Monday, November 29, 2010

The Geek Tact Filter and Johnny Paycheck in the Age of Wikileaks

The Geek Tact Filter and Johnny Paycheck in the Age of Wikileaks

The weekend's Wikileaks crisis, with its leak of hundreds of thousands of "secret" diplomatic documents, smacks head on into two of my favorite quandries: honesty in communication and the relentless flow of free information in the digital age.

Diplomacy: Two of these guys are too scared to throw poop at the third guy and want the fourth one to do it for them.

Every human lies every day as a survival tactic. Heck, even apes know how to diplomatically lie -- or, more generously, how to situationally vary their behavior and messages. Every chimpanzee knows you don't mess with the alpha male unless you want a beat-down. You pant-hoot submissively and share your bananas, even if you really want to fling your feces.

It's part of why "Take This Job And Shove It" topped the charts. Speaking your mind is a powerful fantasy. Yet check that lyric more closely:
I'd give the shirt right off of my back if I had the guts to say...
Take this job and shove it I ain't workin' here no more
Despite the proletarian triumph of the chorus, Johnny Paycheck never actually tells the boss off. He's just grumbling about it to his buddies. He has to be... diplomatic.

Johnny Cash may have actually decked the boss in "Oney," but the song ends before it actually happens... and he's only willing to chance it on the day he retires. Just like I played "Take This Job And Shove It" as the last song of my last shift as a country DJ. (Shocking factoid: the bald lefty blogger with the beret did two years as the long-haired country DJ with a cowboy hat.)

Yet we look down on our political leaders, call them "liars," for behaving just like the rest of us monkeys. Just like Johnny Paycheck, the politicians talk differently in front of the boss -- that would be us -- than in private. The more public the communication, the less direct and honest it becomes.

The striped pants diplomatic set are just like us working stiffs, secretly wishing they could speak their minds. Germany's Merkel is wishy-washy, France's Sarkozy is an idiot, the king of Saudi Arabia wants us to bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.

There's a reason country singers and standup comedians are more "honest" than politicians: the stakes are lower. What's just happened, in country music terms, is the diplomats have turned around on the barstools at the union hall and discovered that the foreman has been listening to every word. Only with nukes. Gives a whole new meaning to the term "fired."

There's no such thing as "in private" in the internet age. People know too much about us, but just as important we know too much about them. The person who didn't get the job because of That One Facebook Picture loses, but so does the prospective employer.

We are all Star Trek's Deanna Troi, sensing everyone's thoughts whether we want to or not. We are Superman hearing the whole world's cries for help all at once and having a nervous breakdown.

Does the world at your fingertips information age mean we have to cope with TMI 24-7? It's a fundamental change in human communication and interaction as it's been all the way back to the trees.

Will our proud species go all de-evolution and sink into the pablum of PR-speak, afraid to risk offending anyone and becoming less as a result?

There's a better answer: healthy acceptance of the truths we don't like to hear.

Near the dawn of the internet age, in 1996 (One Million BC in blog years), MIT's Jeff Bigler came up with the notion of the Geek Tact Filter:
Most "normal people" have the tact filter positioned to apply tact in the outgoing direction. Thus whatever normal people say gets the appropriate amount of tact applied to it before they say it. This is because when they were growing up, their parents continually drilled into their heads statements like, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!"

"Geeks," on the other hand, have their tact filter positioned to apply tact in the incoming direction. Thus, whatever anyone says to them gets the appropriate amount of tact added when they hear it. This is because when nerds were growing up, they continually got picked on, and their parents continually drilled into their heads statements like, "They're just saying those mean things because they're jealous. They don't really mean it."

So, nerds need to understand that normal people have to apply tact to everything they say; they become really uncomfortable if they can't do this. Normal people need to understand that despite the fact that nerds are usually tactless, things they say are almost never meant personally and shouldn't be taken that way.
Perhaps the real importance of Wikileaks is that in the 21st century, we are all geeks, and the Geek Tact Filter our new social framework.

But the real question is, will Ahmedinijad and Kim Jong Il see it that way?

Monday clips

Back from the Turkey Platter

That six day stretch with no posts that ended yesterday was my longest spell without writing in at least the five years since I started taking this thing seriously. Here's some of what I read and digested, besides turkey, over the break:

  • This harsh piece at Down With Tyranny about doings at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC or "D Trip" in Beltway shorthand) includes as one of its key players a name familiar to Iowa pols:
    I bet you've never heard of Ralston Lapp Media, Global Strategy Group, Dewey Square Group or GMMB... unless you're an Inside the Beltway politico, steeped in Democratic Party politics. Then you know them quite well; you have to to do business in DC. Let me start with Ralston Lapp, a K Street media company whose website's front page justifies itself with a Washington Post quote from another year: "One of the principal architects of the Democrats’ takeover of the House." Among their clients this year were Arizona Blue Dog Gabrielle Giffords and Kentucky Blue Dog Ben Chandler, each of whom eked out a narrow win against a reactionary opponent. Another client, Jerry McNerney (CA-11), is slightly ahead as votes are still be tabulated almost three weeks after election day. Ciro Rodriguez (TX-23), another of their 2010 clients, was defeated by Quico Conseco 49-44% (just half of Rodriguez's 2008 voters turning out for him 3 weeks ago). Here's a list of checks reported to the FEC from the DCCC's I.E. Committee to Ralston Lapp Media...

    (long list)

    I don't have the Ralston Lapp fee structure, but I've been told that they probably get a 15% commission on any advertising created, although my guess is that they share that percentage with the media buying firm.

    One of the two partners in Ralston Lapp is John Lapp, somewhat better known as a longtime DCCC insider.
    Iowans, of course, know Lapp from the Tom Vilsack re-elect in `02, followed immediately by the Dick Gephardt caucus campaign in `03-04. Lapp's most recent Iowa work was with Team Conlin.

    The piece isn't so much a hatchet job on Lapp as it is an indictment of the whole system that pumped hundreds of thousands, even millions, into the (often losing) campaigns of Blue Dogs who abandoned the President and Speaker on all the tough votes, while leaving progressives who took those tough votes twisting slowly, slowly in the wind.

  • A Daily Kos piece on the death of the California Republican Party - remember back in the Reagan era when that was part of the GOP electoral college firewall? The problem for Golden State conservatives is demographic, as Pete Wilson bet the ranch on xenophobia:
    Everyone who isn't in denial knows what the California GOP must do to survive:

    Drop the demagoguery about illegal immigrants because it scares off the fast-growing Latino electorate.
    With a brief shout-out to Our Own Steve King in the last line.

