Sunday, October 31, 2010

Top of Dem Ticket Takes Train

Top of Dem Ticket Takes Train Monday

Celebrate two great Democratic traditions Monday: speeches from the back of a train and come from behind wins.
Monday Final Rally of the Political Season - Whistle Stop Tour!

Governor Culver, Roxanne Conlin, Senator Harkin, Statewide Democrats and local leaders will speak in Iowa City from the back of a train at a Get Out the Vote Rally Monday at noon in Iowa City.

The Democrats will spend the final day of the 2010 campaign on a a cross-state whistle-stop tour. Called the Culver Victory Express, the train will take Governor Culver, Statewide Democrats and local leaders on a tour that will start in Davenport and end in Newton.

Come rally Democrats on to the polls at this historic rally at Iowa City's old train station.

"The Culver Victory Express will lead Democrats back to Des Moines and success on election day," said Governor Culver. "Just one week after finding out about our new passenger rail line through eastern Iowa, we will travel the same rails, telling Iowans about our vision for the future. The Culver/Judge Administration and Democrats have helped move this state forward, and I am respectfully asking Iowans for their vote on November 2nd."

12:00 p.m. - Iowa City
Main Street vs. Wall Street Rally/Whistle Stop With Governor Culver, Roxanne Conlin, Statewide Electeds and Candidates

Old Rock Island Depot, 119 Wright Street, Iowa City
Located between S. Clinton St. and S. Dubuque St. A few minute walk from campus. Two blocks past the Iowa City main post office.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Homosexual Mafia and the Caveman

The Homosexual Mafia and the Caveman

Iowans, of course, know that Johnson County is The People's Republic, but the coasts don't always differentiate amongst the corn.

Which makes these going-viral comments from the notorious Randy Crawford, quoted by Lynda Waddington in Iowa Independent, all the more embarrassing:
Randy Crawford of Iowa City said he intends to vote for the removal of the justices because he is concerned about the judiciary overstepping its reach and also about the propensity of homosexuals within his community.

“My primary reason for being here is because I believe the Supreme Court should not be legislating from the bench. But I also believe that homosexuality is bad thing,” he said. “It used to be useful when we were cavemen and we needed people to guard the caves full of women and children. If I’m a guy out hunting, I want to leave someone back at the cave tending to my wife and kids, and I don’t want a normal guy having that kind of access to my wife and kids. So, in our evolution, you can see that there use to be a utility for homosexuality, but that was when we were cavemen and we aren’t cavemen anymore. So, homosexuality is obsolete.”
Crawford is a long-term net gadfly with a... special rhetorical style well on display in this epic "comment" on another Waddington post last year:
"By now, most of the world realizes the Iowa Supreme Court has been functioning as a political operations arm of the Iowa homosexual mafia, but their warped ruling to try to legitimize bogus homo marriage came as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to their slide toward degeneracy over the years."

Now, I've been a proud associate of the Iowa City Homosexual Mafia since at least Godmother Kim Painter's first campaign. (Sadly, I can never be a full member because I'm not, shall we say, Italian.) Non-Iowans need to know that while Crawford has an Iowa City address, he's not very Iowa City. We have three out-n-proud local elected officals. We're such a friendly and welcoming community that busloads of same sex couples travel here from St. Louis monthly to get marriage licenses while they can at recorder Painter's office. They could just hop over the border to Keokuk (the little bump on the lower right corner of the map), yet they trek a couple extra hours to come here.

Sadly, not all of Iowa is as friendly. Supervisor Janelle Rettig, who in our mob analogy is probably consigliere, takes Crawfordesque hate more seriously, writing to supporters:
Across Iowa, the homophobic rhetoric is rising in pitch, money is flowing into the state from outside religious institutions and organizations, buses filled with angry people circle the state, and the leaders say homosexuals and gay marriage 'offend god'.

The human element of this debate has been missing for the past few months. It's my story, my spouse's, yours, your son's, your granddaughter's, your neighbor's, your coworker's, the teenager next door, the older never married person living at home, the children, people we have never met.

Human beings are at the heart of all this talk of sinning and hate. Our children are watching us treat each other poorly and some can't handle the pain and rejection. We've had enough discrimination, hate, violence and suicide. Let's find our common humanity and stop spending so much energy hating and bullying.
So non-Iowans, we're not all cavemen. Iowans, we need to keep what we have. Three of our Supreme Court justices who bravely and unanimously ruled that equality under the law means equality in marriage are up for a retention vote. Vote yes to keep them. A decennial constitutional convention question is on the ballot and equality opponents want to use that as a way to end same-sex marriage Vote no to block that. A Democratic governor and legislature will protect equality; support them.

And while you're at it, even though they're unopposed because they do such a damn good job no one is stupid enough to run against them, vote for my friends Kim and Janelle too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Keeping Election Day Registration

Keeping Election Day Registration

The week before an election is an exciting time, as voters make their decisions, update those registrations ("I moved last year and I keep forgetting...") and in ever-increasing numbers cast their early ballots.

This used to be a sad and frustrating week, too, as people just tuning into the process had to be told: "I'm sorry, you missed the deadline. You can't vote." Right at the moment interest peaked, we used to shut down the rolls and lock people out of the process.

We don't tell people "you missed the deadline, you can't vote" anymore in Iowa. We have election day registration now. Tens of thousands of Iowans - more than 2000 in my county - used election day registration to participate in the 2008 election. It helped boost Iowa's turnout to among the nation's highest.

A Democratic legislature passed election day registration in 2007. Our Democratic governor, Chet Culver, signed it. Our Democratic secretary of state, Mike Mauro, supports it and successfully implemented it.

