Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama on Air in Arizona

First and Goal on the Arizona 1 Yard Line

Some fresh Kos polling in Arid Zone:
Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 10/28-30. Likely voters. MoE 4% (No trend lines)
McCain (R) 48
Obama (D) 47

Early voters (17 percent of sample)
McCain (R) 42
Obama (D) 54

If the 2010 election for U.S. Senate were held today for whom would you vote for if the choices were between Janet Napolitano the Democrat and John McCain the Republican?
McCain (R) 45
Napolitano (D) 53

A dead heat in his primary state of residence (with eight houses it's hard to tell) and losing for re-election to his Senate seat.

We've got the ball and we're driving:
In what could be a final ignominy for McCain, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the campaign would also begin airing ads in Arizona, a state McCain has represented in Congress for 26 years. Plouffe said the race has tightened in Arizona, Georgia and North Dakota.

Georgia?!? North freakin' DAKOTA?!?
Research 2000 for Daily Kos. (10/14-15 results)

McCain (R) 47
Obama (D) 46

You betcha North freakin' Dakota.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rednecks for Obama

Not Quite Getting It Yet, But Making Progress

Obama lead steady on Iowa Electronic Markets

Obama lead steady on Iowa Electronic Markets

Barack Obama continues to hold a steady lead on the Iowa Electronic Markets, with little movement since the final debate two weeks ago.

Wal-Mart Theft Index and AC/DC

Steal This Album: AC/DC Meets Wal-Mart

How do you know times are tough? The stuff folks steal from Wal-Mart changes:
In normal times, shoplifters will grab CDs, DVDs, and smaller electronics items, strip them of packaging in the quieter aisles, then walk through security scanners undetected.

But over the past few months, workers are discovering that even thieves are having a hard go of it during this wretched economy. “Now I'm finding lots of things like food, diapers, tampons, over-the-counter pharmacy stuff like kid's cough medicine and insulin.”

Angus Young of AC/DCIf you want to steal the new AC/DC album, you'll have to steal it either from an on-line torrent or from Wal-Mart. The band made an exclusive deal, and the new album "Black Ice" is only available at the home of the yellow smiley face.

It seems like an odd match: AC/DC's self-proclaimed hedonism paired with Wal-Mart's small town cultural conservatism. It was Wal-Mart who pushed for the parental advisory "Tipper stickers" more than any other retailer way back in the `80s. It was Wal-Mart who pressured record companies into offering butchered "clean version" disks, not always clearly labeled as such but sometimes good for unintentional comedy. Even the uncompromising Kurt Cobain, just before his death, gave in and agreed to change artwork and song titles to get Nirvana's "In Utero" into America's largest retailer.

Wally World isn't above politically censoring musicians, either; check with Sheryl Crow on that one. She made a lyrical reference to buying guns at Wal-Mart and got yanked from the shelves.

But AC/DC, for all their rowdy image, aren't truly "controversial," not when "Hells Bells" is stadium rally music at football games. The band is aggressively apolitical, so Wal-Mart's track record on labor, environmental, and cultural issues wouldn't cross their minds. "Come on, come on, listen to the money talk," as they once said.

Maybe Wal-Mart and AC/DC aren't so far apart after all. The alcohol-soaked, testicle-obsessed, nudge-nudge, wink-wink world view of the Brothers Young and Brian Johnson is actually a pretty conservative, non-PC, pre-feminist outlook, with schoolboy-clad Angus Young as The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up.

It goes without saying, of course, that they nevertheless kick ass, even as they age into their fifties.

Enough people still shop at Wally World, now the single largest music retailer and the only shopping option in vast rural stretches, that it debuted at Number One on Billboard's charts, selling a whopping 780,000 copies. That's huge by modern standards and topped the latest "High School Musical" outing by about three to one. Proving that there's more aging headbangers than Disney-obsessed tweens.

Or perhaps it proves what Dennis Miller once said of Steely Dan: all their fans are over 50 and can't figure out how to download it for free.

Thursday clips

It's Intrepid Ibex Day

If you're a Linux geek you'll know that's a big deal. If not: new Ubuntu distribution is out. I may have to wait a couple days to geek through that.

  • Just try to read this without getting emotional: 109 year old woman, daughter of slave, votes for Obama. And she doesn't look a day over 107.

  • But in bad news for Obama: Space Alien Endorses McCain. Yes, the Weekly World News is back.
  • Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Fallon's Backhanded Backing of Boswell

    Mr. Subliminal: Fallon's Backhanded Backing of Boswell

    Ed Fallon fired up the I'M for Iowa email list Tuesday, saying he plans to keep a campaign pledge and vote for his former primary opponent, Congressman Leonard Boswell.

    So far, so good. Fallon has been attacked in the past for a lack of party loyalty. A long-since renounced Ralph Nader endorsement from 2000 became a major, perhaps decisive, issue in his primary loss to Boswell.

    But then Fallon continues. "The Des Moines Register’s editorial board also recommends supporting Boswell." He then includes a link to the "endorsement".

    "Iowans deserve more from 12-year incumbent," blares the headline. "After 12 years of light accomplishment and wrongheaded votes, Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell doesn't deserve to return to Congress," reads the text. The Register, which to the surprise of many backed Fallon in the primary, calls its own endorsement "a weak nod" and states that Boswell only got the endorsement because Republican Kim Schmett had failed to make a case.

    One can almost hear Fallon as Kevin Nealon's old Saturday Night Live character, Mr. Subliminal, uttering the subtext between the Register's lines, as the paper calls on Boswell to take a last term pledge:
    Both the Democratic and Republican Parties should line up credible, energetic candidates (here i am) to run in 2010, people who are capable of developing deep expertise on issues (here i am), are willing to hold the government and themselves accountable (here i am)and have the potential to be leaders on the national stage (here i am).

    "Many people have told me they plan to write-in my name," Fallon takes the trouble to note. Without using the word "don't," he says, "As promised, I plan to vote for Boswell when I go to the polls on Election Day."

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Iowa Dems hold edge in voter registration and absentees

    Iowa Dems hold edge in voter registration and absentees

    Democrats continue to hold nearly a two-to-one edge in absentee voting in Iowa with a week to go until Election Day.

    Statistics from the Iowa Secretary of State through Monday afternoon show Democrats with 218,000 ballots requested and 168,000 cast -- either by mail or in person at a satellite voting location. Republican requests are at 130,000, with 96,000 cast. No party voters have requested 112,000 ballots and returned 76,000.

    Official Iowa Voter Registration Form (from Iowa Secretary of State)The Democrats' apparent 88,000-vote edge is more that George Bush's 10,000-vote margin of victory in Iowa four years ago -- but then, John Kerry won the early vote, too, only to lose on Election Day.

    Voter registration in Iowa has topped 2 million for the first time, and, while voters with no party affiliation are still the single largest group, Democrats hold a 5.5 percent edge over Republicans. Current active registration is just under 2,001,000. 34.9 percent are Democrats, while 29.6 percent are Republican and 35.5 percent are registered with no party.

    The voter registration statistics run through Saturday's deadline for traditional voter registration. Voters may still register using the new election day registration process, which requires ID and proof of current address. This is Iowa's first general election with same-day registration.

    Going into the 2004 presidential election, state voter registration was at 1,965,000. Both parties were at 31 percent, with Republicans holding a narrow, 4,000-voter edge. George Bush carried Iowa that year by just under 10,000 votes.

    Party percentages normally drop in the run-up to a presidential election, as the newest voters tend to register with no party affiliation. But this year, Democrats have actually gained a half a percent since June at the expense of Republicans, whose percentage share of the electorate has decreased. No party percentages have held steady.

    Democrats have an edge in four of the states five congressional districts, trailing only in western Iowa's fifth district. The Democratic registration edge is biggest in eastern Iowa's second district.

    The state's hottest congressional race is in the 4th District, where Democrat Becky Greenwald is challenging incumbent Tom Latham. Democrats have a 9,000-voter registration advantage there.

    Statewide, fewer than 1,000 voters have taken advantage of changes in state law that allow Green and Libertarian registration.

    Obama to Des Moines Friday

    Obama to Des Moines Friday

    Democratic nominee Barack Obama will visit the Des Moines area Friday for a public rally, according to a campaign press release that said details were pending.

    Polls show Obama with a solid Iowa lead, but Republican John McCain has not given up on the state, as McCain and running mate Sarah Palin campaigned in Iowa over the weekend.


    Some Stuff To Read That I Didn't Write

    Yeah. It's been a little busy lately.

  • CQ changes several race ratings. All movement in the Dem direction except John Murtha, who apparantly insulted his own constituents.

    Assorted Obama worship:

  • A nice piece of writing about Obama as family man.

  • Counting chickens too soon here

  • And yes, there's actually a piece that compares Obama and Ubuntu Linux.

  • Speaking of Linux, the Codeweavers site is running a free Lame Duck (as in W) software special today. Their Crossover program lets ya run Window$ ware on Linux... but the site seems to be overwhelmed on the traffic. Post-election I'm planning to step up the Linux geek posts, so you've been warned.
  • Big Ten Poll: Obama up 13 in Iowa

    Big Ten Poll: Obama up 13 in Iowa

    A Big Ten poll released Monday shows Democrat Barack Obama with a 13.5 percent lead over Republican John McCain in Iowa.