  • To keep Krazy King kompany, The Ten Scariest Members of the House freshman class.

  • A Tea Party waiting to happen: Dick Lugar (you 2000 had to look it up, 1996, caucus Republicans remember him from the Asterisk Zone in the polls) is the next Mike Castle, doomed to primary death.

  • A clip-n-save guide to the main vulnerabilities of the top ten likely GOP presidential contenders. Romney's weak spot is listed as health care, not religion.

  • Of course, I made my prediction last week, and at Kos brooklynbadboy concurs:
    Now, if Romney couldn't beat an unprincipled, untrusted McCain, or an unknown, low-budget Huckabee, how is he going to beat a well-funded, nationally known true believer like Palin? Romney could try and outflank an evangelical megachurcher like Palin with culture warrior stuff, but does anyone believe they're going to trust a Mormon over one of their own? Especially one who has been all over the place on abortion? With Tea Partiers, Neocons and evangelicals naturally aligning for Palin, the path for Romney to win will have to involve tearing her down. He couldn't do it to Huckabee after investing $50 million of his own money and years of effort in Iowa.

    So this brings us to the likely matchup, Obama v. Palin.
    45 2/3 states AND we win back the House AND we save all those senators who won squeakers in `06 like McCaskill and Tester and Webb. You betcha.

    Still looking for folks to join me Friday Night at 11 for the Godfather.
  • Sunday, November 28, 2010

    Wilburn Stepping Down

    Wilburn Stepping Down; Where's My Freak Power?

    Our fair city's one time Bikin' Mayor Ross Wilburn tells the Gazette that he's not running for city council next year, which kicks off the 2011 election season.

    It's been so long since Iowa City has had a "normal" city council election that we don't even know what one looks like anymore. 2005 was dominated by Mid-American Energy dumping half a million bucks into the No on public power campaign, 2007 was 21 Bars Round 1, and in 2009 we in effect had no city election at all.

    Last cycle progressives dropped the ball during the candidate recruitment phase, giving business-backed Terry Dickens and Susan Mims a de facto bye against students Jeff Shipley and Dan Tallon. The young guys lost by three to one in record low turnout.

    Local lefties were distracted at filing time for the 2009 election, already focused on Janelle Rettig's supervisor campaign which, with Larry Meyers' death, happened way sooner than expected. The other big distraction in 2009 was the football season, which reached its 9 and 0 Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx peak right around Election Day. That year we won all the squeakers, at least until Ohio State; this year we lost every heartbreaker. Worst of all was that series-ending Badger game which gives my Wisconsin relatives bragging rights for several years. We could so be 11-1 right now instead of 7-5 and some Cereal Bowl before New Years...

    That football tangent was a too-obvious Hunter Thompson homage, as my writing goal is to create a clean and sober version of Gonzo Journalism. I'm hoping to find plenty of fear and loathing in 2011, with the incoming Republican regime and the upcoming caucus cycle to inspire me.

    Football is cruel and so is the irony of city politics: If students had run in 2007's turnout wave, we'd have three or maybe four on the council to this day. But without the vote magnet of the bar issue directly on the ballot, the flood turned into a drought, and the 21 forces had the votes to get Prohibition through the council.

    Ross Wilburn went unopposed in 2007, spending that election cycle co-chairing the Obama caucus team with now-state party chair Sue Dvorsky. He was all-but-unopposed in 2003, beating lefty gadfly Karen Pease with 71%, a record that stood until Dickens and Mims broke it in 2009. His stand down marks a return to a de facto three term tradition for the city council that dates back to the 1970s establishment of our godawful hybrid district system. Dee Vanderhoef was the first to try for a fourth term in 2007 but lost; in `09 Connie Champion was the first to actually win a fourth.

    Wilburn's "District A" turf is basically the west side with a small slice of the south side where Wilburn and predecessor Dee Norton came from. So the candidate has to live there, potentially win a primary there, then win city wide. Insert my obligatory plug here for a larger council, two year terms and small, true, precinct-sized districts; that would guarantee two or three students on the council.

    But that charter rewrite I dream of won't happen by next year, so we need to deal with the map we have. Local business-type conservatives are too smart to be distracted by Republican caucus season; they've shown a remarkable ability over the years to keep their eyes on the local prize, where the money is. They united early behind Dickens and Mims, and scuttled their own recruit Mark McCallum once Champion decided to run again. It's a guarantee they'll have a candidate to replace Wilburn.

    Will the left? It won't be me; I've been there and done that candidate thing with poor results. If I were to run for something, it would be an Iowa City version of Hunter Thompson's campaign for Sheriff of Aspen: Freak Power In The Rockies. I even wrote my tentative platform in 2009 but no one carried that ball, either that cycle or in the Bar Wars of 2010. And with my libertarian-left streak running head-on into the do-gooder "public health" context of 21 Bars Round 2, where "progressive" was defined as "take rights away from people," I'm not even sure if I qualify as "left" by Iowa City local politics standards anymore...

    Thompson's "The Battle of Aspen" is, despite the dated Sixties context, the single greatest piece on grass roots organizing, a must-read for anyone interested in taking on entrenched local power structures. Just search and replace "heads" with "students."

    And that, fundamentally, is why I won't run for the city council; I'm old enough to be two of the candidates I'm seeking. I was so desperate for student representation that I actually voted for this dude. We've got 25,000 students in a city of 60,000, and they hold zero of seven council seats instead of the three or so that demographics merit. What good does it do them to have another geezer like me - a grandpa, no less! - in office, even a sympathetic one? No, the students need one of their own.

    We haven't had one of those in 30 years, since David Perret won a second term in `79. He was kind of a hybrid: a student with townie roots, which is the kind of candidate we need if the goal is electing someone young, which is my goal. Someone who can attract both the young vote and get some votes from mom and dad's friends who knew you when you were THIS high. Someone like a Brian Flaherty (happy birthday, bud!) except he's set down his roots in Coralville. Or an Allie Panther, who did work beyond her years co-chairing the Roxanne Conlin committee with Regenia Bailey, and who's part of the Hamburg Inn Panther family. (I namedrop the names of my friends without consulting them, in the great tradition of Gonzo. As Doctor Thompson once said: "I wrote there was a rumor. I made up that rumor.")

