Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gleefully Off The Grid

Gleefully Off The Grid

With the weekend weather once again not looking so good, I took a day off to do a bit more Smallest Farm planting and a lot of mulch harvesting (aka mowing).

(Well, all right, I did have the Blackberry with me. But I checked it less obsessively than usual.)

Since I wasn't at the office I can't tell you how got first voter bragging rights for the June 8 primary. But whoever it was, it was today.

  • Nice turnout yesterday at Janelle Rettig's fundraiser; she's up and running even if no one else is challenging.

  • A dropout in the 1st CD as also-ran Jim Budde drops out of the Republican primary. Remember the Kerry Burt proviso: it's too late to get off the ballot.

  • Krusty reports on the 2nd CD Republicans at the weekend convention; not so good for Not Tom Harkin.

  • In the 3rd, Pat Betrouche gets a second Worst... Person... In The Wooooorld! of the week for Iowa Republicans, for his "in jest (?!?) suggestions that deported aliens get microchipped doggie style.

  • Roxanne Conlin has been liveblogging lately. Yesterday she was on with Charlotte Eby, which is dangerously approaching critical mass of redheads. If Conlin keeps doing this liveblogging I may need to loan her a beret.

  • The BBC says the floppy disk is offically dead.

  • The BBC also says the floppy disk is very much alive.
  • Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Obama Overview

    Obama Overview

    As an Iowa political junkie I'm spoiled. I have literally lost track of the number of times I've seen Barack Obama speak. So, since I took the day off the day job LAST month to see the President, I decided to let everyone else cover it today.

  • Silliest claim of the day comes from Mariannete Miller-Meeks:
    “They know David Loebsack is in deep, deep political trouble because he’s betrayed his constituents. Never has a president expended so much taxpayer money in such a short amount of time to prop up a member of Congress. It doesn’t matter why he claims to be here or what he says when he’s here, Barack Obama’s actions speak far louder than words. And, what they say is that David Loebsack is very vulnerable in November,” Miller-Meeks said. “Why else would the President of the United States be compelled to visit not one, not two, not three but four cities in eastern Iowa in a month’s time?”
    Silly because just last weekend the New York Times rated Iowa's (and everyone's) House races and had Loebsack the safest of Iowa's three House Dems at "Solid Democratic." Even freakin' KRUSTY says:
    While I can’t see Democrats getting nervous about Loebsack yet, it might have more to do with Chet Culver and Roxanne Conlin.

    I just think it’s an absolute waste of his time to be spending so much time in the safest Congressional District in Iowa. You would have thought if he was coming to Iowa he would have visited the 1st or 3rd CD, especially with Congressman Boswell is serious trouble.
    Well, there WAS an event on tonight's schedule, but the closed door event, billed has a party for David Axelrod with no word on whether or not money changes hands, has been scuttled by the publicity.

    In any case the clear meta-message is small-town economy and green jobs, which makes the southern tier of IA-02 and norther Missouri perfect turf for what Bret Hayworth calls a glorified photo op".

  • O. Kay has the best look and feel Q and A coverage of the Ottumwa town hall.

  • State 29 chimes in on Ottumwa with the snarky line "clapping like a gay seal," which rhymes with "fine time to leave me Lucille."

  • Misleading headline of the day: In Fort Madison, loudest cheers AFTER Obama leaves
    . Effective, because it sucked me in. Punchline: Boss gave the crew the rest of the day off.
  • Monday, April 26, 2010

    Grassley Worst Person In The World

    Grassley Worst Person In The World

    Just awarded by Olbermann: for Taking Credit For Medicare Provisions In Health Care Law That He Opposed, our own Chuck Grassley is today's worst... person... in the wooooorld! (Skip to 2:08 for Grassley, although the Australian gay dog is good for a laugh.)

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    I thought Steve King had an Iowa monopoly on that award... music, maestro:

    Suppertime Smorgasboard

    Suppertime Smorgasboard, or, Leftover Night

    You probably noticed that gap tomorrow night on President Obama's schedule, too, especially after word came out that he's overnighting in Des Moines. Dave Price has the word and it's no surprise: a high-high end fundraiser.
    The owner of Baby Boomers Cafe, Rodney Maxfield, confirmed the president is supposed to stop by a private reception at his restaurant Tuesday night. Maxfield said the party is a reception for Obama advisor, David Axelrod. He said 3rd District Congressman Leonard Boswell and Governor Chet Culver are also expected to attend. He is planning on finger foods, drinks, etc. for about 100 people, which is all the place holds.
    Meanwhile, right about now, the GOP “Stand Up 4 Freedom rally” is underway. The RPI press release gave Steve King top billing but the fine print notes he's phoning it in. The rest of the rogue's gallery includes all four congressional candidates, party chair Matt Strawn, and two of the three Senate District 45 contenders, Randy Besick and Sandy Greiner. Does that mean the third guy, Rick Marlar, is an also-ran?

    And while Dems and Repubs were convening at the district level, the Libertarians had their state convention. O. Kay has the story:
    “Cooper, who is an Iowa State University psychology professor, admits he won’t be elected governor…”

    “Cooper’s lieutenant governor running mate is 30-year-old Nick Weltha of Des Moines, an administrator in the Iowa Judicial Branch…”
    So, top of the Libertarian ticket, both government employees. Maybe they'll be in the running for Public Employee Of The Year next year.

    Iowa Senate FEC Reports

    Senate FEC Reports Finally On Line

    Couple a' weeks back there was a big news flurry when quarterly Federal Elections Commission fundraising numbers came out, as Roxanne Conlin outraised Chuck Grassley for the first quarter of the year.

    But no one other than O. Kay Henderson and myself seems to have picked up on the pitiful numbers out of the Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen campaigns: "Tom Fiegen raised $11,274 and Bob Krause raised $1,934 in the first quarter."

    Part of that may have been lag time at the FEC web site, but those numbers are now posted.

    As previously noted, Conlin has one million dollars cash on hand (counting $250k she kicked in herself.) Grassley has $5.3 million on hand, so Roxanne is way behind.

    But at least she's in the same approximate galaxy as Chuck. Bob Krause has a whopping $352 on hand and Fiegen has $582. No, I'm not missing some zeroes. Not hundreds of thousands - hundreds of dollars.

    Fiegen also has a debt of $1240 listed, meaning he's actually in the hole. Granted, Fiegen's legal specialty is bankruptcy, but that hardly should be applied to campaign finance. Compare that to the $50k he raised and $30k of in-kind from one quarter of his 2002 legislative race to run in one fiftieth of the state.

    Convention Roundup

    Convention Roundup

    For those not interested in my weekend's computer upgrade, here's some scattered notes from the various district conventions. Very little news filtered up to the Lamestream Media level (Sarah Palin gets royalties when I say that) but a handful of bloggers check in:

  • Congrats to David "Hawkeye GOP" Chung who returns to the Republican state central committee (he took some time off to help the short-lived Christian Fong for Governor campaign). He also has the rest of the GOP state results for the three districts that met and in another post reviews the 2nd CD convention (platform got short shrift because elections took all day).

  • Craig Robinson at Iowa Republican has a long writeup with lots of speech video from the 3rd CD. (I don't have time before work to watch the speech; can some enlightened Republican please explain what Jim Gibbons means by "Burn the boats"?) The weather didn't cooperate with Terry Branstad's plane so he missed it.

  • desmoinesdem has the Dem's state central committee results near the top of a big roundup of Stuff Goin' On these next couple weeks.

