Sunday, September 30, 2007

Will Rudy Cause GOP Crackup, Realignment?

The Evolution of the Mammoth: Will Rudy Cause GOP Crackup, Realignment?

The first couple months of 2008 look to be critical not just for the obvious nomination reasons, but for the entire future of the Republican Party, as cracks and internal contradictions within the coalition Ronald Reagan assembled become too big to ignore.

Reagan's smooth style and simple, simplistic message brought together three very different kinds of Republicans: Money Republicans, Jesus Republicans, and Leave Me The Hell Alone libertarian Republicans. The cognitive dissonance was there from the early days, as libertarians grappled with the religious Right's obsession with the bedroom. But all that was wallpapered over with the flag, using first The Commies then The Terrorists as the glue, and Faux News and talk radio as the brush that both slapped on the glue and simultaneously tarred the Democrats. Nifty trick.

But as Iraq gets stickier, that glue is drying out. It was, oddly enough, a Democrat who pointed out the crossroads the GOP is approaching. Two weeks ago, speaking to the National Press Club, Rep. John Murtha said the Republicans are stalled on Iraq until the nomination process is over: “As soon as the primaries are over, you’ll see Republicans start jumping ship,” he said.

The earliest nomination in modern times lengthens the Decider's lame duck tenure. Once the GOP has a nominee, in about four and a half months, Bush becomes increasingly irrelevant. Except for, well, his power to send more troops, nuke Iran and stuff. The anointed Bush heir, John McCain, has fizzled, and the Republican nomination process has already become the greatest repudiation by a president's own party in a century. Is the New Face really going to want an incumbent with approval ratings in the 20s campaigning anywhere outside a closed-door fundraiser? And what if, despite all indications, the nominee breaks with Bush on the war? That's a pretty big split to cover up.

That's not even the worst news yet for the GOP. The Onward Christian Foot Soldiers of the party have a deep unease with all the leading candidates. Mitt Romney's Mormon faith makes them a little theologically queasy, but at least he's with them on the issues -- well, now anyway, the statute of limitations on bygone Massachusetts campaigns apparently not being enforced. They'll take the Book of Mormon over McCain's second marriage and Fred Thompson's trophy wife and lobbying clients.

But all that pales next to their real nightmare: Rudy Giuliani, his three marriages, estranged kids and worst of all his pro-choice position. Open rebellion is brewing. Salon reports on a religious Right weekend confab:
"A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination."

Meanwhile, back at the Leave Me Alone caucus, Ron Paul has become a bona fide net celebrity, and it's impossible to imagine his supporters willingly backing any other Republican in the race. The campaign keeps denying it but the history is there: the guy was a third party nominee once. Paul's devoted minions could overwhelm the tiny Libertarian Party just as easily as his philosophical soulmate, Pat Buchanan, took over the remnants of the Reform Party in 2000. Last week, Drew Ivers, a Buchanan operative from 1996 and 1999, signed on as Paul's Iowa campaign chairman, and Paul's anti-war from the right stance makes a lot more sense if you look at it as Buchanan-style isolationism.

So the GOP could be looking at splinter candidates on both their left and right flanks. Last time that happened was to the Democrats in 1948, and look how many years it took them to recover from that?

Well, none, actually. But the better analogy may be the 1968-1972 era, as the New Deal Coalition crumbled and two Democratic conventions became battles (literally, in 1968) over patriotism, war, the relative role of old powers and new interests within the party, and the very meaning of what it is to be an American. The Democrats are struggling with the 1968-72 legacy to this day. Why else would so many of them in Congress jump to condemn an ad that makes a bad pun on a general's name, if not for the myth of the spat-upon soldier?

The Republican contradictions of 2008 are just as deep as the hardhat-hippie divide of 1968, and likely to have consequences just as long-lasting. The bipolar dynamic of single member district, winner take all elections in America dictates that, when all is over, something calling itself the Republican Party will come through on the right half of the political spectrum to face off against the donkey. But what that elephant looks like will be very different that the beast that lumbers across our landscape today. I'm blind to the future and can't tell if I'm feeling the leg, trunk or tail. But even though some of their contenders deny the globe is warming, and don't believe in evolution, the Republican woolly mammoth must adapt or face extinction.

Questions, and One Answer

Questions, and One Answer

Stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else:

  • Why did Rudy take that call from his latest wife during the NRA speech? 9/11.

  • When are the caucuses gonna be? Mike Glover has a good caucus date leapfrog story that nevertheless can still be summed up as "don't know yet."

  • But The Atlantic's Mark Arbinder says "there is, among the leading Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, remarkable unanimity about its most likely shape.":
    Jan. 5: Iowa caucuses (both parties)
    Jan. 8: New Hampshire primary (both parties)
    Jan. 12: Nevada caucuses (both parties)
    Jan. 15 Michigan GOP primary; Dem beauty contest
    Jan. 19: South Carolina primary (both parties)
    Jan. 29: Florida GOP primary; Dem beauty contest

  • Are the Republicans insist they really truly going to get a Dave Loebsack challenger? (Other than a guy who has a Jerry Falwell page on his campaign site).

  • Is Biden push-polling?

  • Is Richardson campaigning in Florida or just fundraising?

  • Did Team Hillary fumble the rollout of a significant Johnson County endorsement this week by running a letter to the editor Friday praising civil unions rather than marriage?
  • Friday, September 28, 2007

    Forest Whitaker to Iowa City for Obama 10/6

    Forest Whitaker to Iowa City for Obama 10/6

    They won't be able to introduce him as The Next President Of The United States, but they can call him The Last King Of Scotland.

    Forest Whitaker, Oscar's reigning Best Actor for his role as dictator Idi Amin in The Last King Of Scotland, is the Barack Obama campaign's surrogate speaker at the Oct. 6 Johnson County Democrats' barbecue.

    The Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson campaigns are sending their candidates. But Obama, perhaps sticking with a publicly stated strategy of steering away from multi-candidate events, is insted flying solo for a two day Johnson County visit Oct. 2 and 3. Obama will be in South Carolina on Oct. 6.

    Kucinich Votes No On SCHIP

    Kucinich Votes No On SCHIP

    "The perfect is the enemy of the good," Voltaire said, but Dennis Kucinich ignored the lesson this week. The presidential candidate voted no on the the State Children's Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP), joining most Republicans. But it was for a different reason that the costs cited by President Bush, who is expected to veto the bill.

    Rather, Kucinich said in a press release on his congressional web site, he opposed the bill because it wsn't as good as his own preferred plan.
    “I cannot support legislation which extends health coverage to some children while openly denying it to other children,” Kucinich said. “This legislation is woefully inadequate: and I will not support it.

    “Legal immigrant children deserve the same quality health care as other children receive. It is Congress’ responsibility to address the main difficulties that prevent legal immigrant children from gaining access to health care. Today, we did exactly the opposite.

    “HR 676 guarantees full health care coverage for all children. When considering a universal health care proposal, HR 676, the Medicare for All bill, is the only health care plan that addresses three important issues: quality, accessibility, and cost.

    The no vote earned him low marks back home in Cleveland. Buckeye State Blog called the vote "a progressive 'screw you' salute to Ohio's children."

    Kucinich, perhaps uncertain of his chances of being elected president, is running for re-election in Ohio's 10th Congressional District at the same time he's seeking the presidency. He faces three Democratic primary challengers including Rosemary Palmer, who said of Kucinich's vote:
    President Bush vows to veto the bill, and on the other, Dennis Kucinich votes against it because he doesn’t think it is perfect. This is a perfect example of what is presently wrong with Washington decision-making. Polarizing positions work against functional compromise resulting in a government that cannot serve in the nation’s best interest. While fringe politicians like President Bush and Congressman Kucinich rant like petulant children, the nation remains stagnant and desperately needing effective leadership.

    Kucinich is also opposed in the primary by Barbara Ferris, a former Peace Corps executive and congressional aide who also ran in 2004 and 2006, and by Parma, OH mayor Dean DePiero. All three share the same criticism: Kucinich has been spending too much time on his long-shot presidential candidacies and had been neglecting the district. Buckeye State Blog worries that the big field of challengers may split the anti-Kucinich vote, but reports on internal Cuyahoga County politics (incomprehensible to any non-Clevelander) that may consolidate support behind one challenger.

    Grassley For President?

    Grassley For President?

    Around the Iowa blogosphere:

  • Cyclone Conservatives reports on a Chuck Grassley for President "movement." Well, more like a Facebook group, actually.

  • Dien Judge, wo has seen the candidates as many times as I have, writes at Smoky Hollow about their speech mannerisms and doesn't like Hillary's laugh. I remember from the radio days of tape editing: Grassley's vocal pause is an "uh," while Tom Harkin would drop in a lot of "quite frankly"s while searching for the right word. Once we strung a bunch of these together from scraps of tape for fun ("quite frankly, again as I said before quite frankly, I quite frankly believe we should quite frankly...") but it accidentally made it to the air.


  • Congressional Quarterly has its latest look at hot House races. Once again, Iowa is nowhere to be seen. I'm actually more surprised not to see Tom Latham and primary-vulnerable Blue Dog Boswell on there than I am at the absence of freshmen Loebsack and Braley.