    The poll is in line with other surveys showing Iowa with a solid Democratic lead, yet the Repblicans continue to fight for the state, with weekend visits from McCain and running mate Sarah Palin.

    The survey, conducted Oct. 19-22, shows Obama at 52.4 percent to McCain's 39 percent, with 5.5 percent undecided. The margin is well outside the poll's 4.2 percent margin of error.

    Obama's growing lead is attributed to increased support from Independents. In an August Hawkeye poll, independents leaned to McCain, but in the new Big Ten survey, Obama holds a 12 point lead with independents.

    "The negative advertising run by McCain in Iowa over the last few weeks may have contributed to his lower favorability rating," said UI political scientist David Redlawsk, director of the Hawkeye Poll.

    Obama also has a slightly stronger edge with his own party than McCain. Obama holds 94 percent of Democrats, while McCain has support from only 87 percent of Republicans.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Iowa Senate Poll: Harkin 57, Reed 41

    Poll: Harkin 57, Reed 41

    Despite an under-funded, nearly invisible campaign, Republican U.S. Senate challenger Christopher Reed is polling 41 percent to incumbent Tom Harkin's 57 in a new Rasmussen poll.

    Reed appears to be holing the Republican base vote, despite dissent in GOP ranks and a lack of support from the state party, simply by being Not Tom Harkin. He performed nearly as well as Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who had 44 percent in the same survey to Barack Obama's 52 percent.

    The poll was conducted Thursday, the same day Reed called Harkin the “Tokyo Rose of al Qaeda and Middle East terrorism” in a debate. Rasmussen's previous poll, a month earlier, showed a similar margin, with Harkin leading Reed 54 persent to 40.

    In other findings, Rasmussen found Governor Chet Culver, not on the ballot until 2010, with good or excellent marks from 45 percent of Iowa voters, while 22 percent rate the governor's performance as poor.

    Monday Clips

    Monday Clips

    Time to clear out the tabs:

  • Followup on that uncontested races post last week: Ballot Access News reports 40 percent of state legislative races nationwide have only one major party candidate.

  • CQ predicts a poor third party presidential year. "McKinney and Barr just aren’t very good candidates,” says a guy who worked for... Mike Gravel?!?

  • Is McCain Dr. Evil? Dr. Evil threatened to blow up the world; John McCain threatened to bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.

  • And what do geeks want at election season? Healthcare and faster broadband, it says here. As for me, WHY does the new Ubuntu distribution come out five days before the election?
  • Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Season Ends on Smallest Farm

    Season Ends on Smallest Farm

    The forecast calls for 31 tonight and 28 tomorrow night, so today I picked the last harvest of the Smallest Farm -- a bag of basil -- and made my first homegrown pesto in years.

    There's a few volunteers popping up that won't survive. A hot pepper plant by the compost pile actually produced two peppers, and there's a tomato plant sprouting too. Enough stuff fell ripe off the vines that I may have a decent garden next year without doing anything. (A long time ago I got volunteer sunflowers one year from mulching with gerbil litter.)

    The second season spinach and lettuce planting got wabbitized. I'm close to ready to re-till and mulch with the fall leaves, but no time Nine Days Out.

    It's too windy to rake today but I did learn that cardboard yard signs fly farther than paper. Three of my four signs crossed the street and one went a full block, but my Flip Yes sign is nowhere to be found. And I was just going to blame a drunk student (we live on a bar crawl home). So next time you blame someone for stealing signs, consider the elements. And don't forget to take them in next Friday for Halloween.

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Republicans Tacitly Conceding Presidency

    Ship Sinking, Rats Deserting

    The GOP meme of the late week is reminiscent of 1996, when they scuttled Bob Dole. The know McCain is toast, they know they're taking big losses in the house (see their own, leaked, "Death List" here), and with six Senate seats near-guaranteed takeovers, their only hope is the filibuster.

    Check these matching quotes from embattled Republican incumbents:

  • "Our country and our state do not need one-party rule. Of course, I would feel differently if it was Republican Party rule." Gordon Smith, Oregon

  • "If I lose this seat, and one party has control across the board, then you’ll see changes." Norm Coleman, Minnesota. One would hope, Norm, one would hope.

  • "These liberals want complete control of government in a time of crisis. All branches of Government. No checks and balances, no debate, no independence. If [Hagan] wins, they get a blank check." Ad for Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina

    All three are trailing.

    Now, to get that taste out of your mouth, a shot of Obama:

    With the challenges and crises we face right now, we cannot afford to divide this country by race or class or region; by who we are or what policies we support. There are no real or fake parts of this country. We are not separated by the pro-America and anti-America parts of this nation - we all love this country, no matter where we live or where we come from.
  • Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Reed calls Harkin Tokyo Rose

    Well, Chris Reed sure got some attention now, didn't he.

    Reed, an Iowa Republican considered to have little chance of unseating the four-term incumbent in the November election, referred to Harkin as the “Tokyo Rose of al Qaeda and Middle East terrorism” in a conversation between the two for airing on Iowa Public Television.

    O. Kay
    has the play by play.

    Sounds like a sure entry in Worst Person In The World to me. The Republicans would cut off his funding Michele Bachmann style -- if they has been giving him any funds to begin with. From the comments at Sporer (update: apparantly Yepsen, the moderator, posted it first; it was tape-delayed):
    After the cameras were turned off, Harkin calmly told Reed: “you’re a nice young man and I thought you had a political future ahead of you but that just ended your political career right there” and walked away. Reed said nothing.

    Ted himself calls it "the most specific, truthful and damning attack that any of our Republican candidates have ever delivered to Harkin during a campaign." The comments split between that take and this: "The Tokyo Rose comment ended it for him..... that and pissing all over the Iowa GOP for leaving him with no support whatsoever."

    Yepsen: "I’ve covered politics in Iowa for 34 years and I’ve never heard a candidate make that kind of serious charge about an opponent." Yeah, this kinda tops "totally nude dancing?!?" Who here remembers that one?

    From Team Harkin in the in box, subject line "Vile":
    As someone who has proudly worn the uniform of our country and who has served the people of Iowa in the United States Senate, this is a disgraceful attack. It has to end. It has to end today.

    In perhaps a first for Team Harkin, the message actually names Reed.

    Little reaction yet in the Dem blogosphere, probably because this race is so safe that no one was really aware that there even was a debate... or an opponent for that matter. "Harkin's on the ballot? Has it been six years already?"

    My guess is that the attack backfires by reminding Democrats that Harkin actually has an opponent.

    Graham Says Florida, Iowa Close

    Graham Says Florida, Iowa Close

    Former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, visits with a volunteer at Democratic headquarters in Iowa City Wednesday.
    Former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, visits with a volunteer at Democratic headquarters in Iowa City Wednesday.

    Iowa and Florida both represent strong chances for Democratic pickups in the presidential race, but both states remain competitive, former Florida Sen. Bob Graham said Wednesday in Iowa City.

    "I think Florida is going to go Obama, but it's going to be very competitive," Graham said. "Florida may be a little more tense than Iowa. It's a state that takes a lot of effort to go Democratic." Nominee Barack Obama was in Florida Tuesday, and Graham gave an introduction at the event.

    "Obama said to tell you his appreciation and the importance of Iowa" to his nomination and the general election, Graham told volunteers and staffers at Iowa City Democratic headquarters.

    "Iowa and Florida are both still yellow for undecided on the CNN map," he said.

    "Florida has gone Republican four of the last five elections," said Graham, who then added a qualifier: "Well, there were actually two times it went Democratic." He said the disputed 2000 Florida result remains a sore spot and a motivator for Democrats in Florida and nationwide.

    Florida and Iowa are both early voting states, and Graham said Florida Republicans were suppressing votes by cutting early voting hours from twelve hours a day down to eight. "It's hard for working people to go vote on a Tuesday," he said, adding that statistics from the first two days of Florida early voting showed a Democratic lead of 58 percent to 35 percent Republican and 7 percent independent.

    Graham was, briefly, a fixture on the Iowa political scene. He spent two weeks in the state in the summer of 2003 running for president, but ended his campaign long before caucus night when fundraising fizzled. "We had an absolutely fantastic two weeks," he said of the RV tour of the state with his extended family, " and we think we might have gotten a few votes."

    Wednesday's visit to Obama headquarters in Iowa City was Graham's first campaign stop outside Florida this election season. He was in Iowa City on a business trip and planned to visit Cedar Rapids on Thursday.

    "In my five runs for office," said the two-term governor and three-term senator, "I was never asked as a candidate during the campaign about the issue that became the major issue during the term of service. So the thing you're really voting for is judgment."

    "The challenges this next president will face, you have to go back at least to 1932 and FDR to have equivalent challenges," Graham said.

    Other States Have More Uncontested Races Than Iowa

    Other States Have More Uncontested Races Than Iowa

    Iowa Democrats may be kicking themselves for not finding a candidate in state Senate District 28. True, the rural stretch of Nebraska border between Sioux City and Council Bluffs is solidly Republican... but you never know what can happen.

    Who would have figured that, just before the election, GOP incumbent James Seymour's 2002 arrest for soliciting prostitution would come to light?

    Democrats can call that one a lost opportunity. But by and large, Iowa's major parties did a better job of filling spots on the state legislative ballot than parties in other states.

