Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Values Fund is a Dud

State Auditor Dave Vaudt issued a report stating that the number of jobs the Iowa Values Fund has created is greatly less than what the Iowa Department of Economic Developement and top elected officials have promised. The total number of jobs actually created is less than 1/3 of jobs promised.

From the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier...

Vaudt looked at the Values Fund's outcomes as of June 30, 2006. This was a full year after the Legislature and Gov. Tom Vilsack reauthorized the program for 10 years at a cost of $50 million per year. In addition to corporate grants and loans, the program provides tax credits for companies that create new jobs, money for job training programs at community colleges, and research assistance for state universities.

Vaudt said the 30,732 jobs that were pledged by companies last June included many jobs that may never materialize, some of which were from companies that had not yet signed contracts with the state to add the jobs.

He said the actual number of jobs related to Values Funds grants or loans is 9,275. This is employees who have been hired and were on the job.
Vaudt gave 2 recommendations on changes that could be made to the program...
--- There is no system in place to verify that new jobs are actually new, and not merely employees moved around within a company. Vaudt said there is no evidence companies are abusing this, but they might be able to if they tried.
--- The actual wages for Values Fund jobs sometimes fall far below the goal of 130 percent of the regional average. Vaudt said this is because benefits are included in the 130 percent calculation, which means companies with lucrative benefits can pay below 130 percent, or even below the regional average, and still get state aid.

That or scrap the program. Then use the taxpayer's money to make Iowa a better state for everyone to live in instead of giving our taxpayer's money to just a handful of large companies. Another option, that might shock some hearing this coming from a Democrat, would be to just lower taxes altogether.

The bottomline is government programs should be broad based and help a vast majority of the people or they should help the less fortanate. The Iowa Values Fund isn't making the cut on either aspect.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Recap of the Summit on Immigration in Marshalltown

I mentioned yesterday I would post updates on the immigration summit and failed to do so because of the power outage. So here it is...

The Marshalltown Times Republican, who sponsored the event, wrote a good summary piece of the day's events here. They begin by saying...

The National Summit on Immigration in Marshalltown Monday included national figures, local issues and some who could not keep quiet during the event and had to be escorted out.
This was the thing that I came away from the event noticing most. The tensions at the event were high. It was almost as interesting listening to the comments from the people around me than it was to listen to panelists.

Audience members were allowed to write down questions for the panelists. During the couple hours I was there, there were 4 outbursts from audience members who disagreed with something the panelists said. I couldn't tell for sure, but I think one women was part of 2 or 3 of the outburts and bet that she didn't make it to the end of the event. During one of the outbursts, the person referred to the damage illegal aliens are doing to our nation. Another audience had this clever response...
There is no such thing as aliens.
On a question that was pointed at pinning rising health costs to illegal immigrants, the panelist said...
Can’t attribute the higher cost of health care to the raise of immigrants. There are so many reason that health care costs are rising and Medicare re-imbursement is just part of it. Immigrants are just part of the population included in Medicare re-imbursement.
Here was another interesting question and answer from one of the panelists that received some postive and negative reactions from the audience...

Why do immigrants get rights for free, while citizens have to fight for their constitutional rights?

The rights in the constitution are guaranteed to everyone within the United States, citizens and not citizens. That was the founding father’s intentions and is one of the questions on nationalization test.
One question asked was what are our schools doing to teach our students about not becoming xenophobic (which was defined as the fear of foriegners). The answer pretty much summed up the immigration debate, the lack thereof. One panelist, who works for the school district said he is lucky to work with kids because they don't see people as legal or illegal, they see them as who they are. Another panelist said people are unfamilar with the other culture and this produces fear. However, if they get to know the other culture they might actually find out they can learn something from it.

And finally this question was directed to Rep. Latham, who had already left. It takes the thinking on the immigration issue to the next level, beyond what we can do here in Iowa. This needs to be addressed and should become a key component to any comprehensive immigration reform.

A lot of immigrants would rather stay in their own countries, but economic and other issues force them to immigrate. What can our nation do to help overcome these forces in their native countries?

Any ideas?

Who Turned Out the Lights?

Sorry for the lack of posts the past few days. I am one of many still without power in the Marshalltown area due to the storm over the weekend. I am hoping to get power back tomorrow, but have been told that it could be next week. I have a half written post about Joeseph Wilson's lecture at Iowa State last week on my computer at home that I need to post, but it will have to wait.

Luckily, I have family in town that has power, an extra bedroom, a willingness to put up with my 2 dogs (and me for that matter), and home cooked meals. However, my family hasn't progressed to high speed internet, which makes blogging as much fun as attending dinnner with Ann Coulter. So, I use my precious time on a high speed internet hookup wisely and that usually doesn't involve posting. I will try and post when I get a chance.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Summit on Immigration Today in Marshalltown

Today in Marshalltown a Summit on Immigration is being held. I am able to attend part of the events because school was cancelled due to the snowstorm over the weekend. I will be updating this post as the day goes on.

Rep. Tom Latham was in attendence for the first session of the morning.

I got to the event during the second session. This session included a question and answer session with a panel that includes 2 members from the school district, a person from the Chamber of Commerce, the director of the Community College, and a Marshalltown resident who immigrated from Mexico over ten years ago. Most of the questions pertained to education because most of the panel is from the education field.

Here is one of question that was asked that had a great answer from one of panelists (which recieved loud applause)...

Q: Should it be a requirement to speak English when someone passes the border?

A: It wasn’t a requirement when my Grandfather came to this nation.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Vilsack: Mission Accomplished?

John Nichols writes in the Nation that Vilsack's run for president was really to run competetively in Iowa and then get out of the way for Hillary. Nichols writes...

