Sunday, February 28, 2010

Filing Questions

Filing Questions

Filing for federal and state offices starts Monday and I'm planning my usual obsessive coverage. It's kinda late to get started on the statewide level, but the bar is pretty low for the legislature (100 signatures for Senate and 50 for House). So last minute surprises and self-starters are possible down-ballot.

While we wait, here's some things to look for:

  • Does everybody who announced actually qualify? Several campaigns of both parties have sent out email directives to supporters to get busy on the petition signatures. That could just be list-building, or it could be panic.

    Statewide and congressional requirements are based on percentage of the vote from 2008. The record turnout raises that bar, and Obama's relatively big win raises it even higher for Dems, who need 4145 signatures for senate and governor. Republicans need 3412. There are county requirements as well. The bar is a lot lower for independents and third parties, who file in July and August: 1500 signatures. (Something that could affect anyone considering a run for governor first as a Democrat, then later as an independent.)

    Combine that with the extreme low turnout at the off-year, nearly invisible caucuses, which in presidential years are a quick and dirty way to get signatures, and some folks may be hustling up to the last second.

  • Not directly related, but: do any of the three surviving GOP governor candidates name a running mate? My guess is if anyone does, it's Branstad. He's getting bashed over 1990/94 running mate Joy Corning's stance on social issues, and he may counter that by naming someone who hates teh gay and luuuuvs teh fetus.

  • Pet peeve: does anyone file and then, a month or two later when the ballots with their names on them are already printed, "announce" (sic) their candidacy? In and amongst the latest Culver staff shakeup article, I see: "Vilmain has committed to staying with the campaign through the formal campaign announcement, expected in April or May." Come on, Chet, you were secretary of state for eight years. When you file, you're a candidate.

  • Do Democrats find an opponent for state auditor Dave Vaudt? We didn't last time. (The bar for the downballot statewides is lower: 1000 names for both parties.) Republicans look like they have a full slate and even a secretary of state primary.

  • Does anyone get the message that Coach Gibbons is the chosen one and bail in the five-way 3rd CD Republican primary?

  • Does Leonard Boswell retire? (No, but I like to keep stirring that pot anyway.)

  • Does anyone primary the Six Pack?

  • Does Kerry Burt get the hint? If not, does anyone primary him?

  • Getting local now: Do Democrats find an opponent for Jeff Kaufmann?

  • Do Republicans even try in the core Johnson County legislative districts? (Last Republican candidates in a general election in the Iowa City/Coralville seats was in 2002, though they did run in the 2003 Dave Jacoby special election.) My bet is they stay focused on the Board of Supervisors.

    Speaking of which, the county filing period starts a week later on March 8. Stay tuned for my look at that one.
  • Saturday, February 27, 2010

    February LWV Liveblog

    February LWV Liveblog

    Really sorry about the delayed aspect of this; right after I connected and made my "hey, we're live" intro, the wifi died...

    9:29 and hi from Coralville city hall and the February League of Women Voters legislative forum. Cosponsors are Environmental Advocates and Sierra Club. Some labor folks are on hand as well.

    As for the honorable legislators we have Senators Schmitz, Dvorsky and Bolkcom, and Reps Mascher, Marek and Jacoby and Lensing. One empty chair on the end, maybe Nate Willems is running late. No sign of Kaufmann and ent.Hahn...

    Other honorables include Sheriff Lonny and supervisors Rettig and Harney. The junior high students as usual are out in full force.

    We're off to a slightly late start at 9:39 due to a TV tech issue.

    Schmitz leads off. Teacher pay legislation gets IA to 26th in nation. Senate amends state re-org bill, keeps Empowerment in Dept. of Management. Domestic abuse gun ban passed. "It did allow for due process." HHS budget: "We're coming in with much fewer $s than we'd hoped. We started off $187 million in the hole. We're all hoping this economic situation will turn around."

    Dvorsky is glad they're having this in Coralville. Can't hide that CV pride. Notes that Willems had a family medical emergency. Bob hoping to adjourn in 4 weeks. "The in the know people in DC say the feds will come through" on Medicaid money. "It is going to be a tough tough budget year all across."

    Mascher: we've got a reorganization compromise. Over $127 million in savings. Notes texting ban, puppy mill bill.

    Jacoby discusses disaster relief, vets issues. Met with Wellmark Thurs. "Rate increases for people over 50 have been closer to 60%."

    Lensing notes next funnel is next week and session is 2/3 over. "Wellmark has reserves they can use." Also notes green advisory committee bill passing.

    Bolkcom: "We need congress and the prsident to pass a health care bill soon." Gets applause. Dealing with corporate tax subsidy reform. "This spending happend outside the appropriation process, most of it without review." Flood plain management bill, paid sick day bill. "A lot of people have paid sick days, but a whole bunch of people don't." Bike safety bill.

    Marek: Wind energy bill. SE IA network could prduce 500 megawatts. "It's expensive to put up, but one it's in place that wind is not subject to any speculation."edicare supplamental is taking

    The wifi has died so this is now pseudo-live.

    Question One comes from Dawn Suter of LWV and it's health care. Current senate bill SF 2356 to expand. Bolkcom: part of federal bill (which he thinks will pass) will be resources to help people who can't afford. IA would allow people to buy into state Medicaid on sliding scale. Incobysurance industry opposes. Negotiations to get the votes are ongoing. Calls it "a modest public option." Bill also expands provider network. Dvorsky: "we're probably first state in the nation to insure every child." "Senator Grassley has not been helpful but maybe he can be now" gets crowd laughs. Both say Jack Hatch is the point guy on this. Jacoby: poitics bogging this down. "The top two pieces driving costs in Iowa are age and weight. We need the youth in the pool." What insurance calls mandates, Dave calls essential services. "Those aren't what's driving the costs." Mascher: all of us need to call all our congressfolks. "We know Harkin and Loebsack are on board, we needs to let the R's know IOWANS wan't this. If we have to invoke reconciliation, so be it. Eventually you need to go forward." (This gets applause.) Marek cites constituent where Medicare supplement is taking whole social security check. Bolkcom discusses duplication of technology. Dvorsky: Feds need to regulate insurance, repeal McCarran-Ferguson.

    10:25 and the wifi is still down.

    Tom Carsner from Sierra Club asks about nuclear power. MidAmerican wants $15 million study. Marek: I hope the wind energy keeps moving." (This is his trademark issue.) Bolckom: proposal is very very new. "We've not been able to pass a single on of 54 energy issues" because industry has fought every one," and now they want this. "So there's a bit of frustration because they''ve opposed the low cost ideas and now they've proposed the most expensive idea." Any nuke plant would probably be next to Palo or Cordova IL. "We may need a nuke plant" if we're to meet carbon goals, but this needs to becombined with other ideas.

