Friday, September 29, 2006

Habeas Whatus?

The Senate voted today to take a giant step back in time, to pre-Magna Carta days, by passing the Torture Bill that strips detainees of their right of habeas corpus and allow America to torture detainees a little bit, just as long as we don't go too far.

Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) had this to say during the Senate debate...

In the wake of the attack of 9/11, and in the fact of the continuing terrorist threat, now is not the time for the United States to abandon its principles. Admiral Hutson was right to point out that when we do there would be little to distinguish America from a “banana republic” or the repressive regimes against which we are trying to rally the world and the human spirit. Now is not the time to abandon American values, to shiver and quake, to rely on secrecy and torture. Those are ways of repression and oppression, not the American way.

The habeas provisions of this bill are wrong-headed and flagrantly unconstitutional. Tinkering with them would not make them less wrong-headed, but might make them less flagrantly unconstitutional, and I see no reason to save the Administration from itself and from the inevitable defeat when the Supreme Court strikes them down. Why should those of us who take our oath to uphold the Constitution seriously, and who understand the fundamental importance of habeas to freedom, compromise with the drafters of this irresponsible bill?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hostile Takeover...Wages

From Chapter 2 of Hostile Takeover on wages...

The facts are very stark: trade deals that allow companies to freely search the world for the cheapest labor have driven down Americans' wages. In 2001, economists estimated that three-quarters of American workers had lost about 12 percent of their current wages because of these trade deals. For a worker earning $25,000 a year, that's more than $3,000, thanks to trade deals that corporate America and politicians of both parties promised would mean better wages. In the period from World War II to 1972, when our government was not aggressively using trade policy to sell out American workers, wages grew by 85 percent. By contrast, in the next three decades of "free" trade dominance, real wages grew only 7 percent, even as corporate profits skyrocketed.
Read more from Hostile Takeover...

Fund Emergency Paper Ballots

In my inbox today from Rapid Response...

Senator Dodd, Senator Boxer, and Rep. Rush Holt have introduced a bill to fund emergency paper ballots for the 2006 elections. The bill would not require a voter-verified paper record, but it would offer funding to any county that chose to offer paper ballots as a contingency option for voting machine failures, and, better still, require that counties who receive this funding to offer a paper ballot to any voter who requests one! See for more information. There is also a New York Times article up here.

There is no bill number for this legislation yet. But call Harkin, Grassley, and your Senators and urge them to support this bill!

Congress adjourns Friday so time is of the essence.

Contact info for Senator Grassley and Senator Harkin:

Sen. Chuck Grassley
135 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC

Des Moines
721 Federal Building
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 288-1145
Fax: (515) 288-5097

Senator Tom Harkin

731 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3254 Phone
(202) 224-9369 Fax

210 Walnut Street
Room 733, Federal Building
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 284-4574 Phone
(515) 284-4937 Fax

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hostile Takeover...Taxes

Yesterday I posted that each day this week, I will be posting quotes from each chapter of David Sirota's book, Hostile Takeover. The first chapter is on taxes.

A 2004 GAO report found that more than 27,000 Pentagon contractors owe federal government $3 billion in undpaid taxes. A follow-up study the next year found an additional 33,000 contractors for civilian agencies owe $3 billion more. The government could cut off these cheats by terminating their federal contracts. Or at the very least, officials could follow a 1997 law that requires federal agencies to withhold15 percent from payments to individuals or businesses with unpaid tax bills. Yet that hasn't happened, likely because many of those tax evaders are big donors to politicians of both parties. Meanwhile, companies that abuse offshore tax havens continue to recieve almost $1billion in US government contracts each year, despite the fact they are brazenly stealing money from American taxpayers. In all, corporate delinquency, refusal to pay, and tax evasion rob America up to $40 billion a year - more than the annual budget of the Department of the Homeland Security.
When it comes to wasting taxpayer's money, CIETC can't hold a candle to the amount of money that corporations fail to pay in taxes.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Reading Hostile Takeover by David Sirota

I have been reading the book by David Sirota called Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government - and How We Take It Back. Each chapter is about a different industry or issue and is full of statistics that shows how Big Money has expanded their influence in the Government.

Like many Americans, I had felt that corporations and big money somehow kept coming out on top on many political issues. However, it wasn't until I heard Ed Fallon talking about Big Money that I learned how much influence Big Money actually has.

For the next two weeks, I will be posting some quotes from each chapter of Hostile Takeover to highlight how our Government has been sold off to Big Money and we, the Common Iowans, are being left out.

I will leave you with this quote from the Introduction of Hostile Takeover...

On almost every major issue affecting your wallet, you are told a different version of the same basic story. There is deified "free market" that we all must bow down to and never question, under punishment of getting tarred and feathered as a pink commie bastard by whatever Attila the Hun radio host happens to be on the air. This free market, we are told, means we must have fewer regulations that protect citizens' rights, less taxation of the rich, and no mandates on business to fulfill any social responsibilities other than increasing corporations' bottom line. At the same time, this "free market" is to be ignored when it might actually benefit ordinary citizens.

