Monday, July 30, 2007
Worst. Possible. Timing.
My Windows partition has decided not to load at the beginning of Moving Week.
I've managed to boot in Linux which works for my basic check messages stuff, but everything is slow going because nothing is where I expect it to be.
Don't expect much this week, folks...
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Tommy Thompson Liveblog
3:04 and a hot Sunday afternoon messing with the laptop and its overheating issues. Greetings from the Wig and Pen where we await Tommy Thompson. This place is best known locally for the double decker bus that used to ferry folks from downtown Iowa City, until a driver overestimated the height of an underpass and it became a single decker.
Wig and Pen is also well known for straddling the city limits. I'm in Iowa City but the bathrooms are in Coralville. Wonder how the place is going to deal with the 21 bar ordinance if it passes.
3:15 and even though I don't see anything else listed on the public schedule before this event, things are late. Wait, wait, it's a "he just pulled up" announcement.
I'm guesstimating 40 or so folks here, mostly notable local Republicans it appears from the name tags.
Staffer is doing the intros after a quick round of handshakes. (He spotted my Packer shirt, so that tactic works.)
He likens Iowa City to Madison which is of course true on many, many levels (especially voting behavior). Calls self only farmer in race. Confesses to not always loving Iowa, as the lead-in to a football joke. Also kids that MSNBC called him ex-gov. of Iowa last week.
Says he went to church downtown this AM -- which accounts for part of the schedule.
Down to business at 3:27. I'm different because I tell people what I'm gonna do and I talk about solving the problems. One problem = the war. We need to give the troops all the resources they need. But I want Iraq to step up and help pay for it. And I want Iraq to vote on whether we should stay. I also want Iraq provinces to elect their local leaders. That'll solve the civil war. Oh, that and splitting the oil revenues. (I was just writing that when he moved to it.) First Republican I've seen yet who leads with the war.
Next problem, Jihadists hate us. Break down that hatred through diplomacy. Talks of repression of women under Taliban. I raised money to build a hospital for women and children. That kind of resource can bring down that hatred. He rolls and envisions this "PR bonanza" for some time.
Health care needs transportation. "I'm the one Republican who knows health care. I ran Health. I'm fearful that if I'm not the nominee, another Republican who gets the nomination won't understand, and Hillary Clinton will take them to the woodshed. I don't want rationed health care."
Want to spend $ up front on prevention. Talks bout monitoring mental health cases, diabetes. "Doctors have to get straights A's to get into med school - except for handwriting." Gets a laugh then takes it serious because of people dying from mis-prescriptions, and pushes electronic prescriptions. Can save 10% of costs on administration, and that'll pay for the uninsured. (Not hearing dollar amounts here). "I want to fix it as a Republican using the free enterprise system."
Moving to energy. "We're funding both sides of the war." Ethanol, ethanol, ethanol. "I's rather send my money to an Iowa farmer than a Saudi sheik." Mentions the litany of energy alternatives including, as is usual for the GOP, nuclear.
Immigration: "Why don't we obey the law" and build the fence. "I will build it in the first 150 days" gets first applause. English gets bigger applause that steps on "no amnesty."
That was the windup. Here's the pitch. "I'm doing this the old fashioned way, you know I don't have any money." I'm the only candidate who's put together a state budget and a federal budget. Wis. welfare reform and private school choice were a model for the country. A Republican can't win next year w/o winning IA, MN, and WI.
Talks of history of cancer among the women in his family: "I want to declare war on cancer and find a cure or vaccine by the year 2015." Now talking of his daughter's history with cancer and an in vitro fertilization... "that's why I'm so committed to being pro-life." Cites WI partial birth ban. "I didn't change last year so I could run for president, I've been that way my whole career."
The straw poll pitch from the staffer. They tout their success in other straw polls including Linn County last month. The buses, the food, the entertainment... the heaviest push I've heard yet. "We'll get you set up with a magnetic pumper sticker for your car." Now THAT'S commitment... Audience member reminds folks to bring driver's license.
Q and A time at 3:51. Pat Minor asks about Israel-Palestine. "I believe Abbas is doing a good job, but I would not bring Hamas to the table. They will never recognize Israel." The president has to take a much more active role. I want to get involved personally. On Iran, we need a 'capital blockade. Their economy is in bad shape." I'll call our allies together and lay out a diplomatic game plan among partners. Questioner pursues Hamas point. "Which Israel would you have them recognize - 1948, 1967?" Thompson: "Israel today."
Health plan in Wisconsin? "Hillary lite" he calls it. "Wisconsin has not done well since I left. They put in a $15 billion plan that's absolutely a gov't controlled system." Again emphasized private enterprise.
Economy. 1) energy independence. 2) Fair trade not free trade. Stick up for our own manufacturers. 3) Keep Bush tax cuts. 4) Reduce business regulations. 5) Vo-tech education 6) more emphasis on getting people into medical fields. Social Security can be fixed many ways, but Medicare will be a bigger problem sooner. Need to start immediately.
Pelosi to Syria? "I have a huge problem with members of the majority second guessing the general's decisions and make the foreign policy of the US."
"Once you close the border how soon will you remove people?" "You can't find everybody at once, but when you find it they should go back immediately." Questioner sort of likes that answer, seems to want more.
4:07 and the crowd is dwindling. Staffer is working the stragglers, talking straw poll, straw poll, straw poll.
Afterthoughts. The caravan pulls out just in front of me -- the white Winnebago with the Ames reference on the back and about three cars with Wisconsin plates. I don't think the live part really captured how tight the crowd was. The first row of chairs was about 18 inches from Thompson's feet. And maybe it's just my long absence from my native state, but I definitely caught those long O's of a northern accent. Not like a character from Fargo or anything.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
10:06 AM and I'm live from Harvat Hall in City Hall at the ADA anniversary forum. Iowa City has an annual series of events to mark the July 26 1990 passage of Tom Harkin's baby.
We've got staffers from Teams Richardson, Edwards, Obama and Hillary (update: and Biden), and Regenia Bailey from the city council. Also Dave Leshtz, a leading disability and civil rights advocate in his own right who's now working for Team Loebsack.
Intro speaker Jim Whalen takes off his tie and says "the ADA is not a tie, it doesn't choke you. It's more like a sock, you live with it and it changes every day."
Regenia proclaims on behalf of the city. Crowd is about two dozen.
Karen Kubby's presenting an award to Laurie Haag from WRAC for lots of publicity and logistical work (stuff like setting up the sound). Now Haag give out a Cultural Patriot award -- to Kathy Huedepohl (in absentia). Chris O'Hanlon is honoring Nancy Ostragnai and Leshtz. I'm not catching titles on all these awards.
Leshtz is pinch hitting for Loebsack - the congressman's plane was delayed. So here's what Loebsack would have said, more or less..
As an Iowan, proud of Harkin. As an American, proud we stood for true equality. Without people like you this win would not have happened. But this fight isn't over -- the ADA was just the beginning. Proud to cosponsor ADA Restoration Act. Courts have been chipping away at ADA. Also Community Choice act that would provide more support for people to stay in their communities. Thanks again.
Now a video presentation from Harkin. We made clear that our goals were equality and self-sufficiency. Trying to reconcile that with Medicaid through Community Choice act. Will help people and ultimately save $. "We can't afford NOT to do it."
Keith Ruff appears to be the de facto keynote. Says we in the disability community have the responsibility to make ADA work and to educate the public.
Friday, July 27, 2007
The Throwaway Society: Moving Week in Iowa City
The lifestyle changes involved in growing up can make once-treasured possessions -- the beer signs, the comfy old couches, the beanbag chairs, the computer from freshman year -- seem juvenile and useless.
Combine that with the time pressure of moving, and the fact that college town leases all tend to start and end on the same day -- Aug. 1 -- and even a recycling-conscious community like Iowa City winds up with mountains of trash on the curb.
Graduates often relocate long distances with little more than a carload or what they can carry on a plane. Our mobile, drive-through, plastic-cup, single-use, throwaway society conditions us to discard what we can't carry with us. But much of what gets tossed during moving week has a useful second life, and some of our disposable habits have innocent victims.
Leanne Sommers, who works in communications and marketing for Goodwill of the Heartland, said the agency plans for a busy late July and early August. She encourages people to donate "used, but usable items," and suggests a guideline. "Think about whether you would give it to a friend."
The former drop-off bins outside Goodwill stores are now gone because too many unusable items were left and Goodwill was stuck with the disposal tab. Donations now have to be made during store hours, which have expanded. "Every dollar we have to spend is less for us to put toward our mission," said Sommers, adding that the mission is to provide jobs and training for persons with disabilities and difficult circumstances.
