates are calling for major changes at the NRCC. They depict the committee as a rogue attack-ad shop that shielded party leaders from having to account for the claims in their ads -- encouraging over-the-top accusations that often hurt GOP candidates.

    In Iowa, an NRCC ad suggested that Democrat Bruce Braley was backed by the Communist Party, citing the fact that a party newspaper labeled Braley a "peace candidate." Republican candidate Mike Whalen said he immediately called friends in Washington to pressure the NRCC to take the ad down, but was told that nothing could be done because it was a product of the independent expenditure arm.

    "I went ballistic, desperately trying to send the message through back channels," Whalen said. "They didn't care. They said, 'We don't have any control over it.' . . . That ad in particular I think sullied my reputation, and I will always resent that ad."

    Kucinich in trouble with FEC

    Kucinich in trouble with FEC

    Those who were all high and mighty in 2004 about how perfect and pure Dennis Kookcinich was, take note:

    Dennis Kucinich is in trouble with the Federal Election Commission. An audit of his 2004 presidential campaign (Danger Will Robinson: 21 page PDF) reveals that Kucinich for President
  • kept using public matching funds long after the candidate was legally eligible to do so
  • failed to itemize more than $520,000 in contributions
  • and accepted thousands of dollars in anonymous cash contributions

    all in violation of the law.

  • One more revelation of what an ego-driven fraud he really is. The hat tip to the mighty Kos on this one.

    Richardson backs med marijuana

    Richardson backs med marijuana

    Bill Richardson is keeping busy with his day job, and one of the home state papers reports:

    With fewer than two weeks left in the session, Richardson implored lawmakers to get moving on a number of bills.

    "We've only got a few days to go, and I'm urging very quick action on the ethics package," he said. "I'm urging very quick, strong action on predatory lending. I want that cockfighting bill, I want medical marijuana, I want my tax cuts."

    I assume "I want medical marijuana" means he's seeking legislation, not that he has glaucoma. In any case this helps put the issue on the presidential playing field.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    A Great Leap Forward In Blogging

    Geek alert: After mulling it over a while and thinking about the ramifications of the technology and the ego involved, I finally decided to hell with it and did it. I'm now the semi-proud owner of the domain All it does is forward you to the Blogger site now, but stay tuned the next few weeks for some changes.

    21 Bars Get Busy

    21 Bars Get Busy

    Not as high profile as the Obama meeting but the committee for the 21 bar referendum got together last night. Only the Daily Iowan picks up on it - is that what we can expect for the fall? - but they did get Leah Cohen to call them "prohibitionists." Iowa City locals will recall that Cohen, owner of Bo James, fell about 50 votes short of bumping off Mike O'Donnell in 2001. Mike later switched to anti-21, which helped him beat 21 bar leader Rick Dobyns in `05 after Dobyns placd first in the primary.

    Quick links:

  • Edwards picks up some Vilsackers; the few big names from Johnson and Linn don't appear. Essential Estrogen says this is bad for the caucuses; I see the point but mildly disagree. I think the county chair types can be fair even if committed; we're not talking Chicago Alderman Louie Kneecaps here.
  • The Dems have finally found the phrase that pays: "Fully Funded Withdrawal." Some Progressive Caucus names here; will watch this one closely.
  • Interesting national numbers on immigration: Support for letting folks stay in the US and get on a citizenship path has stayed roughly steady in the 60% range but there's a recent spike in the GOP base, unworkable "deport everyone" position. Jonathan Singer at MyDD:

    No doubt those speaking out in opposition to creating a realistic fix to the problem of having 10 million or more people living inside our country's borders unlawfully are among the loudest -- or at the least know how to play to the media to offer the portrayal that their numbers are greater than they actually are. And in fact, many in Congress -- to many Democrats, included -- have become timid on the issue of immigration reform as a result.

    But the numbers speak for themselves. Americans want a comprehensive reform of the nation's immigration policy -- one that includes a path to citizenship.

    It's the classic strength of position curve that drives so many of our issues: the vast majority that support a citizensip path do so mildly, while the minority have anger and energy on their side. See gun control, stem cells, choice, etc. for more examples. And get ready for that Tom Tancredo surprise.
  • Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Organizing Obama

    Organizing Obama

    Hi from the Holiday Inn in North Coralville. It's odd to blog an organizational meeting for a campaign but there's old media here so I think the idea is to rally the forces rather than reveal the Secret Plan.

