Monday, April 30, 2007

Silhouette Project 2

Silhouette Project: Outlines of Fallen Troops Filling Ped Mall

At 5:30 Tuesday, Iowa City peace activists began drawing chalk outlines on the downtown Ped Mall, with each drawing representing one of the American troops
killed to date in the Iraq war in the Silhouette Project.


I half expected volunteers to be on the ground representing each soldier killed, but a cardboard template was more practical.


The completed sections were reminiscent of the late Keith Haring's outline outwork from the 1980's.


Nyssa Koons, one of the organizers, numbered the completed silhouettes. Volunteers estimated about 500 silhouettes had been drawn by 6:45, but had no idea how long it would complete the more than 3300 silhouettes.  Number One was close to the water fountain at the center of the Ped Mall. 

When asked why the silhouettes were numbered rather than bearing names, Koons said it was out of respect for those killed: "We didn't want people walking on names." With that thought in my mind I found myself stepping around outlines in an elaborate game of Step On A Crack Break Your Mother's Back.

discuss with public

Needless to say the 15 or so volunteers (working in shifts with more expected) attracted some attention, and of course one of the big functions was for organizers to explain the project to onlookers. Most reactions were supportive and I observed no negativity toward the event.


By 7:15 the outlines stretched nearly a block to the east, passing the children's room of the public library and approaching the intersection of College and Linn at the east end of the Ped Mall.  The organizers expected to fill the entire Ped Mall and several surrounding blocks.

Pettingill's Play

Pettingill Bolts Dems

The big news under the dome, contrary to rumors (the first-version title you may be seeing hints at that, as does Iowa Progress) was the defection of State Rep. Dawn Pettingill (D R-Mount Auburn) to the GOP.

This raises several questions:

  • The timing is interesting as Rants steps on the Dems' end of session plaudits and imposed a conservative frame:
    "The House Democratic leadership pursued an agenda which veered far from the principles for which my constituents and I stand," (Pettengill) said in a statement.

    How long ago was this planned?

  • Was it before or after Pettingill started going to Democratic caucuses again, and what kinds of conversations was she having?

  • Will she be giving back the $38,611 (43% of her fundraising) that she got in direct donations from the Iowa Democratic Party, not to mention any other money from disgruntled Dems?
  • Slash Day

    Slash Day

    Today is April 23/30 on your calendar. In printing parlance this is called a hanging date, which does not have anything to do with capital punishment. It happens when a month starts on a Friday or Saturday and rolls over into a sixth week. Apparantly it's acceptable to use a hanging date on only a Sunday or Monday.

    I always called a day like today a "slash day" so in honor of that here's Slash playing one of the great riffs of all time.

    Silhouette Project

    Silhouette Project: Today on Ped Mall

    A creative performance for peace starting at 5:30 on the Ped Mall:
    On April 30th, beginning at 5:30 pm, we will start tracing outlines of all of the US Soldiers that have died in Iraq since the war began.

    Nyssa Koons, one of the organizers, says:
    When we organized this event, we were doing so in hopes to raise awareness in the general community in a very direct, logical way. All of the silhouettes will be numbered, giving a very tangible feeling of the impact that this war is having as we go about living our sometimes disassociated lives. It's not placing any direct message in people's minds who run across it besides, this is the large number of people who have died in this war, it is real, even if some people have found ways of distracting themselves from it.

    We haven't figured out the exact amount of space that it will take up, but probably all of the ped mall, and (roughly estimated) a six to eight block radius.

    Check back later for coverage and pictures. (No more cheesy camera phone shots; I invested in an actual camera yesterday.)

    News From The Ass

    One Problem With Tabbed Browsing

    If you have a lot of Firefox tabs open, as is my style, "News From The Associated Press" gets abbreviated as "News From The Ass". Also Iowa General Assembly... naah, cheap shot.

    Not as bad as the nightmare of all broadcast journalists: a script that misspells "public."

    The General Ass. of course adjourned Saturday night Sunday morning; more followup from Common Iowan, O. Kay, Gazette and The Underrated One. And Popular Progressive (thanks).

    Fair Share will be back, says Bill Dotzler:
    It may not be the most important change for labor, but it holds symbolism for union members, Dotzler said.

    ``It's deeply personal for those people who are working next to a (non-union) person who is free-riding,'' he said.

    Lots of symbolism on the other side too; the GOP frame of "forced union membership" was still ahead as the clock ran out. But the end of an odd-year session is really only halftime.

    Some election changes: the afore-mentioned machine stuff is more or less done now so folks can move on to other stuff like public finance, which Pam Jochum pledges to bring back. Some absentee changes that I'm still looking into... also the annoying courier law has been loosened just a little so that close relatives can bring in a ballot.

    I'd planned to study the session more closely but instead the incredible good weather led me to investigate the status of area bike trails. Would like to do further research today but duty calls.

    Blogging Hat

    A Man Of Many Hats

    As an activist slash blogger I occasionally have trouble distinguishing my roles. People sometimes wonder which hat I’m wearing.

    In order to make this easier for my political cohorts, I’m considering the purchase of an actual blogging hat, a physical headpiece to wear to clarify my role. However, I am having a difficult time choosing from amongst the various types of chapeaux (is that the right plural?). So, in our first ever John Deeth Blog Poll, I leave the choice to you the gentle readers.

    Which hat should be my blogging hat?
    Moose antlers
    Raspberry beret, the kind you find in a secondhand store
    Propeller beanie
    Baseball cap with double beer holder and straw
    Sorting Hat
    Ski mask (off campus events only)
    Free polls from

    This resolution is non-binding. All restrictions apply. Not valid in Alaska, Nebraska, mod ska or Onalaska. Cash value 1/20 of one cent. Your mileage may vary. Must be present to win. Employees of John Deeth Blog, its advertisers or this broadcast station not eligible. Never start a land war in Asia.

    Sunday, April 29, 2007

    They're Done

    They're Done

    Legislature wraps post-midnight. Analysis later, quick links for now.



    Saturday, April 28, 2007

    Voting Machine Changes

    Voting Machine Changes

    Passes House, back to Senate. Here's the bill.

    Quick read:

  • Paper trail required as of 2008 presidential.

  • Paper ballots available everywhere (in case of power failure, etc.)

  • As equipment is replaced, touch screns phased out and replaced by op scan. HAVA requirements to be met by electronic ballot marking devices.

  • In case of recount, the paper trail is what matters.

  • Jacobs amendment allows counties that have placed orders by next July to apply for waiver. Huser amendment defeated; would have voided requirements if state funding not provided. UPDATE: Correction -

    Actually, no amendments were adopted by the House. The Jacobs amendment that was adopted was an amendment to amendment. The "amended amendment," H-1510, was rejected.

    Thanks, comments.

    FINAL UPDATE Sunday: I had a busy day and Iowa Voters has a full wrap.
  • Overtime

    Legislative Session Goes Into OT

    It's Saturday and they're still lawmakin'. Da Reg and Da Gazz have overviews.

    Here;s what's not happening:

  • Sex offender reform - dead.
  • Fair share - dead.
  • Statewide SILO - dead.
  • Marmalard - dead! Niedermeyer - DEAD!
  • Friday, April 27, 2007



    It's the last per diem day and that means the traditional session-ending marathon at the Legislature.
    Gazette and Register have overviews. The Johnson County folks have the monthly League of Women Voters forum tomorrow AM; wonder if they'll make it? (I won't, I have another commitment, so I wind up one for our or the session on what was once a mainstay o the ol' blog here.)

    After last week's campaignapalooza, which had seven presidential candidates in-state, this weekend looks unusually quiet.

    Hancher Schedule

    Hancher Schedule

    UI releases the 2007-08 Hancher schedule; the most political item is Daily Show's Lewis Black on Sept. 22, but the one that holds a special place for me is Pat Metheny on October 10. As falls Wichita, so falls Wichita Falls indeed.

    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    Debate Reax

    Deeth Debate Reax

    Just back from watching the debate with JCDems chair Brian Flaherty who says, in chairmanly neutrality, that everyone did great and he wants to hear more health care. The rest of the thoughts are mine in blogger-ly snarkiness.

    Joe Biden had a great night and Brian Williams knew it; by the end of the debate he was going to Biden more and more and Dodd and Richardson less. And in the post-debate interviews, Biden was in What I’ll Do As President mode (well, Secretary of State maybe) while Dodd was begging for consideration and Richardson (who looked disappointed) was giving the answer he should have given to one of the debate questions.