Vilsack launched his run early and made as much noise as could be expected from a nowhere-in-the-polls candidate with a vague message and even vaguer hopes of raising the funds needed to mount a truly national campaign. But his brief candidacy -- which was quietly advised and encouraged by Democratic strategists with long and close ties to the Clinton camp -- never really amounted to much more than a blocking move for the New York senator with whom he worked closely as a leader of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council centrist.

For his trouble, the Iowan will earn a little bit of speculation about his vice presidential prospects -- nil. And, if Clinton actually wins the presidency, about his Cabinet prospects -- pretty good, if he's willing to settle for Secretary of Agriculture; a bit slimmer if he wants something muscular like Energy.

From the start, Vilsack's job was to present himself as a respectable alternative to the other Democratic candidates who, while he would go nowhere in states other than Iowa, could remain in the running with his fellow Hawkeyes until it was time to get out of Clinton's way.

The fact that Vilsack dropped out 2 days after the forum in Nevada makes you wonder if a deal was brokered while Vilsack was there.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Video of Edwards in Dubuque Last Weekend

Last night, I came across video of John Edwards speaking in Dubuque last Sunday. The townhall meeting focused on Health Care and was attended by 300 or so people.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Senator Vilsack?

I guess there are some rumors that Harkin might not be running for re-eclection in 2008. Vilsack's departure from the Presidential race today would put him in prime position to run for Senate.

Harkin is, of course, denying these rumors. From Political Wire...

"With former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s decision today to end his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, an aide to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) shot down speculation that Harkin would not seek re-election and pave the way for Vilsack to run for Senate," Roll Call reports.

Some Democrats believed that Harkin "would ultimately forgo a fifth term, but stall long enough to allow Vilsack to switch gears and take his place in the 2008 Senate race. The theory was that the longer Harkin waited before formally announcing a decision, the less time potential Republican candidates would have to prepare to run for an open seat. Money Vilsack raised for his presidential bid could be transferred to a Senate campaign fund."
I would much rather have Tom Vilsack as a Senator than as President. I would much rather have TomHarkin as my Senator than Tom Vilsack though. If Harkin does retire, Vilsack would be hard to beat and it is important Democrats keep the seat.

If Harkin does run, Grassley is up for re-eclection in 2010. I have heard rumors that Grassley might not run again. If Vilsack ran, Democrats would have a great chance at holding both Iowa Senate seats.

Vilsack's Out, Let the Games Begin!

It seems that every blog out there has a post or posts up already about Tom Vilsack dropping out of the presidential race.

Drew at Bleeding Heartland live blogs Vilsack's press conference this morning.

John Deeth wonders about who Vilsack and Tom Harkin (who endorsed Vilsack) will be endorsing. My original thinking was that Vilsack will endorse Hillary, but Vilsack's new anti-war stance clashes with Hillary hawkish attitude. Harkin is in an interesting position since he has been colleagues with Dodd and Biden. In the end, I think Harkin will be supporting Obama.

Iowa Progress talks about the timing of Vilsack dropping out almost 11 months before the caucuses saying...

What the most disturbing thing is that Vilsack’s campaign is ending this early. In 1960, John F. Kennedy didn’t start his campaign until December 1959, in 2000, George W. Bush didn’t start to run until June 1999, now we have candidates dropping out 21 months before the election. It is a disturbing trend.
Iowa Progress then takes a look at Vilsack's money situation and concludes Vilsack lost the gamble even before getting to Nevada...
But when your monthly overhead is higher than your reported cash on head, that’s not good budgeting at any time–especially a year before the caucuses. If Vilsack hadn’t hired so many staffers so quickly, he’d probably still be a candidate today. He took a gamble that the money would be there to pay all of the people he hired. He was wrong. It was a high-risk, high reward approach to running for President. It didn’t work out. And that’s why Tom Vilsack dropped out.
The question now is who will gain the most from Vilsack's departure?

It is possible that the support from Vilsack's team gets split by the other candidates. That would mean the candidate that would gain the most of Vilsack leaving the race would be the person who is winning now, John Edwards.

Blog for Iowa chimed in saying that he is hearing Obama is making connections with a lot of former Kerry staffers. The biggest catch of former Kerry staffers is John Norris, who was Kerry's Iowa Field Director.

I remembered hearing back in the fall some connections between Norris and Obama. A quick search of the archives and I found I posted this on November 26, 2006...
The Des Moines Register had a story this morning about Barack Obama courting advisers, such as John Norris, Steve Hildebrand, and Dick Myers, and getting advice for a possible campaign.
The first-term Illinois senator has surrounded himself with advisers rich in experience in Iowa, the leadoff caucus state.

Obama has vaulted to the top tier among prospective candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination, even as the new star in the party says he has not made up his mind about running.

The Iowa connections of Obama's campaign advisers and the senator's behind-the-scenes inquiry into the Iowa caucuses are hardly an announcement that he is running for president. But they show he is visualizing the presidential campaign process, in the event he decides to run.
Hildebrand is already on Obama's staff and landing Norris would be a huge bump in the field in Iowa.

I am not the only one that thinks so. John Deeth was back posting this quote from Jerome Armstrong of MyDD...
"There was just not a road beyond Iowa. Whoever lands John Norris will be the winner from Vilsack dropping out."
So if you put the pieces together after Vilsack ducking out, I feel Obama has the best chance at making gains. He is in position to gain the support from the 2 biggest Vilsack backers in Harkin and Norris. If he can even secure one of their support, he will have the Iowa connections that will help increase his poll numbers.

Anyway, with Vilsack out of the race, the Iowa caucuses are now wide open. Iowans are ready to open up their living rooms, meet the candidates, and discuss the issues. Let the games begin!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sign Up for the DFA Training Academy

From my inbox this morning...

Have you thought about running for office and wondered what was involved?

Would you like to be more helpful in supporting your favorite candidate for office?

Do you wonder about how elections are run and why campaigns do what they do?