  • Blog for Iowa has two reports. From Fairfield, Trish Nelson says the speech highlights at the 2nd District were Dave Loebsack and Roxanne Conlin. Anita Martin reports from the 3rd CD in Altoona; apparently Bob Krause sent a video. KCCI has a brief 3rd District report too.

  • Also at Blog for Iowa, Paul Deaton says "Conlin is Emerging as the Choice for Iowans."
  • Linux Monday: Lucid Lynx Week

    Linux Monday: Lucid Lynx Week

    It's a big week in Linux Land as Lucid Lynx, the latest Ubuntu upgrade (number 10.04; the convention is year.month), is released on Thursday (4/29). I've been doing this long enough, and things went well enough on the test machine, I decided to jump the gun and upgrade to the final in all but name "release candidate" version. here's how).

    The download and install took a couple of mostly unattended hours; might have been faster if I'd sat at the desk and clicked the occasional prompt. Most were automatic--but I made one mistake.

    The new Ubuntu asks you which drives you want the bootload menu "GRUB" -Linux people: it's part of the startup sequence where you can choose which version you want to boot into, or you can choose some system tests. It's also what dual-booters use; every few months I need to use the GRUB menu to choose (shudder) Windows.

    The Lucid Lynx installer recommends that you choose the defaults, but I was worried about horcking my Windows partition and made the wrong choice. A few minutes later I rebooted and stared at some text:
    Grub_ Loading: Error 15
    This is why I have emergency backup computers and a bootable CD on hand. I was able to fix my problem and get both Linux and Windows booted (it was the first time I'd booted Windows since I covered the President's visit last month. Which is really funny because Obama's a Mac and Blackberry guy.) I learned something technical, but the moral is: accept that default in the first place.

    After that I was up and flying; no stopwatch handy but the boot seemed faster, more like it did in 9.04. (9.10 disappointed me in that department.) I booted from the default, generic kernel included in the upgrade. Since the last upgrade, I've started customizing the Linux kernel myself using KernelCheck; that's intermediate level stuff that I won't get into too much except to say: 1) smaller kernels generally mean faster boots 2) if you've had trouble with KernelCheck it's because the files it downloads from got moved again; here's a fix 3) my homebuild kernel didn't boot. I have it booting now but I'm still tweaking that. Again, that one's my fault not Ubuntu's.

    I had a little trouble accessing my external hard drive but I think that was related to my previous mistake. No Googling needed; the internal help got me straightened out.

    (While I was doing this, I was also grappling with some Windows hardware drivers on my son's machine so he could get a game up and flying. We got that problem solved, too, with a similar amount of effort. A similar amount of effort... to install a driver or to upgrade the entire operating system?!? OK, I'm Linux-biased.)

    Then there were a couple minor cosmetic tweaks, both of which I knew about.

    For all my Windows bashing, I really do use Linux like a Windows refugee (and I'm still in Windows both at work and in providing family tech support), and I have my desktop set up a lot like a Windows 98 interface (in XP you'd call this "Classic" start menu). The Ubuntu logo sits in the lower left just like a Start button, the quick launch icons are just where they would be in Windows, and so on. Pathetic, I know. Bet you thought I was flying along on a command line and a prayer.

    But with Lucid Lynx Ubuntu is moving away from one of the old Windows classics, the "notification area" or what what Windows refugees call the "system tray." Matthew Paul Thomas of Canonical (the $ people behind Ubuntu) gives an interesting history of the system tray ("This story begins in 1990, when Microsoft released Windows 3.0 without an easy way to see what time it was...") and offers the rationale for some changes:
    We’ve inherited the same problem as Windows: some items open a menu on left click, some open a menu on right click, some do both, some open a window, and at least one reliably disappears when you click it. It’s hopelessly inconsistent — and as long as we continue with the current protocol, it always will be inconsistent.

    We can’t go on like this. Nuke the entire site from orbit — it’s the only way to be sure.
    The nuking began a year ago with 9.04 and generally has moved items to menus. This cycle they removed instant message notifications - which, since I rarely if ever IM, doesn't matter to me - and the volume control, replacing it with a sound menu.

    That one I use a lot. I don't want to navigate a whole structure when I need to kill the sound fast or when the song is so good I just need to turn it up. I want it easy to find and I want it where I've had it.

    The good news is, this is an easy fix.

    The other switch I mentioned a couple weeks back: the move of the maximize, minimize and close buttons from the Windows-style upper right to the Mac-like upper left. That, too, is is not hard to fix.

    Some of the other early birds have bundled a script to do a whole bunch of the make it work like it used to features, as well as installing the restricted fonts and codes that don't come in a default install.

    The best news, for me, is that the audio problems I've had on past upgrades didn't happen. I've been doing my usual stuff - browsing, writing, music and database management - without incident. My Windows programs that I run using Crossover are working fine, and the Rhythmbox music player I use seems to have grown a couple handy features.

    This is a Long Term Support release, the first in two years, and if things go well I may stick with it. My machine will be three years old by the time 10.10 comes out and long term support may be the way to go.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Rainy Day Republican Notes

    Rainy Day Republican Notes

    So much for my plans on the Smallest Farm, as the rainclouds settle in over I O Way for the next several days. As any farmer, Smallest or not, will tell ya, we needed.

    Here's a disconnected series of clips about Republicans:

  • I find myself, believe it or not, in agreement with Bob Vander Plaats: "Vander Plaats says it’s time to start the process of ending casino-style gambling; pari-mutuel wagering (on horse & dog races) and the state-run Lottery..." Gambling is one of those weird things where the moralist conservatives and the anti-regressive tax lefties find themselves inadvertently on the same page.

  • In the 2nd CD race Christopher Reed is taking shots at Steve Rathje -- false charges, says Team Rathje. This comes the same week that the National Republican Congressional Committee in effect gets behind Rob Gettemy. David Chung, looking today to get back on state central committee, is predicting this four way nomination fight (with the three guys and MMM) goes to convention.

  • The right of the right of the right says Sandy Greiner isn't conservative enough. Is this a shot at Greiner herself, or a proxy shot at Terry Branstad?

  • Finally, people reeeeally don't want Ronald Reagan on money. Two twenties and a ten, please.
  • Friday, April 23, 2010

    The Road to Terrace Hill Does Not Go Through the AG's Office

    The Road to Terrace Hill Does Not Go Through the AG's Office
    (Or through the broom closet in the Capitol basement)

    Larry Sabato takes a break from predicting doom and gloom for Democrats and takes a look at this year's big stepping stone to governor's mansions: the office of Attorney General.
    "Just this year ten of the fifty current state attorneys general are running for governor: Terry Goddard (D) in Arizona, Jerry Brown (D) in California, Bill McCollum (R) in Florida, Thurbert Baker (D) in Georgia, Mike Cox (R) in Michigan, Andrew Cuomo (D) in New York, Drew Edmonson (D) in Oklahoma, Tom Corbett (R) in Pennsylvania, Patrick Lynch (D) in Rhode Island, and Henry McMaster (R) in South Carolina."
    But Sabato says it's a poor launching pad: "Since 1984 there have been exactly 250 state AGs, but only 28 (a mere 11%) became governor. This is precisely half the gubernatorial success rate of lieutenant governors."

    Iowa, you may recall, has some experience here. We've only had two attorney generals -- attorneys general? -- since 1974 and both made failed bids for governor. Tom Miller gave up the AG job in 1990 to make a bid for governor, but lost in the primary. His successor, Bonnie Campbell, won the gubernatorial nod over weak competition in 1994, but then blew a 19 point post-primary lead to lose in a landslide to Terry Branstad. Miller, meanwhile, took the opportunity to claim his old job back.