A Democratic legislature also passed election day registration in the 1980s. Terry Branstad vetoed it. The Republican candidate for secretary of state lists his election day registration "reforms" (sic) on a page headed "Voter Fraud," and wants to make election day registrants cast cumbersome and risky provisional ballots. It's the whole theme of that contest: Mike Mauro talks about helping people vote, Matt Schultz talks about making it harder to vote.

He probably wouldn't need to bother if he gets a Republican legislature - does anyone doubt they'd repeal it altogether? Last time Republicans controlled the Iowa House, they not only opposed election day registration - they tried to move the deadline back another week and a half, from 10 days to 20.

Wisconsin's had election day registration for 30-plus years without problems. We just got it here, and we could very easily lose it. Don't let it happen.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Definitely a very slim chance we'll survive

Are Democrats are facing a disaster of biblical proportions. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria? Maybe, but listen to the wisdom of the Ghostbusters:
Dr. Egon Spengler: Not necessarily. There's definitely a very slim chance we'll survive.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I love this plan! I'm excited to be a part of it! LET'S DO IT!
Then of course our heroes make the gutsy move, cross the streams, and defeat evil.

(I suppose in this analogy the American electorate is the demonically possessed Sigourney Weaver, “the nice lady who paid us in advance before she became a dog.” That works, but it makes President Obama Bill Murray and would-be Speaker John Boehner the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man…)

So that’s the movies. Back in real life, who you gonna call? Everyone on your voter list.
Team Culver released an internal poll this week showing that the governor has closed the gap with Terry Branstad to six points. That’s in the zone where the Democratic Party’s superior field program can make the difference.

On the national level, polls are so volatile that even the best number crunchers admit that they don’t really know what’s going to happen. But NBC’s First Read offers a scenario where Democrats keep the U.S. House of Representatives:
It’s a tricky path, but it’s a path we’ve seen traveled before in politics (John McCain’s presidential primary in ’08), sports (the Red Sox vs. the Yankees in ’04), and even movies (the blackjack scene in “The Hangover”) — to win, you have to run the table.
First, Democrats need to win the four or five GOP-held seats they’re counting on, which would increase the Republicans’ Magic Number from 39 to 43 or 44 (i.e., the GOP needs to pick up 43 or 44 seats to win back the House)… Then Democrats need to triumph in the Toss-Up contests where they’re still competing…
Definitely a very slim chance we’ll survive. Chris Bowers at Daily Kos offers some real world analogies:
Yes, Democrats are behind. However, a 21% chance of victory is far from being defeated. Your odds of rolling doubles in Monopoly, thus winning a second roll or getting you out of jail, are lower (17%) than the odds of Democrats winning the House. But everyone who has ever played Monopoly has rolled doubles many times.
So if there’s something strange in your neighborhood, it’s probably Democrats canvassing your precinct.
We finally had that Conlin-Grassley debate yesterday: "She delivered a polished performance while he committed some unforced errors."

Also, the P-C wraps up its endorsements with Governor Culver.

The Onion says it's all about the yard signs. With yesterday's wind storm, how long until we start hearing the old 'stolen yard sign' finger-pointing? My Jon Murphy flew away, but I was getting ready to rotate my signs anyway.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top of Ticket Thursday

Top of Dem Ticket in Iowa City Thursday

Make some mid-day time for this:
This Thursday (10/28) come meet:

Gov Chet Culver

Lt Gov Patty Judge

and Senate Candidate Roxanne Conlin

at 2:30 p.m. in the Iowa Room of the IMU (Room 335)

University of Iowa, Iowa City
Roxanne will no doubt be celebrating this morning's Press-Citizen endorsement, while Team Culver can point to a poll showing the gap closing to a six point race.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Last Week Starts

The Last Week Starts

The gears shift in Iowa City as the four week run of campus-focused, petition-required satellite voting sites comes to an end (there's just one campus site left, the IMU on Friday) and voting moves to the traditional sites at the Public Library and University Hospitals.

The road gets steeper for the 19 bar supporters, as the old voter registration deadline (now called the "pre-reg" deadline) passed on Saturday. Registration now requires ID and proof of address (moves within counties are still fill-out-a-form easy, though) So the bar question comes down to, do the 19 people have enough votes in the bank yet? And how many crazies like me are there who see this as a rights issue rather than a "public health" issue?

Whatever the case, it's sure to be a busy week and the People's Republic, and I don't see downtown Iowa City types and UIHC faculty-staff being especially Branstad-friendly. (We have long memories here.)

Speaking of voting, Matt Schultz not only doesn't want you to vote, he doesn't do much of it himself:
Although he’s running to serve as Iowa’s Secretary of State and commissioner of elections, candidate Matt Schultz failed to cast a ballot in a number of federal, state, and local elections over the past 10 years.

Schultz even failed to vote after filing papers to run for Secretary of State. (1)

According to his voting record, Schultz did not vote in any of the following elections:

- 2009 School Election
- 2008 Primary Election
- 2004 School Election
- 2003 School Election
- 2003 City Election
- 2002 Primary Election
- 2002 School Election
- 2001 City Election
- 2001 School Election
- 2000 Primary Election
That 2002 primary that Matt missed included a razor-close GOP gubernatorial contest that almost went to convention, and the 5th Congressional District contest that did (and that convention inflicted Steve King on us). The 2008 GOP primary had a very close US Senate race on the Republican side.

Release continues:
“As our commissioner of elections, the Secretary of State not only oversees the voting process but is responsible for encouraging Iowans to be civically engaged. If Matt Schultz can’t even bother to vote in federal, state, and local elections, I’m not sure he will have the credibility to carry out that important responsibility,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky said.