  • "Why Tuesday?" asks a site of that name, noting that most of the civilized world votes on the weekend.
  • Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Strategic Vision Poll: Iowa Dems Close

    Strategic Vision Poll: Iowa Dems Close

    OK, here's the numbers:
    Hillary Clinton 24%
    John Edwards 22%
    Barack Obama 21%
    Bill Richardson 13%
    Joseph Biden 4%
    Chris Dodd 1%
    Dennis Kucinich 1%
    Undecided 14%

    Anybody's ball game in Iowa, but not reflective of the national trend. Biden is officially trowing everything he's got at Iowa, and so to a lesser extent is Edwards.

    Here's the catch: the Anyone But Hillary vote is split dead even: a third Edwards, a third Obama, a third rest of the field. If that dynamic keeps up, Clinton gets undtoppable.

    GOP side:
    Mitt Romney 30%
    Rudy Giuliani 17%
    Fred Thompson 13%
    Mike Huckabee 8%
    John McCain 6%
    Newt Gingrich 5%
    Ron Paul 3%
    Tom Tancredo 2%
    Sam Brownback 2%
    Duncan Hunter 1%
    Undecided 13%

    I don't see how The Mitt doesn't win Iowa. Rudy has to throw enough at us to hold on to second. Fred's flavor of the week flower will fade. Huckabee might have a shot at top three is backers of the also-rans move to him, but the blood is so bad between him and Brownback (who's toast) that I don't see it happening. Remember, Republicans don't deal with the viability and second choice stuff, they just vote.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Democratic Debate Liveblog

    Democratic Debate Liveblog

    7:42 PM and hello from an Iowa City debate house party.  Teams Obama and Edwards are also having get togethers here in Johnson County, but Team Clinton invited me first so here I am.  Crowd is still gathering, chatting, ignoring the Obama ad running on "Deal Or No Deal" pre-debate.

    7:58 and the crowd's up to 15 or so; assorted local Clinton supporters including Rep. Mary Mascher.  She hints at an upcoming local activist endorsement.  We've got two crowds around two TV sets.

    Showtime and we switch over hurriedly, bypassing the Bionic Woman.

    No intro at all just straight to Obama.
    How do you end the war?  Obama: I opposed this war from the start (gets grumbles from living room crowd).  Phased redeployment, 1-2 brigades a month.  No military solution.  Russert: will you pledge no troops by end of first term?  Obama: Hard to project.  I'll drastically reduce our presence.  We *should) have all or troops out but no promises.

    To Hillary: why won't you pledge all troops out in 2013?  HRC: I'll try but we don't know what we'll find when we take office.  Dems have pushed hard to change Bush's course.  I supported Biden's plan today.  But Dems don't have the majority (sic) in the senate to get past filibuster.  Bush "height of irresponsibility" to leave troops.

    Edwards can't make that commitment either.  I'll immediately draw down 40-50,000 out.  But embassy and humanitarian workers have to be protected.  3500-5000 troops.  "To me that's a continuation of the war."  Takes shot at Hillary.  Hillary shoots back: "wast majority of our combat troops should be out."  Edwards continues with the break format and pushes back.  "Combat missions mean the war is continuing.  I want to bring this war to an end."

    Russert turns it to genocide; Edwards says don't act unilaterally.

    Richardson: I have a fundamental difference with these 3.  "Their position is changing the mission.  My position is ending the war."  And congress has not done enough to end war.  Russert: how do you get them out in a year?  Bill: thru Kuwait and Turkey, leave some light equipment behind.  Need stability in entire region.

    Dodd: Why are we there - is the continuation of presence making us secure.  No, we're more vulnerable now.  Redeploy, and robust diplomacy.  But Congress has an obligation.  We're not getting to the fundamental power: terminate the funding.  Troops out in 1st term?  Dodd: "I will get that done."

    Biden: "We offered a political solution today, it got 75 votes."  Federal system will end civil war and let us bring troops home.  If there is no political solution I would bring them out, "they're fodder."  But with my plan we get a stable Iraq.

    Dennis: we can get out in three months.  Reconciliation, not partition.  Don't privatize Iraqi oil.  "All troops out by April 2007," Oops. "I'm ready to be president today" gets laughs here.

    Gravel: Vote every day on cloture.  He's next to Hillary and I half expect her secret service agents to tackle him.  She's glaring at him as he bashes her on Iran vote.  She responds: vote gives us options for sanctions to deal with Iran.

    Is it practical to vote for 40 days to vote to cut off war?  Dodd: we'll have lots of chances, but every day is unrealistic.  We need to understand congressional powers and use them.  You may not have the votes, but clarity and leadership are called for.

    Biden: What we voted on was not partition.

    Would Israel be justified in attacking Iran?  Hillary: that's a hypothetical.  Let's look at what we know about Syria.  Israelis took that out "and I strongly support that."  Russert repeats, in house audience grumbles.

    Here's the Dodd Clock:

    Russert: Would you promise no nuclear Iran?  Hillary: I will do everything I can - - diplomacy, sanctions.  We need comprehensive strategy.

    Obama: Iran is stronger than it was pre-war.  Before we launch attacks, we need to understand intelligence.  We don't know all the specifics on syria.  "We are a stalwart ally of Israel" but we need sanctions first.  Rudy G was irresponsible.  We need to talk directly to Iran.  "We've got to talk to our enemies not just our friends."

    Edwards: recognize that Ahmedinajad is unpopular in Iran, push sanctions.  Audience: "He's gonna explain it to us again, folks."  "I have no intention of giving Bush the first step to a war with Iran."  We have a different approach (looking at Hillary)

    Richardson: No nuke Iran and safe Israel are essential.  "I've talked to a lot of these bad guys already."  We don't have the international support for economic pressure.  Says diplomacy about 20 times in answer.

    New Hampshire reporter asks about sanctuary cities.  Would you let these cites ignore fed law?

    Richardson: "did you ask me because I'm the Hispanic here?"  We need a comprehensive fix.  Border protection, "not this silly wall."  Mexico: give yoyur people jobs.  Earned legalization.  Don't deport everybody.

    Biden: there is no funding at federal level for the enforcement, that's why cities ignore the law.  Rudy Giuliani "is the most uninformed person on forign policy ever to run for president."  Gets great reacts even from the Hillary crowd.

    During the sanctuary answer I note that something really technically weird is happening... I recover just in time for Gravel to say "the whole nation should be a sanctuary from the war."

    We're back at 8:42.  Russert puts Dodd on the spot with Bush's "Hillary gets the nomination" comment.  He mock-squirms and gets some laughs.  Russert keeps pushing, Dodd rejects the premise and implication and touts himself.

    Russert to Hillary on health care: "If you made fundamental misjudgements" why should we vote for you.  "Biggest mistake was we didn't take the opportunity" for health care.  And "it's a different time."  "I intend to be the Health Care President" and cites SEIU's bumper stickers...

    Russert: "your bill today could have passed in 1993" and is just like John Chafee's.  She disagrees.

    Biden: In order to get health care you have to persuade 15% of GOP to get on board, and she can't do that, I have experience in doing that.  "I'm not suggesting it's Hillary's fault," but Old Stuff comes back.  "I'm referring to policy," he qualifies, as MSNBC cits to a split screen.

    Edwards: plays the take congressional health care away card, to applause.  Russert: "You've changed dramatically on this issue."  Edwards: "That's true, and so has America." The in-room crowd seems to react more negatively to Edwrads than anyone else.

    Russert hits Obama on the Experience Thing.  Obama: country "needs somebody who can bring people together, and that's what I can do."  Audience: "that's what Bush said."  Obama: I can take on special interests and win.  I'll tell the truth even when it's unpopular, and did I mention I oposed the war in 2002?  Clinton and Edwards deserve credit on health care.  But "Part of the reason it was lonely, Hillary, it was because you closed the door."

    Russert takes a bunch of time talking about Gravel's personal finances, Gravel gets some laughs and gets to mention national referendum.  Then he hits Dennis on Cleveland bankruptcy, Dennis talks about Cleveland's public power and sounds pretty good.  "I put my job on the line."

    It's still elephant in the room time as Russert hits Richardson on nuke spy scandal and all his verbal oopses.  Bill: "I make mistakes, but I deliver."  He re-uses "with me you get both."  Sorry Bill, you only get to use that once.

    The NH reporter: gay marriage.  Edwards: Unlike me, my whole family loves gay marriage -- then the laundry list of everything short of marriage.  Obama: "there are times in our history when I was considered different, or Bill Richadson was."  Feed our children hope and tolerance.  (grumbles of "didn't answer the question" in the room.)  Clinton: talks around it, eventually gets to Hate Crimes Bill.

    At break time, audience members take offense at Russert's "what would you do if Israel bombed Iran" question, with a grumble of "breach of national security" and an implication that maybe ya shouldn't be able to ask that.  Hmm....

    9:08 and we're back with social security and medicare.  Biden, will you consider removing

    social security cap?  Joe: "Yes, I'm probably the only one up here who's going to say that."  Would you raise retirement age?  Biden: no, we did that, raising cap will solve.

    How about you, Hillary?  Clinton: Get back on path of fiscal responsibility, get a bipartisan process with a president who is dedicated to Social Security (with a retro `78 Bush bash).  Russert repeats, Hillary repeats.  Russert: "What do you put on the table?"  HRC: nothing until we get fiscal responsibility.

    Obama thinks lifting cap is preferable to other options.  Young people don't believe it'll be there.  No privatization.

    Dodd won't go as far as lifting cap, but seems open to raising it.  Look at seniors in a holistic way.  Do simpler thinsg, not draconian measures.

    Richardson: don't lift cap, privatization off table.  Russert: "It's not funny money, it's real money."  Is he running? He's got the one-liners.  Richardson drops in his balanced budget amendment support.