    My favorite sequence was the “elephant in the room” round early in the debate when Williams asked about perceived weaknesses and character flaws. (Someone missed an opportunity to chuckle at the question with an air of "this is so ridiculous it's beneath me, but as you insist on asking, I have nothing to hide.") Edwards did well with his response to a $400 haircut question, which served as the launch pad for some Everyone Should Have The Opportunity I've Had and Son Of A Millworker stories including one I hadn’t heard before of having to leave a restaurant without ordering because his dad couldn’t afford anything on the menu.

    Hillary was careful overall (speaking of first names, she was throwing “Barack” this and “John” that around and soon the others followed suit). To her credit she didn’t play identity politics at all, even when asked why Republicans hate her so much (rather than saying “because I’m a strong woman” she referred to it as “perverse flattery.”) Obama parried the slumlord question well. Richardson had identity politics thrust upon him in when asked about his delay in calling for Gonzales to resign “because he’s Hispanic.” Richardson said people appreciate candor and honesty, and that was how he felt (while adding that he later called for a resignation).

    But Biden knocked it out of the park when asked, more or less, are you ever going to shut your big mouth. Biden obviously anticipated the question and said, “Yes.” And waited. And waited. And the laughs started. And he waited, until Williams had to laugh to and move on. Kucinich and Gravel were both asked "dude, wtf?" Mike Gravel made Dennis seem positively moderate; There were a few good lines and ideas that would have sounded fine in the calm measured voice of a George McGovern, but his overall tone through the debate seemed to be along the lines of Grandpa telling those darn kids to get the hell off my lawn, saying the other candidates “scared” him. Williams was verbally dismissing him by the end, and the post-debate commentators were reduced to Sanjaya-like terms such as “refreshing.”

    Kucinich (who was anti-choice until he decided to run for president) dodged a choice question while Edwards used it as a way to subtly play the electability card and Obama moved it to his coming-together turf.

    A Virginia Tech question got Hillary’s only Bill reference, while Richardson turned his Westerner pro-gun record into a call for mental health parity. Interesting raise o hands question: who’s owned a gun? The first tier three keep their hands down, the other five raise theirs.

    Edwards is asked how he’s pay for health care and says repeal bush tax cuts, then goes into specifics while portraying himself as the Detail Guy. Hillary, Obama and Richardson are asked the same question and talk about health care without mentioning money. Edwards missed the opportunity to break format and challenge them on it.

    Hillary dodged the illegal alien amnesty question (because it’s dynamite). Edwards gets the first mention of global warming, but probably kicked himself when Obama got the first mention of New Orleans. Kucinich, meanwhile, had rehearsed a “global warming and global warring” line, but it comes out “global warring” both times.

    They’re all asked about their biggest mistake “of the last four years” Hillary and Biden criticize Bush, Edwards and Dodd cop to the war vote. Obama, interestingly, said he should have fought the Schaivo bill harder, and Richardson anticipated the question and makes his weaknesses a strength in classic interview style: “I’m impatient, I try to get too much done too fast.”

    I may have missed a lot of the best lines; in my privileged status as an Iowan I’ve heard so many of them before like Edwards saying “it’s time to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war.”

    When asked who supported Kucinich’s move to impeach Dick Cheney, no hands were raised. Dennis, you get me so hot when you’re self-righteous.

    Richardson was the only one to break format, rejecting the Cuba question he was asked for a war question he wasn’t. Too many questions that I wish everyone could have answered; everyone was supposed to get “what would you do the first day” but Richardson used all the time.

    Obama’s best moment was in a late-debate exchange with Kucinich on the war where he patiently, thoughtfully, presidentially discusses Kucinich’s charge that Obama wanted to nuke Iran. Gravel tried to get in on it at the end but by that point Obama was commanding. Biden references it again at the end, dissing Gravel and Kucinich with the last line of the debate: “you guys can have your happy talk, this is real life.”

    When asked, “who is your moral leader” Edwards thought a loooong time before answering “my Lord” (the correct South Carolina answer) “my wife” (the only brief Elizabeth reference) “and my father.” No one else got the question, unfortunate. Hillary tried to have it both ways on “is Wal-Mart a positive or negative” and missed the opportunity to score labor points.

    Post-debate, all spouses present on stage except Mr. Clinton who was at Boris Yeltsin’s funeral; how did a little dweeb like Dennis Kucinich hook up with that tall redhead? Gravel was gesturing looking like he wanted to keep debating.

    Biden scores the first interview, then Richardson, then as all but the hardest core political junkies drift off, Dodd. Gravel is Zell-Miller-like in arguing with Chris Matthews and insulting him; Matthews openly laughs. Cuts to Hillary’s spinner and Obama at a rally where he leads with health care. I give up as Dennis is interviewed in tandem with his spouse; they hold hands the whole time.

    Sal for President

    Sal for President Update

    With Vilsack's departure, Sal Mohamed is now the only Iowan left in the presidential race. Bret Hayworth at the Sioux City Journal reports that, while Sal was not invited to tonight's Democratic presidential debate, he's not letting his constitutional ineligibility deter him and he will be having a meeting at 7 tonight in Sioux City...

    Charter Amendments 3

    Charter Amendments: Fantasy Time

    The last in my series on the 2001 Iowa City charter amendments. In Part 1 we looked at content and history, and in Part 2 we went over the context.

    The proposed changes, again:

  • Periodic retention votes for the city manager and police chief
  • making permanent the city's Police Citizens Review Board
  • issuing citations for nonviolent misdemeanors like public intoxication, instead of making arrests.

    I'd rather address the last by flat-out legalization and a drinking age of 18, but that's nothing new for these pages. As for the governmntal reforms, I signed the petitions but I had other ideas I'd like to see in my fantasy world:

    A directly elected mayor. Preferably a strong mayor with a vote, rather than the ceremonial first among equals on the council. Karen Kubby would definitely have won a term in the `90s if the people were choosing rather than her council peers.

    A true district system. The current council district system is convoluted and confusing. Candidates for the three district seats must live in the district, and only the district votes in the primary, but the whole city votes in the general. Still with me?

    The smaller the district, the more representative the body. In my native Wisconsin, city (and county) councils are larger entities, often 30 to 40 members with precinct-sized districts. In college towns, it was common to get a student or two elected with a reasonable effort. An Iowa City council with one member per precinct (that's 25) would include two students at a bare minimum, and could easily have as many as six. And even if the council is smaller, it would be impossible to chop Iowa City up into even six or seven districts without creating a student majority in one and putting the first student candidate on the council since David Perret in the `70s.

    Aside: the ideal profile for a young candidate in the present system would be a UI-enrolled townie. The typical student candidate in our high-turnover town faces questions of long-term commitment to the city and can't get a vote east of Governor Street. You need the student vote and you also need just enough folks who knew you since you were this high or are friends with your mom and dad or went to high school with you.

    Partisan city elections. I know this is counter-trend, but it's my fantasy, dammit. Iowa law still allows for partisan city elections, but no one does it. Davenport was the last, going non-partisan in 1997.

    Endorsements in non-partisan elections have been an ongoing fight within the Johnson County Dems for close to 15 years, yet the question I get over and over again about city elections is "who's the real Democrat?" This answers that question. Party labels are a strong cue to voters about an official's underlying philosophy. Plus, having to get through a Democratic Party nomination process could make for a city council that more accurately reflects the progressive nature of our community.

    15 less pounds, my hair back, and a date with Shirley Manson. It's my fantasy, dammit. And about as likely as the others. So I'll give up on the hair, work on the pounds, and be happy with my present sweetie and some good candidates for 2007.
  • Civil Rights Followup

    Civil Rights Followup

    Coverage all over this morning:

  • Register has the rollcall in a sidebar and a description of the rare "lock down the House" move. Three GOP absences: in addition to public supporter Gipp, Lance Horbach and Dave Heaton were gone. The only missing Dem was Ray Zirkelbach in Iraq.

    An earlier article mentioned a four hour Democratic caucus yesterday morning, but not clear whether that was about this bill or all the other stuff on the finals week schedule.

  • The Underrated One has an overview. Rants is quoted saying "I don't break arms," but that leaves the door open for kneecaps.

  • Gazette discusses Pat Murphy's math...
    ``I thought it was conceivable that we would have 49 or 50 votes,'' Murphy said. ``I thought we might have as many as 52 or 53. I never expected to see 59 on the board. I just didn't.''