    Seymour is one of 21 Iowa legislative candidates, including one open-seat Senate candidate, who have no opposition at all. Another two have opponents who have dropped out but remain on the ballot, and seven have independent or third party opponents only. That translates to 17 percent of races with no on-the-ballot choice, and 24 percent with only one active major party candidate.

    But that's better than other states. Ballot Access News reports that over half of Illinois legislative races have only one candidate on the ballot, 78 percent of Georgia state house races have only one candidate on the ballot, and only 18 percent of Massachusetts state house races have a Democrat vs. Republican contest.

    Presidential nominee Barack Obama and Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean have adopted a "50 state strategy" of competing everywhere, even in traditionally Republican areas. The strategy paid off with three special election wins earlier this year in open U.S. House seats, and has put some unusual states into play in the presidential race.

    And long-shot candidates win sometimes; who would have thought a college professor with a beard could have toppled Jim Leach in 2006? But still, some races just fall between the cracks.

    Unopposed Democrats
    House District 22: Deborah Berry, D-Waterloo (won a primary challenge)
    House District 24: Roger Thomas, D-Elkader
    House District 25: Tom Schueller, D-Maquoketa
    House District 30: Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville
    House District 34: Todd Taylor, D-Cedar Rapids
    House District 38: Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids (Republican opponent dropped out)
    House District 42: Geri Huser, D-Altoona (won a primary challenge)
    House District 48: Donovan Olson, D-Boone
    House District 78: Vicki Lensing, D-Iowa City
    House District 88: Dennis Cohoon, D-Burlington

    Unopposed Republicans
    Senate District 2: Open Seat -- Dave Mulder retiring, GOP nominee Randy Feenstra was also unopposed in the primary
    Senate District 26: Steve Kettering, R-Lake View
    Senate District 28: James Seymour, R-Woodbine
    Senate District 30: Pat Ward, R-West Des Moines
    Senate District 32: Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale
    House District 5: Royd Chambers, R-Sheldon
    House District 6: Mike May, R-Spirit Lake
    House District 51: Rod Roberts, R-Carroll
    House District 82: Linda Miller, R-Bettendorf
    House District 97: Rich Anderson, R-Clarinda
    House District 98: Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia

    Candidates with Inactive Opponents on the Ballot
    House District 35: Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha
    House District 79: Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton

    Candidates With Third Party Opponents Only
    Senate District 4: Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg ("Grassroots For Life" opponent)
    House District 15: Brian Quirk, D-New Hampton (independent opponent)
    House District 46: Lisa Heddens, D-Ames (Libertarian opponent)
    House District 66: Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines (Green opponent)
    House District 77: Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City (independent opponent)
    House District 90: John Whitaker, D-Hillsboro ("4th of July Party" opponent)
    House District 93: Mary Gaskill, D-Ottumwa (independent opponent)

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Loebsack Miller-Meeks Debate

    Loebsack Stands by Record, Miller-Meeks Attacks Congress

    "I'll put my record up against anyone's," first-term Rep. Dave Loebsack said in Tuesday night's 2nd Congressional District debate in Cedar Rapids, as his Republican opponent, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, attacked a "do-nothing" Congress.

    In closing remarks in the KCRG-sponsored debate, Miller-Meeks criticized Loebsack for voting with the Democratic leadership "98 percent of the time" and for accepting political action committee money. "America is not divided," Miller-Meeks said, "Congress is divided."

    Loebsack said that despite Miller-Meeks' contention, he had never taken a no PAC money pledge, and that he listens to his constituents. "I've been back to the district every weekend, except for the times I went over to Iraq and Afghanistan," said Loebsack, citing trips to the war zones he made as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

    "You didn't listen to your constituents on the bailout bill," Miller-Meeks retorted.

    The candidates clashed on Social Security and health care. Miller-Meeks favored a move toward at least partial individual accounts on both fronts. Loebsack endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's health care plan, and said any move toward privatizing Social Security was risky. "Right after he was re-elected, George Bush pushed this risky scheme, and it was rejected by the American people," he said.

    Panelist James Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette cut to the chase and asked about Miller-Meeks' nickname for Loebsack, "Do-Nothing Dave." "We haven't seen leadership... when it comes to flood relief or the bailout bill," said Miller-Meeks.

    "As a freshman, I think I've accomplished quite a lot," said Loebsack, citing the $4.6 billion Midwestern Disaster Tax Relief Act he cosponsored with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley that was included in the revised bailout plan.

    At that point, Miller-Meeks tossed out a well-rehearsed "You're no Chuck Grassley" line.

    The two-candidate format in a TV studio, with questions from journalists rather than the public, made for a more formal debate than the previous four-way debate in Coralville. Longer responses gave the major party candidates more opportunities to flesh out their proposals.

    Green candidate Wendy Barth and independent Brian White participated in the earlier debate, but were not invited by KCRG. Barth liveblogged her responses to debate questions from an Iowa City coffee shop.

    Loebsack took many opportunities to mention communities in the southern tier of the district. "I've been to Ottumwa 41 times," he said, citing Miller-Meeks' home town.

    Loebsack also named Obama four times, and Republican nominee John McCain once. Miller-Meeks did not mention McCain's name.

    Iowa Independent's Lynda Waddington contributed to this report.

    No Daily Kos Diarists On McCain Plane

    No Kos Diarists On McCain Plane

    Why did Time comumnist COLUMNIST (but let's leave the typo, I'm sure Team McCain sees him as such) Joe Klein get kicked off the Straight Talk Express? There was some hemming and hawing, but finally:
    Campaign spokesperson Michael Goldfarb responded that "we don't allow Daily Kos diarists on board."

    Thanks for the perfect setup. Mikey.

    Barr Makes Open Pitch for Protest Vote

    Libertarian Barr Makes Open Pitch for Protest Vote

    From the in box, this speaks for itself:

    It is now clear: John McCain cannot win the election.

    There is not one reasonable poll suggesting that he has a chance. While Republicans have long dominated absentee ballot collections and early voting, this year, this is not the case.

    So the next question America needs to ask is do we want the socialism and one-party corruption of an Obama administration, or the free-markets, low taxes, small government and more personal freedom of Bob Barr?

    The contrast could not be more stark. Monday evening, on The Lehrer News Hour, Bob was clear on the issues. He offered a vision for our nation's economic future. He contrasted his views with those of his opponents and when it was over, it was clear that only Bob Barr has the courage and guts to take on our national problems and lead us for the next four years.

    In the 13 days until the election, it is clear that momentum is gaining for this campaign.

    For one, many Republican recognize that John McCain will lose. If they are principled conservatives they are beginning to ask what will become of their party in the future. The moderate to liberal wings are not saddened by a McCain defeat.

    If a principled conservative wants to have his or her voice heard in both political parties, they should vote for Bob Barr. A vote for Barr will be counted as a protest against the Bush/McCain big spending policies.

    Millions of Republicans are frustrated by the failures of the McCain campaign. We need to win their votes.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    2nd District Debate Liveblog

    2nd District Debate Liveblog

    Here's the second 2nd CD debate. I'm watching it like regular folks on TV; no time to drive to Cedar Rapids.

    Only two candidates this time: Dave and MMM. Barth is liveblogging her responses. Bruce Aune promises to be firm on time. MMM wins the toss and elects to kick so we start with Dave and the economy.

    Loebsack: We need another recovery plan. Focus has to be on jobs and infrastructure. Not just roads and bridges -- schools and sewers ("mundane" but important to local govts.)

    MMM: Any stimulus package is deficit spending. Repatriating funds, mentions capital gains tax cuts, corporate tax cuts.

    Dave: Infrastructure and jobs will help bring about recovery. Extend unemployment benefits..

    MMM: Economists say slowdown will be shortlived. It would be faster to cut payroll tax.

    James Lynch asks about "Do Nothing Dave." MMM: Congress HAS done little, "we haven't seen that visionary leadership from Congress." Dave hasn't introduced much, no leadership on flood relief and bailout. Tom Latham did more on flood relief. "It didn't come up until the bailout bill."

    Dave: "As a freshman I've accomplished quite a lot." Largest increase in financial aid since the GI Bill. Military Pain Care Act. "4.6 billion for flood victims" with Grassley.

    MMM: "You are no Senator Grassley" If small business isn't bringing $ in you can't go forward. "Small business peple have not been helped."

    Dave: Small business is in there, it was I bipartisan effort, I even cosponsored Steve King. "I'll put my record up against anyones."

    Biofuels. Dave: Need to move beyond corn to cellulose ethanol, switchgrass. They have more room to stretch out than they did in the 4 way debate. Seems more formal, must be teh studio setting. I got renewable fuel standards in the farm bill. "And my leadership isn't all that thrilled about ethanol and biofuels."

    MMM: Corn ethanol also produces multiple other products. Doesn't mean we shouldn't do other as well. Oh and a plant Dave referenced is gone now.

    Dave: Other renewable fuels, esp. wind. Jobs jobs jobs.

    MMM: I drive a hybrid.

    Bruce asks about No Child. MMM: School bureaucracy sometimes gets in the way of good teachers. We want accountability for teachers, but how to measure. Measure students progress against themselves and not across board.

    Dave: A lot of concerns about NCLB. Goals are laudable but a massively underfunded mandate. "It's been largely punitive." Longitudinal models do make sense. "We have a high stakes one sixe fits all" teach to the test approach.