In comparison, Secretary of State Michael A. Mauro has over 25 years of experience administering elections in Iowa and has voted in all local, state, and federal elections during that time period.
For the record, I've missed one in 20 years in Iowa: the uncontested 1992 Iowa City school board race that saw turnout below one percent. (I was campaign staffing in Cedar Rapids at the time and remember driving home very late and realizing "oh crap! I forgot to vote!")

When you are voting (if you haven't yet) don't forget the judges. Polls say it's close. Bleeding Heartland says the "Judge Bus" will backfire by linking the No effort to "the out-of-state groups bankrolling the campaign against the judges" and "politicians outside the mainstream in Iowa." (coughVanderplaats!cough)

What else I got here... Press-Citizen offers a lukewarm Loebsack endorsement while still pining for Jim Leach. Seriously. In the first freakin' sentence.

And Item One of 21st century campaign advice: If you're even dreaming of running for anything ever, buy as a domain.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

HyVee Sunday

HyVee Sunday

It's Shop-N-Vote day today 10 to 5 at 1st Avenue, North Dodge and Coralville HyVees (us Waterfront shoppers are outta luck thanks to the construction).

Dave Loebsack is stopping by JCDems HQ for some doorknocking at 11:30.

A quick endorsement wrap:

Register goes with Culver and Grassley; my bet was they were going with Branstad and Conlin, based on what I thought was a hint in their Loebsack endorsement over Miller-Meeks.

The Reg also makes it five for five on Democratic US House endorsements, backing Matt Campbell over "embarrassment" Steve King:
He is inflammatory, not constructive. He is provocative, not focused on getting results for Iowans. He is reactive, not visionary.

There is not enough space in this editorial to remind readers of all the inflammatory statements King has made. Here are a few: suggesting terrorists would be "dancing in the streets" if President Barack Obama were elected and calling the "vast majority" of anti-war protesters "communists, socialists and radicals."

During a recent meeting at the Register, we asked King if he regretted any of his comments. He stood by them, saying it served the country to "tell the truth." He clarified a statement he had made on Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses in Iraq as being "little more than hazing."

King has shown Iowa what kind of representative he is. It's time for voters to replace him.
They won't, of course; turf's just too red and in the modern version of the GOP inflammatory hard right wins primaries. Bret Hatworth reminds us just how close that nominating contest was in 2002.

(Gentle reminder: when the map was drawn, the member of congress living inside the lines was... Leonard Boswell, who quickly decamped to Des Moines.)

Press-Citizen goes with the three incumbent Democratic state senators: Bob Dvorsky, Joe Bolkcom and most significantly Becky Schmitz. Gazette going sdrawkcab has made it all the way down to supervisor.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday Clips

Thursday Clips

Culver, Branstad clash on taxes, economy: Clash wins debate with their economic stimulus package of selling a triple album for a single album price.

Iowa early voting wave makes national news; still no one picking up on Iowa City local referendum.

Endorsement roundup: The day's big surprise is the Register backing Bill Maske over Tom Latham in the 4th CD. Some of my regular Republican readers are grumbling about the lack of GOP endorsements; my bets are on Northey and/or Branstad.

Meanwhile, the Gazette and the P-C both back a list of legislative incumbents of both parties.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another Day, More Endorsements

Another Day, More Endorsements

The Register offers its backing to Iowa's three House Democrats. The endorsement for Leonard Boswell is once again weak:
Boswell should be thankful Republicans have not managed to find a strong, credible candidate to run against him. His record just isn't that impressive. This year, his opponent is Brad Zaun. The current state senator and former Urbandale mayor is painfully unprepared for the job of a congressman.
The endorsement for Dave Loebsack is enthusuastic and offers (my italics) a possible hint to the senate race:
Though Iowa is long overdue in sending a woman to Congress, Miller-Meeks is not the woman to send this election. Loebsack continues to grow in this job and is able to see the bigger picture on how to get this country on course - including encouraging Americans to "make things again."
Does that mean there is a woman to send this election? There's only one other...
Both the Register and Gazette are backing Bruce Braley. But the Gazette goes for Brad Zaun over Boswell, though I have no Idea where they came up with the fantasy about Zaun's "willingness to occasionally break party ranks" (sic).

(The Gazette keeps with its top-down pattern of endorsements, starting with governor and senator and building up to what will likely be a climactic nod for township trustee.)

Gazette says they'll name state legislators tomorrow. The Press-Citizen does it today with a yawner, backing four local Democratic legislators. Mary Mascher and Vicki Lensing, while Dave Jacoby has no Republican opponent. In the only traditional two party race they back first-term Dem Nate Willems.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday Clips

Wednesday Clips

Endorsement Watch continues: Gazette backs Grassley with barely a mention of Conlin. Press-Citizen doesn't make endorsements in the downballot state races, citing their lack of interviews with all candidates, but tacitly backs Mike Mauro in the Secretary of State race: "With so little evidence of voter fraud in Iowa, we hope whoever wins this election continues to ensure that Iowans have the opportunity to excise their right to vote."

Speaking of which, the latest in the vote suppression watch is a weird Angle in Nevada: TV spots running on Univision urging Hispanics not to vote.

The Register offers a handy dandy clip-N-save guide to 23 key Iowa House races (no, I didn't write it)

And this one has made the rounds: conservative commentator gets on CSPAN2 panel with ex-girlfriend, turning a book discussion into a Jerry Springer episode.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Endorsement Season

Endorsement Season

Well I made my big endorsement Sunday and it looks like I was right on time, as the state's papers start to trickle out their endorsements one a day.