    ...and Chris Rants' grammar:
    House Minority Leader Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, was one of those who voted against the bill despite offering the amendment to redefine gender identity by replacing ``appearance, expression or behavior'' with ``gender-related identity of a person, regardless of the person's assigned sex at birth.''

    ``Those tend to be more verbs than adjectives,'' he said. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.

  • Essential Estrogen looks at the aisle-crossing votes, particularly the female legislators.
  • Welcome To My State Fair

    Welcome To My State Fair

    I hope I didn't scare ya. Alice Cooper Goes To Hell And/Or The Iowa State Fair. Special guests: Puppet Show and Spinal Tap. Feed My Frankenstein a funnel cake.

    Just so I'm worthy, here's the history of Milwaukee's three Socialist mayors.

    House OKs Iraq troop withdrawal bill

    House OKs Iraq troop withdrawal bill

    218-208, US House votes to start withdrawal by October 1. 13 Dems against, mostly because they oppose a deadline but a few because they want to shut off the money now. Two Republicans for. Iowans on party lines. Here's the roll call.

    Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    Civil Rights Passage

    Civil Rights Bill Passes Iowa House 59-37; Rants Amendment Weakens Some Gender Identity Provisions

    Breaking. Roll call later.

    UPDATE: Register reports: "Nine Republicans voted in favor of the plan. Three Democrats voted against it."

    UPDATE UPDATE: Bleeding Heartland has the roll call. The Democrats against were no surprise: Mertz, Pettingill, Quirk. Same three names we heard from the beginning.

    GOP in favor: Clute, Forristall, Hoffman , Jacobs , Miller L., Raecker, Schickel, Struyk, Wiencek. Surprise here: Chuck Gipp was supposedly in favor - he was absent.

    Spinal Tap Reunion

    Spinal Tap Reunion

    Spinal Tap reunites to fight global warming:
    The mock heavy metal group immortalized in the 1984 mockumentary, "This is Spinal Tap," will reunite for a performance at Wembley Stadium in London as part of the Live Earth concerts scheduled worldwide for July 7.

    Spinal Tap has reunited several times since the film, but hasn't for a number of years. For the band - whose last album was 1992's "Break like the Wind" - the occasion warranted a new single: "Warmer Than Hell":

    "The devil went to Devon, it felt like the fourth degree/ He said, `Is it hot in here, or is it only me?'"

    I'm concerned that the reunion may in fact increase global warming due to heat from spontaneously combusting drummers.

    North Liberty Mayor

    Salm named NL Mayor

    He was the swing vote, the only one acceptable to both sides.
    Kuhl and councilor James Wozniak endorsed Salm, who sent one of two applications that the city received for the mayoral position. Councilor James Moody originally supported Terry Donahue, a city planning and zoning commissioner who served as Creston's mayor for 14 years.

    Moody said he didn't think it was a good idea to pick a mayor from the council. However, he decided to support Salm after the council voted 3-2 against Donahue. Kuhl, Wozniak and Salm offered the opposing votes.

    In a couple weeks we'll see if folks petition for a special election.

    Iowa City Charter Amendments 2

    Iowa City Charter Amendments: A Ride In The Wayback Machine

    Yesterday we at John Deeth Blog noted the Iowa Supreme Court taking up the aborted 2001 Iowa City charter amendments:

  • Periodic retention votes for the city manager and police chief
  • making permanent the city's Police Citizens Review Board
  • issuing citations for nonviolent misdemeanors like public intoxication, instead of making arrests.

    Here's more on yesterday's hearing.

    Today I'll travel in the Wayback Machine of my memory and look at why, as I recall, these three items were considered so important in the summer of 2001 when the petitions were passing.

    Eric Shaw. Still burned then, still burns now. Then-police chief R.J. Winklehake was never really held accountable, and a public vote would certainly have been accountability.

    Giving PCRB Some Teeth. The Police Citizens Review Board was one of the minimal mea culpas that came out of the Shaw murder, and it looked at various allegations mostly involving Driving While Black cases. But it had no real authority.

    Unelected Power. The image of elected council members repeatedly turning to the unelected city manager with expressions of "what do you think, Steve?" was getting to be a bit much.

    The 2000 Jail Vote. Folks weren't buying it - the jail lost in every precinct in the county. Part of the problem was then-sheriff Bob Carpenter who thought "the sheriff says we need a new jail" was rationale enough, believed only his plan should be considered, and resented anyone else having an opinion. He also had no ability to sell the issue to a Democratic party he'd abandoned in all but name. As for the rest of the jail backers, the issue was addressed only in terms of space needs, and there was a serious disconnect to any social justice or sentencing reform issues.

    The Drug War and the related Iowa City War On Young People. The third item, simple citations for minor alcohol/drug offenses, was a shot back at the Go To Iowa City, Get A Police Record mentality perpetuated by Winklehake and then-County Attorney Pat White.

    We'll know in a couple months whether these get on the ballot or not. How would these issues play now, in a context six years removed from the signatures?

    There have been positive changes with the elections of Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek - who's actually addressed mental health and mandatory sentencing issues - and County Attorney Janet Lyness. And Winklehake is retired and out of town, though his replacement Sam Hagardine seems to be of the same mold.

    The war on the young wages on in Iowa City, but these days seems more firmly centered at City Hall. The 21 Bar referendum turns up the heat. So maybe, on the off chance that these amendments make the ballot, they'd still address issues that need addressin'.

    But I have some other ideas in my dream world; more tomorrow.
  • Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    Civil Rights Bill

    Civil Rights Bill: Floor Vote Wednesday?

    Janelle Rettig with an update on the civil rights bill:

    Things are looking good for a vote tomorrow (Weds 4/25). All of the contacts we've been making have really been helpful.

    I'm reminded of all the people that have worked for this day for over 20 years. Many of the people who have worked for this issue are no longer with us, but I bet they will be with us in spirit tomorrow. I hope you might find a moment to remember the civil rights activists that came before us and to those that have dedicated decades to this issue.

    The victory is not guaranteed and there are some amendments that are problematic, so if you have a story of discrimination to tell or some positive comments to make, please continue to keep making those calls and sending emails. You never know what story might make someone change their mind and vote for civil rights protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, AND transgendered people.

    Dig through your address book and contacts looking for anyone from these counties asking them to help:

    Polk, Winneshiek, Scott, Kossuth, Benton, Chickasaw, Union, Cerro Gordo, Pottawattamie, Black Hawk

    Write these Democrats telling stories of discrimination, fears, hopes and dreams of a better state:,,,,,,,,,

    Write these Republicans doing the same:,,, ,,,,,

    Terry Smith

    Terry Smith in IC Council Race

    Mid-American's Terry Smith makes the official announcement for Iowa City council, looking to replace Bob Elliott both officially (as Bob is standing down) and ideologically (as the chosen one of the permanent conservative city controlling faction).
    Smith served for six years on the city’s telecommunications commission and is in his second year as a member of the Iowa City planning and zoning commission.

    Ah, P and Z, also a permanent stronghold of the that's-where-the-money-is faction.

    Wonder if Terry will have $636,099.65 in Mid-American in-kind corporate contrbutions? That's how much the company's anti public power campaign had - more money in a city ballot referendum than either Loebsack or Leach spent in a congressional district race.

    Iowa City Charter Amendments

    Iowa City Charter Amendments: Back From The Dead?

    The 2001 proposed Iowa City charter amendments have been smoldering for a looooong time and now have worked their way up to the state Supreme Court.

    Some history: Iowa City is a home rule city with its own charter and that includes an initiative process. In the summer of `01, three issues got sufficient signatures but were tossed off the ballot by a three person committee: then-mayor Ernie Lehman, unelected city clerk Marian Karr, and council member Ross Wilburn (now mayor; he voted to place the issues on the ballot but was on the short end of a 2-1 vote).

    I had a big problem with an unelected person making this decision, but to tell ya the truth Karr was probably acting on the will of the then-council majority. Wilburn was the only person both sides could agree to as the third member.

    That was a relatively divisive era in Iowa City government. The council had two progressives - Irvin Pfab and Steven Kanner - who were solid on issues but exceptionally weak on style. The charter amendments got caught up in that split.

    Things have mellowed since. Pfab was the first and only incumbent to lose a primary since the present system was set up in the `70s. Kanner, who won by two votes in 1999, didn't run again and followed his significant other out of town immediately after his term expired. The numeric split is the same on the council but current progressives Regenia Bailey (who knocked off Pfab) and Amy Correia are much more effective advocates.