    Both candidates drop in biograhy points here.

    MMM: We need to unleash the teachers and increase the standards.

    Dave: Schools need flexibility with special ed.

    Lynch: home ownership. Dave: House bill allowed bankruptcy judges to help restructure mortgages, a "bottom up" approach.

    MMM thinks that'll harm the credit markets. Instead we should have guaranteed 20% of home value. Lenders don'r reaally want to foreclose, it's a money loser.

    Dave: Crack down on predatory lending. Some borrowers were irresponsible, but some lenders were predatory. MMM concurs.

    Beth Malicki asks about campaign finance. MMM: Restates the question several ways, and I've got shoes. And some PAC bashing.

    Dave: I'd agree on shoes, that's how I won. We need reform. I've never taken a no PAC pledge, and I listen to my constituents. I've been back home every weekend that I wans't in Iraq. "I think we should have public financing" and personal spending limits.

    MMM: Your constituents said vote no on bailout and you didn't listen.

    Bruce asks about the war. Dave: Take care of the vets first. (VFW endorsement) We need a safe responsible withdrawal. "The focus has to be on Afghanistan." and Pakistani border.

    MMM: As a vet, I'd rather have my rep vote for supplies for troops. Says VFW does not endorse. We need better troop retention.

    Dave: I'm well aware of troop retention issues. "We will have more conflicts."

    MMM: Incentive pay, decrease retirement age.

    Beth Malicki: Social Security privatization. MMM: Again restates question and eats some time. "Allow people under 50 to put small portion into personal accounts." Average stock gain is 10% a year.

    Dave: Bush pushed this "risky scheme" and it was rejected. Raise the cap. "Make sure that those who can pay do pay."

    MMM: "The greatest risk for your money is the government. I might take my chances by divesting it."

    Lynch: War on terror. Dave: Recommit to Afghanistan. Two trips to Afghanistan, one to Pakistan. "All the experts have told us that this is in fact where the terrorists are." Need to improve relationship with Pakistan to increase cooperation.

    MMM: Surviellance with due process. "On a field of battle it's difficult to gather evidence while fending off an enemy."

    Dave: "We're a country that has values the world looks to" and we can't lose sight of those values.

    Loebsack has mentioned Obama and Biden in passing once each; not so from MMM.

    Bruce: Health care: availability or cost control? MMM: "Both." Bashes single payer briefly. "A universal health care model cannot control costs or encourage personal responsibility." But we're smart, we can figure it out. Mentions individual accounts, that sounds like what she means.

    Dave: We had bipartisan support for SCHIP but Bush vetoed it twice. I hope Obama or McCain signs it.

    MMM: The vetoed bill would have just expanded an ineffective federal program, some $ didn't go to kids. Would reduce people in private sector.

    Dave: I don't believe in consumer-driven plans, consumer is at a disadvantage. "But I do support Barack Obama's plan."

    Lynch follows up on health care. Dave: Obama's plan is feasible and can be paid for. Let Bush tax cuts expire. We can do better on drug cost and prevention.

    MMM: Obama plan not portable. Let people buy insurance across state lines. (That's the plan: privatize!) "Massachusetts plan (hat tip to the Mitt! He goes unnamed.)

    Dave: MMM plan "wrong way to go." State mandates require certain things to be covered. "We have to protect the consumer."

    MMM: Wants an ala carte system, inserting some fertility and age jokes.

    Malicki: Postville and immigration. MMM: Employer accountability, everification. Comprehensive immigration reform and faster route to citizenship. Guest worker program.

    Dave: Will need bipartisan comprehensive reform. I voted for more border agents and evirfication. Employer sanctions.

    Closing statements. Dave: Starts with the bio points, positive role of govt in his life. Financial aid bill, Military Pain Care, disaster relief.

    MMM: "America is not divided, it's Congress that's divided." "I am not a politician" (er, you're on a BALLOT) and "sometimes we ask the government to do too much." Gets all the bullet points in: PACS, 98% vote with Democratic leadership (as if that's a bad thing in a Democratic district...)

    I'm not seeing a knockout on either side and I'm not convinced that anyone undecided was watching. That's all for now...

    Afterthought: Loebsack names Obama four times (and McCain once); Miller-Meeks names McCain not at all. And my IowaIndy colleage Lynda at Essential Estrogen writes it more coherently and spells it better than I do.

    Young Voters Key, Says UI Poll

    Young Voters Key, Says UI Poll

    Barack Obama has a huge national lead among young voters, says a a University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll released today, but the matter of whether they will show up on Election Day is still up in the air.

    "If they show up in record numbers, they will decidedly tip the scale toward an Obama victory," said David Redlawsk, the University of Iowa political scientist who directed the poll. "But if they fail to turn out, the final result is likely to be very close."

    The national poll, conducted Oct. 5-18, showed registered voters 35 or younger favoring Obama by a 26-point margin over John McCain. Voters over 70 favored McCain by five percent, and voters age 36 to 54 supported Obama by five percent.

    However, less than 40 percent of younger voters are paying close attention to the election. "This suggests they're less engaged, said Redlawsk, "and perhaps less likely to turn out, because those who pay attention are more likely to vote."Voter attention increases with age, with over 70 percent of the 70-plus voters paying close attention.

    "By historical standards, the level of interest is extremely high across all ages," said Redlawsk.

    Another difference for younger voters is that they are the only group that uses the internet as their primary news source. All older age groups rely more on television.

    Perhaps as a result, the youngest voters were less tuned in to some of the controversies that have dominated television. Only 23 percent of young voters were aware of '60s radical Bill Ayers, to whom the McCain camp has tried to link Obama, compared to 38 to 47 percent of older voters. But, more than 81 percent of younger voters had followed polls closely, which was right in line with the 79 to 87 percent of other age groups.

    "Younger voters haven't paid as much attention to the issues and personalities central to the campaigns as older voters have," Redlawsk said. "Still, they're just as curious to know which candidate is ahead as any other voter is."

    Welcome to 1964

    Welcome to 1964

    Is it feeling like 1964 out there? Richard Cohen of the Washington Post thinks so: "Powell walked away, and others will follow -- the second time that a senator from Arizona has led the GOP into the political wilderness."

    Barry Goldwater lost one of the great landslides of American history in 1964. But the 2008 numbers aren't at landslide levels, at least not yet. Chuck Todd of MSNBC thinks an Obama popular vote win is a certainty, since Obama does way better in red states than John Kerry did, but a McCain electoral college win is still possible.

    But CNN reported yesterday that McCain bailing out of Iowa, New Mexico and Colorodo yesterday. McCain, who's known to be a gambling man, needs to draw to an inside straight, run the table, hit the superfecta... choose your long-odds gambling metaphor, and insert Pennsylvania as your long-shot horse.

    Steven Stark at Real Clear Politics argues that, rather than 1964, 2008 more closely resembles 1968 or 1932 -- a year of realignment to be followed four years hence by the landslide:
    Parties decisively thrown out of power usually spend the next campaign turning to their fringe, on the theory that "if we had only stuck to our principles, instead of compromising, we would have won." Already we can see numerous Republicans mouthing that mantra. If followed to its conclusion, the result in 2012 will be the same as it was in 1936 when the Republicans nominated Alf Landon after the FDR landslide in 1932, and in 1972 when the Democrats nominated George McGovern after the GOP won the White House in 1968.

    Read Iowa's Republican blogs and you'll see that already: the state convention Republican National Committee election where party stalwarts were replaced by the heads of the Iowa Christian Alliance and Iowa Right to Life, the complaints that longshot U.S. Senate Candidate Chris Reed and 1st District congressional nominee Dave Hartsuch are being undercut by the "Romney Party of Iowa," the Iowa Christian Alliance's call for a no vote on all judges unless they get answers on "whether the judge leans to the left or to the right." They're convinced that the road to victory starts with a hard right turn.

    If they do that, Stark argues, other forces will come into play:
    But beyond that, the Republicans could face an even greater challenge. In times of economic turmoil, American history teaches us that voters usually seek out a populist alternative. The greatest political threat to FDR in the early '30s came not from the Republicans but from his own party's Huey Long, with his "share the wealth" economics.

    The Kingfish, of course, was removed from the equation with his 1935 assassination. But Stark -- now that's funny, Long was semi-fictionalized as "Willie Stark" in "All The King's Men" -- Stark argues that the populist of the 2010s may be a revived Pat Buchanan, or fellow talking head Lou Dobbs playing the immigration card.

    One could add Ron Paul to that list. Though he's running for re-election to Congress as a Republican, the one-time presidential candidate and internet phenomenon has endorsed Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party for president, and in a post-apocalyptic Republican landscape, Paul and his massive fundraising and contact lists could be a key player.

    You Gotta Problem Wid Dat?

    You Gotta Problem Wid Dat?

    Posts I wish I'd written: This Kos diary with an extended Mob metaphor for the 2008 race. If you're into both politics and Mafia movies, it's hilarious, and dead on target. Enjoy. As the Don said, "It's true, I have a lot of friends in politics."

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Chess Murder Hits Close To Home

    Chess Murder Hits Close To Home

    I heard about Iowa City's "chess murder" -- two guys, apparantly drunk, get in a fight over a chess game and one kills the other -- yesterday.