The Gazette, unusually, started at the top of the ticket (usually papers go countdown style, with the little stuff first and The Big One last). They blew it by backing Branstad, but in a pleasant surprise reversed itself and endorsed Dave Loebsack:
"Although we endorsed Loebsack’s Republican challenger, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, in 2008, we don’t feel she has offered a compelling enough case to unseat the incumbent this time around... the Ottumwa ophthalmologist’s second campaign hasn’t quite convinced us that she has distinguished herself from the party line via her own ideas."
The Reg starts on the back of the ballot yet says judicial retention is "by far the most important question in this year's election":
Protect our system of government, and the checks and balances that rely on the independence of the courts.

The voters of Iowa should make that happen by voting "yes" on all three Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention in this election. Indeed, unless Iowans know of a credible reason why any judge has proved unqualified to remain on the bench, they should also vote "yes" to retain all 74 appeals- and trial-court judges on the ballot across the state.
The Register also editorially opposed the constitutional convention question.

Closer to home, the Press-Citizen also supports keeping "every judge and justice on the ballot." As for the two statewide issues on the ballot, they oppose both the convention and the Water and Land Legacy Amendment:
Passing this amendment would increase the pressure for the Iowa Legislature to increase the sales tax rate in order to fund it -- along with whatever other projects would be able to claim the extra five-eighths of that penny.

We are for conservation efforts, and we hope the Iowa Legislature finds the political will and the votes to move forward with creating a Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust. But we don't think this proposal belongs in the Iowa Constitution.
But the day's most critical endorsement came in the New York governor's race:
Weekly World News’ Bat Boy, the half-bat, half-boy tabloid hero, announced today his intention to endorse Jimmy McMillan of The Rent is Too Damn High Party for Governor of New York.

The gubernatorial candidate has been invited to receive the official endorsement at a ceremony to coincide with Bat Boy’s “Going Mutant” book party slated for Oct. 25 in New York City’s East Village.

Bat Boy has a long history of endorsing worthy political candidates, such as President Obama, and causes, such as the fight against White Nose Syndrome by Bat Conservation International.
The Space Alien was unavailable for a rebuttal.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Linux Monday

Linux Listday

Ten ways to fix your Windows... with Linux! (Other than wiping Windows and replacing it, that is.)

Ten tweaks for that fresh Maverick Meerkat install.

Ten reasons Linux is good for kids. (Though I failed on this one... there was this Must Play game that didn't work.)

6 Linux distrinutions that "Changed Everything." Well, maybe not literally every Thing.

Five common Linux n00b mistakes. (Not as harsh as I made it sound.)

Finally, one truth about tech "support."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

21 Bar Vote Is A Rights Issue, Not A Health Issue

21 Bar Vote Is A Rights Issue, Not A Health Issue
A Deeth Blog Endorsement

You've probably noticed that I've been unusually quiet about the 21 bar battle lately. I have friends on both sides of the issue who sincerely believe their frame surrounding the issue is genuinely what's best for the community.

I'm sympathetic to many of the public health arguments of the 21 side, as I understand the problem of young adult alcohol abuse and the college party culture all too well. I recently celebrated the 25 year anniversary of my sobriety. My youthful alcoholism cost me about a half point off my GPA and my first serious relationship.

I even agree with the actual ordinance wording - that the bar admission age shall be 'the legal age.'

It's just that I believe that age should be 18.

While the powers that be - and there is a lot of power behind this - would like voters to believe this is a public health issue, for me it's a rights issue. The question is, should a 19 year old adult be able to go into a bar? Since I believe an 18 year old adult should be able to go into a bar AND have a drink, I say yes.

I am deeply disappointed that the drinking age issue hasn't been more prominent in this debate. This was a rare opportunity in a general election environment to discuss the folly of the federal legislation, passed right around the time I was swimming in beer, that linked highway funding to the 21 age. (It was the brainchild of Elizabeth Dole, who lost more elections than she won.)

But neither side wants to go there, preferring to focus on "safety" issues, except for the 21 side deliberately brushing the drinking age issue aside. "This is not about the drinking age, which we cannot control," Mayor Matt Hayek writes, carefully defining the question around what 21 supporters know is their weak point.

Of course it's about the drinking age. And of course the drinking age can be changed. It's not locked into the Constitution, it's mere legislation. Our federal lawmakers can change it. If not, our state legislators can tell the Feds to shove the highway money. If we need more roads -- I don't happen to think we do, but if we do -- raise my taxes. (I didn't say it would be easy to change.)

What IS enshrined in the Constitution is the 18 year old voting age. In 1971 we as a nation made a wartime decision, by the overwhelming consensus-level majority that a constitutional amendment requires, that the age of adulthood was 18. Yet on this one issue, this one super-special item, we have a separate higher age, which has backfired by magnifying the forbidden fruit aspect of "underage" (sic) drinking.

Rights issues are often uncomfortable. Sometimes rights are hurtful and have unsympathetic protagonists (Larry Flynt. Fred Phelps, Illinois Nazis...) But it's about the principle, not the pragmatic, and the true progressive stance here is to stick up, however reluctantly, for the frat rat's right to make a drunken ass of himself.

But even the few prominent leaders who privately support 19 have been reluctant to speak up; only the students and bar owners have. {What's more disappointing is the people who privately agree with me that the 21 drinking age is an unenforceable failure, yet are publicly backing "21 Makes Sense" (sic).}

No, the small-l libertarian steak of the local left is dormant. Instead our progressives have shown an unfortunate blue nose tendency, linking the rights issues to the end results. It's a long time problem. Prohibition was considered a "progressive" stance a century ago, in the original Bull Moose Progressive Era.

We saw it a couple years back in the anti-smoking movement, as "public health advocates" couldn't hide their underlying contempt and disgust for tobacco addicts as people. Just say no, they seemed to say, forgetting how ineffective that Reagan-era phrase was, ignoring the cognitive dissonance, ignoring the realities of all evidence about the nature of addiction.