    They're showing part of the Obamannouncement (the name is so fun to play with ) and folks are still trickling in. Was 50 or so when the lights went down. A lot of folks signing the commitment cards, and some folks just having a look-see. (I'm officially uncimmitted, folks). Paul Tewes, state director, is here. A couple electeds in addition to Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn (who is committed).

    Tewes starts as TV arrives. My cell phone just landed on my keyboard. I hope I don't ever need my F9 key because it's toast.

    8888888 test

    Tewes contrasts this campaign to his work on Gore campaign. Says Harkin steak fry was a big part of Obama's decision. "Obama brings out the best in people." More like 75 folks now. "Through his message and background, Obama can transcend the negativity."

    The three words:

  • Respect
  • Empowerment
  • Inclusion

    We won't tell the locals what to do, there aren't bad ideas (I like hearing that; hope things stay that way next January...) "we have to change how we capaign: less authoritarian, more inclusion."

    "The way we campaign is a reflection on the man we're campaigning for." People want to be on this side of history with Obama. Tewes is a low key speaker and ends with a casual "how'd I do?"

    F9 key fixed. Simeon Talley the local staff dude is intro-ing Wilburn and the other electeds. So I'll name the names: Larry Meyers, Sullivan, Slockett. That's Larry Myers, not Dick Myers, but Dick Myers is reportedly on board.

    Wilburn takes the opportunity to announce his own re-elect bid for this fall.

    Ross leads with education and teach to the test rather than learning. Brings up the Walter Reed scandal. The faces here are partly familiar, partly new.

    "We are at risk for losing the US as a source of inspiration, and we too as Americans need that source of inspiration." Nice transition there, Ross (the old speech geek in me comes out.)

    Wilburn notes that his Illinois relatives speak highly of Obama's work in state legislature. I didn't note it before but it was said in the introduction and the out of towners may not know that Wilburn is African American; Iowa City's first black mayor. Ross does not mention this subtext in his talk. He's also a bike-riding kind of guy and was early early for Dean in `03 and he doesn't mention those either.

    "We can disagree about who we are supporting, but don't be disagreeable." He's talking and thinking waaay ahead to that realignment moment.

    Hallie Schneider, regional field director, is making the pitch to sign folks up and talking constituency groups and (as Tewes joins in and gradually takes the lead) caucus logistics. The old media is packing up; the mayor must be the lead. Tewes asks "who's never been to a caucus" and a third of the hands go up. Some Caucus 101 talk. The "how to persuade people" discussion is best summed up as Put It In Your Own Words.

    TV extracts the mayor for a standup. Fellow blogger Nick Johnson is here but no laptop so I'm scoopin' him. But he mentions blogs so here's the love. He's sounding like a supporter (he was Kucinich last time).

    Blogger is being goofy. One person really really hates the "rock star" label; thinks it detracts from Obama's substance. Tewes finesses this well; I think rock stars can have a lot of substance.

    Question on whether Wayne Ford and Ako have endorsed; "they have not publicly endorsed."

    March 27, 6 PM, they're meeting again. Folks are headed out. The diehards are still talking as of 8:13. I'll sign off for now, update if the schmoozing proves interesting.
  • No Water Required

    No Water Required

    The only upside to the Iowa Senate's vote to end the must-be-on-water rule for casinos: it helps fight global warming by reducing the driving distance for compulsive gamblers. Bring Touch Play back to every corner Casey's and the carbon footprint gets even smaller!

    To restate a long-time Deeth talking point: the gambling economy is finite. Only so many Iowans will spend only so many dollars on gambling, and a certain number - like me - wouldn't cross the street to play slots. (And, let's face it, we're not a tourist destination for anyone except presidential candidates.) Building more casinos doesn't make the pie higher. It just makes the slices thinner and thinner till we hit the point of market over-saturation. We're probably at that point already and at some time the whole house of cards collapses.

    Monday, March 05, 2007

    Funnel Week

    Funnel Week

    Not to be confused with funnel cake week which is in August at the State Fair. Do or die time for legislation.

    Bills that would bring back TouchPlay machines and scrap Iowa's official English law appear headed for the Legislature's discard pile.

    Proposals to require beer keg registration, create a statewide preschool program and allow cities to ban public smoking remain in the tall stack of bills that legislators plan to tackle during the second half of the 2007 session.