    But it wasn't till today that I heard that it was at my Bohemian Paradise, the apartments I used to live in for 4 1/2 years. It was in the very building I lived in for my first three months there.

    The building it happened in is single occupancy rooms, bathroom down the hall, common kitchen, and some of the lowest rent in town (I was paying $255 a month but I think it's a little higher now).

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Johnson County BBQ

    Johnson County BBQ

    Johnson County Dems BBQ day was mostly family day for me. I tried to write but just got too busy with the people I love who I don't get to see enough at the end of the campaign. But I did get some pics. (the one above is cribbed from the DI, the rest are mine. Around the table it's Ethan, me, Koni, nephew Owen who's big and growin', sis in law Keri, and Hayden.)

    Keynote speaker Tom Harkin (here with Ed Flaherty) arrived and left early, so we got the backwards supper effect of dessert first.

    The actual dessert.

    Harkin devoted roughly one line of his speech to his unnamed opponent ("I'm not taking this for granted just because I'm not running against a member of Congress.") Spend most of it talking up Senate chances in other states and on his reluctant vote for the bailout.

    By tradition, the elected officials serve the food. Here's senators Becky Schmitz and Joe Bolkcom and (partially blocked) Patti Fields from the school board.

    State Reps Mary Mascher and Vicki Lensing watch open seat House candidate Nate Willems; open seat contender Larry Marek also spoke.

    Dave Loebsack.

    Most importantly, this was my grandson's first BBQ.

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Forget the Bradley Effect

    Forget the Bradley Effect

    Ron Gunzburger at Politics1
    has a take on the "Bradley Effect" (people lie to pollsters about voting for black candidates) from someone who worked on the campaign of the guy who beat Tom Bradley, California Gov. George Deukmejian. Turns out it wasn't about lying to pollsters at all; it was about absentee ballots:
    Tom Bradley actually beat us on election day, and by a significant margin, so there was no 'lying' to the exit pollsters. Deukmejian only won because of the absentee ballots. That was the first year California allowed the use of absentee ballots and that was our secret strategy. We piled up absentee ballots from Armenian Democrats, because Deukmejian was Armenian. They were not likely voters, so they were under-polled. But there were roughly 100,000 Armenian voters living just in the area around Los Angeles County -- plus lots elsewhere in the state. It was that absentee effort that gave us the victory.

    Then there was the Bradley Effect of 2000, where people don't vote for a white basketball player because the entire party power structure is rigged for the incumbent vice president. Johnson County, Iowa: Number One in the nation for Bill Bradley, and I'm still proud of that.

    But forget the Bradley Effect. That's sooo 1982. What really matters is the Cell Phone Effect. Do you know anyone under 30 who still has a land line, unless maybe they're using it for DSL?

    Then there's the Reverse Bradley Effect of spiking African American turnout.

    Finally there's the Blazing Saddles Effect of Just Not Getting It, but voting for Obama anyway:
    So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the ni[DONG!]!"

    Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the ni[DONG!]."

    And sorry about the Up Yours.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Durbin doesn't mind being 'the other Illinois Senator'

    Durbin doesn't mind being 'the other Illinois Senator'

    Dick Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois, doesn't mind at all that he's being overshadowed by his junior colleague, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

    "It reminds me of a baseball player who's been on the team for a while, and he's got a good batting average, people like him, and along comes this MVP rookie, and the next thing you know, you're in the World Series," Durbin, the Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate, told Iowa Independent. "That's the way I feel. Along came Barack, and I could see our party changing, and I could see our country changing. I couldn't be happier."

    Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks on the University of Iowa campus Friday.
    Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks on the University of Iowa campus Friday.

    Durbin himself is on the ballot, running for a third term. "I've got some TV ads on so people remember my name," he said. But his seat is safe enough that he has campaigned in 20 states for Obama and Senate candidates, including several Friday stops in Iowa. He spoke to a group of students on the University of Iowa campus, many of whom hailed from Illinois. "I love Evanston! I got 95 percent of the vote there," he said, grinning, as one student named her home town.

    Durbin is Downstate to Obama's South Side, a folksy and conversational contrast to Obama's oratory, but the two have long been political allies. Durbin was one of Obama's earliest supporters, and traveled to Iowa with Obama on the day Obama announced his candidacy in February 2007.

    “Iowa launched the campaign of Barack Obama for president" in the caucuses, Durbin told the midday crowd of students. "That really was the beginning. Now we've gotta close the deal.”

    “20 years from now people are going to as you where were you when Barack Obama was elected, and you don't want to say you were down at Culver's eating butter burgers," said Durbin. "You want to day you were part of history.” Part of the pitch was to encourage students to vote early to free up more time to help get out the vote on Election Day. The senator steered voters toward a satellite voting site at the Old Capitol Mall, two blocks to the south. “I don't want to encourage you to cut classes and vote early... but it is Friday afternoon.” Over 2,500 voters took advantage of the five days of voting at Old Capitol Mall, which ended Friday. More sites open beginning Monday.

    “The people who need tax breaks are not the wealthiest Americans," said Durbin. "The people who need tax breaks are your moms and dads sending you to college. The economy is a mess because we have followed the lead of George Bush.”

    Durbin, as most Democratic surrogate speakers do, praised John McCain the Man while opposing McCain on policy. “John McCain is a great guy. He's served our country well. But when we look to the future we need leaders who look to the future. Barack Obama gets it. He gets it better than I do to be honest.”

    "I don't think people are buying the negative ads, all that stuff about 'palling around with terrorists' and stuff," Durbin told Iowa Independent when asked about the negative tone of the campaign. "It just didn't work. It ended up driving down McCain's numbers. We're in a serious time. This economy needs help. We need some serious leadership. And just, you know, throwing names around and saying Barack's responsible for some guy doing bad things when Barack was 8 years old really is a stretch."

    Durbin is optimistic about Democratic chances for gains in the Senate. "We're at 51 now, we keep all our Dems, I can see us picking up seats in New Hampshire, Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado. Alaska will depend to some extent on the trial" of Republican incumbent Ted Stevens, Durbin told Iowa Independent. "Then we have potential pickup seats in Oregon, where we're running even or ahead by a point or two; Minnesota, where we're running ahead by three or four points now; North Carolina, where we're up several points at this moment. And we have potential with Jim Martin in Georgia, which is a surprise, and we're running even in Kentucky against Mitch McConnell," the Republican Senate leader. "I’m going there Monday for an event," said Durbin.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    LaRiva battles ballot access and media access

    LaRiva battles ballot access and media access

    "I hear people say, 'There's socialists? There's actually socialist parties? I didn't think they existed.' We get no media access," presidential candidate Gloria LaRiva said over coffee in Iowa City. "We can hardly get through."

    Presidential candidate who? Look at your ballot. She's there, along with Obama and McCain and six others in Iowa -- Gloria LaRiva, nominee of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. She had the time to give this member of the media a 45 minute world exclusive interview -- something I failed to obtain from her Republican opponent the next day.

    Presidential candidate Gloria LaRiva addresses a crowd of about 20 on the University of Iowa campus.
    Presidential candidate Gloria LaRiva addresses a crowd of about 20 on the University of Iowa campus.

    It's hard to picture the serious LaRiva, visiting Iowa City as part of a driving tour that took her to Louisiana, Tennessee, and Chicago, as a Letterman or Leno guest. She says she is never asked the kinds of personal questions about things like family or musical tastes that the major party candidates are asked about. "They ask me 'president of what?'" she says, and then voters, and LaRiva, quickly move on to the issues.

    LaRiva, whose day job is as Typographical Sector of the Northern California Media Workers Union, Communication Workers of America, says she's in an unusual position for a third party candidate in that she actually represents majority opinion, citing health care as one example.

    "When you hear Obama and McCain talk about health care, McCain is obviously for privatizing health care because he speaks to the rich. Obama's audience is the working class, but it's hard without a leftist or progressive explanation to know what he's saying. What did he say the other day in the debate? He said 'we will make it more accessible for people to buy insurance from all the plans that Congresspeople are entitled to. And if millions of more people buy insurance, it'll lower the price of the premiums.' Says who? There's no discussion about limiting how much insurance companies can charge you for health care. There's no solution to the health care crisis with Obama or McCain."

    "What do we say? End the war now. Use the military budget to provide health care. It should be provided by government. That should be the role of government, to make sure everybody has the right to see a doctor and have preventive care simply because they're human."

    This is LaRiva's second presidential bid. She was the nominee of the Worker's World Party in 1992, was their vice presidential candidate four times, and has also run for state and local office in California. "Since I've run so many times, I've learned that people take elections very seriously."

    The new Party of Socialism and Liberation was founded in 2004, and this is their first time on the presidential ballot. "We've accomplished quite a lot in our four years of existence," said LaRiva. "The fact that our first time out we are on the ballot in more states, twelve, than other socialist parties, is quite a feat. It's an endeavor to get on any state ballot." Iowa requires 1,500 signatures to get on the presidential ballot. LaRiva and volunteers gathered the names during June, when they also helped sandbag flooded areas.

    "The fact that third parties have to go from state to state to get on the ballot, while the Democrats and Republicans are on automatically, shows that the game is locked up for them."

    Ballot access is one barrier for third parties of the left, but LaRiva says the Democratic Party is also a barrier. "They have historically been the party that captivates and co-opts the movement."