    Mike Carberry: water quality and manure on frozen ground. Schmitz: last year there was a reasonable compromise, then a bill comes in that derails it. Marek, wearing his farmer hat: manure needs to be injected, not dumped on frozen ground. Jacoby: Northey has promised watershed study and not provided it. Mascer notes her opposition; "we're looking at flooding again and we have done no flood mitigation." Due to climate change this will be more common, so we need to figure out long term how to vive with our water system. Lensing: "We have colleagues who don't recognize these problems." Dvorsky: Rob Hogg is running bill based on recommendations made after the 1993 flood, "and Governor Branstad did nothing with them." Nice touch. Bolckom: cities opposing DNR recommending a flood ordinance model. (Rettig whispers to me: "they're afraid someone will hold them accountable.")

    10:4 Pat Hughes from the City Fed of Labor. "I wanna talk about reasonable reimbursement." It's a fee, not a mandate. Jacoby: HF2420 is active, struggling on some fronts. But payment for grievance is active and has a good chance. Marek: "I hear both sides. I wish it would be addressed by federal law that unions could represent their members and not have to represent others." Mascher notes that bill doesn't address state and local employees differently. "It all comes down to 51 votes" (and, unsaid: one of them is at this table..) Dvorsky (AFSCME member): "I don't understand for the life of me why people think they shouldn't pay something for this process. I would be ashamed. These are freeloaders."

    Jean Cole asks about county mergers at 10:48. Dvorsky: "The actual boundaries of the 99 counties are in the Constitution. Now, you can combine offices," and notes Woodbury's auditor-recorder combo is the only one. Community Commonwealth allows city-county combinations, but Polk County voted it down. "It takes political will at the local level." Jacoby: "It has to be a dual effort, not a mandate from Des Moines." More services can be combined. Johnson County has better cooperation between governments than sother areas. Mascher says young people are the ones who will change things and demand more services on line. Tells a story about a teacher who wrote the assignment on the blackboard, and the kid, instead of writing it down, took a picture of the board with a cell phone. "Young people thinks differently." Schmitz, who has the most rural district of anyone at the table, notes rural fears of being swallowed up, also notes good working relationships between governments. Marek: I would like to see more state things devolved to the counties.

    Shane Marek of Carpenters asks about prevailing wage. Jacoby: notes that even CR mayor Ron Corbett ("a former Republican speaker") is looking at PLAs and prevailing wage. Current bll has opt-out clauses. "We either pay with wages or medicare." Mascher, Bolkcom and Dvorsky all chime in with support. (Larry Marek, presumably no relation, is quiet.)

    June Judge of NAMI: "When will IA have a Division of Psychiatric Rehabilitation?" Schmitz notes that it's hard to even keep phychiatrists in state. Jacoby notes that IA rembursement 51st in nation, "even below Puerto Rico." Mascher says state is under-served, talks about forgiving student loans to keep people here.

    11:06 Pat McGee asks about business tax rebates. Bolkcom: "This credit is the most generous in the country, I'm in favor of scaling it back. The biggest companies in the state are fiercely trying to protect it."

    Chris Bonfig asks about HF 2420; Mascher, Dvorsky, Schmitz, Lensing, Bolkcom yes; Jacoby, Marek no. Jacby: "The first part of the bill is marvelous, the secons part needs some work."

    11:17 and here come the junior high students. Won't get to them all.

    Friday, February 26, 2010

    Coffee Party Founded

    Make Mine A Triple Espresso

    The inevitable anti-Tea Party: the Coffee Party USA. WashPo says its "goals far loftier than its oopsy-daisy origin: promote civility and inclusiveness in political discourse, engage the government not as an enemy but as the collective will of the people, push leaders to enact the progressive change for which 52.9 percent of the country voted in 2008..."

    Conlin in Iowa City Thursday

    Conlin in Iowa City Thursday

    Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin will be in Iowa City next week:
    Thursday, March 4, from 5—6:30 p.m. at Bob’s Your Uncle, 2208 N. Dodge Street.

    Mostly a meet the candidate thing, though Roxanne's folks say 25 bucks would be nice, 10 for students etc.

    And via the Krause campaign, an online Senate straw poll. Kinda hidden, scroll down the right side of the page.

    Also upcoming, the monthly legislative session League of Women Voter's forum. I missed last month's for that get the cat Wisconsin trip, but plan to be blogging this one from Coralville (NOT Iowa City) City Hall, Saturday morning at 9:30.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Branstad liveblog

    Branstad at the `Burg

    Terry Branstad, Hamburg Inn, 2/25/20

    8:41 and I'm here at the Hamburg Inn waiting for Branstad. Most of the seats are full but movement is still easy. I grabbed a seat with another Demo interloper, but everyone knows him and everyone knows me, so I'm here to play it straight. What's Terry saying and what are people asking?

    Nomination petitions, for Terry and other Republicans for other offices, are floating about. Looking about most folks have the familiar blue and white BRANSTAD logo stickers on; seems like a crowd of the committed rather than curiosity seekers. There's a UI (heart) TB poster on the front window but the crowd looks older except for obvious staffers. A couple local GOP luminaries: Vanderhoef, Keettel, D. Thornton. I also see Coralville's Kelly Hayworth.

    8:52 and other media trickles in. Boss Dave Panther is pouring the coffee himself. Both the Reagan and Clinton tables are full. My quest for an electrical outlet has finally succeeded so I think I can stick with you for the whole show.

    As of 8:58 we've progressed to standing room only. I'll say 60 to 65. "Round it off to 500," suggests one supporter. There's TV (channel 9). One supporter wearing a WWRD tshirt (What Would Reagan Do). I think he'd have a pie shake.

    9:04 the Comeback Express (pictured above) rolls up. I settle into an awkward stance as mu power crosses the aisle. Chair of Students for TB does the intro, the word "comeback" works in.

    9:08 and TB starts. A history lesson and an analogy: if 2008 is 1964, 2010 is 1966 and a Republican comeback.

    TB discusses his last 12 years of non-government work. DMU grew, increased endowment, etc. "It was not easy to leave a job I loved, but literally thousands of people said we need your leadership back."

    "I have laid out ambitious goals." 200k new jobs. "When I left office unemployment was 2%." (and we were in mid-Bill Clinton era boom but he doesn't note that...) "Increase family incomes by 25%." "We want our young people to be able to get good jobs and stay here." Leading with economy.

    "We have a structural deficit. Gov Culver and the Democratic legislature have overspent and overborrowed." across the board cut "a very bad decision." Notes that he did an across the board, but "10% is more than can be managed reasonably." He would have brought Legislature back and prioritized. "Reduce size & cost of govt 15% over 5 years."