    In the meantime, the amendment advocates have been pursuing this through the courts. Here's the substance on the amendments themselves:

  • Periodic retention votes for the city manager and police chief
  • making permanent the city's Police Citizens Review Board
  • issuing citations for nonviolent misdemeanors like public intoxication, instead of making arrests.

    The last also mentioned low-end drug offenses.

    We're already looking at the neo-prohibitionists' 21 bar referendum this year. If the courts order these onto the ballot as well, it could make the interesting 2007 election season even more wild.

    I signed these petitions waaaay back when in what seems like another lifetime. Coming soon: a look at why these particular items, and I'll share my fantasies on other changes for Iowa City government.
  • Legislature: Some Movement, Some Not

    Legislature: Some Movement, Some Not

    There may yet be action on the civil rights bill, says the Register. Apparantly some of the transgender language was a sticking point; does weakening that shift just enough votes?

    There's less chance on changing the unworkable, ineffective 2000 foot law:
    "They're just afraid to take action, and the people of Iowa should be ashamed," said Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald. "It's absolutely politics at its worst."

    Also dead is public campaign finance. USA Today reports:
    Only 7.3% of 2006 tax returns filed from Jan. 1 to April 14 designated a $3 contribution to the public campaign-financing system, according to data the Internal Revenue Service prepared for USA TODAY.

    Folks are still buying into the fallacy that public finance is "a taxpayer subsidy for politicians," and VOICE advocates should see this session as the first step in a very, very long public education effort.

    The Overrated One writes about progress and/or lack thereof this session and has a few salient points, despite the patronizing use of the term hotheads to describe progressive Dems. I'll take a double-shot latte, Dave.

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    NY Same Sex Marriage

    NY: Marriage Bill. Iowa: Nothing

    Gov. Eliot Spitzer will introduce a bill in the coming weeks to legalize same-sex marriage in New York...

    Meanwhile, the Iowa civil rights bill, which isn't asking for marriage or even civil unions, just non-discrimination, remains stalled...

    Obama: Quick Followup

    Obama: Quick & Dirty Folowup

    Writers block and distractions this AM so just the local headlines re: Obama.

  • Press-Citizen has two articles: Obama says environment top issue (which wasn't what I drew from it) and Obama rally draws 10,000. Also pics (I didn't even try)

  • Gazette also goes with crowd size.

    Obama says U.S. must improve fuels, efficiency is the Register headline.

  • The DI goes more for the overall speech and campaign theme of Obama calls for end of 'harmful politics'.
  • Sunday, April 22, 2007

    Barack Obama: Iowa City Earth Day 4/22/07

    Barack Obama: Iowa City Earth Day 4/22/07

    12:21 on one of two press platforms. Had to choose between visibility and electricity – the print platform was closer but no juice, the TV platform had plugins but I’m behind cameras). Outdoor events are a little problematic for a laptop, as the sun is bright and I have glare issues (organizers were worrying about rain but that looks to be later.

    Just to give you the layout I’m facing west toward the Old Capitol, on the west (river) sid. I think I’ll be able to see between a couple cameras – as usual with Obama, there’s big TV interest - but I may have a stiff neck by the end. Obama will be facing south to speak. So it’s not on the downtown side of the Pentacrest as is typical.

    The obligatory music review: it’s all U2 today but not just the obligatory “Beautiful Day.” Sounds like the “18” singles compilation since we’re hearing greatest hits.

    The organizers I chitchatted with expected roughly 6000. Crowd looks really young, very, very student. Feels more like October of election year than April of the year before.

    12:42 – a couple reports from the private meeting: “hot” (temperature, not rhetoric); Obama reports 3000 trees planted this morning. Former John Kerry body guy Marvin Nicholson spotted in Obama’s employ.

    Some electeds sighted: state senator Bolkcom, county attorney Lyness, supervisor Sullivan (who’s endorsed). Probably many more who didn’t cross my path on that particular stroll. I detect the shining dome of state rep Dave Jacoby (I should talk as my hair is thin too)… Wind picking up a bit, music has switched with a little Peter Gabriel in the mix. TV platform filling up even more but I still have a line of sight. Dick Myers (for non-Iowans, former Iowa House leader and major major political player – Obama supporter) sighted, chatting with The Underrated One, AP's Mike Glover. The VIP’s on the speaker’s platform are 90% students; the campus/Earth Day combo is no accident. Lawn filling up but not mosh-pit packed. Applause for the staffers who toss out free t-shirts. Some non-standard, green and white Obama Earth Day shirts spotted.

    The music goes old school with the Stones and “Satisfaction,” released when Obama was about 5 but still timeless. Not sure what the political message is but it still rocks and it’s nice that they play something without parsing every lyric.

    12:55 Ross Wilburn (Iowa City mayor) and Sue Dvorsky (key local activist, married to state senator). Wilburn call us “#1 county in #1 state.” Wilburn's intro enviro-focused. But “wrong war wrong place wrong time” gets biggest applause.

    Sue Dvorsky is announced as Johnson County co-chair with Wilburn. This is new, and Johnson County politicos will know this is big. Doesn’t necessarily mean Senator Bob is part of the deal, but Sue is major activist in her own right. Points to large crowd and says it’s a sign they system is “broken.”

    1:01 Obama announced. Entering through crowd – there was a great shot of him running toward the crowd that I can’t quite describe, maybe I’ll link it later. Wonder how long it’ll take to work his way to stage; Music is back to U2. Hard to track him but just follow the scrum.

    1:05 and he made it through right on cue. The typical attire of Tieless Full Obama. Brief sound trouble solved fast.

    Some thanks – Students for Obama “give it up for them!’ Wilburn/S. Dvorsky, 500 volunteers from tree planting, and he made the Hamburg Inn pilgrimage. Not as many local electeds intro-ed as is usual for this sort of thing

    “About as big a crowd as we’ve seen” - he says 20,000 in Atlanta (we aren’t at that – the 6000 estimate sounds good). Jokes about kids and “Daddy’s president thing.”

    Why now, why us? The country is calling us. I did not plan to go into politics (Chicago gets applause-UIowa is chock full of students from Chicagoland). Cubs get bigger cheer than Sox.

    Some standard biographical intro – this is my fourth time seeing Obama and thus I’m recognizing stuff Discusses move into electoral politics – all of us sometimes feel discouraged and cynical. “Feels like a business not a mission.) (Applause) We don’t have confidence it will make a difference. But there has always been a tradition that says we are all connected, based on ties that bind us together as Americans. The idea that we are our brother’s keeper has built America.

    1:19 So far this is seeming like the standard Obama speech without an Earth Day twist – but still, new to this crowd. Voice is echoing off the surrounding buildings, in a striking sort of way….

    Time for us to turn the page on the politics that have been, we need something new. For the last 6 years we’ve been divided not brought together. Litany of anti-Bush. That’s not meeting the challenges we face. We need not just to win an election but also to transform the country. A few sentences on each of these:

    · Health care broken and bankrupting us.
    · Education is leaving kids behind despite the name
    · Energy policy is just the absence of policy and is funding both sides of war – and he mentions global warming, first environmental reference. But brief, now moving to economy.

    Most of all, war should have never been authorized (big applause)

    Speaks of meeting parents of troops. And they ask for the war to end. Loud sirens cutting across speech (later seen: someone passed out – it was warm and folks stood quite a while - and local ambulance saved the day).

    Need to match strength of military with strength of diplomacy. Talking longer on war than on other bullet points.

    What is stopping us from change? It goes beyond Bush. We have not been involved in the process as much. Makes an exception for Iowa City and Loebsack (local congressman and major upset winner) gets the love.

    Cynicism has led us to step back, and special interests step into the void. But I’m excited by new mood across country. Volunteerism, and calls for change. We can solve our problems. Not a lack of plans – problem a lack of will and urgency,

    Now on to the Earth Day chunk: Global warming not open for debate. It’s not irreversible – we know what we need to do. Low-carbon fuel standard like California would lower emissions 10% by 2020. We could increase fuel efficiency – 43 MPG would mean 0 oil imports from mid east. Just those two things could reduce greenhouse gases = to getting 90 million cars off road. Cap power plants and reduce emissions 80% by 2050. We can do these things now.

    And what’s true for energy is true for all issues. Pledges universal health care by end of first term. We spend 50% more on health care than anyone else yet 43 million uninsured. We can address that now.

    More bullet points again: Early childhood ed, teacher salaries. Quad Cities Channel 8 doing standup while speech continues. Looks like about 6 TV crews here, all local/regional unlike February Cedar Rapids event on announcement day when national press followed him to Iowa.

