Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not A Problem in Iowa City

Not A Problem in Iowa City!

Political Wire: "The latest NBC/WSJ poll found that young people much less enthusiastic about voting in the midterm elections than older people. Just 35% of those 18-34 years-olds are enthusiastic about the midterm elections, versus 65% of seniors."

586 yesterday at the new campus rec center...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reasons for Hope

Reasons for Hope

Yeah, those two weekend Register polls sucked. But I've found some stuff to feel positive about:

  • That excellent Democratic absentee mailing that hit mailboxes Saturday. Watch that already big Democratic absentee lead grow.

  • Look for record-smashing early turnout here in the People's Republic, driven by a big assist from the bar age issue. An unbelievable 1,319 voters cast ballots at the Burge Hall satellite site today, smashing the old record of 945 set at the same place in the 2007 city election, the last time the bar issue was on the ballot. They may have skipped the uncontested city council races that year, but are they really gonna skip governor and senator? And who does that help in a 70% Obama county?

  • Speaking of whom, Barack seems to have gotten his mojo back, with a Madison rally (People's Republic of Dana County) that was reminiscent of 2008... hey, Mr. President, I know you went straight from Mad City to Des Moines, but next time can you stop by the Ped Mall and Pentacrest again for old time's sake?

  • I know the Reg had Roxanne down 30, but GOP leaning Rasmussen has her down 18, and Tom Vilsack came back from worse.

  • Out of state, a new poll has Joe Sestak down by 5 in the Senate race... and the Admiral is the ultimtate strong closer. He came from behind in 2006, he came from behind against Arlen Specter.

  • My parents are my test case; pure Wisconsin independents who've voted for more winners than I have. And they're saying "we can't let that idiot Johnson beat our Russ Feingold."

  • The so called enthusiasm gap is closing.

  • And Lynda Waddington sums all this up better than I can and without the bullet points.
  • Sunday, September 26, 2010

    2010 JCDems BBQ

    Near-Full Democratic slate on hand for Johnson County fundraiser

    Governor Chet Culver offered a defiant and energetic response to the Des Moines Register poll showing him 19 points behind Republican Terry Branstad.

    "In 35 days we're gonna win this election," he told Johnson County Democrats gathered for the county party's annual fall barbecue. "I don't care what the pollsters say, I believe in you, the voters." (These particular voters, perhaps; the state's Democratic stronghold gave Culver 68 percent support four years ago.)

    "In my objective opinion the choice is clear, said the governor. "But we have some work to do. We need to make Iowans know we've gotten the job done."

    "We're focused on the future, not the failed promises of Terry Branstad," Culver said. "That's why we're going to win. We're not going back."

    "Not Going Back" was the theme of the day echoed by nearly every speaker. It was a nice one stop shop for the Democratic slate's message, as speakers included the entire statewide ticket save Roxanne Conlin, as well as Congressman Dave Loebsack and one of Johnson County's own, Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky.

    My full write up of speakers is at the Register. Pics at Facebook.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Culver to JCDems BBQ

    Culver to JCDems BBQ

    Add one more speaker to the BBQ program:
    Our annual BBQ will be SUNDAY SEPT 26 in Bulding C of the Johnson County Fairgrounds
    Doors open at 3:30, Program at 4:00

    GOVERNOR CULVER will attend and is expected to speak early in the program.

    This is traditionally the largest gathering of the year Democrats in Johnson County.

    BBQ pork, vegetarian lasagna, homemade desserts, silent auction featuring political memorabilia.

    For BBQ reservations available online at
    Or call 337-8683 (337-VOTE)

    Get you tickets now for the annual Johnson County Fall BBQ with featured speakers:

    Governor Chet Culver
    Representative Dave Loebsack
    Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky
    State Attorney General Tom Miller
    Secretary of State Michael Mauro
    State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald
    Secretary of Agriculture Candidate Francis Thicke
    State Auditor Candidate Jon Murphy

    Friday Clips

    Friday Clips

    The big event on the local political calendar is the JCDems BBQ Sunday:
    WHEN: Doors open at 3:30, Program at 4:00

    LOCATION: Building C Johnson County Fairgrounds.

    Featured speakers:

    Congressman Dave Loebsack
    Iowa Democratic Party Chair, Sue Dvorsky
    State Attorney General Tom Miller
    Secretary of State Michael Mauro
    State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald
    Secretary of Agriculture Candidate Francis Thicke
    State Auditor Candidate Jon Murphy
    Remember a couple days back the story about vote suppression in Wisconsin? More delails are out and guess who the target is. That's right: students.