Old computers are difficult to donate, discard or sell, but Goodwill has a partner in Fostering Technology, a project started by Dave and Sara Schwindt. Dave is an Iowa City police officer who specializes in computer crimes; Sara is a Cedar Rapids middle school teacher. Dave fixes and upgrades the computers, while Sara processes the applications. Full-time students 18 and under are eligible for computers said Dave Schwindt, who has donated about 40 computers to children since the project started last year.
This month, Fostering Technology earned Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher status, which allows the nonprofit to buy licenses for Windows XP and Microsoft Office for $5 each, as opposed to the commercial price of hundreds of dollars. "The nearest computer recycler is in Walford, and they charge $20 or $30 to recycle a monitor," said Dave Schwindt. "We're asking folks when they drop off a computer to consider donating just $10, which will pay for an operating system and Office suite."
Dave Schwindt said Goodwill has made his job easier by donating space. "I used to have to make appointments with people, but now you can just drop computers off at Goodwill during regular hours." He's looking for Pentium III or better computers, and monitors that are at least 17 inches for CRTs or 15-inch flat screens. "People are so generous with donating fantastic systems. But we get a lot of junk, too."
The throwaway attitude extends to the kitchen cupboard. "Many of our clients see food and other usable items thrown away," said Dayna Ballantyne, food bank director of the Johnson County Crisis Center. The center encourages donations of unopened food and cleaning items. "There's definitely the potential to increase donations at this time of year," said Ballantyne. "Towels and linens and curtains -- so many of our families do without so much."
Sadly, the throwaway society has some innocent victims.
The Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center gets a big influx of unwanted pets as leases expire and people move to new places that don't allow pets. "Usually a week before and a week after moving day, we get animals dropped off outside in carriers," said animal control officer Chris Whitmore. "They get dropped off anonymously, but they've been in a house; you can tell."
Most of the pets abandoned at the shelter are cats. "People try harder to find a home for a dog," said Whitmore.
The problem is mainly with people who have been less than responsible about adopting a pet, Whitmore said. "People think, 'we can have the cat now.' Then they move, but they don't think twice about the poor cat. It's really frustrating."
June, July and August are typically the months that see the most solid waste deposited in the landfill. In August 2006, more than 12,000 tons of solid waste were deposited in the Iowa City landfill, 1,600 tons more than an average month.
Jennifer Jordan, landfill recycling coordinator for the city of Iowa City hopes to reduce that with a citywide recycling event called "Rummage in the Ramp. The event encourages renters to donate -- rather than dump -- their usable furniture and household items. Donated items will be sold to the public, and proceeds will be divided among several local nonprofit organizations.
"Many items that end up at the landfill are still usable and viable, so we're organizing this event as a means to recycle these resources by putting them into the hands of people in the community who need or want them," Jordan said. "Everybody wins - renters get rid of items they no longer need, people who want the items can buy them at low cost, the volume of trash headed to the landfill is reduced, and local nonprofit organizations benefit from the sales."
The cost of cleaning up curbside piles is passed on, Jordan said. "The city bills the landlords. Ultimately, they either pass that on to the tenants or eat the cost."
Iowa City also has a more permanent opportunity for people wishing to donate items. The Furniture Project provides good used furniture to local households in need at no cost. Drop-off is by appointment, and the project offers limited pickup. Bill Hardy of the Furniture Project said the most-needed items are kitchen tables and chairs, dressers and beds.
Some people try to make money off their old stuff at rummage sales. But surprisingly, moving week is a slow one for the Saturday bargain-hunting crowd. "We have about 20 ads running this weekend," said Katy Kubera of the Iowa City Press-Citizen's classified department. "Typically it's more like 30 or 40. Usually, June and July are huge."
Less formally, there's the phenomenon of "curb shopping," individuals driving around the campus neighborhood and scavenging the piles. Sometimes FREE signs decorate the piles. Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsey says in most cases, curb shopping is legal. "As long as the person abandoning the property sets it legally on the curb, once property is abandoned it can be taken," he said, adding that most court rulings on abandoned property are from drug search cases. Dumpster divers, however, should try to be considerate when they're scavenging on private property, Kelsey said. Some landlords have complained that scavengers leave a mess or don't place trash back in the dumpster. Still, he says, most property owners are happy to see the trash go for free.
"Personally, I don't care if someone's taking something, or even if they sell it at a flea market," he said. "If it's not going to the landfill, and someone else can use it, that's great."
This Week's Clips
Short takes for the week:
Because the Ministry of Magic has authority over the Wizarding community, we should expect to see it portrayed in a good light, a protective force for Wizards in times of desperation, just as the Muggle government protects us Muggles in times of danger. However, the message throughout the books is clear: Don’t trust the government. The government is, at best, made up of well-intentioned incompetents, and, at worst, actually in league with the dark forces seeking to destroy the world.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Who Owns the Road? Cyclist Goes on Trial in Bike vs. Car Battle
As RAGBRAI wheels across Iowa, a Johnson County cyclist is facing trial on assault charges in a bike vs. car confrontation. In an unusual twist, the cyclist's guest editorial criticizing police has been entered by the prosecution as evidence in the upcoming trial. Observers say the case reflects the growing tensions between cyclists and drivers on the road.
Donald Baxter of University Heights is charged with assault in a Jan. 8 incident on the University of Iowa campus. His trial is scheduled for Monday, with a pretrial conference on Friday. Baxter believes he is being selectively prosecuted for two reasons: his ongoing criticism of the Iowa City Police Department and his HIV-positive status.
"I've been a constant critic of the Iowa City police for five years," said Baxter, 48. "They enforce the law against pedestrians and cyclists, but they're not so good at protecting pedestrian and cyclist's rights."
Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness, citing ethical rules, declined to comment on the specific case. She did say, "We do not treat cases or defendants differently because of HIV status -- unless it is a specific element of some offense -- public criticism of any public employees or officials, or because someone has expressed views about a particular topic." An Iowa City police officer involved in the investigation also declined comment, referring inquiries to a public information officer not involved with the case.
Baxter regularly confronts drivers who he believes are endangering pedestrians and cyclists. "Mostly they're angry, but some people apologize," he said in an Iowa Independent interview. He cites an unfair standard: "When cyclists complain about vehicles, (the police) say 'it's hearsay.' What other crime do the police have to actually see before they cite someone? They trust drivers over cyclists."
Baxter has posted court documents about the Jan. 8 incident, including audio of 911 calls, on his website. One of those documents is a Baxter editorial from the Iowa City Press-Citizen published Jan. 7, the day before the incident. In the column, Baxter wrote:
"Pedestrian's rights are hardly ever protected by Iowa City and University of Iowa police officers. Check to see how many PAULA tickets are written versus 'failure to yield' tickets and then ask yourself how many underaged drinkers die of alcohol poisoning as opposed to pedestrian and bicycle deaths."
Baxter said police have characterized the editorial as "harsh." A statement by an investigating officer on the day of the incident notes that another police sergeant had thought Baxter was the editorial writer. The sergeant then contacted the Press-Citizen to request a copy.
"We wouldn't have even known about them using the column as evidence if the column had been posted online properly," said Press-Citizen opinion editor Jeff Charis-Carlson. "For some reason, it didn't get uploaded with the rest of the paper that day."
"Journalism has real world consequences, even if those are highly negative consequences," said Charis-Carlson. He said opinion columns have been used against university faculty members seeking tenure, but he's not aware of any other case in which police have used a column as evidence. "If your words are going to be used against you by the police, it's frightening, but it's part of the consequences of entering the public forum."
According to all accounts, Baxter pounded on the window of Ronnie Washington's van to confront Washington about how fast he'd been driving, and Washington emerged from the van and struck Baxter on the side of the head several times with an ice scraper. No charges have been filed against Washington.
At the conclusion of the physical confrontation, Washington pointed a finger into Baxter's face. According to Baxter, Washington jabbed so aggressively that he pushed his finger into Baxter's mouth. The police description of the incident contends that Baxter added that detail after the fact. In either case, Baxter said at that point, in "a gut reaction," he bit down, lacerating Washington's finger. Washington sought emergency room treatment, while Baxter went home and treated his own injuries. Baxter acknowledged his HIV-positive status when contacted by Washington's ER physician.
"There's only two known cases of HIV transmission through a bite, and both of those involved bleeding mouths, not saliva," said Baxter, adding that his HIV viral load has been below detectable levels for several years. "There was no need to treat (Washington) aggressively for high-risk HIV exposure." However, the emergency room doctor recommended such treatment to Washington.
Baxter is open about his HIV status, but his attorney is moving to suppress that information in the trial.