If any of the above applies to you, please think about attending the Democracy for America Training Academy to be held March 24-25 from 9AM-6PM at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. National and local experts have been recruited to conduct sessions, and progressive political activists from around Iowa and the Midwest will be in attendance.

A contribution of $70 the day of training or $60 in advance is requested, but low income individuals and students may pay $30. A limited number of scholarships are available. Lunch will be provided. Visit the Democracy for America website for more information or to register.
Here is a partial list of the speakers at the event.

I am signed up to attend the DFA Training Academy. I attended the same event last year in the Quad Cities and highly recommend this event for anyone interested in learning more about grassroots politics. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Edwards Leads a New Iowa Poll

John Edwards leads a new poll in Iowa by Strategic Vision. Here are the results...

John Edwards 24%
Hillary Clinton 18%
Barack Obama 18%
Tom Vilsack 14%
Joe Biden 5%
Bill Richardson 3%
Wesley Clark 2%
Chris Dodd 1%
Dennis Kucinich 1%
Undecided 14%
Giuliani leads on the Republican side with 29% over McCain (22%), Gingrich (11%), and Romney (9%).

There is an interesting question in the poll about withdrawling troops from Iraq. The question shows that 64% of Democrats in Iowa support a withdrawl of troops from Iraq within 6 months, while only 9% are against withdrawl, and 27% undecided. On the Republican side, 48% support withdrawl of troops from Iraq within 6 months, 37% do not support withdrawl within 6 months, and 15% are undecided.

Where does Vilsack Really Stand on the Iraq War?

Tom Vilsack recently has been outspoken against the Iraq War and has been getting noticed for his anti-war positions.

Today, Kos takes a look at where Vilsack was on the War back in 2005. Kos looks into Vilsack's statements and the statements of the DLC, which Vilsack headed. Kos concludes...

Of course, the DLC has been a haven for pro-war Democratic warmongers, and has been used by the media to paint a picture of a divided party. Vilsack, in charge of the operation, not only signed off on editorial decrees by the DLC opposing Murtha's and other withdrawal plans, but also gave safe haven for these warmongering "Democrats" to divide the party.

Then, when given the stage at the last conference he attended as chair, he refused to tackle the issue in any meaningful way.

And now he wants to claim he's an anti Iraq War crusader, and demands we tell him what we've done to try and help end this war?


But I'll tell you what lots of us were doing to help end this war -- fighting his very own organization's efforts to prolong it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Obama Townhall in Des Moines on Wednesday

Barack Obama will be holding a townhall meeting in Des Moines tomorrow. Here is the information...

Please join Senator Barack Obama for a Town Hall Meeting at the Polk County Convention Complex at 5th and Grand in Des Moines on Wednesday, February 21st. The event begins at 7:45 PM. Doors will open at 6:45 PM.

If you would like to volunteer at the event, please email For more information, please call 515-450-6945.

The event is free and open to the public. You can RSVP below to receive your ticket by email. Or call 515-450-6945 for a list of ticket distribution locations or print your ticket from their website.
I won't be attending since I attended the event in Ames at the beginning of the month (You can read the writeup here and here.).

And a reminder that Ambassador Joe Wilson will be giving a lecture at Iowa State on Wednesday night.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Why do Businesses Care about Fair Share?

This point was brought by Peter Fisher, a University of Iowa economist and urban planning professor, at a public hearing last week on the proposed Fair Share law. Here is what Fisher had to say...

"Why would a unionized company care how many of its workers paid how much to the union?" he asked. "I can only conclude that firms who assert that they will not come to Iowa because of fair share are looking for a low-wage location and want weak labor unions to help ensure that it will remain a low-wage location."
If the Union is already negotiating contracts for all of the workers, what does Fair Share do to change the current situation that affects businessess?

Before Fair Share...workers contracts are negotiated by Unions.

After Fair Share...workers contracts are negotiated by Unions.

The only difference is in the workers paying their fair share of the benefits and services they recieve.

Then why are business leaders complaining that the Fair Share law would harms Iowa's business climate?

Hat tip to Iowa Progress for posting the link to this story.

Henry Wallace Documentary on IPTV Tonight

Tonight at 8 pm on IPTV is a documentary about Henry Wallace.

The documentary is the story of a man who changed the world. Wallace was an agricultural scientist whose innovations revolutionized the production of food, not only in this country, but the world over. The increased production those advances brought about changed the way we work. As Roosevelt 's Secretary of Agriculture, his New Deal programs changed the way Americans relate with their government. And as a politician, the ideas he advocated, like civil rights and national health insurance, changed the way we think.
Normally, I wouldn't post about something like this, but I owe credit to Wallace for the name of this blog. I saw this documentary a year ago and was intrigued with Wallace's progressive vision and how he fought for his beliefs. My first post was dedicated to Wallace and his speech the Century of the Common Man. Here is part of what I wrote...
Wallace never became President. If he had the world would surely be a different place today. That doesn't mean his message should be forgotten. We have started a new Century, so lets call for the 21st Century to be the Century of the Common Man. In a time when our nations priorities are backwards, we need a Century of the Common Man. There is no better place to start the call than in the state where Henry Wallace was born, Iowa.
Yes, and when the time of peace comes, The citizen will again have a duty, The supreme duty of sacrificing the lesser interest for the greater interest of the general welfare. Those who write the peace must think of the whole world. There can be no privileged peoples. We ourselves in the United States are no more a master race than the Nazis. And we can not perpetuate economic warfare without planting the seeds of military warfare. We must use our power at the peace table to build an economic peace that is just, charitable and enduring.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Obama Interview From 2002 About Iraq

Here is part of an interview from November of 2002 with Barak Obama being questioned about the situation in Iraq. The interview takes place before Obama was the Democratic candidate for Senate. Obama shows a deep understanding of the situation and explains why he is against pre-emptive war against Iraq.