    Dave Loebsack gets a mention in this history of write-in campaigns, but it's an inaccurate mention; Loebsack was in fact nominated at a party convention.

    (Friendly advice: Serious write-in campaigns? Part of democracy, I've voted for one myself. Frivolous write-ins? All you're doing is making the little old ladies at the polls who've already worked an extremely long day stay even later to tally your Mickey Mouse. And why is it always Disney characters?)

    And some funny maps about what Europeans think of each other.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Dems lead in first day Johnson County Voting

    What Enthusiasm Gap?!?

    There was no lack of enthusiasm, in either mood or numbers, for Johnson County Democrats on Day One of voting.

    The Fearless Leader, Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky, rallied the troops at HQ before heading over to the auditor's office. She was Voter Number 1 in 2008; this year the honors went to daughter Caroline Dvorsky, casting her first ever vote. (The Gazette has more).

    The numbers for the day at the office were 101 Democrats to 22 Republicans, 10 independents and a Green.

    Just up the road at the Iowa City Library, 219 ballots dropped in the box (including mine). The score was 116 Democrats to 48 Republicans, 53 independents and a couple Libertarians.

    The satellite schedule doesn't let up between now and election day.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Voting Starts Tomorrow

    Voting Starts Tomorrow

    There are a whooooole lotta places to vote in Johnson County this year, starting with two tomorrow.

    Join the JC Dems and Fearless Leader Sue Dvorsky (who we've loaned out to Des Moines for the cycle) at their HQ at Sturgis Corners tomorrow at 7 AM, then head over to the auditor's office for the 8 AM start of voting.

    Or if you're the bookish type, hit the Iowa City Public Library from 10 to 6 (that's my plan), then stop over at Capanna Coffee next door after 6 to have a cup with the UDems and see Governor Culver.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Grassley Ignores Gaga

    Grassley Ignores Gaga

    Roxanne won't ask and Chuck won't tell because Chuck won't debate. Despite Lady Gaga's best efforts Chuck Grassley votes with John McCain and company to filibuster Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal. It also blocked military pay raises... but apparently appeasing the bigots in the base is more important than supporting the troops. Two strikes against national security: lowering the morale of the troops we have while excluding talented people from service entirely.

    Team Roxanne Responds:
    “This is just one more inexcusable vote from Iowa’s senior Senator,” said Paulee Lipsman, spokesperson for the United States Senate campaign of Roxanne Conlin. “His action denies a pay raise for the very men and women who are risking their lives for their country in the Middle East. These families should not have to be on food stamps while a member of their family is off fighting in Afghanistan. Grassley’s vote denies better health care for those who are wounded. It denies better equipment for those in combat.”
    I'm a few hours behind the curve on this one, but catch those 11 GOP auditors endorsing Mike Mauro. With all due respect to the last three Secretaries of States... Secretary of States? Secretaries of State?... SoS's, they all tried to use the job as a steppingstone to something else. Mike is focused on the job he has, and the across the aisle support shows he does it well.

    Vote Suppression in Wisconsin

    Vote Suppression in Wisconsin

    News here and here about a big vote suppression effort in our neighbor to the northeast:
    "Based on what we have heard, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin and leading Tea Party organizations are in collusion in an effort to suppress the ability of minorities and university students in Wisconsin to exercise their right to vote this November," said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "We will be providing all of the evidence we have received on this wrongdoing to federal and state authorities so that they can investigate to ensure justice and democracy prevail."
    I would expect Madison to be ground zero on this. The scary scary part: "The Tea Party organizations will recruit and place individuals as official poll workers in selected municipalities in order to be able to make the challenges as official poll workers."

    Once again, the theme, and not just in our Secretary of State race: Democrats want to help people vote, Republicans want to keep people from voting.

    But Republicans don't offer anyone to vote for: Coralville Courier grumbles about the uncontested Johnson County supervisor race with no word on what happened to GOP candidates Chad Murphy and January also-ran Lori Cardella, who closed their campaign committees in August. Instead he only offers the lame "write in None Of The Above" suggestion.

    Local coverage of Lady Gaga's Maine rally yesterday calling for an end to Don't Ask Don't Tell. There's a real mind behind the outrageous image, and 6.4 million Twitter followers can't be all wrong...

    Finally, this one from the Wish I'd Thought Of It First files is too good not to share:
    Galvanized by Republican senatorial nominee Christine O’Donnell’s anti-masturbation stance, masturbators from across the state converged on Wilmington today in what some are calling the largest pro-wanking protest in American history.