    Set high expectations for education, reward teachers and schools that exceed. "Need to be able to get rid of supt's principals and even teachers." (So much for that ISEA endorsement he once got...)

    9:17 he wraps with "proud to be back in IC." (No cheap People's Republic jokes.) Q&A time.

    Plans for students who "aren't really college material." TB touts industrial job training program "I started in 1983." Notes students starting at community colleges before going to university. Talks about his kids; "My family's kind of grown up since I was governor. We have two elections and two babies coming up this year."

    Welfare and entitlement programs (that's the questioner's wording.) TB talks about what he did before; also Medicare needs to be reviewed for efficiiency. "There's big mandates that will drive up costs" in federal bill. "It is a great concern of all the governors, and there's no way the federal government can afford it." Questioner follows up on plans to "get people off welfare." Once again, TB talks about what he did before.

    Local control of factory farms, water and air quality. (interloper?) "The NR is teh appropriate department to make those decisions, I don't think it s/be one by 99 counties."

    Megan Felt, definitely an lefty interloper., asks TB to take a pledge on some financial aid issue. "I don't think we s/be giving finincial aid to people who are here illegally," gets solid applause. Somehow she got right next to him and she's still there.

    Asked about closing deficit, TB cites example of Mitch Daniels in Indiana and references 99% rule "which the legislature started abandoning after I left."

    "I will work with whoever's elected, both parties," he says when asked about how to work with D legislature. Points to human prop Cloyd Robinson, an ex-DINO legislator from Cedar Rapids, who loudly announces his Branstad support.

    The wifi gets iffy. TB opposes bring back touchplay. "How can we stop the supreme court from legislating?" TB sez "the court made a big mistake" and he supports a constitutional amendment to end marriage equality (my wording) and legislature's leaders should allow a vote.

    Terry Branstad, Hamburg Inn, 2/25/20

    Maria Conzemius catches TB on the way out the door, asks him at great length about human services, and says "my vote will depend on your answer." I don't catch everything they say.

    So it's 9:48 and I manage to squeeze into the tail end of the media avail. The DI is asking about student aid. "I was one of those students who came here with a significant need for financial aid. We have to look at how we can be more effective. I want to take a look at the whole record. If you look at my record, you see that when we increased tuition, and it was never double digits, we tried to increase aid."

    And that pretty much sums it up: a lot of I did this, a lot of look at my record, a lot of we need to look at this.

    The Value of Endorsements

    The Value of Endorsements

    Stay tuned for my report (hopefully a liveblog) on Terry Branstad at the Hamburg Inn. While you wait:

    Chris Cilizza
    at the Washington Posts gets all meta on the topic of endorsements and ranks them in a hierarchy (though not in full Top Ten List format. He drops a couple of Iowa-centric examples:
  • The Celebrity Endorsement: Chuck Norris for Mike Huckabee in 2008.
  • The Newspaper Endorsement: Des Moines Register for John Edwards in 2004.

  • But Cilizza leaves out a couple types:

    The organizational endorsement. Think SEIU in a Democratic primary or Club For Growth on the GOP side. Mileage may vary depending on the organization, but the good ones should rank high in the hierarchy because they bring dollars and foot soldiers. They also provide valuable cues to voters.

    The cross-bench endorsement: open support from a prominent member of the other party. The chattering classes love this. Of course, one of the classics is DINO Zell Miller backing Bush in 2004, and you know you're gonna see it:

    The value of the cross-bench endorsement depends on the credibility of the endorser with leaning or pure independent voters. Dems got the better of this in 2008. Joe Lieberman had already made his break with Democrats, so his McCain support didn't matter much with soft Democratic voters. But Colin Powell (and local example Jim Leach) had a lot of credibility with moderate Republicans.

    The endorsement that needs to be denounced. Or rejected. Or denounced and rejected. The prior example is Farrakhan; for Republicans think David Duke. Cilizza hints at it with the Pariah Endorsement ("John Edwards endorsing anyone"), but there's a difference between something that can be ignored and something that's an active negative requiring damage control.

    The crazy blogger endorsement. Hey, it put Howard Dean on the map. I'll be testing this theory soon; stay tuned.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    King No on Health Antitrust Vote

    Steve King No Vote on ending insurance antitrust exemption

    Iowa's own Steve King was on the short end of a lopsided 406-19 vote today on the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act (HR 4626). The very popular bill ends the blanket antitrust exemption afforded to health insurance companies since 1945.

    Tom Latham joined 153 Republicans, and all Democrats present, in voting yes. (All 19 nays were from the GOP.)

    Now it's on to the Senate... where not much happens.

    Bailey for governor?

    Regenia Bailey for governor?

    That's the rumor Ed Fallon's trying to start, as he tries to find a primary challenger for Chet Culver. Fallon name-drops Bailey, Iowa City council member and ex-mayor, and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie into Jason Hancock's piece at my old Iowa Indy stomping grounds. And of course I'm making matters worse by passing it on.

    (Reminder for out of towners: Iowa City mayor is not directly elected and is essentially a chair of council type thing. Traditionally it rotates every couple years and everyone gets a turn, until the 1990s when Ernie Lehman locked it up for eight years and Karen Kubby never got a shot. Since then we're back to rotating: Ross Wilburn, Bailey, and now Matt Hayek.)

    Regenia didn't call Jason back (UPDATE: she tells the Gazette she is not interested in running “at this time” and “I’m really strongly supporting Gov. Culver in this election”) but she is backing Roxanne Conlin in the Senate race. Conlin's crew (the "RoxStars," which also includes Sue Dvorsky) is getting together tomorrow afternoon; 4:30 in the Bread Garden Market in Iowa City. "We'll be talking about how we want the Johnson County effort to look, who and how to involve the broadest number of supporters, and what our next steps are," sez teh Facebooks.

    Conlin also talks to Blog For Iowa. Nice talk but they fail to ask "Mac or Linux?"

    As for her former opponent, it's back to the future tomorrow morning with Terry Branstad's comeback tour. Two more comebacks and he gets a free pie--and it'll be good pie because it's at the Hamburg Inn, 9 a.m.

    Finally, because it doesn't fit anywhere else: fixing spaceships with duct tape!

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Grassley Fails Purity Test

    Grassley Fails Purity Test

    In a Rorschach test of conservative absolutism, Coralville Courier takes a shot at Chuck Grassley for bringing home a couple bacon bits. The press release says:
    Senator Chuck Grassley announced today that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration has awarded a $100,000 competitive grant to the Iowa Utilities Board in Des Moines through the 2010 State Damage Prevention Assistance Grant Program.

    Courier's response:
    A 'competitive grant' is awarded to the Iowa Utilities Board so they can print educational materials? Educational for who? Where in the Constitution is the competitive grant process authorized? That taxpayer money needs to stay in the communities it came from.

    Chuck, you wacky socialist.