    Edwards; we can't grow our way out.  American people deserve truth, too much politician double-talk.  Want's to created a "protected zone" in the mid-100,000s of income.

    Kucinich: lower retirement age, raise the cap.  I just realized Clinton is between Kucinich and Gravel.  Back to Dodd: fixing this will take someone who brings people together to get things done (here I am).

    Clinton jumps in to restate fiscal responsibility and basically says we don't want to put our cards on the table before the negotiating starts.

    Russert: National law to ban public smoking?  Clinton: let FDA regulate but let locals. Obama: I'd prefer local laws.  Biden, Dodd, Richardson, Dennis and Gravel all favor.  John chimes in "and Edwards."

    NH reporter asks about lowering drinking age, gets applause.  Biden: No.  Dodd: No.  Both dart back to talk about other earlier questions.  Dodd and smoking, Biden and Hillary's reluctance to lay the cards on the table re; Social Security.    Richardson: No, mentions treatment.  I'm just startled that this issue was even on the map enough to get asked.  Gravel: "Anybody old enough to fight and die for this country should be able to drink."  Dennis is for 18 and for voting at 16.

    Lightning round?  I HATE lightning round when I'm liveblogging!

    9:32 and Obama asked about "turn the page."  Obama: gets the bullet points out.

    Hillary asked the dynasty question.  HRC: "I though Bill was a pretty good president." 

    Biden, is moveon a positive force?  Biden: on some things, yes.  They have a time clock.  Kucinich asked about Greenspan's $3 a gallon gas tax.  Dennnis: Greenspan said Iraq war was about oil, I said that in 2003.  BUZZ, he's cutting him off.  But Dennis gets the "tall" joke in.

    Raise gas tax, folks?  Gravel: Carbon tax.

    Dodd, ban Chinese toys?  "If you promise not to tell mu children I will."  US would shut those places down in 20 minutes.

    Obama, should you have gone to Jena?  "No because I was in Washington trying to end the war."  I've spoken out on Jena.

    Richardson asked about Boy Scout discrimination, Richardson launches onto war and civil liberties and goes long.  Obama challenges Bill on pace of withdrawal.

    Edwards, more nuke power?  Edwards: no.  Obama: can't take it off the table, store it safely, reduce threats.  No magic bullet on energy.  Kucinich: nuke power very expensive, storage is forever.  Go solar, wind, no more resource wars.  Gravel says the answer is wind power, and volunteers to stand in front of a turbine and debate it (OK I made that last part up).  Hillary doesn't like nukes much unless costs go down and there's a viable waste solution.

    Russert asks the Jack Bauer Ticking Bomb Scenario question.  Obama says no.  Biden says no, the generals hate torture, want him to commit to it.  Clinton: against our values, little evidence it works.  Hypotheticals are dangerous -- have you noticed over all these debates how much she dislikes hypotheticals?

    Russert tries the gotcha, that the time bomb question was from Bill Clinton.  Hillary gets the night's sound bite with "He's not standing here now."

    Dodd and Richardson both agree that torture is bad.  Dodd tried to work in habeas corpus but runs out of time. 

    Russert hits with campaign finance, and should Bill's library publish donors?  Hillary: I sponsored legislation.  But ultimately it;s up to Bill... she looks annoyed at the followup question.  Obama moves to bundling and lobbying.

    How about your haircut, Edwards?  He was the son of a millworker... he seems annoyed too, and I thought we already played the tabloid gotcha round. 

    Obama, what's your favorite Bible verse: Obama cites Sermon on the Mount and "the empathy deficit."  Hillary: Golden Rule.  Kucinich: Prayer of St. Francis.  Edwards: do unto the least of us.  Richardson: Sermon on Mount.  Dodd and Biden and I'm getting behind here.

    Last question from the New Hampshire reporter is baseball.  Richardson finally takes the side of the Red Sox.  Hillary and Biden dare to side with the Yankees before a New Hampshire crowd, and we spent too much time on it.

    10:11 and the living room crowd quickly mutes Joe Biden and goes to the conference call.  Hillary gives props to Jeanne Shaheen.  The conference call audio is rough, she's giving the standard stump speech to a crowd of believers.  The living room crowd ignores the "it all begins here in New Hampshire" line.

    The speech is over, the spinner is on the call, and they lead with the "I'm the one who's standing here" sound bite.  The talk makes it sound like Russert was the opponent, not Edwards, Obama, et al. "Not letting him make her give soundbite answers to complex issues."

    10:19 and folks drift away while I grapple with technical glitches.

    Iowa City Assaults Forum - Liveblog

    Iowa City Assaults Forum - Liveblog

    County Attorney Janet Lyness: Over 30 assaults in last year in downtown area, causing great deal of fear and concern. We've been working behind scenes but want input too.

    We want to tell you what we're doing, increase public dialogue, tell citizens how to help. We're not here to blame victims, city, or law enforcement.

    Police Chief Sam Hargadine: Assaults started August 2006. Sometimes close together, sometimes 40 days apart. We saw things in common. Early on UI police had suspects, but that didn't clear up city cases. We hoped when students left for spring it would stop, but assaults continued through the summer. So we needed to get the word out, updated records, got things out to media, and did all we could to get word out. Assaults still continued. No one has turned us down when we asked for help. It will remain a priority. "Don't you guys spend too much time working on PAULA arrests?" That's inaccurate, we do have to staff downtown but "our primary focus is the overall safety of everyone down there."

    UI police head Charles Green: UI did surveillance in an area and caught one man responsible for 3 attacks, he's incarcerated. Yet it continues. "We worried from the beginning about copycats, and that's what we're seeing." We're launching Night Ride program this weekend. Running 11 PM to 3 AM weekends to "any residence or apartment" within a defined area (basically midtown) to any woman (not just UI students). "We're not seeing a lot of reporting when there is suspicious behavior" said Green, encouraging more.

    Amy Correia, Iowa City council: City and Council takes this seriously. Iowa City funds DVIP and RVAP and this helps bring increased services. In FY07 city funded two more police officers. FY09 budget process is beginning and council needs to hear from public. We get briefed by police chief, and I'm supportive of how they're handling this. Crime Stoppers tip line started in cooperation with other law enforcement. Students petitioned council: "We were pleased to see the type of support from students." In last year we've begun considering late night bus service, and working with UI and Night Ride program. City also assessing its lighting policy in the next month. City Planning department is doing a neighborhood lighting study. We'll be talking with police dept on a Neighborhood Watch program.

    UI student government VP Carole Peterson. UISG held safety forum for women, and made a "safety grant" program which any campus organization can apply for. Student petition got 5000 signatures and a warm welcome from the city council.

    Lyness starts with audience questions. Will city improve lights and night rides? Correia: Need to work with public works on lighting options. There have already been talks with transit staff for partnering or extending UI Night Ride program. We can use transit funds for that.

    What should people do if they see an attack or suspicious behavior? Hargadine: In almost all cases, if there's been any sign of resistance from victim, or any bystander, attack has ended. Also emphasizes importance of accurate descriptions and quick notice. "After the fact there's not a whole lot we can do, we're just there to file a report, and that's frustrating."

    Hargadine notes law enforcement cooperation on sharing resources. Correia emphasized RVAP, DVIP, and she's been contacted by someone wanting to start a citizen neighborhood patrol. Go to the experts who deal with this every day to see how you can get involved.

    Green: Make sure your cell phone is in a quick accessible spot. And even yelling "stop" i you see someone can make them run off. "Make a group of friends that you go out with, and promise you won't leave each other alone." See if local parents can help with night rides.

    Peterson: Would like to see a task force of everyone who can have an influence on this. Lyness: university has Anti-Violence Coalition, meets regularly on these issues. I meet with law enforcement monthly.

    Questions about Night Ride: why didn't past efforts work. Peterson: UI Safe Walk program ended because it was under-used. It's also hard to know who was walking you home (no background checks). By doing this thru UI police people feel safer. Green: UI police will be driving.

    How is word getting out in downtown? Green: We'll take any volunteers. There have been offers to get the info out.

    What if someone who's underage or drinking wants to report? Green :"This is not a Drunk Bus. One person trowing up in that van ends it for everyone." That doesn't mean we'll be testing or anything, but we reserve the right. "If people are so intoxicated to that point, you have to wonder of they're concerned about their personal safety." Hargadine: Alcohol has been involved in most cases but we've never charged victims. Lyness: We have long standing policy of not charging victims, even if drinking underage. Green: Our hands are ted because we don't have anything we can do with severe intox except arrest.

    Will only one pickup point be a problem? Green: resources limited, we have one driver.

    Role of men's responsibility? Peterson: Men need to be part of study. Part of $1 million grant does go to men as allies issues. "It's always important not to minimize it, make it less than it is." Call other men out on degrading disrespectful comments. Correia: Last year in Violence Against Women month (Oct.), an effort to get prominent men in community to do PSAs. Hargadine: "One reason this community is at such an outrage, Iowa City hasn't had to deal with this kind of repetitive crime. It's a matter of how we treat all people, men and women, gay and straight." Green: Greek system is a good way to get men involved, buddy up, keep each other safe.

    More strategies? Correia: "Creating a climate where it's not OK to degrade or demean women in any way, it's not OK to violate someone else." How about mandatory class on consensual sex, targeting men? Peterson: there is some training, cites RA training.

    Ethical standard of "sting" operations. Hargadine: Where we've used decoys we used female officers from IC and other jurisdictions. "Some have been hit on, some have been as;ed 'don't you know there's a problem,' but no one has been attacked."