Is Richardson Committed to Campaigning in Iowa?

On Friday, Iowa Progress reported that Bill Richardson hired a key Iowa activist to head his field opperations here.

Sources have revealed to us that Brad Frevert has been hired as Richardson’s Iowa Field Director.

Frevert has worked for the Iowa Democratic Party since 2004, when he served as Regional Field Director out of Waterloo. After the 2004 elections, he was hired as the state party’s off-year Field Director, and he served as Deputy Field Director under Jesse Harris during the 2006 election. Before working for the IDP, he worked for Bob Graham’s aborted 2004 Presidential Campaign and then for AFSCME, organizing caucus supporters for Dean.

It is good to see Richardson is putting together some kind of campaign infrastructure here in Iowa. Frevert brings a lot of experience to the Richardson campaign and Iowa Progress thinks that this means Richardson is going to be campaigning hard in Iowa. However, I don't think he will be make as strong of effort in Iowa as other candidates, which is a shame. I found this story in the New Hampshire Union Leader saying that Richardson hoping New Hampshire will his breakout state.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said today he will focus more time, staff and resources to New Hampshire than to any other early primary or caucus state.


He said that as a Westerner, he "must do well" in Nevada, where the Democratic National Committee has scheduled a new caucus after Iowa's traditional leadoff event but before the New Hampshire primary.

But he said, "For me, New Hampshire is going to be my main state to concentrate on, staff-wise, resources. I consider this a breakthrough state for me."

Richardson's calling card is as a successful Governor of a swing state. Here in Iowa, Vilsack has that role secured. However, there are a couple of factors that make me think Richardson could be a breakout candiate here in Iowa. First, Richardson, a former ambassador to the United Nations, brings more foreign policy experience to the table than Vilsack. I would also think that Richardson could appeal to Iowans by speaking on immigration issues since he is Hispanic and from a border state.

Since November of 2004, Richardson has only made 2 trips to Iowa for a total of 2 days. Compare that to John Edwards who has made 17 trips to Iowa for a total of 29 days during that same time period. I have been hearing that Richardson is planning on a trip to Iowa at the beginnning of March. Richardson is currently #3 in my list and I would like to get the chance to hear more from him. I am sure I am not the only Iowan who would say this.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chris Dodd on Restoring Habeas Corpus

Chris Dodd is introducing legislation that would restore Habeas Corpus and redefine who an enemy combatant is. The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Russ Feingold, and Sen. Robert Menedez. Here is Sen. Dodd discussing the bill...

Bill McKibben and Ambassador Joe Wilson Speaking at Iowa State This Week

There are 2 lectures being held at Iowa State this week that I am going to try and make it to and I thought I would pass along the info.

The first one takes place on Sunday, Feb. 18th. and features environmentalist Bill McKibben. The event takes place at 8 pm at the Great Hall at the Memorial Union. The lecture is called Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. You can find more details about the lecture and McKibben here.

On Wednesday, February 21st, former Ambassador Joe Wilson will be speaking at 8 pm at the Sun Room in the Memorial Union. Wilson's been pushed into the spotlight when the employment of his wife - CIA Operative Valerie Plame-Wilson - was revealed. Wilson's speech is titled, Dissent in Our Democracy and you can find more info here.

And a reminder that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame is scheduled to speak at the University of Iowa in March.

The Need for a Saner Policy

Chris at Radloff's Random Midnight Thoughts had a great post this week that discusses the need for a saner policy. Chris says that on most issues it all boils down to doing what is right.

As a culture we've forgotten the spirit of the law. Politicians argue back and forth about tax loopholes and who is exempt from what... They're squabbling over details that can only hurt people at the lower end of the economic spectrum. What needs to be done is a return to the spirit of the law. Everyone pays a little so everyone can enjoy the same protections and benefits.

This concept applies to more than just the lousy tax code. Look at our system of lobbying. People get paid to hang around and try to influence our politicians, buying them dinners, taking them on trips... Sure it's legal, but what's the spirit of the law? On paper, lobbyists are allowed to peddle their influence in order to ensure that "America's voice is heard." But can't the spirit of that particular law be better served if lobbyists were banned so that our politicians could actually pay attention to us average citizens?

We need a saner policy. We need simpler morality. We need to get back to the spirit of things.
Chris uses taxes and lobbyists as examples in his piece, but it could also be applied to a myriad of other issues. When it comes to abortion, no one is for abortion. The goal shouldn't be to ban abortion, but to tackle the causes of abortion by investing in sexual education and reducing poverty. When it comes to government spending, people don't like money being wasted on social warfare or being wasted by the Pentagon. When it comes gun control, I understand people like to hunt. However, you don't need a machine gun to go shoot a couple pheasants. When it comes to health care, it is clear to a majority of Americans that it is morally wrong that 40 million Americans don't have health care.

The point is not all issues can be sliced into liberal positions and conservatives positions. I agree we need a saner policy. We need simpler morality. We need to get back to the spirit of things.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Biden Event Cancelled

I rushed out of school to make it to the Joe Biden event. When I got there the crowd was thinning out. I guess Biden was running late. His plane was fighting wind and had to make an unexpected stop to refuel, so the event was cancelled. Biden's staff was nice and said they owe Marshalltown a visit and will hopefully be back in the spring.

I did see the Des Moines Register's David Yepsen and Thomas Beaumont there. Yepsen was in the hallway when I came in and Beaumont was on the computer in the back of the room doing some work before he headed to Ames for the Story Co. Democrat Soup Supper.

Edwards, Biden, and Christy Vilsack in Davenport on Saturday

The Scott County Democrats are hosting Presidential candidates John Edwards and Joe Biden, and Christy Vilsack and Bruce Braley on Saturday. Here are the details from Ed Fallon's I'm for Iowa...