    Meanwhile, Grassley's approval has slipped to its lowest point in three decased in the Senate. Even de facto GOP pollster Rasmussen has him in the low 50's against the three Democrats. Steve Singiser at Kos: "Remember, Grassley has never been under 60% in any of his electoral bids since his first run for the Senate in 1980."

    Those three prospective opponents were at the Iowa Federation of Labor yesterday. Tom Beaumont's headline: Conlin lone Senate candidate to challenge Grassley.

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    King "empathizes" with Austin Bomber

    Krazy King: "Implode" IRS

    TPM makes the catch: "Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told a crowd at CPAC on Saturday that he could "empathize" with the suicide bomber who last week attacked an IRS office in Austin, and encouraged his listeners to "implode" other IRS offices, according to a witness..."

    Linux Monday

    Linux Monday

    Mark Shuttleworth, the brains and bucks behind Ubuntu, says he isn't driven by Microsoft hatred. I am, toi some extent, so this Linux Monday I'll do a little Bill bashing.

    If yo've had a major Windows messup you've probably tried to deal with the registry, a collection of configuration code with obscure lines like

    Here's an uber-geeky look at why this apprroach is so, well, sucky, with just a mention that Linux handles its configuration in plain text files.

    This one's an oldie but goodie for new converts: Linux Is Not Windows.
    There are many things that don't change when you switch between cars and motorbikes: You still have to put petrol in the tank, you still have to drive on the same roads, you still have to obey the traffic lights and Stop signs, you still have to indicate before turning, you still have to obey the same speed limits.

    But there are also many things that do change: Car drivers don't have to wear crash helmets, motorbike drivers don't have to put on a seatbelt. Car drivers have to turn the steering wheel to get around a corner, motorbike drivers have to lean over. Car drivers accelerate by pushing a foot-pedal, motorbike drivers accelerate by twisting a hand control.

    A motorbike driver who tries to corner a car by leaning over is going to run into problems very quickly. And Windows users who try to use their existing skills and habits generally also find themselves having many issues. In fact, Windows "Power Users" frequently have more problems with Linux than people with little or no computer experience, for this very reason. Typically, the most vehement "Linux is not ready for the desktop yet" arguments come from ingrained Windows users who reason that if they couldn't make the switch, a less-experienced user has no chance. But this is the exact opposite of the truth.

    For folks who want to dip a toe in the open-source waters without plunging all the way in at the operating system level, Open Office is a nice start. A reminder: that's an office suite that's Windows and MS Office compatible, only without the pricetag. This piece looks at the latest Oo, 3.2, alongside Windows 2007.

    And who has a open source business model that makes big bucks while giving away a major product free? Why, David Bowie and the Grateful Dead. In fact, it was that granola attitude that drew me to Linux in the first place.

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Primary challengo for Ako

    Primary challengo for Ako

    Legislative filing season starts in about a week and we'll see at least one Democratic primary challenge. Clair Rudison, Jr. is taking on Ako Abdul-Samad in House District 66 in Des Moines.

    The inner city Des Moines district is one of the most lefty Dem seats in the state; it was Ed Fallon's for 14 years until he stepped down in his 2006 bid for governor. Fallon was challenged more than once, and Ako had a challenge in `08 as well. So the Dem primary is The Real Election. As for Rudison, he's "pro-family, pro-life and pro-marriage" if you know what I mean.

    Not much ripple effect from this. It'll boost turnout in that corner of Des Moines, but it won't really pull anyone out of the Republican governor's primary since there's not many Republicans to pull.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Rants Out

    So Much For My "Vander Plaats At Convention" Scenario

    Well, technically it could happen in a three way race if things split JUST right (like they almost did in 2002). But not likely, so I rank myself among the losers as Chris Rants bails on the governor's race.

    Who gains? Well, no one much since Rants was stuck in the asterisk zone. This is going to come down to Anyone but Branstad vs. Anyone But Vander Plaats. There may be a sliver of Anyone but Branstad OR Vander Plaats, which Rod Roberts now has to himself. And Vander Plaats no longer has to share his geographic base.

    So it doesn't help Branstad... but it doesn't not help him much.

    Libertarian in Iowa 2nd CD Race

    Libertarian in Iowa 2nd CD Race

    Haven't heard this anywhere yet, but the site's up: Libertarian Gary Sicard of Robins has announced in the 2nd Congressional District race. Sicard, 37, is a network engineer (we all know the net leans libertarian).

    The Libertarians last took a shot in the 2nd CD in 2002 and 2004 with Kevin Litten. The 2006 Loebsack over Leach upset was a two-man race. In 2008 Loebsack had three opponents (and joined a four-way debate) but the Libertarians didn't run.

    My early take is this helps Loebsack. While the LP is hard to classify on the traditional left-right spectrum, they probably take two or three votes away from the GOP for every one they take from the Dems. (As for the Greens, Loebsack ran behind Obama in 2008, almost precinct by precinct, by just about exactly Wendy Barth's percentage.)

    Mellencamp for Senate (?)

    Freedom's Road... to Washington?

    How's this for a candidate to replace Evan Bayh:
    "For the past quarter century, he has been... focusing on the farm crisis, economic hard times and race relations. He's been a key organizer of... fund-raising events for good causes, and he's been a steady presence on the campaign trail in recent years, appearing at the side of numerous Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama.

    He has a record of standing up for disenfranchised and disenchanted working-class families in places like his Indiana hometown.

    In fact, he might be just enough of an outlier to energize base votes and to make independent voters look again at the Democratic column."

    Say hello to... Senator John Mellencamp?

    Plenty of rally music to choose from. And yes, there's a Facebook group.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Concise Stuff from Other people

    Quotes of the day

  • Nate Silver: "Although Evan Bayh's retirement in Indiana was clearly great news for Republicans, it didn't necessarily increase their odds for a Senate takeover all that materially. The reason is that the Republicans' path of least resistance toward a 10-seat pickup already involved their winning Indiana, which in spite of some erratic polling, certainly appeared to be a more promising pickup opportunity than blue states like California, Washington or Wisconsin where Republicans may not even have a credible candidate in place."

  • Former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta: "I think the president is trying to re-engage with Republicans, but, quite frankly, he's not dealing with the party of Lincoln. He's dealing with the party of Palin."

  • Speaking of whom, Richard Cohen at the WashPo: "Palin is not a leader. She neither founded nor leads a movement and, as far as anyone can tell, has no ideas of her own. She's a validator, satisfying her audience's narcissistic urge to be told they are correct in their thinking. They look at her and see themselves."

  • Public Policy Polling reminds us that "Independents and moderates are not the same thing. Democrats are in trouble with independents right now. They are not, however, in trouble with moderates..."

  • And which political party offered this socialist platform?
    Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable.