    Comeback Kid Branstad was our state's last lieutenant governor to move up to the top (before that it was Bob Fulton, who ruled the state for all of two lame duck weeks after Harold Hughes went to Washington). Indeed, Branstad was our last lieutenant governor to go anywhere. JoAnn Zimmerman ran for governor briefly in 1990, but dropped out to join Don Avenson's ticket (much as Patty Judge did with Chet Culver.)

    Branstad's last lite guv, Joy Corning, dropped hints circa 1996, but no one took them. Now, with her choice friendly and gay friendly views, Corning is a pariah in her party, and her very name is BVP code for Branstad's Too Liberal.

    Tom Vilsack took an unlikely route to Terrace Hill via a mayorship and the legislature. His number two, Sally Pederson, was and is still mentioned as a candidate for... something, but her last gig was as a party chair. Besides, throughout the Vilsack era it was clear that another statewide office holder, Secretary of State Chet Culver, had his eye on the top. Not that it stopped Mike Blouin and Ed Fallon from trying.

    Now, of course, our incumbent lieutenant governor is facing a primary challenge of sorts at the state convention. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Barb Kalbach succeeds, in a convention of the most faithful of the party faithful (the willing to skip a day of gardening) at knocking off Patty Judge. Let's also assume that, even after that slap in the face from his own party, Culver goes on to win re-election.

    The lieutenant governor of Iowa has no constitutional power other than to inquire about the governor's good health each morning. There's nothing to stop Culver, who's not known for making friends with rivals, from giving Kalbach the broom closet next to the Capitol cafeteria instead of a broad portfolio addressing "corporate-owned factory hog confinements, campaign finance reform, vertical integration, and big-box store development."

    And lest we forget, Kalbach embarks on this fool's errand while her own district's incumbent Republican state senator and incumbent Republican state representative run unopposed.

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Conventions Converge and Convene Across Iowa

    Convention Convergence

    It's a Saturday of politicking across the state as Democrats hold congressional district conventions in all five districts, while Republicans meet in three out of five. Indeed, both 2nd District conventions will be just a hop, skip and yogic flight apart in Fairfield--though someone needs to tell Bob Vander Plaats.

    (That's not the biggest political event of the week for the 2nd CD, as President Obama's second visit to the district in a month takes him across the southern tier of Dave Loebsack's turf on Tuesday: Ft. Madison, Tom Vilsack's own Mt. Pleasant, and Ottumwa.)

    I'm skipping out on the conventions; it's Smallest Farm season and I don't want to devote a full day to platform fights and committee elections. But the Iowa Democratic Party did send out a handy-dandy checklist of who's planning to be where.

    Governor Big Lug is planning on making it to all five conventions, a feat comparable to Phil Collins flying the Concorde and playing both Live Aid concerts. (Where did I put that Beloit College Mindset list again?) Senate candidate Tom Fiegen is trying for four while Roxanne Conlin has three on the list. (IDP sources tell me that Bob Krause will be at some conventions as well, but his schedule didn't make the initial relase.)

    In addition to Culver, here's the speakers:

    1st District Dems in Peosta will get their congressman, Bruce Braley, both Conlin and Fiegen, and Sec of Ag candidate Francis Thicke

    The 2nd CD confab in Fairfield may be the best bet to see all three Senate candidates, as it's where Krause (and Thicke) call home. Congressman Loebsack and IDP chair Mike Kiernan will also be there.

    The 3rd District Dems will come on over to Adventureland for their Altoona convention, and they have a big slate of big shots: Senator Tom Harkin, Secretary of State Michael Mauro, and Congressman Leonard Boswell, along with Conlin (this is the one Fiegen skips) and Thicke.

    4th District Dems meet up north in Mason City and get Fiegen (no Conlin), Mauro and congressional candidate Bill Maske.

    Over in Atlantic, the representationally challenged Democrats of the 5th District will get the two guys hoping to beat Steve King: Matt Campbell and Mike Denklau. Also on deck: Harkin, Mauro, Fiegen and Kiernan.

    What to read into the scheduling decisions? Conlin concentrates on the Democratic base turf in east and central Iowa; Fiegen skips Conlin's Polk County.

    And in other convention news from the IDP, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is keynoting the June 12 state convention. That might be worth a day away from the garden.

    On the right side, Republicans from Districts 2, 3, and 5 meet this weekend, in Fairfield, Grinnell and Sioux Rapids respectively. CDs 1 and 4 go next weekend on Socialist Labor Day, May 1. (Sorry. Had to.) All three candidates for governor are planning to be at all three conventions, though Vander Plaats needs to update his schedule as he lists "Mt. Pleasant" for the site of the 2nd CD convention.

    The RPI is also bringing a road show to each convention with the party leaders and the candidates without primaries: Chairman Matt Strawn, "Co-Chair" (insert my standard puzzlement) Jim Kurtenbach, Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, State Auditor David Vaudt and Attorney General candidate Brenna Findley (who, desmoinesdem notices, Terry Branstad seems to luuuuv these days... and now that I think about it I don't see Tom Miller and Mike Fitzgerald on that Dem schedule, though I'd bet on seeing them at least at Altoona.)

    It's also a good bet that the three Secretary of State candidates and both state treasurer contenders will make the rounds, and that a good chunk of the day will be taken up by the four 2nd District candidates and the SEVEN 3rd CD hopefuls. They could be speechifying in Grinnell all night.

    Libertarian gets Register writeup

    Libertarian gets big play in Register

    Finally this week, some good news for Chet Culver: The Register's Kathie Obradovich devotes big column space to a third party contender.
    Libertarian candidate for governor Eric Cooper pulled off a rare feat at a recent forum: He upstaged the major-party contenders... (Cooper) owned the audience at the Iowans for Tax Relief gubernatorial forum last Saturday. He left me wanting to know more about him.
    Both the speech and the column (plus this post, sure to be read by at least handfuls of Iowans) are big coups for the Libertarians, who usually go begging for coverage.

    Choosing my words with tweezers here, because third party supporters take offense at the notion that their candidates are "spoilers" who "take votes away" from the major parties. A certain percentage, true, would write someone in, choose whatever third option they had, or just skip voting entirely.

    But most people have second choices, and third party backers know this; it's one of the reasons they're big instant runoff voting fans. I've always thought that, all other things being equal, Libertarians draw about two I hate taxes Republican votes for every legalize weed liberal. (Greens, in contrast, draw just almost every vote from folks who think the Dems aren't progressive enough).

    Statistically, Libertarians have outdone Greens in Iowa ince the two parties won official "organization" (a/k/a minor party) status in 2008. The state has 1,103 registered L's but only 485 Greens. There were 2,480 Greens in early 2003, when the Greens lost full party status, so they're way down from their Nader-era peak.

    Democrats, in the post-2000 era, are really gun-shy about third parties. And we're in a defensive mood these days. But Republicans, in last year's special Congressional election in upstate New York, proved themselves willing to scuttle a moderate with the GOP label in favor of a Conservative Party candidate. The winner in that split was the Democrat.

    Which is where Chet Culver comes in. With Christian conservatives already saying they'll sit on their hands rather than support Terry Branstad, could small-l libertarians join suit and throw a vote Cooper's way? Conversely, if Vander Plaats pulls the upset, will social moderates throw a protest vote the Libertarian's way? Either way, the beneficiary is Chester J., who is in close matchups with Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts (if not with Branstad).