    Harley Farger, a leading Delaware masturbator and planner of the Million Masturbators March, said it was difficult to organize masturbators “because they’re used to acting alone.”

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Linux Monday

    Linux Monday

    Or, actually, a tech Monday that's a little less Linuxy than usual, starting with Chris Wilson at Slate begging you to upgrade your browser:
    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg could help kill off IE6 in a single day by cutting off support of old, rickety browsers. Sure, he'd lose a lot of traffic for a few days, but what's a bigger hassle for Web users: installing a new browser or bidding farewell to their online selves? For Google and Facebook, the motive here isn't altruism. By rooting out the clunkers, sites will be able to unleash the firepower to create a better experience for everyone. A better experience means more clicks, and more clicks mean more money.
    Here's how to install iTunes - just iTunes - without the bloatware it's bundled with. (Myself, I haven't handled an iPod in a couple years, but I back then was able to copy music to an iPod with a program called gtkpod. Efforts to get iTunes flying in Linux with Wine or Crossover failed, I suspect by design.)

    Tech trivia: the history of the tilde! (this thing: ~ )

    And to finish, or Finnish as it may be: Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux, is now a US citizen.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Alaskapocalypse in Des Moines


    It's the Alaskapocalypse in Des Moines tonight as She Who Must Not Be Named comes to town. Apparantly the visit is Lear Jet in, read the speech from the teleprompter, Lear Jet out, with no meetings and certainly no Q and A with the press. Yeah... but I'll probably watch on C-SPAN anyway, like a bad reality show that you feel half unclean for watching but you're glued like a train wreck.

    Hopefully, for the sake of the paying customers, she gives a more articulate speech than the clip below, where both Palin and Bill-O forget the name of the candidate they supported in the New Hampshire Senate primary:

    Not even a "In what respect, Bill?". For the record, the forgotted (I meant to type "forgotten" but if Sarah can make up words so can I) Some Dude is Ovide Lamontagne. Bonus: Bill-O says he won the primary; he lost.

    Libertarian Cooper in Eastern Iowa

    Libertarian Cooper in Eastern Iowa

    From the inbox, Libertarian candidate for governor Eric Cooper is in the area today and tomorrow:
    Cooper will be giving three addresses followed by open questions during his visit, and the press is invited to attend. His first address will be a discussion of Libertarianism at the University of Iowa, in the Michigan Room at the Iowa Memorial Union from 5:00pm to 6:00pm on Friday, Sept. 17.

    He will also be giving two campaign speeches to the general public. The first campaign address will be with Libertarian Iowa Senate candidate Christopher Peters at Noon on Saturday, Sept. 18 at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

    The third of these events will take place in Cedar Rapids where Dr. Cooper will joined by, the Libertarian 2nd District Congressional Candidate, Gary Sicard. This will take place at 4pm on Saturday, September 18 at the Java Creek Café, 558 Boyson Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    The Kids are Alright for Iowa Dem Ads

    The Kids are Alright for Iowa Dem Ads

    We seem to have a kid theme this week in Iowa Democratic political ads.

    First out, with a reprise nod to the 2006 Big Lug ad, are the Culver kids:

    (With Terry Branstad bragging about preschool cuts, the kids fit right in. And catch Chet's good natured Rodney Dangerfield no respect routine.)

    Not to be outdone Roxanne lands with the grandkids:

    Chuck Grassley is expected to include a grandkid ad with his list of GOP legislative endorsements.

    Unfortunately, both Conlin and Culver take unpopular positions on the third rail issue of homework:

    Political suicide with the six to eight year old vote. But other than that, the kids are alright:

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Mauro Schools Schultz

    Mauro Schools Schultz

    Secretary of State Mike Mauro fires back at opponent Matt Schultz:
    “I encourage Matt Schultz to study up on Iowa law rather than spending his time sending misleading press releases,” Secretary Mauro said. “Elections in Iowa are both accessible and secure. Today, Iowa has uniform voting equipment across the state, a voter verified paper trail, and an effective identification program. The Overseas Voter Foundation ranked Iowa as the best state in the nation in making voting accessible to members of the military serving overseas. The simple truth is that Iowa is leading the nation when it comes to elections.”
    Remember: Mike talks about helping people vote, Matt talks about making it harder to vote.

    And why do all debate headlines look like "Culver, Branstad clash at first debate"? I read that as "Culver, Branstad, Clash at first debate":

    An outstanding debate performance from the Strummer-Jones ticket.