Baxter is also a local leader in the Critical Mass bike ride. Critical Mass is a worldwide effort active in more than 100 cities. Held at evening rush hour the last Friday of each month, Critical Mass tries to assemble as many cyclists as possible to ride through urban areas. The tactic is divisive within the cycling community. Opponents contend that the traffic-slowing tactic and the Friday rush-hour timing alienates and angers more people than it educates and persuades. Supporters use the slogan "we ARE traffic" and say it's important for cyclists to assert their right to be on the road.
"(The police) think it represents anarchy," said Baxter. One cyclist was arrested during a 2006 Critical Mass ride in Iowa City and charged with interference with official acts for not following an officer's instructions. The cyclist maintained he was simply trying to leave the ride, but pleaded guilty as he was moving out of state.
While Baxter is concerned about his legal expenses, a potential civil suit, and a possible 30-day jail term, he's still focused on bike and pedestrian safety. He cites his own small community of University Heights, an enclave surrounded by Iowa City that is well known for its rigorous enforcement of the speed limit. Baxter notes that as cars cross a bridge over railroad tracks that mark the line between Iowa City and University Heights, they immediately change speed. "It shows that when you enforce the law, people slow down."
Rummage Sale Revisited
I'm in my final days at Bohemian Paradise. The boxes are starting to fill all too slowly, and the PO Box is set to close as I move the mail to the new house. I told myself I'd stay at the Village till my lifestyle changed, and now it has.
So a couple things:
My rummage sale partner wants to get rid of more stuff and since I've already done most of the work for it, I'm going to set my stuff out again too. One day only.
Saturday, July 28
8 Am - 2 Pm
422 Brown St., Iowa City.
You may or may not see me, I have to cut out for a while to cover a story.
Also, and this plea is even more pathetic. I need help. Well, most of you probably think that. Seriously. I gotta haul a lot of stuff and I could use a hand. The load out at my old place is Tuesday the 31st and Wednesday the 1st. The second chance is at my new place -- 313 W. Benton. That'll be on Sunday the 5th.
Alan Keyes in Ames?
Alan Keyes, the
Alan Keyes' draft campaign (has) apparently purchased space and are planning to actively spread the word about Dr. Keyes. While my e-mails don't come right out and say that Dr. Keyes will be there, it seems to suggest that he will be there.
As I noted a few weeks ago, Dr. Keyes appears to be behind his own "Draft" campaign because he owns the rights to the URL that is being used for the website.
Keyes will not be speaking at the event, and the Ames straw poll doesn't allow write-ins. CyCons notes Keyes' 14 percent Iowa showing in 2000 and gushes at his speaking prowess.
HawkeyeGOP is dismissive:
The problem of course is that Alan Keyes is crazy...
The only possible outcome of a successful Draft Keyes movement would be to dilute conservative primary votes and insure that Rudy McRomney is the nominee. Alan Keyes has had his chance, it is time to move on. At least Ron Paul has won a few elections.
House Bans Iraq Bases
Iowa Rep. Steve King was on the short end of a lopsided U.S. House vote Wednesday that bars the U.S. from establishing permanent bases in Iraq.
HR 2929, which would also limit the use of funds to exercise United States economic control of the oil resources of Iraq, passed 399 to 24, with the nays all coming from the GOP. The measure now moves to the Senate, where passage may be more difficult, and would face a likely presidential veto.
The four presidential candidates in the House -- Republicans Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo and Democrat Dennis Kucinich -- all supported the measure.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Greens, Libertarians Helping Each Other
Iowa's Greens and Libertarians recently settled a court case with the secretary of state that establishes a petition procedure to become a "non-qualified party" in Iowa. Ballot Access News reports the latest: "The Iowa Green and Libertarian Parties will each circulate that type of petition for both parties. Voters are free to sign for more than one party, so this idea will save work for both parties."
Each party needs 850 signatures to become an official non-qualified party. Beginning January 1st, there will be a blank line on voter registration forms under party, and voters may fill in the name of a non-qualified party.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Coral Ridge Mall And I Are OK Now
Got a courteous email today from Monica Nadeau, general manager of the Coral Ridge Mall, about the little problem I had. Just in case you were awaiting the outcome of this drama -- the mall drama, not the Harry Potter book -- here's the important part:
Shoppers ARE allowed to take pictures at the mall, just not pictures of the storefronts as they are copyrighted. The officers who approached you misunderstood the camera policy and incorrectly enforced it.
I enjoyed the photo you posted as it represents the fact that Harry Potter fans can’t wait just one more minute to read the book!
Well, actually, the photo turned out lousy, but:
I apologize for the hassles you encountered and hope you will continue shopping Coral Ridge Mall.
Hey, I'm OK with that. End of story and thanks.
Ron Paul: Fallback Plan?
As Ron Paul makes hit counters spin and online polls surge, his campaign faces a crossroads. Clearly something is in the water. The influx of small and big L libertarians into the GOP to support Paul resembles the Greens who backed Dennis Kucinich in 2004. Only this group is less digestible, and highly unlikely to support any of the other Republicans. And just as clearly, Paul's libertarian outlook won't gather a majority in the context of the current GOP.
Thus we see the odd phenomenon of a candidate who is simultaneously a sitting Republican member of Congress and a former third-party nominee.
Ron Paul was one of the Libertarian's more successful national ticket leaders, winning half a percent of the vote against Bush Sr. and Dukakis in 1988.
The Libertarian Party has, to date, eschewed the type of celebrity candidacies that won the Reform Party victory with Jesse Ventura and the Greens' notoriety with Ralph Nader. They've preferred to nominate unknown party activists like their current crop of candidates.
But with Paul becoming a famous-for-the-Internet persona, will the third party give him a second chance? And what would that do to his seat in Congress?
The Texas congressional primary is March 4, 2008. That used to be one of the earliest events on the nomination calendar, but other states have leapfrogged forward to grab an early presidential primary date. The filing deadline is Jan. 2, 2008 -- before the currently scheduled date of any presidential primaries or caucuses.
Texas law allows a candidate to simultaneously run for Congress and for president or vice president, an option exercised by vice presidential candidates Lyndon Johnson in 1960 and Lloyd Bentsen in 1988. However, the candidate must run under the same party label for both offices. Thus, Ron Paul cannot seek re-election as a Republican and the presidency as a Libertarian. He'll have to choose at least a party by the first of the year.
In other states, Paul may face the dynamic of "sore loser" laws, designed to prevent a defeated primary candidate from running in a general election do-over. This should prove to be less of a barrier. In 1980, John Anderson quit the Republican Party in late April race to run as an independent. He qualified for all 51 ballots, setting many legal precedents in the process. Ballot Access News reports that other candidates who ran in presidential primaries, and then got on the fall ballot as independents or with other parties, have been Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, Robert La Follette in 1924, David Duke in 1988, and Lyndon LaRouche 1984 through 1992.
The appeal of holding office may not mean much to Paul, with his lone votes and outsider style. He's already had interruptions in a congressional career spanning 30 years. His first trip to D.C. was a short one in 1976, when he won an April special election and lost the November general election. He returned for a six-year stint from 1979 until 1984, when he lost the Republican primary for an open U.S. Senate seat to Phil Gramm. He started his current tenure in 1996. That year, Paul knocked off incumbent Greg Laughlin, a former Democrat who'd jumped parties in June 1995, in the Republican primary.
In the end, Paul may play the role other outsiders have played in the past. John Anderson led residual northeast liberals out of the GOP at the dawn of the Reagan era, and George Wallace was a way station as Southern conservatives moved from the Democrats to the Republicans. Ron Paul may be the exit point for small-government Republicans, on their way to… who knows what.
Monday, July 23, 2007
CNN/YouTube Democratic Debate Liveblog
The CNN/YouTube debate had an interesting format with some good questions from the public (and a few clunkers) and more sparks between the candidates that earlier debates, particularly on the war.
Hop over to Iowa Independent's comments section for more live insights from Dien Judge, T.M. Lindsey, Lynda Waddington and Ben Weyl.
8:19 My biggest surprise of the night: Obama's nuclear power remarks.
Edwards had the best candidate video: getting a laugh with the haircut reference, then turning it around to mock the mockery and ask what's really important. Worst: Kucinich for repeating TEXT PEACE TEXT PEACE TEXT PEACE way too many times.
8:11 CNN says their focus group calls the leaders Obama, Biden, Edwards in that order. The pundits liked Clinton's tough answer on the "would you talk to the dictators" question.
If you line the time clock up in the order they stood on stage, it makes a bell curve. Just as we thought.
So what was the best question? The snowman global warming question combined cutesy and serious well, the Al Gore question was a waste of time.