    Bailey is also up next year, coming out of District C (the north side and downtown). The two at large seats up are Matt Hayek, fresh off the 21 bar win that he linked his name to, and Michael Wright, the lone no vote on the panhandling ordinance.

    So that's the lay of the land 11 months out from Election Day and roughly 8 months till filing time. The bar issue is likely to be as dead as Free Silver and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff by next fall, with a corresponding drop of student turnout back to normal (i.e. zero) levels. We'll have to see what a local political agenda looks like when it's driven by something other than Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students and Terry Dickens' personal distaste for hobos begging outside his jewelry store.

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Political Scientist: Voters Stupid

    Dumb and Dumber

    Dumb = the best explanation yet of the election results, from U-Wisc political science professor Charles Franklin:
    In my questions to Franklin, I noted that the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires, for instance by electing candidates who'll drive up the deficit with fiscally reckless giveaways to the rich.

    Franklin, perhaps a bit too candidly, conceded the point. "I'm not endorsing the American voter," he answered. "They're pretty damn stupid."
    Dumber = Frank Rich sees a path to victory for a President Palin:
    Republican leaders who want to stop her, and they are legion, are utterly baffled about how to do so. Democrats, who gloat that she’s the Republicans’ problem, may be humoring themselves. When Palin told Barbara Walters last week that she believed she could beat Barack Obama in 2012, it wasn’t an idle boast. Should Michael Bloomberg decide to spend billions on a quixotic run as a third-party spoiler, all bets on Obama are off.
    I'm not so convinced; even if Bloomberg would run (which I doubt) I don't see him as the type of candidate who can tap into Perot-type voters. Check the 1992 map at US Election Atlas. Remember this site has the colors flipped so red is Dems and blue is GOP. The green is where Perot won and the light blue and pink is where the major parties won with low percentages, meaning Perot did well.

    (The exception is Jefferson County, Iowa, where the then-active Natural Law Party swept the Maharishi vote.)

    Perot did best in two kinds of places: very empty rural counties and high-growth exurbs where voters had no roots in the local political culture. Assuming she were nominated - which is what I'm betting at the moment - Palin is going to hold those kind of folks anyway. What, are those folks going to abandon the candidate who embodies all their primitive resentments for the mayor of New York City? NEW YORK CITY?!?

    No, the only independents Bloomberg could win are the David Broder beltway types who still dream of the Good Ole Days of "bipartisanship." They hold up the Pure Independent as the ideal voter. You know, the ones who Vote For The Person Not The Party© and Study The Candidates® and who no longer actually exist outside of the rapidly vanishing landscape of print newsrooms.

    While I'm betting: I'm betting Branstad can't deliver for Romney and Vander Plaats scuttles Mittens yet again. Remember, the GOP establishment could barely deliver half the primary vote for Branstad, and that was against the flawed BVP as the candidate. The only way Romney wins Iowa is if he joins Mike Huckabee's church, because the Christianist base of the Iowa GOP won't vote for a "cult member."

    So 101 weeks out I'm making my prediction: a Sarah Palin nomination followed by a 45 2/3 state Obama landslide. He loses Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina in Dixie, and Utah (NOT Alaska!) and Nebraska's 3rd District in the west (as you may recall from Obama's Omaha win in 2008, the Big Red state allocates electors by district).

    When I think "rural district" I see the vast grill your own steak nothingness of Nebraska 3 (the western three fourths of the state and Coach Tom Osborne's old seat--how the hell did he actually lose a statewide Republican primary when he ran for governor in 2006?) But the folks over at Daily Yonder apparently think of Ricky Stanzi's Ped Mall commies as "rural." Oh, the dangers of mixing sports heroes and politics. This from a guy who caucused for Bill Bradley.

    The folks down Yonder sum up the House results thus:
    Republicans won the U.S. House Tuesday largely by winning districts with high proportions of rural voters.

    Two-thirds of the 60 House seats switching from Democrat to Republican in this election were in the congressional districts with the most rural voters.

    Before the election almost half (61) of the 125 most rural districts were held by Democrats. By the end of the day Tuesday, the number of rural Democrats had been cut to just 22. Just 18 percent of the most rural House districts are now represented by Democrats.
    That seems to include IA-01, dominated by Waterloo, Dubuque and the Quad Cities, and IA-02, where over half the population is in Linn and Johnson counties. The only "urban" district is the 3rd, ironically the one represented by a rural Democrat.

    I could apply the same critique to the district I grew up in, Ron Kind's WI-03; that's La Crosse, Eau Claire and some Twin Cities suburbs. Daily Yonder also includes black majority seats in Mississippi and Georgia. But the more I quibble with the list specifics, the more I make their larger underlying point. Personally I'm more inclined to the elegant simplicity of Professor Franklin's theory.

    Godfather at Bijou

    An Offer You... naah, I'll just let the man say it

    Anyone else want to see the Greatest. Movie. Ever. on an actual movie screen? The UI's Bijou is having 11 PM showings of The Godfather on December 3 and 4. I'm going Friday the 3rd; Robert DeNiro is hosting Saturday Night Live that weekend and no Godfather fan would want to miss that.

    Five bucks for old people, free for UI students (I got your 21 bar alternative right here.) Who's with me? But wait, there's more: Goodfellas the next weekend.

    If you can't wait, or if you want a refresher course before the big screen big event, AMC is having a Turkey Day Godfather marathon. Just I and II, so we can be Thankful no III. If you've seen it as many times as me, you can catch the censorship (they even edit the Italian swearing).

    Can't find a clip of my favorite scene of the entire trilogy, which comes immediately after Sonny gets whacked: Tom Hagen has to tell The Don. Brando earns the Oscar (the only offer you CAN refuse) just from the facial expressions, as he shifts from grieving father to tactical Godfather and back again.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Winners and Losers

    More Losers Than Winners

    One of the duties listed in the job description of Self Appointed Pundits is compiling a post-election list of Winners and Losers. This year, that's both easier and harder than usual, because the big winners are so obvious and the bright spots for my team so few. (I've already tried bragging that Roxanne Conlin won a county).

    So I'm a couple weeks behind on this task, but I've been looking below the surface and have finally come up with my list. My left-wing bias helps me identify more Republican losers and Democratic winners than the results merit, but that's my job. I've also got more losers in general, maybe because I'm feeeling negative in general.