    That's actually not too far off the mark: One version of the origin of the band's name is that Paul Simonon noticed how often the word "clash" showed up in headlines to describe conflict of all sort. The other version is that it comes from the reggae song "Two Sevens CLash" by Culture. Both versions are probably true.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Not School Election Day

    Not School Election Day

    Guess what we're not doing today? Voting.

    That's right, for the first time in Iowa, the second Tuesday in September is NOT school board election day. The change in state law, setting up four year school board terms with elections every other year, passed in 2008, but didn't take effect in time for that year. It's good for county auditors, who don't have to stop prepping for a general election to run an entirely different low turnout election.

    (It would have been especially bad this year, with the latest possible school election date of 9/14 and the earliest general election date, 11/2, that's only seven weeks between elections instead of eight. That's what we had in 2004.)

    There will be a few scattered special school elections, and a bunch of primaries in other states. It's the last major primary date (Hawaii is last on Saturday). Federal law changes require overseas ballots to be mailed 45 days out, which is also this Saturday. So this may be the last time primaries are held this late. Some traditional September states (like Minnesota which voted last month) have already moved their primaries, but the holdouts will have a really hard time honoring that mandate. Someone will sue someone, I'm sure.

    As for today's primaries, a couple tea partier wins in Delaware and New Hampshire could save the Senate. Guides to all the night's action here and here.

    Matt Schultz and crew fired up the Voter Fraud Fear Machine over the weekend, and Mike Mauro quickly rebutted; iowavoters has a nice summary. Interesting that Schultz appears interested in the kind of aggressive purging we've seen in other states with GOP secretaries of state. Remember as always: Mauro is talking about helping people vote, Schultz is talking about keeping people from voting, and that tells you what you need to know about the mindset.

    Don't forget Roxanne on the Pentacrest at 1:30. Monday she issued a debate challenge to Grassley: Be there or be chair. I still think Leonard Boswell's refusal to debate in the 2008 primary, and the emty chair debate in that race, played a role in the Register's Ed Fallon endorsement. (Chet and Terry face off tonight.)

    Finally, the "grownup" Yes on 19 committee launches.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Linux Monday

    Linux Monday: The One Percenters

    The standard rule of thumb for the last few years is that Linux is about one percent of the market - a myth that Caitlyn Martin debunks:
    Linux and UNIX have held a majority share of the server room for over a decade. Linux is very competitive in embedded devices. It is also making great strides on the consumer and business desktop, which includes laptops, notebooks and netbooks.

    Let's start with netbooks, the area where Linux has made the biggest inroads. According to ABI Research Linux regained 32% of the netbook market in 2009 despite being next to impossible to find in brick and mortar stores...

    If you're still stuck with that one Windows app, WINE is a decent workaround, and Some tweaks to make WINE - the software that lets you run Windows applications in Linux - look nicer.

    Is Linux without rebooting a good thing?

    And what to do with a decommissioned touch screen voting machine: Make it a Pac Man game.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Late Sunday Stuff

    Late Sunday Stuff

    I've been in human being land since Friday night so I'm playing catchup. Missed the Harkin Steak Fry this year; O. Kay has a four part report on David & David.

    Great album, they never made a second one.

    But quote of day comes from Harkin himself: “I’m fed up with people sitting around and gazing at their navels and asking what it’s going to take to fire up… Winning campaigns are not about magic, or mood control… It’s about getting down to work… so friends, enjoy the festivities today. Tomorrow, we’ve got to go to work.”

    It's debate season and Scary Terry and The Big Lug face off Tuesday night in Sioux City. All four 2nd CD candidates are slated to be at the Johnson County Task Force on Aging, Johnson County AARP and the Iowa City Press-Citizen forum at 2:00 tomorrow at the Coralville Public Library. Two more debates are planned but those will just be Loebsack and MMM.

    Roxanne Conlin is still waiting for a full-fledged debate with Chuck Grassley, but in the meantime she'll be on the Pentacrest Tuesday for a 1:30 speech.

    (Grassley's post-debate opinion of Conlin's looks got a Bonus Quote of the Day from Political Wire.)

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Loebsack, Conlin, Culver Confident at Dvorsky Dinner

    Loebsack, Conlin, Culver Confident at Dvorsky Dinner
    Conlin: Grassley comments on her appearance after joint Iowa Press appearance

    Senate Appropriations chair Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville) drew an all-star lineup to his annual birthday fundraiser Friday: the governor, the congressman, the US Senate candidate and the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. It helps to be married to her.

    But the news of the night came from keynote speaker Roxanne Conlin, who arrived hot off her well-reviewed Iowa Press joint appearance with her opponent, Chuck Grassley.