    Legislation championed by organized labor and strongly opposed by business groups - allowing the collection of fees from nonunion workers for services provided by unions - remains a wild card.

    You all know the words: I'm just a bill, yes I'm only a bill...

    Nate covers HRC in DBQ for MyDD.

    This week's email from Supervisor Rod Sullivan is highly quotable on Rick Dobyns' 21-bar referendum:
    Regardless of how you feel on the issue, we all owe these two men a debt of gratitude. They are providing political cover for every council candidate. Now, every candidate, no matter how she feels, can simply say, "I will respect the results of the referendum."

    I, for one, am tired of the dishonesty. I am tired of students not telling the whole truth. I am tired of bar owners not telling the whole truth. I am tired of Bud & Miller not telling the whole truth. Perhaps a public vote will put the issue to bed once and for all. Yes, we will get a huge student turnout. That is fine. Students have a right to vote.

    Personally, I think the solutions to these problems require some huge cultural shifts. But the first step is honesty on all sides. We have not gotten that yet.

    Sunday, March 04, 2007

    Parlor Games and Trivia: The Next Vice President Is...

    Parlor Games and Trivia: The Next Vice President Is...

    Iowa Progress says an Iowan's best shot at the White House is Tom Harkin or Chuck Grassley becoming president pro tem of the Senate. Nice post and I add a long rambling comment that now flows over here into a long rambling post.

    Iowa's pair of Senators are relatively high seniority, a big change from the Nixon-Ford-Carter era when we had four one term wonders (the order goes Hughes-Culver-Grassley and Clark-Jepsen-Harkin; only Hughes left voluntarily).

    But Harkin is all the way down at 11th in seniority among Dems. Senate President pro tem may be Joe Biden's best shot at the presidency - he's #4 in Democratic seniority with 34 years of seniority at only age 64. But he's still a decade behind Ted Kennedy and Hawaii's Dan Inouye. Just-re-elected, 89 year old, longest serving Sentor in history Robert Byrd of West Virginia tops them all.

    Yet another tangent: Carl Hayden of Arizona (1927-69) ranked as the longest serving Senator ever for about three decades, but has been passed four times in recent years: by Byrd, Strom Thurmond, Kennedy and Inouye. Kennedy has a couple months on Inouye because he was sworn in early to replace the appointee that JFK engineered into the seat to keep it warm until Teddy turned 30. Hayden still ranks first in combined House plus Senate service but will soon be surpassed by Byrd. Meanwhile John Dingell of Michigan (1955-present) is closing in on Jamie Whitten's House record (1941-94)...

    Grassley's all the way up at #7 Republican, and three of those ahead of him (a disgruntled Ted Stevens, the all-but-drooling Pete Domenici, and John Warner who could potentially retire or lose) could be out soon. Grassley and Arlen Specter, by the way, are the last two survivors of the Reagan Republican class of 1980 that gave us such luminaries as Mack Mattingly, John East, Paula Hawkins, Jeremiah Denton, and how can we forget: Dan Quayle. The only freshman Democrat in that class: Chris Dodd, as he noted in his recent Iowa City visit.

    But since the 25th Amendment the Senate presidents pro tem succeeding to the presidency is pretty much a King Ralph scenario.

    Which leads to my actual point.

    If, by some teensy weensy never gonna happen chance, Dick Cheney (a man whose former chief of staff is on trial, whose popularity is at about minus 7 percent, who was the subject of a badly botched assassination attempt last week and who has had four heart attacks) - I know I'm going way out on a limb here - if Dick Cheney does not complete his term - who does Bush pick?

    Remember: this choice has to get confirmed by 2/3 a majority of both houses of Congress - both Democratic controlled houses of Congress - in the context of a presidential campaign. Also remember, this person immediately becomes the 2008 GOP frontrunner, and multiple Republican members of Congress are already candidates...

    And also also remember that things are much much much more partisan than they were 30 years ago when Ford and Rockefeller were named and if the nominee has said anything in favor of the war the Democrats will turn the vote into a surrogate fight on Iraq, but anyone who has taken any sort of anti-war anti-surge stance will be off Bush's short list.

    So who can Bush name that the Dems will see as not a strong candidate, yet respectable enough that they can support (think Jerry Ford as perceived in 1973) and the committed Republicans will see as a weak rival, yet will still have enough credibility and issue acceptability on both sides?

    Probably my most tangential post ever. Does anybody want to watch Joan Allen in The Contender? Please comment with responses.