And there's something patronizing in the pro-21 arguments. Bob Welsh writes: "There are many times our youth want to do various things and we as parents need to say, no. This is a time when we as a community need to say no." I know Bob and I know he's sincere. It's not that anyone's being deliberately mean-spirited here. (There's been back and forth finger pointing, but one thing we have fortunately managed to avoid - so far, but there's still a couple weeks left - is the ugly "students shouldn't be allowed to vote" rhetoric we saw in the conservation bond battle two years ago.) But it's just inherent to the argument; we know what's best for you, in spite of your own wishes.

The underlying attitude of many of the "townies" seems to be: We love the Hawkeyes, we love Hancher, but those undergrads are sure annoying. Yet you can't have a major university with nothing but tenured faculty and invisible grad students who never leave the lab. Without our young adults, without those immature and inconvenient freshmen and sophomores and juniors, there is no Iowa City as we know it.

we_want_beerYoung adults want adult fun. And again, that special, adult-plus 21 line defines drinking as "adult fun." I'm not pretending that "adult rights" means 19 year old undergrads will sip on one genteel gin and tonic while earnestly discussing their literature class in a quiet pub. They'll drink two or three too many beers or candy flavored cocktails, dance, and dubiously hook up.

Is it good that the University of Iowa has a regional reputation as a party school? Probably not. Do I wish the students were climbing the rock wall at the new UI rec center on a Friday night instead of puking on the Ped Mall? Absolutely. Am I happy that the only issue that's driven young voters to the polls in this town in my 20 years here is Fight For Your Right To Party? No. (Special note to my undergrad readers: that's a song from back before you were born.)

Like I said, rights fights are uncomfortable sometimes. But that's the real question here: whether young adults have the right to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own mistakes, like I did, or whether we want to return to the in loco parentis attitudes of the 1950s.

I know from my own difficult experience with alcohol that you can ONLY learn from experience. Only when we drop the Nancy Reagan Just Say No rhetoric and separate the age issue from the abuse issue, and recognize the rights and wishes of young adults, can we Old People gain any credibility with those same young adults to address the very real problems of binge drinking.

On the first day of early voting, I voted Yes on 19. Please join me.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Your Daily Vote Suppression Update

Your Daily Vote Suppression Update

In Illinois it's African-Americans, in Wisconsin it's students... and now add Native Americans in South Dakota to the list.

Maybe Meg Whitman will dump a few million into suppressing the Hispanic vote in California. And given the precedents I'm not kidding too much.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday Clips

Can't Sustain A Thought Longer Than A Bullet Point

  • Pollsters may still be missing cell phone only voters, who lean younger and more Democratic...

  • Dem Joe Sestak taking the lead in PA Senate race, and any path to a GOP Senate majority runs through PA.

  • Local GOP blog Coralville Courier declares Dave Loebsack the winner over MMM in Tuesday's congressional debate.

  • desmoinesdem takes down the IA preachers preaching a No vote on the Supreme Court:
    "Gordon has been recruiting Iowa clergy to preach a "no" vote on judicial retention for the past month. He thinks he has a strong case on First Amendment grounds. There's plenty of legal precedent for requiring tax-exempt organizations to refrain from certain kinds of political advocacy. But I'm more amused by Gordon's desire to have the courts strike down part of a tax code adopted by the people's representatives. How is that different from the Iowa Supreme Court striking down a key provision of Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act?
  • Finally, Prairie Lights celebrates the 2008 election with tonight's readings (7 PM) from "Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama's First 100 Days." I won't be reading any poetry, but I will be on hand to share stories from covering the 2008 election cycle.
  • Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    It Ain't Over Till It's Over

    It Ain't Over Till It's Over

    From 18 points down to 8 in a week: Sing it for Chet, Lenny:

    On the other hand, if things actually do suck in three weeks, there's one silver lining: fewer Blue Dogs.

    Judge Orders Injunction on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ which is great, but would have been better if it had been on 1/20/09.

    "Clash over Iowa City's bar age," it says... Way over, whether it's 19 or 21; Mick Jones is 55 and Joe Strummer was 50 when he died.

    I like Paul Simonon's hat.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    No Endorsement from Corbett

    No Endorsement from Corbett

    Yje Gazette plays this as a 'CR mayor staying neutral' piece, but isn't it a little telling that Ron Corbett, the Republican speaker from Branstad's fourth term, isn't endorsing Terry, even when he's way up in the polls? Hedging our bets any, Ron?

    It's a Dem internal, but this poll has Boswell ahead of Brad Zaun by 8. I never thought I'd see a day when I was rooting for Leonard Boswell, but in this climate I'll hope he gets one last term. True, it has him below 50 percent (49-41) but the mighty Nate Silver says that incumbent under 50 measure is overrated.

    Nationally, the Washington Post's Chris Cilizza defines a Democratic victory:

  • "The House equation for Democrats is simple: If they hold the majority -- even by a single seat -- following the election, they will say they won."

  • "If Democrats can't win (KY or MO), their best hope for a Senate "victory" is to narrow the losses within their own ranks with Colorado, Nevada and Illinois all regarded as toss up races..."

  • "The simple truth is that Florida, Texas and California are the major (gubernatorial) prizes -- given the size of each state's population and their importance in the coming 2011 redistricting process. Wins in two of those three races would almost certainly make the election cycle for Democrats. A sweep of all three would elate party strategists."
  • Closer to home, desmoinesdem has a must-read smackdown of Sandy Greiner and her ties to the American Freedom (sic) Fund.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Meerkat Monday

    Meerkat Monday

    It's a big Linux Monday this week as the new Ubuntu 10.10, Maverick Meerkat, was released over the weekend. I've upgraded but only checked it out yet myself; Ubuntu's release cycle has an unfortunate coincidence iwth the election cycle.