    "It was certainly interesting," Conlin said of the joint appearance. "The guy couldn't defend his record, or even look me in the eye. He couldn't even say my name. He called me 'her' or 'my opponent.'"

    Conlin said in conversation after the taping, reporters asked Grassley about his odd body language and failure to look at Conlin. To which, Conlin said, Grassley responded: "She's a really good looking woman. I don't have a problem looking at her."

    "Whaaaat?!?" Conlin told the Coralville crowd. "He really said that."

    Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson, one of the Iowa Press panelists, confirms Conlin's anecdote.

    It's not the first time Republicans have commented on Conlin's appearance, or the crudest thing anyone has said,but those comments came from bloggers and not from her opponent. It's a little reminiscent of Strom Thurmond greeting the "lovely ladies" from NOW and NARAL in the 1991 Anita Hill hearings.

    As for the substance of the discussion, Conlin called Grassley to task for his ad bragging of 6000 consecutive Senate roll call votes. "6000 votes. How many of those were on behalf of the people of Iowa and how many were for the people who pay his bills?"

    Conlin cited some of those recent votes. "Five times in the last couple of weeks he voted against extending unemployment. Why? Because now he has discovered the deficit that he created" as chair of the Senate Finance Committee when the Senate was in GOP hands.

    The program had offered a full hour, but Grassley agreed to only a half hour. "It was frustrating to have such a short exchange," writes the Register's Kathie Obradovich. "Rather than satisfying voters, this may whet appetites for some formal debates. I hope Grassley considers a rematch in a more structured forum." It's a call Conlin has repeated many times on the campaign trail, calling for a robust schedule of Lincoln-Douglas style debates. Grassley has said he will consider a couple of standing debate invitations depending on the Senate's schedule.

    As for the rest of the evening, the who's who of Johnson County Democratic politics was brimming with confidence despite the nationwide doom and gloom outlook for the Dems.

    "We have been preparing for this challenge for a very long time," said IDP chair Sue Dvorsky. "We planned this campaign before the polls came out. It changes nothing. Just remember that what we are doing is executing the plan."

    "We have other numbers and they are terrific," she said, citing the Democratic Party's lead in voter registration and absentee ballot requests.

    Governor Culver, trailing in polls, said "there is not a doubt in my mind we are going to win. As long as we get the truth out there, we're going to win."

    "During Terry Branstad's tenure they neglected their duties after the `93 flood," said Culver. "He had a long list of recommendations but did nothing."

    Culver focused much of his speech on his signature IJobs program. "We've got an IJobs project right outside the door," he said, referring to the Coralville arts center under construction just outside the public library (rain moved the event indoors from its traditional Morrison Park duck pond site).

    "We decided two years ago to invest in local projects and infrastructure, and I want to be here to see it through," the governor said in asking for a second term. "This is no time to switch horses."

    In contrast, said Culver, "the last thing we need is an income tax cut for out of state corporations."

    "I don't know how Terry Branstad gets a vote over here," said the governor, who's quite familiar with Johnson County's margins (he won 68% here in 2006, his best margin in the state.)

    Congressman Dave Loebsack was also grateful for the 2006 Johnson County margin that put him over the top in his upset win. "Republicans grudgingly respect Johnson County. This is an absolutely critical place, and it is a more serious year this year."

    "The country is so divided along partisan lines, but the American people are tired of it," said Loebsack. "They want us to move forward, and that's what I'm going to keep doing," he said, citing his efforts to work across the aisle.

    However, Loebsack said, "we cannot go back to the Republican policies that got us into the ditch in the first place."

    Loebsack focused on his work on the Armed Services committee. "Whether you agree with the mission or not, we need our National Guard troops to have what they need for their missions, domestic or overseas, and when they get home. Our veterans paid the price for their services, and they deserve it."

    State auditor candidate Jon Murphy spoke early in the evening. Murphy is challenging two-term Republican incumbent David Vaudt, who was unopposed in 2006.

    "We'll have more transparency, professionalism and performance in the office when I'm auditor," said Murphy, a sentiment echoed by Bob Dvorsky.

    "The last real auditor we had was a Republican, but he was a straight-up guy," said Bob Dvorsky, referring to Vaudt's predecessor Richard Johnson, who served from 1980 to 2002 and who very prominently questioned Terry Branstad's budget numbers in the 1990s. "The current state auditor is essentially a political hack. He's very biased and he has hurt the office."