    Neighborhood association involvement? Correia: There's been some requests from associations for more info. City does offer neighborhood grants.

    Have victims been received in a supportive manner: Green and Hargadine, yes.

    Where can I buy pepper spray? Hargadine: "You do not need a permit to carry mace." Pretty much any sporting goods store. Green "Defending yourself is as much mental as physical." UI offers a class, much of it is mental prep. Make sure you have practiced with a device, often even with cops, they get hit as well.

    Hargadine: "It's not somebody who just stopped in town, it's somebody who's been in our community for a year." At least four perpetrators, one responsible for "many of them." Green: Get the word out that this is not "fun," it is a sexual assault.

    How will intoxication level be determined for Safe Ride people. Green: no breath tests, if people can navigate and talk, they'll get a ride.

    What are police doing to ACTIVELY protect women. Green: Safety is a shared responsibility. If people choose not to take advice, they increase risk. "Insure means guarantee, and there's no way we can GUARANTEE a person's safety." We'll do all we can. Hargadine: We've released some information in the past to protect department's integrity. "Are we gonna do it this weekend? I'm not gonna tell ya." We've diverted officers from other crimes. "It's taken up a lot of my time, it's what we've been working around the last year." Since people started looking out for each other, that's curtailed it quite a bit. No attack in a couple weeks. Green: we need to watch out something else doesn't become vulnerable.

    #1 thing people can do to help? Hargadine: "Always be aware of your surroundings." Green: "and report." Correia: be aware of community attitudes, of how you could help support programs like RVAP. Send message that Iowa City won't tolerate this. Lyness: Look out for each other, call 911 even if it just looks suspicious, give locations and any description.

    Florida Leapfrog: Dems Getting Ready To Sue Dems, As GOP Seeks Converts

    Florida Leapfrog: Dems Getting Ready To Sue Dems, As GOP Seeks Converts

    Senator Bill Nelson escalated the nomination calendar rhetoric Tuesday, as Florida faces Saturday's DNC deadline to back down on a Jan. 29 primary or risk losing all the state's Democratic National Convention delegates.

    "We're disappointed in (DNC chair Howard) Dean's response,'' Nelson said in a written statement. "He's rejected at least three compromise solutions. Now there is no choice.  I'm preparing a lawsuit."

    Capitol Hill paper The Hill reported: "Dean said none of Nelson's proposed compromises were acceptable because they contravene DNC rules, which allow contests prior to Feb. 5 in only four states: Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina."

    Another Floridian, Hillsborough County Democratic activist Victor DiMaio, has already filed suit, arguing that Florida Democratic voters are being disenfranchised in the process of choosing a Democratic presidential candidate.

    Florida Republicans, who started this situation by moving the primary from Feb. 5, are now seeking to capitalize on Democratic chaos and frustration.  The St. Petersburg Times reports on a Florida GOP mailer that asks, "Ready to change parties?"
    "Thanks to their egos and political infighting - you, as a Florida Democrat, may lose your right to vote," reads the mailer. "No delegates. No votes. Because of the Democrat rules, Democratic presidential candidates say they won't campaign in Florida - they'll only raise money here."

    "There is hope. You'll find it with the Republican Party of Florida."

    The mailer does not note that, under Republican party rules, the state will sacrifice half its Republican National Convention delegates for going early.

    The top six Democratic candidates signed an early state pledge not to campaign in the leapfrogging states.  The Miami Herald tries to figure out what "campaign" means, and notes that Bill Richardson even declined to send a note of acknowledgement when invited to a county party event.  The Republican contenders have not been asked to make a similar pledge, and are continuing to actively court Florida voters.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Nader Running Again? As Democrat?

    Nader Running Again? As Democrat?

    The "Ralph Nader Democratic Caucus Campaign Draft Committee" is advertising for campaign staffers on the craigslist web pages for Des Moines and New Hampshire.

    The Des Moines ad offers $1000 a week for full-time work between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15 and seeks "8 experienced (non-profit or political) organizers full time, and 12 field interns (6 part and 6 fulltime)."

    The ads list a New York address for the committee but offer no web site other than Nader's Wikipedia entry.

    Nader entered the New Hampshire Democratic primary in 1992, and won a handful of Iowa Democratic caucus delegates in Johnson County in 1996 (though those results were delayed till after newspaper deadlines and, in effect, scrubbed from the historic record). He ran as a Green in the 1996 and 2000 general elections, and as an independent in 2004.

    Dems Get House 89 Candidate

    Dems Get House 89 Candidate

    From the in box:

    Farmer and community activist Larry Marek of Riverside announced today that he will seek election to House District 89, which covers Washington County and a portion of Johnson and Jefferson Counties.

    “As a fifth generation family farmer, Iowa has been a great place to live and raise a family. From agriculture to good jobs to cultural and recreational opportunities, I’ve worked to improve the quality of life in our community by helping neighbors and families,” said Marek. “I’m excited about this opportunity to serve as the next State Representative from District 89.”

    As a member of the Soybean Promotion Board, Marek was on the fore front of the biofuels industry over five years ago. The board invested in critical research and tests that found new uses for soybean oil, including biodiesel. Today, Iowa is the world leader in biodiesel production with 260 million gallons annually. Marek is still involved in the organization serving as director of district 9 representing 11 counties in southeast Iowa. He has also served on the state executive committee.

    Concerned about job losses in Washington County, Marek was an early supporter of the Riverside Casino & Resort because of the potential for 900 new jobs. Marek now serves on the Washington County Riverboat Foundation, which awarded over $4 million last year to local charities and organizations.

    This is an open seat in `08 with the retirement of longtime GOP Rep. Sandra Greiner. Covers a little of the turf I ran in years and years ago -- Hills and Lone Tree.

    Tuesday's ctrl-c, ctrl-v

    Tuesday's ctrl-c, ctrl-v

    Who out there is a keyboard shortcut person and who's a toolbar person? Anyway, of note this AM:

  • Which of yesterday's two big endorsements is going to matter more? I mean, I like Gordon Fischer and all, and I'm sure he'll be of great backstage help to Team Obama, but does anyone outside the Des Moines beltway and Iowa blogosphere really care? Does the average caucus goer even know who Gordon is?

    On the other hand, Evan Bayh is the most popular, powerful Democrat in Indiana and right now looks like Tom Vilsack's top competition for Clinton 44's running mate. Bayh could actually take a deep red state and turn it blue (I'm sure you all remember that map of Indiana counties on Election Day 2004 that Bayh's folks kept showing off during his abbreviated run last year).

  • Also, check the sidebar on that Register Gordon Fischer story. Ron Paul, showing his true colors, gets some hard right support:
    Ivers, a research scientist from Webster City, joins Paul Dorr, Paul's Iowa field director, at the core of a largely volunteer campaign staff. Ivers was Iowa chairman for Pat Robertson in 1988 and Iowa chairman in 1996 and 1999 for Pat Buchanan.

    The Buchanan tie makes sense, if you view Paul's war opposition as Buchanan-style isolationism and nativism. Throw in a strong dash of Christian right home schoolers: Dorr, of Ocheyedan, is best known as Iowa's top anti-school bond consultant.

  • Craig Crawford at CQ says early Florida, combined with the early state pledge not to campaign there that The Big Six all signed, locks the state in:
    Clinton’s rivals will have no chance to undercut the New York senator’s runaway lead in Florida polls: She was ahead of the field by 29 percentage points in the latest Quinnipiac University survey released Sept. 13.

    When an expected 2.5 million Democrats vote in Florida’s primary, it might be just a “beauty contest,” but it looks like Clinton will be its queen.

  • The New York Times looks at the city's former mayor and finds him, well, weird. The bit I have to share:
    Giuliani used to begin speeches with raspy imitations of Marlon Brando as Don Corleone — as if everyone knew “The Godfather” as well as he did. Often enough, people wondered if he had a sore throat.

    I would never do that outside of the Family, it would be disrespectful.

  • McCain sees himself as the Comeback Kid. Actually, the analogy is Kerry, not Clinton 42.

  • And I missed a city council forum last night. This PC article doesn't shed much light; candidates all agree assaults are bad, etc.
  • Monday, September 24, 2007

    The Mess We're In: James Zogby in Iowa City

    Zogby Quietly Praises Obama, Richardson

    James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, praised the foreign policy skills of candidates Barack Obama and Bill Richardson while talking with Iowa Independent and several audience members following an Iowa City talk today.

    "Obama has an incredible understanding of the issues," Zogby said. "This is just an incredibly smart guy."

    Zogby was less positive when asked about Hillary Clinton's statement that the U.S. is more secure now than before the Iraq War. "It's not a sellout so much as what they think passes as smart politics," he said. "It's a bad calculation based more on the politics of convenience, and I don't trust that instinct."

    Zogby didn't offer these observations in his address to acrowd of 125, many of whom munched on free pizza, and the Arab American Institute does not make endorsements.

    Zogby told Iowa Independent he's had no contact with Republican candidates -- "I'm a Democrat and that's known"-- but others in the organization have talked with the Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson campaigns. He said the Arab-American community used to lean three to four percent Democratic, but since 2002 has shifted to roughly a 44 percent Democratic to 28 percent GOP margin.

    Zogby was making his second Iowa City appearance of the year. He was overshadowed on the Middle East front when he visited in April -- the same week as former president Jimmy Carter.