    Stimulate improved job safety of our workers, through assistance to the States, employees and employers.

    Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of Sex.

    Clarify and strengthen the eight-hour laws for the benefit of workers who are subject to federal wage standards...

    Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public.

    That's the 1956 platform of... the Republican Party. (of course, back then Strom and the segregationists were Democrats, so I'll beat the critics to that punch.)
  • Monday, February 15, 2010

    Fallon: Culver needs a Primary

    Fallon: Culver needs a Primary (?)

    Ed Fallon
    drops a critique coyly constructed as a breakfast conversation with wife Lynn on their I’M For Iowa email list. Key phrase:
    Ed: If Democrats are serious about holding the Governor’s office, we’ve got a month to find a candidate to beat Culver in the primary.

    Some back and forth afterwards, but that's the main idea.

    More at the Register.

    Over the top Iowa Republican piece

    I will give up my bigotry when they pry my cold dead fingers from around it

    TEAPublican (heh) at The Iowa Republican hits a new rhetorical low with this over the top "satire" on the slippery slope of marriage equality:
    Threesome advocates from the organization “Many Iowa” lobbied all levels of government so well that they won landmark decisions redefining marriage once and for all leading the way to redefining some of the most seemingly concrete terms in society... SNL parodied a skit where the entire cast of Sesame Street had an orgy. Soon after when the viral satire hit everyone’s ipod, after office hour “sesame office parties” became a nationwide craze...

    Yesterday was Valentine's, not April Fools, and this "spoof" is in fact quite revealing of the mindset that equates gay monogamy with every dark corner of perversion in their (relatively limited) imagination. And there's enough stuff that slips through here to prove they really mean it:
    Most voters did not recognize how liberty was interconnected. Looking back now it’s obvious to determine that not keeping our courts in check and allowing them to legislate from the bench was indeed the picked lock that let morality’s chicken’s loose all over the proverbial perverted farm.

    "Liberty" apparently means the right to be bigoted and inflict that bigotry on others.

    Nothing fails like bad parody. You need to tell a truth that reveals something abouut the target. Instead, TEApublican reveals more about her/his own mindset. People like this are why Bob Vander Plaats will beat Branstad in the primary, and why Chet will get re-elected over BVP.

    Linux Monday

    Linux Monday

    I hit the wall of fail on one of my Linux projects: Kid Linux. Oldest son has moved back to Windows. As it often is with kids and Linux, it was a game that just won't work except in Windows, combined with a free machine that fell into our laps needing a new hard drive and a reinstall.

    So I spent about five hours of Saturday night on a disk format, an XP install... upgrade to Service Pack 2... upgrade to Service Pack 3... install Firefox,antivirus, memory manager, firewall and MS Office. And after all that... the freakin' game doesn't work.

    He still wants the Linux box on standby just in case. And the little guy wants Tux Paint back.

    The latest Open Office, version 3.2, is out. If you're in Ubuntu, here's how to upgrade.

    Command line voodoo? Sure. But after that Windows install marathon. I'll take cut and paste
    tar xzvf OOo_3.2.0_LinuxIntel_install_en-US_deb.tar.gz

    into the command line over squinting to read a 25 character Windows activation code (is that WS85B or W5BS8?)

    More clips from the last couple weeks:

  • This guy says the best way to advocate Linux is... don't. I'm ignoring the advice, naturally.

  • Here's another "Best Distributions" piece, and if you're geekier than even me, advice on building your own.

  • Open source means freedom from 'anti-features':
    “The aim was to make (the Home Basic version of Microsoft’s Vista) so bad that anyone would pay to upgrade to the next version,” he says.

    Well, they succeeded in making Vista bad, at least...
    This is the strategy of market segmentation — the creation of classes of user who pay different prices for what is essentially the same offering.

  • And stereotypes in action, or Linux not good for dating.
  • Sunday, February 14, 2010

    My New Furry Friend

    My New Friend

    I swore I wasn't going to get another cat after Spot died, We were just going to have the two cats for a few years. But sometimes decisions make themselves.

    Meet Shadow. This guy was the reason for the Wisconsin road trip a couple weeks back. How he came to be our cat goes like this: My brother's mother in law passed away about a month or so ago, and among all the practical decisions that have to be made at a time like that came the question of Grandma's cat. Everyone else is allergic, and hey! Uncle John loves cats.

    A little research about feline integration later, I said okee dokee. First couple days looked rough, with lots of hiding under our bed. Then we had a few days of taking turns with different parts of the house ("OK, it's Shadow's turn for the living room, get Dylan and Xavier to the basement"... reverse, repeat). But by last weekend everyone was ready to check each other out. Some hissing and growling, but no wounds, which is better than Xavier got when he moved in on Butter a few years back.

    Now they're eating from the same food dish and sharing the litter box, and Shadow's getting used to the people too. (Koni's his favorite, but he sleeps on my feet when he thinks I'm asleep). And my string is intact: I've still never named a cat (my nephew picked him out for Grandma and named him). I always thought if I ever got a black cat I'd name him Lucky. But we're pretty lucky with Shadow so far.

    Culver not dead yet

    Culver toast? Ask Governor Lightfoot

    There's no getting around it: The bad news is that Culver is sitting at 36 percent approval and 53 disapproval in February of election year.

    The good news is that it's February of an election year. Before anyone starts backing up the moving van at Terrace Hill, they'd better check with Governor Bonnie Campbell and Governor Jim Ross Lightfoot.

    In June of 1994, immediately after the epic Branstad-Grandy primary, Cambpell was 19 points up on Branstad. And Lightfoot had a similar lead at a similar time over the then-obscure Tom Vilsack.

    What do the two non-governors have in common? Inept campaigns, for one. Campbell alienated the base by going out of her way to attack the party platform (rather than simply ignoring it like most candidates of both parties) and ignored the field work that Iowa Democrats do so well in favor of an all-TV campaign. And it was bad TV that played into Branstad's message rather than setting Campbell's message.

    Lightfoot also ran a bad TV campaign, culminating in a bizarre ad that cherry-picked an obscure procedural vote and claimed Vilsack favored... "totally nude dancing?!?" Chair of the Iowa State College Republicans: "I saw that ad and said, 'there goes the male college student vote.'" (Too bad this was pre-YouTube, it was a classic.)

    So Coach Chet always has the hope that the opposition will fumble the ball. That's more likely than usual this year. Social conservatives are already pledging not to support Branstad if he wins the primary. And the centerpiece of the Vander Plaats campaign, an executive order halting marriage equality, is unconstitutional. The GOP will come out of the primary with either a damaged candidate who splits the party, or with an nelectable extremist.

    The best scenario for Culver is Vander Plaats; the Democratic base will fire up not for Chet but against BVP. (Roxanne Conlin at the top of the ballot will also be a base motivator.)

