Sunday, December 31, 2006

Party Like Dick Cheney

No really, it is New Year's Eve and you should party like Dick Cheney. Don't believe me, read this report by someone I know who attended the Vice President's Christmas Party this year.

A few random thoughts about the Christmas Party at the Vice President's House last night:

- Ok seriously, if the Cheney's can throw that kick-ass of a party, why can't the White House? I mean, the food, the booze, the guest list, all ten times better than the White House. Not that the WH party is bad, but the bar, both literally and figuratively, has definately been raised.

- Maybe its just that we associate height with power, but all of the military commanders are shorter than I thought. Rumsfeld: not short, but not as tall as I thought. General Pace: not a man of great physical stature (though i bet he could still kick my ass). General Hayden: short and shy.

- Dennis Hastert has been a politician for a looooooong time and Speaker of the House for what, six years? That was, by far, the most awkward conversation of the evening. Just found it odd that a person whose career is based off their ability to interact with people would be so awkward in one-on-one conversation.

- Um, don't grab the Secretary of Homeland Security. Just don't do it. I would have thought that would have been a no-brainer, but... apparently not so much.

- Were those not the classiest temporary bathrooms you have ever seen? And cinnamon altoids outside them? HELLO. again, white house, please take note.

So get out there and party like Dick Cheney, but please remember to not grab the Secretary of Homeland Security.

New Year's Eve Homework

I have been home all week. That meant I have had a lot of time online. Here are some good stories that I found...

"Creating a solid, long-term progressive majority means we have to go beyond just organizing around elections and move toward greater organizing efforts within non-elective ideological and legislative power structures. Our current deficit in many of those structures will inevitably cause a lot of problems for our new majorities, no matter how well conduct ourselves in terms of message, crafting legislation, conducting oversight, or maintaining a unified caucus. Even in a democracy, much of the basis of political power comes from non-elective sources. We overestimate our current power, underestimate the work that still needs to be done to forge a progressive America, and set ourselves up for massive disappointment and disengagement as a result, at our own peril."

Snowless Des Moines

I saw this Des Moines Register article a few days ago about the lack of snow we have had this month.

With just over three days left in December, Des Moines is on the verge of tying the all-time record lack of snow since weather recording began in 1884.

Des Moines has received 1/10 of an inch of snow this month based on measurements from the Des Moines International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

That’s the smallest snow measurement used by meteorologists. That's also how much snow was recorded in December of 1889 and again in 2002.
My wife helped with a wedding shower yesterday. The person who hosted it was worried that people wouldn't be able to come because she heard their was precipitation in the forecast and thought they would be a bad snowstorm. I said it was going to rain because, "You have to remember that global warming thing." She told me to get my nose out of those books.

You don't need your nose in a book to figure it out. All you have to do is leave your snowboots in doors and go outside and enjoy the 50 degree weather in December.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

So Saddam's Dead

Bush is happy...



Now can we have honest discussion about Iraq and finally bring our troops home?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Some Final Thoughts on the Immigration Raids

It has been a couple weeks since the immigrations raid here in Marshalltown. Right after the raids took place, I wrote a lot about it.

Since then I have had some time to step back and think more about it and talk to people about the issue. I understand that illegal immigrants are illegal and have broken the law. However, I have two problems with the raids. First, the timing of the raids was not good. It took place less than 2 weeks before Christmas. Disrupting families at this time is disapointing. If the raids would have taken place sometime in January, I would have felt better about it. Second, it seems that Swift and Co. will be getting off without any consequences. If Swift and Co. wasn't hiring people who are here illegally, then illegal immigrants would not be here.

Finally, here is a story about the generousity and compassion that took place after the raids. I know someone who volunteered at St. Mary's Church here in Marshalltown the week after the raids. Someone rang the doorbell to the rectory. When the door opened, the man asked, 'if this was the church that is helping all of those Mexicans?" The volunteer wasn't sure if the man was angry or what. She said yes, this is the church. The man said that he heard the priest of the church on the radio and decided he needed to help. He drove over 2 hours from a small town in southern Iowa to get here. He then pulled out his wallet and started counting out $50 bills. I am not sure how much he gave, but it was a significant amount. The volunteer at the church thanked him and asked the man his name. The man said to just say that it is a gift from Steve King.

Videos of the Edwards Event

I have found a couple videos of the Edwards event yesterday in Des Moines. I will continue to update this thread if I find more.

Josh Brown of Iowa for Edwards has video of the speech, as well as Edwards' talking about poverty from the blogger's meeting that took place beforehand.

Jake Ludington also has video of the entire blogger's meeting. The first question you hear is from Chris at Political Forecast. I was there, but not on the video.

Draft Obama Ad to Air in Des Moines

From the Gazette Online...

DES MOINES, IA - A television commercial aimed at convincing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to seek the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination will have a brief and limited run in Iowa on New Year's Day, according to the volunteer-based DraftObama.org group.

Kris Schultz, a spokeswoman for the grassroots movement of 16,000 volunteers pushing an Obama presidential run, said her group made a "modest ad buy" to air the 60-second "Believe Again" spot on major network affiliates in the Des Moines market only next Monday morning.

DraftObama.org is targeting its effort in Iowa because of its lead-off position in the 2008 presidential selection process, she said. But, because the group is fully comprised of volunteers, it could not afford to take the message to the Eastern Iowa media market at this time, she added.

"We hope to continue to find ways to expand our message," added Schultz, who noted the goal of purchasing media time in Iowa is to send a hopeful message to Iowa caucus-goers.

"Putting the ad on TV in Iowa on New Year's Day is our humble way of asking potential Iowa caucus-goers to encourage Senator Obama to run for president," said Ben Stanfield, DraftObama.org founder. "We're so excited to be sharing the nation's first 2008 campaign ad with the nation's first caucus state."
Here's the ad on YouTube...



The ad isn't bad. It does a good job introducing what Obama stands for. If anything it is a little long.

When You Think Things Can't Get Worse for Bush

There's this from Joe Scarborough...

It's never a good sign when you're out-polled by Lucifer.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Report from Edwards Event Today

I just got home from the John Edwards Townhall Meeting in Des Moines. As a blogger, I was able to attend a pre-meeting with Edwards prior to the Town Hall meeting. There were 11 bloggers there and John came and talked for about 10 min. Chris of Poltical Forecast asked about how Vilsack entering the race affected the Iowa Caucuses. Edwards said that Vilsack is popular and should be, but he feels he knows the caucus goers here pretty well. He answered a couple other questions and then went to get ready for the Townhall meeting. I made my way down to the ground floor of Historical Building. The crowd was huge, with people lined up the staircase and standing on the 2nd floor.

I made my way around the crowd and found myself along the side in the press section. I was in a group of people and was told that we had to move out of the walkway because of firecode. Then one of the volunteers, that I had met earlier, said that I was part of the media (because I was a blogger) and I could stay. That was pretty cool. I had a prime spot on the side of the stage and was just a few feet from O. Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa, Mike Glover of the AP, the KCCI TV Camera, and a reporter from the Des Moines Register. Being part of all the real media reminded me of what Kos said on this YouTube video.

Edwards was introduced and made his way to the stage. I couldn't quite hear what the intro music was, but some was playing (edit: It was Times Like These by the Foo Fighters). Edwards began by asking people to participate and stayed on that theme throughout the event. Edwards said, "We need to bring about the change this country and Iowa needs." He said this cause begins with the grassroots and he wants people to hear our voice and Edwards wants to hear from you. It all depends on engagement and people getting involved. If a person didn't know that Edwards was running for President, they would have thought he was part of some community group asking for its members to volunteer.