    The Biggest Loser - Daniel Dirkx, Iowa's own Sharron Angle. Late-starting Democratic replacement candidate Dan Muhlbauer took over Rod Roberts' House seat for the only Democratic gain in the state, in large part becaue of Dirkx being "the worst candidate ever."

    Winner - Rep. Curt Hanson. Despite the ugly environment, in which his home town senator Becky Schmitz lost, Hanson actually increased his winning margin in the House 90 rematch with Steve Burgmaier. And that was without the entire political infrastructure of the state descending on his district like it did in the 2009 special election.

    Loser and Winner - Rep.-Elect Brian Moore (D R). I hate turncoats, but one has to admire the shameless chutzpah of a guy who lost a Democratic state senate primary in June, then jumped to the GOP in August and knocked off incumbent Rep. Tom Schueller in November.

    Loser - David Hartsuch. The only Republican legislator who sought another term and lost. Hartsuch was knocked off in the primary by eventual winner Roby Smith, leaving the post of Nuttiest Wingnut in the Legislature open. (Unfortunately, there's plenty of new contenders for the job.)

    As consolation, Hartsuch wins the David Levy Memorial Award. Levy was the Long Island Republican congressman who got knocked off in a 1994 primary and thus, like Hartsuch, was the only Republican incumbent to lose re-election in a landslide year.

    Winner - Rep.-Elect John Wittneben. Held Marcy Frevert's open seat for the Democrats on tough turf.

    Loser - Selden Spencer. Yeah, it was a bad year for Democrats, and the race against Rep. Dave Deyoe was always going to be uphill. But despite good fund raising and a lot of residual name ID from his 2006 congressional race, Spencer finished under 40%. Reminds me of that 2006 cycle when every lefty blogger in the state was talking up Spencer's chances against Tom Latham, and everyone except me was ignoring Dave Loebsack. Which brings me to...

    Winners - Iowa's Congressional Democrats. If you had told me before the polls closed that the Democrats would suffer a 60+ seat loss in the House, I would have shuddered in horror -- heck, I still am. But I would have believed it. But a 60+ seat national loss... with Boswell, Braley and Loebsack all surviving?

    Losers - Eric Cooper and Jonathan Narcisse. Cooper, the Libertarian nominee for governor, explicitly said his goal was the 2 percent of the vote his party needed to jump from minor party status to full party status. He also explicitly said Terry Branstad had the race in the bag, so you could spare a vote for him. He was right about the Branstad-Culver margin, but barely got halfway to the 2 point mark.

    (Lost opportunity: What if Cooper had camped out in Iowa City and tied himself to the student side of the 21 bar referendum? He could have picked up a couple thousand votes just from people who skipped governor on their ballots, let alone what he could have taken from Culver and Branstad.)

    Narcisse, meanwhile, maintained the fiction that he was going to win all the way to the end, but finished as a None Of The Above footnote. Even so, his "Iowa Party" fell just short of the 2 percent line (1.8) so Cooper gets listed first.

    Winner - Jon Murphy. Yeah, he lost the auditor race. But even with his late start he ran even with the rest of the ticket, and David Vaudt had to at least spend a little time looking over his shoulder. Here's hoping we see more from Murphy.

    Loser - Scott Ourth. The highly touted Democratic candidate in Kent Sorensen's vacant house district set all kinds of first timer fundraising records, but finished well behind tea partier Glen Massie.

    Loser - Brenna Findley. With her Steve King 'credentials' (?) and pledges to join other Republican AG's in suing to block health care reform, Findley was the GOP's great hope (as evidenced by her impressive fundraising). But she was just too ideological and underqualified. Tom Miller saw this one coming, adjusted late, and outperformed the rest of the Democratic ticket.

    Winner - Iowa Constitution. Despite the bigotry-driven defeat of the Supreme Court justices, Iowans weren't willing to go as far as the risk of a full rewrite to make discrimination legal.

    Winners - Iowa's other judges. Iowans got it wrong by tossing the Supremes, but at least they got it right by tossing the judges they wanted to toss. There was no throw them all out collateral damage on the lower courts.

    Loser - John Rooff. In a seat that Tami Wiencek gained in 2006 - one of the few Republican pickups in the nation that year - the former Waterloo mayor fizzled. Part of that is Democrats had an outstanding candidate in Anesa Kajtazovic, but in a year where Republicans were winning all over the place, Rooff should have been more competitive.

    Loser - Cate Bryan. Iowans for Tax Relief invested heavily in her House District 2 primary win, yet she was the only Republican who lost as Sioux City rebooted its entire legislative delegation.

    Losers - Johnson County Republicans. This was a target-rich year for Republicans, and my party's soft white underbelly was exposed in many places. (Pat Murphy winning with just 51 percent in Dubuque?!?) And the Iowa City bar issue was a major wild card; student precincts actually leaned a bit more Republican than the rest of The People's Republic.

    Democrats left a quarter of the Iowa House uncontested, while Republicans did much better at finding candidates. But the exception is in my county. As they have for several cycles, Republicans scored a complete goose egg on candidate recruitment. Not that she wouldn't win big anyway, but Mary Mascher hasn't seen a GOP challenger since 1996. Dave Jacoby's challenger actually left the GOP to run as a Libertarian. When the Libertarians outscore you in candidate recruitment, you have a problem.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Blame Blame and Blame

    Blame Blame and Blame

    Ezra Klein blames Joe Lieberman for Democratic losses in the senate.

    Alexander Burns of Politico blames - or credits - choice for keeping Democratic losses from getting even worse.

    Craig Robinson's blame for GOP losses in Iowa CDs 1, 2, and 3 goes in order to name ID, party registration, and Brad Zaun.

    And Kyle's mom blames Canada.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Linux Monday returns

    The Return Of The Son Of Linux Monday

    In which I return with the week-starting tech obsessions.

    Sone tips on maximizing laptop battery life, which if you think a bit could be applicable to your Windows or Mac too.

    Also with some cross-platform value, and maybe even some criminal application: 70 things every geek should know. "Know" does not necessarily equal "do".

    Less applicable, and just toi be counter-productive and scare you off: moving to the command line.

    The obligatory Windows bashing: ten ridiculous Windows errors.

    And finally, operating systems as dogs.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Coulter: Repeal 26th Amendment

    Coulter: Repeal 26th Amendment

    Don't give the Iowa City council any ideas, Ann Coulter:
    We must repeal the 26th Amendment.