    This isn't to say Culver doesn't have a lot of work to do. He knows that, which is a big part of why mending fences with labor has been a high priority. The more culver talks jobs, while the Republicans argue about who hates homos more, the better his chances.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Lehman vs. Kaufmann

    Picking at the wounds

    Krusty has been stirring the GOP pot this week. Couple a days back he called the 2nd District field of candidates "idiots," and now we have a multiple mad e-mails exchange between Wilton state Rep. Jeff Kaufmann and outgoing Iowa Right To Life (sic) leader and Republican National Committee member Kim Lehman that Krusty's shared with the state.

    The point of contention, you may recall, is Iowa RTL's October 2008 newsletter calling Mariannette Miller-Meeks, then the GOP nominee against Dave Loebsack, a "great pretender" on right to life (sic) issues. Some Republicans called for terminating Lehman's term on the RNC, then just barely in its second trimester.

    The e-mail content shows no love lost, but its release into the broader blogosphere is also interesting. Question for readers: whose agenda if anyone's does this benefit? Multiple answers in multiple races will be accepted...

    Believe it or not, there's a People's Republic angle here. Lehman is leaving Iowa RTL (sic) for a position with the John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute (the agenda just leaps out of the name) which is based in, of all places, Iowa City. No word on if Lehman is relocating here, but that would certainly be interesting. Kaufmann, meanwhile, represents the thin sliver of eastern Johnson County that still has GOP represenation.

    Tuesday, February 09, 2010

    MTV no longer means music

    If video killed the radio star, who killed the video star?

    We've known it for years but they finally admitted it, which marks a milestone for anyone roughly 30 to 50: with the logo redesign, MTV no longer stands for "Music Television." It just stands for MTV. I think I last saw an actual music video on the channel about 1997, but still. Top of the hour, please:

    I'm deeply depressed and writers blocked over this anyway, so here's the clips:

  • Nate Silver: Republicans -- Not Obama -- More Often on Wrong Side of Public Opinion. Not just a blanket statement: 25 specific issues.

  • Bipartisan snow removal in DC.

  • What teabagger signs really mean.

  • And the geography of social networking: welcome to Stayathomia, Iowans.
  • Monday, February 08, 2010

    Readings on the Right

    Readings on the Right

    Always keep track of what they're up to:

  • Krusty takes the weak, 2008 retread field of Dave Loebsack opponents to task:
    Miller-Meeks is an idiot for over-reacting and over-analyzing her 2008 campaign...

    Chris Reed is an idiot for not doing more to cement himself as the alternative to Miller-Meeks...

    Does (Steve Rathje) have a grassroots network? What about a professional experienced team of advisors and staff? Is his campaign about more than just ego? Like his opponents, the answers are no, no and no.

    While the 2nd CD primary kind of reminds me of a bad reality show, I hope these candidates realize the ultimate goal isn’t winning the primary, but beating Dave Loebsack. It is not enough to win a primary for the sake of one’s ego. You must win the general election. To not have a minimum of $100,000 after the first reporting period is a clear sign it is unlikely that there will ever be that much in any of their coffers. It will take between $400-500,000 after the primary to be competitive in the general against Loebsack. And don’t fool yourselves, donors do look at past ability to raise money and will be woefully underwhelmed.

    But Krusty, you say "votes in lock step with Nancy Pelosi" like it's a bad thing and not just an exaggeration.

  • Also on the right, a new local conservablog "A Reluctant Revolutionary." Welcome Karen Fesler to the 'sphere, and spice up her comments a bit.
  • Roxane Conlin and the Netroots

    Is Conlin Going Viral?

    I'm cramming Roxanne Conlin into my usual Linux Monday slot, on the excuse that anyone who sued Microsoft and won qualifies as relevant to the open source software movement.

    Conlin also seems to be doing well on teh interwebs lately. She's on the Daily Kos recommend list again for the second time in a week. It's good positioning to get the Chuck Grassley attacks out into the liberal blogosphere, as antipathy to Grassley's role in killing health care goes beyond Iowa borders. That brings publicity, puts you on the national radar, and maybe gets you a few bucks.

    But it doesn't always work; not every diary by a politician (genuine or ghost-written) makes the front page recommended list. The readers do that. Could Conlin be becoming a netroots favorite?

    Sunday, February 07, 2010

    Who Dat

    Who Dat thinkin' dey can play at halftime?

    Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey should release an album called "Who Dat." It's a good question; as long as Moonie and The Ox remain dead, it ain't the Who.

    I know more about music than about football (congrats, Saints; it's been a loooong time and your city needed this one) and I've been writing for literally decades about the long, slow sad decline of the Who. Unfortunately, I now have another reason to.

    I almost got the sense Pete was undercutting Roger, perhaps because I'd seen a pre-game interview where Pete said he'd have preferred to do a couple complete songs but Daltrey had pushed for the medley approach. Which wound up being an intro from "Pinball Wizard," virtually all of "Baba O'Reilly," too much of "Who Are You" to get that CSI tie-in, a very very brief moment of "See Me Feel Me," and a compressed "Won't Get Fooled Again." Apparently singing the line "hope I die before I get old" was not seriously considered.

    (I think they should have gone all pervy: "Squeeze Box," "Pictures of Lily," "I'm A Boy," and Wicked Uncle Ernie.)

    So at game time, Daltrey was sticking close to the script (original phrasing but with the high notes kicked down an octave) while Pete was, er, fiddling about with the vocals. But Townshend still seems like he can play (I thought the whole thing would be pre-recorded, but they wouldn't have been so out of synch if it was).

    Pre-recording, in fact, was one of the more unfortunate jarring aspects for me. They used the original synth tape from "Baba O'Reilly" and "Won't Get Fooled Again." As they always have since the songs were new, just like Queen walked off stage during Bohemian Rhapsody and played the tape of the Thunderbolt And Lightning Very Very Frightening Me part, and came back on stage for the Wayne and Garth banging their heads part. The synth parts on Who's Next were never really played on conventional keyboard in the first place. They were programmed and sequenced on one of the first generation synths full of dials and patch cords. (Making Van Halen's live cover, where Eddie played the Won't Get Fooled Again riff on guitar, that much more impressive.)

    But by using the actual backing track of two of their greatest recordings, they invoked that glory and reminded us just how great they had once been--only to fall far short in their contemporary performance.

    So halftime comes full circle: the over-reaction to the Wardrobe Malfunction leads to a classic rock approach with passable performances by Petty, McCartney and the Stones, and excellent performances from Prince and Springsteen (Bruce even managed to make the new song work last year). But Sunday, Townsend and Daltrey (I can't even call them by the band name) embarrassed themselves on one of the biggest stages possible. Time for the pendulum to swing back.