    There's also the question of whether to upgrade at all. Version 10.04, Lucid Lynx, was a once every two years long term support release. Consensus seems to be: wait a bit, then go ahead.

    In any case early reviews are good. Steven Vaughan-Nichols says 10.10. "scores close to a ten." Here's a Top 12 list of reasons to try Ubuntu 10.10 and a screenshot tour of new features.

    As always, there's a little work to do after a new install, and here's a list for that.

    With Windows XP aging into end of life, yet still the dominant OS, there's an ever-growing group of refugees who don't want to get new equipment but can't upgrade to Windows 7. Ubuntu's looking to those orphans for expansion (here's another article on that line).

    In non-Linux news, a look at why American broadband is so bad. And from Cracked, of all places, 7 Reasons Computer Glitches Won't Go Away (Ever).

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Sunday Clips

    Republicans Peaking Too Soon?

    Simon Rosenberg of progressive think tank - we have those too, just not as well funded as the righty ones - offers a must-read argument that Republicans peaked too soon in this year's mid-term elections. Key points:

  • "You've got trend lines where one party is dropping and one party is gaining -- it's indisputable at this point. If you're a Republican right now, and you look at this environment, the party that's dropping a month out usually loses. "

  • "As the Republican ads go up on the air, it's going to motivate Democratic voters because it's going to remind the Democrats how much they hate the Republicans."

    Remember a couple days back when I imagined an alternate universe where Chuck Grassley got tea partied in the primary? Desmoinesdem fleshed that scenario out.

    And more on the vote suppression effort in Illinois. Oops, they call it "voter integrity" (sic). In Wisconsin they're targeting students, but in Illinois there are the targeted areas:
    [Chicago] South Side: 93 percent African American
    [Chicago] West Side: 52.9 percent African American (and Greektown, for good measure)
    Metro East: The St. Louis suburbs on the Illinois side of the Mississippi, including the notorious East St. Louis.
    Rockford: 17.37 percent African American, but also known statewide for gang-ridden black neighborhoods
    But the best part is Republican Senate nominee Mark Kirk dropping a rhyming code word: "...where the other side might be tempted to jigger the numbers somewhat." Somehow I don't think he meant a shot of booze when he said 'jigger.'

    Remember: Democrats want to help people vote, Republicans want to keep people from voting.
  • Stuff this week

    Stuff this week

    23 days to go which means a lot going on this week:

  • State Auditor candidate Jon Murphy will be at the home of Mitch and Melanie Gross Monday night:
    6PM-7PM at 1080 Ashlynd Court, Coralville.

  • Lt. Gov. Patty Judge does the Hamburg Inn thing on Tuesday, 5:30-6:30 PM.

  • Right after that, you can eithr go home and watch the Dave Loebsack-MMM debate on Channel 9 at 7:00, or you can send your camel to bed: Maria Muldaur is at The Mill with Francis Thicke, candidate for Secretary of Agriculture, 7PM to 9PM.

  • And slightly stranger on the music front: Roxanne Conlin at Gabe's?!?
    Come to the Roxanne Rox Concert and Early Vote Rally featuring outstanding female talent and Democratic Senate candidate. It's Sunday October 17th at Gabe's (330 E Washington Street) at 6-10pm and FREE FOR STUDENTS!
    Plus early voting. Lots and lots of early voting.
  • Thursday, October 07, 2010

    It's Not 1994 - it's 1998

    It's Not 1994 - it's 1998

    Crazy Cajun James Carville knows a little something about getting his boss out of a heap o' trouble at the polls. The Great Bald One offers a positive prognosis for Barack Obama and the Democrats, saying this year's climate looks less like the Armageddon of 1994 and more like the disaster that wasn't in 1998:
    "In the 1998 election, we conducted national polls starting in September to see if Democrats could push back against the Republican overreach on Ken Starr and impeachment, as Democrats faced the prospect of historic losses in both the House and Senate. Only two weeks before the election did the plates shift and a Democratic counter-message on impeachment became effective in our polls. In the end, Democrats lost no net seats in Senate, gained five House seats and Newt Gingrich resigned."
    The key word here is "overreach."

    In 1998, the Republican overreach was impeachment. This year, it's Teh Tea Party Krazy. Ultra-extreme purism in the Republican primary process has directly knocked out two GOP Senators (Bennett and Muirkowski - oops, spelled it wrong, THAT won't help a write-in campaign), indirectly knocked off a third (pushing Arlen Specter into a Democratic primary he couldn't win either), led a sitting Republican governor into an independent Senate bid, flushed away a sure thing win in Delaware, and made Kentucky competitive.

    (Wonder how things might have been if Iowa's primary were in September instead of June, and if Bill Salier or Kent Sorensen had gone after Chuck Grassley for not being pure enough?)

    Even when the overreach isn't direct, it's a motivator - for the other side :
    Democrats break 66-15 against the Tea Party, and half say Tea Party support makes them less likely to vote for a candidate. So a Tea Party endorsement would motivate Dems to vote against a candidate slightly more than it prompts Republicans or independents to vote for one. And only 19 percent of independents said a Tea Party affiliation made them more likely to vote for a candidate.

    Obama has his own Carville in David Axelrod and his own Stephanopolous in David Plouffe, and Plouffe has played the expectation card: "Plouffe said Thursday that the Republicans should be expected to make a full sweep of Congress - and key gubernatorial races - given the environmental advantages they have. Anything less, he said, should be seen as a disgrace..."

    Wednesday, October 06, 2010

    Wednesday Clips

    Wednesday Clips

  • Press-Citizen covers state senate candidate debate but buries the big story a couple grafs down; headline should have been "Sandy Greiner Skips Debate."