    Thursday, September 09, 2010

    Iowa Congressional Dems Doing Well

    Iowa Congressional Dems Doing Well

    If the conservative American Future Fund is bragging about these numbers, then I don't think things are as doomy-gloomy for Dems as the pundits would have you believe:
    The big surprise is that the new survey shows Boswell, a seven-term congressman, leading Republican candidate Brad Zaun, a state senator from Urbandale. Zaun had been leading Boswell in two previous polls conducted by other organizations.

    In a head-to-head race in the 3rd District, which includes Polk County and 11 other counties in east-central and southern Iowa, the poll shows Boswell leading Zaun by 48 percent to 39 percent with 2 percent supporting another candidate or no candidate, and 11 percent undecided...
    I didn't really care for the big schadenfreude pile-on against Zaun over his personal life... but I think it had an impact.

    What hasn't had an impact is AFF's money drop against Bruce Braley in the 1st CD. Their own poll has Broooooce up 50-39 over Some Dude Republican Ben Lange.

    And here in the 2nd CD they've got Dave Loebsack up 8 points over MMM, as opposed to that four point margin Miller-Meeks released from her internal poll a month or so back. And that's basically what American Future Fund is here; a GOP internal poll.

    UPDATE: From my Facebook comments, Iowa City's favorite Rutgers political scientist David Redlawsk writes: "And note this is a poll by a conservative group. The N is very small at only 300 but gives a sense that they are doing pretty well in this environment so far."

    "Moderette" (sic) Miller-Meeks also seems to have some party unity issues, if you read Coralville Courier: "I'm not buying her 'I'm a victim too, I feel your pain' crap. This woman will say and do anything to get elected. She plays games, AS IF we don't already have enough of that in Washington!" (Don't forget, tea partiers have two alternatives, Libertarian Gary Sicard and Jon Tack of the Constitution Party, while Loebsack doesn't have to contend with a Green like he did in `08.)

    Newt Gingrich Writes Off Johnson County

    Newt Gingrich Writes Off Johnson County

    Newt Gingrich, who is either running for president or selling books by making people think he's running for president, writes off the People's Republic of Johnson County:
    “The other thing you also have to do is figure out how you’re going to take on political correctness in universities . . . They only recruit from people who are nuts. You end up with people who are so far to the left that they are literally not in contact with reality.”
    Also, in his historic pattern of over-reach (see the 1995 government shutdown for details), the Newt thinks the election is in the bag for the GOP. Reminds me of the guy who starts the touchdown dance on the two yard line, then fumbles.

    The IDP's Fearless Leader Sue Dvorsky says: "Looks like it might be rainy Friday night, so Bob's fundraiser's moving to the Schwab Auditorium in the lower level of the Coralville Public Library! See you Friday @6:00." Special guests, as noted yesterday, are the Guv and Roxanne.

    Wednesday, September 08, 2010

    Stuff This Weekend

    Stuff This Weekend

    Well, we know there's football this weekend (and politicking in and around that) but there's a couple other political items on the docket:

    It's Harkin Steak Fry day Sunday with special guests David and David (not the obscure 80s music duo) Axelrod and Plouffe, the political consiglieres of la famiglia Obama. (That makes Rahm Emanuel the Sonny Corleone?)

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    1:00 pm – 4:00 pm (doors open at 12:30 pm)

    Warren County Fairgrounds, Indianola (off Highway 92 in Indianola)

    Closer to Home, Chet Culver and Roxanne Conlin will be at the Bob Dvorsky birthday fundraiser on Friday, September 10 at the Fireside Shelter in Morrison Park (that's the one with the ducks) in Coralville. The party's from 6 to 8PM.

    You and your checkbook are welcome at both events.

    Tuesday, September 07, 2010

    Lewis-Beck Least Pessimistic

    UI's Lewis-Beck Least Pessimistic

    If you dare predict less than doom and gloom for Democrats these days you have to turn in your pundit credentials; witness the latest Stuart Rothenberg list.

    But at the latest meeting of the American Political Science Association, the University of Iowa's Michael Lewis-Beck was the least pessimistic:
    Lewis-Beck predicted a Republican gain of just 22 seats. He collaborated with Charles Tien of CUNY Hunter College on a more than 30-year-old "referendum" model based on measurements earlier this year. Their model was the only one to exclude measurements of the current seat division between Democrats and Republicans.

    Lewis-Beck argued that the "the best models are based on theory ... things that we know [or] that we're pretty certain we know," which in this case means the belief that "people vote about the main direction of the economy, and they vote about big macro political issues," especially in midterm elections.
    At this point, minus 22 would look like a Democratic triumph, and fit perfectly into my "It's 1982 not 1994" theory. Minus 22 is just flushing a few fluke winners away.