    "If we can get 10 percent on a regular basis, it forces the major parties to start stealing our issues in order to poach our voters,” Cooper told Iowans for Tax Relief. “If anyone wants to steal my issues, they’re yours.” Libertarians hit that mark in Wisconsin in 2002, under odd circumstances.

    One way Cooper may NOT help Culver is the Iowa City wild card: a referendum to repeal the city's new 21 bar admission ordinance is likely to be on the ballot. Young people, not yet jaded by realpolitik, are more likely to support "can't win" third parties, and the bar referendum will boost campus turnout. (And what reaction, if any, will we see to the overkill dorm drug raid?)

    Will top-of-ticket candidates be sucked into the bar battle? The dilemma for Democrats is that the bar issue, and the related drinking age issue, cuts across traditional ideological lines. Firm positions will win one set of supporters while alienating others. Expect a lot of dodgeball.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Strange Maps and S Words

    Strange Maps and S Words

    Here's a new book I need to pick up: Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made it by Michael J. Trinklein. You may recall How The States Got Their Shapes a few months back; this is the flip side.

    For a teaser, the author has both a blog and a Flickr set of maps of the non-entities. With my Northern Wisconsin roots, I well remember State of Superior bumper stickers in the late 1970s.

    Also today: a Register post on "sooooocialism" and the aging Tea Party. And Loebsack kicks it up a notch and invites Lonesome Rhodes to Cedar Rapids.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Not So Happy 420

    Not So Happy 420

    Seriously? 18 cops to bust a dozen stoners in the dorms? Back in my day this was dealt with by the RA flushing your stash (or maybe, if he was exceptionally cool, taking a hit and telling you to stuff a towel under the door.)

    And people wonder why there aren't the votes in this town for a new jail.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Loebsack vs. Glenn Beck

    Loebsack vs. Glenn Beck

    Here's hoping this war of words goes viral Alan Grayson style with the netroots:
    Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack is firing back at Glenn Beck after the conservative commentator, in a recent column, referred to federal funds allocated to the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids as “unbelievable waste.”
    It seems Lonesome Rhodes dropped a reference to a $500,000 FEMA grant into this column. "What about the Serb, Croatian and Albanian exhibits? Don't we care about them?" Well, maybe we do, but they probably weren't destroyed in a natural disaster either.

    And Loebsack fires back: "It is regrettable that in the current state of political discourse that ill-informed rhetoric is a hotter commodity than an understanding of the economic and recovery needs of ordinary Iowans."

    I'm predicting Beck's response: "If you rearrange the letters in Dave Loebsack, it spells 'So Backed Veal'." Which may cost him the PETA vote.

    Convention Challenge to Patty Judge

    Convention Challenge to Patty Judge

    Here's an odd one: a nomination challenge to Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge.

    Barb Kalbach, current board president of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI), has announced plans to challenge Judge at this June's state Democratic convention. Team Fallon is giving her air time today:
    Many rural Iowans feel Culver, Judge and the Legislature have ignored issues affecting family farms and Main Street economies, despite promises made by Democratic leaders and candidates.

    Barb’s is an unusual campaign, since the focus is not an election but on winning enough delegate votes at the State Convention in June. This weekend, Barb makes her case at the district conventions. She feels if she replaces Patty Judge on the Democratic ticket, there’s a much better chance that corporate-owned factory hog confinements, campaign finance reform, vertical integration, and big-box store development -- all issues that presently stymie rural Iowa’s progress -- will be taken seriously.
    Nothing like this has happened since the 1988 constitutional amendment that ended the separate elections for lieutenant governor. Five governor-year conventions of each party have come and gone, and all have rubber-stamped the candidate's choice.

    Rumors floated last fall that Culver was considering dropping Judge, but the printed campaign materials all say Culver-Judge. The two campaigned together in Iowa City last month following President Obama's visit here.

    It's just another serving of bad news for the governor, who already had a full plate today with campaign finance questions and another staff departure. (Silver lining: Frew's departure put's Iowa City's own Jim Larew in the top spot on the governor's office side.)

    Frankly, for Democrats frustrated with Culver, it's too little too late and it targets the wrong person. Overthrowing Patty Judge would only further weaken the guy atop the ticket, but wouldn't replace him. The window of opportunity for a challenge to Chet from within the Democratic Party closed on March 19 when filing closed for the primary.

    Kalbach, who lives just over the line into Adair County, could have done more good running for the Legislature rather than further beating up an already weakened Governor Culver. Both of her incumbent Republican legislators - Sen. Nancy Boettger and Rep. Clel Baudler - are running unopposed. Baudler only won 58% last time, and Boettger hasn't had an opponent since 2002. Indeed, it's not too late to put together a convention.

    Fiegen and Krause Post Poor Numbers

    Fiegen and Krause Post City Election Fundraising Numbers for Statewide Race

    O. Kay Henderson has the numbers for the other two Democratic Senate candidates first: "Tom Fiegen raised $11,274 and Bob Krause raised $1,934 in the first quarter."

    That makes my snark from last Thursday, when Roxanne Conlin reported $1 million cash on hand, relatively accurate: "The only real question is: did she out do them 100 to one or 1000 to one?"

    Conlin raised $879,615 in the quarter ending March 31, more than even Chuck Grassley, even when you take away the quarter million she kicked in herself. That's 78 times what Fiegen raised and a whopping 455 times Krause's total.

    Here's another way to look at it: Check these numbers from last year's Iowa City Council race. Fiegen raised less money than city council candidate Terry Dickens put together to crush two student candidates ($15,915 before the October primary). Krause, for his part, raised less than Coralville city candidate Bill Hoeft ($2,545).

    Or: Krause raised less total money than the $2300 maximum individual donation, meaning Conlin raised more from one donor than Krause raised period.

    Sure, money isn't the only thing to think about. And I do feel a bit sorry for Fiegen and Krause, who carried the ball against Grassley when no one else wanted to, then got stepped on.

    But Fiegen, in particular, should have had access to the same sort of legal community fundraising base that Conlin did. And as Kathie Obradovich says today about the congressional primaries, "I’m much more likely to compare candidates based on their issue positions, leadership experience and goals for the office. But I may not spend a lot of time researching the ones who haven’t raised enough money to run a primary campaign. I’ll feel only a little guilty about that."

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Harry Potter and the Marginal Tax Rate

    Harry Potter and the Marginal Tax Rate

    One of the gaps in the Harry Potter universe is the political process. There's plenty of political metaphor throughout, of course, and there's a full-blown government and bureaucracy; who can forget Half-Blood Prince starting out in Tony Blair's office? (I know time line geeks-and who am I calling anyone a geek?-will insist it's John Major, But I always thought of it as Blair.) There are also at least four transitions of government mentioned.

    But other than one brief mention that a good-luck potion is illegal to use in sports or elections, there's no mention of exactly how wizards choose their leader. It appears to be a mysterious "selection," the way the UK's Conservative Party chose its leader until 1970 or so.

    Great Britain's Muggles, of course, are now in the midst of their brief electoral campaign, and as usual with UK elections I'm vicariously enjoying the show. It's likely to be a split decision or what they call a "hung Parliament," with the end result a short-lived coalition government. But that's not what's important right now.

    What's important is that J.K. Rowling has written something. About the election.

    And anyone who expects that the richest woman in the UK (except the Queen) would side with the Tories obviously hasn't gotten the political subtexts of the Potter series.