Thus, in one breath, politicians tell us price controls for medicine are bad, but restrictive patent laws that keep drug prices high are good; regulations against energy price gouging are bad, but government handouts to energy companies are good; protecting American jobs is bad, but government help in outsourcing our jobs is good. In short, they tell us government is Big Business's personal sidearm, instead of the middle-class's flak jacket against corporate abuse.

Follow up on Negative Campaigning in Iowa House District 44

The Marshalltown Times Republican ran a follow up story to the negative mailings the Republican Party sent out the same day the Times Republican ran a story about the Republican running a "clean" campaign. I wrote about it here.

Here is part of the follow up article...

Granzow responded to the piece by saying she had no idea it was coming out. The circular was marked as being clearly paid for by the Republican Party of Iowa.

“Any perceived negative ad run against my opponent by others was neither known of in advance nor approved by me,” Granzow said.

Hoy, himself, actually received the campaign piece in the mail and expressed his disappointment with what was being done.

“Unfortunately, our electorate system has digressed to the point where apparently negative advertising is effective,” he said. “Obviously, a contrast and comparison is fine. One’s voting record is certainly appropriate. But complete negative advertising — I think the voters are tiring of it and I hope eventually they say enough is enough.”

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Buffett and Turner to Donate Money for Nuclear Fuel

I heard about this last week and have meant to post about it.

WASHINGTON - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, CNN creator Ted Turner and former Sen. Sam Nunn pledged $50 million to the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency Tuesday to create a uranium stockpile.

The aim is to discourage countries from developing their own nuclear programs. The reserve would ensure supplies of low-grade fuel for nuclear power plants around the world. One example of a program they hope to discourage is in Iran, which critics fear is ultimately aimed at developing weapons.
This is one of those things that makes so much sense that it probably won't happen.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

How do you Compromise Torture?

Yesterday, when I heard that these "rebel" Republicans and Bush had made a compromise on torture, I asked myself, "how do you compromise torture?"

Does that mean the people being held will only get waterboarded on Tuesday's and Thursday's instead of everyday of the week?

Does that mean they will use dogs that are a little less mean looking?

Does that mean prisoners will be sodomized only on Friday nights?

Do Americans need to be reminded of the photos from Abu Ghraib? What about the photos and video that the Bush Administration said was too graphic to show even though a judge said they must be turned over? What about the videos of young boys being sodomized while in US custody?

We are a nation founded on values, Christian values. Would Jesus compromise on torture? The bottomline is that any form of torture is torture.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Spencer's Speech at the Harkin Steak Fry

I volunteered at the local Democratic Headquarters on Wednesday night and 2 people came in to get yard signs for Selden Spencer. They said they heard Spencer speak for the first time at the Harkin Steak Fry and he was fantastic. They left headquarters with a as many signs as they could carry to pass out to neighbors, friends, and family.

You can now see the speech on YouTube now.

This is as fired up as I have seen Dr. Spencer and I guess the crowd was loving it. He was greated with a standing ovation from the audience. Check out Dr. Spencer's website to find out more information on his campaign.

More Attack Mailings: Republicans Regret That They are Liers

From the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier (emphasis added is mine)...

A flyer mailed to voters attacking Democratic Reps. Bob Kressig of Cedar Falls and Dawn Pettengill of Mount Auburn said they supported a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to be eligible for in-state tuition. But the vote was taken in the Iowa House in 2004, months before Kressig and Pettengill were elected to the Iowa Legislature.

House Minority Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque said the attacks by Republicans have gone beyond negative campaigning to "outright lying."

"Iowans should be upset at that. Republicans have set a new low by breaking the public trust," Murphy said.

The mailers were sponsored by the Washington, D.C. -based Republican State Leadership Committee. Mike Anton, the group's communication director, said the mistake was realized after the literature already had been mailed.

"There was an error that was made, and we apologize for the mistake. I mean, that was something that we regret," Anton said.
Oh my, I thought a Republican might have actually apologized, but no they only regret the mistake. The other day, I went out to out eat at the Hy Vee Deli. The line at the Chinese was too long, so I had a chicken dinner. I regret not waiting in line to get Chinese. You don't regret blantantly making up someone's record.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Negative Campaigning in Iowa House District 44

It seems rural Iowa can't escape the negative attack ads either. Last week in Iowa House District 44, located in Hardin County and basically all of Marshall County except for Marshalltown, the area's largest local paper, the Marshalltown Times Republican, ran a lead article about Republican incumbant Polly Granzow. The article is entitled, "Granzow Vows to Keep Campaign Clean." Here is part of the article...

Saying she would never endorse negative campaigning, Rep. Polly Granzow, R-Eldora, was recently in Marshall County to make her case for another term in the Iowa House.

Questions have arisen in recent weeks concerning speculation by some Democratic lawmakers that the GOP will be targeting certain districts with negative ads. One of those targeted areas mentioned was House District 44, where Democrat Tim Hoy, former Eldora mayor and local businessman, is challenging Granzow.