    Zogby also cited the influence of the Israel lobby on Middle East policy debate, differentiating the coalition of neoconservatives and evangelicals from the mainstream of Jewish-American opinion In a question and answer session, Zogby said "Partly ignorance, partly fear" prevents discussion. He said it's not the Jewish community that stifles discussion, "It's the perception of fear about it, more than it," likening the lobby to the Wizard of Oz, an ultimately powerless "man behind the curtain" cultivating fear. "It's anti-Semitism on the part of politcians who think the Israel lobby is a monolithic thing -- I used to call them anti-Semites for Israel," he said, noting that both Arab Americans and Jewish Americans want peace and hold similar views.

    More highlights from the talk, in liveblog format.

    The introductory DVD outlines the work of AAI. Founded in 1985, they got a Palestinian rights report to the Democratic convention floor in `88 -- didn't go further, but put the issue on the table. And putting the issue, and the Arab-American community, on the table is what this visit is about, after all we are Iowa.

    Zogby leads with the bullet points.

  • We're operating in a region we don't know anything about.

  • Because of what we don't know we have pursued bad policies.

  • Because of the bad polices we are unsafe and unliked.

  • And despite all this, this issue will not be talked about unless you make it happen.

    Iraq, of course, will be talked about, but Zogby implies the talk will be too simplistic. Because of the "experts who aren't experts" on 24 hour news, we've discussed this in sound bites. Cites discussion of Lebanon.

    "I know Lebanon intimately, I'm Lebanese. This 'Cedar Revolution' represents one half of the county, we haven't heard from the other half." He likens our knowledge to the tale of the blind man and the elephant. But if you don't reflect the conventional wisdom, you don't get asked back on the shows.

    Post Saddam Iraq: "America wanted to celebrate and didn't want anyone raining on the parade."

    Our basic understanding of the Middle East is based on stereotypes. American history teaching: "The Arabs were always just a picture of a Bedouin on a camel." Teaching was Eurocentric with other civilizations as a sidebar. "So we saw other people's stories as incidental. Their history was ignored, their cultures were ignored, and the impact of colonialism was equally ignored."

    Image of Israel in film "Exodus" as "the cowboys on the frontier." The Arabs were "the irritant, the natives, like the Indians." But we learned in America that we had to deal with the history we destroyed with genocide -- only after we abolished the 'threat.' The Israeli story made sense to us, we wrote and supported the story -- and shaped our policy, that and oil shaped our policy for 50-60 years. So we ignored Arab history as if it didn't exist.

    Region carved up based on post-WWI imperial needs: "new nations out of whole cloth." The US inherited mantle from British, and wanted it to stay as it was. When that didn't play out, we made other judgments. Got caught up in Cold War politics. One of the great mistakes the US made -- instead of backing national liberation, we took the other side almost instinctively. Made enemies of Egypt, Syria, Palestinians, etc.

    Domestic politics "Those who say the Israeli lobby isn't powerful aren't breathing the same air as I am." Ask the candidates, they sputter. A new factor: ideology and religion. Evangelicals cannot be ignored, in some ways they are more decisive. Pat Robertson was gloating over the end of days during Israel-Lebanon war. "If anybody is to denounce anybody, they ought to be doing that with Pat Robertson." I'm Christian and I do not find my faith in his thinking. "It's a little scary that someone wants the end of the world to come and is looking for ways to make it happen."

    Neocons and religious right share many assumptions - "infantile fantasies of absolute good and evil" and an apocalyptic ending. "Will alone in the hands of those that are good will triumph." This is destructive. "They went into Iraq based on that kind of thinking." Ordinarily smart people said Iraq would be a "cakewalk," democracy would flower, etc. "That's nuts, I'm sorry. We knew it then, but it was not conventional wisdom." "The BIG lie was that it would be a cakewalk -- because that's the hole we're in."

    After 9/11 we started to ask questions: "why do they hate us." "But as quick as they asked they had an answer." People of the middle east LIKE our values, and wanted to be like us in many ways, but felt rejected by us. "We grew up admiring you, and we felt like jilted lovers," one man told Zogby. But the networks turned to the conventional wisdom "experts." Networks brought on "experts" who'd written books about Saudi Arabia without ever going there.

    The US looked at every reason other than: "we had behaved badly in that reason for a long time." But in attempting to explain the discontent with America, we got told "we don't want apologists for terrorism. There is no justification for the evil of 9/11. But that's not the question we were asked. We were being asked what was fueling the discontent." We have to operate in that world -- we're losing lives in that part of the world, and we have to know how people think.

    Because we had the wrong answers, we got the wrong solutions: a war with Iraq. Everyplace we've gone we've left chaos. "Lebanon is divided down the middle, Palestine is in tatters." Our approval rate in Turkey is 7% -- two points below bin Laden. "We are at an all time low in our standing in the Middle east. Don't take solace that bin Laden is just as bad." Iran, Syria approval running way ahead of us, five or six times.

    Yet our solution is mor ethreats against Iran, which only makes Iran happy, makes them stronger. "The policy debate is immune to self-correction." Iraq study group report ignored. Elements of it still make sense, and we need a renewed group "the smart guy's guide to how we get out of this mess."

    It's not right-left, it's a problem for both sides. When Obama suggested diplomacy, the right pounced, but when he called for deliberate withdrawal from Iraq the left pounced.

    So what do we do? "Number one, stop digging the hole deeper." The ways to change the course are there. "If the leaders will not acknowledge that they've gotten us into a hole, the people need to, and we cannot have another election where the middle east is the elephant in the room that isn't talked about." It will smother us in the long run if we don't act now to get it right.

    Bush 41 was a skilled diplomat, knew how to use pressure. "But they used pressure to get nowhere." Clinton 42 knew all the details and had the passion, but didn't didn't translate into using it. He refused to use pressure or publicly engage. "He could do it, he just didn't." Bush 43 has the vision of Middle East democracy, but it becomes "idle fantasy" if you do nothing. Those three need to be brought together: vision, pressure, and understanding.

    You (the people) need to start doing it in Iowa. Mentioned leapfrogging Florida and Michigan: "Michigan's caucus system is nowhere near as sophisticated as Iowa's." "I wish I was an Iowan so I could be at the caucuses. You get to talk to them every day. You get to do for us what we can't do for ourselves." Iowans need to organize, show the candidates we take it seriously and care about more than ethanol.

    Don't make candidates take a pledge, as Carter suggested. YOU commit, to raising this as an issue. "Change does not begin with leaders, they failed us. It is up to us, the people, to hold their feet to the fire and demanding they make it happen." "They need you more than any of the votes in Michigan that ain't gonna count for them anyway."

    Q and A time after close to an hour of talk.

    Asked directly about the John Sununu-Jeanne Shaheen race in New Hampshire, he deftly avoids committing but notes he's a Democrat.

    Iraqi refugees: 2.2 million plus 1.5 million internal. "And we did it, all by our lonesomes." We are in danger of having Iraq depopulated of middle class and Christian populations. "This will haunt us for a long time to come" with instability in nearby countries, Jordan, Syria, as far as Egypt.

    "We're ill-suited to be an empire, the rivalries we care about are Friday night football." But talking about this can raise people's consciousness. After 9/1, people wanted to know and actually took it seriously. But we were't able to get our word out. People think they already do know, "received knowledge" that's wrong. Telling people they're dumb is a losing argument, but play to American core values of fairness. "We're not treating people right and it's hurting us."

    "They want America to love them, they want America to respect them." Public diplomacy, doing what is the best of us, makes a big difference, citing Pelosi Syria visit.

    Why does Gaza look like a concentration camp? "Because it is, and it has been for many years, I used the term Indian reservation even in the best years of the peace process." The problem in Palestine is there are two duly elected leaders, the president and Hamas. "Hamas behaved badly when they had the opportunity to govern. The tactics used to disrupt the peace process were horrific, but people voted for them to throw the bums out." They picked a fight they couldn't win.

    The treatment of Palestinians by Israel would be condemned if it were any other nation. "We who let it happen ought to be more ashamed than those who did it." But Hamas asked with false bravado by bailing on agreements. "The Palestinians never learned how to seize the high moral ground. Instead they behaved stupidly. But that does not excuse what's happened to the Palestinian people. The entire Palestinian people are paying this price today."
  • Bayh Backs Hillary

    Bayh Backs Hillary

    Today's horse race headline: almost candidate Evan Bayh to endorse Hillary Clinton. He had all the machinery in place, including a couple dozen staffers and an always at the ready Election Day 2004 map that showed all the Bush counties he carried in his Indiana re-elect, but then surprised everyone by -- rather candidly -- admitting he couldn't break into the rock star tier. Take a trip down memory lane to his 10/1/06 Coralville visit that has a great regular guy football moment.

    Other clippings:

  • Sioux City Journal of all people looks at caucus dates and college semester schedules.

  • This Washington Post piece is no doubt circulating sotto voce from the other campaigns:
    Both (Obama and Clinton) are significantly underperforming against the generic Democratic edge in the presidential and even against party identification," Lake and Gotoff wrote.

    But IMHO the multi-way race favors Hillary even though she's no one's second choice. I don't have the exact math but here's a rough approximation: There's a rock solid 40% for Clinton, dominated by the Vote For A Woman vote, and 60% pretty much ABC. If the race is straight on Clinton vs. Not, Not wins. But Not is split almost dead down the middle between Edwards and Obama, let's say maybe 25-25 with the last 10 scattered among the rest. (Again, all this is approximate)

    So basically the only way anyone other than Hillary gets nominated is if either Obama or Edwards gets knocked out fast and all their support flows to the survivor. If both survive to Uber Tuesday, with one staggering like Wes Clark did in his last weeks, they split the vote, just like the fizzling Clark hurt Edwards by siphoning off anti-Kerry votes in `04. Actually, the dying Howard Dean did the sam ething to Edwards in Wisconsin. They divided, Kerry conquered with under 50%.