    LaRiva lives in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco congressional district, and helped antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan get on the ballot against Pelosi. "There were a lot of progressive people saying, 'Why are you doing this, (Pelosi)'s the best hope we have' --even though she voted for the war budget and against impeachment."

    "He's raised a lot of good ideas," LaRiva says of Democrat Dennis Kucinich. "A lot of people are still wedded to the Democratic Party but very unhappy, or think it's the only viable option." But she added even a Democrat like Kucinich had trouble getting media access.

    "Even though the Democrats, when they were running in 2006 said 'elect us and we'll end the war,' they used it simply for political purposes," said LaRiva. "Both parties have financed every dollar. It's interesting to even now hear Obama say 'I was against the war from the beginning,' when every vote for emergency funding has been unanimous. So they're both guilty," she said of the major parties.

    "A lot of the people we've met, from New Orleans to Tennessee, Iowa, everywhere we're going, there's a strong sentiment for Obama. Which is fine. I mean it's understandable, because all they see is two choices," said LaRiva But they are very open to what we think."

    "The financial crisis is due to the deregulation of the last 20 years," is what LaRiva thinks of the bailout bill. "The right wing always talks about less government, less government, but what they really mean is less government on the right of capital to exploit." She is calling for the prosecution of those responsible. "They're getting rewarded and given a free ride. Congress can't even find the guts to limit executive pay." Then LaRiva corrected herself: "Not pay -- pay is when you work for it."

    "They're guilty of war crimes," in Iraq, LaRiva says of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and others in the administration, hoping they will eventually be prosecuted. "The progressive movement, of which we're very much a part, has over the years had tribunals, indictments, and people's prosecutions. It's very necessary for the historical record."

    In Iowa, five of the nine candidates on the ballot can generally be described as "left." But as for the thought that the multiple candidates of the left split the vote, LaRiva disagrees. "It's a question a lot of people new to the movement ask; why not just have one candidate? But if all the left got together, we're still not big enough. We really work together in many ways. We don't spend our time fighting each other. We all have our different areas and outreach, and together it adds a lot."

    La Riva describes one of her opponents -- though she certainly wouldn't characterize Green presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney as an "opponent" -- as a "great friend," and it doesn't sound like the My Great Friend platitudes major party politicians pile on each other (usually the pile gets deeper the less they like each other). "We support each other very much," she said. "And Ralph Nader has a right to run and a right to be considered a legitimate presidential candidate."

    LaRiva doesn't indulge in the vanity of some obscure contenders who rhetorically pretend they're going to be elected. "I know where we'll be" at noon next Jan. 20, said LaRiva. "We'll be in Washington at a counter-inaugural."

    "It'll be interesting in 2009," she said of the next inauguration. "Probably Obama will win, if things continue as they are with the economy. And if he wins, it'll be thoughtful for us to figure out how to have a counter-inaugural in the wake of a historic development of the first African American president. We will want to take note of that and recognize the achievement and what it means for the African American community and all of the United States. At the same time, we know that that will not make a change in terms of the end of the war, employment for people. And Obama will be the head of an imperialist government in a capitalist country."

    Obama has commanding lead on Iowa electronic markets

    Obama has commanding lead on Iowa electronic markets

    Traders on the Iowa Electronic Markets are, after the final debate, giving Barack Obama a commanding lead.

    Thursday morning, Obama shares on the Winner Take All market were selling at nearly 86 cents, meaning traders give the Democratic ticket a 86 percent chance of winning. John McCain's shares are selling for just under 15 cents. Those levels have been steady for the past week. The Winner Take All market pays a dollar per winning share and nothing for a losing share.

    On the Vote Share market, which predicts percentage of the popular vote and pays a penny a percent, Obama was selling at 58 cents Thursday morning, and McCain was selling at 46.6 cents.

    The University of Iowa College of Business project, in which traders use real money to measure candidates' chances, has had a strong predictive track record since it started in 1988.

    Extended Quote Of The Day

    Extended Quote Of The Day

    Some truths, or truisms, from Gail Collins at the New York Times:
    At this point, they only care about the small chunk of undecided voters in swing states. That means a handful of people in Ohio who have managed to avoid noticing that Obama and McCain disagree on virtually every important issue facing the nation and continue to insist that they are torn between them.

    Plus, of course, a couple of folks who got picked for a long-running television panel of undecided voters and don’t want to admit they’ve made up their minds because they’ll get thrown out.

    This is one of the reasons why the last few weeks of a presidential campaign tend to be so awful. The candidates are gearing their remarks to people who have managed to completely ignore nearly two years of news about the 2008 elections.

    Well, partial truths. It's also about ground game, about those people who have their minds made up but aren't plugged into the system, and about the hyper-energetic staffers and volunteers who are looking for them. (And Obama pwns McCain on that.)

    But the informed pure independent, the model that the Objective Journalism Paradigm holds up as the American ideal, who actually "studies the candidates," is a rarity. Five percent tops.

    Four years ago, ad a was voting on Day One and someone asked me "how can you have your mind made up already?" I replied, "How can I not?"

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    National GOP Pulls Plug on House Challengers

    National GOP Pulls Plug on House Challengers

    The Republican National Committee is pulling its money out of challenger races to shore up suddenly endangered incumbents, reports the Politico.

    In 2006, veteran Republicans Gil Gutknecht in Minnesota, Jim Leach in Iowa and Jim Ryun in Kansas suddenly found themselves in tough reelection fights. By the time the party saw what was happening, it was already too late.

    And thus it is this year, as the GOP moves resources.In Iowa, that's going to mean, if anything, Rep. Tom Latham, who has a race on his hands in the 4th District against Becky Greenwald. National Republicans don't have much invested in the other races, and the Latham-Greenwald race is the only one in the state that's on the national handicapper's lists (though still near the bottom.)

    Democrat Rob Hubler is running a spirited race against Steve King, the other Republican incumbent, but the district lines strongly favor King.

    In the 2nd District, Mariannette Miller-Meeks is an energetic and very visible opponent to Dave Loebsack, but she was never the pick of the RNC. They're the ones who recruited Peter Teahen, but the base rejected him in the primary (his donation to Democrat Julie Thomas in her 2002 race against Leach was probably the fatal blow. "Support ALL Republicans" is a big meme on the GOP side; unlike most lefties, I regularly read the Republican blogs.)

    Of course, Loebsack wasn't on the Dem's national priority lists in 2006 until... well, until after he won. But he was swimming with the national tide, not against it. And the fact that Leach has enthusiastically and actively been campaigning for Obama doesn't help the Republican who's trying to win his seat back.

    In the Des Moines-based 3rd District, Kim Schmett looks like an abandoned backup plan, positioned for a serious race if Ed Fallon had knocked off Leonard Boswell in the Democratic primary.

    And in the 1st District, the race has descended to the point that Dave Hartsuch is calling John McCain too pro-gay. Seriously. Hartsuch has said he was not invited to Saturday's McCain rally in Davenport because he disagreed with McCain on the definition of traditional marriage. The Hartsuch campaign, and the Christopher Reed Senate campaign, seem to be focused now more on winning position in the ongoing internal battle within the Republican Party of Iowa than on their opponents.

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Minister from McCain Rally 'Worst Person in The World'

    Minister from McCain Rally 'Worst Person in The World'

    The retired Quad Cities minister who delivered a controversial invocation at John McCain's Saturday rally in Davenport was "honored" Monday at the "Worst Person in The World" by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.

    Rev. Arnold Conrad, past pastor of the Grace Evangelical Free Church, won the award, a nightly feature on Olbermann's "Countdown" program, for his prayer:
    "I would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god - whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah - that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons"

    "And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they're going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day."

    Conrad's invocation was delivered before McCain arrived.

    "While we understand the important role that faith plays in informing the votes of Iowans, questions about the religious background of the candidates only serve to distract from the real questions in this race about Barack Obama's judgment, policies and readiness to lead as commander in chief," a McCain spokesperson said later Saturday.

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    Reed, Hartsuch Left To Die At Triage Time

    Are Reed and Hartsuch being "triaged out"?

    Fans of the TV show "M*A*S*H" remember the mad rush of triage, as the buses rolled in and Ottumwa's own Radar O'Reilly yelled "Choppers!" At triage time, the wounded are divided into three groups. The soldiers with the superficial wounds are left to fend for themselves, while those who can't be saved are, in the cruel logic of allocating resources, left to die. The immediate attention goes to the middle group, who have serious wounds but can be saved.

    Thus it is in politics. Both parties, in cold political Darwinism, leave the weak to die. It happened to me in my own legislative race 12 years ago. But at the moment, the grumbling appears louder on the Republican side.

    Iowa's conservative blogosphere is grumbling that Christopher Reed, the long-shot challenger to Senator Tom Harkin, is being triaged out. The latest controversy centers around Reed's charges on Steve Deace's WHO radio show that that Caleb Hunter, executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa, is "actively telling Iowa voters not to support my candidacy because I have no chance to win." Reed also said Hunter was telling donors their efforts were better spent on trying to win back the Iowa House, where Democrats now hold a 53-47 edge.