    The Rowling story exists alongside the Potter story, and it's a rags to riches narrative: single mom scribbles book in coffee shop, becomes best selling author in history. But what the Tory bootstrappers don't get is that Joanne Rowling never forgot where she came from, and who helped her when she needed it:
    I had become a single mother when my first marriage split up in 1993. In one devastating stroke, I became a hate figure to a certain section of the press, and a bogeyman to the Tory Government. ..

    Women like me (for it is a curious fact that lone male parents are generally portrayed as heroes, whereas women left holding the baby are vilified) were, according to popular myth, a prime cause of social breakdown, and in it for all we could get: free money, state-funded accommodation, an easy life.

    An easy life. Between 1993 and 1997 I did the job of two parents, qualified and then worked as a secondary school teacher, wrote one and a half novels and did the planning for a further five. For a while, I was clinically depressed. To be told, over and over again, that I was feckless, lazy — even immoral — did not help.

    The new Labour landslide marked a cessation in government hostilities towards families like mine. The change in tone was very welcome, but substance is, of course, more important than style. Labour had great ambitions for eradicating child poverty and while it succeeded, initially, in reversing the downward trend that had continued uninterrupted under Tory rule, it has not reached its own targets. There remains much more to be done.

    This is not to say that there have not been real innovations to help lone-parent families. First, childcare tax credits were introduced by Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor, which were a meaningful way of addressing the fact that the single biggest obstacle for lone parents returning to work was not innate slothfulness but the near-impossibility of affording adequate childcare.
    There's not an explicit "Vote Labour" in the piece, but notice that she managed to work in Prime Minister Brown's name specifically.

    Rowling also addresses a question she gets a lot: why doesn't she, as most of Britain's upper-upper-upper income people do, abandon the UK for a tax haven?
    I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that (Tory leader David) Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism.
    Just as coincidence this lands right at American tax day. Remember when Joe Biden was mocked for saying it was patriotic to pay taxes?

    Any scrap of Rowling is always worth a read. Meanwhile, while she's working on her scraps and notes Potterverse encyclopedia, she can work in exactly how the Minister of Magic gets chosen.

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Conlin: $879k 1st Quarter

    Conlin raises $879,000 in 1st Quarter

    Followup on two items from yesterday:

  • Campaign Conlin announced that they raised $879,615 in the first quarter, with the talking point of "More than all of Grassley’s Past Challengers Combined." Cash on hand is juuuust over the magic million ($1,000,455).

    Other factioids:
    "No PAC or Washington lobbyist funds.
    81 percent of donors are Iowans.
    78 percent of contributions are $100 or less."
    Conlin kicked in $250k herself and raised the other $629,000.

    Still waiting on Krause and Fiegen, but the only real question is: did she out do them 100 to one or 1000 to one?

    UPDATE: Even taking away her self-donation, Conlin outraised Grassley for the quarter. (Of course, Chuck already had five mill in the bank, but still.)

  • I said maybe my Republican readers can fill me in, so one does: Karen Fesler from Rob Gettemy's crew notes that she's his Johnson County chair, and that Team Gettemy includes Tiffin Mayor Royce Phillips and new Coralville city council member Bill Hoeft.
  • Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Conlin to announce fundraising totals

    Conlin to announce fundraising totals Thursday

    From the in box: The Roxanne Conlin campaign is "finally ready to release our fundraising numbers for first quarter of 2010."

    The pre-announcement of the announcement is bundled with a pitch to build the campaign's text message list ("Why wait to read it in the papers?! Click here to sign up for mobile alerts, and you'll know before the media!"). Yeah, that was supposed to be how Obama's VP announcement worked... until the Secret Service was at Biden's house but not Bayh's and Kaine's.

    That said, the news is probably good if they're playing it up. We haven't heard the Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause numbers yet... but at the end of the fourth quarter of 2009, Conlin, then just six weeks into her campaign, had $502,832 cash on hand. Fiegen and Krause, who'd been campaigning for several months, had $418 and $727 on hand respectively.

    Still, even if Conlin's numbers are really good tomorrow, keep it in perspective: Chuck Grassley was sitting on more than $5 million three months ago.

    A few Senate campaign sparks flew last weekend at the Linn County fundraiser, Lynda Waddington has that story: "Although the attacks in Cedar Rapids are hardly the first that has been launched against Conlin’s campaign, it was one of the few times the attack came in person instead of via press release or social networking." Which gives me an excuse to rerun the Andy Samberg as Rahm Emanuel clip:

    "You come after me on Facebook? What are you, 14?"

    Miller-Meeks announces Johnson County Committee

    MMM announces Johnson County Committee

    Second-time 2nd CD GOP congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks has rolled out her Johnson County committee; Coralville Courier has the list. A lot of familiar Republican names both from the party side (Grawe, Thornton, Thornton, Keettel, Michel, Eckhoff, Derksen, Seberg) and from the business conservative side (Balmer, Vanderhoef, Bywater).

    One prominent Republican name missing from the list is Lori Cardella; as I noted during her unsuccessful Supervisor race, she's county chair for Christopher "Not Tom Harkin" Reed. The Johnson County team for Steve Rathje is headed up by Gen. Robert Sentman.

    The new guy in the field, Rob Gettemy, doesn't have county committees or chairs listed, but does include some "testimonials." Maybe my Republican readers can fill us in.

    The four contenders for the right to be Not Dave Loebsack face off tomorrow in the Courier's Tea Party Day debate. 7 PM, Coralville library.

    The four also met yesterday at a Five Season’s Republican Women forum. "Only style differentiated the candidates from one another yesterday. While these forums are nice, they don’t ask the candidates tough questions that allow people to see what each candidate is made of. has also learned that the questions for Thursday’s debate have already been sent to the candidates. "

    The Courier also complains that the liberal media is ignoring the tea party, and I certainly don't want to be part of the conspiracy:
    The Johnson County TEA Party rally will be held on Thursday, April 15, 2010, from 11:30a.m. to 1:00p.m. in Iowa City. It will be located on the Pedestrian Mall, at the south end by the fountain and the Sheraton Hotel. In particular, we will be conducting the rally outside the Iowa City office of Second District Congressman Dave Loebsack.
    That's also next to Capanna so if you forget your tea you can get a cup there. Presumably the fountain is a convenient place to dump it.

    And even if you disagree, you can show up:
    The "Tea Party" folks are planning a Tax Day gathering at Representative Loebsack's Office Thursday, April 15, 2010, 11:30-1:00p.m. Iowa City Pedestrian Mall, by the fountain and the Sheraton Iowa City.

    Join with others and (in a peaceful non-confrontational way) take our dialog back.

    Bring signs, enthusiasm and support our President, our Congressman, and our ideals.
    There, a Fair And Balanced plug for both sides.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Bad News and Good News

    Bad News and Good News

    It's hard to make lemonade out of the latest managerial change on the Culver campaign (desmoinesdem plays the Spinal Tap drummer card), but there's at least some mixed news out there for Iowa Dems,

  • Lynda Waddington asks if enthusiasm is lagging here in the People's Republic and notes the 21 bar vote:
    It is possible that the students could once again show up, but only to vote on the one issue on which they have been educated. If that isn’t the case, however, most believe that higher participation by young voters benefits Democrats.
    I'm still hoping young voters take the rare chance to get the drinking age issue itself on the table, but then that's me and only me. Lynda also raised the possibility that at least us lefties may have Bob Vander Plaats to vote against, which leads me to...

  • Craig Robinson's dissection of the anti-Branstad mood among the theocratic right: "The Iowa Family Policy Center hates Terry Branstad, largely because of who is supporting his candidacy, rather than the positions he advocates for on the campaign trail."