Last video: Obama. Look, I'm a rock star!
Last question: The Hammers are the name of what English soccer team? Just kidding: Praise your neighbor.
Gravel liked Dodd's dad but "follow the money."
The rest is mostly fluff. Hillary: "Dems are ready to lead." Biden says it's ridiculous.
And that's really an interesting way to sum it up: the questions were sometimes wonderful, sometimes shallow, but with thousands to choose from, chalk that up to CNN. Some of these exchanges were among the sparkiest we've seen yet, particularly the Iraq segment.
7:57. "In God We Trust" and an atheist question.
I want to listen to those answers again.
Gun control question: "Are our babies safe?" The questioner's "baby" is something that looks semi automatic. Richardson answers with background checks and poverty.
Biden: "If that's his baby he needs help." That's Joe, who ends with "hope he doesn't come lookin' for me."
7:53 Does you health care cover the undocumented? Dodd insists on answering the health care big picture and gets applause for breaking format: "this is an important question, everyone should be able to answer it." Richardson: it should cover everybody.
Next question: How would you represent change with Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton? Hilary: "I think it
IS a problem that Bush was elected in 2000. I actually though someone else was elected..." and BIG applause for "I'm very proud of my husband's record." She runs out of time with all the applause. Gravel: "The Democratic Party sold out to Wall Street."
Obama: "Every question you've heard, you see cynicism." Back to the theme.
7:47 Health Care Mashup question. Including another Subterranean Homesick Blues reference.
Obama: My plan has universal coverage, despite what Edwards said. HE thinks only way to get it is to mandate it. Health insurance/drug lobby: "A seat at the table, but they can't buy every chair." Edwards: Obama plan is serious but not universal, you HAVE to mandate it. Gets emotional - "we should be outraged."
Clinton: universal care is an American value. References to `93 and "I have the scars to show for it"-- shots all around!
7:44 a singing question. Not as good as George Harrison's "Taxman." Biden: "Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget." Repeal Bush tax cuts.
Next question: will you raise taxes? Dennis: crams whole platform into answer.
7:42 Social Security earnings cap. Dodd would support removing cap. Obama: we need a bipartisan plan.
Next question: We're going broke. Raise taxes, or cut benefits? Richardson: Need bipartisan effort to fix
Medicare -- emphasize preventative. Pension portability. (Doesn't answer the specific question)
7:39 Minimum wage. Would you be president for minimum wage? (HELL yeah!) Dodd has two kids, can't do it. Edwards "yes' Clinton "sure." Obama: "Most folks on this stage have a lot of money. You're doin' all right Chris. We don't have Mitt Romney money." Biden: "I don't have Obama money either." Anderson Cooper "you'd all get overtime." The whole exchange got a little too flip...
Dennis video: Text PEACE. He said Text PEACE at least 8 times in 30 seconds.
7:34 Voting equipment. Richardson: go to paper trails. We need same day registrations, stop GOP vote suppression. Wish more folks had gotten that one. The questioner's premise: "if I can get the same Starbuck's latte everywhere, I should get the same ballot everywhere."
Video from Biden: he's the only one with a plan, it says here. That calls for another shot. And how about a shot every time Gravel complains about not getting enough time?
7:30 Nuclear power (is this a GOP debate?) Edwards: No, costly, slow, unsafe. Also against liquid coal. Obama: We should explore nuke as part of the mix. (Interesting...) The reason nothing changes: "Dick Cheney met with oil companies 40 times. Put nat'l interest ahead of special interest."
Clinton: take away oil tax breaks. "all these alternatives are important. I'm agnostic about nuclear power." So
let's figure out waste and cost of nukes.
7:28 How will US decrease energy consumption? Gravel: uses it to work in Fair Tax. Dodd: 50 MPG CAFE, corporate carbon tax.
Raise your hands: who took a chartered jet here? Gravel: "I took the train."
7:26 A snowman asks about global warming. Cute. Kucinich re-uses his "global warring" line. Move away from oil.
7:25 a question about Al Gore getting in: "does that hurt y'all's feelings?" Biden: "The people of Tennessee just had their feelings hurt."
7:23 and a sex ed question gets giggles. It's trying to get at their role as parents. Obama asked about Romney attack: Obama says Romney supported the same thing
"apparently he forgot."
7:20 would you send your kids to public school? Edwards: my kids all went to public school. Clinton: Chelsea went to public school until Bill was president. Obama: my kids went to a private school -- because I taught there. But we don't have good public schools for ALL kids. Biden: my kids went to private school after my first wife died. Kucinich: my daughter was in public. Gravel wants more education competition. They're letting everyone answer this one and taking a lot of time.
7:18 and we have a music vid on No Child Left Behind. Richardson gets cheers for "scrap it" and for teacher minimum wage of 40 k.
Biden: "It was a mistake." I voted for it because I had great faith in Ted Kennedy. You could scrap it or do a major overhaul.
7:14 Richardson's video is a Job Interview ad.
Who was your favorite teacher. Gravel talks of childhood dyslexia. Obama says his 5th grade teacher who had lived in Kenya (gives him a chance to touch on the bio). Biden talks of abuse of power. Edwards' daddy was a millworker - shot!
7:10 break time. Gravel's video. It's not the one where he throws the rock in the water. That last exchange was the most sparks I've seen on the war -- or indeed on any issue -- in any of these debates so far. Differences in emphasis and expectation setting, with Dodd and Richardson on the Get Out side and Biden and Clinton responding with a version of Get Real. Wish Obama and Edwards had been in the loop instead of Kucinich
7:05 When will all US troops be out, and how many family members do you have serving?
Dodd: We need out by this April. I was in Guard, my brothers were in, etc.
Richardson: There's a difference between Senators and me. Six months, no residuals.
Biden: Richardson can't get troops out in six months. Make sure you can protect civilians or let them die. We need to get the mine resistant vehicles over there as long as there's one troop (applause)
Clinton: Move out ASAP, but Joe is right: we can move a brigade or two a month. They're not even planning for that. We need to move out safely. Let's admit now that it's
Dennis: Defund now. Everybody take a shot.
7:01 Would you meet with leaders of Cuba, Iran, Syria, N Korea, etc? Obama: Yes - Reagan talked to Soviets while calling them 'evil empire.' We have to find areas to move forward, a 'disgrace' we're not talking. (Obama cites Reagan? Almost as good as Hillary citing Goldwater.)
Clinton: Won't promise to meet with leaders, but will make diplomatic efforts (she's trying to sound tough)
Edwards: Yes, I would, but only after diplomatic groundwork. "This is just a piece of a bigger question" (shot!) -- we need to restore US moral leadership.
6:59 Soldier re: women's status in Middle East. Would they take Hillary seriously? Clinton: I've met with many officials in that part of world, and
I can be taken seriously. (applause)
6:56 Should women register for draft? Dodd: yes, but I oppose draft. We need national service. "I served in the Peace Corps." Another shot, everyone.
Clinton: yes to reg., no to draft. Notes women combat deaths. Talks about Public Service Academy.
Edwards plays the audience member card with a female combat pilot sitting with Elizabeth.
Gravel: I ended the draft (shot time!)
6:52 to Gravel re: his saying troops in Vietnam dying in vain. Goes on about unfairness of format. "There's only one thing worse than a soldier dying in vain -- it's MORE soldiers dying in vain." Best line of his campaign. They zoomed in to a scary extreme
Obama critiques lack of planning when we got in. But disputes the "dying in vain" line.
Edwards: "the question is, what is going to be done to stop this war." He's been doing a lot of paraphrase-the-question. "Hold Bush responsible."
6:48 Why haven't the Dems gotten us out already?
Clinton: We've tried to win GOP support for a timeline. Iraqis refuse to accept political solutions. Plays the pentagon-bashing-me card.
Dennis: The Dems have failed the American people. Defund now.
Dodd: we need to set a date to make Iraq act. Dodd breaks format and gets applause.
Richardson: Bring all troops home in 6 months, no residual forces.
6:47 Biden: we can't just pull out now. It would take a year to get everyone out, and you need a political solution. "I'm the only one who's proposed a political solution." Everyone take another shot.
6:45 "Are we WATCHIN' the same ___in' war? How do we pull out now?"
Obama: "I opposed this war from the start." Everybody take a shot if you're playing at home.
6:44 They're showing Citadel grad who was first US troop killed in Iraq. Troops get the biggest applause of night.
6:38 and I was wrong, Edwards actually does go with Hair, in the hippie musical sense with issue pics and a "What Matters?" tag.