    "The only groups that I have seen attempting to support Reed at all are the Iowa Right to Life and Iowa Christian Alliance," writes the Iowa Defense Alliance blog, saying that the treatment of Reed reflects on the Republican State Convention's battle over National Committee seats. "These are the same people that claimed that (Iowa Right to Life head) Kim Lehman couldn’t be a national chairwoman because she wouldn’t support all Republicans. Now the shoe is on the other foot. These same people are now doing what they claimed that Lehman would do," Iowa Defense Alliance writes, calling RPI leadership "the Romney Party of Iowa."

    "Reed's information is second or third hand," writes Republican state central committee member David Chung at the Hawkeye GOP blog. "I do not know exactly what was said or where but it sounds as if it lost something in the translation."

    "(Former state Rep. George) Eichhorn was definitely the 'insider' candidate with more ties to party leadership, and I’m sure they weren’t too happy when their buddy got beat," write Nathan Greene at Battleground Iowa. "I don’t think Hunter was telling people not to vote for Reed, but he was certainly telling people he doesn’t think Reed has a chance, so people should send their money and their volunteer hours over to (House minority leader Christopher) Rants."

    "It’s one thing if the party doesn’t have the money to financially support Reed," writes Greene. It is another thing altogether to actively attempt to sabotage his volunteer and fundraising efforts."

    The multiple posts on the party's support, or lack thereof, have led to comment wars on the blogs. "You, Christopher, have raised less than $20,000 for your campaign for US SENATE - you need to just curl up and hide your pitiful, pitiful self -- you are an embarrassment," writes an anonymous 'Steve' on Battleground Iowa. "Go buy yourself another suit or haircut with your campaign funds," he adds, repeating an often-noted criticism of Reed.

    Clayton County Republican Chair Gwen Eilers has gone so far as to send out a mass email urging Republicans to write in third-place primary candidate Steve Rathje instead of voting for Reed.

    "It is no secret that RPI has limited funds this election cycle," writes Chung. "I supported the decision to target these funds to those races where they are likely to be affect the outcome. These chosen few are not chosen for their ideological purity. If it were so, Reed would be at the top of the list. But a dispassionate view, looking to target key races, the U.S. Senate race is not one of them."

    Despite his near-invisibility, Reed is reaching as high as 40 percent in some polls, simply by being Not Tom Harkin. Yet, with presidential nominee John McCain in the state Saturday, Reed's name was not mentioned from the podium in Davenport, and no Reed signs were visible in the hall.

    Instead, underscoring the Republican Party's apparant priority, state Rep. Steve Olson said, “I believe we can take over the Iowa House.” Also speaking were state Rep. Jamie Van Fossen and two legislative challengers: Ross Paustian, House 84 challenger against first-term Democrat Elesha Gayman, and state senate challenger Shawn Hamerlink, opposing Sen. Frank Wood.

    And with the presidential candidate of his party in his home county, sitting state senator and 1st Congressional District challenger Dave Hartsuch did not speak. National handicappers all rank the 1st District as safe for freshman Democrat Bruce Braley.

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    McCain Davenport Liveblog

    McCain Davenport Liveblog

    Why is John McCain in Iowa when polls show him trailing? Will he again defend his opponent Barack Obama from personal attacks as he did Friday? What is his response to an Alaska legislative report charging his running mate Sarah Palin with abuse of power?

    Iowa Independent's John Deeth was live at McCain's Saturday morning event in Davenport. The Republican nominee insists he'll win Iowa, but had no comment about the Palin report. Nearly half the speech was attacks on Obama, but those were mostly issue based, and while the audience was a-hootin' and a-hollerin, no explicit Obama attacks were overheard.

    Before McCain's arrival, a minister delivering an invocation said, "There are plenty of people around the world who are praying to their god, be they Hindu, Buddah, or Allah, that (McCain's) opponent wins. I pray that you step forward and honor your own name."

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    Little Time for Talk in 2nd District Debate

    Little Time for Talk in 2nd District Debate

    Barth, Loebsack, Miller-Meeks, White
    Barth, Loebsack, Miller-Meeks, White

    The four-candidate 2nd Congressional District debate seemed fairly congenial--but that may have been because the format left the candidates little time to engage one another. With a strictly enforced 45 seconds an answer, it was hard to stretch out.

    "I'm running out of time, I'm just getting started," said Green candidate Wendy Barth as the red STOP card went up. "It's not fair," Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack nodded in sympathy.

    But Barth and independent Brian White were grateful to the Johnson County AARP, the debate sponsors, for including them with Loebsack and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks in the Thursday afternoon forum. The equal treatment extended to the order of speaking and even to the moderator's repeated habit of skipping the fourth candidate as the questions rotated.

    The questions leaned toward the senior-oriented, but the answers revolved around the relative effectiveness of the Congress Loebsack joined two years ago.

    "I got tired of seeing Congress doing nothing but seeing who was the victor in a partisan fight," said Miller-Meeks, citing Social Security, health and energy policy.

    Loebsack defended his record while agreeing with the premise. "I ran in 2006 because I was fed up with a system that was broken. I wanted to once again make government a positive force in people's lives," said the congressman. "I have worked tirelessly to provide for our troops and provide oversight to the Bush Administration's Iraq policies."

    But the harshest criticism of partisanship came from White, who is premising his entire candidacy on breaking away from the two party system. "The answers are simple. The reason I'm running is nothing gets done," said White. "The first thing you do is get rid of everything in Washington including the interest groups." White, somewhat surprisingly, drew the most applause lines in the forum, as he returned again and again to his theme and called for term limits, getting rid of PACs, and ethics reform.

    Barth described herself as a single issue candidate: "My single issue is sustainability," she said, adding that thousands of issues fall under that umbrella. "It means having a lifestyle that continues generation after generation. Our lifestyles have to change. We can embrace that change or deny change."

    Barth launched the sharpest exchange of the debate as she attacked Loebsack for his vote on the financial bailout bill. "The biggest mistake you made was voting for that," she said while looking at Loebsack. "They want us middle class taxpayers to bail them out, " she added while running out of time.

    "I'm disgusted. Both the Democrats and Republicans hands are dirty in this," said White to sustained applause.

    "Those are the two toughest votes I've had to take," said Loebsack. "The downside of not doing anything, I feared, were worse." Loebsack said the second version of the bill included $4.6 billion, which he cosponsored with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, for flood victims and wind tax credits.

    "The risk has been passed on globally and we're paying the price for that," said Miller-Meeks. Asked about tax policy, the Ottumwa doctor said, "I advocate an optional flat tax and then we could go to further tax reform. Time is money," she said, in reference to the cost of tax preparation.

    "We have to stop tax incentives for companies going overseas," says Loebsack, who said flat tax proposals hurt the middle class. Loebsack said the Bush tax cuts should not be extended. He also called for alternative minimum tax reform. "If we don't reform it, it'll catch the middle class."

    "I am a huge flat tax supporter," said White. "No loopholes, no deductions, none of that. It's very simple."

    "A progressive tax system is better," responded Barth. "There should be a Peace Tax so people can say 'I don't want any of my money going to the military,''' she said.

    "Social Security funds should not be used in the general budget," said Miller-Meeks. "That's part of the reason we have a problem now. We need to have a Congress that lives within its means and not continue to rob the Social Security fund."

    "President Bush pushed this idea of Social Security privatization after his re-election," said Loebsack, "and it was roundly rejected by the American people."

    Loebsack said the initial Patriot Act went too far and he would have voted no. "I don't believe we should impinge too much on our civil liberties. It's got to be a balancing act."

    Miller-Meeks said anti-terrorist issues that risk civil liberties should have timelines. "We need an active and a vigilant press because they hold officials feet to the fire, and they have an investigative arm."

    "We have to protect civil liberties as a priority," said White. "We need to do it the same way the criminal system does -- with probable cause."

    "There's never going to be 100 percent safety. We have to protect ourselves but can't be paranoid," said Barth.

    2nd District candidates will have another forum on Oct. 21 -- or some of the candidates will. Only the major party nominees were invited to the KCRG-TV event. White urged Loebsack and Miller-Meeks to go to bat for his inclusion, while Barth pledged to liveblog her responses to the questions.

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    2nd District Debate

    2nd District Debate Live Baby Live

    2:30 and hello from the Schwab Auditorium at the Coralville Library for the four way 2nd District Debate. Congressman Dave Loebsack is facing off with the three rivals -- Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Green Wendy Barth, and independent Brian White.

    Opening statements start with Barth. She praises the AARP for inviting the third parties. "My single issue is sustainability," she says, and says thousand of issues fall under that umbrella. "It means having a lifestyle that continues generation after generation. Our lifestyles have to change. We can embrace that change or deny change."

    Loebsack next. "I ran in 2006 because I was fed up with a system that was broken. I wanted to once again make government a positive force in people's lives." Cites his committee work. "I have worked tirelessly to provide for our troops and provide oversight to the Bush Administration's Iraq policies."

    Miller-Meeks "I have not been a party affiliated person working hard to elect candidates. I got tired of seeing Congress doing nothing but seeing who was the victor in a partisan fight," citing Social Security, health and energy policy.

    White: "What does 'change' mean? What is the change they're talking about? I ask you to really think about that. Do you really believe Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, can bring about that change? The only way we bring about real change is to change Washington first." He says term limits, getting rid of PACs, and ethics reform are the way to do that.

    AARP rep Richard Tibbets asks if health care is a fundamental right. "It should be a right of all people on the planet," says Barth. "I'm perfectly comfortable with the term socialized medicine." Loebsack: "It is clearly a right, but hasn't been the case in this country. We have 45 million people in the richest country in the world without insurance. It's downright immoral." He supports portability and no preconditions.