    Hard to get things done while there’s this enormous distraction of Iraq. I opposed from beginning. Wants all troops out by 3/31/08. We must pressure on this Congress for veto override. Time to bring them home.

    One last thing we can do on behalf of troops: no more Walter Reeds. Sacred obligation whether for or against war.

    At their core American people are decent. Distracted sometimes… but when we pay attention our best instincts come out. Nothing we can’t accomplish. Turn the page on politics of division and create an America where everyone has a place.

    Speaks of Edmund Pettis bridge to a crowd too young to remember: MLK – “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” We each need to help bend that arc.

    More TV standups and departures.

    At each and every juncture of American history, change has been from the bottom up. Because of ordinary people coming together. Going through the fast forward American history again – (fourth time with this speech for me

    Once more it is time for ordinary citizens to ruse up. Applause more frequent now and at 1:45 he wraps. We leave the stage to Jackie Wilson “Higher and Higher”

    So bottom line: a good and well received Standard Obama Speech which just happened to be Earth Day in Iowa City. I get clobbered by a TV tripod blown over in the rising wind but no lasting damage to me or more importantly laptop. “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” and “Shout” play. Five minutes out half the crowd is gone, the other half gravitating toward the handshake scrum.

    UPDATE: I may be seriously underestimating the turnout: other sources saying 10-12,000.

    Legislature: Finals Week

    Legislature: Finals Week

    Legislatures are much like college students: the hardest work gets put off till late, then the semester ends in a flurry of all-nighters. This is exam week and the Register has a handy-dandy must-do guide.

    The civil rights bill isn't even mentioned. And I don't think the LBG community is giving incompletes this semester.

    Saturday, April 21, 2007

    Earth Day

    Venus Demands Equal Time

    Earth Day tomorrow as the other planets take a back seat. (Venus is that very bright thing in the west after sunst.) At least two campaigns planning events in Iowa City. The big deal of course is the Obama rally on the Pentacrest, but before that was scheduled teh Edwards camp had a One Corps event planned:
    Join Johnson County One Corps as we distribute information sheets that help citizens calculate their carbon footprint and actions they can take to reduce it. We will also have a digest of the Edwards Energy Plan to pass out as we let people know about the EDWARDS plan to reduce carbon emissions.

    Sunday, April 22, 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

    Iowa City Downtown Pedestrian Mall, corner of Washington and Dubuque Streets

    Obama's also doing the direct green thing with a couple tree plantings, both 8 to 9:30:
    1) Clear Creek Stabilization Effort. Directions: Take the Coral Ridge Ave. Exit off of I-80 and go south to 2nd St. (US hwy 6) stoplight. Turn right onto 2nd St. You will pass Lowe’s and then look for Deer Creek Road on your left. Left turn onto Deer Creek Road. Take the first right turn onto 340th St. 340th St. will dead end. The site is about .75 miles back on 340th St. off to your right along Clear Creek.

    2) Meet in the parking lot of Grant Wood Elementary School: 1930 Lakeside. We’ll be planting at Southside Sycamore Trail off of Lakeside Drive, directly south of the Grant Wood School in Iowa City.

    And if you're interested in other planets here's a sky calendar.

    The Mothership Is Not A Mini-Van

    The Mothership Is Not A Mini-Van

    Just seen: A Honda van ad featuring Parliament's "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)." Now that's an odd connection to make, though hardly a mothership connection. Absofunkeddiscobeta unfunky. Now the real thing? THIS is funky:

    What's next: "Flashlight" for Energizer batteries? Dr Scholl's "Agony of Defeet"? "Chocolate City" sold to Hershey's? A bidding war between pet food companies for "Atomic Dog"? Bowwowwowyippyyoyippyyay.

    Somebode please go buy many copies of all P-Funk recordings so George Clinton doesn't have to do this...

    Friday Candidate Stops

    Can't Swing A Dead Cat Without Hitting A Candidate

    Or offending PETA. Here's a few highlights:

  • Former Iowa City council member Larry Baker (Dem) checks out Mitt and disses two candidates in one shot. The first shot is more interesting:
    "The only way the Democrats can lose to Romney is if they nominate Hillary," Baker said. "(Romney is) transparently a political opportunist. The public is not going to buy that. The country is fed up with corruption and incompetence."

  • Who the hell is Rick Nolan? I'm a junkie and I had to hit the Congressional Biographical Directory (great tool) to find out who Chris Dodd's surrogate at the Polk COunty dinner. Answer: One of Dodd's House `74 classmates from Minnesota who left the ball game in 1980. Writeups in Iowa Politics and Register: "Edwards received the biggest ovation from the crowd. Richardson, however, got the biggest laughs." Iowa Politics points out the obvious: "A small crowd of four backers for Sen. Joe Biden chimed in, but did not muster a loud enough voice to garner the same excitement."
  • Friday, April 20, 2007

    Richardson in CR

    Bill Richardson in Cedar Rapids: Essential Estrogen

    Kudos to Essential Estrogen for complete Richardson coverage including video.

    Friday Short Cuts

    Friday Short Cuts

    With praise to the late great Robert Altman and one of my favorite redheads, Julianne Moore, we present Short Cuts:

  • Game over, rally on Reports from the immigrant-friendly pot luck at City Park (was planning on going but wound up doing family stuff instead)
    After criticism on and off campus, UI College Republicans canceled the controversial capture-the-flag game that pitted "illegals" against "border patrol" battling over a "U.S. border" at midfield. The game was planned for Thursday at City Park.

    "Instead of using this issue as an opportunity to open dialogue and discuss what the problems that are the root cause of illegal immigration are, they choose to dehumanize people to the point of making a game," said Claudia Espinosa, an international graduate student from Mexico, who talked about her initial reaction to the game.

    An invitation was sent to the College Republicans to join the peace rally, Espinosa said. However, no members showed up.

    DI coverage too, with hateful commentary already beginning.

  • Instead, College Republicans hung out with Tommy Thompson. He's pledging to spend every weekend in Iowa, and The Politico argues Iowa is his only chance.
    "I'm systematically running for sheriff in Iowa in 99 counties," Thompson said. "I've got a game plan."

    PC says:
    Thompson was brought to campus as a part of Conservative Coming Out Week. He got laughs from the audience when he brought up the canceled capture-the-flag game: "You got in a little trouble. I got into a little trouble for something I said this week. So, I identify with you.

    Referring, of course, to his own remarks at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in DC. Haaretz reports:
    Thompson said "I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money. You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that."

    Thompson later apologized for the comments that had caused a stir in the audience, saying that he had meant it as a compliment, and had only wanted to highlight the "accomplishments" of the Jewish religion.

    He then digs himself deeper:
    "I just want to clarify something because I didn't [by] any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things. What I was referring to, ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that."
    The local Jimmy Carter haters have been silent on this one.

  • Speaking of Republicans saying stupid things, John McCain sings "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran." Gets it wrong by crediting the Beach Boys when in fact it was the Regents who sang it first. But everybody gets that wrong. Reminds me of the Ronald Reagan classic:
    "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."
    Sure, funny now, but back then I was prime draft age. Later turned into the really funky single "Five Minutes" by Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads, billing himself as Bonzo Goes To Washington.

  • Romney in Coralville today. Richardson (who's now up on TV) in CR:
    Event Time: 12:30pm
    Meet and Greet
    Cedar Rapids
    Witwer Senior Center
    305 2nd Ave SE
    Edwards in Muscatine tomorrow:
    Saturday April 21
    12 noon
    Muscatine High School
    2705 Cedar Street
    The big Edwards news yesterday was: They got Trippi. Meanwhile, buzz about Sunday's Iowa City Obama rally gets bigger and bigger...

    Hillary is in state too with the centerpiece being Leonard Boswell's fundraiser.

  • Rare praise from me for Chuck Grassley, who cuts Gonzales no slack in yesterday's hearing:
    "Why is your story changing?" Grassley asked Gonzales as he was grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We shouldn't be getting conflicting statements from the attorney general or his staff."
    Of course, Chuckie also voted against the Alito filibuster, enabling this week's anti-choice ruling. So we're still looking forward to 2010. Plus, this one's an easy target. Gonzo is dead, but that solves nothing since this fish is rotting from the head first.
  • Technical note: Folks who reach me from Lefty Blogs may be seeing old stories popping up since I'm going back and re-tagging stuff which seems to make it re-feed.
  • Friday Peace Vigils

    Ongoing: Friday Peace Vigils

    Folks are still gathering every Friday night at the bus stop in downtown Iowa City for an ongoing weekly peace vigil from 5:15 to 5:45.