“I have never done negative campaigning and I do not intend to,” Granzow said. “I would turn that around and ask if they are planning on doing attack ads against me.”
That seemed to be a strong statement by Granzow until people in the district checked their mailboxes that afternoon and found a mailing from the Iowa Republican Party attacking Granzow's opponent, Tim Hoy. The flyer graded Hoy with F's and cited information from when Hoy was the mayor of Eldora.

Hoy is a strong candidate, who is popular in his district. He is a business owner, former mayor of the 2nd largest town in the district, and knows the issues that rural Iowans care about. He is for the family farmer, renewable energy, and is a strong supporter of education. You can read about an event that I attended with Hoy here.

It is more than a little ironic that both the newspaper article and the attack mailings came out on the same day. Chalk this down as another example of Republican hypocrisy. Granzow may vow to run a clean campaign, but it seems she doesn't mind having other people do her dirty work. It is clear that Granzow and the Iowa Republican Party are scared they will lose this seat.

Fallon on Negative Advertising

Got an email from Ed Fallon today about all of the negative ads out there...

If you’re a fan of negative advertising and big-money politics, it’s been a great week for you. Fortunately, most of us find negative advertising to be dishonest and irritating. At the current pace, this could be a long, disheartening election season.

Yesterday, I heard from a reliable source that Newt Gingrich’s PAC, the Republican Leadership Council (not to be confused with Christopher Rants’ Iowa Leadership Council), is spending $500,000 on negative direct mail against incumbent Democrats in the Iowa House. At the same time, the Economic Freedom Fund, funded by the same donor who ran the Swift Boat attacks against John Kerry, has targeted Chet Culver and Leonard Boswell. They’re financing push polls and negative TV ads across the state. The current political climate often means that 527 groups and political action committees can be brought in to do the dirty work for a candidate, without the candidate appearing to be accountable.

The third district congressional race is especially discouraging. Jeff Lamberti’s disingenuous ad about Leonard Boswell’s determination to raise your taxes is being countered by a Boswell ad on immigration and criminal justice. The Boswell ad (entitled “Keeping Iowa Secure” and viewable on his website) is so offensive that it runs the risk of alienating a significant portion of Boswell’s Democratic base. It’s unfortunate that this race has deteriorated to name calling, record-distorting and fear mongering at a time when the nation faces a war, a health care crisis and skyrocketing tuition costs, among other problems.

One encouraging piece of news came out of southern Iowa this week, where Republican legislative candidate Kevin Wiskus changed his affiliation to “no party” in response to a negative mail piece the Republican Party ran on his behalf. His opponent is Democrat Kurt Swaim, who is a hard-working legislator with a reputation for being fair and non-partisan. Congratulations are due to both of them for working to keep their race positive and issue-oriented. Races like theirs promote real public discourse, instead of the bitter, divisive, negative elections we’ve become accustomed to.

Thanks for reading,


Upcoming Events where I’ll speak or perform music:

Fundraiser for Dave Loebsack

Friday, September 22

The Mill, 120 E Burlington St, Iowa City

6:00 PM

Contact Jennifer at (319)351-3283

Meet the Candidate Fundraiser for Alek Wipperman

Saturday, September 23

Civic Center inside City Hall, Waverly

7-9 PM

Contact Kate at (612)554-6505

Audubon County Dems Fall Festival

Sunday, September 24

Nathaniel Hamlin Park, Audubon

4 PM

Contact: Bob (712)268-5357

Rally in support of Declaration of Peace

Monday, September 25

Nollen Plaza, Des Moines

12:30 PM

Contact Brian at (515)255-8114

Adair County Democrats Fundraiser

Tuesday, September 26

Brass Lantern, 2446 Highway 92 E, Greenfield

6:30 PM

Contact Jay at (641)743-2838

Fundraiser for Sally Vitamvas and other local Democratic candidates

Friday, September 29

Pottawattamie County Democratic Party headquarters, 500 E Broadway, Council Bluffs

6:30 PM

Contact Sally at (712)525-9137

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who do you trust with your financial security? Not Nussle.

I just saw a TV ad by Nussle attacking Culver that says that you can't trust Culver with your financial security. When the ad was over, I had to head to my kitchen and make sure that Nussle didn't sneak in and steal my kitchen sink.

What is Nussle thinking? When he took over as House Budget Chair we had record surplusses and now we are seeing record deficits. Nussle thinks that borrow and spend is the answer. Now every American, including my 3 week old nephew, owes $28,374.37 on our national debt. Who do you trust with your financial security?

Tell Harkin to stand firm Against Warrantless Wiretapping

I got this letter in an email this morning. The Senate is debating the Warrantless Wiretapping issue and it is very important that they Senate doesn't give in and grant Bush the Presidential Authority that he doesn't have. I have covered this issue over at Iowa for Feingold here, here, and here. Here is the email...

The NSA spying bills are making their way through the Senate. Senator Specter has sponsored a bill that legalizes Bush's lawless surveillance of American citizens, but he has also co-sponsored a bill that, according to the ACLU, restores the rule of law. Both bills were reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. The good man from Pennsylvania is a bit confused, it seems.

The bad bill is S.2453. It would give Bush the option of getting court approval to spy on American citizens. The good bill is S.3001. Under it, the President would still have to go through the FISA court to spy on us. A third, bad bill passed through committee as well: S.2455. The ACLU's press release summarizes the three bills.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid has vowed to do everything necessary to stop the whitewash bills, including a filibuster- see this blog post by activist and attorney Glenn Greenwald.

That means we have to get Tom Harkin's back, and quickly. The right wing has probably already got a call-in effort underway to scare Harkin and Democrats into allowing the whitewash bills to pass the Senate.

Call Tom Harkin's office, and tell him to use all means necessary to block S.2453 and S.2455, and to support the Specter-Feinstein bill, S.3001. It's important to state your support for a filibuster, if that's what it takes to prevent a rubber-stamping of the assault on civil liberties.

It's a bit confusing to name all these bills, but it is necessary. If you tell Harkin to oppose "the Specter NSA bill," it may not be clear which one you mean. Call, and then follow up with an e-mail. And, of course, LTTEs are much needed as well!
And here is Harkin's contact information:

731 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3254 Phone
(202) 224-9369 Fax
(202) 224-4633 TDD

210 Walnut Street
Room 733, Federal Building
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 284-4574 Phone

Here is a video on Domestic Spying that asks what are the checks on Presidential Power.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Is the War on Terror really WWIII?

Radloff has a great post from Friday that asks if the War on Terror is really WWIII. It is well worth the read. Here is a piece of it...

The sad part is that the War on Terror is not by our choosing - it was foisted upon us rather violently on 9/11 - but the vast majority of casualties are now coming from the war in Iraq, a war we started. Even President Bush now admits that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of 9/11. (Anyone remember Osama bin Laden?)

I support our troops, but I do question our leaders. Do we need to defend ourselves against terrorists? You betcha! Do we need to stretch our military thin in Iraq while Iran and South Korea are rattling their sabers? Hmmm...

Lakoff on Avoiding the Centrist Trap

I read this article by George Lakoff this morning and it has some good information. I want to focus on what Lakoff says about moving to the center. I have written about this topic here, here, and here. Check out what Lakoff has to say about it...

7. The Centrist Trap

There is a common belief that there is an ideological "center"--a large group of voters either with a consistent ideology of their own or lined up left to right on the issues or forming a "mainstream," all with the same positions on issues. In fact, the so-called center is actually made up of biconceptuals, people who are conservative in some aspects of life and progressive in others. Voters who self-identify as "conservative" often have significant progressive values in important areas of life. We should address these "partial progressive" biconceptuals through their progressive identities, which are often systematic and extensive.

A common mistaken ideology has convinced many progressives that they must "move to the right" to get more votes. In reality, this is counterproductive. By moving to the right, progressives actually help activate the right's values and give up on their own. In the process, they also alienate their base.

We don't need politicians that speak to the center, we need politicians that speak to the people about their shared values and who aren't afraid stand up for their beliefs.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Watch out Chet, the Boogeyman is Catching up!

I guess the Iowa Liberal Blogsphere was all wrapped in Harkin Steaky Fry-ness that they failed to mention the latest poll in the Des Moines Register on the Governor's race. Thanks to Krusty for posting first.

A new Des Moines Register poll shows Democrat Chet Culver and Republican Jim Nussle are tied, 44 percent to 44 percent, among likely voters at this stage of the statewide contest.

Ready to break the unusual tie are the 10 percent of Iowans who say they definitely will vote in the Nov. 7 election but are undecided on a candidate at this point.
Here's an interesting site that shows the trends in past polls on the race. Both candidates have been rising at about the same rate until August when Culver has fallen a bit and Nussle has picked up ground.

The poll also mentions that 16% of the people polled said they view Nussle as very unfavorably, while just 10% have the same opinion of Culver. As more people hear about the real Jim Nussle and hear about his abyssmal record in Washington, the more people that will be turned away.

The Register mentioned a similar poll back in 1998...
It was a much different story at this stage of the wide-open governor's race of 1998. Democrat Tom Vilsack trailed Republican Jim Ross Lightfoot by 20 points in a mid-September Iowa Poll. Vilsack came on strong at the end of the campaign and pulled out the victory.
As you can tell, a lot can change in the last 2 months. It is mid-September and it seems we are tied at 0-0.

Check out this post by Iowa Ennui for more discussion about the latest poll numbers.

Students for Culver Website

A person I know, who goes to the University of Iowa, has made a Students for Culver website. It is still a work in progress, but it has some good information on it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Happy Constitution Day!

Today is Constitution Day. I just got back from planning the lesson I am going to teach tomorrow for Constitution Day.

CSPAN has a video discussing the Constitution up on their website.

Here is an interactive Constitution page.

This site has some interesting videos about the Constition, including one called, "Domestic Spying: What are the checks on Presidential power?".

Press Citizen Coverage of Kerry Tailgating

Here is the Iowa City Press Citizen story about the fundraiser John Kerry did for Dave Loebsack yesterday in Iowa City. The event took place at a home in the middle of the tailgating for the Iowa-Iowa State football game.

I would love to know if Kerry actually did that beer bong, but he did have this to say about the game.

Sen. John Kerry had his assessment of the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry ready as he met with media and football fans at a tailgate party Saturday morning.

"I know Iowa is ahead in the rivalry," he said before Iowa defeated Iowa State 27-17 at nearby Kinnick Stadium. "It's a big rivalry, second only to congressional Republicans against prosecutors."

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mark Warner's Crashing the Harkin Steak Fry

The Harkin Steak Fry is this Sunday and the main speaker is Barak Obama. The main program also includes Tom Vilsack, Chet Culver, and other candidates running for office in Iowa. Mark Warner decided to attend the event, so he will be speaking at a pre-program. Warner has a full schedule of events on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Here they are...

Senator Tom Harkin's Steak Fry

Warren County Fairgrounds
Hwy 92 West
Indianola, IA

Election Day Count Down Party
Zimm’s Restaurant
3124 Ingersoll Ave.
Des Moines, IA

Speech to the
Greater Des Moines Partnership
7:30am -9:00am
Des Moines Club
666 Grand Avenue, 33rd Floor
Des Moines, IA
Cost: $25 for Partnership Members, $30 for Non-members

Event for the Wapello County Democrats
Fox and Sac Room
Hotel Ottumwa
107 E Second Street
Ottumwa, IA

Lee County Democrats
Office Opening
703 Avenue G
Ft. Madison, IA

Des Moines County Democratic Steak Fry
5:30pm- 7:30pm
Port of Burlington
200 Front Street
Burlington, IA
Suggested Ticket Price: $15

Breakfast for State Rep. Nate Reichert

Maid-Rite Diner (South)
1033 Hershey Ave.
Muscatine, IA 52761
Suggested Contribution: $25

Event for the Johnson CountyLegislative Delegation
Iowa River Power Co Restaurant
501 1st Ave.
Coralville, IA
Suggested Contribution: $25

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Selden Spencer Media Day

Today is going to be Selden Spencer media day. Over the past week I have found a video clip on You Tube from Spencer's speach at the Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair from last month. I also found a radio interview of Dr. Spencer. The interview goes pretty in depth and is a good chance to hear about where he stands on the isssues straight from the candidates own mouth.

Check out the video from State Fair here.

Here is an mp3 of the radio interview .

Then show some support for Dr. Spencer by visiting his website and drop him a little cash if you are able to.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Please vote in the new poll

I posted a new poll last night. It is located in the sidebar on the righthand side of the page. It will run through the rest of the month. Here is the question...

How many of Iowa's 5 Congressional Districts will be held by Democrats after this year's elections?

If you want to make any predictions, please post them in the comments here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Daily Show Asks if We are Safe

Here is a clip of Monday's episode of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Stewart asks where's bin Laden now and then discusses a quote from Bush from last month where Bush said, "America is safer than it has been, but it is not yet safe."

The segment ends with the Stewart asking the correspondent, John Oliver, to sum it up and Oliver responds...

George W. Bush is the right man to lead us into the era of post-whatever horrible calamity he leads us into next.
Here's the clip from Crooks and Liars.

Monday, September 11, 2006

John Kerry to tailgate at Iowa-Iowa State Football Game

John Kerry will be in Iowa City on Saturday, September 16th at 9:30 to hold a fundraiser for Dave Loebsack. The event will take place at the home of Doug and Amy Moore, 77 Olive Court, Iowa City. The suggested donation at the door will be $25.00. Olive Court is a prime tailgating location and Saturday is day of the Iowa - Iowa St. football game. I wonder if Kerry will be wearing black and gold striped overalls and playing tippy cup.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Report from the Johnson County Democrats BBQ

I had a great time at the Johnson County Democrats BBQ. The event was very well attended and it is lucky the Hawks pulled out the victory or the speakers would have faced a tough crowd. The first speaker at the event was Mike Mauro, who squeezed in some remarks during a commercial break. Mauro stressed three things: making voting easy, making voting accessable, and insuring safety and integrity in our elections. I will be shocked if Mauro is defeated in November.

Once the game was over the program began. After the introductions of the local candidates the Nussle Hussle dancers debuted with a special guest appearence from Gov. Vilsack. They put on a pretty good show.

Then it was time for the speakers. First up was Dave Loebsack. This was my first time meeting Loebsack and I was very impressed. He spoke about trade agreements, the mess that is Medicare Part D, and the need for Universal Health Care. He left giving 1 campaign promise. When elected, he will never leave behind those that need our help.

Loebsack then introduced CT Senator Chris Dodd. Dodd came out saying that this Connecticut Yankee has recieved a warm welcome in Iowa. Dodd's theme was community. He said Americans need to come together as one community and we can achieve amazing things when we work together. Dodd said that under Bush the theme has been "your on your own" and the greatest achievements by our country was achieved by working together as a community.

Dodd gave a good speech and he has a solid history of progressive stances on the issues. However, I think it will be hard for a Connecticut Yankee or a Northeat Liberal to be elected in 2008. I do hope he enters the race because we need more people out there pushing progressive issues.

Tom Vilsack was up next. Vilsack was very passionate and fired up. Maybe the Hawkeye game got him pumped up. Vilsack talked about how Johnson County Democrats have led the push for universal health care, education, and equal rights for gays. Vilsack added that it is this election that these issues are finally coming up.

Johnson County is a very progressive community. It is progressive ideas like universal health care, education, and equal rights that will lead this county forward. That is why we need Progressive candidates that are willing to fight for the underdog and not a DLC candidate who is afraid to take a stand because they might step outside the so-called center or upset the corporate interests.

The final speaker was Chet Culver. This was the first time hearing Culver since the primary. I have heard that Culver still needed some work on his stump, but after hearing him, I was impressed. His speech was very good and it was very clear that he has a plan. If I had a quarter for everytime he said that he has a plan, I could start my own Values Fund. Speaking of Culver's plan, I think his plan for education and renewable energy are great and those are my top 2 issues. Culver said that this election comes down to values. At this point, I was really hoping he would mention Nussle's lack of family values, but he didn't. Instead, Culver said that he was born in Iowa and has served in Iowa and leads with Iowa values. Nussle has served in Washington DC and would bring the Washington values of deficit, deceit, and cronyism to Iowa.

I was happy that I decided to make the trip for this event. I got the chance to hear some good speeches and I also met 2 bloggers and 2 regular posters on Democratic Underground.

For some more coverage and pictures check out John Deeth's blog.

Old Media Coverage of Johnson County Democratic BBQ

Here is the story about the Johnson County Democratic BBQ from the Iowa City Press Citizen. They pretty much hit the high points of the night.

They wrote about Vilsack being all fired up...

"Please, please do everything you can do, donate every penny you can," he said in remarks that ended with his dropping the microphone as he left the stage. "You can change a nation. If that isn't enough to fire you up, then you can go home."
And about Culver's best line of the night...

Culver also took shots at his Republican opponent Jim Nussle's recent change of opinion on abortion rights and tax credits. Culver also said Nussle favored many of President Bush's plans, including privatizing Social Security.

"Jim Nussle loves George Bush's idea of privatizing Social Security," Culver said. "Jim Nussle's idea of pension security is like Dick Cheney's idea of hunter safety."

I will write later and fill in with some more details, especially about Loebsack and Dodd's speeches.

And yes, John Deeth was there, so check out his blog for coverage.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Johnson County Democratic BBQ tonight

I am heading to the Johnson County Democratic BBQ in North Liberty tonight. Chet Culver, Tom Vilsack, Dave Loebsack, Michael Mauro, and Denise O'Brien will all be in attendance, along with some local candidates. Also coming is the lone Democratic Senator from Connecticut, Chris Dodd. It should be a great event. Unfortanately, there is no wireless access available, so it looks like I will be taking notes. Look for some posts tonight or tomorrow morning about the event. Since there is no wireless, I wonder if John Deeth is going to show up.

Friday, September 08, 2006

College Tuition and How to Get Young Iowans to Stay in Iowa

State 29 wrote this week about an article by David Yepsen concerning the increased enrollment at Iowa's colleges and univeristies. State 29 ended the post with this...

You want Iowa kids to attend school here and stay in Iowa? Get them into degrees that will keep them in Iowa: nursing, teaching, computer programming, agriculture, business, health care, engineering, and considering how many fatties are in Iowa I think a few more exercise science grads are in order.
State 29 fails to see the big picture. It takes more than just getting young people in college for them to stay in Iowa. Yepsen's article shows that they are going to college. However, young people decide if they want to stay in Iowa when they graduate from college and today our young people are finding themselves graduating with a ton of debt from student loans from tuition nearly doubling since 2000.

Let's say a young Iowan graduates with a degree in education and has $50,000 of debt from student loans. Will that person decide to get a job in Iowa and make $30,000 a year or will they go to Texas and make over $40,000. How about a nurse who graduates with $50,000 of student loan debt. They can choose to stay in Iowa and make $30,000 a year or go to Minneapolis or Kansas City and make $45,000. A pharmacy graduate with student loan debt can stay in Iowa and make $90,000 or head elsewhere and earn well over $100,000.

These people may like Iowa, but that extra money sure would help pay off the amount of student loan debt they have accumalated. What choice would you make?

Fallon: Put Education Ahead of Profit

I got an email from Ed Fallon on a subject that I have written about a few times (here, here, and here)... the rising cost of college education. Fallon writes...

The point is that Iowa’s college students are being nickled and dimed to death. With the surcharge, the average tuition and fees for a student at one of the three universities will be $6,079. Just six years ago, it was $3,155. The fact that tuition has nearly doubled while median income in Iowa has remained stagnant over the past six years makes it difficult for many young Iowans to pursue higher education. Our universities have been largely publicly funded since the state constitution was ratified in 1846. However, 2006 marks the first time in our history when student contributions through tuition and fees are greater than the percentage of public funding.

The other point is that these increases are a direct result of the Board of Regents and the Legislature valuing entrepreneurship over education.

It is critical to the future of our state universities that the Regents do not lose sight of their primary goals: education and research. It concerns me to think that some members of the Board of Regents and the Iowa Legislature would set those ideals aside to turn a profit for private enterprise.

Education is not about the creation of cogs in the corporate wheel. Our state universities are designed to be places of higher learning, intellectual stimulation and development of an informed populace to lead Iowa forward. Replacing those goals with job training, startup investment and private entrepreneurship will deny more young people access to the dream of a college degree while creating yet another conduit for the funneling of our tax dollars into the pockets of big business.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Political Wire writes about Loebsack

Political Wire has a post about Jim Leach facing the toughest challenge in his political career. Let's hope they are right.

Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) "may face the challenge of his political career," according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, noting a new internal Democratic poll showing that 64% of district voters "think the country is on the wrong track and fewer than 50 percent of them plan to vote for the long-term incumbent."

When asked if they would vote to re-elect Leach, 38% said yes, 23% said they would consider someone else and 25% said they would vote to replace him.

However, in a head-to-head matchup with challenger Dave Loebsack (D), Leach still leads 47% to 33%.
Check out Dave Loebsack's campaign website. Dave is finsishing up his walking tour and you can about it here. And send him some money if you are able to.

Jim Hightower and the Sensible Priorties Tour

Iowans for Sensible Priorities is sponsoring a tour with Jim Hightower with 5 events around the state. Hightower is very entertaining and knowledgable. I wish I could go. If he is in your area check it out.

September 7 - All events free and open to the public

Jim Hightower in Ames - Central Campus - Iowa State University Noon (Rain Location Great Hall, Memorial Union)

Jim Hightower in West Des Moines - Stillwell Junior High Auditorium 7:30pm

September 8th - All events free and open to the public

Jim Hightower in Cedar Falls - University of Northern Iowa - Mauker Union Ballroom Noon

Jim Hightower in Dubuque - Town Clock Plaza 3:00pm (Rain location NICC Professional Development Center)

Jim Hightower in Bettendorf - Veterans Memorial Park Bandshell 7:30pm

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Results of the August Straw Poll

Here are the results with 92 votes being tallied.

August Straw Poll: Who do you support for the Democratic Nomination for President in 08? April Results are in parenthesis.

1. Russ Feingold 29% (35%)
2. John Edwards 22% (12%)
3. Al Gore 12% (14%)
4. Tom Vilsack 9% (5%)
4. Wesley Clark 9% (-)
6. Mark Warner 5% (19%)
7. Hillary Clinton 4% (1%)
8. John Kerry 3% (2%)
9. Bill Richardson 3% (6%)
10. Joe Biden 2% (2%)
11. Evan Bayh 1% (4%)
12. Tom Daschle 0% (-)

The big winner is John Edwards, who jumped up 10% points. The biggest loser was Mark Warner who dropped 14%. Wesley Clark and Tom Daschle weren't included in April's poll. Clark did well getting 9% of the vote. Daschle didn't get any votes, so he might get replaced with Chris Dodd the next time around.

Looking at the big picture, the candidates with the most votes are the non-DLC candidates. 4 of the top 5 are non-DLC candidates. The highest vote getting DLC candidate is Vilsack.

How do the results compare to the number of visits each candidate has made to Iowa? Here is a look at how many trips the candidates have made to Iowa since Nov. 2004. 3 candidates have spent more than 10 days in Iowa. Edwards has been here the most and he got 2nd in the poll. Bayh has spent the 2nd most days in Iowa with 7 trips and spending 16 days in the state. With just 1%, the readers of this blog must not be very impressed with what they see. Biden has spent 12 days in Iowa, but most of them have been in the past couples weeks.

I will have another straw poll up in November following the election.

Sirota on Unions and the Working Class

I am reading Hostile Takover by David Sirota. The books is filled with information and is a great read. Yesterday, Sirota had an Op-Ed in the San Francisco Chronicle called "The War on Workers." Here is part of the article...

U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige labeled one "a terrorist organization." Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, called them "a clear and present danger to the security of the United States." And U.S. Rep. Charles Norwood, R-Ga., claimed they employ "tyranny that Americans are fighting and dying to defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan" and are thus "enemies of freedom and democracy," who show "why we still need the Second Amendment" to defend ourselves with firearms.

Who are these supposed threats to America? No, not Osama bin Laden followers, but labor unions made up of millions of workers -- janitors, teachers, firefighters, police officers, you name it.

Bashing organized labor is a Republican pathology, to the point where unions are referenced with terms reserved for military targets. In his 1996 article, headlined "GOP Readies for War With Big Labor," conservative columnist Robert Novak cheered the creation of a "GOP committee task force on the labor movement" that would pursue a "major assault" on unions. As one Republican lawmaker told Novak, GOP leaders champion an "anti-union attitude that appeals to the mentality of hillbillies at revival meetings."

The hostility, while disgusting, is unsurprising. Unions wield power for workers, meaning they present an obstacle to Republican corporate donors, who want to put profit-making over other societal priorities.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Selden Spencer blogging from Afghanistan

Dr. Selden Spencer is taking a break from campaigning and is in Afghanistan using his medical knowledge and learning first-hand about the situation in the Middle East and terrorism. While Spencer is in Afghanistan, he is blogging about his experiences. The entry on August 30th really sticks out. Spencer wrote:

“If We Could Just Do a Better Job of Providing the Basics, Our Presence Here and in Iraq Might Be More Tolerated, and Perhaps Even Welcomed.”

Here I am, disgruntled and aggravated over a few hours of lost power. Indeed, this is enough to make most Americans upset.

However, the residents in Kabul witness this on a regular basis – uncertainty is a fact of life. The residents work long hours at the hospital; they’re tired when they return home. They get home, and can’t count on light or power. They can’t count on cooking or studying. Stepping back from it all, it adds to a sense of vulnerability and victimization for the residents here in Kabul. It only adds to a sense of irritability on everyone’s part.

Here is an example from Iraq from an earlier post I made...
In February 2004 (1 year after the invasion) 88% of the homes in Iraq had electricity. This month (March 2006), just 55% of the homes have electricity.
Dr. Spencer sums up the situation pretty well: “If We Could Just Do a Better Job of Providing the Basics, Our Presence Here and in Iraq Might Be More Tolerated, and Perhaps Even Welcomed.”

Labor Day Cartoon

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Working Families Making Less and Less

From CNN...

Between 1995 and 2005, productivity -- a measure of the quantity and quality of what workers produce per hour -- grew 33.4 percent. But hourly wages rose only 11 percent, with almost all of that increase coming during the late 1990s, according to EPI.

Looking back even farther, the disparity is greater. Since 1979, productivity rose 67 percent, while wages rose only 8.9 percent.

"The economic expansion continues to bypass most working families," said EPI economist Jared Bernstein, a coauthor of the report.

And new college graduates also have seen a decline in wages, while tution and student loans have skyrocketed.
And among young college graduates, their entry-level wages have fallen since 2000 -- 79 cents per hour for men and 33 cents per hour for women.
When will the money start to trickle down to the rest of us?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lack of Leadership during Katrina

Busy weekend, so here is flashback to our so-called leader during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Watch the video from Crooks and Liars.

Sept. 2nd, 2005 - Bush: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

The truth (emphasis added is mine):

A June 8, 2004, New Orleans Times-Picayune article noted: "For the first time in 37 years, federal budget cuts have all but stopped major work on the New Orleans area's east bank hurricane levees." The article quoted the manager of the Army Corps of Engineers' Lake Pontchartrain levee project saying that "people should know that this is a work in progress, and there's more important work yet to do before there is a complete system in place." A Corps senior project manager added, "When levees are below grade, as ours are in many spots right now, they're more vulnerable to waves pouring over them and degrading them." And Jefferson Parish emergency management chief Walter Maestri told the paper: "It appears that the money [for hurricane-protection efforts] has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. ... Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
Remember, this guy is the person we are supposed to be looking to for leadership and we are stuck with him for 2 more years.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Lieberman Will Not Caucus with Democrats

Joe Lieberman has decided that he might not caucus with the Democrats if he is elected, rather wait and see if the Republicans can offer him better committee positions.

From Kos...

Lieberman is in it for himself. He'll caucus with whoever can offer him the best deal. He hasn't had any loyalties to the Democratic Party in a long time, and nothing has changed.
Democratic candidates are positioning themselves to win quite a few seats in the Senate and Lieberman's seat could end up being the tie breaker. Sheldon Whitehouse is looking good against Republican Lincoln Chaffee (who has a tough primary to win first) in Rhode Island. Bob Casey has been polling ahead of Rick Santourum for a long while now. Claire McCaskill is neck and neck with Republican Jim Talent in Missouri. Sherrod Brown is leading Republican Mike Dewine in Ohio by 6 points. In Montana, Jon Tester has been leading Republican Conrad Burns in polls. And just recently, Democrat James Webb has overtaken George Allen in Virginia. If those 6 seats go Democratic, then the Senate is 50-49 with Democrats winning control. If only 5 win then it is 50-49 Republican controlled. Lieberman's seat would then determine if the Senate is tied or which party controls the Senate.

There is only one way to avoid this sitation. That is to vote Democrats into the Senate. Ned Lamont is a Democrat and will serve the common American in the Senate. Joe Lieberman is in it only for himself and will serve whomever can give him a better offer.

For a more in depth at the Senate races this year, check out this DU Journal.

Here are some latest polling numbers.