    Adopted in 1971 at the tail end of the Worst Generation's anti-war protests, the argument for allowing children to vote was that 18-year-olds could drink and be conscripted into the military, so they ought to be allowed to vote....

    Those of you who have made it to age 26 without dying in a stupid drinking game -- and I think congratulations are in order, by the way -- understand how insane it is to allow young people to vote.

    It would almost be tolerable if everyone under the age of 30 just admitted they voted for Obama because someone said to them, "C'mon, it's really cool! Everyone's doing it!"

    It would make more sense to give public school teachers and college professors 20 votes apiece than to allow their impressionable students to vote.
    The scary thing is how many townies here in The People's Republic (???) seem to agree with her.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Hispanic Republicans Object To Steve King

    Hispanic Republicans Object To Steve King

    Hispanics saved the Senate, Democrats are saying, and with good reason given the improbably re-election of Harry Reid in Nevada, Barbara Boxer's easier-than-expected win in California, and Michael Bennet's hairsbreadth survival in Colorado.

    One of the very, very few things Bush 43 had right, back in 2003 or so, was the demographic imperative of increasing the Republican Party's share of the Hispanic vote. It was a brief moment, between the xenophobia of California's Proposition 187 (which drove a whole generation of California Latinos into the arms of the Democrats) and the "don't make me push 1 for English" mentality of Tom Tancredo and Iowa's own Steve King. America is becoming more and more Hispanic, and as long as Republicans keep relying on a lily-white base, their days are numbered.

    King, who once referenced herding illegal immigrants like cattle, is in line to chair a House immigration subcommittee under the new GOP regime, and ¡Somos Republicans!, "the largest and fastest growing Hispanic Republican Organization in the Southwest," objects:
    Steve King has used defamatory language that is extremely offensive to Hispanics, which is found in numerous congressional records. We believe Steve King’s behavior is not appropriate for a high-level elected Republican who might be in charge of a committee that handles immigration rules...

    Though it is constitutionally impossible that a mere Congressional “statute” will decide who gets to be a citizen, we believe that this insensitive and constant assailment on our Hispanic Community may push Hispanics further into the Independent, Libertarian or Democrat Party. Moreover, Hispanic voters were crucial in electing seven new Republican Hispanics to Congress and two new Republican Hispanic governors. However, Hispanics also vehemently and strongly rejected those Republicans that utilized harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and opted for a Democrat, as it occurred in the West Coast, Colorado and Nevada.
    Republicans have a choice: embrace the future of a multicultural America, or stick with Steve King's vision for short term gains and long-term unviability. Even as a Democrat, I'd be happier with a Republican Party that was more appealing to, and senitive toward, Hispanics. But I suspect they'll stick with the xenophobes. Can't have anyone talking Meskin in front of y'all in the Wal-Mart checkout line.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Quit The Blue Dogs, Boswell

    Quit The Blue Dogs, Boswell

    In my latest Register post I argue that Leonard Boswell should adapt to the new realities of the post-election landscape by quitting the defeat-decimated Blue Dog coalition.


    Go there to read it; today's Deeth Blog Exclusive Content is a classic awkward moment from caucus season. Me at the Hamburg Inn with Boswell and a Blue Dog fellow traveler, ex-DNC chair Terry McAuliffe. (Koni took the pic.)

    Only GOP action is likely for next caucus season, despite that 24 hour Russ Feingold boomlet. Attention Rick Santorum: Losing a home state senate race isn't a great launch pad to the White House. Ask former senator George McGovern (1984) or former Illinois congressman Abe Lincoln... wait a minute.

    No, Russ's brief "on to 2012" comment at his election night defeat party was probably a reference to state seat mate Herb Kohl, who's on a lot of likely retirement lists, rather than anything about primarying Obama.

    The corollary to the candidate who uses defeat as a launching pad is the one who runs for president rather than lose for re-election. Oklahoma Democrat Fred Harris invented this back in 1972, and John Edwards parlayed it into second place on the ticket. 2012's best bet for this strategy: Scott Brown from Massachusetts.

    In any case, with all the caucus activity on the GOP side, we'll see less Hamburg Inn and more Pizza Ranch.

    Tuesday, November 09, 2010

    Number Crunching Part 2: The Under Vote

    Number Crunching Part 2: The Under Vote

    During the first full week of early voting in Johnson County, when students were flocking to early voting sites by the hundreds and even the thousands (over 1300 in a day at Burge dorm), the million dollar question among Johnson County politicos was: are they marking the whole ballot? Or are they just voting on the bars?"

    Just to remind my out of town readers: the Iowa City bar issue dominated the Johnson County political landscape to the exclusion of almost all else this fall.

    The main campus precincts are dorm-dominated 3 and 5, apartment-dominated 11, 19 and 20, and mixed town-gown 21. (11 and 19 also have some senior housing but are mainly student.) There's also one dorm, Mayflower, in 22, but that's a townie-dominated precinct. 1 and 13 also have significant chunks of student apartments, but 1 also has the large Oaknoll senior complex.

    With that in mind, let's look at the Iowa City voting patterns. It's weird for the very LAST thing on the ballots to get the most votes, but that's what happened here with the bar age issue. Also included are the governor's race, which got a handful more votes than the Senate race, and Justice Baker's retention (or lack thereof), which was listed first and got a few more votes than the other two.

    PrecinctVotersBarsGovernorBakerBar undergovernor underBaker under
    IC01 Roosevelt7737427476394.0%3.4%17.3%
    IC02 Hall of Fame9309089158042.4%1.6%13.5%
    IC03 Quad1537151912127711.2%21.1%49.8%
    IC04 Lincoln13341294130210913.0%2.4%18.2%
    IC05 UI Library1497147710546021.3%29.6%59.8%
    IC06 Mercer12481208123410793.2%1.1%13.5%
    IC07 West High5525025394369.1%2.4%21.0%
    IC08 Weber School15631493154813174.5%1.0%15.7%
    IC09 All Nations1056102010398943.4%1.6%15.3%
    IC10 MYEP8458138227063.8%2.7%16.4%
    IC11 Courthouse114711349196221.1%19.9%45.8%
    * IC12 Grant Wood11391005113197011.8%0.7%14.8%
    IC13 City Transit6746566465332.7%4.2%20.9%
    IC14 Mark Twain12051161118810473.7%1.4%13.1%
    IC15 SE Jr High8978708857863.0%1.3%12.4%
    IC16 Lucas17581704173715203.1%1.2%13.5%
    IC17 Hoover14481404143212413.0%1.1%14.3%
    IC18 Longfellow12381205119210472.7%3.7%15.4%
    IC19 Rec Center1302128511097601.3%14.8%41.6%
    IC20 Senior Center1229120510507392.0%14.6%39.9%
    IC21 Horace Mann1092106710067792.3%7.9%28.7%
    * IC22 Shimek150513471369107910.5%9.0%28.3%
    IC23 Regina1133110811189812.2%1.3%13.4%
    IC24 City High14511409141112022.9%2.8%17.2%
    IC25 Lemme15601504154213293.6%1.2%14.8%