Saturday, February 17, the Scott County Democratic Party hosts its annual Red, White and Blue Banquet. It’s in the Starlite Ballroom at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, 2815 W. Locust Street in Davenport.

“Cocktails” are at 5:30 p.m. with dinner to follow at 6:30. Featured speakers include Bruce Braley, John Edwards, Joe Biden and Christy Vilsack. Tickets are either $30 or $50, depending on where you want to sit. I’ve been to this event two or three times and can attest that these river folk know how to throw a good party. Contact Audrey Linville at (563) 324-7130.
Biden will be in Marshalltown this afternoon at 3:30 at the Veterans Home. I am planning on attending, but will be a few minutes late since school gets out at 3:20.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fair Share Won't Force You To Join A Union

The Dubuque Telegraph Herald (free registration required) has a story about a public hearing Rep. Pam Jochum held this week about the proposed Fair Share law.

If the bill is passed, it will not automatically mean non-union workers have to pay; it just allows Fair Share to be among the issues that can be included when labor negotiates a contract with management.

"Iowa values teach us nothing is for free," Lynch said. "I want to pay for services that are provided for me."

If Fair Share becomes law, it will affect only a small percentage of Iowa's work force, Lynch said.

Union officials say some 38,700 Iowans, or about 2.6 percent of Iowa workers, are currently covered by union contracts but are not union members. About 160,700 Iowans belong to unions.

Fair Share won't force people to join unions, it only means people will be paying their fair share for the services they receive. I am a member of the teacher's union. In my section of the building, only 3 out of the 8 teachers are members. Contract negotiation is a service the union provides. It isn't fair that I am paying for the union to negotiate the other teacher's salaries and the other teachers get the benefits for free.

Republicans believe in personal responsibility. Fair Share means no more free rides. That sounds like something that Republicans can get behind.

Edwards Visiting Dubuque on Sunday

John Edwards will be holding an event in Dubuque on Sunday to discuss his plan for universal health care. Here are the details...

You're invited to join John Edwards this Sunday in Dubuque, Iowa.

WHAT: A town hall meeting with John Edwards.

WHY: To discuss his plan for universal health care.

WHEN: This Sunday, February 18th at
1:00 PM

Grand River Center, 500 Bell Street in Dubuque.

This event is free and open to the public.
For more information please call 515-333-2729.
We hope you will be able to join us!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Just Because You Were In School 25 Years Ago Doesn't Mean You Know About Education

I am not sure why I headed over to the Neo-corn Blather Boys tonight. Maybe it was the large amounts of cough syrup and cold medicene that I have taken. As I was browsing, I found this post about how ridiculous our education system has become.

As evidence to my opinion may I present Speed Stacks. Last week my son came home from school all excited about make pyramids with plastic cups and then taking them down. The faster the better. This was part of his gym class. Is this how fat our country has gotten? Now stacking a bunch of cups with holes in the bottom constitutes physical activity?
This is another example of someone thinking they know everything about education because they were in school 25 years ago.

The school I work in has a stacking cup unit in PE class. The PE teacher has a couple fun activities that go along with the stacking cups. In one of the activites, each kid has a partner and they race. They have to stack the cups up, then run a lap, and then down stack. The first one done wins. The PE teacher also does relay races that involves running the full length of the gym, stacking the cups, and running back. The kids love the stacking cups and get a workout while using them.

This is just a simple example of why you should not spout off pointless drivel on subjects you have limited knowledge of. You don't see my writing about the proper proportion of pizza sauce on a pizza do you?

Unfortanately, people think they know how the education system should work by comparing it how the education system worked when they were in school.

Reaction to the Obama Event in Ames

I failed to follow up my live blogging (Part 1 and Part 2) of the Barack Obama event in Ames on Sunday. I have been fighting a head cold and have been in bed by 8 the past 2 nights and am heading their soon tonight.

Since I won't be posting my reactions, here is a nice writeup by a new blog called iPol. Here is what they had to say...

Barack Obama is, at most times, an inspiring speaker. In his best moments, it is possible to take him at his own valuation as a once-in-a-generation leader from the JFK mold. He places his personal story in the continuum of national progress on civil rights and civic enlightenment, and when he concluded by quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. about reaching out to bend the arc of the universe toward justice, he absolutely brought the house down.
Here is a great picture from Obama's flickr page of the event...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Iowa Senate Opposes Bush's Escalation Plan in Iraq

The state Senate will be voting on a resolution to oppose Bush's plan to escalate the war in Iraq. From WQAD...

A majority of the state Senate has signed on to a resolution opposing President Bush's policies on Iraq.

The resolution says the U-S military is now -- quote -- "dangerously weakened."The measure, which is non-binding, was backed by 28 of the 50 senators, all Democrats.It notes that troops sent to the region have served bravely but are burdened by a flawed policy.

Iowa is one of 21 states that are debating similar resolutions. I wonder if the Iowa House plans on voting on a similar resolution.

Why Would Swift and Co. Change Their Hiring Practices?

The Des Moines Register has a story saying that Swift and Co. is back to normal production levels two months after the immigration raids. Unfortanately, it looks our illegal employer problem will continue and Swfit and Co. even got some free advertising from the immigration raids. A Swift's spokesperson had this to say about their recent hires...

"One side effect ... of all the widespread media coverage was the world figured out we were hiring," he said. "(With) our own efforts for advertising, it has worked quite well for applications."
You would think that after 10% of your workforce is arrested, you would have to change your hiring practices, but no...
Swift has not changed its hiring practices since the raids. The company continues to participate in a government pilot program to help weed out illegal immigrants by checking for discrepancies in Social Security numbers, McHugh said. Human resource workers receive special training in detecting fraudulent documents.
Why would Swift and Co. change their hiring practices when they haven't been punished at all?

Monday, February 12, 2007

"I Was Wrong" or "I Was Misled"

There was an interesting post on DailyKos yesterday about how candidates are positioning themselves on the Iraq War.