A video question from Darfur. Richardson: I was at that camp. It's diplomacy, UN troops, pressure from China, it's LEADERSHIP. "The answer here is caring about Africa." This is the best I've heard him in a debate, sounds like he did in person. This guy is speaking from the heart here.
Biden: I heard the same arguments about Kosovo. We should send troops NOW. "They think we can save them and guess what, we can."
Gravel: Africa is afraid of us.
Clinton: We need to act instead of talk: UN, divestment, sanctions, and no fly zone. Tries not to answer on ground troops. She's pushed: "American ground troops don't
belong at this time." Turns it into Iraq.
6:35. Break time. Obama seems better so far than in previous debates. Biden and Gravel are invisible. Hillary's video looks like Subterranean Homesick Blues with the cue cards, but the music isn't as good. The questions have a lot of nuance, and the candidates are talking more like presidents and less like legislators.
6:30 another gay marriage question, from a southern black minister: "why is it acceptable to use religion" against this? Edwards: I feel enormous personal conflict on this issue. I want to do... basically everything short of marriage. (And mentions that Elizabeth disagrees). A new twist: the guy is in the audience, and "did he answer
the question?" "Not like I would have liked to have heard it." Edwards: Using religion is NOT acceptable.
Obama asked about old interracial marriage laws. Obama " we have to make sure everyone is equal under the law." Civil unions will do that, marriage up to denominations.
6:27 Gay marriage. Dennis: yes. (I wish everyone could answer everything.) Dodd, you voted for DOMA; Dodd filters it through "how would you like your kids
treated" comes out for civil unions, not marriage. Richardson: I'd do what's achievable -- civil unions, Don't Ask, hate crimes, etc.
6:25 Edwards: "Anybody who's considering not voting for Obama because he's black, or Clinton because she's a woman, I don't want your vote." Women affected by poverty, that's my cause. On the issues that directly affect women's lives I have the strongest record.
Clinton: Praise to Elizabeth, I have a long record on women's issues. It's terrific we're arguing about this (applause)
6:22 to Obama and Clinton: not black enough, not woman enough.
Obama: "When I'm catchin' a cab in Manhattan..." (laughs) Close the gaps, because that will solve the race problem. Give children a fair shake.
Clinton: Gets big applause, I'm running because I think I'm most qualified, etc. "when I'm inaugurated it'll send a great message to girls and boys"
6:19 Race, class and Katrina. Dodd: if it had been a white population, more rapid response. "It should have been done ahead of time."
First question to Richardson. "Eliminate any red tape that helps families." I know what he meant, but he does that all the time in debates.
I'd like to have seen more folks answer the Republican running mate question.
6:16 to Edwards: slavery reparations. Edwards: no, but there are other things we can do to create equality. "We can't trade our insiders for their insiders."
Raise of hands: Dennis is for reparations, no one else.
Obama: The reparations we need are investment in our schools (big applause)
Candidate videos: Chris Dodd pokes fun at his own hair (will Edwards?)
6:13 which Republican would be your running mate? (gets applause.) Biden: Chuck Hagel, with Dick Lugar as a possible sec of state. The questions are broader and bigger picture than the journalist questions.
Edwards: These all ask "how do we bring about big change." Big power will not negotiate, we need to take it from them.
6:11 Gravel's mike cutting out. He's basing Obama for bundling. Obama: The reason you know who's raising $ for me is I passed a disclosure law. Gets big
6:10 Hillary, define "liberal." HRC: it's been made to seem as if it describes big govt. I prefer progressive, "I consider myself a modern progressive."
6:08 How would America be better with Kucinich as president? Dennis: I'm against
the war 100% of the time. "Strength through peace" and The Science Of Human Relations (sounds new agey) gets applause.
Hillary: which of us is ready to lead on day one?
Obama: This is a problem that spans the parties, we need a change of attitudes. (He's hitting the theme twice in two questions)
6:06 Dodd goes with the experience. Obama says the question is dead on because of the need for change.
6:04 and Biden gets zinged for stuffing the poll, laughs it off. First question leads with WAZZUP? and is basically "how are you different?"
6:00 and the debate leads with a goateed Gen Xer via YouTube challenging the candidates to answer the questions. Anderson Cooper shows rejected questions. I think we're going to see some LOLCats here. Im in ur debatez, askin ur questions.
5:52. The Dodd clock prompted me to quickly surf the other sites. This is, after all, the YouTube debate. The Edwards camp is having folks vote for their favorite YouTube question. Richardson had a live chat an hour ago. The Kucinich site is in Under Construction mode. Biden has a "You Can't Duck The Question" feature. (As John
Stewart would say, VIL-SACK!) Nothing special on Clinton or Gravel.
Meanwhile Lou Dobbs, our warm-up act, is banging the immigration drum.
5:41 and Chris Dodd is in the in box. The Talk Clock is back. The value of the tool gets him the mention. So here you go. See how it works live.
5:00 and I'm getting an early start because this factoid came my way: the seating arrangement. From left to right: Gravel, Dodd, Edwards, Clinton, Obama, Richardson, Biden and Kucinich.
Marginalization both figuratively and literally (or, well, spatially). Expect a lot of nice tight shots of center stage tonight.
Factoid Of The Day
"This year Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before. Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office."
Finished The Book at 4:00 Saturday afternoon and got all sleep schedule shifted for the rest of the weekend. Now I just need to find someone else who's finished, and watch out for mall cops.
Also over the course of the weekend, my Rudy Giuliani story went all viral and stuff and wound up on the front page of Digg among lots of other cool places. I just got lucky -- somebody said the wrong thing at the right time and I was there. Might have been a bigger deal yet if Mitt hadn't done something even stupider.
The writer's block should be gone by tonight in time for some debate live blogging. Tune in at Iowa Indy and bring your best insight and/or snark.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Coral Ridge Mall Doesn't Want You To See This Picture
Update 7/24: Mall manager says sorry and that security misunderstood the policy. See details.
It's 1:21 AM and my brand new Harry Potter book is sitting next to me unopened. I need to tell this story before I move to that one.
There was a little gap between my paid wifi expiring as I wrapped up the liveblog, and the time when my number in line was called. So rather than lug my laptop around I took it out to my car.
On the way out I spotted a wonderful picture. Someone couldn't wait to get home, or perhaps they were waiting for a ride, but in any case they'd sat down to read under a dim parking lot light. A nice ending to the story.
The photo didn't turn out but I'm posting it anyway, in light of the tale that follows.
"Sir! Excuse me!"
I turned around and two mall security guards were coming up behind me.
"Sir, you're not allowed to take photographs, mall policy."
I told the two, um, gentlemen that I was unaware of the policy and I quite politely asked to see it in writing. They said they couldn't do so but the Coralville Police Department would be glad to, and he could certainly call them.
At that point the ridiculousness of the situation and the weight of my laptop were too much, so I said I'd rather buy my book, and I proceeded to drop the laptop off in my car.
However, the issue still, well, concerned me, so I resumed the conversation on the way back in. I noted that I was, in fact a Professional Journalist -- I'm certain that was a very credible statement, what with me dressed as Middle Aged Harry Potter -- and I got the usual rap. Private Property, Mall Policy, Just Doing Our Jobs, etc. I'm afraid that in response to Just Doing Our Jobs I may have violated Godwin's Law. I made note of the First Amendment and asked:
"You mean that's why you're here at one o'clock in the morning -- to keep me from taking a picture of someone reading a book?"
"Yes sir, that's part of our job sir."
They again repeated that the Coralville Police would be glad to further explain General Growth and Development's policy. I again asked to see it in writing. They said they could have it mailed to me. I agreed as the absurdity was getting to me -- here I was, standing in the parking lot of the mall at 1 AM wearing a Harry Potter costume arguing with two fenceposts about the relative merits of the First Amendment vs. private property rights. So they asked me for my license. They said it was to get my address, but they took it away from me and went in the car. I don't know if fake mall cops can run licenses or not, but they took their sweet time. I wonder if they even took my address down. Looking forward to that letter, guys.
Maybe the release of a children's book isn't the most important thing in the world, but it's still a pretty big story. And maybe I'm just one nerd in a Harry Potter costume, but there's larger issues at stake here. This is one small moment in a big problem in 21st century America. As public squares dwindle and more and more of our time is spent on turf that functions as public space but is under private ownership, routine citizen activities like news gathering, petitioning, and public speaking are getting harder and harder.
Plus it took some of the fun out of my night.
By the time all this was done, my place in line had come around. I plopped down my cash and left Barnes and Noble. The two fenceposts were gone. I had hoped to tell them the First Amendment still allowed me to read a book.
Which is what I'm going to do now.