    I'm not sure how much salience that has with conservative voters who aren't versed in the arcana of Iowa GOP politics. Or, more simply, it's Terry on the ballot, not Doug Gross. Still, if the GOP wants to fight among itself, go ahead. It gives Culver an easier opponent: either a Branstad weakened by intra-party attacks and by Christian Soldiers sitting it out... or he draws the unelectable BVP and his unconstitutional Governor By Decree platform.

  • And Kos himself mentions the Iowa Senate race as one on the outer edge of possibility:
    There will be tough contested Senate races in many of those states -- Reid's Nevada, of course, but also California, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, and maybe even Iowa, Washington, and Arizona. Meanwhile, we'll have hot governor races races in California, Iowa, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, New Mexico, and Florida.
    "Maybe even" is as vulnerable as Grassley has been in three decades. And as I noted Saturday in a Register post, the upcoming Supreme Court nomination puts Grassley on the hot seat as he's forced to be a national GOP face again. To quote myself:
    Complicating matters a bit more, early speculation indicates that President Obama is likely to again name a woman to the vacancy. Supporters of Grassley’s likely opponent, Roxanne Conlin, are already talking about the “Iowa-Mississippi club” (the only two states never to elect a woman to high office). So there’s that, plus Conlin’s years of legal practice vs. Grassley’s non-lawyer role on Judiciary.
  • Speaking of the Court, Politico makes the case for a justice with an electoral background. The last one was Sandra Day O'Connor, whose highest office was leader of the Arizona State Senate. A far cry from past Chief Justices like Charles Evans Hughes (a former New York governor who resigned as an Associate Justice to accept the 1916 GOP presidential nomination, then later returned as Chief Justice), Earl Warren (sitting governor of California and only one election cycle removed from a vice presidential nomination), and the ultimate, former President William Howard Taft.

    Side note: I've been spending less time writing the past few days and more time on The Smallest Farm. Better for me, if not for site traffic. I need a nice rainy writing day...
  • Monday, April 12, 2010

    Linux Monday

    Linux Monday

  • How many of you are still clunking along in Internet Explorer 6.0? Quite a few, actually, even though they're now up to 8.0.

    But just about no one is using anything but the latest version of Chrome. Here's a look at how browsers handle their updates differently and how that affects user share.

  • The program you use the most but probably know the least about is your window manager. I'm not talking about a browser or a file manager. The window (not WindowS) manager is the program that runs your graphic interface (or GUI).

    Windows has one default window manager, the poorly named Explorer, which you only really notice if your browser locks up, you go into Task Manager and dump it thinking it's Internet Explorer (which is a browser) or Windows Explorer (which is a file manager), then find your desktop doesn't work at all.
    Linux gives you multiple options. I've mostly used just two: the bells and whistles Gnome and the minimalist Fluxbox. But for the truly geeky here's a list of hundreds. Overkill? Sure, but you know I'm all about that.

  • Speaking of window managers, here's a look at how things have improved in that department over the last decade of Linux.

  • And Lexmark acknowledges that us Linux geeks exists and slaps Tux on their packaging next to Windows and Mac. (Remember those Vista Capable" logos that really, in the fine print, meant "Technically you can install Vista on this underpowered piece of junk, but good luck actually doing anything.")
  • Friday, April 09, 2010

    Saturday Quadruple Feature

    Saturday Quadruple Feature

    Several events for Democratic politics watchers Saturday:

  • The last League of Women Voters forum of the year isn't, strictly speaking, a campaign event, and isn't a Democratic event, but all of the very Democratic delegation is running for re-election so there you go. 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the North Liberty City Council Chambers.

  • The Iowa College and Young Democrats of Iowa Convention is on campus: Schedule highlights:
    12:00 to 12:30 - Congressman Bruce Braley
    12:30 to 1:00 - Congressman Dave Loebsack
    2:15 to 3:15 - Words from the Senate Candidates
  • Sec of Ag candidate Francis Thicke will be at Capanna Coffeee (136 S. Dubuque) at 3:00.

  • Capping off your full day, the Linn County Dems are having their Hall of Fame Dinner in the evening.
  • Thursday, April 08, 2010

    Thursday clips

    Thursday clips

  • Missed the big GOP debate last night, but most interesting to me was Kathie Obradovich's note: "KTIV’s live webcast was only available to those using Internet Explorer as their browser." KTIV loses the anti-Microsoft vote... but then, Roxanne Conlin has that locked up anyway.

  • Sounds like no shenannigans in House 21: "House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he spoke Wednesday with Burt and supports his decision. Burt has already endorsed Kajtazovic, McCarthy said."

    But: "House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha said Burt's decision could make it easier for his party to win the seat." That contradicts the Obradovich column from a couple weeks back. It ends (emphasis added) with:
    (Republicans are) closely watching the Democratic primary in District 21, the Waterloo seat held by Kerry Burt, who pleaded guilty to drunken driving last year. If Burt is the nominee, they see an opportunity for one of two Republicans vying for the seat.
    There's just no way Burt stepping down is anything but good news for Dems, who avoid a nasty primary and move forward with a better candidate, Anesa Kajtazovic.

  • The best committee name ever is baaaaack: "A day after the Iowa City Council raised the minimum bar entry age from 19 to 21 after 10 p.m., the Student Health Initiative Task Force, the group that successfully helped fight 21-only in 2007, said it filed paperwork Wednesday to begin petitioning for a referendum."
  • Wednesday, April 07, 2010

    Kerry Burt Quits Race

    Kerry Burt Quits Race

    No doubt to the relief of many Democrats, State Rep. Kerry Burt (D-Waterloo) announced today that he was ending his bid for a second term, as the Attorney General's office filed criminal charges in the Price Laboratory School case.

    Burt's withdrawal leaves his primary challenger, Anesa Kajtazovic, as the Democratic nominee in House 21 -- or does it?

    Ya see, Burt's decision comes after the official dropout deadline. So he's ON the ballot not matter what. (And I mean No. Matter What. Remember State Rep. Mary Lou Freeman getting re-elected while dead in 2006?)

    If Burt, somehow, wins, and sticks with the decision to drop out, a party convention chooses the nominee. A vote for Kerry is a vote for a convention, but a vote for Anesa is a vote for Anesa. Update, nevermind: "Burt has already endorsed Kajtazovic, McCarthy said."

    So Kajtazovic has the challenge of running against a phantom candidate. But every indication is she's a strong candidate in her own right and she could well have defeated Burt. Reportedly, Kajtazovic was quietly getting help from Black Hawk Dems who didn't yet want to publicly oppose Burt.

    In any case, the phantom primary should be a good dry run and good publicity and name ID for Kajtazovic. And House 21 will win the revolving door award with two consecutive one-term members (Burt knocked off Republican Tami Weincek in 2008, after Weincek defeated long-time legislator Don Shoultz in `06)

    Republicans want this seat back bad; Weincek was one of the very few Republican gains anywhere in the country in 2006. Former Waterloo mayor John Rooff will face Lyn Tackett in the GOP primary. But whoever wins will now face the stronger Democratic candidate, Kajtazovic.

    Mid-week clips

    Middle of the day, middle of the week

  • My Register post from yesterday asks a question I'm asking a lot lately: What's a party?