Kos writes about John Edwards coming right out and saying that his vote for the Iraq War was a mistake and he was wrong and comparing it to Hillary Clinton's stance that she was misled. Kos concludes that Hillary is beholden to the consultant and Washington insiders. Here is a quote that I totally agree with from one of Hillary's campaign stops in New Hampshire over the weekend...

Roger Tilton, 46, a financial adviser from Nashua, N.H., told Clinton that unless she recanted her vote, he was not in the mood to listen to her other policy ideas.

"I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all and without nuance, you can say that war authorization was a mistake," Tilton said. "I, and I think a lot of other primary voters — until we hear you say it, we're not going to hear all the other great things you are saying."

Back in January, Drew Miller had a similar post examining the difference between the admitting you made a mistake on Iraq and saying knowing what we know now. Drew pretty much sums up my thoughts...
There is a big difference between "Well geez things sure turned out bad so of course in retrospect it was a bad idea" camp and the "It was a bad idea in the first place and we should have known it then" camp. Considering that most Democratic activists were against the war from the start, it's going to take more than just acknowledging that Iraq is a shitshow now to win our support.

Iowans for Sensible Priorities Bird Dogging Trainings

This week Iowans for Sensible Priorities is holding bird dogging trainings around the state.

The demand for sensible federal budget priorities needs to come directly from the grassroots.

The more candidates hear us talking about the federal budget – the more likely they are to talk about it and add priorities to their platform. By bird-dogging we hope to get candidates to endorse the message of sensible federal budget priorities and make it their top issue in 2008.

Here is the schedule...

We’re hosting workshops across the state to give you the skills and tools you need to be an effective bird-dogger.

DES MOINES Tuesday, February 13 6:00 PM

AMES Monday, February 12 6:00 PM

WATERLOO Wednesday, February 15 5:30 PM

QUAD CITIES Saturday, February 17 2:00 PM

DUBUQUE Monday, February 19 6:00 PM

IOWA CITY Thursday, February 22 6:00 PM

SIOUX CITY Saturday, February 24 10:00 AM

FAIRFIELD Wednesday, February 28 6:00PM

Find out about a training in your area!

We need your help to make this effort a success! We’re training volunteers to ask Priorities questions at candidate events.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Free Speech the Big Winners at the Grammy Awards

The Dixie Chicks were big winners at the Grammy Awards tonight. My wife is a big fan. I started out tolerating them everytime she would play one of their CD's, but I have grown to like the Dixie Chicks. The CD that won all of the awards is pretty good. Here is one of the songs called Easy Silence...

The media is going to try to make their big night at the Grammy's into being anti-Bush and anti-war. Their CD is neither. The CD is more of a response to the criticism, threats, and stifling of free speech they received over the past couple years. It is good to see the Dixie Chicks didn't back down. Free speech prevailed.

Here is the trailer of the documentary Shut Up and Sing about what the Dixie Chicks went through...

Live Blogging from Obama Event in Ames Part 2

12:36 Obama is introducing his background and discussing how he decided to run for elected office in the Illinois State Senate. Says that he would talk to anyone, anywhere and their first questions was about his funny name and then they would say that he seems like a nice guy, but then ask why would he want to enter the dirty field of politics. Says that finding that common bound that brings us together is his motivation in politics and when we work together there is nothing that we cannot overcome.

12:40 Going through our challenges that we face.
Healthcare: Says everyone deserves quality healthcare.
Energy: we are funding both sides of the war on terrorism.
Global Warming: we produce the most emmisions of any industrialized nation and know that this is not sustainable.
Education: must revamp our schools, pay our teachers more, make education work for all young people, and provide access to college to every student that is qualified.
Terrorism: Instead of going after the people that attacked us we made a mistake going to Iraq that has been costly. Our success depends on not just the might of our military, but the power of diplomacy.

12:44 We know the challenges, but why are we letting this happen? The oil companies write the energy policy, the drug companies write the health care bills. This must change and requires all of us to shake off the slumber, set aside the synicism, and get involved in this election. This is the reason Obama is running for President. Wants this campaign to drive this change and get people involved.

12:47 Says there is no reason why we can't have universal health care before the end of the next President's first term.

12:49 There is no reason we can't restructure the economy to benefit all people. Productivity has gone up, corporate profits are going up, but wages haven't. Needs to spread the benefits around to everyone. Lay broadband in communities. Discusses building the infrastructure for renewable energy that benefits everyone.

12:51 Talks about the need for a secure world, but that can't happen until we are out of Iraq. He knew it was wrong to go in and we need to get out and solve the problem diplomatically.

12:52 Says that he is an imperfect vessel for your hopes and dreams. He can't do it alone, he needs your help to accomplish these goals.

12:54 Is telling a story about campaigning for US Senate in Southern Illinois with Dick Durbin. Obama is a great story teller. The story is about campaigning in Cairo, Illinois, where there was great racial tension in the 60's. Quotes Martin Luther King, "The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice." However, it doesn't bend on itself, it takes people to make it bend and the world into a better place when it comes to health care, education, and diplomacy.

12:59 Obama closes and the Jackie Wilson's Higher and Higher and Ben Harper's With My Own Two Hands playing. No question and answer portion. Obama and his wife are shaking hands and signing autographs.

Live Blogging from Obama Event in Ames Part 1

I am at Hilton Coliseum in Ames at the Barack Obama campaign rally. I will try to live blog as much as I can and then will edit it a little when I get home. The stage is in the middle of the floor with people and media on the floor. The doors opened at 11:00. I showed up at 11:10 and 3/4ths of the seats were already full. They weren't planning on opening up the upper sections, but they are half full. There was a pretty good band playing before called The Faculty Lounge that got the crowd pumped with 70's funk music.