    I don't get there often enough but last week I joined about 30 other folks. It's percussionny with drums and noisemakers, but relatively few chants. And those were simple: "STOP THE WAR!" No Hey-hey-ho-ho, no What Do We Want? ________! When Do We Want It? Now!

    My sign said "Honk for Peace" and more did than didn't; the regulars said the honks, peace signs and friendly gestures have increased in recent weeks. Only down side: At 43, I was maybe the fourth youngest person there. And this is immediately adjacent to campus.

    You should get there; you never know when it'll be the last one. Unfortunately, I suspect you'll have a chance till January `09.

    Happy 4/20

    The Peter Tosh Platform

    In honor of 4/20, we at John Deeth Blog present Peter Tosh's classic "Legalize It" and a link to NORML. Ron at Politics1 is with me on this one too.

    Celebrate in whatever way you feel is appropriate but be careful.

    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    NH Civil Union

    Question Of The Day

    If the governor of New Hampshire is going to sign a civil union bill, why won't the Iowa House leadership get a simple civil rights bill to the floor?

    Friends of the Immigrant

    Immigrant Hunt Cancelled, Response Goes Ahead Anyway

    Friends Of The Immigrant among many others prepped a response to the UI College Republicans Illegal Immigrant Hunt, scheduled for today but now cancelled. The response event is going ahead anyway:

    Protecting the Rights of Immigrants :
    Community Potluck Event

    In light of recent events involving the controversy behind the now cancelled event “Catch an Illegal Immigrant,” UofI faculty, staff, and students and community members are gathering together for a cohesive collaborative effort of individuals interested in discussing immigration reform.

  • Potluck style (bring a dish or sodas to share!)
  • Connect with other individuals concerned with immigration rights
  • Learn how to become involved
    For more information, please contact: Hillari Hoerschelman,
  • Weekend Campaigning

    Too many candidates, too little time

    Register briefly summarizes the seven candidates hitting the state this weekend: Clintonedwardsrichardsonbidenobama on the Dem side and Romney and Tommy Thompson on the GOP side. I can't get to everything; My one definite coverage commitment is to the big Obama rally at the Pentacrest (Sunday just after noon). More and more stuff seems to be scheduled mid-day and mid-week (two Iowa City GOP events and Richardson in Cedar Rapids) and I do have that day gig to deal with.

    Tommy Thompson will be problematic for shorthand when Fred Thompson enters the race; can't go with just the last name, can't go with the first name or even Tommy T. thanks to Tancredo. In any case my folks from Wisconsin get the best line: "Just when you though you couldn't do any worse than Bush, Tommy Thompson runs." The voice of 14 years of experience. All we need to have now is for Tom Tancredo's evil twin Fred Tancredo to enter the race. Wait a minute; that would have to be Tom Tancredo's good twin Fred. That'll cause a little confusion; mind if we call you Bruce?

    The Iowa Dems announce their June wingding in Cedar Rapids - Clinton, Edwards, Dodd - and take shots at Obama, Biden and Richardson for not dropping their other plans. Looks like that makes JJ the one command performance.

    Other news: The Iowa Senate GOP tries to capitalize on Virginia Tech and pander to the gun lobby by arming campus security. Fails on a tie vote.
    Sen. Dennis Black, D-Newton, called the amendment a "knee jerk response that makes us feel good."

    Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, called this afternoon's debate a "shameless" effort by Senate Republicans to "play politics with a terrible tragedy."

    "I think it's Senate Republicans seeing an opportunity to try to win on politics. I think that's kind of sad," Gronstal said. "Republicans see this not as a policy issue but as a political opportunity. I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    Sen. Larry McKibben, R-Marshalltown, said arming campus police officers in Iowa should be a "no-brainer" after what transpired this week in Virginia. He called the argument that the decision be left to the regents "hogwash" given the current atmosphere of danger gripping the world in declaring "I'm happy to be knee-jerking."

    I propose a new nickname for Larry: The Happy Jerk. Hey, he puts the football on the tee, I just kick it. Could have been worse; we could have had the dove-hunting debate again this session.

    Carter: Other Leads

    Morning-After Carter Roundup

    Here's the leads from my seatmates from last night:

  • AP headline is "Carter urges voters to choose candidates committed to peace," but the first graph more closely resembles the Gazette's "US must be seen as an honest broker by both sides, not a knee-jerk supporter of all Israeli policies" theme.
  • DI goes with more generic lead along the lines of "Carter spells out peace plan."
  • In contract, O. Kay goes with "Carter said Iowa should no longer go first in the nominating season." (The DI picks up on that at the end.)
  • The Register was represented (never did see The Overrated One) but I can't find a story on line; I'll update if anything changes.
  • Essential Estrogen has a thoughtful writeup (that maybe takes a subtle dig at my writing style?)
    There are times, I think, when providing information to readers in the fastest way possible is the best route. Today was not one of those times. To that end, I believe I’d be doing you a disservice if I provided a blow-by-blow running commentary as if I were attending a basketball game.

    Maybe it was the Carver-Hawkeye setting. Or maybe I would have been better off without the wifi. Or maybe she does her thing and I do mine. Anyway, constructive criticism beats passive-aggressive name calling. I'm sure Jimmy Carter would agree.
  • Kubby On Court Ruling

    Kubby On Court Ruling

    Karen Kubby of the Emma Goldman Clinic on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling:

    The ruling establishes a new era in not requiring abortion restrictions to include a health exception. This has implications around the country for any abortion restriction that currently has a health exception, for example, a 24 hour wait law
    except to preserve the health of the woman. It will be hard to know in the short run how this will effect legislation and the health care status of women.

    It does, however, put women and their health concerns a few notches down in value in this country.

    Update: Gazette has more Iowa reacts. Predictable battle lines. Aside: As a one time Gazette basher I should note that the web site has improved dramatically.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    Jimmy Carter: Questions

    Jimmy Carter: Questions

    Lecture committee chose student questions.

    What sparked your engagement with these issues?

    Carter: We were taught as children to honor Abraham's covenant, and to protect and preserve Israel has been a deep commitment. As governor I visited with Meir and Rabin in Israel and Palestine. I resolved that when I became president I would make this a top priority - I saw this as even a nuclear threat in Cold War (he says nuclear right) since Russia was supporting Egypt and other states.

    Should the US promote democracy abroad and how?

    In some of our observed elections, the US govt has provided support. In 2006 US did not abide by results when Hamas won, and cut off humanitarian aid. We should again raise the banner of human rights (applause) instead of being branded proprietor of Gitmo and Abu Gharib.

    Is the 1967 border still realistic?

    Yes. Still the only recognized border. Geneva accords call for some modifications - to keep people one state or the other (I have trouble without a map-he comes back to it late) Palestinians need a contiguous areas.

    How to remove settlers?

    It's backed by a strong majority of Israelis. With Gaza pullout people were given new homes and $$$. If a sound peace agreement were reached resettlement could work.

    How did your faith affect decisions as president and what's the role of religion in politics?

    Jefferson calls for wall of separation (applause) No officeholder should impose their own faith with an advantage. I kept that principle and it should be returned. Only in the last few years have churches gotten so directly involved - endorsement, faith based initiatives - that should be changed (more applause)

    How did military service affect presidency?

    My ambition was to be a submarine man. So I was familiar with military principles and discipline, how to get along in the closed society of a sub. I was in Navy in `48 when Truman integrated. (applause) This was courageous. I saw the beneficial effect on my ship. But in Georgia our country was still affected by separate but equal and no one spoke out. In my inaugural speech as governor I said "the time for racial discrimination is over". And in my presidential inaugural I defined human rights as our top principle.

    Why Habitat?

    Well, HQ is nine miles from home... I met Habitat members in my church and I helped raise money. I went to a Habitat site and off the cuff said "Rosalyn, you and I should come up here." So we did... we alternate years between US and overseas. Usually it takes five days, but last year in India we got done in four - "because Brad Pitt showed up." Loads of volunteers. Next plans are for LA and New Orleans. Challenges all of us to volunteer in the Katrina area. need 1000 vols a day, only getting 600.