  • Numbers geeks and doomsayers alike will love Swing State Project's look at 1994:
    while the Democrats may lose seats, there won't be a 1994-level wipeout. There aren't as many retirements as in 1994 (where the Dems had 28 open seats), and certainly not as many retirements in unpleasantly red seats (17 of those 1994 retirements were in GOP-leaning seats according to the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voting Index - compared with only 8 facing us in 2010). There are still lots of polls, of the non-Rasmussen variety, giving the Dems an edge in the generic ballot. The DCCC has a sizable financial advantage, and maybe most importantly, the DCCC and its individual members appear acutely aware of the potential danger, unlike in '94, when they seemed to blithely sail into disaster.
    First of a multi-parter so stay tuned.

  • Poetic justice: Woman Sues Debt Collector, Wins $8.1 Million. I knew a guy once who called bill collectors "scumbags," which was funny because that was his job.

  • You're heard of Creole and Pidgin English, except now they're calling it "Globish."
  • Scapegoats

    21 Bars A Done Deal - For Now...

    The Deeth Blog has scaled back the 21 bar coverage lately; one can only bang one's head against the wall for so long before.... well, before metal health will drive you mad, I guess.

    So now we'll do it all over again: the petitioning, registering, and turnout. (Last month's 18 petition is a non-starter, the new effort is to overturn the council and bring 19 back) Round 2 will be different in a couple ways: 21 will be a reality as of june, so the incoming class of freshmen will know nothing else.

    At least it got through fast enough that it'll likely go on this fall's ballot. How does that big student turnout affect the top of the ballot races?

    I don't know if it helps my people or not, but here's a rare chance. One of the problems with pursuing the larger issue, the drinking age itself, is the question of priority. As one official told me off the record, (s)/he agrees with me in principle on old enough to fight, old enough to vote, old enough to drink, but if (s)/he gets five minutes with a stae or federal official, that issue doesn't fit in the five minutes.

    So young voters, ask the state and federal candidates this fall what they'd do with the drinking age. Their thoughts on the local issue itself may be less relevant, but their thoughts on the big issue are important enough to take the time in a debate or forum.

    And in 2011 remember the one council member who called this for what it is:
    Council member Regenia Bailey, who has been the lone no vote against 21-only, said the move was a potentially divisive by casting blame for a larger problem on 19 and 20-year-olds.

    "It's not specific to this age group, and I think they're serving as scapegoats for some of the things we can't seem to address," Bailey said.

    Monday, April 05, 2010

    Duck Season! Wabbit Season! Baseball Season!

    Duck Season! Wabbit Season! Baseball Season!

    You know your red states and your blue states, now in honor of opening day here's your baseball states. There's another version here that I linked to a few years back; you can still vote but the maps haven't been updated in a year or so.

    Obama throws out the first pitch; they got him to wear the Nationals jacket, stumbling onto a pet peeve: "As White House senior adviser David Axelrod puts it, the president dislikes it when 'folks try to get him to wear baseball gear for teams other than the White Sox.'” That said, Obama still managed to keep his Sox hat on today.

    As for tonight's basketball championship, I'm less interested in that than in any major sport (excluding of course the non-sport of NASCAR), for this reason: Q: What's the worst name you can call a Division I college hoops player? A: Senior. I'm so old I remember when freshmen weren't eligible in NCAA and Lew Alcindor had to spend a year on the UCLA freshman team. I'm old enough to remember when Jabbar was Alcindor for that matter. Now, of course, he would have gone straight from high school to NBA.

    One of the most vivid sports memories from my youth was when dad (he was my high school's head coach at the time) took me and my brothers on his annual trip to Milwaukee with his players for a Bucks game. This was a year or so after their championship season so I was probably seven. They used to let you down on the floor before the game back then. We were standing right by the tunnel and all of a sudden there came the Bucks, running onto the court, with Jabbar first in line. He ran about three feet in front of me, and I swear I canme up to about his knee. And I looked up... and up... and up...

    I don't have a good transition into my usual topics so here's the clips:

  • NPR's Ken Rudin rates the top ten US Senate primaries; Iowa's Democratic contest ain't on the radar.

  • On the House side Nate Silver looks at the turnout surge of 2008 and considers which incumbents may be vulnerable to lower minority turnout. Iowa, again, not on the chart.

  • Tina Fey is back on SNL this weekend; she claimed she was going to retire her Sarah Palin after the election, but the impression has become so iconic (how many people think Palin REALLY said "I can see Russia from my house"?) and the possibilities for humor have piled up for so long that she won't be able to resist: "I'm sure we'll be trying to write something about her."

    Read more:

  • And I thought I was pop music obsessed but here's an unbelievably long analysis of Ke$ha's "TiK ToK."
  • more linux monday

    Linux Monday: Looking at the Lynx

    Long time Linux Monday fans may recall the sister in law experiment: she needed a new machine so I fixed up an old box in as Windowsy a way as possible, then the day before delivery she picked up a netbook. Well, the netbook won that war and I got the machine back. I'm going to try to inflict it on my wife next (the machine she's using is dying; after each Windows update it takes 10 to 20 reboots before it will stay powered up). Koni's reluctant but I'm persistent.

    But first I'm going to test with it: I installed the beta version of the next Ubuntu, 10.04 or Lucid Lynx, which is due out in full release version on April 29. (if you want to jump the gun and try the beta here's how). Releases are numbered in a year.month convention and names in Alliterative Animal format. 10.10 will be "Maverick Meerkat" disappointing an online community that really wanted Masturbating Monkey.

    This is a Long Term Support release, the first since 8.04 (Hardy Heron; "I knew Ubuntu would never pick a good name after they missed their opportunity to use Hungry Hippo.") LTS releases are supported for three years on the desktop and five for server. So the stakes are a bit higher than usual, and just personally if the spoulsal plan works out I may just stick with it for a couple years. "One of the most innovative versions of Ubuntu for several years," writes Bruce Byfield.

    The upgrade from 9.10 on the sister in law box (which I also used to test the 9.04 to 9.10 move) was reasonably smooth I had to fix a Firefox icon and reset some screensaver settings, but audio, which is usually my curse at upgrade time, seems to have survived.

    Oh, and one other thing.

    The big controversy in Ubuntu World is a seemingly small decision that raised big tempers: moving the maximize, minimize and close buttons from the upper right corner of apps to the upper left, Mac users are used to upper left but people who migrated from Windows instinctively move that mouse up and right.

    At first testers reported it as a bug until Ubuntu's "Benevolent Dictator For Life" Mark Shuttleworth, chimed in:
    Moving everything to the left opens up the space on the right nicely, and I would like to experiment in 10.10 with some innovative options there. It's much easier to do that if we make this change now
    Then he added, creating even more brouhaha:
    This is not a democracy. Good feedback, good data, are welcome. But we are not voting on design decisions.
    Not a democracy? The libertarian Linux world is still chewing on that one, but in the mean time it ain't so hard to just move the buttons yourself. So I did that. Anarchy! Aaaaaaanaaaaaaaaarchyyyyyyyyy!

    A very enthusiasic Ron Paul supporter screaming "FREEDOM! FREEDOM!" Olive Court tailgater, University Heights, 11/17/07

    In the real world: 50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect.

    With the past weekend's iPad rollout complete, here's an argument that Bill Gates is not Enemy Number One of free software:
    The real danger is the new software model that is promoted, to the greatest degree, by Apple, and to smaller degree by companies like Amazon with its Kindle product. The software model that is more proprietary than Microsoft and others ever imagined. It controls not only the source of their own system, the protocols and (proprietary) communication standards, but also the whole software platform it delivers together with the hardware that is tightly connected with it.
    And one harsh verdict on the iPad itself:
    Today's iPad, the one that I just bought, is just a demo of something that could be very nice and useful at some point in the future. Today it's something to play with, not something to use. That's the kind way to say it. The direct way: It's a toy.