12:00 Brent Wynja, Story Co. Democrats Vice Chair, is up speaking. He says this is the largest crowd for a campaign kickoff rally ever in Story Co.

12:05 Selden Spencer is on stage introducing the elected officials and thanking everyone for coming. Spencer says that it is up to us to demand a democracy that has the best interest of everyone. This is definitely the largest crowd that Spencer has spoke in front of. Probably bigger than the state convention and the Harkin Steak Fry. And no, Spencer did not endorse Obama.

12:08 There has been like 3 songs by the Dixie Chicks playing over the speakers. Seems like an odd choice for Obama. Next rally they need a mix tape.

12:12: The president of the ISU Democrats is speaking. She is introducing State Treasurer Tom Fitzgerald and Attorney General Tom Miller. John Deeth says that Miller and Fitzgerald have endorsed Obama.

12:17 Obama and his wife Michelle is introduced. A funk song is playing. I don't know the name, but the words are very fitting... "Give it up to the people, Give them what they want." (edit: the song was "Give the People What They Want" by the O'Jays.

12:20 Fitzgerald is speaking. Fitzgerald announces that he one of the co-chairs of his campaign. Fitzgerald says that we don't know what problems we will face and we need someone who wil lmake good decisions. Obama was the only one who was against the war from the get-go. Says we need someone who can bring the country together and Obama is the one to do that.

12:23 Tom Miller is up now. Miller says that great leaders step up when we face great challenges. Miller says that Obama has the charisma and can connect with people. Obama has the vision of a America where special intersets dont' rule and sees that our nation needs to be brought together. Says that Obama is the smartest person to graduate from Harvard law. Miller is giving a great introducion. Miller leaves by saying imagine Obama as a world leader. Obama would be a 180 degree change from Bush and would bring diplomacy and peace to the world.

12:28 Obama takes the microphone and immediately leaves the podium and walks around. He is wearing his typical casual, no tie look. Is thanking Tom Miller and Fitzgerald. Met Miller ate the Harkin Steak Fry, got some cheers, and said that he enjoyed the event and ate well.

12:31 Obama is thanking the college democrats and Jeremy Zeimmer, who leads the Students for Obama group on campus. Thanks Selden Spencer and says we need a good Dr. in Washington. Thanks the rest of the state legislators and Jan Bauer, chair of the Story Co. Democrats. Says that Miller was wrong, the smartest person to graducate from Harvard law is his wife Michelle. Tells the young men that their goal in life is to marry a person better than they and improve their DNA.

David Sirota on Obama: "I Want to Believe"

I am getting ready to head out to the Obama event in Ames today. I saw this article called "I Want to Believe" posted by David Sirota that discusses a lot of the same feelings that I have towards Obama. Sirota writes...

In my time studying his(Obama's) career, it became obvious that this is a person who wants to do the right thing and has genuinely strong convictions. But he also seems to believe that the reason our country has such challenges is because all sides of every issue have not come together in unity (I’ve gone back and forth wondering whether this is a sincere belief or merely a justification for overly cautious behavior, but I’m not a psychoanalyst, so I have no idea).

The problem with this outlook is that it fundamentally misunderstands why we are at this moment in history. Forty-five million Americans are uninsured, and millions more underinsured not because low-income health advocates and the insurance industry haven’t sat down together and sung Kumbaya. It’s because, unlike every other industrialized country in the world, we have a government that has been bribed into allowing the insurance industry to profiteer off sick people. Our global warming problem did not happen because environmentalists and the auto industry refused to hug each other. It happened because the auto industry has bought off enough politicians to make sure we don’t increase fuel efficiency standards.

Put another way, there is no “third way” or “consensus” way out of many of our most pressing problems, as Obama seems to believe. Why? Because many of our most pressing problems are zero-sum: someone is benefiting from the status quo, and to change the status quo means someone may lose something. And if you don’t believe me, just take a quick look at history.

Sirota concludes by saying...
Ultimately, Obama will have to make a very important decision - one that none of the pundits will ever see, much less understand. He will have to decide whether he wants to offer up poll-tested platitudes about nebulous “hope” and run for President, or whether he wants to really challenge the status quo and actually BE ELECTED President. And as I said at the beginning, I want to believe he will make the right choice.
I want to believe, too. The moment I heard Obama gave his speech at the 2004 convention, I knew that he had a bright future. This will be my first time hearing Obama in person, so I am hoping I come away feeling that Obama is authentic and honest and not just another politician trying to run to the center and away from their beliefs.

Check back this afternoon for a writeup on the event in Ames. In the meantime, check out John Deeth, who wrote about Obama's stop in Cedar Rapids yesterday.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Obama's Officially In

I watched Barack Obama's announcement from Springfield, Illinois this morning on CSPAN. Surprisingly, the event was held outside in very cold weather, but there was a large crowd. Despite the weather, Obama gave a good speech. Here is Obama's closing...

And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I'm ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.
There was a call-in show on CSPAN after the speech. One call was from an old woman who said America is not ready for a Muslim President. The host explained that Obama was a member of the United Church of Christ church. The old woman then questioned Obama's name and asked why Obama changed his name to a muslim name. The host explained that Barak Obama is his birth name. Unfortanately, Obama will have to answer these types of questions and take away from the important issues.

Obama's event in Ames on Sunday has been moved to Hilton Coliseum. Tickets are now not required for the event. This is the third venue change, so they must be expecting a huge crowd.

I said it was a big crowd. From Political Wire...
...local police estimate there were between 15,000 and 17,000 people at Sen. Barack Obama's campaign kick off.

The Reason the Democratic Party is in Charge and Not the Republic Party

Rep. Andrew Weiner (D-NY) gave this passionate speech on the House floor discussing the ridiculousness of the Nancy Pelosi airplane story.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Is Feingold the Only One With the Courage to End the War?