    Energy policy

    "Any change in present policies would be an improvement." Biggest applause yet. In my presidency we had a crisis and I made this my top domestic priority. We made fuel efficiency standards. Average car got 12 MPG! We set 28.5. Increased US oil production. We dropped from 9 million barrels a day to 5 million. Now up to 12 million a day. Why? Energy policy shaped by oil companies. Strict fuel efficiency would help fast but Bush opposes. It hurts our auto producers - other countries doing better.

    He's in good voice, the familiar accent... almost like being a teenager again...

    Campaign finance (gets applause) How can a lesser known candidate win?

    "I'm an expert on this." Our whole campaign had no money - we stayed on couches because we were broke. We had a White House reception for every family who let us stay - 765 families! Only one of 10 Americans check public finance box. I used public finance, so did Ford and Reagan. We never resorted to negative ads (applause) It would have been suicidal. Now a candidate needs $100 million, much of it spent on negative ads. That carries over to office, hatred between parties, people did trust the process. "After the 2000 election - I guess you could call it an election..." (applause) We recommended campaign finance and conduct changes. One of our recommendations was regional primaries. (no applause at that) Would give every American an equal chance to participate. Frontloading makes $$ more important, we need drastic change.

    Last question at 8:06. Back to peace in Middle East.

    A few of you, take my advice and go to Palestine and Israel. See what is happening, report back to your peers. Get on line and read details of Geneva Accords - an honest and balanced agreement. If and when peace is reached, I predict this will be the framework. And every time a candidate comes here, make them pledge they will take a balanced position: peace for Israel, justice for Palestine. I chose Iowa over 100 other schools because of the caucuses. You can be a key factor in bringing peace and justice for all people in the Holy Land.

    That's it at 8:09. He brings up the lecture committee, who asked the questions, and they give him the the award and a Hawkeyes swim cap. People make their way to exits and one last wave. Time to fix the typos.

    Sue Dvorsky says: "We loved it! We've fallen a long way, but we're coming back!" The tentative UI attendance count is 7000. Overheard from some departing folks:
    "The problem is he's too much statesman and not enough politician"
    "Yes, he's a great humanitarian" trailing off as they walk away.

    Jimmy Carter: Iowa City Speech 4/18/07

    Jimmy Carter: Iowa City Speech 4/18/07

    6:39 - Thanks to an assist for a journalistic cohort I'm live after all. We've got kind of a side view here from the journalist seats. Doesn't look like it'll be a sellout crowd. People have big buckets of popcorn which are making my stomach rumble.

    The laptop bag got checked out twice - once by a sweet old lady and once by a sniffin' dog. The dog didn't smell anything other than cats.

    My tardiness in getting a press pass was not unique - supposedly the last person to call was The Overrated One who is still not here at 6:43.

    7:00 and the word was they lock it down at 7:05. Folks from the VIP reception have been seated for a while. The reporters were buzzing about protesters (none seen - just flyers) and attendance (no consensus). Floor's mostly full.

    7:07, the introing begins and the order to shut off the cell phones is issued. The word - Official - is 8000 tickets issues; with acknowledgement that there's no-shows.

    Gary Fethke intros himself and omits "interim" from his title. The student chair of the lecture committee gets the plum of intro-ing Carter. She does well with her own thoughts, then reads the long Carter c.v. "Nobel Peace Prize" gets applause.

    7:15 and Carter takes the stage, still with some spring in his step. Opens with a Virginia Tech remark.

    This is a unpolitical speech, he says, but "it's a pleasure to return to this university whose students helped me to the white house." Says he still has many supporters here - " at least until they hear this speech."

    Urges caucus goers to "screen out" candidates who can't support this : "Negotiations between Israel and Palestine, secure Israel, and a contiguous Palestine." Applause to that.

    Carter says he's answered every question about his book - most of them pejorative - on the record.

    As a new president I faced an oil embargo and four major wars in 25 years, all led by Egypt. There had been no concerted peace efforts. Soviets allowed few dozen Jews to emigrate each year. I began to meet w/ refusniks and confront Soviets about this - within two years emigration had increased to 50,000 a year. We also prohibited secondary boycotts against Israel. I established commission to establish Holocaust museum.

    To achieve peace I would have to be seen as an honest broker. In Camp David accords Israel agreed to Palestinian autonomy. 27 years of peace between Israel and Egypt. This removed the major military threat to Israel. I hoped this would allow Israel to realize its highest ideals.

    Since presidency we've traveled to MidEast as often as possible and I've had confidential meetings with heads of state at behest of presidents. I monitored 1996 and 2005-06 Palestinian elections. I had to know all the officials and know citizens throughout Palestine. Israeli govt has always cooperated (with some restraints)

    Few people have had a greater chance to observe this region. I know of the violence and fear - and I've strongly condemned violence. I've tried to bring peace to Israel and its neighbors.

    I wrote this book to describe Palestinian plight and to start a debate we despataely need.

    I realized "apartheid" would cause concern in Jewish community. This is a description of events in Palestine - and I make it clear it's not based on racism. It comes from a MINORITY of Israelis to take land. Many Israelis use this word to describe the situation - in much harsher terms than I did. They say it's contrary to the Jewish faith and to the principles of the nation. And Mandela and Tutu make the analogy too.

    Palestinians have been forcibly removed from most productive land and replaced by subsidized letters. Connecting roads are for exclusive Israeli use, dividing the west bank. Dividing wall up to 40 feet high. This makes Palestinian life intolerable. Harms Israel by making peaceful relationships impossible. Challenges us to go there and assess this for yourself.

    I have never claimed American Jews control news media- support for Israel In America comes from Christians like me. Mentions Christ.

    Under AIPAC pressure balanced debate is nonexistent in congress and among candidates (applause) Withdrawing troops from territories and peace talks immediately. Abbas is the official spokesman for Palestinians. History has shown progress only happens with US as honest broker. But we must not be seen as in the pocket of either side. Commit to Israeli security, but cannot be seen as knee jerk support. More applause.

    American friends of Israel are sincere but demands subvert efforts for peace and security. Rice has offered: full recognition of Israel by Arab states in exchange for return to 1967 borders. Israel will never find peace until it withdraws from its neighbor's land (applause)

    The Geneva Accords of 2003 outlines the borders of Israel and Palestine, Jerusalem, and right of return issues. This has been acceptable for decades for the majority of Israelis, but not for conservative Israeli leadership and AIPAC.

    Hostility to America is directly related to bloodshed in Palestine. (Applause)

    Hamas or any Palestinian government will have to accept this too.

    Long term prospects are not discouraging. 81% approval in Palestine, 63% in Israel. Exchange of soldiers for prisoners would expedite.

    Crucial that next president promote peace and not be bound to powerful lobby (applause). We all want a secure Israel in peace with its neighbors in justice and righteousness.

    7:40 speech ends.

    Carter: Book Signing

    Carter: Book Signing

    Anyone with a Kazakh wedding sack would have been in biiiig trouble this afternoon. Even my little paper Prairie Lights bag was barred. The Secret Service presence at the Carter book signing rivaled the time I saw Bill Clinton as an incumbent POTUS in `96. The locals were on hand with the bomb squad (?!?) truck too.

    The haters were politely working the line, handing out "fact" sheets to the folks waiting in line. One wore a yellow star that said "remember the 6 million," using a double reverse bank shot to tie Carter to Holocaust deniers. In any case they seemed to be canvassing the wrong precinct, as everyone present had shelled out 25 bucks for the book (he was only signing copies of Palestine Peace Not Apartheid and not even other Carter books let along old campaign bling) and was committed enough to wait an hour plus in line for two seconds (literally) with Carter.

    After folks were in the main lounge the drill was pretty rigid; other folks there said they'd not seen anything quite like it at a book signing. Numbered tickets - lose it and you're S.O.L. (I'm paraphrasing here.) They called people up to stand in groups of twenty. I was number 109 - reminiscent of Harry Potter night - and the line stretched to 160 before I moved out of earshot. At least 100 were still seated. No pictures - even the press was only represented by a pool photographer (and a blogger scribbling on a small notepad...) No personalized autographs, and "Limit your remarks with President Carter to brief greetings ONLY." We heard the drill every five minutes or so.

    Highly efficient; I think everyone who was there was going to get their books signed. Plus he started early which was nice. Carter is pretty swift with a pen for 82 years old. Verbatim transcript of our conversation:
    "Thank you for coming, Mr. President."
    "I'm glad I came."

    He signs your book, out the door you go. More later from the speech.

    Human Rights Update

    Anti-discrimination bill stalled in House

    Sioux City Jornal has an update on the civil rights bill and names names; hat tip to Iowa Politics.