    (* The undervote for the bar issue in 12 and 22 is misleadingly high; those precincts include some rural voters who were not able to vote on it. That rural vs. city breakout isn't ready yet; note that 12's under vote on governor and judge is extremely low while 22, with a dorm in it, is relatively high.)

    Typically a high-profile ballot issue in Johnson County will see about a 10% undervote. That was the figure in the 2000 jail bond vote. In higher-turnout 2008, 12.5% of county voters left the last item, the conservation bond, blank.

    But almost no one ignored the bar issue. Taking out the two statistically confusing precincts, the undervote was a mere 2.8%. When it averages that low, there's little room for variation; it was down around 1 percent in the core student precincts.

    To compare, the under vote for president or, in a normal off-year, governor, is usually about a half a percent. That jumped to 6.5% skipping the governor's race this year. It was down in the normal 1% ballpark on the high turnout east side, but in the student precincts it peaked at nearly 30% in precinct 5, whic is almost entirely dorms and Greek houses (the UI president's house is the most notable exception).

    In general, the townie precincts had a handful more votes for governor than for the bar issue, while the student precincts had significantly more votes on the bar issue. In the core student precincts, about 1300 more votes were cast on the bars; in the rest of town about 300 more ballots were marked for governor.

    With the Supreme Court fight, judicial voting was up across the state. looking at typical numbers for Johnson County, we saw a 43% undervote (county-wide) for the top Supreme Court justice in the 2008 presidential. No justices were on the 2006 ballot but, the top Appeals Court judge saw a similar 45% undervote.

    This cycle, the Supreme Court undervote dropped to just under 24 percent, barely half of the usual level. Students actually behaved more typically than townies, though probably not in normal patterns; increased general interest was offset by some number of bar-only votes. It's also worth noting that the biggest campus early voting sites were very early, the last week of September, long before the anti-judge campaign got any traction. (That campaign was also near-invisible in the People's Republic; as I said yesterday the first time I saw the NO ACTIVIST JUDGES signs was in the photo of the Vander Plaats victory party.) The townie undervote, meanwhile, dropped to the 13 percent range.

    Note that a straight ticket ballot would have skipped both the judges and the bar issue, unless the voter then proceeded to finish the back half contest by contest.

    In any case, there weren't enough skipped votes to affect the statewide outcome, and even if there had been it would have been about a wash. Student votes were a bit less Democratic than the county as a whole. I don't attribute this to a new generation of conservative students. Instead, I think the bar vote pulled in people who weren't motivated by party politics, and to the extent that they did vote, followed the parental lead (parental party preference is still a very strong indicator of which way young voters will lean). Geographically, we're talking conservative leaning Chicago suburbs.

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Number Crunching Part 1: Gaps

    Number Crunching Part 1: Some Gaps for Dems

    The Election Day dust is about settled here in Johnson County, where we were lucky enough to have no close contests (as I write, the Krieman vs. Chickenman state senate race down by Ottumwa is still up in the air). So it's time to dig deeper into the numbers.

    Close to half the Johnson County vote - 48% - was cast before Election Day. That's down a touch from the 55% early in the presidential, but up more than 10% from the last midterm. No, not all of that was driven by the 19 bar campaign. The Democrats stepped up their vote by mail program and the Republicans, for the first time in about a decade, actually had a serious absentee effort.

    There's a self-selected gap between those absentee and election day votes, as Republicans, after a decade of being taught that early voting is "fraud," are still more likely to wait.

    But there are some remarkable parallels between two splits in Johnson County: the Iowa City vs. rest of county split and the absentee vs. Election Day split.

    Here's the Democratic top of ticket percentages for early voting vs. Election Day. (Also included is soon to be former Supreme Court Justice David Baker's race, which was listed first among the justices on the ballot and had slightly higher participation than the other two.)

    AbsenteePollsTotalAbs minus Polls

    Now consider Iowa City vs. the rest of the county:

     Iowa CityNot ICTotalIowa City
    minus non IC

    Note the near-identical numbers that we saw in the absentee vs. polls results: the bulk of the Democratic ticket running 10 or 11 points better in town, and the absentee and Iowa City percentages within a point of each other.

    The other thing to note is that the bulk of the Democratic ticket clustered right at 62% countywide. That's down a bit from the 68% Culver and Mauro pulled in 2006; Loebsack was only at 60 that year but of course that was as a "no-chance" challenger to Jim Leach.

    My gut check is that the lower percentage is less from people moving away from Democrats and more from higher GOP turnout, especially in early voting.

    The big surprise for me here is that late-starting newcomer Jon Murphy ran dead even with Culver and Loebsack. My guess is that's straight ticket or de facto straight ticket voting rather than any intrinsic strength of Murphy or weakness of David Vaudt.

    Tom Miller and Mike Fitzgerald ran a bit ahead of the Democratic ticket, likely due to high name ID from their looooong term incumbency. (Mike Mauro, with only one term under his belt, was less fortunate. Maybe people think state auditors, like county auditors, are in charge of elections.)

    But Francis Thicke trailed the bulk of the ticket, and Roxanne Conlin performed lower yet, losing the election day vote while winning the county overall. This tells me that folks who were voting a basically straight ticket (as evidenced by the Murphy result) were crossing over in these two races.

    Why, I don't get; I was a Conlin true believer from the get-go. I felt some air go out of the tires midsummer, with the 8 point poll getting discredited and with the Gazette's article praising Grassley's seniority. I argued at the time that "senority" hadly matters if Grassley is doing the opposite of what you want, but maybe folks hedged their bets.

    Still, it should be noted, Conlin is the first Grassley opponent to win ANY county since John Culver. Hometown candidates Art Small and Jean Lloyd-Jones lost Johnson County, as did David Osterberg who was from just over the Linn line in Mt. Vernon.

    It's hard to imagine a sharper contrast than agri-biz Bill Northey and Fairfield organic farmer Thicke. (Does Fairfield have a Iowa City-like stigma?) But of course, I'm living in isolation here in the People's Republic: the only county Conlin won, top Culver county by ten points, and 25 points better than the state on the Supreme Court. I never saw a NO judges sign until the Register story on the victory party.

    Which brings me to the judges: in a race that was de facto partisan, they performed like the Democrats, better in town and early. What's interesting to me is that the under-vote (people who skipped the contest) was twice as high early (25%) than on Election day (12.5).

    More on under-voting tomorrow.

    New Members, Non-Members

    New Members, Non-Members

    For those of us who were too overwhelmed by The Wave to grok all the details, The Hill offers a handy-dandy, clip-n-save guide to the Congressional freshman class.

    Laura Clawson at Daily Kos offers the list of an alternate universe: candidates who should give it another go.

    One of those names is Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), who ran with his progressive record rather than against it, and made the race, though unsuccessful, way closer than folks expected.

    Any Iowans, local or statewide, either party, you think should give it another try?

    Friday, November 05, 2010

    King to head immigration panel

    Now I'm REALLY depressed

    Reg: "Steve King is in line in January to become chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, citizenship, refugees, border security and international law. He said he would use that post to oppose immigration reform plans that would include a 'path to citizenship' for illegal immigrants. He also favors legislation stopping automatic U.S. citizenship for so-called 'anchor babies' born in the United States to parents who are illegal immigrants.

    In addition, King wants to wean so-called "sanctuary cities" that harbor illegal immigrants from federal funding, and to pass legislation giving Arizona and other states specific authority to enforce immigration laws."

    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    More Afterthoughts

    More Afterthoughts

    Props to Sue Dvorsky and the Iowa Democratic Party field staff. Marc Ambinder: "The Three Iowa judges who ruled that same-sex marriage was legal were all roundly defeated, thanks to a blizzard of ads and heavily conservative turnout. But every vulnerable Democratic member of Congress was re-elected, thanks to a stellar, caucus-honed Democratic ground game. Once again, Iowa is an exception. "

    The Dems firewall is Mike Gronstal:
    Gronstal believes the right thing means protecting the civil rights of gays and lesbians. He reaffirmed Wednesday that he won't bow to pressure, no matter how nasty it gets.

    "The easy political thing for me to do years ago would have been to say, 'Oh, let's let this thing go. It's just too political and too messy,' " Gronstal said. "What's ugly is giving up what you believe in, that everybody has the same rights. Giving up on that? That's ugly."
    The two scorpions in a bottle to watch: Terry Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats. Branstad cares more about doing bid-ness than about the social conservative stuff, as opposed to the look of joyful hate on BVP's face at the No Judges victory party. This could be like watching Culver and Fallon.

    Does anyone really expect to see Branstad seek a SIXTH term in 2014? Watch Matt Schultz in the stepping stone office.

    We really are different here: Not only was Johnson County the only county Roxanne Conlin won, we were also Culver's best county in the state... the best by TEN POINTS.

    Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    The Aftermath

    The Aftermath

    It's taken me longer than usual to dig through stuff, due to sheer exhaustion and, yes, some grieving. I haven't lost one that I truly hoped to win since 2004. (I've backed some futile causes in the meantime, like Public Power and the student city council candidates, with the full expectation of getting clobbered.)

    Let's go in ballot order:

    Small consolations: Roxanne Conlin wins Johnson County. First Grassley opponent to win so much as a county since John Culver; Art Small and Jean Lloyd-Jones barely carried any precincts.

    In retrospect, this one peaked right around the primary, with that poll showing Conlin within 8 and Grassley under 50. But then the pollster got discredited, the beginnings of a buzz dried up, and the national tide turned.

    With the national Democrats having to scramble and play defense with Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray and (unsuccessfully) Russ Feingold, there were no resources left for the 26th or 27th race. Things needed to catch on virally for Roxanne to have a shot, and it didn't happen.

    So Grassley takes a sixth term, during which he breaks William Allison's record for longest serving Iowa senator. That takes him to age 83 in 2016, at which point he tries to hand off to grandson Pat.

    Meanwhile, the US Senate turns out to be less bad than it could have been, with Harry Reid and Michael Bennet holding on and tea partier Joe Miller losing.

    Resilience: In the context of the national wave, Iowa is remarkable for re-electing all three Democratic House members. Leonard Boswell benefited from a weak opponent; you could hear the air hissing out of Brad Zaun's tires when the Ex Girlfriend Incident hit the papers. Winning ugly, but winning.

    Bruce Braley squeaked by with under 50 percent, fending off the outside money attacks. Nevertheless, he still may be a big winner, if a House leadership shakeup happens.

    The first time Dave Loebsack ran, no one thought he'd win. The second time, no one thought he'd lose. Last night, Loebsack did what many of his 2006 classmates couldn't, winning a serious race against a wave. He proved the pundits, who saw him as more vulnerable than Braley and Boswell in the last predictions, wrong by outperforming them both. No one can ever call Loebsack a fluke again.

    I'm still not sure yet whether Chet Culver's smaller local margin (62%, down from 68 in 2006) is the result of a better Republican absentee effort or whether it was movement away from Culver. Chet's own vote total was up 1,500 from 2006 but Branstad ran about 5,000 better than Jim Nussle.

    Trivia: Libertarian Eric Cooper looks to have fallen well short of his quest for 2 percent and full party status. But Jonathan Narcisse and his "Iowa Party" came closer; last I saw he was at 1.8.

    It is a goddamn tragedy that Mike Mauro lost. Of the four secretaries of state I've known in Iowa. he was by far the best; a consummate, serious fair election administrator with no ambitions beyond doing his job. Just a victim of the wave.

    While Matt Schultz's win in itself does not bring with it his goals of photo ID and ending election day registration, there's a lot of power to make administrative rules and make voting harder. Plus, at age 31, we're likely looking at yet another Secretary with no background in elections who's just using the office as a stepping stone.

    At least the spectacularly unqualified Brenna Findley didn't make it.