  • Speaking of Greiner and her PAC, here's more national attention (from the Washington Post) on the bizarre emphasis on the Bruce Braley race. Aaron Blake sees a pattern with Braley as the best example: "Republicans are trying to take him out before he has a chance to grow into the Democrats' next Senator-in-waiting. And, even if they can't beat him this year, they want to bloody him for future -- and bigger -- campaigns."

    Maybe. I still think his plan is House leadership ladder.

  • Also getting national attention: the Iowa City 21 bar fight, as NPR examines the impact on the music scene.

  • And I like Yes on 19 in California, too.
  • Tuesday, October 05, 2010

    Christine O'Donnell's Next Ad

    Christine O'Donnell's Next Ad

    Someone had to put these two together: You may have heard that Senate Candidate Christine O'DOnnell (Tea-Delaware) begins her latest TV spot with the immortal line "I'm not a witch."

    Here's where she cribbed the line, and a suggestion for her next ad:

    But does she weigh the same as a duck? In any case, we may have found the Holy Grail of political humor...

    Smart Politics; Not So Smart Analysis?

    Smart Politics; Not So Smart Analysis?

    Smart Politics is one of my occasional stops in the blogosphere. It's focused on the upper midwest, numbers and factiods, thus right up my alley.

    But yesterday's analysis of the Iowa legislative battle, which drew the attention of no less than MSNBC's Chuck Todd, focuses far too much on one stat: "The state's Democratic Party has set a record in 2010 for the largest number of districts in which a major political party has failed to field a House candidate since the lower chamber became a 100-seat body 40 years ago."

    True enough. Iowa Dems have let 25 seats go without a Democratic candidate. But Eric Ostermeier makes his mistake in drawing a causal link between number of seats contested and number of seats won: "Iowa Democrats have won 55 percent of districts in which they ran a candidate from 1970 through 2008. That would put the Democrats at a 15-seat loss down to 41 districts."

    But the 25 seats with no Democrats are not randomly distributed. (One more chance to plug my All 125 Legislative Races Revisited piece.) Sure, we left a few seats on the table that we should have tried for: Tom Sands in Louisa County, Nick Wagner in Marion, and of course the seat we took away from the GOP in 2004, party switcher Dawn Pettingill.

    But most of the uncontested races are in deep red territory. Would Iowa Democrats really be in better shape for holding the House if we had a self-starting sacrificial lamb running in Sioux County and losing 82-18, like we did in 2008, just to have one more "contested" race?

    Marginally, maybe. That's one of the principles of the Howard Dean 50 State Strategy: it's one more campaign out there stumping for the top of the ticket and building for the future. It was one of my motivations for running, and a few years later the Republican who beat me lost to a Democrat. (I was once told my campaign was like compost, making the soil more fertile for the future. Don't know about that, but a gardening analogy is a nice break from the endless sports comparisons, and losing does feel kind of like a big pile of manure.)

    But as far as the immediate battle for control, a marginal effort in your party's 80th or 90th best district will matter little to ultimate control. Indeed, Ostermeier's own (very interesting and detailed) tables undercut his point. Iowa Republicans let 23 seats go uncontested in 2004 - yet held the House.

    Monday, October 04, 2010

    Greiner farm subsidies draw national attention

    Greiner draws national attention (not in a good way)

    Several national blogs including Politico's Ben Smith pick up on this item, part of a common thread of the last couple weeks of teabaggers on the government dole:
    Sandra Greiner is the president of the American Future Fund, an organization that has spent more than $5 million on advertisements that target Democrats on a variety of issues, including their support for federal spending.

    But Greiner and her family have not shied away from taking federal subsidies for their farm near Keota, in eastern Iowa.

    According to a a database maintained by the Environmental Working Group, a not-for-profit that tracks farm subsidies, the Greiner family -- Sandra Greiner, her husband, Terry Greiner, and their three sons -- received more than $935,000 in farm subsidies from 1995 to 2009.
    For Swing State Project, this helps explain AFF's inexplicable spending for Ben "who?" Lange:
    If, like me, you've been wondering why AFF is pouring $800K into the race against Bruce Braley in the 1st, which no observer has taken much interest in or seen any smoke coming from, well, now you have an answer: Sandy Grenier is the head of AFF. She's also running for state Senate in her spare time... in Iowa. In other words, she's pouring money into a race that's her own personal hobby horse, at the expense of other races that are actually competitive. (And that's not even the main point of the article... it turns out that Grenier, like so many other members of the current wave of GOP candidates, is a big believer in sucker-punching the government with one hand even as you take money from it with the other. Her family has received over $935K in farm subsidies over the last 15 years.)

    Stuff To Feel Good About

    Stuff For A Democrat To Feel Good About On A Monday

  • Those Who Know Them Best: Mike Mauro earned the endorsement of two more Republican county auditors today, including longtime Pottawattamie County auditor Marilyn Jo Drake. You may know PottCo as the home county of Mauro's GOP opponent Matt Schultz, so she's crossing not just party lines but hometown lines as well. That's the kind of respect Mike Mauro gets from his fellow election officials.

  • Joe Klein: ..."there isn't as much of the fist-shaking anger as I expected. There is a minority in this country--perhaps 30%--who are furious and terrified and think that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim-socialist--but most people, even those who disagree with him and disapprove of his performance, admire the effort and seriousness of this President.

    There is, however, a tremendous disconnect between what people are concerned about and what Washington--and the media--seem to think is important."

    I like the Democrats' chances in that mental framework. We win on the issues, as Steve Benen notes in shooting down calls for a "centrist" (sic) third party:
    And what would be better than "pretty good"? A more ambitious health care policy that conservatives blocked; a more ambitious stimulus that conservatives opposed; a comprehensive energy/climate package that conservatives killed; more crack downs on Wall Street that conservatives have vowed to fight; and an education reform agenda that the president has already launched.