    SNL and Sunday clips

    SNL gets two bits right

    SNL saved the best for last this week, closing with two had me in tears sketches.

    We need much, much more of Andy Samberg's Rahm Emanuel. He gets the persona and the politics, reminding us that it was us crazy lefty bloggers that Rahm called retards in the first place:

    As for Palin: "You come after me on Facebook? What are you, 14?" (Speaking of Facebook, a great article on its development and demographics. Whatever happened to MySpace?)

    Then at the wedding, Dad gets the band back together. Just enough setup to make me wonder which grossly inappropriate direction the band would take. My bet was on MTV hair band, but instead to my delight we get dead-on Kennedys:

    Complete with Reagan and Haig bashing lyrics that warmed this old punk's heart. AND genuine punk credentials: behind the drums, could that be... Dave Grohl.

    (Sorry about the ads. It's Hulu. Speaking of which, NBC made Conan an un-person this week.)

    Other stuff that doesn't fit elsewhere:

  • Obama calls out the GOP and conservaDems and talks end the filibuster.
  • Conlin ties Grassley to porkbarrel brinksman Richard Shelby.
  • And the Loebsack opponents had a debate yesterday. James Lynch's takeaway: Rathje positions himself to the right of Reed and MMM on don't ask don't tell.
  • Friday, February 05, 2010

    Illinois Primary Weirdness


    Well, of you thought the Illinois governor's primary was weird with a near-tie on the Democratic side and only six points separating first from fifth place on the GOP side... it gets even weirder down-ballot:

    It turns out that Scott Lee Cohen (D), the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor in Illinois, has more extensive problems than were reported yesterday.

    In an extraordinary interview with the local CBS news affiliate, we learn Cohen's own brother sued him for $200,000, he tried to choke his wife before they were married and he didn't pay child support while spending $3 million on his primary race.

    In an interview with the ABC News affiliate, Cohen also admitted to using "inject-able steroids" which "contributed to periodic episodes of violence against his family."

    As for the allegations that he pulled a knife on his prostitute ex-girlfriend, Cohen claims the wounds on her throat were "self-inflicted."

    Three words, Governor Quinn: Illinois Solidarity Party? Don't laugh; we're already going there:
    Reporters asked Governor Pat Quinn if he might consider resigning from the Democratic ticket, and run as an independent candidate, so as to free himself from being on a joint ticket with Cohen. The Governor replied, “Let’s take a look at how the situation evolves.” Obviously the Governor is hoping that Cohen will resign from being the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor.

    It's a similar scenario to 1986: Cohen won a low-information six-way primary with only 26%. (Looks like a landslide compared to the Republican governor nominee, whoever that may yet be, winning with 20.3%.) Another argument for instant runoff? Hey, they're using it for the Oscars...

    Here's another gem that hits closer to home. Jonathan Narcisse is now saying he may run in the Democratic primary against Chet Culver, then run again as an independent in the fall (presuming, as is likely, that Narcisse doesn't win the primary). Ballot Access News is following a seven-way Virginia congressional race and notes that VA has a "sore loser" law:
    Candidates filing for a primary must sign a statement agreeing that if they lose, their names cannot be printed on ballots for the general election. Meaning, if a candidate in the Republican primary for the 5th District loses on June 8, he or she cannot run as a third-party candidate in November.

    I'm just sayin' [cough]Lieberman[/cough]


    Friday's clips

    I'm a couple days behind the curve on the Daily Kos poll of Republicans, but it's still worth a look. My favorite factoid is the 33 percent support for secession in the South, which brings back memories of the Jesusland map and the site with the NSFW name of 2004.

    As always I'm a sucker for the Top Ten list, which New York magazine provides.

    It's not known whether Kos polled Ted Nugent, but they could have:
    I think that Barack Hussein Obama should be put in jail. It is clear that Barack Hussein Obama is a communist. Mao Tse Tung lives and his name is Barack Hussein Obama. This country should be ashamed. I wanna throw up.

    The whole thing is full of such wangoriffic rhetoric.

    Maybe the Motor City Madman (now relocated to Texas, "where I can keep a machine gun in the front seat of my vehicle") can go helicoptor moose hunting with Sarah Palin. And at the NYT, Timothy Egan draws the common thread between Palin and John Edwards:
    Palin and Edwards are two of an American archetype, opportunists playing to outrage while taking care of themselves. They are both attractive, with that lucky combination of genes that rarely lands on more than one member of an extended family. They can both hold an audience without saying anything of substance, or even making sense.

    So who gets the Edwards TV movie: Lifetime or Oxygen?

    The Iowa Republican has a piece on Boswell retirement speculation (which would be fine by me) and notes some phone polling re: a couple possible replacement Dems. Christie Vilsack would be an improvement; Geri Huser not so much.

    And in a polarized America, even Super Bowl preferences break out on party lines: "Democrats prefer the Saints by a 36-21 margin while Republicans say they want the Colts to be victorious by a closer 26-25 spread. Independents lean toward the Saints as well, 33-20."

    Thursday, February 04, 2010

    February Johnson County Dems

    February Johnson County Dems

    The folks elected on Caucus Saturday take office, amidst some introducing around the room. No electeds in the house tonight (except one stray township trustee).

    The Guv will be in town next week:
    Event: Coffee and Conversation with Iowa Governor Chet Culver
    What: Informational Meeting
    Start Time: Friday, February 12 at 8:00am
    End Time: Friday, February 12 at 9:15am
    Where: Hamburg Inn

    While the intros go on, I see Roxanne Conlin at #2 on the Daily Kos rec list with "Chuck Grassley: I’m for Fewer Jobs and More Corporate Profits". She also has about a 100 to 1 fundraising edge over primary rival Bob Krause, and about 1000 to 1 over Tom Fiegen.

    One of our newcomers: former city council candidate Dan Tallon.

    Ed Flaherty gets up on behalf of Krause, the staffer gets up on behalf of the Guv. And that's about all, I'll be home in time for Perry the Platypus.

    Iowa Governor Update

    Governor Developments

    Larry Sabato takes a doom and gloom look at governors this morning and rates Iowa as Leans Republican. His list of leading candidates includes Rants, but does not include Rod Roberts.

    Nor, for that matter, does it list Jonathan Narcisse, who's filed campaign finance papers to run as an independent. That, of course, is not the same as filing nomination papers, which independents don't do till July and August. The party candidates' papers are due next month. So Narcisse has the luxury of assessing the lay of the land before making the final decision.

    So does Bob Vander Plaats... who declined to take the Linn County GOP's "loyalty oath" to back the Republican nominee, but says he has "given no thought" to a third party bid. (Again, that deadline is post-primary, and Iowa has no "sore loser" law preventing a primary candidate from running independent in the general.)