Maybe this post will get me banned from the Coral Ridge Mall. No great loss -- I knew I should have gone to Prairie Lights.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Harry Potter Liveblog
11:04 -- 56 minutes to go. I'm crouched on the floor of the Coralville Barnes and Noble dressed as a middle aged Harry Potter. And you though the raspberry beret was silly. Since I have the green eyes and a scar on my forehead, I had to go as Harry. Hope I survive. (The scar is actually from my cats, but just for tonight I'm telling folks Voldemort did it.
The wifi here is $3.99 for two hours so I took pics first. Based on the numbered wristbands there's about 500 people here.
A few others are childlike adults like me, but the majority are mid to late teens, Generation Potter. Makes the picture snapping a little awkward, as I am after all a middle aged man here by myself. Fortunately I've only run into one person who actually knows me.
The younger fans are listening to a reading from "Order Of The Phoenix." My two little guys couldn't make it tonight, but they're dead ringer Dracos. Their mom could do a decent Rita Skeeter.
The only Ginny Weasleys I've seen (above, with Moaning Myrtle) are actually Ginny-aged.
Professer Trelawney is predicting massive sales tonight -- her third ever accuate prophecy.
Tonks is hoping that the hook-up with Remus Lupin works out.
Here's one the `shippers never predicted: Luna Lovegood and a young Dumbledore?
My prep for Zero Hour was way too elaborate for a grownup. A late afternoon nap, strong coffee (the line for that potion is long), and a quick re-read of the last thee chapters of Half-Blood Prince.
I arrived just after 10:00 and I'm #85 in the Blue Line (non-reserved), which puts me in the 500s overall. I showed up at the sam etime two years ago and was in the 200s.
11:25 and 35 minutes to go. The crowd is both older and younger than two year ago and I just figured out why. Generation Potter is two years older and more of them are old enough to drive -- therefore, less parents.
11:32 and badges abound. S.P.E.W. is popular -- are the elves going to be important? I also spotted a FREE STAN SHUNPIKE. And a few more folks have recognized me. I promise, I'll get a photo of me up soon.
11:42 and as promised:
Don't look now but a dementor is sneaking up on me. EXPECTO PATRONUM! (thanks to Jeff Fields for the pic)
11:52. The bookstore staff is starting to count down the minutes, and the holders of the low numbered wristbands have been herded into line. The folks who got their numbers and left have now come back. One of the staff said over 800 had entered the store, so it's hard to move around.
They're running two check outs on opposite ends of the store. The spply of glow in the dark Harry glasses has run out. There's several Trelawneys here, a few Patil twins, a couple Lunas, and lots of assorted generic Gryffindors. But I'm definitely the only middle aged Harry.
The conventional media has arrived.
THE MAGIC MOMENT (ha) is here. A New Year's Eve style countdown went up and as everyone cheered, Barnes and Noble's Harry lookalike held up Deathly Hallows over his head, then quickly vanished (presumably to read of his fate).
The crowd then surged, in a polite and numerical fashion, to six registers. Loud loud hubub, and someone shouts: "I'm so excited, I'm gonna read who dies."
12:37. Things are subsiding. Numbers 401-450 are being called to the registers. The pre-sells go to at least 500, then we get to the slacker non-pre-sells like me. I'm number 85 of that, and they go to at least 150... it's cooling off in here, too, 800 bodies generate a lot of heat.
I'm a little sad that after some time tomorrow, the story will be over for me. But with two new little guys in my life, who love the movies but are a little young for the books, I'll have another go around.
I expect the book is about twenty minutes or so from my hands. I've seen a couple spoilers but managed to mentally block them, discounting them by questioning the accuracy. Still, it seemed things were leakier this time than two years ago. Number 551-600 just called at 12:47. I'm going to sign off before I roll over into another two hours of paid wifi.
The coffee is ready at home. Expect light posting if any Saturday.
GOP Requiring ID For Straw Poll
The Republican Party of Iowa announced yesterday it will require participants in the Aug. 11 Ames straw poll to present photo ID. The released materials also said, "The Republican Party believes all official elections in Iowa should require every voter to show a photo ID to vote."
The GOP also attacked the state's new election day voter registration law.
Several states have passed ID laws, though court rulings on the constitutionality of such laws have varied.
The ID-to-vote issue has been sharply divided on party lines, with Republicans generally supporting IDs and Democrats generally opposed. In last year's race for Iowa secretary of state, Republican Mary Ann Hanusa supported photo ID. The winning Democrat, Mike Mauro, opposed it, saying a photo ID requirement would make it harder for some citizens to vote. “Life circumstance should not make a person a disenfranchised voter,” he said.
In their straw poll materials, Iowa Republicans also took a shot at the new same day voter registration law passed by the Democratic legislature and signed by Governor Culver this year. The party materials read:
The Democrats lessened Iowa’s election laws even further in 2007 by opening up same day voter registration. This is an open invitation for fraud.
Requiring a photo ID is a fundamental election reform opposed only by liberals. The civil rights of thousands are violated by improperly cast ballots and fraud. Intentional fraud and illegal voting can and will provide the margin of victory in many contests. For an election to be legitimate, Iowans need to know that everyone who voted was an eligible voter.
The Iowa Democratic Party quickly responded with a press release saying:
These accusations are unfounded, contrary to the experiences of states that already have instituted same-day voter registration and seek to limit the public’s involvement in the political process. There is no evidence of any fraud in Iowa elections and the new same-day registration law has additional safeguards in the process.
The release also offered praise of election day registration's positive impact on voter participation.
The new Iowa voter registration law remains untested, as it does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2008.
Think they'll find Bush's brain up there?
Come to think of it, has anyone ever seen Dick Cheney and Voldemort together?
President Bush temporarily will transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney while Bush has a colonoscopy Saturday.
In a medical first the president will conduct the procedure himself:
And I thought I'd used up my weekly quota of snark with the headlines Giuliani: Asked About HIV, He Answers With 9/11 and McCain: Not Dead, but Neither Was Terri Schiavo.
Hey, what's that mushroom shaped glow over Pyongyang?
Rudy Giuliani: Asked About HIV, Answers With 9/11
Rudy Giuliani gets Iowa punctuality. In fact, he may be the first presidential candidate in years to show up early at a caucus campaign stop. Razzed by the Des Moines Register for running late in his last Iowa trip, the former New York mayor arrived 10 minutes before a scheduled 2:30 Thursday speech at the Spring House, a historic restaurant built on a natural artesian spring in Cedar Rapids.
The bulk of Giuliani’s relatively brief visit – 55 minutes from arrival to departure -- was devoted to one on one conversations and autographs. While the event was billed as focusing on energy independence, the crowd of 60 seated patrons and as many more standing folks was more interested in health care.
Loud Muzak drowned out the brief opening remarks of Paul Pate, a former Cedar Rapids mayor who also served in the Legislature and as secretary of state. Though the music clicked off early during Giuliani’s speech, the lack of a microphone made it hard to hear his message.
After about 10 minutes of prepared remarks, Giuliani began taking questions. Asked about increasing federal support for HIV medications, Giuliani discussed what he considers appropriate federal responsibility in health care. “I don’t want to promise you the federal government will take over the role,” he said, drawing applause and shouts of “all right." Then, in some interesting twists, he turned the HIV question into a 9/11 answer:
“My general experience has been that the federal government works best when it helps and assists and encourages and sets guidelines… on a state-by-state, locality-by-locality basis. It’s no different from the way I look at homeland security. Maybe having been mayor of the city, I know that your first defense against terrorist attack is that local police station, or that local firehouse.”
Giuliani has focused on national security issues in his campaign and said the U.S. should be on the offense against terrorism, and use tactics that “aren’t illegal but are aggressive” including the Patriot Act and electronic surveillance. “If a Democrat is elected we’ll go back to defense on terrorism – they don’t face the threat realistically,” he said. “They’ve had three debates, and none of the Democrats has said the words ‘Islamic terrorist.’ They’re in denial, and we need a president who’s a realist.”
“I’m good at getting things done,” Giuliani said, citing his record as mayor and as a U.S. attorney prosecuting mobsters in New York. “I could tell you good stories,” he said, but to this writer's great disappointment we heard no tales of busting Big Paul Castellano and John Gotti. Instead he told us, “I took over the crime capital of the United States and made it the welfare-to-work capital.”
Energy independence is a way to defeat the terrorists, Giuliani said, citing the dangers of a nuclear Iran. He said it’s important to keep a military option against Iran, but we can also win with energy independence. Giuliani called for a broad mix of resources. “I support all the technologies that give us energy within our own control,” with control meaning within the U.S. or with “reliable friends” such as Canada and Mexico.