    In other words, Friedman has effectively endorsed the entirety of President Obama's agenda, most of which has passed, can't pass, or has to be severely watered down because of unprecedented Senate obstructionism. But instead of calling for reforming the legislative process, or calling on Republicans to start playing a constructive role in policymaking, or calling on voters to elect more candidates who agree with the agenda the columnist espouses, Friedman says what we really need is an amorphous third party that will think the way he does.
  • And the numbers are moving, as Jed Lewison notes at Kos:
    "...the GOP may have peaked too early. Taking a victory dance in August may have felt good for them, but it also forced voters to consider the fact that this November they will face a choice between Democrats and Republicans, and a vote for a Republican means turning back to the way things were under Bush -- or worse."
    I like the Dems' oddss in that mental framework too.
  • Linux Monday

    Linux Monday

    It's October and as long time Linux Monday fans know, months beginning in 10 mean Ubuntu updates. Version 10.10 should be John McCain's favorite yet: Maverick Meerkat. Oops, I forgot. He never said he was a maverick.

    Maverick is incorporating a Mac style "app store," which begs the question: Can an Application Store Succeed in a Free Operating System?

    Here's some tips on clearing off your Ubuntu system safely. But in Linux, here's one less system maintenance chore: Why defragmenting your drive doesn't really matter.

    Sunday, October 03, 2010

    Early Ballots are Dems Ace In The Hole

    Early Ballots are Dems Ace In The Hole

    Chet Culver relinquished one of the traditional Election Day images this week to set an example for his fellow Democrats. He stopped by the Polk County Auditor's Office to vote early.

    Vote Early has been a Democratic mantra for several cycles. Democrats have shifted gears since the last gubernatorial election, steering more toward in-person early voting while still promoting mailed absentees. That lag in early early requests, which Some Called an "enthusiasm gap," merely reflects that strategy and a later date for the party's big absentee mailing.

    Sure, maybe there is some disappointment among core Democrats who expected to have single payer health care and all the troops home by now, but their qualified support counts just as much as tea party rage. No matter how mad you are, you only get to vote once.

    Back in the first Terry Branstad Era, Republicans had a good vote by mail program, but in the decade since Florida they've steered strongly toward pushing Election Day (or as we call it in Johnson County 'late voting'). This year, they're going Back To The Future in more ways than one. Branstad had a good absentee program in the primary and Republicans have resumed mailing requests. But the residual effects of a decade of selling their base on the idea that Absentee Voting = Fraud, with accompanying Chicago jokes, still linger. Note that after Culver cast his ballot, the Branstad campaign replied that Terry would be voting on Election Day.

    (Aside: Has anyone else noticed in the Secretary of State race that Democratic incumbent Mike Mauro talks about ways to help people vote, while Republican opponent Matt Schultz talks about ways to make it harder to vote? Says everything you need to know about their attitudes.)

    There's evidence from elsewhere that in-person early voting helps Democrats. Survey USA reports that in a close congressional race in Ohio, likely voters favor the Republican 53 percent to 41. But among voters who have already marked their ballots, the Democrat has a 53-45 lead.

    The other early voting wild card is an Iowa City referendum on bar admission age. Back story for the out of towners: After a couple changes in membership and a couple changes of mind, the city council increased the bar admission age from 19 to 21 (some caveats apply), with the change kicking in over the summer.

    Iowa City's home rule charter has an initiative process, and students (with an assist from some bar owners) have petitioned to repeal the ordinance, placing the question on the November 2 ballot.

    The same issue was on the ballot in 2007, with the roles reversed; self-appointed public health advocates petitioned for an increase to 21. Students, who normally ignore local Iowa City elections, turned out for the city election at governor-plus levels (still below presidential year rates) and the initiative lost, 58 percent to 42.

    So far, students seem to be exceeding even that 2007 pace. An early voting site at Burge Hall pulled in a record-crushing 1,319 voters, topping the old high mark of 945 set at Burge in that 2007 election.

    But are those students just voting on the one issue and leaving the rest of the ballot blank? That happened to some extent in 2007. But that year it was just city council races on the ballot, and it's harder to ignore governor and senator. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the young voters are spending enough time in the booth to work their way through the ballot and vote on, if not everything, at least most of it.

    So who does that help? Young voters register with no party affiliation more than any other age group. But historically, student precincts in Johnson County have also had relatively high levels of straight ticket voting. And you have to figure that anything that boosts young voter turnout in the most Democratic county in the state (70% Obama in 2008, 68% Culver in 2006) can't hurt.

    Indeed, some local GOP conspiracy theorists think the city council pushed the bar issue to gin up - hey, I made a funny! - student turnout, as all seven council members are registered Democrats. But some are DINOs, and the only council member who's currently active in party business, Regenia Bailey, was also the lone vote against the 21 ordinance.

    In any case, a few thousand votes that wouldn't normally be case in an off-year election will be coming out of the People's Republic. That's not enough to swing any landslides, but it could make a difference in some close races.

    Friday, October 01, 2010

    Mitt's Minions

    Mitt's Minions: Romney Pours $ Into Iowa, Just Because

    So, Mitt Romney has some cash to toss around, and he's really interested in Iowa legislative races now.

    Here via the Free And Strong (sic) PAC site is Mitt's list in incomvenient image format:

    Some of this money, of course, gets funneled into other races. Feel free to compare notes with the All 125 Legislative Races list and the list of who endorsed what presidential candidate in December 2007.

    Of course, a lot of this gets sidetracked into other races; David Johnson is unopposed, and McKinley and Hahn aren't even on the ballot this cycle.