  • Chris Dodd cancelled on Prairie Lights on Friday for Senate votes. This New York Times piece gives us a taste of what we would have had: presidential campaign as rehabilitation for your father. Maybe Bush should have tried the write a book approach instead of, oh, starting a war with Iraq...

  • War support is fizzling even in the rah-rah world of country music. Come back, Dixie Chicks, is all forgiven?

  • NPR has a neat series on the first campaigns of the presidential candidates -- Bill Richardson's failed congressional race in 1980, Huckabee for Senate 1992, etc.

  • And Florida is really, really defiant:
    State Senator Steven A. Geller, the minority leader, used the news conference to rail against Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which he called “rogue states” for putting pressure on the presidential candidates to skip campaigning here for a January primary.

    “If they choose not to campaign here and they lose? Not our problem,” Mr. Geller said.
  • Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Leapfrog Update: Florida Won't Budge After All

    Leapfrog Update: Florida Won't Budge After All

    Florida Democrats have announced by email that they're staying with a Jan. 29 primary that violates the Democratic National Committee's schedule.

    "There will be no other primary," state party chairwoman Karen Thurman wrote in the email, shooting down the idea that the Jan. 29 primary might be a non-binding "beauty contest" with delegates chosen in a later event. "We make this election matter," wrote Thurman. "Not the DNC, not the delegates, not the candidates, but Florida Democrats like you and me voting together. We make it count."

    "Make It Count" appears to be the Florida party's rallying cry and is the theme of a new web site,, that celebrates Florida's DNC defiance.

    One county leader took a direct shot at Iowa:
    "On Jan. 29, 2.5 million Floridians are going to go to the polls, and that's more telling than any caucus in Iowa," said Miami-Dade County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia. "We'll be damned for it by some, but I think we're doing the right thing."

    The top six Democratic candidates have signed a pledge not to campaign in calendar-violating states, but that depends on what the definition of is is. Florida Democrats are asking for an exception for their Oct. 26-28 state convention, scheduled long before the state's GOP legislature and governor moved the primary.

    The early states were less than supportive. In a letter to Florida party chair Karen Thurman this week, the chairs of early states Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina wrote:
    This specific one-time request from Florida will be acceptable, if, and only if, Florida timely submits a Delegate Selection Plan that the Rules and Bylaws Committee Staff of the DNC would recommend for compliance.

    That would mean submitting a plan to the DNC by Sept. 30 that provides for selecting delegates on Feb. 5 or later.

    If the candidates don't come to the state convention, Florida Democrats see a silver lining. Miami-Dade chair Joe Garcia again:
    Garcia points out that high-profile supporters could replace them, such as New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's husband, former President Clinton.

    "Who knows, we may get surprised and Obama sends Oprah down here."

    USA Today reports a down-ballot factor in Florida's unwillingness to move:
    Florida will vote on a constitutional amendment during its primary election that could significantly cut property taxes. Democratic party leaders felt pushing their delegate selection plan past Feb. 5 would have affected turnout in the ballot question.

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    Students Confront War, Irony at 'Die-In'

    Students Confront War, Irony at 'Die-In'

    "And the peaceful protester said, let there be life," said emcee Brian Shearer, as 75 bodies symbolically rose from the dead after a five-minute "die-in" at a peace rally Thursday on Iowa City's Ped Mall.

    The University of Iowa Anti-War Coalition event was part of a national day of campus protests calling for, in the words of speaker David Goodner, an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all troops and contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan, no residual forces, and reparations to the war-torn countries.

    "With the presidential candidates here in Iowa, we're in the hot seat," said Goodner. "If Congress and the president won't end the war, we have a duty as citizens of a privileged country to agitate and hit the streets."

    Before they did just that, speaker Lara Elborno linked the Iraq war to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "For many in the Middle East, the U.S. and Israel are seen as one occupying force," she said. "If the U.S. can support a fair and just policy and end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, we can redeem ourselves in the eyes of the world."

    The rally had an enthusiastic and festive mood, and more cowbell. Things got more somber at the moment of the die-in, as the tuba player played "Taps" across a suddenly quiet Ped Mall. "They aren't getting up in Baghdad," Shearer said as people stood.

    But during the march, Shearer was all kinetic energy, leading the chants via bullhorn in a cadence and tone reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine.

    Iowa City has always been a clash of 1960s modeled leftism and Animal House apathy, and the marchers drew mixed reactions that seemed based less on war stance and more on rhetorical style. At this frat house, a studying student barely looked up, but the march was also dotted with flashed peace signs and honked horns from passers-by.

    The march hit a few ironic notes as the politics of protest met the commercial culture of downtown Iowa City. At one point the march narrowed to single file through a sidewalk sale. Marchers adapted with a new chant that rhymed "shopping" with "bombs dropping."

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Tired of Campaigns? Try Parliament

    Tired of Campaigns? Try Parliament

    A new Rasmussen poll says 56 percent of likely voters believe that the debates and other activities so far in "Campaign 2007-2008" have been "annoying and a waste of time."  Odds are slim that many in that 56 percent have actually watched a debate, but we'll let that slide for now.  More interesting: "72% of voters would favor a proposal to shorten the Presidential campaign season so that no one could begin campaigning more than a year before Election Day."

    The pesky little First Amendment might get in the way of that. But people who think the election season is too long could look to our parliamentary cousins across the sea. Parliamentary democracies are famous for fast general elections, which are called and held in a matter of weeks.

    An apolitical independent's dream?  Hardly.

    First, let's look at what "called" means. The party in power can, to some extent, schedule the polling date to its own advantage. To pull off a snap general election, there needs to be a permanent, party-based political structure with candidates at the ready. No participatory primaries, just a party meeting with a list handed down from central headquarters.

    There's none of that all-American "I vote for the person -- not the party" ticket-splitting stuff, which independents love, in the parliamentary system. To vote for Gordon Brown for prime minister, you have to vote for your local Labour candidate for MP, even if he's a college professor with a beard and the local Tory MP is a nice soft-spoken fellow who looks good in a sweater.  And party discipline is much stronger within Parliament, with power more tightly concentrated in leadership.

    But for the folks who are tired of politicking, here's the worst part: A close result could mean an indecisive "hung Parliament" and another election, as the Brits suffered through in February and October 1974.  Would people who are "sick of all that campaigning" have enjoyed re-running Bush vs. Gore in, say, July 2001? OK, maybe in Palm Beach County.

    Paper ballot advocates also might need to note that the hand-counted systems favored overseas work because there's usually just one office on the ballot: Member of Parliament. Try hand-counting a two-sided Iowa general election ballot with all those soil and water commissioners and the yes or no lines on 10 judges sometime.

    The most interesting difference to me, at this point in the cycle, is the timing of leadership selection.  We nominate candidates, then have a  general election.  But in a parliamentary system, the process is reversed.  The defeated party's leader resigns the morning after the election (unless it was a close defeat like Labour leader Neil Kinnock in 1987 -- and don't say that name near a Joe Biden supporter). Then the process of choosing a new leader starts -- just after the general election, not before the election.  In effect, parliamentary systems nominate their top of the ticket candidate four to five years before the election.  And the earlier our nomination process pushes back, the more closely we resemble that model.

    Still, there's some big advantages to parliamentary democracy. Do you really think George W. Bush could have handled that late night C-SPAN favourite, "Prime Minister's Question Time?" Hear, hear!  And he would have lost a vote of confidence ages ago.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    CyCons Gets It Wrong On Loebsack, Braley

    CyCons Gets It Wrong On Loebsack, Braley

    I highly recommend Cyclone Conservatives as one of the more interesting, better written GOP blogs. (He's also good enough to include "Generic Democrat" as an option in his poll.)

    But he gets this one wrong looking at the 1st and 2nd CDs:
    Both districts, at this point in time, are uphill battles but cannot be viewed as complete write-offs.

    So... where are the candidates? If these were competitive seats, top-tier Republicans would have been lining up to challenge freshmen before last Christmas.

    Cy continues:
    Braley is a much more savvy campaigner and better fundraiser and lets all be honest, David Loebsack should have never won and is essentially a fluke.

    The real fluke is that Jim Leach held on in Democratic territory as long as he did. Cy acknowledges the nature of the district, but then really drops the ball:
    Loebsack's district is tough for Republicans, but Loebsack is also a very weak candidate.

    Well, he was a stronger candidate than Bob Rush (1996, 1998) and Julie Thomas (2002), who the D-Triple-C luuuuuved for their self-financing capacity. And he was stronger than the long-ago challengers: John Whitaker (1986; now a legislative winner in a tough seat), Jim Larew (1980; now Gov. Culver's legal eagle) and Dick Myers (1978; still a major player in Iowa politics even in retirement). All these folks took on Jim Leach and lost. Only Bob Rush even carried Johnson County (barely).

    But a college professor with a beard succeeded where all those A-list candidates failed. Dave Loebsack brought Leach-voting Democrats home by successfully making the Leach-as-Bush-enabler argument. Sure, there was an element of right place at the right time. Yet it was Dave Loebsack who saw the opportunity when no one else did. He's doing the leg work in the district, and so far there's deafening silence from the GOP.