    In as press

    Carter: Change Of Plan

    Thanks to a cancellation, I'm in as press. Won't be live - there's internet issues - but will be live-written. Off to the book signing this afternoon.

    Carter Clampdown

    Carter Clampdown

    UPDATE: I'm in as press after all. Love to the bloggers.

    There's still tickets for Jimmy Carter tonight, but things will be tight:
    On Tuesday, the UI announced security measures for the lecture, which will include admitting only members of the media with proper credentials, requiring audience members to have tickets, and prohibiting backpacks, cameras, or audio/video recording devices into the arena. In addition, if admitted audience members leave, they will not be re-admitted.

    I have an inquiry in about the laptop but no reply yet so I may be covering this on delayed reaction, pen and paper style. That style worked for me with Obama at the Harkin steak fry so maybe I'll live. In any case I'll be in the cheap seats and not the press gallery; it wasn't till I saw this in print - the day before the event! - that I thought about getting credentialed. Was told the media gallery was full up so I can't tell whether the "proper credentials" is an anti-blogger thing or not.

    Call me Johnny come lately - but I'm used to the standards of the 2008 campaign trail: I show up, I say "I'm a blogger," the staffers show me much love, and I get lanyarded with credentials like so many Mardi Gras beads.

    I know, I know, former POTUS and all that. But things were way looser with Clinton 42 at J-J last fall. And even on the one campaign that at this point has any Secret Service presence, Clinton 44. I strolled right in with my bulging laptop bag without doing more than showing a driver's license and signing in. (For the closed-door event at a second site I didn't even do that; some staffer said "Hi, John," and in I went.)

    Clinton 44 is not a prediction. I'm just trying that construct out to annoy Republicans. But as I think more over the first cup of coffee... she's almost certainly the American politician with the most haters and the most vehement haters, yet her event was pretty much stroll right in. Jimmy Carter is nearly 30 years removed from power, has an image that's part Habitat hammer and part Nobel Peace Prize, yet thre's this intense security bubble.

    Maybe, uh, it's something to do with the subject matter? The DI takes that angle:
    Published in November 2006, the book has received criticism from such organizations as the Anti-Defamation League, specifically because of the word "apartheid" in the title. Carter has defined the term as the "forced segregation of two peoples living within the same land, one dominating and persecuting the other," according to statements.

    But Hillel Director Jerry Sorokin said he believed Carter used that word, which he called offensive to the Jewish population, in his book title to stir up controversy.

    Sunday night James Zogby noted the danger of self-proclaimed advocates speaking for "the Jewish population" which, he notes, is deeply divided both in Israel and the US on Israel's policies toward the occupied territories.

    Darrell Yeaney has a guest piece in the P-C today that touches on this angle:
    It comes as no surprise, then, to find a thoughtful critic and longtime friend of the state of Israel --former President Jimmy Carter -- coming under sharp and caustic attack for his critical effort to expose the counter-productive policies of the Israeli government to secure its own future at the expense of the native Palestinian people.

    Those of us who identify with any political establishment, be it nation or political party, sometime lose our ability to distinguish between who are our friends and who are our enemies. The vitriolic attacks on Carter as "anti-Semitic" and "anti-Israel" suggest this kind of perhaps intended or unintended blindness...

    I guess a Nobel Peace prize isn't enough to keep folks from hating you: Just ask Martin Luther King and Yitzhak Rabin.

    Anyway. Some kind of coverage today and tonight but I'm not exactly sure when or what format.

    Kookcinich and Impeachment

    Kucinich Moves on Impeachment

    Which may or may not be a good thing. But does one get the idea that this is less about doing the right thing and more about Dennis, Dennis, Dennis?
    "We'll see a Kucinich Administration before we'll see a Cheney impeachment," quipped one Democratic aide.

    At least he's smart enough to want to impeach Cheney first.

    Immigrant Hunt Cancelled

    On Second Thought: Immigrant Hunt Cancelled

    A UI College Republicans-planned Capture the Flag game centered on the issue of illegal immigration will not be held.

    Admitting the obvious. Meanwhile, prior to the announcement, last night about 50 folks gathered last night to prep the response.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Mitch Gross In The Race

    Big Resume for Coralville Council Race

    Mitch Gross makes his Coralville city council bid official, bringing large-scale credentials:

    Gross, 31, is a teacher at West High. Before he became a teacher, he worked for three years as the chief adviser to then-Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge.

    Plus he was a national delegate in 2000. Those plums don't come easy, especially in your 20's.

    Lots of Dems folks know Mitch and spouse Melanie (Cloud) Gross from the campaign trail. Most recently Melanie was in Chet Culver's employ in the Secretary of State's office. Lately she's been sighted in the Obama camp...

    College GOP Gets The Bash

    College GOP Gets The Bash

    What passes for leadership at UIowa speaks up on the Illegal Immigrant Hunt:
    “I find it tasteless,” University of Iowa interim President Gary Fethke said. “It is juvenile. It doesn’t strike me as something one can support. That is part of the wonders of this nation; people are entitled to do tasteless and immature things. I don’t support it.”

    Perfect tone: freedom of speech gives you the right to be an idiot, and gives me the right to call you an idiot.

    North Liberty Special

    North Liberty: Let The Games Begin

    North Liberty sets June 12 as the date for their form-of-government special. Debate on whether to include the mayor vacancy breaks out along predictable pro- and anti- Franker lines:

    'If we pick a mayor now, they'll have to run again in November ... and possibly only be mayor for four months,' City Council member James Wozniak said.

    Council member Matt Bahl said combining both votes inspires more public interest and involvement in city government.

    'This is (the citizens') choice,' he said.

    However, acting Mayor Gerry Kuhl said he feared that a special election for mayor would produce more 'diversion and controversy.'

    Not sure if he meant or said "diversion" or "division" there. Meanwhile North Liberty and Coralville are in an annexation war that looks to be the next big Johnson County development fight. Those are always the nastiest because that's where the money is.

    Speaking of where the money is Dave Loebsack is sure to get bashed on the Iowa rightosphere for his latest campaign finance reports; I can already hear the squawking of "PAC PAC PAC" although that might just be the crow outside my window.

    But a closer look shows that it's labor money - just active working folks sticking together. A PAC is just a mechanism, a bundler if you were. Harkin put it best years ago, I paraphrase: A CEO gives $5000 and that's just a "private donation," but when a thousand rank and file members give five bucks each that's "corrupt?" Gimme a break. (For the record I gave Dave a modest check; his fundraiser happened to land on payday.)

    Still working on the migration from Blogger to my own domain with limited success; time spent on that is time not writing and I'm having too much fun writing. does forward you to so I'm starting to spread the word. Still mulling over in my head whether using my name as my domain is egotistical or not.

    Monday, April 16, 2007

    Iowa Civil Rights Bill Update

    Iowa Civil Rights Bill Update

    Janelle Rettig is back with a specific ask to help pass the stalled civil rights bill:
    Dig through your address book and contacts looking for anyone from these counties asking them to help:

    Cerro Gordo
    Black Hawk

    Write these Democrats telling stories of discrimination, fears, hopes and dreams of a better state:

    Murphy is the Speaker of the House, McCarthy is the Democratic Majority Leader, and Wessel-Kroeschell is the floor leader of the bill.

    Write these Republicans doing the same:

    Christopher Rants is the Republican Minority Leader.

    Deeth adds: the other R's listed may be supportive. Janelle continues:

    This is a defining moment in Iowa history. We can take the path of being a welcoming state where everyone is valued or we can take the path of fear and discrimination. Make no mistake about it this is also a defining moment in the Democratic party. If Democrats value GLBTA people they can find a way to get this done now, not next year, not one more election.

    If you are a Democrat think about everyone you've ever given money to, ever volunteered for, or anyone you voted for and consider asking them to get involved and pull in all the political capital they have to make this happen.

    Meyers Confirmed

    Uhhh... never mind

    Having realized how badly they overplayed their weak hand in Appointment Hardball, Republican senators reverse themselves:
    Gov. Chet Culver's appointment of Gene Meyer as public safety commissioner received the approval of the Iowa Senate this afternoon, reversing a vote taken a week ago.

    A handful of Republican state senators who had opposed the Democratic governor's selection of Meyer to head the Department of Public Safety switched sides.

    Confirmation requires the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, or 34 members. Today's vote was 38-12. The Senate vote last Tuesday was 32-17, which fell two votes short...

    Must have been a lot of phone calls from West Des Moines...