He cited Brazil’s success with ethanol and joined other Republican candidates including Mitt Romney and John McCain in noting France’s reliance on nuclear power. He rattled off many other sources –- wind, clean coal and domestic oil (without specifying the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). “There’s no one magic solution. There are, however, a number of solutions that if you support them and push them, each one of them can contribute some part.” Giuliani said this mix of energy changes would also address global warming “in a sensible, calm way and not in a hysterical way.”
Giuliani’s health-care plan is firmly based in the private sector. He proposes a $15,000 tax exemption for individual health insurance. “If you can find it cheaper, you can keep the difference.” He said with 50 million to 100 million Americans participating, this would create a marketplace for affordable individual plans: “Lots of people would buy private health insurance if it was as attractive as employer plans.” All plans would have to have some co-payment, to encourage people to make choices about their care.
In an extended analogy, Giuliani likened the cost of health care to the price of TVs in the early 1950s -– prices were high because the marketplace was small. With a larger marketplace prices of TVs have gone down and quality has improved with advancing technology. “It happened because there was a free market,” he said. His analogy missed some realities – you won’t die if you can’t get a plasma TV, but you might die if you can’t get to the doctor.
But Giuliani mocked the idea of mandated coverage: “If the government had said, everybody has to get a TV, and we’ll help you pay for one if you can’t afford it, what would have happened to the price of TVs? When you promise these simplistic results you get disaster, like welfare.”
Giuliani also said a promise of universal health care was misguided:
“We don’t want socialized medicine. Maybe you should go see 'Sicko,' see if you agree with Michael Moore that we should have the Cuban health care system. That’s where the Democrats are taking us… All the places that have government-run health care, it’s inferior to us. We’ve got to preserve our private system. People will have to earn some of that access. Let’s not become a nanny state. You don’t help somebody when you make them dependent. You make it within their realm to do it, but give them a chance to earn it. The system gets destroyed when you start making big promises.”
The bird-doggers from Iowans for Sensible Priorities got in their question about cutting military spending. Giuliani responded with a prompt no: “It’s already been done. Clinton cut our military budget by enormous amounts in the 1990s, and it left us in a position where we can’t face the dangers we’re facing right now.” He said he would look for wasteful spending in the military, but would instead reinvest that in increased troop strength and newer technology. Arguing that other parts of the budget could be cut to deal with energy independence, Giuliani said (in seeming contradiction to his approach to health care) that “the market for energy is not a free market” because OPEC and other forces are involved.
A virtually inaudible last question, later rumored to have been about Darfur, prompted Giuliani to discuss the ineffectiveness of the United Nations in dealing with major world crises “since at least the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
Attendee Dave Miller left the event undecided – he’s holding out hope that Newt Gingrich will run – but impressed with Giuliani. “I love his aggressiveness and ability to say yes or know and not beat around the bush,” Miller said. Speaking of Bush, Miller is not fond of the incumbent: “The biggest thing to me is health care and we haven’t heard about it in the whole Bush administration.” He’s not so keen on Congress either. “They had that all-nighter on the war, they’re always talking about immigration, but here we have innocent people talking about not having health care.”
Missed opportunities: Giuliani missed out on a plate of the Spring House’s famous “chilighetti,” thick chili served over spaghetti. And the Republican crowd might have appreciated a reference to the sign above the artesian well, noting that the Spring House is “no longer allowed to serve this water because of recent state ecology laws. The management is indeed sorry to have to let such a beautiful natural resource go to waste.”
70 House Members Say No More War $
In an open letter to President Bush yesterday, 70 U.S. House members said they would support no further funding for the Iraq war except for "the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq."
The list include 69 Democrats, but none of the three Iowa Democrats in the House. Only one Republican -- Presidential candidate Ron Paul of Texas -- signed. Oddly, Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich of Ohio did not sign, even though he has been one of only about ten House members who has voted against any additional war funding.
The full list:
Rep. Artur Davis (AL)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ)
Rep. Ed Pastor (AZ)
Rep. Lois Capps (CA)
Rep. Bob Filner (CA)
Rep. Michael Honda (CA)
Rep. Barbara Lee (CA)
Rep. Grace Flores Napolitano (CA)
Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA)
Rep. Hilda Solis (CA)
Rep. Pete Stark (CA)
Rep. Ellen Tauscher (CA)
Rep. Maxine Waters (CA)
Rep. Diane Watson (CA)
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (CA)
Rep. Diana DeGette (CO)
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL)
Rep. Hank Johnson (GA)
Rep. John Lewis (GA)
Rep. David Scott (GA)
Rep. Neil Abercrombie (HI)
Rep. Danny Davis (IL)
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL)
Rep. Phil Hare (IL)
Rep. Bobby Rush (IL)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL)
Rep. Julia Carson (IN)
Rep. Bill Delahunt (MA)
Rep. Barney Frank (MA)
Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA)
Rep. Ed Markey (MA)
Rep. James McGovern (MA)
Rep. John Olver (MA)
Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD)
Rep. Albert Wynn (MD)
Rep. John Conyers (MI)
Rep. Keith Ellison (MN)
Rep. Betty McCollum (MN)
Rep. Jim Oberstar (MN)
Rep. William Lacy Clay (MO)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO)
Rep. G. K. Butterfield (NC)
Rep. Paul Hodes (NH)
Rep. Rush Holt (NJ)
Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ)
Rep. Donald Payne (NJ)
Rep. Steve Rothman (NJ)
Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY)
Rep. John Hall (NY)
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY)
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY)
Rep. Charles Rangel (NY)
Rep. Ed Towns (NY)
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (NY)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR)
Rep. Chaka Fattah (PA)
Rep. Ron Paul (TX)
Rep. Steve Cohen (TN)
Rep. Rubin Hinojosa (TX)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
Rep. Ron Paul (TX).
Rep. Donna Christensen (USVI)
Rep. Jim Moran (VA)
Rep. Bobby Scott (VA)
Rep. Jim McDermott (WA)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI)
Rep. Gwen Moore (WI)
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Caucus Date Leapfrog Update: Competing Michigan Bills
Pending legislation in Michigan, historically the state most strongly opposed to Iowa's first in the nation status, would give the parties flexibility to bump up the state's primary date.
Ballot Access News reports the state senate Campaigns and Elections Committee has OK'd two competing bills. One bill schedules Michigan's primaries for Feb. 5, the "Mega Tuesday" date of the de facto national primary. The other bill calls for a Jan. 29 date -- in violation of the Democratic National Committee's schedule, which has reserved Jan. 29 for South Carolina alone.
Florida has already leapfrogged to Jan. 29, and pending Ohio legislation would also set a Jan. 29 date. States violating the DNC calendar may be stripped of half their national convention delegates. But in Florida, at least, lawmakers determined that the increased role in the process an earlier date provides will more than offset the loss in largely symbolic delegates.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Deportation Splits 1.6 Million Families
Iowa Congressman Steve King likens illegal immigration to invasion and domestic violence, and Know-Nothing presidential candidate Tom Tancredo is calling for the defeat of multi-culturalism. The immigration issue is blamed in part for John McCain's precipitous decline. Even Tommy Thompson, who hasn't made immigration a centerpiece of his campaign, is leading with the issue in radio ads that say "First, no amnesty."
While this rhetoric is raging among Republicans, Human Rights Watch has issued a report looking at the human cost of getting tough.
The report says that since immigration law was toughened in 1996 to require mandatory deportation of legal immigrants convicted of a crime, even a minor one, 672,593 immigrants have been deported. Human Rights Watch estimates that these deportations mean 1.6 million children and adults, including U.S. citizens and long-term lawful permanent residents, have been forcibly separated from their non-citizen family members. Individual cases include a father of three U.S. citizen children convicted of breaking into a car and stealing a $10 bottle of eye drops from a drug store.
The 1996 law eliminated the discretion immigration judges once held in assessing penalties. Rep. Jose Serrano, D-New York, has introduced a bill (HR 1176) which would allow immigration judges to consider the interests of U.S. citizen children during deportation hearings. Human Rights Watch recommends stronger legislation that also considers legal presence and length of time in the U.S., evidence of rehabilitation, ties to the community, military service, and lack of connection to the country of origin. They also favor limiting deportation to those convicted of violent crimes. The report says that from 1997 to 2005, only 21% of deportees had been convicted of violent offenses.
None Of The Above Leading GOP, Kinda Sorta
We've been hearing that no one is ahead in the GOP presidential race, and now there's proof: No One actually is ahead. No one as in "None of the above," according to this week's AP/Ipsos poll. Specifically, that breaks out as other 2, none 8, and don't know 15.