    Mauro Testifies On Senate Leapfrog Bill

    Mauro Testifies On Senate Leapfrog Bill

    Iowa Secretary of State Mike Mauro testified in Washington Wednesday on a Senate bill that would end the frontloading and leapfrog competition between states seeking early presidential nominating contests.

    S1905, sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Lamar! Alexander, R-Tenn., and Joe Lieberman, Former Democrat-Conn., would create four regional primaries in early March, April, May and June of 2012. The order would be determined by lot and then rotated in future cycles.  The bill exempts Iowa and New Hampshire, who would remain first.

    "Iowa and New Hampshire do an excellent job in vetting candidates," Mauro said in prepared remarks before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. "Iowa and New Hampshire voters display an uncommon command of issues, a sophistication about the contest and its candidates, and an understanding of history and eagerness to participate, that clearly sets them apart," he added in a textbook defense of the caucuses.

    Experts and senators agreed something needs to happen before 2012.  "The Presidential nominating process is too important to our democracy to allow the pell-mell scramble to continue," said committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who has cosponsored the bill.  "I believe this bill would resolve the most difficult and pressing problems without adversely affecting any of the national parties, states or territories, or the voters."

    However, there seems to be little consensus on what exactly should be done.  Ranking minority member Robert Bennett, R-Utah, said a constitutional amendment may be needed.  And Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, opposes a regional system, saying large states would dominate the regions and have too much influence.

    Sponsor Lieberman opposed part of his own bill.  When Lieberman ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004 (back when he called himself a Democrat), he adopted an unsuccessful Screw Iowa strategy and skipped the caucuses.  Today he again had a Screw Iowa stance, opposing the Iowa-New Hampshire exemptions.  "I am concerned these two states will continue to have a disproportionate impact on the outcome of the nominating process," he said.

    A rival bill by Rep. Sander Levin of leapfrog state Michigan would also set up regional primaries, but would not have exceptions for Iowa and New Hampshire.  Michigan Democrats, most prominently Rep. Levin's brother Sen. Carl Levin, have openly and frequently said their goal is to end Iowa and New Hampshire's early state status.

    Edwards Makes Four At Johnson County Dems BBQ

    Edwards Makes Four At Oct. 6 Johnson County Dems BBQ

    John Edwards is confirmed for the Johnson County Democrats annual fall barbecue, as the Oct. 6 Iowa City event rapidly ramps up to cattle call proportions.

    Edwards is the fourth confirmed candidate, joining (in order of confirmation) Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson. Joe Biden is the only candidate so far who has sent regrets, due to a long-standing Delaware commitment.

    My Own Big News

    My Own Big News

    When you strip away all the Hallmark hoopla, it's really quite simple to get married in Iowa (provided the male to female ratio of the couple is 50-50). Just takes a couple IDs, a few days, two witnesses, 35 bucks for the license and 50 bucks for a magistrate and you can do it.

    So 3:00 Friday... we did.

    Romantic in its extreme simplicity. Didn't tell anyone who wasn't on a need to know basis beforehand. We didn't want anyone to feel left out, so we left EVERYONE out. Didn't even tell the kids till after the fact. But now that I told the other bloggers, I need to post this so I don't get scooped on my own wedding.

    We'll do something fun with more people... later.

    UPDATE: Thanks for all the comment love, folks. Our witnesses were not the cats, but rather Koni's sister Lori and Brian Flaherty, best known to most as fearless leader of the JCDems. Lori's baby Owen -- now officially my nephew -- was also on hand.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Loebsack vs. Peace Left: Reports Exaggerated?

    Loebsack vs. Peace Left: Reports Exaggerated?

    Buzz on the Eastern Iowa peace left that Dave Loebsack is miffed with them is getting a firm dismissal from the congressman's office, and from some peace activists.

    "The Congressman is not in any way upset with people opposed to the war," Loebsack spokeswoman Gabby Adler told Iowa Independent Tuesday night.  "He's repeatedly encouraged constituents to stand strong in their efforts to hold the Bush Administration's feet to the fire."

    The dustup that's been circulating on email lists since the weekend came as Loebsack joined 78 other House members in signing the House Progressive Caucus pledge not to support any more Iraq War funding except for troop withdrawal.  The effort started in mid-July with three California Democrats - Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters.  "Just this week eight more signed on," said Adler.

    While peace activists are pleased Loebsack has signed on, some reported he was not happy.  The flap started Friday after Loebsack and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., met with peace activists in Coralville and Loebsack reported he had signed the House Progressive Caucus letter. 

    That afternoon, Maria Conzemius wrote on a blog at the Iowa City Press-Citizen site: "You will remember that Rep. Loebsack was irritated with some on the Left who demand absolute proof that he will do the right thing, when he feels that he has been doing the right thing."

    But others dispute the characterization, such as Iowa City activist Mona Shaw.  "I have no reason to believe the Congressman is mad at me or any other member of the peace community," Shaw told Iowa Independent.  "It would be contrary to my experience for a legislator to be upset to be asked to do something consistent with their position on an issue."

    Charlotte Martin, a professor at Mt. Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, attended the meeting with Loebsack and Hoyer.  "I really didn't think they were feeling brow-beaten," she wrote in an email to several peace lists.  "Impressing (Conzemius) was not my primary goal."

    "I was persistent but also, I think, persistently respectful," MArtin wrote.  "I was trying to get Mr. Hoyer, who is responsible in large measure for strategic and tactical decisions by the House Democrats, to shed some light for me on what has been puzzling me--namely, why the Democrats, if they really want to stop the war, do not use the strategy of showing the Republicans in Congress and the President that they won't pass a bill that funds more fighting, that they'll only pass a bill that funds a safe withdrawal of our troops."

    "When I heard that there wasn't enough agreement among the Democrats to get a more definitive ending of the war started, I said (only this once and pretty quietly), "I guess that's why I'm part of the angry Left."  I also said, "You have your role in all of this, Mr. Hoyer, and I respect that even when I am very angry.  I hope you understand that I have my role too, and that if I dial down the volume in my insistence that we get this done, no one else [no one outside of the peace activists, I meant, obviously] will turn it up, so I need to keep playing my role, just as Dr. Loebsack always thanks me for the fact that I keep pushing him on this issue."  What I thought he said in response was something like 'oh, sure, don't back off for a minute.'  But I guess Maria didn't get that impression at all."

    Loebsack spokeswoman Adler was not at the meeting, but said she heard it was "a frank discussion, and one more piece of the effort to end the war.  Signing the letter was one more part of Congressman Loebsack's effort."

    Adler said the position in the Progressive Caucus letter would not have changed any of Loebsack's votes on war funding.  "He's committed to changing the direction," she said.  "He's been working with his colleagues in the Progressive Caucus and the Out of Iraq Caucus.  We need to begin a safe and secure withdrawal, and in order to do that you need to fund that withdrawal.  The Congressman believes that should start immediately."

    An analysis of Iraq war voting patterns shows Loebsack, along with fellow Iowa Democratic freshman Bruce Braley, among the largest and second-strongest anti-war group in the house.  They voted for war deauthorization and against funding without a withdrawal deadline.  Only a small group of about eight members, including presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, take a not another penny, immediate defunding position.  Iowa's other Democratic House member, Leonard Boswell, is in the second-weakest Democratic cohort, opposed to deauthorization but supportive of timelines.  This position trails only a half-dozen Democrats who are actively pro-war.

    Longest Lame Duck Ever

    Longest Lame Duck Ever

    Suffering from writer's block this AM and all I have for you is national clippings. Here's a John Murtha gem:
    House Appropriations Defense subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) said Monday that he expects that Republican lawmakers will begin abandoning President Bush’s Iraq policy after the GOP picks a presidential candidate next year.

    “As soon as the primaries are over, you’ll see Republicans start jumping ship,” Murtha said in remarks at the National Press Club.

    The earliest nomination in modern times lengthens the lame duck tenure. Once the GOP has a nominee, in about five months, Bush becomes increasingly irrelevant. Except for, well, his power to send more troops, nuke Iran and stuff.

    Also, Hillary running to the right of most everyone on Israel:
    One sentence from the Hillary Clinton press release of September 10 stands out. (Curiously, the the statement is not up on Clinton's campaign website.) In staking out her position on "Standing with Israel against terrorism," Hillary Clinton defends Israel's right to exist with "... an undivided Jerusalem as its capital."

    So, candidate Hillary Clinton is running to the right, not only of former President Bill Clinton, but also of the centrist Israeli Government. In fact, Hillary Clinton's press release says nothing at all about a two-state solution, about a Palestinian state, or even a peace process. (Palestinians do, though, exist as terrorists and/or as promoters of incitement).

    And Mitt wishes you a great Gay Pride Weekend in this image file. (Offer expires 2002.)

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Richardson at JCDems BBQ

    Richardson at JCDems BBQ

    This is that third confirmed candidate I was talking about Thursday, as Brian Flaherty announces:
    Democratic Presidential candidate Gov. Bill Richardson will attend the Johnson County Democrats Annual Fall Barbeque on Saturday, October 6.

    Mr. Bill joins Chris Dodd and Hillary Clinton.

    Leapfrog Update: Florida Backing Down; Candidates Off The Michigan Ballot?

    Caucus Date Leapfrog Update: Florida Backing Down; Candidates Off The Michigan Ballot?

    The Detroit Free Press reports that John Edwards may raise the stakes in the fight against states that violate the Democratic National Committee's primary/caucus calendar -- by withdrawing his name from the Michigan primary ballot.