    Miller-Meeks: "As an affluent country, one of the responsibilities we have is health care. We should have a system that encourages personal responsibility." I didn't catch every word.

    White: "The real issue is how do we make it affordable for everyone. We have to get rid of the interest groups that are tying it down."

    "How can civil liberties be preserved while addressing terrorism?" Loebsack says the initial Patriot Act went too far and he would have voted no. "I don't believe we should impinge too much on our civil liberties. It's got to be a balancing act." Miller-Meeks: "We need an active and a vigilant press because they hold officials feet to the fire and they have an investigative arm." Says measures need timelines. White: "We have to protect civil liberties as a priority. We need to do it the same way the criminal system does -- with probable cause." Barth: "There's never going to be 100% safety. We have to protect ourselves but can't be paranoid."

    Long term care starts with MMM. She mainly talks about existing programs and AARP long term care insurance programs. White: "The focus has to be in building a medical home so physicians can make home visits." Barth: "The big issue is the community that you're in, having people come in to make sure you're OK. The question is how we're going to build community." Moderator almost skips Loebsack, who says he backs the Community Health Choice Act.

    Medicaid allocation for home care vs. nursing home care. Whit notes that the question is circular--you shift funding by shifting funding. "The answers are simple. The reason I'm running is nothing gets done." Barth: "The way to get things done seems to be to get a rich person to think they can get richer by doing it," and pushes the VOICE act "to get the money out of politics." They;re getting meta here.

    "It's a question of priorities, of generating the political will, and of building coalitions across party lines" says Loebsack. MMM: "it's a combination of both public and private efforts."

    Social Security privatization. Barth: "I hesitate to do anything to risk that, esp. in the stock market. It needs to stay an entitlement." Cap should be raised. "It's a terrible idea" to privatize," says Dave L. "President Bush pushed this idea after his idea and it was roundly rejected by the American people." MMM: "Social Security funds should not be used in the general budget. That's part of the reason we have a problem now. We need to have a congress that lives within its means and not continue to rob the SS fund." White: "We need to lift the cap on the fund, and we need to up the benefits." Only 45 seconds an answer, hard to stretch out.

    Will you forgo congressional benefits and live with the Medicare the rest of us do with capped benefits? "I have to answer that first" says the incumbent. "I'm open to any kind of renegotiation." MMM: "I would be happy to forgo them, I don't think I'm better than any other citizen." (This is a really demagogic question.) MMM: Caps would require more thought. White "These are simple solutions, we just need to do them." The moderator keeps skipping the fourth candidate each time. "Thank you for treating us equally," says Barth when she's skipped.

    Disability employment and ADA. MMM: "We want everyone to be productive and have to think outside the box a little bit." White acknowledges that the ADA was a good bill; "we did do something in Congress." The less involvement the federal govt has in this, the better" saying it can be better handled locally.

    "I'm curious about this worker shortage MMM is talking about" says Barth, saying people are hurting for jobs. Loebsack cites the ADA Restoration Act passed this Congress to upgrade and update the ADA.

    Tax reform and Fair Tax. "I am a huuge flat tax supporter," says White. "No loopholes, no deductions, none of that. It's very simple." Barth: "A progressive tax system is better," responds Barth. "There should be a Peace Tax so people can say 'I don't want any of my money going to the military,'" and says there should be similar options for sicial programs.

    "We have to stop tax incentives for companies going overseas," says Loebsack, who says flat of "fair" tax proposals hurt the middle class. Bush tax cuts should not be extended. "Time is money," says MMM citing tax preparation costs. "I advocate an optional flat tax and then we could go to further tax reform."

    Income and class disparity. "A lot of it comes from gaming the system in the financial markets," says Barth. Credit market needs to be re-regulated. Loebsack cites the Bush tax cuts again. "We have to extend the tax cuts for lower and middle classes." Also calls for alternative minimum tax reform. "If we don't reform it it'll catch the middle class." MMM calls for more stringent education requirements and immigration in the global economy. "The first thing you do is get rid of everything in Washington including the interest groups," says White, drawing the first applause of the debate.

    Renewable energy. "Wind energy has been a boon to Iowa's economy" says Loebsack. "Clearly we can do better and reduce our dependency on foreign oil." "We need to go to a more electric based economy," says MMM, dissing natural gas (take that, T. Boone!) She mentions several other methods, including nuclear. White reads a modern-sounding quote on energy independence; his punch line is that it's from the Carter era. If we're going to put all our eggs in the ethanol basket, we need to look at other crops besides corn, said Barth. "I'm running out of time, I'm just getting started." "It's not fair," Loebsack says in sympathy.

    "We should have flex fuel vehicles with electric engines," says MMM; the next question kind of becomes a second go around. Strictly speaking, it's a CAFE question.)"I'm not big into government control and dates, but we have to do it now because we've been listening too long to the oil company special interests in Washington," says White. "I'm also for making the number of miles we drive by making our communities closer together and producing more of our food locally," says Barth. Loebsack voted for higher CAFE "but we've got to do more."

    How would you respond to another Postville? "I am for amnesty, but we need to incorporate them into the system," says White, calling for corporate sanctions. "It takes way too long to become a citizen." Barth noted that illegals paid into the system without getting anything out of it. "We need to treat these people like people." "Agriprocessors itself was a very bad actor. We need to hold our employers accountable, and need to give them the tools to be accountable," says Loebsack. He also supported more border security. "We need to ramp up the immigration system and have a clear system of why someone can immigrate," says MMM, adding that Bush has been poor on enforcement.

    The Bailout. "That was the biggest mistake you made was voting for that," says Barth looking at Loebsack. "They want us middle class taxpayers to bail them out." Again, running out of time. "Those are the two toughest votes I've had to take. The downside of not doing anything, I feared, were worse." Second bill included $4.6 billion for flood victims and wind tax credits. MMM: "The risk has been passed on globally and we're paying the price for that." White: "In ten days they threw away one third of the revenue we get in taxes. I'm disgusted. Both the Democrats and Republicans hands are dirty in this," White says getting sustained applause.

    Medicare shortfall. "I fought against Pres Bush's proposal to cut physician reimbursement rates," says Loebsack, saying they got modest rate increases. MMM: "We need to see if we need to shift costs between individuals." "It's been over regulated to the point where more people can defraud the system," says White, a UIHC attorney. "When you invite third party candidates, you get a perspective you haven't heard before" says Barth, advocating single payer.

    Prescription drug cost reform. "Competition is a good thing," says MMM. "I see patients on too many medications that they may not need." The donut hole makes people reassess. White blames pharmaceutical profit margins as the worst aspect of health cost, again getting applause. Barth: "We should have price controls on our drugs, that's what Canada has." "We need to fill that donut hole" says Loebsack.

    Marriage penalty tax: "I'm in favor of repealing the entire tax code," offers MMM. "Marriage is a church thing and not a govt. thing," says White, who returns to drug costs. (I think White may have a front row claque but it's hard to tell) "That penalty shouldn't be there, no doubt about it," says Loebsack. "The government does not negotiate as well as individuals who are getting the benefit" says MMM returning to drugs.

    War and peace issues. "It needs to be a multinational approach," says White, "I can't stand the finger pointing of who voted for what in Iraq. Put away the rhetoric and just handle our foreign affairs."

    "We're not fighting a war on the adjective 'terror,' we're killing a lot of people," says Barth.

    "We have to reorient our foreign policy and have more creative diplomacy" says DL citing his visits to the war. "The real enemy are in Afghanistan and the border areas of Pakistan.," saying we need to recommit to Afgh. MMM cites her own military service. "When we vote to send in troops, we have a responsibility to support those troops," says MMM, getting applause from her side of the room.

    Barth says she'll blog if elected; "you deserve to know what's going on." The question is about future forums, which they all say is a good idea. There's another debate on the 21st -- just the two major parties. White says this is the first he's heard of it ans asks DL and MMM to go to bat for him and Barth. Loebsack notes his VFW endorsements. " Being for veterans is not a partisan issue," says Loebsack. "We've had record increases for the VA on a bipartisan basis." MMM says a forum for every county in the district -- which she proposed and didn't get.

    Closing statements let them stretch out a bit. We need to make a sustainable, happy and healthy lifestyle," says Barth. ""I'd appreciate your vote as a vote for sustainability."

    "My job is to give Iowa a voice, to fight for what's right," says Loebsack. "It is tough to fight through the gridlock, but we got some things passed into law" citing education and veterans, ad the flood relief tax package. "We know there's much more to do." Applause from the left side of room (the physical is the political, with Dems on the left side of the room. There don't seem to be a lot of uncommitted folks here, though White gets some applause from both sides of the room.)

    "We don't have advocates who are there fighting for us," says MMM. "Do they follow through on their campaign commitments." "If you've only been in one place you have a very limited viewpoint. I look through a different prism." Applause on the right of the room.

    White: "Congressman Loebsack started his re-election campaign right away and raised $400,000 from interest groups in three months. We need to change the system, and the only way we do that is get the parties out. I don't want to be a politician -- I want to see our politics change."

    The moderator thanks everyone for watching the timekeeper. But that was the real limiting factor here. Handshakes all around.