    What Vander Plaats has done is get 2008 caucus winner Mike Huckabee to come in for him on Feb. 24. There's still the prospect of this primary turning into a presidential proxy war. Will we see the Mitt make a visit for Branstad? And would that help or hurt?

    BVP also has that all-important Chuck Norris endorsement, and this piece from "Paliban Daily" has been making the national rounds.

    Chet, for his part, spent the first part of the week mending his labor fences, backing project-labor agreements (I'm not hearing much about open scope or Fair Share this session...) "Think Hancher II in Iowa City," writes O. Kay. Wherever that will be...

    Wednesday, February 03, 2010

    Illinois Squeakers

    Wacky Illinois Results

    The Illinois governor's race looks like it's headed to a recount in BOTH parties.

    The Democratic side is a two way race. Semi-incumbent Pat Quinn, the guy who took over from the infamous Rod Blagojevich, has a tiny lead over challenger Dan Hynes.

    But where things are really interesting is on the Republican side. As I write here are the numbers:
    Governor - GOP Primary
    Illinois - 11118 of 11215 Precincts Reporting - 99%

    Brady , Bill 154,646 (20.3%)
    Dillard , Kirk 154,143 (20.2%)
    McKenna , Andy 146,614 (19.3%)
    Ryan , Jim 129,686 (17.0%)
    Andrzejewski , Adam 109,954 (14.4)%
    Proft , Dan 58,861 (8%)
    Schillerstrom , Bob 7,343 (1%)

    Three guys within one percent, and the top FIVE (!) all within six percent.

    More thoughts on this at the Register.

    Selective Enforcement in Iowa City

    Selective Law Enforcement in Downtown Iowa City

    The Iowa City council and cops are at it again. Just a week after targeting Mike Porter for fire safety when the stairway is already in the process of being fixed, they haul Leah Cohen's license in front of the council for failing a sting operation that involved two 20 year old adults sneaking past the BoJames bouncer.

    What do these two have in common? Their leadership in the No on 21 campaign in the fall of 2007. The council was counting on Rick Dobyns and the do-gooders to do the dirty work for them and pass the 21 only ordinance, but Porter and Cohen bankrolled the Student Health Initiative Taskforce (I still love that name) that actually got the students out to vote in a city election. And the two have been on the cop's S.H.I.T. list ever since.

    You can insert my standard rant here. Short version: when you're 18 you're an adult. I'm not arguing for a form of civic disobedience here. The law is the law, even if it's a really, really bad law, and there's too much dark history of standing in the schoolhouse door for me to argue for that level of defiance. (However, if I were on the council, I'd have no problem funding the enforcement of that really, really bad law at zero.)

    But the police have some choices here. If a 19 year old is peeing in the alley with a beer in his hand, then the principle of sheer stupidity argues he should get busted.

    On the other hand, deliberately sending a pair of 20 year old adults into a specific bar, known to be owned by a political opponent of the police agenda, with marching orders to sneak around the bouncer? That's deliberate and needs to stop. Meanwhile, council, the legislature's in session, and I'm not seeing any of you up in Des Moines arguing for realistic alcohol and drug laws.

    Tuesday, February 02, 2010

    Groundhog Droppings

    Groundhog Droppings

    I don't see my shadow this morning, which can only be good news for Smallest Farm 2010. (I assume my own personal groundhog, gopher, or whatever it is is still hibernating.)

    What's up today:

  • Over at the Register I look at how Republicans are (rather, aren't) choosing their battles.

  • A couple revealing lines in Craig Robinson's Iowa Republican piece on the constitutional convention as a way to dump marriage equality:
    "Unfortunately, time and patience is not on our side, and English and (the Iowa Family Policy Center) know this." Correct. Because those overall numbers opposing marriage equality are driven by heavy opposition from pre-baby boom seniors. Below retirement age, people are supportive. To be blunt, opposition to marriage equality is literally dying off.

    "When Vander Plaats mentions his executive order, he is greeted by cheers from the conservative activists supporting his campaign. Yet, authorization for this option can’t be found anywhere in the state’s constitution... The fact that two principled conservatives would advocate for such expanded executive powers is troubling." Constitutional strict constructionists clashing with social conservatives; a crack in the teapot.

  • More proof that the doom and gloomers are getting it wrong: Gallup polls party ID and finds, despite some slips, that Democrats still have a strong lead.

    Caveat: Iowa shows a six point drop for Dems--but that still leaves us with a 12 point edge.

  • Illinois primary day: previews in CQ and Swing State Project.
  • Monday, February 01, 2010

    Despite the iPad it's still Linux Monday

    Despite the iPad it's still Linux Monday

    No, I haven't bought an iPad yet; still clunking along in Linux.

    Trivia: the Lene Lovich classic "New Toy" was written by Thomas (Science!) Dolby.

    A new toy, but nothing too demanding: Jason McC. Smith writes at Seattlepi (remember last year when the print Post-Intelligencer died?) thinks the iPad is just enough computer for a lot of folks:
    Nearly everything we geeks love and adore about a general-purpose computer is a pain point for the average consumer.

    Average consumers don't care about multitasking if it means they get lost in the UI. They don't care about browsable flexible file systems with redundancy, journaling and distributed storage if it means they can't find their data. They not only don't care about these things, they dread them.

    Windows and the Mac are, really, just two variants of the same theme: a geek machine. Consumers recognize they don't need a pro-level machine, so they buy something cheap – but it's just a badly hobbled pro machine, not a consumer machine. It's like recognizing you don't need an SUV, but your cheapest option is an SUV body with a 1.2-liter, 4-cylinder engine. Kind of stupid.

    I guess average user isn't looking for help compiling a kernel, but here's some anyway.

  • Steven Vaughn-Nichols (his name keeps popping up) reviews the leading desktop distributions and the winner is... several, depending on your wants and needs. Which is really what it's all about.

  • Early test versions of the next Ubuntu ("Lucid Lynx") promise a 15 second boot time. Which would be nice; frankly I've been disappointed in the boot time on 9.10 and left my older machines running 9,04.

  • Dj Walker-Morgan looks at Google Android smart phones and asks: when is it worth saying it's Linux?
    The one word brand is a useful tool for consumers; when an average consumer sees the word "Windows", they know that the operating system will run programs written for Windows. When they see "MacOS" they similarly know it will run programs for Mac. When it comes to "Linux", things are different. Most of you reading this will, of course, know that what the general public have running on their desktop systems is, in fact, a combination of a windows manager and various applications, such as OpenOffice, GIMP, Firefox or Thunderbird, with a system kernel and that Linux refers to the kernel of the operating system, a distinction that is lost on consumers. But the new generation of devices lauded as "being Linux" aren't like that.

  • On the down side, Melee Island (great name) tries to install a program and sees too many confusing choices.