Edwards talked about regaining the moral leadership in the world and that begins in Iraq. He said we need to make it clear we aren't staying in Iraq and the best way to do that is by leaving. He stressed that if we want to be moral leaders in the world, we must tell the truth to the world and to the American people. Edwards then said he was wrong for voting for this war, but he is accepting the responsibility for the vote. Bush and Cheney are responsible for the way the war has been handled.

Edwards ended by saying that the power is not in Washington, it is right here. He said, "we have to take the responsibilty. We have to take the action."


It was then time for questions from the audience. I didn't take notes on all of the questions, but he answered questions on Israel, Iran, Renewable Energy, and No Child Left Behind. There were 2 that did stick out. The first was on immigration, an issue that hit central Iowa this month. Edwards said that we have 3 options. First, we can pretend there is no problem. Second, we can try to find 11 million illegal immigrants and deport them. He said these first 2 options aren't resonable and that leaves only one option. We can secure our borders and then find a way that those people here can become citizens. Those immigrants that have been living here and following the laws need a way to become citizens.

The other question that stood out was on the national deficit. Edwards said that the deficit and balancing the budget requires some tough choices. He said that it is about priorities and in the short term his priorities would be on universal health care, renewable energy, poverty, and regaining the moral leadership in the world. He said he isn't going to promise to do this and cut taxes and balance the budget at the same time because that can't be done. This was an honest answer, but I think he could have handled it better. He could have mentioned that if he was president, we would not be spending millions of dollars a day in Iraq. He could have said we could repeal the Bush tax cuts and crack down on corporations that have moved their headquarters overseas.

As I walked into the event, Ed Fallon was there taking tickets and passing out literature. I was surprised to see Ed there because I didn't think he would be get behind a candidate so early. Edwards' them is similar to the theme of Fallon's campaign for Governor in the primary: stressing universal health care and fighting for the underdog. During the event, Ed was sitting right behind the stage. Getting Fallon's support is a big gain for Edwards.


Overall, I was impressed with Edwards' honesty. His answers weren't read from a script. He took his time to think through the questions and then he gave you his best answer. That part was refreshing. Also, his call for action is one needed and one you are not likely to see from other candidates. In the end, if Edwards wins the nomination and becomes President, I don't think he will think he ran a successful campaign if the only thing people do is vote for him.

Edwards walked off the stage while Mellencamp's Our Country and then John Mayer's Waiting for the World to Change played.

**Update**
O Kay Henderson has her recap posted on the Radio Iowa blog. She had the event taped, so has direct quotes.

Obama: Escalation is not the Answer

Since I don't want today to be all Edwards, here is part of an email from Barak Obama called Escalation is not the Answer. Obama, who opposed the war in 2002, says...

Now we are faced with a quagmire to which there are no good answers. But the one that makes very little sense is to put tens of thousands more young Americans in harm's way without changing a strategy that has failed by almost every imaginable account.

In escalating this war with a so-called "surge" of troops, the President would be overriding the expressed concerns of Generals on the ground, Secretary Powell, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and the American people. Colin Powell has said that placing more troops in the crossfire of a civil war simply will not work. General John Abizaid, our top commander in the Middle East, said just last month that, "I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future." Even the Joint Chiefs of Staff have expressed concern, saying that a surge in troop levels "could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda" and "provide more targets for Sunni insurgents." Once again, the President is defying good counsel and common sense.

Why John Edwards Changes Everything

Bob Geiger has a good story on Huffington Post about John Edwards' announcement for President today. With all of the talk about Hillary and Obama, Geiger explains why Edwards changes everything...

And why exactly would I say something like that when we're not even out of 2006?

To begin with, Americans are bone-tired of disliking and disrespecting their president and, I believe, are unusually anxious to begin the presidential season to, if nothing else, give them the feeling that a change is coming sooner than later. People hungered for a change in the Congress and made it happen -- now that strong desire to take out the trash moves to the executive branch of government.

Second, Edwards is starting his campaign in an interesting way by making it not about him personally, but about the problems of the world, the loss of global American prestige, our domestic strife and the extent to which his campaign is about getting people to make change now and not wait for the actions of a newly-elected president.

"We want people in this campaign to actually take action now, not later, not after the next election," said Edwards this morning. "Instead of staying home and complaining, we're asking Americans to help."

Finally, many people, including yours truly, believed in hindsight that Edwards would have defeated Bush in 2004 had he been at the top of the Democratic ticket. Edwards was undeniably a more engaging personality than John Kerry and with so much of the vote driven by sheer disgust with Bush, Edwards would have picked up Kerry's 49 percent of the vote and then some based purely on the likeability factor -- that's not the way a president should be chosen but, in our country, it just is.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Edwards in Des Moines on Thursday

I wrote last week that John Edwards will be in Des Moines on Thursday. The event is at the Iowa Historical Building at 4:30. You do need tickets for the event. The tickets are free and available at this website.

I am going to attend this event. Not sure if I will live blog there or just take notes. Check back tomorrow.

**Update**
It is looking like the event has been pushed back to 5:00 instead of 4:30. Also, the event in Des Moines is going to be shown live online at johnedwards.com.

The Cruelly Unpredictable Lightness of State 29

State 29 had a post yesterday called The Growing But Cruelly Unpredictable Lightness of Being about a woman who has come upon some hard times. State 29 questioned the cruel unpredictable economy the story refers to by saying...

What's this "cruelly unpredictable economy" BS that Dorman interjects into the story? The unemployment rate in Iowa is something like 3.4% and, last I saw, anybody who could turn on a computer was guaranteed a relatively decent paying job.
First, I would like to know what you would consider a decent paying job.

As for the cruelly unpredictable economy, the woman was educated and making a living. Then she lost her job and could not find a job at similar pay. This underemployment is more and more common. This would be the cruel part.

The unpredictable part would be car repair bills, illnesses, etc. You never know when they will come about.

Finally, State 29 wonders why the woman doesn't move to Canada if she wants Universal Health Care. This is coming from the person that spouted off hate and racial remarks on the recent immigration raids.

Again, this advice from Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird might be helpful...
If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
(Note: I would have posted this as a comment to State 29's blog, but he does not allow comments. Feel free to post your comments here.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Who will be the people powered candidate in 2008?

Joe Trippi wrote a post on MyDD that discusses how the Dean campaign was built around the people and looks at the 2008 Presidential race...

The Dean campaign was different not because of ideology or because of opposition to the war -- but because it revolved around its supporters and empowered them. It was the only campaign in a long time that realized that the people were more important than the candidate.

James MacGregor Burns wrote "A transformational leader stands on the shoulders of his followers, expressing coherently those ideas which lie inchoate in the hearts of the followers -- and in the process makes his followers into new leaders."

Al Gore is doing this right now around the issue of Global Warming. Dean did it in 2004 for President. Who in 2008?

Mr. Loebsack's Ready to Go to Washington

Congressional Quarterly has a nice story on how Dave Loebsack won and what he has been up to since the election. Loebsack is definitely not sitting back and taking it easy.

Since winning on Nov. 7, Loebsack has met with chambers of commerce across the 2nd District and has held meetings with local residents from Ottumwa in the southern part of the district to Cedar Rapids in the north.

“I don’t want this to be a period when I’m somehow out of touch with people in the district,” Loebsack said. “After all, I’m going to Congress to represent them.”

Local observers say Loebsack’s series of constituent events is a smart way to raise his profile during the “honeymoon” period between his election and the start of the 110th Congress. As an academic from the northern part of the 2nd — which also includes strongly Democratic-leaning Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa — Loebsack needs to build his ties with the more rural and conservative voters, including some Democrats, in the southern part of the district.

Loebsack’s background may help him build a connection in less-affluent areas. He often relates that he grew up poor in a single-parent household in Iowa City with a mother who suffered from mental illness, but that he went on to receive a Ph.D in political science from the University of California at Davis.