    Another distributions for beginners article mentions the big names, recommends Linux Mint: "What sets Mint apart, though, is that it’s designed to give you everything the everyday user wants right out of the box." Or: Ubuntu without the extra step of installing DVD and .mp3 codecs. Personally, I prefer doing that spep; because Mint does it for you it lags a bit behind Ubuntu. But then I'm beta-testing Lucid and I tweak my own kernel, so ignore me if you want.

    Thursday, April 01, 2010

    April JCDems

    Speaking of April Fools, it's Central Committee Night

    We Johnson County Dems are doing our thing here at the School District building. With the session over our quota of elected has increased: Bolkcom and Dvorsky from the Senate, Mascher from the House, and Supervisors Sullivan and Rettig.

    ANything happen since we last met? Oh, yeah, health care passed and the President came to town.

    June 5 6 PM: pre-primary fundraiser at Morrison Park in Coralville; the Senate candidates are all invited and Krause and Fiegen are committed.

    Summing up the session, we have Bob Dvorsky. "2010 legislature did good work in short order," Bolkcom reads the Reg headline, and Bob says they got it right for once.

    Dvorsky: "Funding for the regents is more than we expected, and the final K-12 numbers will mean less layoffs." Got the regents to participate in reorganization for IT which is significant. Multiple jobs programs passed. Cites the anti-texting bill (now applies to all drivers). Hired an asset manager for Honey Creek with goal of making it profitable. "It's a beautiful place, just not enough people staying there." DHS layoffs around 100, maybe none in corrections.

    Dave Jacoby and John Stellmach, coincidentally, just walked in together.

    Mascher worked on gov't reorganization with Staci Appel. "We came up with a plan that will really save dollars. We have a very disconnected IT system and there was an opportunity to make that more efficient" Reduced overlap of boards and commissions." Also looked at "span of control" or supervisor to employee ratio. Settled on 1:15 ratio. "We want to keep the people in the trenches doing the work as a high priority."

    "One of the biggest disappointments to me was the 'shall carry' issue. We lost a lot of our local control and our sheriff did a good job." Also disappointed that breast feeding bill failed; it was a bipartisan bill but it got removed from the standings bill in the last hour. "We'll come back to that one."

    Bolkcom tosses aside 29 page session summary and highlights health care: requires insurance payment for cancer clinical trials; autism support pilot study; work to quickly implement federal law in Iowa, increased reimbursement to UIHC.

    "I spent most of the session on corporate tax credit reform." New committee will look at credits program by program over next five years. "Some of these make sense but we haven't looked at these credits for a long long time." Puppy mills get applause, but MidAmerican nukes was a setback.

    Jacoby cites small business bill. "We took some money from the underground storage tank fund to make small business loans to keep people afloat." Open meetings bill failed but we should hold ourselves in the legislature to the same standard.

    Dvorsky again: Johnson County delegation is well positioned with multiple committee chairs.

    Sullivan thanks legislators for "allowing the Varnum decision to stand. It's been a year and the world hasn't collapsed." Mascher puts in the good word for Staci Appel: "We can't afford to lose her."

    Tom Carsner: "Do you assume the governor will sign the nuke power study?" Dvorsky thinks he will, Mascher notes that people are still working on persuasion re: veto.

    Mascher: UI excluded from span of control language because of their grant needs. They're working on their own span of control policy.

    Bolkcom gets ribbed about the "move the capital to Iowa City." Joe: "Well, people have trouble pronouncing Des Moines..."

    Jacoby doesn't expect more than one casino to get OK'd.

    Bike safety: Bolkcom sums up the bill as "you can't steer at `em like you wanna kill `em and you can't throw stuff at him."

    Dvorsky puts in the plug for Becky Schmitz and Nate Willems. That's it for the legislators.

    New membership discussion: James Eaves-Johnson gets elected on a split vote; meetings should be getting meaner-spirited. Apparently the central committee thinks calling me a Nazi in print is OK. Three more people join the band too.

    More voting on district committee members; this gets resolved by the put down your hand method.

    Announcement time: Ed Flaherty congratulates Craig Becker's appointment to the National Labor Relations Board. Paul Deaton plugs the 2nd District silent auction and prompts some jokes. Karen Disborw plugs the Water and Land Legacy amendment.

    House challenger John Stellmach gets up to speak: calls himself progressive, offers some biography, AFSCME local 12 president. "I care very much about union issues," citing the bills that didn't make it through. Also interested in health care since his wife became seriously ill a few years back.

    And we're outta time so we're outta here.

    April 1 Clips

    No Jokes

    I thought briefly about playing with the coincidence between yesterday's county filing deadline and today's humor holiday, but I couldn't think of the right non-candidate who woth both plausible and implausible at the same time. I still consider myself a funny guy:

    So while I take the day off to get going on The Smallest Farm, here's our clips:

  • Politico looks at Mitt Romney's Iowa problem:
    Given what happened to Romney here last time — and Sen. John McCain’s ability to win the GOP nomination after finishing fourth in the caucuses — can the early front-runner run a slimmed-down Iowa campaign that lowers expectations without at the same time alienating local activists and opinion-makers?

    “I think he should play in Iowa, but he maybe overplayed in the last go-round,” said Branstad, who will play an influential role in the 2012 presidential caucus should he win in November.

    He added: “I don’t think you want to run against Iowa, [but] I’m not saying you’ve got to make Iowa the be all to end all.”
    So, it seems to be a given that the Mitt won't win here. Insert my standard bit: If Romney had belonged to Huckabee's church, he would have been the nominee.

  • Swing State Project handicaps US House races and puts Leonard Boswell in the second tier "Leans D" category. My standard bit here too: Dems would be stronger with a different candidate. What does Boz need to do to win me over? Well, the war is always gonna bug me, and he did do well on health care. I guess number one on my list would be: Stop self-identifying as a Blue Dog.

  • Chris Bowers calls Obama's conversion to Drill Baby Drill "hippie punching" and notes some of the very specific politics:
    This move is likely designed to win over mainly Democratic votes, not Republicans... Toss in Alaska (Begich), which was also partially opened, and you are looking at Louisiana Landrieu, Florida (Bill Nelson), Virginia (Warner and Webb, North Carolina (Hagan) and South Carolina (Graham). As the links embedded in their names show, they are all proponents of offshore drilling. The coastal states with Senators opposed to offshore drilling will not receive any new drilling.
    Note, in this context, the absence of any West Coast.

    Bowers also notes the left's dilemma:
    Progressive groups can get as mad as they like when the Obama administration abandons them with policy moves like these. However, since President Obama is more popular among the membership of those groups then even the leaders of those groups, it is difficult for them to effectively fight back.
    The President remains the party's strongest asset, and he's committed to at least the fig leaf of centrism, even though Republicans refuse to play.

    Speaking of which:

  • Overuse of sports analogies aside, Matt Miller makes a good point on health care:
    Republicans simply have not lost on an issue this big in decades. Media coverage features so many breathless political ups and downs that it's easy to assume each party tastes victory and defeat in equal measure. But as a matter of ideology, these overheated fights take place between the 45-yard lines on a field that conservatives shrewdly tilted to their advantage several decades ago. That President Obama could move the debate to the 40-yard line and win is something the modern GOP has never experienced.
    I like this on the surface level, which Joe Biden summed up better than anyone, and on the level of this bill is a first down, not a touchdown.