    Also note: The doom and gloom polls focus on likely voters, not registered voters, and registered voter polls look better for Democrats. That means Democrats have more to gain (or have nowhere to go but up). Field work is what turns registered voters into likely voters into actual voters, and Democrats do it better. (Republicans prefer to make their efforts at things like recruiting homeless dudes to run as Green Party candidates.)

    Not to mention: In 1994, Newt Gingrich didn't start to over-reach until he't actually won the House. The Tea Parties are over-reaching even before Election Day (see Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Joe Miller...)

    Monday, September 06, 2010

    Dems Determined on Labor Day

    Dems Determined on Labor Day

    The big name was grounded but plenty of Democrats were representing at the Iowa City of Federation Labor's picnic.

    Tom Harkin's connecting flight was late so instead Johnson County's union friends heard from Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky and Secretary of Agriculture candidate Francis Thicke. The top of the slate - Chet Culver, Dave Loebsack and Roxanne Conlin - were all in Cedar Rapids, and Dvorsky had plenty of praise for them.

    "The people we've put up as candidates are people with big ideas. And our staff and volunteers are second to none," she said.

    "The choice this year is as stark as we have ever had. (The Republicans) aren't running a stealth campaign, they're telling you exactly what they'll do. Terry Branstad is proud to say he is throwing four year olds out of pre-school."

    "What makes a labor union is what makes our Democratic Party," said Dvorsky. "Sisters and brothers working together hand in hand."

    Thicke referred to his opponent, GOP incumbent Bill Northey, as "Secretary of Egg-riculture." "He's been hiding out and making apologies, not stepping up and taking action," Thicke said of Northey's response to the salmonella scare. "It's a national embarrassment to Iowa."

    Rep. Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) said the labor agenda will still be on the table in the next legislative session. "We will continue to advocate for those labor issues. The majority of our Democrats support that. We have not forgotten who brought us to the dance."

    Other legislators on hand were Sen. Bob Dvorsky of Coralville and Rep. Nate Willems of Lisbon. Other electeds on hand: Supervisors Harney, Neuzil, Sullivan, Rettig, Auditor Tom Slockett, County attorney Janet Lyness and Patti Fields of the Iowa City School Board. The only non-incumbent candidate was also the only non-Democratic candidate: David Smithers, the Green contender in House District 89.

    Pics here.

    Labor Day Lists

    Labor Day Lists

    The big labor day news is gonna be President Obama's speech in Milwaukee: "President Barack Obama will announce a comprehensive infrastructure plan to expand and renew our nation’s roads, railways and runways." Aaah. Jobs, jobs. jobs. Exactly what we need to be talking about the rest of the way.

    Here in the People's Republic, a slight change of plan: "Senator Harkin and other Democratic candidates will appear at the The Labor Day Picnic. The Picnic originally scheduled for noon-2 will be extended noon- 3 for this visit. The picnic will take place in Shelter 2. All labor union members and friends of labor are welcome." It's always a kid-friendly good time. Check back for my update. (Change of change of plan: Harkin's connecting flight was delayed so he didn't make it.)

    Lately, long time local labor activist Tom Jacobs has been posting pictures of past picnics, including some of me with hair. My favorites: 1991 when I was in public radio and watched an entire Jesse Jackson speech from literally arm's length, and 1999 when Paul Wellstone came in for Bill Bradley.

    Labor Day is the traditional kickoff day for the general election sprint to the finish line. The Gazette's James Lynch has doom and gloom, while Jason Clayworth and Jennifer Jacobs at the Register have the top tier legislative contests. (And don't forget my Cliff's Notes on all 125 contests.)

    Last but least, TheIowaRepublican says: "This Labor Day, Celebrate Iowa's Right to Work Law." Isn't that like honoring deadbeat dads on Father's Day?

    Sunday, September 05, 2010

    1994 or 1982

    1994... or 1982?

    Yeah, it looks grim for Dems at the moment, as the brutal triage process ramps up. By any measure, Boswell is among those triages in rather than out. And Braley and Loebsack, who took back districts that naturally leaned Democratic, are a very different kind of Class of 2006 member than, say, a Zack Space who won on red turf with an assist from a Republican scandal.

    But we may not be looking at 1994 here. It's more like 1982:
    Obama and the Democrats will not be caught off guard this time. If they can continue to link the possibility of a new Republican majority to a return to Bush policies, while also communicating their own vision of a new dawn for America, voters may be ready to listen.

    Friday, September 03, 2010

    At least she didn't call Tom Beaumont limp and impotent

    At least she didn't call Tom Beaumont limp and impotent

    Oh, this is going to be a fuuuun couple of weeks as Iowa gets ready for Mama Grizzly's arrival.