“I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am had it not been for that hope and opportunity offered predominantly by the Democrats,” said Loebsack, who says he worked as a janitor to pay for college. “[Illinois Democratic Sen.] Barack Obama was here the Sunday before the election, talking about the ‘audacity of hope.’ But that’s what I had been talking about for the entire campaign.”

The last line of the story is a very good one for Democrats in the 2nd District...

“In terms of personalities, it’s not going to be a huge shift from Leach to Loebsack,” Squire said. “I think he just has to get people comfortable with the idea that after a very long period, we’ll have a Democrat representing this district.”

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dodd Calls for Iraq Withdrawl

Chris Dodd (D-CT) wrote in the Des Moines Register today that our troops should be redeplyed from Iraq. Dodd just returned from a trip to the Middle East. Here is what Dodd had to say about the need to withdrawl troops...

The time has come for the United States to begin the process of getting our troops out of Iraq.

In Baghdad last week, I joined in a conversation with a West Point graduate who is serving in Iraq. He said, "Senator, it is nuts over here. Soldiers are being asked to do work we're not trained to do. I'm doing work that State Department people are far more prepared to do in fostering democracy, but they're not allowed to come off the bases because it's too dangerous here. It doesn't make any sense."
Dodd then laid out a plan on how to redeploy the troops to better fight terrorism and protect American troops.
The proposal being considered by the administration to add between 15,000 and 30,000 soldiers in a "surge" of American troops will do nothing to address this issue. If anything, "surge" is a tactic in search of a strategy. How does it lead to victory? It won't solve any problems; it won't force the hands of Iraq's leaders; at best, it will simply be one more reason for delay - a delay that will be paid with American blood. That's a price our troops and our nation shouldn't be asked to pay any longer.

Instead, the president should announce in January that we will begin withdrawing and redeploying our troops - to the Syrian border, to stop the flow of terrorists; to the north of Iraq, to better train Iraqi security forces; to Qatar, to form a quick-strike force if necessary to defend our vital interests; to Afghanistan, to resume the hunt for Osama bin Laden; and for those who have already over-extended their tour of duty by one or two years - home. If the Iraqis don't demonstrate the political will to unite, we should begin this process - in consultation with our military leadership - of reducing troop levels within weeks, not months.

We should then undertake a new American policy of intense diplomatic and political engagement with the entire Middle East.

New Poll in New Hampshire

There is a new poll out in New Hampshire. From Political Wire...

In a New Hampshire presidential primary, a new Research 2000 poll shows that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) leads the pack of potential 2008 candidates in the Democratic race with 22%. However, she's closely followed by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) at 21%, John Edwards (D) at 16% and Al Gore at 10%.
Again, I am surprised about how well Barack Obama is doing and have to ask if he is just treading on hype. Clinton isn't running away with the nomination as the media wanted you to believe she would. Edwards is polling well. New Hampshire is believed to his weakest state out of Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada. No Kerry or Biden or Dodd, all Northeasterner's that would need to do well in New Hampshire to get off the ground.

I think most surprising, though, is Al Gore at 10%. Gore hasn't made any of the moves the other candidates have and is polling well in both New Hampshire and Iowa. It would really shake things up if Gore got into the race.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

George Lakoff's Thinking Points

George Lakoff has put out an online book called Thinking Points. Thinking Points outlines a progressive vision that is framed around progressive morals and principles. It is well worth the time checking out.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Democrats Beat Republicans in Latest Iowa Poll

The latest Iowa poll that had Edwards and Obama tied for the top spot also polled matchups of potential nominees from each party. Here are the results of the hypothetical matchups...

Obama 42, McCain 39
Obama 43, Giuliani 38
Obama 43, Romney 28

Edwards 42, McCain 39
Edwards 42, Giuliani 38
Edwards 41, Romney 29

McCain 43, Clinton 37
McCain 43, Kerry 38
McCain 41, Gore 39

Giuliani 39, Clinton 35
Giuliani 38, Kerry 34
Giuliani 36, Gore 34

Vilsack 41, McCain 35
Vilsack 42, Giuliani 35
Vilsack 45, Romney 28

Clinton 40, Romney 30
Kerry 33, Romney 30
Gore 34, Romney 28

Summarizing these results: Obama, Edwards and Vilsack beat every Republican. Hillary loses to every Republican but Romney. Romney loses to every Democrat. McCain runs slightly better than Giuliani matching up against most of the Dem field.

This poll looks like Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare in that it clearly reinforces the biggest knock against her which is that she can't win the general election.

Edwards and Obama Leading in New Iowa Poll

John Edwards and Barack Obama are leading in a new KCCI/Research 2000 poll in Iowa. Both are tied at 22%. Tom Vilsack is 3rd at 12% and Hillary Clinton is next at 10%. Check out John Deeth for an interesting take on the numbers, calling the poll a 3-way tie (I also agree with John about Al Gore's 7% being amazing considering that he has done next to nothing to indicate he is running).

The numbers are basically where I thought they would be, except for Obama. I expected Obama to be in the mid teens at this point. Considering that his name recognition isn't as good as the other candidates, he is ready to pull away and become the front runner, or he is just riding the hype right now. Obama better have gotten Sen. Harkin a nice Christmas gift for letting him speak at this year's Harkin Steak Fry. Harkin has gotten behind Vilsack, but Obama's benefitted from his appearence at the Steak Fry. Obama was introduced to a large portion of Iowa activists at the event and outshone Vilsack. The exposure at the Steak Fry might have pushed Obama to the front of the pack in Iowa.

**Update**
Here's MyDD's take on the poll.

Reappoint Head of DNR Jeff Vonk

From the Rapid Response network...
Stand up for Vonk's Reappointment!
Governor-Elect Culver has already begun appointing some directors of state agencies, and it’s not looking good for Jeff Vonk as head of the DNR. Since he has been appointed, Vonk has learned a lot about the issues we care about, and he has taken some important steps towards protecting the environment (like the Water Protection Rule) and supported local control. Many of you have voiced your desire to support his reappointment. Here’s what you can do:
Ø Write your own letter to Culver asking him to appoint Vonk and stop considering candidates that would expand factory farming and hurt the environment. Send it to the address below or e-mail it to chet.culver@iowa.gov.
I wonder if any of this stems from Patty Judge's less than stellar environmental record as Sec. of Agriculture. There may have been tensions between her office and Vonk at the DNR. I don't have any evidence if that is the case, but it makes you wonder.

Vilsack Interview with Rolling Stone

Tom Vilsack was recently interviewed by Rolling Stone. Most of the interview was about Iraq and he was also asked about ethanol. Here is the question that I thought was most interesting...

RS: You’re the chair of the arch-centrist DLC. Does that make it hard for you to tap into the energy of the Netroots that propelled an underdog like Howard Dean?

Vilsack: One issue that I have that will be appealing particularly to the folks of the Netroots is the issue of energy security. If we truly want this country to be strong and secure we need to be less reliant on foreign energy and regimes that want to do us harm. We need to create whole new industries, a whole new economy around energy security and we also have the opportunity to reclaim the moral high ground on issues of climate change and global warming and climate security which we clearly lost when we walked away from Kyoto.

Robo Calls Come A Callin'

There has been a study that shows that 2 out of 3 Americans of registered voters recieved Robo Calls from political candidates in the 2006 election. From Reuters...

"Direct mail can go from the mailbox to the wastebasket, but with a robo-call at least you've picked up the phone," said Pew Director Lee Rainie. "The chance of capturing even a sliver of people's attention is somewhat greater, I would guess."

Phone calls from actual human beings were less common, the survey found. Sixty-four percent of registered voters surveyed said they had received a robo-call before the last election, while 24 percent said they had received a political call from a live person.

Republicans were more likely than Democrats or independents to receive robo-calls, the survey of 2,562 people found.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Where's Everyone Going?

With Evan Bayh recently dropping out of the 2008 presidential race and Mark Warner and Russ Feingold doing the same earlier, the list of candidates is getting smaller and smaller. Usually, it is Iowans that are allowed to narrow the field during the caucuses, but the candidates are doing it themselves. The Quad Cities Times takes a look at why.

But the combination of rock stars (U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill.), a favorite son (Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack) and a well-thought-of cousin (ex-U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina) may be making it tough for presidential aspirants not as well situated to wonder whether they can grab one of the three tickets traditionally available to candidates wanting to make the trip out of Iowa and the caucuses to New Hampshire and the first primary election.

“There’s a perception out there that there’s going to be heavy hitters with better name recognition in the race,” said Rob Tully, vice chairman of the state Democratic Party and an Edwards backer.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Big Edwards Event in Des Moines Next Week

I wrote earlier today that John Edwards is going to officially announce his candidacy for President next week. He will be making the announcement in New Orleans and then on Thursday, Decemeber 28th, he will be in Des Moines for an event.

Here are the details...

John Edwards Event
Thursday, December 28th
Iowa Historical Building
600 E. Locust
Des Moines, Iowa
Doors open at 4:30 PM

Loebsack Holding Press Conference on Thursday

Dave Loebsack will be holding a press conference tomorrow at the Iowa City Public Library at 3:00.

Loebsack plans on talking about the priorities of the new Democratic controlled Congress which include making college more affordable by cutting student-loan interest rates in half
, lowering the cost of prescription drugs by directing Medicare Part D officials to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for better prices, repealing tax breaks and other multi-billion dollar subsidies for Big Oil and invest in alternative sources of energy, and raising the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

Here is the information on the press conference...

TELL CONGRESS TO CHANGE AMERICA NOW!
www.cancampaign.org/cangram

If you live in the Second Congressional District, please use this opportunity to thank your newly elected representative, Dave Loebsack, for pledging his support to the Change America Now agenda. On Thursday December 21, Rep.-elect Loebsack will join ICAN, AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), and other Iowa groups involved in Change America Now at a press conference to launch the campaign. The press conference will be held at the Iowa City Public Library, and will begin at 3 pm.

A final thought: isn’t it nice to be fighting for something that’s really positive and rooted in our values – and that can actually get passed in the Congress – instead of just saying “No” to the latest atrocious policy to come out of the Bush administration?

If you would like more information on the Change America Now campaign, or want to know how you can help, please contact ICAN.

In solidarity,

The ICAN staff

*****

Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN)

3520 Beaver Avenue

Des Moines , IA 50310

515.277.5077

ICAN@iowacan.org

Looks Like Edwards is Running

In case you haven't heard John Edwards is planning on officially entering the Presidential race next week with an announcement coming from New Orleans. Now when I first heard that Edwards was planning on announcing his candidacy in New Orleans, I said great another politician using a tragic situation for their own gain. However, when I thought more about it, John Edwards is probably the only candidate that could pull this off. Edwards has been raising awareness of the poverty in our country and Katrina thrust the issue into the living rooms of many Americans.

Edwards is near the top of my list of candidates in 2008. I heard him speak at a fundraiser over the summer and was very impressed with his passion and conviction. He not only asked you for support, but asked you to believe in something. I look forward to hearing more from Edwards in Iowa.

I will leave you with an interesting article from MyDD comparing Edwards and Robert F. Kennedy and their campaign strategies.

Consider, RFK was originally a somewhat nuanced supporter of the Vietnam war, who by 1968 became a strong critic and called for withdrawal.

Similarly, John Edwards voted for the Iraq war, and now says his vote was a mistake, and that the United States needs to withdraw.

RFK was originally a moderate on civil and labor rights, who became an activist as the civil rights and labor movements exploded in the late sixties. While the earlier incarnation of RFK reluctantly assented to FBI investigation of Martin Luther King, the latter version marched with Cesar Chavez for Latino farmworkers and chaired Senate hearings which supported minorities and labor.

And while John Edwards was originally a moderate in the Senate from North Carolina, he has now come to be a forceful voice against poverty, criticizing corporations such as Wal Mart and calling for significant changes in the structure of US society to combat poverty and make society more equitable.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Vilsack Not Half Bad on The Daily Show

I was impressed with Governor Vilsack's appearence on The Daily Show last night. Vilsack began by giving Jon Stewart a gift, which turned out to be an Aflac duck. Vilsack told Stewart that when it came to duck humor, he wasn't going to duck the issue.

A lot of the talk was on Iraq and I thought Vilsack held his own. He had a good talking point when he said that "we have created a culture of dependency with our presence there". Then he had, what I thought was a bad quote, when he said that Iraqi's "must fight for it and die for it". Overall, Vilsack held his own and made a good introduction to a large group of people. Here is video from Drew Miller...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Vilsack on The Daily Show Tonight... For Real This Time

Vilsack is really on the Daily Show tonight. Last week, I posted that he was going to be on the show on Thursday.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

State 29 and I Actually Agree on Something: Part 2

Well, sort of...

State 29 has a post today called More Anti-War Stories in the Register. State 29 says...

I still believe that people want to read something other than "soldier dies" and "mom is pissed off at war" stories. This shit's gotten so old.
I totally agree that the war and occupation in Iraq has gotten so old and so do a majority of Americans.

That is why our troops need to be redeployed out of harms way. Then we will be able to better focus our resources on fighting terrorism instead of playing referee in a bloody Civil War.

Building on the Progressive Victory

I found a great article by George Lakoff on Common Dreams called Building on the Progressive Victory. I recommend reading the entire article as it outlines the tug of war going in the Democratic Party between Centrists and Progressives and shows how progressive candidates won in the 2006 elections. Here is part of the article...

In this election, those candidates who defined themselves by arguing progressive positions activated the progressive worldview in those voters who had both worldviews available. In short, the so-called "moderate" Democrats talked to their "moderate" voters with the same morally grounded progressive arguments they used with their progressive base. They did not talk up all the progressive positions. But they talked up progressive positions they really held, positions that in most cases signal an identity as a Democrat.

What does this say about what the direction of the Democratic Party should be — and not be? It says that the Democratic Party should not be moving to the right on the positions its candidates ran on. Success as a party depends, instead, on having a clear moral vision and carrying it out. Right now, it is the progressive moral vision that has brought them electoral success and a mandate for change.

Does this mean that the Democratic Party, as a party, should endorse all progressive positions? That is something for the party to work out, and it will certainly answer no. But, the Democrats may well wind up advocating mostly progressive positions, though far from all of them.

Take the 100-hour agenda. It breaks into two parts, for the two aspects of progressive values, empathy and responsibility. The minimum wage, college loan interest, prescription drug prices, and stem cell research are all empathy issues: they are about caring about working people, young people, old people, and those with debilitating diseases. Lobbying reform, pay-as-you-go budgeting, and enacting the 9-11 Commission recommendations are all responsibility issues. What the progressives, blue dogs, and centrists can agree on are all instances of progressive values.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Good Bayh Evan

Evan Bayh announced this morning that he is not running for President in 2008. Hotline On Call had this interesting analysis on Bayh's decision...

Bayh's most recent trip to NH coincided with Barack Obama's first visit to the state. One wonders if the sudden rise of Obama spooked Bayh. The coverage of the two trips was, well, incomparable. A few months ago in Iowa, Mark Warner shared the stage with Obama at the Harkin Steak Fry. It was seen by some as a real eye-opener for Warner, who made the decision not to run a few weeks later.
Bayh said that there were "too many goliaths" in the race to overcome. Obama would definitely be one of those goliaths.

Out of the early contests, Iowa was probably his best chance. Bayh's hope was that he could come to Iowa as a midwesterner with a lot of experience and do well. When Tom Vilsack announced he was running that made Bayh's chances in Iowa slim. Bayh and Vilsack have simlar political stances, both once working as head of the DLC. Bayh had greater experience than Vilsack, but that wouldn't be enough to overtake the home field advantage that Vilsack has.

Bayh worked hard at building a base of support here in Iowa. He had 25 campaign workers from Camp Bayh in the state leading up to the 2006 elections. However, he lacked the ground game that John Edwards still has after the 2004 election.

In the end, Bayh realized he couldn't out muscle Edwards, out-centrist the hometown boy Vilsack, or outshine Obama.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Iowa Delegation Speaks Out On Immigration Raid

Here is what each member of the Iowa Delegation had to say about the immigration raids this week.

Most of the statements are pretty much what you would expect from a politician, except for Steve King's statement, which is pretty much what you would expect from Steve King. King makes it sound like all immigrants are here illegally. Then there is this line...

Children have been left behind when one or both parents were detained, and King said it’s possible some of those children are American citizens and should be cared for as citizens.
So King is basically saying if they are citizens then great, if not then we can treat them like cattle.

Harkin takes the civil rights angle. Latham and Grassley attempt to sound compassionate, while stressing the importance of enforcing our laws. Loebsack speaks about the complexity of the problem and the need for a multifaceted solution.

Braley and Boswell discuss placing consequences on the companies that employ illegal immigrants. Boswell's statement that he is interested in finding out why Swift employed so many illegals. I sure hope he does look into that. Braley nails it with this statement...
"Until employers realize that they will be held accountable for hiring undocumented workers, we will continue to have a problem with illegal immigration in the United States," Braley said.

State 29 and I Actually Agree On Something

State 29 has gotten over some of his anger and has written a good post that actually starts a discussion on how to solve the immigration issue. State 29 says...

If Swift faced a $100,000+ fine for every illegal alien employed by their company, they'd change their hiring practices. Wouldn't they? These raids can't be cheap to manage.
As I wrote in this post, companies see immigrants as a cheap source of labor. If the practice of hiring illegals wasn't so cheap anymore it would stop. If there wasn't jobs here for them then the immigrants wouldn't be coming.

And not surprisingly, after the immigration raids this week, Swift had no charges or fines filled.
No charges were filed against Swift. President and CEO Sam Rovit has said the company has never knowingly hired illegal workers and does not condone the practice.
Fining the companies who hire illegal immigrants is not the only solution to the issue, but it would be a start. Couple this with tighter border security (Sorry Congressman King, a fence is not needed) and trade policies that put people ahead of profit, we will have a comprehensive solution to the immigration issue.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Is Harkin Vulnerable in 2008?

Chuck Todd put out a list of the Top 10 Most Vulnerable Senate Seats in 2008. Iowa's Tom Harkin comes in at #8. Here is what Todd had to say about Harkin...

Iowa (Democrat Tom Harkin): GOP Rep. Steve King sounds like he wants to run, but the ghosts of former Reps. Greg Ganske, Jim Ross Lightfoot, and Tom Tauke are surely giving him pause. Still, some serious Iowa Republican will see all the national press and feel the need to fill the vacuum and take advantage of the potential fundraising boon a presidential contest can provide. The ideal move for incoming NRSC Chair John Ensign (Nev.) would be to buck the trend of recruiting sitting/former House members and convince former GOP Gov. Terry Branstad to come out of retirement.
I really do hope that King runs. That would be an exciting campaign and a sure victory for Harkin. I think it would be a major get if Branstad would run and I think a Harkin/Branstad race would be closer than a Harkin/King race. However, after the populist undertones of the 2006 elections, I think Harkin will be hard to beat with his populist message.

Vilsack On The Daily Show Tonight

Radio Iowa is saying that Tom Vilsack will be the guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight.

The Reason Behind Immigration

I think this comment from the Des Moines Register website really shows the conditions at meat packing plants in this country now and why immigrants are filling those jobs.

25 years ago I worked at Swift. It was the companies wish to bust the Unions and pay lower wages with immigrants that has turned a good paying middle class job into a low paying job. Bush and company continually say that illegals do the jobs regular Americans don't want. It is the Republicans that have decimated the middle class by lowering the standard of living for "regular Americans". Democrats aren't completely clean on this issue either, but it is the greed of the corporate Republicans that have drove this country down toward the lower economic societies of Mexico and India.

What Swift pays their workers now, I was getting paid 25 years ago. And the benefits are practically non-existant compared to 25 years ago. It's not that Americans don't want to do this type of work, it's that Americans don't want to work for what could be considered "slave wages" compared to 20-25 years ago. How hard is this to comprehend?

It isn't that Americans won't do certain jobs. They just won't do them for low wages and poor benefits. It is basic economics. Americans don't want to work in a meat packing plant for $12 an hour, so the company needs to provide a wage that would make the job more attractive. Instead, the company has found a way around the system and found a source of cheap labor.

When I was younger, a person work at Swifts and be part of the middle class. Today, that is no longer the case. Is that the fault of the immigrants that are coming here, the companies paying the low wages, or the government for allowing it to happen?

Substantial Identity Theft?

Authorities are saying the immigration raids done on Tuesday uncovered substantial identity theft.

During the raids investigators found evidence of "substantial" identity theft involving a crime ring that produced fake documents including birth certificates and Social Security numbers, Homeland Security officials said. More than 1,000 agents took part in the raids.
ICE Spokesperson Gail Montenegro said...
Identity theft affects millions of Americans and ICE has a responsibility to enforce the nation’s immigration laws and protect law abiding citizens who are the victims of identity theft.
If that is the case, then why were only 2 people arrested in Marshalltown on ID theft and 65 in all 6 locations? It seems to me that ID theft was used to sell these raids to the public. If you look at the real costs to families and communities just weeks before Christmas most Americans would question the practices. If you actually lived in one of these communities you would never say the real victims of these raids are those of identity theft

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Loebsack Appears on the Colbert Report

A couple weeks ago there was an event for the incoming Congressman at the Harvard Kennedy School of Governement.

Stephen Colbert was there and had the chance to meet and get to "better know" some of the incoming Congressman, including Iowa's Dave Loebsack.

Check it out.

Immigration: Stop the Hate and Let's Have a Real Discussion

After reading the hate-filled writings from State 29, the Real Sporer, and comments at the Des Moines Register website, I am convinced that there will never be the much needed in-depth discussion on how to best solve the immigration issue.

State 29 has posts today called Taco Hell and Stupid Mexicans, while Sporer asks What is paving the surface on the road to Hell?. A comment by a reader on the Des Moines Register website said this is just want the Mexicans want. A free ride back to Mexico in time for Christmas and then they can cross the border and be back up here in January.

Like the idea of leaving their children here, while getting dumped by the side of the road across the border is a cheerful one.

Comments like these that are filled with hate won't get us anywhere. All this does is show how ignorant you are.

There is a saying that I try and live by. I think if you agree with this saying or not can really show what side of the political spectrum you are on. It is from To Kill A Mockingbird when Atticus Finch says...

If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

The Day After the Immigration Raid

I am a 2nd grade teacher in Marshalltown. Yesterday, I had 2 Hispanic students pulled out of class early. There was one Hispanic student who was still waiting to be picked up at 5:00 when I left.

This morning one of my students, who left early the day before, came up to me and told me that he had to leave because the police came to take his dad to jail. He said his dad was hiding and didn't have to go to jail. I asked if his dad was at home last night and he said he was.

Then I had another student tell me that his dad didn't have papers, but was at home and is ok. He then asked me why the police want them to go back to Mexico.

I am glad that both of these students are able to go home to a stable situation, at least for the shortwhile.

Seeing these young children try to grasp this situation makes me want to ask why do the police want them to go back to Mexico?

**Update**
KCCI has a story about what went on at one of the middle schools in town, which included this quote from the Principal...

"Without question, Geoff, the No. 1 concern among our students is, 'Will the ICE folks be coming to school to check for students?' We can assure students that that will not be happening."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Looking at Immigration

I am still trying to put together my thoughts about the immigration raid that took place in Marshalltown today. I plan on posting something tomorrow. Right now, I just hope the children of those detained are in a safe place tonight.

In the meantime, please read this post I wrote in May about an article written by George Lakoff and consider all of the details on the this complicated issu

I will admit that I don't know quite what to think about the immigration issue. I know that we need to protect our borders, but I also want to do it in a compassionate and intelligent manner. The immigration issue is definitely one that isn't divided down the political lines.

Yesterday, I found this article written by George Lakoff, author of "Don't Think of An Elephant." Lakoff provides a great look into the language used in the discussion about immigration.
Framing is at the center of the recent immigration debate. Simply framing it as about "immigration" has shaped its politics, defining what count as "problems" and constraining the debate to a narrow set of issues. The language is telling. The linguistic framing is remarkable: frames for illegal immigrant, illegal alien, illegals, undocumented workers, undocumented immigrants, guest workers, temporary workers, amnesty, and border security.
All the talk is about how it is a immigration problem when it could really be viewed as a foreign policy issue.
Such a framing of the problem would lead to a solution involving the Secretary of State, conversations with Mexico and other Central American countries, and a close examination of the promises of NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank to raise standards of living around the globe. It would inject into the globalization debate a concern for the migration and displacement of people, not simply globalization's promise for profits. This is not addressed when the issue is defined as the “immigration problem.” Bush's “comprehensive solution” does not address any of these concerns. The immigration problem, in this light, is actually a globalization problem.
Or it could be viewed as a humanitarian issue.
Perhaps the problem might be better understood as a humanitarian crisis. Can the mass migration and displacement of people from their homelands at a rate of 800,000 people a year be understood as anything else? Unknown numbers of people have died trekking through the extreme conditions of the Arizona and New Mexico desert. Towns are being depopulated and ways of life lost in rural Mexico. Fathers feel forced to leave their families in their best attempt to provide for their kids. Everyday, boatloads of people arrive on our shores after miserable journeys at sea in deplorable conditions.
Or it could be viewed as a civil rights issue.
The current situation can also be seen as a civil rights problem. The millions of people living here who crossed illegally are for most intents and purposes Americans. They work here. They pay taxes here. Their kids are in school here. They plan to raise their families here. For the most part, they are assimilated into the American system, but are forced to live underground and in the shadows because of their legal status. They are denied ordinary civil rights. The “immigration problem” framing overlooks their basic human dignity.
Why is this issue framed as an immigration problem? (Emphasis added is mine)
Perhaps most pointedly, the “immigration problem” frame blocks an understanding of this issue as a cheap labor issue. The undocumented immigrants allow employers to pay low wages, which in turn provide the cheap consumer goods we find at WalMart and McDonalds. They are part of a move towards the cheap lifestyle, where employers and consumers find any way they can to save a dollar, regardless of the human cost.
A solution to the “immigration problem” will not address these concerns because they are absent from the “immigration frame.”
This article really opened my eyes. If real progress is to be made on immigration, we must talk about the issue in a different manner.

Rising Tuition Increases Iowa's Brain Drain

Kyle at Diary of a Political Madman posted about rising tuition costs at Iowa's state universities. Kyle nailed it when he wrote...

U of I students will be forced to work more and take bigger loans to cover tuition increases. In a related but somehow unreported story, upon graduation those same students will likely leave the state for better paying jobs in bigger cities to help pay off their loans.
Rising college tuition has been an ongoing focus of this blog. Back in September, I wrote this...
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?

**Update**
In a related story, Democrats plan on cutting interest rates on college loans.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Obama on Monday Night Football Tonight

From Political Insider, via USA Today...

According to USA Today, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will do nothing to discourage speculation he'll take on Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) as he appears in ESPN's Monday Night Football opening segment tonight to talk about "a contest between two very different philosophies" that is also "a contest about the future." Supposedly, he'll then acknowledge questions about "whether the new guy has enough experience."

Then, he says, he'll "put all the doubts to rest. After a lot of thought and a good deal of soul-searching, I'd like to announce to all of America that I'm ready... for the Chicago Bears to go all the way!"
Man, Obama sure is loving all the hype and is doing everything he can to exploit it. It makes you wonder if he is peaking too soon.

I want to know why run for President when you are are already the rock star of the Democratic party?

**Update**
Here is the video from YouTube...

Verified Voting in Iowa

From my inbox this afternoon...

Dear Iowa Voter,

It is time for the Iowa General Assembly to return verified voting to our state. We a Iowans for Voting Integrity urge you to sign our petition calling for strong voting system reform in the next Assembly, and to contact your legislators directly and tell them to act on this vital issue.

Iowans for Voting Integrity's petition calls for the 82nd Assembly to pass legislation mandating:

The use of paper ballots in all elections covered by the Election Code.
Routine hand audits of ballots in randomly selected precincts
Public disclosure of voting system and vote tabulation software.
The creation of a state panel of computer experts to conduct meaningful testing and review of voting system and vote tabulation software.
Further measures to protect the integrity and transparency of elections in Iowa.
For our recommended measures, we have drawn heavily on the Brennan Center for Justice's 2006 report, "The Machinery of Democracy."

The Brennan Center task force members included Professor Doug Jones of the University of Iowa, Professor David Dill of Stanford University, Howard Schmidt, the former chief security officer of the Microsoft Corporation, and other experts in computer science and voting technology.

Click here to read and sign our petition for verified elections!

After you sign the petition, e-mail your legislators to support strong voting system reform. Click here to find contact information for your state Representative and state Senator.

Our position paper on for voting system reform can be viewed at our website, www.iowansforvotingintegrity.org.

There is no reason Iowa should remain one of a minority of states that still allows paperless voting, rather than one of the states embracing the best practices to verify elections in the computer age. Let's work to change that in the next year, and help Iowa adopt practices that give us the highest confidence in our elections.

Best regards,
Iowans for Voting Integrity
Working for Voting Systems Worthy of The Public Trust
www.iowansforvotingintegrity.org

Light Rail Could Be Coming to Cedar Rapids and Iowa City

A recent study says that a light rail between Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and the Amanas could be successful. From Radio Iowa...

The study looked at light rail service between the Amanas, Cedar Rapids -- including the airport -- and Iowa City. Josh Shamberger, head of the Iowa City Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the next step is to ask each town along the route about its needs. According to Shamberger, people in Johnson County have a "strong interest" in some kind of rail-service option between North Liberty and Iowa City, and he adds that Cedar Falls planners might have to consider it, too.

The study uncovered one big concern for Cedar Rapids, however -- the planned expansion of a local Archer Daniel Midland plant which is expected to increase freight railroad traffic by 70 percent.
Light-rail passenger routes could be competitive, according to the report, which says they'd be limited to going about 30 miles an hour. To upgrade trains and track for high-speed transit would cost about $70 million, though Shamberger says to put that into perspective, it would cost about $400 million to add one more lane to Interstate-380 in the same area.
I wrote about this last month in a post about raising the gas tax. Here is what I said...
I would be for an increase in taxes on gasoline if that extra money went to public transportation. Increase the bus services in cities around Iowa or be brave and build a light rail from Des Moines to Ames or Cedar Rapids to Iowa City.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Iowa Blogosphere 2008 Hotlist

When I got home from work on Friday, I got the idea of coming up a ranking system of all of the 2008 Hotlists that Iowa bloggers put together last week. I messed around with it a bit and decided to go do something fun. Today I noticed that Drew Miller had the same idea and even used the same scoring system that I did. Here is what Drew wrote.

This is from me, Chris Woods, Patrick, and John Deeth. I skipped Kyle's because it is pretty much not a hotlist at all. I just assigned 3 points to hot, 2 points to warm, and 1 point to everything below.

Here are the most-supported candidates, in order, in this very unscientific test.

#1 (tie): John Edwards and Barack Obama. Everyone listed these two guys as hot. They are going to be competing for a lot of the same voters in Iowa, so it will be interesting to see if Obama can maintain his popularity and if Edwards' supporters stick with him.

#3 (tie): Al Gore and Tom Vilsack. Old Man Deeth hates Gore, but the rest of us young pups are big fans. Talking to a lot of Story County Democrats during the campaign though, I don't get the impression that this demographic trend would hold up to scrutiny. He's popular with most of the local activists here. Vilsack has strong support from Chris and I and moderate support from Patrick and John.

#4: Bill Richardson. John is the only guy Bonkers for Bill, while the rest of us are willing to be excited about him. He needs to spend more time in Iowa for people to really get to know him.

#5 (tie): Wes Clark and Chris Dodd. Dodd has across-the-board warms. He hasn't been a national figure in the way some of the other Senators considering a run have, which is generally a positive thing. Clark has been around and has done a lot for a lot of candidates, but he just doesn't seem to be taking off anywhere.

#7: Hillary Clinton. Chris and Patrick both despise her. I don't think we've gotten a very accurate portrayal of her yet, given that both the blogs and the newspapers tend to focus on stupid shit instead of giving us an overall picture of her work in the Senate or as first lady.

#8 (tie): Evan Bayh and John Kerry. Nobody likes these guys. But they aren't universally reviled, like...

#10: Joe Biden. He is cold on everyone's list. Ouch!

Yeah this is four white dudes from Iowa who are dorkier than the average Iowan. Got a problem? Leave your own list in the comments!

I also recommend reading Kyle's take on the candidates. He wrote a not-so-hotlist and has some good insight. I agree with a lot of it, but was a little more optimistic in my hotlist.

How Jim Leach Lost

Here is a letter to the editor of the Washington Post that gives the real reason why Jim Leach lost.

What's with the Eastern Establishment? Don't you trust us hayseeds to vote correctly for our representative in Congress?

Mark Shields [op-ed, Nov. 11] said we Iowans "inexplicably" defeated 15-term Rep. Jim Leach (R); then David S. Broder [op-ed, Nov. 30] put some of the blame on the Poker Players Alliance and the Christian Coalition -- both insidious forces -- for Mr. Leach's defeat. Hogwash!

Let's get a few facts straight: First, Mr. Leach showed how principled a moderate he was when, after the 2000 redistricting, he was given a chance to run in a Republican primary against right-wing conservative Rep. Jim Nussle. Instead, Mr. Leach moved to Iowa City to run in our district.

Second, yes, Mr. Leach voted against the Iraq war, but in the 2004 election he brought in one of the architects of the war, Vice President Cheney, to campaign for him.

Third, Mr. Leach has consistently voted to allow corporations to fire striking workers, and he favored tying a raise in the minimum wage to a cut in estate taxes.

I have been a political activist here for 27 years, and, believe me, it wasn't poker players or the Christian Coalition that finally beat Jim Leach. Nor was his loss inexplicable. The voters of this district decided we wanted a liberal activist Democrat, Dave Loebsack, to represent us in Congress, not a moderate who came through for the Republican Party when it counted.

GARY SANDERS

Iowa City

Friday, December 08, 2006

Braley on Iowa Press This Weekend

Bruce Braley is on IPTV's Iowa Press this weekend. The Des Moines Register has some quotes from the episode. Here is the one that I found most interesting...

Braley said he is lobbying for a position on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, noting that Democrats having been pushing for reducing the country’s reliance on foreign oil by making the Midwest the energy capitol of the world.

“I’ve been arguing that there are no Iowans on the energy and commerce committee,” Braley said, “with Iowa being the epicenter of the renewable energy explosion, it’s time we had somebody on that committee.”
Check the episode out on Sunday at 11:30.

**Update**
There is up transcript of the show available on the Iowa Press website. Here is an interesting part on trade deals...
Braley: WELL, I THINK THAT THE FREE-FLOWING DAYS OF ABSOLUTE ADHERENCE TO A FREE-TRADE PHILOSOPHY IS OVER, BECAUSE MANY PEOPLE SERVING IN THE HOUSE RIGHT NOW FEEL THAT OUR FREE-TRADE POLICY HAS BEEN HARMFUL TO AMERICAN WORKERS, THAT IT'S BEEN HARMFUL TO ENVIRONMENTAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS AROUND THE WORLD. AND I THINK THERE'S GOING TO BE A GREATER INSISTENCE AS PART OF THIS OVERSIGHT RESPONSIBILITY THAT FREE TRADE EVOLVES INTO A FAIR-TRADE PHILOSOPHY.

Corporate Welfare on the Big Screen

Mark Davitt, a State Rep. from Indianola, is proposing tax breaks and incentives for the movie to make films in Iowa. From the Des Moines Register...

A coalition of interested parties are working with Davitt and other lawmakers to craft the legislation. Supporters say they're encouraged that Gov.-elect Chet Culver showed support for the idea during his campaign.

Iowa has been the centerpiece of a number of Hollywood productions, including hits such as "Field of Dreams" and "The Bridges of Madison County." However, the filming landscape has changed significantly since Canada and many U.S. states began offering filmmakers economic incentives, says Tom Wheeler, manager of the Iowa Film Office in the Department of Economic Development.

"Until everyone has incentives of relatively equal value, then the playing field will always be tilted in favor of those who have aggressive incentive plans," he says. "So, if we want to be in the game, we basically have to get ours, too."
This is just corporate welfare going to Hollywood. The story of our tax dollars being given away to wealthy people in the movie industry with the reason being because everyone is doing it. Unlike most movies, this one is surely to end with the little guy getting ripped off.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

McCain's Campaign Manager Comes with a Checkered Past

Matt Stoller at MyDD has some information on Terry Nelson, who was recently hired to be John McCain's Campaign Manager. Nelson has an interesting background of scandals. And I thought McCain was behind campaign reform and government integrity.

John McCain just hired the worst man in the world to run his campaign, Terry Nelson. Nelson was an unindicted co-conspirator in the TRMPAC scandal as a key point of contact between Tom Delay and the RNC. He was James Tobin's boss during the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal, for which Tobin was convicted. He also worked at the head of opposition research for the NRCC this cycle, where robocalls from Republicans pretending to be Democrats were the norm all over the country. Nelson also produced the racist bimbo ad against Harold Ford.

Also, Nelson was fired from his consultant job with Wal Mart. Nelson was hired to help the company combat the Wake Up Wal Mart campaign over summer.

Chris Cillizza has some more information on the hire.

Nelson is from Marshalltown and gives McCain an Iowa connection, as well as a bag full of dirty tricks.

Vilsack Attack

The Daily Show had a funny take on Vilsack's presidential campaign and the Des Moines Register wrote about the spot today and has the clip from You Tube. Check it out. It is pretty funny.

Late-night talk show hosts have been getting a lot of mileage out of Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack's unusual last name as he's been out promoting his presidential candidacy.

Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" probably had the most creative approach yet. As Stewart reads a story about the launch of the Iowa candidate's campaign, he struggles to recall the governor's last name, until a little animated duck walks onto the screen and quacks: "Vilsack!" Sort of like the AFLAC commercials. The video's now posted on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK43amjiI94.

Maybe Vilsack should embrace this approach and adopt the duck as a campaign mascot to help build name recognition. It's certainly more endearing than being mistaken for a pickle.
**Update** Here is the clip from the Colber Report on Vilsack's announcement.

What the Iowa Delegation thinks of the Iraq Study Group Report

The Des Moines Register has statements from the Iowa Representitives and Senators about the Iraq Study Group report released yesterday. I find it interesting, but not surprising, that Steve King is playing the liberal media card. I am not sure what Boswell is thinking, the ISG report fails to plan how to bring troops home. I most agree with Dave Loebsack's statement that the report is a start, but more could be done. Here's what members of the Iowa congressional delegation had to say Wednesday about the report:

Sen. Charles Grassley, Republican: "The Iraq Study Group report is yet another source of information on what to do about Iraq. Over the last few weeks, we've seen the president and the Defense Department already put in motion an attitude that there needs to be a change of direction."

Sen. Tom Harkin, Democrat: "It is my sincere hope that this is the end of failed stay-the-course rhetoric and the beginning of a real solution to bringing our troops home ... The findings are an indictment of the president's failed policies in the Middle East ... The president owes it to the brave members of the military to find a way out of the mess he's made."

Rep. Leonard Boswell, Democrat: "A plan (to bring troops home) is long overdue. In light of the sectarian violence and the tremendous increase in casualties, we need to engage leaders in the region and begin the redeployment of troops from the area."

Rep. Steve King, Republican: "The commanders in the field know that the most treacherous terrain in their battle is American public opinion. Every day the mainstream media seeks to shift American public opinion against this war, and since the leaks of their apparent sympathizers within the Iraq Study Group were published last week, they have seized upon the findings of this unelected, unaccountable and autonomous committee to usher in a full-scale retreat from Iraq and from the front lines of the war on terror."

Rep.-elect Dave Loebsack, Democrat: "It's a good start for the conversation. It doesn't go far enough ... I remain adamant about beginning immediately to disengage. I hope we can all work together to take up a real solution to this."
**Update**
Here is what Bruce Braley thought of the Iraq Study Group report. From the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier...
Rep.-elect Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, praised the study's conclusion that conditions in Iraq are "grave and deteriorating."

He also praised the recommendation that the administration engage Iran and Syria in talks to seek a solution.

The report, which was released Wednesday but leaked in parts in recent days, recommended that Iraq should take greater responsibility for its own security and said U.S. combat troops could be out of the country by early 2008.
This spring, Braley also suggested Congress might use its power of the purse to force the administration to change policy. Although he didn't repeat that threat Wednesday, he expressed clear doubts the president was willing to change.

"The president has consistently refused to accept the possibility that the troops could be redeployed during his presidency," he said.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

South Carolina Democrats Planning Debate in April

South Carolina Democrats are planning a presidential debate in April. The debate would be tied to the state's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner and the State Convention.

Less than five months from today, South Carolina may host the first debate of the 2008 presidential cycle, said Democratic Party Chairman Joe Erwin.

Erwin said the debate - which would feature Democratic candidates - would be tied to the April 27 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner and the state party convention the next day. He said he's begun informal talks with television networks that might be interested in carrying the debate nine months before South Carolina's first-in-the-South presidential primary on Jan. 29, 2008.

South Carolina Republicans have already announced that they've set May 15 for a GOP candidates' debate.

The date under discussion for a Democratic debate makes sense because "if you're a serious candidate for president, you're going to want to be in South Carolina that weekend for our convention," Erwin said. "If you don't want to come participate in our event that weekend, it hurts your chances to secure the Democratic nomination."

Feingold Sheds Light on the Iraq Study Group

Sen. Feingold released a statement about the Iraq Study Group report today...

“Unfortunately, the Iraq Study Group report does too little to change the flawed mind-set that led to the misguided war in Iraq. Maybe there are still people in Washington who need a study group to tell them that the policy in Iraq isn’t working, but the American people are way ahead of this report.

While the report has regenerated a few good ideas, it doesn’t adequately put Iraq in the context of a broader national security strategy. We need an Iraq policy that is guided by our top national security priority – defeating the terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11 and its allies. We can’t continue to just look at Iraq in isolation. Unless we set a serious timetable for redeploying our troops from Iraq, we will be unable to effectively address these global threats. In the end, this report is a regrettable example of ‘official Washington’ missing the point.”
Matt Stoller of MyDD takes a sarcastic look at Feingold's statement from the point of view of the Washington punditocracy.
Senator, if you had any taste or ability, you would accomodate our desire to get together in groups and agree on Very Serious Matters of Policy, which consists of pretending that drawing pictures of ponies on reports written at think tanks on high quality stock paper and presented to the mean seven year old boy who runs the country will convince him to stop giving us swirlies, or at least stop with the chocolate ones. Or something like that. Anyway, if you don't stop your naysaying, Senator, you'll never be President and we'll never get our ponies.
Russ continues to live up to the Feingold Standard, where he is clearly articulating his position on a tough issue and not apologizing for it. It will be much easier for me (and many others) to get a candidate for President who takes a similar approach. I can get behind a candidate even if I disagree with them on a few issues, as long as they stand up for what they believe in. This is part of the problem with the DLC, where there pro-corporate agenda undercuts the core values of the Democratic Party. Give me someone who is willing to stand up for those core Democratic values.

Feingold will be on Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight at 7 pm and 11 pm discussing the Iraq Study Group report.

**Update**
Crooks and Liars has video up of Feingold on Olbermann and here is a good look at the appearence from a diary on DailyKos.

2008 Hotlist

Drew Miller posted his hotlist on Monday, so here is my hotlist of potential 2008 Presidential Candidates.

Hot
John Edwards
Wes Clark
Al Gore
Barak Obama

Warm
Chris Dodd
Tom Vilsack
Bill Richardson
John Kerry -but sinking

Cold
Evan Bayh
Joe Biden
Hillary Clinton

Since Feingold isn't running, I have no clear cut frontrunner. I have questions about all of the candidates that I ranked hot and the candidates listed as warm have a shot of moving up.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Is Obama a Sure Winner?

Kos says that if Obama runs, he will win. I am not so sure about that, but here is his thinking...

Iowa is right next door to Obama's Illinois, and while Vilsack will win it (getting no boost out of it), the race for second-place will determine the "true" winner. Hillary, for now, appears to be bypassing Iowa. So the early battle would appear to be between Edwards and Obama. A 2-3 finish for these guys, in any order, leaves them in good shape moving forward.

Nevada will be a battle between Edwards and his union allies, and Richardson and his southwestern and Latino base. New Hampshire will be fertile territory for Hillary and maybe Kerry (they hate Richardson because he pushed to insert Nevada into the calendar ahead of New Hampshire). And then South Carolina. With Iowa out of the big picture thanks to Vilsack, and New Hampshire diluted by Nevada, South Carolina may well decide our nominee in 2008. Richardson thinks he can win the state (I'm not sure how), and he, Edwards and Clark will stake their entire bids on the state. But given the state's large African American population, along with Obama's popularity with female voters (yeah, they love him), and it's tough to see how the rest, splitting the dwindling white male vote, can overcome those hurdles.

There's one thing that could put a skid on Obama's fast rise -- an Al Gore entrance into the race. Other than that, I don't see a way anyone stops him.

I agree that Iowa is a race between Vilsack, Edwards, and Obama. Bayh will think he can get into that group, but will have a hard time differentiating himself from Vilsack (same thing can be said about Richardson). Bayh will have a hard time breaking single digits.

As for Obama, I feel that I would rather see him stay on the sidelines. The primary process is a difficult one where a lot of mud is tossed around. Democrats would be better off if Obama did not run and then named him as the VP candidate. You get the rock star boost, Obama wouldn't get dirtied up, and then he would be ready to run for President in 2016, when he is 55. With all of that said, Obama is still near the top of my list.