    The move would be especially tough for Edwards. He is expected to do well in Michigan, and his national campaign manager, former House Democratic whip David Bonior, hails from the state.

    At the Barack Obama rally before the Harkin Steak Fry Sunday, Obama advisor David Axelrod was noncommittal when asked if his candidate would make the same move.

    "We don't have a full understanding yet of what the approach of the party's going to be, so I think it's a little bit premature to talk about it," Axelrod told Iowa Independent. "Obviously, we've signed the early state pledge, and we're going to honor that. We'll see what the implications of that are."

    Last week the Michigan political parties submitted lists of potential candidates to the secretary of state. Candidates have until Oct. 9 to withdraw from the Jan. 15 rogue primary. The eight debating Democrats and nine top Republicans (debate participants plus Fred Thompson) are currently listed.

    While Michigan seems to be forging ahead in its stated goal of displacing Iowa and New Hampshire, Florida Democrats are backing down -- sort of. The Miami Herald reports the state is likely to move this week to make the Jan. 29 primary a non-binding beauty contest:
    Florida Democrats will instead decide some time after Jan. 29 which presidential candidate is the winner of the state's delegates to the national convention.

    One suggested plan is to have Democrats vote by mail, although another proposal that may win out calls for Democrats to hold a state convention sometime after Feb. 5.

    Sunshine State Democrats face a Sept. 29 deadline to move delegate selection to Feb. 5 or later or lose all their national convention delegates.

    Floridian Ron Gunzburger of Politics1 says Florida will get to have it both ways:
    Based upon the way the media covers the early contests, the Florida primary -- with or without delegates, or, now, with (GOP) and without (Dem) -- will still get extensive national media coverage because it would be too complex to explain this hybrid primary in a 14-second sound bite.

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Long Walks and Signwar Cleanup

    Notes from the road home:

  • Spent some time on the handshake line with some young folks in Jimmy Carter campaign gear.  They were uncommitted but eager, and looking for a brush with fame.  They'd shaken Obama's hand before I arrived (as his Secret Service team was loading him up in the distance), but Hillary Clinton left the line about 50 feet before she would have gotten to them.  They settled for handshaking host Harkin.  Meanwhile, up toward the horizon, Bill Richardson was still working the rope.

  • The campaigns appeared to have been duly diligent in cleaning up after the sign war along the roadsides of Indianola.  Biden had the most signs left, but he was after all the last speaker and I saw staffers with stacks of signs.

    At Clinton HQ there was a large pile of blue signs with white and red.  Mostly Clinton, but a few Dodds and Richardsons mixed in.  I suspect the problem wasn't hanky panky but similar color schemes and tired people.

  • Team Clinton was also loading up a big UHaul full of stuff at a parking lot near a school.  Speaking of parking, a lot of folks, mostly young, were walking up to a couple miles from the balloon field toward town.

  • And north of Indianola a TV crew was doing a standup.  Apparantly the actual field of the Steak Fry location wasn't picturesque enough.  Not enough corn.  But the faux field was Grant Wood rolling perfect.
  • Decideds Drifting Away, Most Stay

    Decideds Drifting Away, Most Stay

    As the last speaker, Joe Biden, takes the stage, a few of the decideds (mostly Team Clinton) are dfting away.  So is some of the press corps here in the filing shed.  But there's still a lot of undecideds: one woman was spotted cheering John Edwards through a Hillary megaphone while wearing a Biden shirt.

    Speaking of shirts, the story on the multi-colored Richardson shirt is they're color-coded by issue.  "We have orange ones for sportsmen, like blaze orange," says a staffer, and indeed the back is "Sportsmen for Richardson."  "There's brown for vets, like khaki, and purple... I don't know,  must be wine drinkers for Richardson."

    Clouds have rolled in as well.  Biden wraps, the PA plays "September by Earth Wind and Fire, the press shed is rapidly vacating.

    Harkin Steak Fry Pictures and Hoopla

    Harkin Steak Fry Pictures and Hoopla

    As Chris Dodd (speaker 4) continues, it seems we'll get the condensed version of each stump speech. (He does get points for actually saying "we're here in part to suck up to Harkin."

    All the candidates are sitting on stage in the sun while the others speak, which is an interesting setup.

    It looked like most everyone got fed before the show started.  The warm-up acts -- the House delegation, Patty Judge -- got largely ignored.

    Here Dave Loebsack appears in Patton pose, only with pumpkins.

    It wouldn't be a Demopalooza -- or a Demstock if you're a little older -- without some silly hoopla.

    The snowman against global warming must be feeling some warming under the suit.  Wasn't he at the YouTube debate?

    The PigMobile is not in sight but Iowans For Sensible Priorities has the upside down bus.

    A one person donkey suit is better than two -- because no one has to be the back end.

    Team Biden's theme for the day is Experience, as witnessed in the sign war on the way in.  Here at their table they translate experience into corn (they left Dodd off...)

    In an interesting touch, Team Richardson is wearing shirts in a variety of pastel colors wide enough to stock a whole season of "Miami Vice."  Catchy, but makes them harder to spot in the crowd than, say, the navy blue Obama army.  Blus, the guy at the Common Cause booth notes, it must have cost a mint to print -- all th emore reason for campaign finance reform.  Give him points for staying on message.

    Team Dennis Moves Table

    Team Dennis Moves Table

    Where's Dennis, you ask? Not invited, says the volunteer at the Dennis Kucinich table. The Harkin folks say the invitation was extended to campaigns active in Iowa; Team Kucinich says Dennis has been here "several times."

    Launching into the talking points -- single payer health care, impeachment -- the Kucinich volunteer says the non-invite was an effort to exclude Kucinich from the "debate" (sic-there's no debate, just speeches) with the nation press present.

    Team Tennis did go ahead and get a table, but say they were placed on the far end of the field. So in a guerilla (his word) action, they picked up and moved, next to Iowans for Sensible Priorities on Birddogger Row.

    Harkin Steak Fry: Obama Pre-Rally

    Harkin Steak Fry: Obama Pre-Rally

    Hillary seems to have gotten her team up the earliest and installed the most signs lining every highway into Indianola.  Many are between the sidewalk and the street - a no-no but all the campaigns seem to have done it.  It's just one day anyway.  Obama seems to be a close second, but Team Edwards has the most posts with actual cheering bodies.  Richardson has only a couple scattered signs.  The entrance to steak fry proper is lined with a cheering Hillary gauntlet.

    I grab the press pass and hustle back across Highway 92 - there's significant traffic backup on the two-lane route -- for the Obama pre-rally.  I arrive to the tune of Van Halen's "Right Now," the staff must be unaware that Sammy Hagar is a notorious Republican.  (Everyone knows that REAL Van Halen is Diamond Dave Van Halen, anyway.)  The rest of the music is off the standard Obama pre-rally R&B Oldie CD: Jackie Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, "Shout" in apparently the Isley Brothers version. Disco one-hit wonders McFadden and Whitehead, "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now."  Then live drum and bugle corps as speech time draws closer.

    The intros start at straight up high noon.  They're discussing the logistics of golfcarting people back across the highway to the steak fry proper and giving props to the bird-doggers, um, I mean "community organizations."  Team Obama has a plan to stay here, practice some cheers, and enter the steak fry en mass.

    The staffers say 3000 RSVPs and 2500 bodies expected -- didn't look like that many.

    It's perfect fall day - sunny, slightly breezy, only a slight agricultural odor.  Only problem is my press passes keep twisting in the breeze and need untangling.  Journalist Choked By Lanyard, Film At 11. 

    The Obama bling is moving quickly at the sale table at the gates.  60% or so of the crowd seems to be outfitted in the navy blue shirts with that rising sun log.  Do people other than Iowa politicos recognize that logo yet?

    The stage has a small main platfrom and a long catwalk, with people up close to it.  Wonder if the Secret Service likes that.  Some of the mid-and-up level staffers have the little S-3 Secret Service tags, those precious political backstage passes.

    12:38 and up pulls and SUV and up goes a cheer…they hand him the mic right as he walks out of the van to the minimalist Next POUS intro.

    People shouting "I love you" and Obama saying "Love you back."  A real touch the hem of his garment moment.  Says speech'll be short - "I got all of you persuaded." 

    "People are sick and tired of being sick and tired of Bush."  Change, new page in history, etc.  Now zooming in on the war.  Recites the litany of Bush policy; "It is time to get our troops home, restore our moral standing in the world."  "Take care of our own people," etc.  This is The Obama Stump Speech, compressed.  Like he said, as he hits the domestic policy bullet points, he's got these folks persuaded.

    Not so veiled criticism -- don't settle for someone who's been in Washington a long time and can work with the lobbyists.

    "I will always tell you where I stand, I will always tell you what I think.  I am reminded every day, if not by events than by my wife, that I am not a perfect man."  The cadence builds as he moves into the work hard, volunteer hard, inspire the troops rap.

    He winds down with the oft-told story - says he's going to tell it again at Steak Fry Proper - that ends with the: "Fire it up, ready to go" chant.  About 12, 15 minutes of speech.  The chant rehearsah seems to go smoothly.

    UPDATE: About two minutes after I post, they pull off the drill.  Obama, surrounded by the press scrum and the Secret Service, leads the line of troops chanting "I-O-W-A, Barack Obama all the way" right by the press filing shed.  Press are pushed back a notch so Obama can shake some young hands.  I catch up with Frank Best of Columbus City -- who helped me out years ago when I ran for the legislature.  He's on board with Obama: "I was for Edwards for four years, and I switched two weeks ago."