Does this mean Republicans prefer a blank line on the ballot next to the Democratic nominee next November? Probably not, but Nevada actually offers "none of the above" as a cop-out, I mean option, on every ballot. Well, sort of -- it's non-binding.
Conservative blogger Lew Rockwell dismisses the AP poll: "What would it have been if Ron Paul hadn't been excluded?"
Depends, Lew. If it had been a scientific random sample, Paul would have likely been at one or two percent, as he's been in most such polls. If it had been on line, he'd probably be around 55% like Cyclone Conservative's latest monthly poll.
Scientific polls measure raw numbers of support, rather than intensity. Paul's supporters appear to be few but intense, and disproportionately represented in Internet culture. Or, as Reason puts it, Ron Paul is this year's Snakes On A Plane.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Clinton Money Flowing To Vilsack
Ex-governor and ex-presidential candidate Tom Vilsack received $87,000 in donations from Hillary Clinton supporters after he left the race and andorsed Clinton.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Vilsack used $55,000 of that to reimburse himself for a personal loan he'd made his campaign.
In his Feb. 23 speech as he exited the race, Vilsack said he was dropping out because of "money and only money."
O. Kay Henderson also reports The Clinton campaign also paid Vilsack $20,000 for unspecified "list services," likely the Vilsack "house list" of donors and supporters built up through his years in Iowa Politics.
That list may produce some money, but Iowa is a cash-importing state where politicians spend money rather than raising money. The more important function of the Vilsack list is that it's chock-full of likely caucus-goers known to support Vilsack and likely to respond positively to, or at least take seriously, his Clinton endorsement. This serves to somewhat mute the advantage John Edwards has in Iowa of his list of people who supported him in his earlier 2004 campaign.
Romney: $300 for Makeup After Bashing Edwards' Haircut
As the John Edwards $400 haircut "story" broke, Mitt Romney was asked at a New Hampshire rally: "Where do you get your hair cut and how much does it cost?" The Boston Globe reports his response:
"You know I think John Edwards was right. There are two Americas. There is the America where people pay $400 for a haircut and then there is everybody else."
Yet Romney's latest FEC reports show $300 in payments to Hidden Beauty of West Hills, CA, a company that describes itself as "a mobile beauty team for hair, makeup and men's grooming and spa services."
Will this incident serve as a symbol for Romney's image as a handsome but inconsistent "empty suit?"
Or maybe, even though the bills for both Romney and Edwards sound excessive to Regular Folks, it's just part of the ball game. The Politico notes:
Politicians often wear makeup for photo and video shoots. It's not wise for candidates -- or anyone appearing on TV, for that matter -- to scrimp on makeup, especially in this age of high-definition TV, said Stacy Andrews, who made up Romney for Hidden Beauty. She added that she has seen pols "look orange" after bad makeup jobs.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Monday Meow Mix: McCain as Schiavo
The cats are demanding breakfast. Here's some tidbits:
The McCain campaign is essentially finished, but McCain must continue acting like a real candidate until January to qualify for the federal matching funds he needs to pay off the campaign debt and operating costs for the next few months.
Vital organs and systems are shutting down -- McCain's strategy in the Hawkeye State seems to be reverting to his 2000 Screw Iowa strategy as he spent the weekend in New Hampshire.
So terminal, on life support, with no hope for recovery. Much like GOP cause celebre Terri Schiavo was.
Conservatives can choose between the red meat served by Brownback and the balanced meal served by Huckabee. Each man hopes to emerge in Iowa as the top alternative to Mitt Romney, the candidate who leads in polls and fundraising.
Harry Potter has something else to boast about: He will be cast in butter for the world famous Iowa State Fair.
Butter sculptor Sarah Pratt said giving Potter a place of honor next to the fair's famed butter cow inside the Agriculture Building's refrigerated glass case was a no-brainer.
Yeah, you might say that.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Rummage Sale Day 2
We really should have made it a one day sale. At least it was slow enough for me to get my laundry done.
We may do it again in two weeks -- my colleague still has goo stuff left and I'll find more stuff to get rid of as I get into serious moving mode.
Life on the GOP Second Tier
The Register and others are all over the GOP second tier today, and the candidates are really starting to show their priorities.
An observer asked why Huckabee uses the term "illegal immigrant" instead of "alien."
Tom Tancredo, another Republican presidential candidate, has defended his use of "alien" on the campaign trail to describe people in the country illegally.
"Well, 'alien' sounds like they are from outer space," Huckabee said. "They are fellow human beings."
Huckabee also says: fourth or better in Ames or I'm done.
Taking bets on who quits the race next: my money's on Duncan Hunter.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Caucus Date Leapfrog Update: Ohio Joining Florida on Jan. 29?
It's still in the "legislation introduced" stage, but Ohio is looking at joining Florida on January 29. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports:
Kearney said his bill would move the scheduled Ohio primary from March 4, increasing the Buckeye State’s impact on the primary process. So far, six states plan presidential primaries or caucuses in January.
Only four of those are on the DNC-sanctioned calendar: Iowa on January 14, Nevada on January 19, New Hampshire January 22, and South Carolina and only South Carolina on January 29.
One Ohio legislator tries to justify both states that have leapfrogged:
“As the key battleground state that decided the 2004 election, it just makes sense for Ohio to be a part of the process alongside Florida, which decided the 2000 election,” said Sen. Shirley Smith, a Cleveland Democrat.
Don't make any plans for the night of January 7th, Iowans.
Rummage Sale Day 1
It was a tie vote: five yes for live blogging, five no, and three for the owl lamp. That's three votes and three bucks, which is actually what it sold for.
The live blogging proved impossible for two reasons: too busy at crunch time, and the wifi didn't reach.
We advertised 8 a.m. First customer showed up at 7:05, and it was a High Fidelity guy wanting vinyl. My vinyl and CDs moved, as did some of the ugly owls, and to my surprise the old buttons. My computer parts did not move -- even the ones in the FREE box. Still got an external hard drive, folks...
I had the kitsch, my neighbor has the nice stuff. Stop by tomorrow noon to 4.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Cedar Rapids Protester Fined, Refuses to Pay
The one person jailed in last week's sit-in at U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley's Cedar Rapids office pleaded guilty in Linn County Court today.
David Goodner, a University of Iowa senior, was fined the minumum amount on both counts -- $65 for criminal trespassing and $250 for interference with official acts. He told the judge he would not pay the fines. "I consider my refusal to pay my fines an extension of my civil disobedience," he said.
Goodner was arrested at the Cedar Rapids Federal Courthouse on July 6 during the Occupation Project's action at Grassley's office, when he attempted to enter the building from a restricted side door.
At the time of his 2:05 p.m. arrest, federal marshals were blocking the public entrance, telling protesters that only one person at a time would be allowed in the Republican senator's office. Minutes after Goodner's arrest, marshals allowed additional protesters and the press to enter the building. (See my earlier coverage of events at the Federal Courthouse on July 6.)
"I would have never entered the restricted area if I wasn't denied my legal rights at the public entrance first," Goodner said in court.
Though Goodner was the only person jailed, 19 other people were arrested, cited and released after 5 p.m. July 6 for the sit-ins at Grassley's office and at Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's office in the Wells Fargo Bank building.
My Trash, Your Treasure
On Monday it really hit me that I have to move across town in three weeks. Fortunately I'd given myself a motivating factor. My downstairs neighbor Cherry Muhanji decided to throw a rummage sale and somehow or other I went in on it too.
In assessing my possessions, I realized that the only material possessions I own that I had at the time of my divorce are the bulk of my CD collection and two of my four cats. Everything else, including my clothing, has been replaced. Unfortunately, as a chronic junk shopper, I've accumulated a lot of stuff in four years. So I figured I'd get rid of it the same way I got most of it: sell it dirt cheap then take the rest to Goodwill.
So come see the junk I want to unload, and either give me money or laugh at me. Or at least vote in my poll:
422 Brown Street, Iowa City (the famous/infamous Black's Gaslight Village)
Saturday 8:00 - 2:00
Sunday Noon - 4:00
This must be one of those local language things. For some reason I've always called it "rummage" sale or, more accurately, "junk" sale, though no seller ever uses this marketing-poor term. Some places it's "garage" sale (I don't have one). Others it's a yard sale. In my college town of Eau Claire, WI it was a "thrift" sale, a phrase I've never heard anywhere else, and they started on Thursdays. I've heard "tag" sale too.
Presidential Endorsement Scorecard
Hillary Clinton rolled out 14 endorsements from Iowa legislators this week, including the two previously public Iowa City reps Vicki Lensing and Mary Mascher. This gives the Register reason to run a handy dandy list. For those of you keeping score at home: