Saturday, March 16, 2019

The State of Mismatched Names

As the 29 Democratic presidential candidates fan out across our state, operatives and journalists are taking note of one of our notable quirks: our bad habit of mismatching city names and county names.

It starts at the top. Our capital, Des Moines, is in mid-state, while Des Moines County is on the Mississippi River. The city of Keokuk is also on the Mississippi, but Keokuk County is about three counties northwest. Cedar Rapids is not in Cedar County, Iowa City is not in Iowa County, the list seems endless.

There are so many mismatches that I wondered if it was possible to draw a RAGBRAI route that successfully avoided all places that have mismatched names.

After wasting a bunch of time I determined: Yes, it is, just barely and with a couple asterisks.

In the map above, "Match" means a city in the county with the same name, with no other mismatches. Washington is in Washington County.

A mismatch is when a city is in a county with a different name. This disqualifies BOTH counties. Des Moines is not in Des Moines County, which makes both Polk County and Des Moines county a mismatch.

Borderline cases involve name variations or unincorporated, little known places. And there are some counties with no matches at all.

To successfully draw a RAGBRAI route without cities and counties with mismatched names you need to start in Missouri Valley and swing northeast. You have to ignore two borderline cases: Lake Mills is in Winnebago, not Mills, County, and Mitchellville is not in Mitchell county (though the smaller Mitchell IS in Mitchell County.)

Once you get through that one county corridor along the Minnesota border, you have several options in northeast Iowa. For a slightly shorter route, stay along the northern border all the way to Allamakee County and finish in Lansing or New Albin.

If you want to finish in Dubuque, just make sure you pass your bike tires through a quadripoint where Fayette and Delaware counties meet (or, if you lean slightly to the right into Buchanan, you can opt to ignore the unincorporated town of that name in Cedar County).

If you've made it this far, you probably want to see my work. Someone else is welcome to do the pronunciation guide.

Adair - Adair is in Adair County. (Part of city crosses the line into Guthrie County.)

Adams - no city with this name

Allamakee - no city with this name

Appanoose - no city with this name

Audubon - Audubon is in Audubon County

Benton - city of Benton is in Ringgold County

Black Hawk - Borderline. Cedar Falls not in Cedar County

Boone - Boone is in Boone County

Bremer- no city with this name

Buchanan - Borderline. Unincorporated town of Buchanan in Cedar County.

Buena Vista - Borderline. Unincorporated town of Buena Vista in Clinton County

Butler- no city with this name

Calhoun - no city with this name

Carroll - Carroll is in Carroll County

Cass - no city with this name

Cedar - Cedar Rapids is in bordering Linn County. Almost a borderline name-variation case but Cedar Rapids is both big enough and close enough for confusion.

Cerro Gordo - Plymouth not in Plymouth County

Cherokee - Cherokee is in Cherokee County.

Chickasaw - no city with this name

Clarke - Osceola is not in Osceola County

Clay - no city with this name. Ignoring Clay/Clayton county confusion.

Clayton - the city of Clayton is in Clayton County, but they fail because the city of Monona is not in Monona County. There's also unincorporated Hardin here and not in Hardin County.

Clinton - Borderline and a tough call. The city of Clinton is here of course, but so are the unincorporated towns of Buena Vista and Lyons.

Crawford - no city with this name

Dallas - Melcher-Dallas (formerly two cities, Melcher and Dallas) is in Marion County.

Davis - Davis City in Decatur County

Decatur- Davis City in Decatur County

Delaware - Delaware is in Delaware County

Des Moines - City of Des Moines is in Polk County.

Dickinson - Borderline. Unincorporated Montgomery is in Dickinson County.

Dubuque - Dubuque is in Dubuque County

Emmet - Emmetsburg is seat of neighboring Palo Alto County,

Fayette - Fayette is in Fayette County.

Floyd - Floyd is in Floyd County

Franklin - City of Franklin is in Lee County

Fremont - city of Fremont in Mahaska County

Greene - Jefferson not in Jefferson County

Grundy - Grundy Center is in Grundy County

Guthrie - Guthrie Center is in Guthrie County

Hamilton - city of Hamilton is in Marion County; Webster City not in Webster County

Hancock - city of Hancock is in Pottawattamie County.

Hardin - City of Union not in Union County. Iowa Falls not in Iowa County. Unincorporated town of Hardin is in Clayton County.

Harrison - no city with this name.

Henry- no city with this name

Howard- no city with this name

Humboldt - Humboldt is in Humboldt County.

Ida - Ida Grove is in Ida County

Iowa - Iowa City is in next door Johnson County

Jackson - no city with this name. (Ignoring Jackson Junction in Winneshiek County.)

Jasper - Even if you ignore the Mitchell/Mitchellville issue, the city of Monroe is here and not in Monroe County.

Jefferson - city of Jefferson is in Greene County

Johnson - Iowa City not in Iowa County

Jones - no city with this name

Keokuk - city of Keokuk is in Lee County

Kossuth- no city with this name

Lee - Keokuk not in Keokuk County; Franklin not in Franklin County

Linn - Cedar Rapids not in Cedar County; Marion not in Marion County

Louisa - Wapello not in Wapello County.

Lucas - city of Lucas is in Lucas County.

Lyon - Borderline. Unincorporated Lyons is in Clinton County.

Madison - Fort Madison is in Lee County

Mahaska - Fremont not in Fremont County

Marion - city of Marion is in Linn County; Melcher-Dallas not in Dallas County.

Marshall - Marshalltown is in Marshall County.

Mills - Borderline. Lake Mills is in Winnebago County.

Mitchell - Borderline. Mitchell is in Mitchell County but Mitchellville is in Jasper County. I'm inclined to give them a break here, especially since they are key to the RAGBRAI route.

Monona - city of Monona in Clayton County.

Monroe - city of Monroe in Jasper County.

Montgomery- Borderline. Unincorporated Montgomery is in Dickinson County.

Muscatine - Muscatine is in Muscatine County

O'Brien - no city with this name

Osceola - city of Osceola is in Clarke County

Page - no city with this name

Palo Alto - Emmetsburg not in Emmet County.

Plymouth - city of Plymouth is in Cerro Gordo County.

Pocahontas - Pocahontas is in Pocahontas County.

Polk - Des Moines not in Des Moines County

Pottawattamie - Hancock not in Hancock County

Poweshiek - no city with this name.

Ringgold - Benton not in Benton County

Sac - Sac City is in Sac County

Scott - The biggest county with no mismatch. Iowa has no city named Scott or any variation of Scott or Scot, they don't have so much as a township sharing a name with another county, and I'm not penalizing them for unincorporated Scotch Grove in Jones County.

Shelby - City of Shelby is in both Shelby and Pottawattamie Counties. Unincorporated Jacksonville not in Jackson County.

Sioux - Sioux City is in Woodbury County, though Sioux Center IS in Sioux County.

Story - Story City is in Story County.

Tama - Tama is in Tama County

Taylor- no city with this name

Union - city of Union is in Hardin County.

Van Buren - no city with this name

Wapello - city of Wapello is in Louisa County.

Warren - no city with this name

Washington - city of "Warshington" is in Washington County

Wayne - no city with this name

Webster - Webster City is in Hamilton County

Winnebago - Borderline. Lake Mills not in Mills County.

Winneshiek - no city with this name (Ignoring Jackson Junction.)

Woodbury - Sioux City not in Sioux County

Worth- no city with this name

Wright - Borderline. Unincorporated town of Wright in Mahaska County.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Israel and Palestine: What I Really Think

1) I'm going to take a risk here and say what I really think about Israel and Palestine.

2) What follows would have been unthinkable to say in public in America even 2 months ago. (Israel itself allows more debate.) The discussion has been one sided far too long. It should go without saying that I respect everyone's heritage and faith - but I have to say it anyway.
3) First off I think people should be able to live where they want and migrate as they need.

I'm idealistic enough to be a Statue of Liberty literalist: the core principle of America is that we are a multi-cultural nation and the universal land of refuge.

4) We did not live up to these principles in 1933 or 1945, and we are not living up to them now. But these principles should be fought for, not abandoned, because they are at the core of what makes us American.

5) Aside: Our own hands are not clean. Neither America or Israel was "a land without a people for a people without a land." We can't ignore that our "universal refuge" was founded on African slavery and on the extermination of the Native Americans.

6) But we are what we are now, and while efforts are important, not every human tragedy can be fully atoned for or repaired. Trying to fix one tragedy can create others. Keep that concept in mind.

7) I also believe that nation-states should be secular and not sectarian, & multi-cultural and not ethnic or nationalist based. So I oppose the "right to exist" (sic) of Israel *as currently constituted and organized*. The status quo is immoral, unsustainable, & cannot continue.

8) I am an anti-Zionist because Zionism a) rejects America as land of universal refuge and 2) creates a colonial-immigrant state explicitly based on religion and ethnicity.

9) I believe the creation of Israel in the British Palestine mandate was the greatest foreign policy mistake of the whole postwar era - greater than Vietnam. We addressed one human rights tragedy, the Holocaust, with another -  the displacement of the Palestinians.

10) Rather than backing a specifically Jewish state in 1948, America should have accepted the Jewish refugee population in 1945 - or, better, in 1933.

11) But if there WAS to have been a Jewish state it should have been created in the region where most of the refugees and survivors came from - eastern Europe, where vast populations were already displaced and depopulated in the aftermath of the war. Basically, in East Germany.

12) All that said, "should have" no longer matters. This mistake can't be undone without creating yet another tragedy for four generations that have settled in the Holy Land. No one, be they an Israeli, a Palestinian, or a DREAMer, should be forced from a land they call home.\

13) Finally getting to the point here.

My preference is for a one person one vote secular & multicultural state that treats Jews, Muslims, Christians, and all others as equal citizens.

The problem is, I doubt most of the people who live in the Holy Land actually want that.

14)  It's been clear for many years now that the Netanyahu-Likud plan is to make the entire region between the Mediterranean and the Jordan and Dead Sea an exclusively Jewish state, one settlement at a time, with the Palestinians expected to simply go elsewhere.

15) The Israeli opposition is more open to negotiation, but not on equitable enough terms. (Israel is now in election season.) There are Palestinians who will accept anything they can get, and there are others who want nothing less than a full Jewish exodus.

16) So, sadly, there probably needs to be some sort of two state solution. The tragedy of a two state solution for two peoples so intertwined is that inevitable some people will end up on the "wrong" side of the line. See the India-Pakistan partition for bloody details.

17) If there are to be two states, they need to be more equitable than the 1967 cease fire lines which heavily favor Israel. The basis of discussion should be the original 1947 UN partition plan: 2 states made up of 3 parts meeting at points, with a Jerusalem international zone.

18) Both sides will have to give up a lot: their claims and "rights of return" on the other half, and Jerusalem as a capital. There will need to be compensation to families who lost homes - and in exchange they will need to give up claims on those homes.

19) There will need to be significant disarmament on both sides, including Israel's nuclear weapons. Both sides will have to rein in their extremists, which is easier said than done.

20) Many people will find their homes on the "wrong" side of the line, and their rights and safety must be protected whether they stay or move - again on the principle that people should be able to live where they wish. And any who choose to move should be welcomed in America.

21) Again, all of this is less preferable to a one person one vote equal rights state. And whether there is one state or two, there needs to be a South African style truth and reconciliation process. (Yes I said South Africa on purpose because the apartheid analogy applies.)

22) I an pessimistic and don't see how discussion can get to this point. America might not be the best broker for this discussion. And the hatred in the Middle East may be so great that even this might not work. But it's safe to say *nothing short of this* will work.

23) The point is, in the context of current American politics, we need to be able to HAVE this discussion honestly and without accusations of bigoted motives, and developments of the last few weeks give me hope for that discussion, if not for peace itself. end

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Notes on a BAD election bill

This is just tweets, minimally edited:

Still reading but new election bill very bad

All the provisions put together make this about as bad as the ID bill. This after GOP said they were planning no major election law changes

One provision that seems targeted straight at the Peoples Republic: no satellite voting in state owned buildings. With no sites at UIHC and the IMU the lines will be longer for everyone everywhere else.

So it's OK for a student at Dordt or Luther to vote early on campus, but not at UI ISU UNI or the community colleges?

2016 in Johnson County: 2004 voters at IMU, 2016 (not a typo) at UIHC, and 309 at other campus sites. All those sites banned under proposed bill. All those voters added to lines at other voting sites - or maybe, and that's the idea, not voting at all.

Cross references are always my weak point reading legislation but at first look it seems this bill could make voters inactive simply for not responding to a mailing, rather than current law which only activates if USPS returns mail as undeliverable.
Chris Andringa: @cjandringa

Step 1: send a card in January, and immediately make them inactive.
Step 2: send another scary notice in April.
Step 3: cancel them if they don't respond by July 1?!? (p. 39, lines 26-30; 48A.30 is the cancellation section)
These kinds of response required mailings have been big problems in other states - voters suddenly finding themselves unregistered. How much of this could automatic registration fix instead? 🤔

One provision targets student specifically and maybe illegally: University has to send a mailing at graduation that in effect encourages them to cancel registration.  No other group is targeted the same way.

Another item would add a lot of information about tax levy rates to the ballot itself for bond issues (in effect, encouraging a No vote; there;s no corresponding requirement to list any benefits of the proposal.)

Signature requirements would increase for independent candidates running in general elections - perhaps because Axne beat Young with under 50% in a six way race?
Chris Andringa: @cjandringa Is this really stating that *any* tied election gets a special (pp. 27-28)? Hello, township trustee special elections!
A runoff may be better than drawing a name for a legislative seat, but people have no idea how many township trustee elections are tied with two write in votes each. Would definitely need to be an exception for that.

Under current law there are no provisions at all for a township special election. All vacancies are filled by appointment till the next general election - which has not been  a crisis. Biggest problem is usually finding someone willing to do the job.

There's a different bill that would use postal bar codes but in this bill absentees would have to be in auditors office before polls close. The Newspeak term for this is 'sure count' 🙄

Bill would change close to 8 for all elections. Would also change registered deadline to 10 days for all elections. Currently 10 for general 11 for all others.

The consistency and extra day for registration deadline is good, but that's a Saturday. Will auditors have to be open Saturday for a reg deadline for a special election in their smallest city?

Pages and pages devoted to Roby Smith's pet peeve: auditor's discretion in which order parties are listed. Also changes auditor's signature on ballot to a county seal. Reasonable minds can disagree, but IMHO it's petty.

About the only thing I do like (and reasonable minds disagree) is a "sore loser" law that would keep primary losers from running as indys in the general election. I have always believed that if you buy into a nomination process you should accept the outcome and not get a do-over.

Can't wait to hear Roby Smith's "official" reasons for some of these items (we all know the real reasons). Should be even sillier than his "no one should vote before a debate" rationale for dropping 11 days of early voting, or his technically impossible 2017 ballot rotation plan.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

What's Not Anti-Semitic

Questioning the motives of American Christian conservatives who only support Israel because they think it means Jesus Is Coming Soon? Not anti-Semitic.

Likening Israeli policy to apartheid South Africa because the shoe fits? Not anti-Semitic.

Arguing for our right to use our dollars as we wish and boycott businesses that support governments with bad policies? Not anti-Semitic.

Questioning why Iran has to get rid of nukes and Israel gets to keep them? Not anti-Semitic.

Arguing for a two state solution starting from 1947 U.N. agreement lines and not from 1967 ceasefire lines? Not anti-Semitic.

Questioning the premise of Zionism that there HAS to be a specifically Jewish state, and arguing instead for a one person one vote equal secular state, the way we did in South Africa? Not anti-Semitic.

All these issues and more are legitimate subjects for debate but are silenced by the anti-Semitic card.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Which Candidate Will Take One For The Team?

The Democratic presidential field is growing almost exponentially - Jay Inslee makes it 13 candidates today - and the lanes are rapidly getting crowded.

Some of these people need an off-ramp. Buttigeig for Governor. O'Rourke for Senate (an option he just ruled out). Yang for a House seat somewhere. Marianne Williamson for Mayor of Fairfield (the New-Agey author shouldn't be taken seriously as a potential POTUS but will over-perform in Jefferson County and Maharishi Vedic City - and will be a useful Mendoza Line for other candidates to try to stay above).

But there is one high risk, high reward lane yet to be occupied, and that someone, for victory's sake, needs to occupy. It's the lane that meets traffic head on. It might not get you to the White House, but it could get you somewhere.

Let's set the Wayback Machine to 2004.

That was the last "normal" cycle: a large-ish field of relatively equal strength, and a nomination that was settled long before the last primary state.  No Democratic primary voter under 33 and outside of Iowa remembers any cycle like that. They have only seen bipolar races that go to the last state.

Howard Dean had been the front-runner for most of late 2003. But as caucus night drew closer, the top four candidates bunched into a four way near dead heat.

Back then, there were worries that Dean was some kind of "radical." He never was that. Dean had simply opposed the Iraq War when Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, and John Edwards had voted for it, and he had shepherded his state through the then-cutting edge "civil unions" for gay couples. ("Civil unions" were to full marriage equality as "cannabis oil" is to full legalization.)

The actual far-left people we would now call "Bernie Bros" were with Dennis Kucinich in 2004 and were more hostile to Dean that they were to the candidates who had voted for the Iraq War. Team Dennis resented that Dean had gotten all the anti-war attention that they felt Kucinich deserved. (I expect similar antagonism this year from the Sanders camp toward Warren - in a multi-cornered environment, your biggest enemy is the one fighting for the same niche.)

There was also tension between Dean and the other camps, especially Kerry. Compared to 2008 Obama-Hillary and 2016 Hillary-Bernie it was small, but by the standards of the era it seemed big.

The expectation bar was very high for Gephardt. As the 1988 caucus winner (a fact some Johnson County Paul Simon fans still dispute), anything less than a 2004 win would be damaging - and it just wasn't happening.

Everyone remembers The Dean Scream, but everyone forgets that it came AFTER the much more important Dean Third Place In Iowa. You will never convince us Dean fans that there was anything but a coordinated strategy by the other campaigns: knock Dean out and knock him out in Iowa. 

Dick Gephardt, who knew he was fading, took one for the team:
Gephardt, locked in a desperate struggle for survival in the Democratic presidential contest, unleashed a blistering attack on front-runner Howard Dean yesterday.

His sweeping, and highly personal, condemnation of Dean also served to underscore the bleak reality Gephardt faces in Monday's caucuses. With his campaign running out of money and his prospects in the early primary states uncertain at best, the veteran Missouri congressman needs a victory in Iowa to keep his long political career alive.

But the decision to turn up the heat on Dean runs a risk of hurting Gephardt as well. If it succeeds, the attack could wind up indirectly benefiting two candidates already breathing down Gephardt's neck - Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina. The two senators appear to be surging in the closing days of the increasingly negative, and volatile, Iowa contest...
Stopping just short of calling him a liar, Gephardt accused the former Vermont governor of being on both sides of such issues as trade, Medicare, gun control and favors for American corporations.
"It's become nearly impossible to know what Howard Dean really believes," Gephardt said, urging Iowans to reject what he described as Dean's "cynical politics of manufactured anger and false conviction."
It was the only shot he had left. And it backfired; Gephardt finished fourth and dropped out on caucus night. But the attacks on Dean stuck, and scared Iowans into defecting to Kerry and Edwards. Even the hapless Kucinich got in on it, urging his people in non-viable precincts to realign to Edwards and not the more ideologically similar Dean.

In my own precinct, while we were still herding the Dean cats, the entire just short of viable Gephardt group marched en masse over to Kerry, and thus got reported as Kerry "state delegate equivalents".

(Stunts like that will be a little harder to pull off in 2020. With Democrats reporting raw votes for the first time, the national press will treat that first alignment as the "real" result. But it'll still have an impact in the delegate counts and party structure fights that matter within the state.)

Gephardt sacrificed himself by going hard negative against Dean and us Deaniacs in 2004, but his reward was presumably to come in the Kerry Administration. It was plausible enough that the New York Post famously got it wrong:

So that's history.
The question is, in 2020, which candidate in the 1 1/2th tier takes one for the team and does the same to Bernie Sanders?

The problem with the big field is that one candidate with a small but vocal and committed base becomes the front runner while the other candidates splinter the vote. Then that front runner becomes the winner, despite the opposition of most of the party, because the other's can't unite. Why should I drop out when I'm at 4%, if the second place candidate is only at 7? That's how the GOP got Trump.

In a gigantic field of ideologically similar (actual) Democrats, with everyone struggling for attention and viability, it's certain that SOMEone will gamble on explicitly attacking Sanders. Not on his message, which is popular with the base, but on the messenger: his personal history, character, and possibly supporter behavior if some of the more zealous ones create the opportunity.

This will backfire spectacularly, as it did with Gephardt, and destroy that candidate. But the other candidates, the longtime party activists and leaders, and the eventual nominee will be silently grateful, and if/when the election is won, that person will be rewarded.

Because the problem with the "Bernie Is The Most Popular Politician In America" meme that his acolytes constantly push is that it's untested. It's in a vacuum of no negative campaign against him.

Sanders was never truly, personally attacked on the national scale by either Hillary or Trump - because it served neither of their interests to do so. Clinton knew she had realistically clinched the nomination in March and would need the Berners' support, Trump needed Democratic division, and neither of those goals were served by going negative on Sanders.

Sure, there have been scattered negative news stories, which circulate and re-circulate in the #NeverBernie Twittersphere. They're not new to us political junkies. We all know what those issues are and I don't need to reiterate them.

But they WILL be new to the larger electorate. There has never been a sustained direct attack on Sanders from another candidate with the kinds of speech and debate quotes that mainstream news airs and re-airs. There have never been the kind of negative ads most candidates normally see at end game of a general election.

Even in an era of new media, 16 years removed from 2004, an awful lot of swing and low-info voters are still getting information through the old channels. At that point, it's too late. At that point, unlike in 2016, it's in Trump's interest to attack Sanders on everything (except releasing his taxes). You're into a wall to wall campaign of TV ads full of Sandinista videos.

No, not THAT kind of Sandinista video. Strummer-Jones 2020: Make America Clash Again

Bringing these issues up in the primary is doing the party a favor. If you don't care about the party, like some Sanders supporters, well, then, it  helps the cause of defeating Trump. It either tests Sanders' ability to handle a body check and gets these things out of the way, or (I think more likely) it culls out a flawed candidate before he's nominated.

But it's a suicide mission for whoever does it, so who plays the Gephardt role? Someone with nothing to lose. Someone with high expectations, stuck in the pack, who has accepted reality for now but has ambitions for later.

The reward can't be as great as the running mate role that was seemingly within Gephardt's reach. The Sanders supporters would never accept it. The reward would have to be post-election - maybe a cabinet shot to position someone for 2028 - meaning look to the younger candidates.

Two things are certain: It won't be Kamala Harris, who I believe at this point has the inside track to the nomination. And it won't be Elizabeth Warren, who has the most to gain from defections from Sanders.

But this contest is likely to come down to Sanders vs. one Not Sanders, and it's a safe bet that someone will gamble that Anti-Sanders is the best way to be the Not Sanders, or at least to get a cabinet seat from her.