    First, by coincidental timing, we have the Vanity Fair piece by Michael Joseph Gross, which is both a must read and, er, well, just read it.

    Next, seemingly in response, Palin makes reference on Sean Hannity's radio show to - oh, this stuff writes itself:
    "...those who are impotent and limp and gutless and they go on their anonymous -- sources that are anonymous -- and impotent, limp and gutless reporters take anonymous sources and cite them as being factual references"
    Then today, Palin takes issue with the Register's Tom Beaumont, who noted that it was Palin who approached the Iowa GOP about the Sept. 17 speech. Congressional Quarterly picked up on it, and Palin said, again on Hannity:
    "I did see the headline on CQ Politics, and they’re way whacked, sayin' that I asked for an opportunity to speak in Iowa.

    And to me, a headline like that and a story that went on ‘Sarah Palin pursued a speakin' opportunity in Iowa to make a point’ — You idiot reporter. Why can’t you follow up with a fact like asking ‘Really, who did she ask?, who did she pursue’?"
    For most candidates - not too far of a stretch to describe her as such - alienatin' one of Iowa's top political reporters would be a major faux pas. But for Palin, attackin' the "lamestream media" is part of her strategery. Just remember, Half Governor, Krusty has the Iowa franchise on the phrase "you must be an idiot."

    Thursday, September 02, 2010

    Thursday clips

    Thursday clips

    I'm going to miss the annual Hawkeye-Badger game; Dad and I used to have fun razzing one another about it. What the hell kind of rivalry is Iowa-Purdue? On to politics:

    Why does the American Future Fund have it out for the very safe Bruce Braley? This chess move has little to do with 2010, I'm sure. They're trying to soften him up for the next one.

    desmoinesdem looks at the very incumbent friendly endorsements of the Iowa Corn Growers: "The Corn Growers' PAC did not make an endorsement in any of the open-seat Iowa House races." I've always been annoyed by "co-endorsements" like the one they give to Culver and Branstad. Have it both ways has always been one of my pet peeves, in life in general.

    And this speaks for itself:
    Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Republican candidate in Iowa’s 2nd District, recently called on Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack to join her in opposing a tax law change linked to health care reform — something his office reports he’s already voted to change.

    “Miller-Meeks should do her homework,” a Loebsack spokeswoman responded after reading Miller-Meek’s statements in The Iowa Independent.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2010

    Dems make speaker official

    About Time

    22 hours after GOP bloggers figure it out, the Iowa Democratic Party officially announces:
    Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell will serve as the keynote speaker for their 2010 Jefferson Jackson Dinner, which will take place on October 16th in Des Moines. Gov. Rendell, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, has been a strong voice for the Democratic Party at a local, state, and national level.

    “Governor Rendell’s lifetime of public service and dedication to the Democratic Party has made him one of our strongest and most outspoken voices, it is an honor to welcome him as our keynote speaker for the Jefferson Jackson Dinner,” said IDP Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky. “The Jefferson Jackson Dinner is always a great opportunity for Iowa Democrats to hear from our great leaders from across the nation and build support for the Party. This year Governor Rendell will help us prepare to reelect Governor Culver and send Roxanne Conlin to the Senate as we build on our past success.”

    The IDP’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner has welcomed many national political figures, most recently hosting Vice President Joe Biden in 2009. For more information about the Dinner visit
    So the Republicans win this battle by getting their party's number one draw - at her initiative, it seems. Democrats, meanwhile, frankly get a B lister. Maybe we'll see Rendell in a second Obama term cabinet, or with a talk TV gig, but for now the term-limited Pennsylvania governor's star is on the decline. (Last year things were switched: Republicans settled for Tim Pawlenty, while Democrats got Vice President Biden.)

    But there's silver linings to all that. First off, there's a month between events, so the side by side comparisons will end today. And the sheer magnitude of the Republican speaker and the accompanying lamestream media feeding frenzy will eclipse any hope of Iowa's own Republican candidates being noticed. Terry Branstad and Chuck Grassley will get small sidebar stories or buried paragraphs in print and zilch on TV. It's all about Mama Grizzly.

    Democrats, meanwhile, will be a month closer to the election. Rendell will rally the faithful, to be sure, but the night and the stories will be about Roxanne Conlin and Chet Culver.

    Update: Jonathan Martin of Politico tweeted Rendell at 10:09 AM yesterday, six minutes before iowasnewzliter. I'm still steamed I wasn't first...