    I'm still sorting through the legislative carnage (Scott Ourth lost?!?) Locally we lost Becky Schmitz and Larry Marek. Schmitz was a solid progressive vote while Marek, despite some problems on labor, was a good wind energy advocate. Nate Willems had a closer race than I expected. Also a special thanks to my old ally Nathan Reichert, who lost in Muscatine last night, for his six years of service.

    One of the only bright spots of the night was Anesa Kajtazovic winning in Waterloo. That and Dan Muhlbauer, who beat nutbar Daniel Dirkx to gain Rod Roberts' vacant seat for the Dems.

    The judicial races were successfully made partisan. The margin by which the three justices lost was roughly parallel to the gubernatorial totals in the counties I checked. There was also no collateral damage to lower court judges, as voters successfully, sadly, singled out the Supreme Court.

    Marsha Ternus, David Baker and Michael Streit deserve their own chapter in some future Profiles In Courage. Meanwhile, with conservatives divided on the merits of a constitutional convention, it fails two to one. With the Iowa House now in GOP hands, it falls to Mike Gronstal and the slim Democratic Senate majority to defend marriage equality. Fortunately, this is a battle Gronstal genuinely, passionately cares about.

    City to Students: Drop Dead. The outcome isn't a surprise, but what's ugly is the polarization of the results. 91% 19 in precinct 11 (Courthouse, dominated by student apartments), 70%+ 21 on the east side. The result was close only in the handful of precincts where the housing transitions from student to townie: 10, 13 and 21.

    The other, tangential news is that the student vote, especially in dorm precincts 3 and 5, was more Republican than one would expect. (The undervote rate - people marking the bar issue but skipping the top of the ticket - looked to be about 30 to 35 percent in the core student precincts.)

    Team 19 needed a couple thousand more votes out of their weeks-long satellite voting blitz, and had almost no message to the townie community.

    My long range prediction is this costs the UI a couple thousand enrollments a year. The tenured faculty and administrators, secure in jobs insulated from the marketplace, will be happy to be rid of the "bad" ones, and smug in their message of We're Not A Party School Anymore. But there will be an inevitable contraction of the local economy and even the population. The fantasy of "reviving" downtown is long gone, moved west in 1998 with the mall. So you got rid of the drunks. Great. People still want a big flat free parking lot.

    It's just not good for a community to be so divided, and I don't see a good way to heal a division so fundamental, so "Whose Town Is This Anyway". Perhaps we'll figure that out in next year's city election. Meanwhile, Republican caucus season starts in a couple hours.

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    Election Day

    Election Day

    The Longest Day has arrived and here's some reading to keep you occupied:

    The mighty Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight fame predicts a GOP House takeover, but also offers 5 Reasons Democrats Could Beat the Polls and Hold the House:
    The case that Democrats could do better than expected — not well, by any means, merely better than expected — rests a little more in the realm of what artists call negative space: not what there is, but in what there isn’t. There aren’t 50, or even more than about 25, districts in which Republican candidates are unambiguous favorites. There isn’t agreement among pollsters about how the enthusiasm gap is liable to manifest itself. There isn’t any one poll or one forecasting method that is clairvoyant, or that hasn’t made some pretty significant errors in the past.

    Instead, the case for Democrats is basically: yes, the news is bad, it just isn’t exactly as bad as you think, or at least we can’t be sure that it is.

    Multiple hour by hour guides to watching the results roll in

    Silver also has one of many hour by hour guides to watching the results roll in. Others:
  • Chris Cillizza, Washington Post
  • Steve Singiser of Daily Kos has two: House and Senate/governors.
  • Swing State Project in map and table format

    Though if it's before 9 in Iowa, you really should be doing GOTV instead of watching returns.

    A couple notes from Iowa Republicans: Coralville Courier's predictions are not all doom and gloom for Dems, and Craig Robinson has a legislative seats to watch piece.

    Locally: Look here for numbers. We're almost certainly looking at a Johnson County turnout record. The old mark is 44,292 from four years ago. There's already 24,778 absentees returned (with more to come), 10,000 more than in 2006. We saw just over 28,000 at the polls in 2006; the early voting surge may eat into that a bit, especially since Republicans actually played the early voting game this cycle. But election day turnout can drop by 8,000 yet still beat the overall turnout record.

    Factoid: Going into Election Day, county registration is higher (92,610) than it was going into the presidential (92,222). Plus we have something we didn't have in 2006: election day registration. If you're watching the 21 bar race, watch Iowa City precincts 3,5, 11, 19, and 20.

    As usual tune in extremely late for my number crunching.
  • Monday, November 01, 2010

    Last Day, Last Stop

    Last Day, Last Stop in Iowa City

    The top of the Democratic ticket made a Truman-style whistle stop at the Iowa City train depot, and the Truman analogies were not lost on Governor Chet Culver.

    "We're gonna win like Harry Truman did -- a big victory that no one expected," said the governor, exuding confidence despite trailing in the weekend's Des Moines Register poll.

    "We'll win it on the ground, one vote at a time," Culver told the lunchtime crowd. "We have an 80,000 vote advantage (in early ballots) before the polls close."

    "We've seen a 20 point swing in independents to me in the last two weeks," he told reporters after the rally. (He also told reporters he had voted for the three Supreme Court justices seeking retention.)

    Both with the press and the crowd, Culver stuck close to two themes: the "Main Street vs. Wall Street" frame of the event and the future vs. past attack on his opponent.

    "Terry Branstad's favorite day is November 7th," said Culver. "When we turn back the clocks."

    Culver repeatedly emphasized embryonic stem cell research, which he supports and Branstad opposes. "We're going to fund the cures of the future here at the University of Iowa."

    Culver carried Johnson County with 68% in his 2006 win, and the People's Republic is also critical to Senate nominee Roxanne Conlin. "We know we have enough votes to win, and a whole lot of them are right here in Johnson County."

    "Chuck Grassley is faces toward Wall Street," Conlin said of her opponent, "and we need someone focused on Main Street."

    "We need your help up and down the ticket tomorrow," said Congressman Dave Loebsack. "Is it a good idea to privatize Social Security?" he said of opponent Mariannette Miller-Meeks, propting a loud NO! from the crowd.

    Loebsack, however, focused more on his own record over four years. "Everything I've done has had some connection to education," said the former professor.

    State Auditor candidate Jon Murphy focused more on attack, saying of GOP incumbent David Vaudt: "He didn't do his job - he's busy doing politics. And a guy who doesn't do his job gets fired."

    More rally pics here.