Sen. Russ Feingold is way ahead of every other politician out there on the Iraq issue. Feingold is calling for a plan for redeployment of troops out of Iraq in six months then funding for the war will be pulled. Feingold's plan is the same way the conflicts in Somalia and Bosnia were ended when Clinton was President.

Feingold was recently on Countdown with Keith Olbermann and discussed his plan and his opposition to the Warner-Levin non-binding Resolution.

Feingold also held a conference call with some bloggers. Bob Geiger, David Sirota, and Bradblog wrote about it. Bradblog wrote this about Feingold's comments...

In a passionate, thirty-minute call, Feingold stressed, "This is an important moment to see if we're gonna try and end this war. Frankly, I'm disappointed that Democrats are playing it safe on this one."

"We need to play hardball on this. We're gonna have to take the lead on this issue and we're gonna need to tie this place up as long as it takes," he said in describing what he sees as a fear and timidity in his colleagues who now hold a slight majority in the Senate...

"The problem is a whole lot of middle-of-the-road Democrats who refuse to pull the trigger, who refuse to do what needs to be done," Feingold stressed. "Even people who voted against the war" seem afraid, he explained. "It requires courage. It requires brinksmanship."

Unfortanately, it looks like the new Democratic congress is lacking the courage. The bottomline in Iraq is that Bush's surge is already underway. Non-binding resolutions won't accomplish anything when more troops are already being deployed into harms way. The only thing Congress can do that actually has teeth is to do what Feingold is proposing and it is what the vast majority of Americans want. We need a Congress that has courage to listen to the American people.

Obama in Ames on Sunday

Barack Obama will be holding an event in Ames at noon on Sunday. He is expected to hold his formal announcement on Saturday in Springfield, Illinois. I have also heard that Obama will be in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, but don't have details.

Here are details for the event in Ames from my inbox...

Beyer Gymnasium at Beyer Hall
Union Drive
Iowa State University
Doors open at 11:00AM

The event is free and open to the public, however preferred seating
tickets will be available at the following sites starting
tomorrow--Wednesday, February 7.

Iowa State Memorial Union
Iowa State University
2229 Lincoln Way
Hours- 10AM-2PM W, Th, F

Gateway Real Estate
119 Stanton Ave, 2nd Floor,
Hours 9AM-5PM W, Th, F
P- 515-598-9100

American Country
327 Main Street
Hours- 9:30AM-5:30PM W, Th, F, S
P- 515-232-7813

West Ames-
Smoke N Antlers Bar-B-Q
4518 Mortenson Rd, Suite 104
Hours- 11AM-2PM & 4PM-9PM W, Th
11AM-2PM & 4PM-11PM Fri
11AM-11PM Sat
P- 515-232-1799
I am hoping to attend the event. Not sure yet how to get tickets if you don't live in Ames, but will be looking into it.

Obama will also be holding events in Cedar Rapids on Saturday afternoon and in Waterloo on Saturday night. Follow the link for information to get tickets to these events.

The venue for the Ames event has been changed to Howe Hall on the Iowa State campus and doors will be open at 11:00.

A Look At Vilsack's Fundraising

Congressional Quarterly took a close look at Tom Vilsack's fundraising numbers for his Presidential Campaign. So far Vilsack has raised $1.1 million. 48% of the contributions came from Iowa.

Some interesting names that donated to his campaign are Warren Buffet, Michael Gartner, Jerry Crawford, Cedar Rapids Mayor Kay Halloran, State Rep. Polly Butka of Clinton, and James Atwood, the managing director of the Carlyle Group.

The article is pretty positive about Vilsack's fundraising efforts so far, but doesn't talk about how much he has already spent. Check out the article for more information.

Ted Haggard Might Be Moving to Iowa

Evangelical leader Ted Haggard is considering a move to Iowa, according to a Denver news channel.

Haggard said in an e-mail Sunday to church members that he and his wife, Gayle, plan to pursue master's degrees in psychology. The e-mail said the family hasn't decided where to move but that they have been offered spots in Missouri and Iowa.
Haggard resigned from his position as President of the National Association of Evangelicals in fall after admitting to having an affair with a male escort and using methamphetamine.

Let's hope Haggard picks Missouri.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Some more Crazy Comments from Congressman in Western Iowa

Over the weekend there were some more crazy comments from a Congressman in Western Iowa, but this time it wasn't Rep. Steve King saying them. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) was in Council Bluffs campaigning for President on Saturday. Tancredo's focus is on illegal immigration. Unfortanately, Tancredo fails to discuss the cause of the immigration problem, instead Tancredo, like King, focuses on hate-filled remarks.

Here are three examples from his stop in Iowa over the weekend...

"Illegal immigration has diluted the country's patriotism."
and referred to immigrants as a cult...
"We have a cult of multiculturalism. This is what permeates our society," he said. Immigrants who come to the United States but refuse to assimilate by learning the language and following the laws water down what it means to be an American.
and to top it off Tancredo had this to say...
"It's a cultural, political, linguistic tower of Babel."
Doesn't Tancredo realize that the vast majority of Americans are immigrants to this nation? Maybe he needs to read the story of the first Thanksgiving again.

If Tancredo gave up the divisive remarks and actually worked at finding common ground, we might be able to find a solution that will actually work.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Swift and Co. Thinks They are the Victims of the Immigration Raids

I couldn't believe this story I saw in the newspaper on Saturday. I guess that Swift and Co. thinks they are the victims of the immigration raids that took place last December.

President and CEO Sam Rovit told the Greeley Tribune in Friday’s editions that the government rejected the company’s offer to help investigate alleged identity theft.

‘‘They were looking for a marquee to show the administration it was tough on immigration,’’ he said.
I am sorry Mr. Rovitt, if the administration was looking for a marquee to show that it was tough on immigration your company would have been fined for employing over 1,200 illegal workers. So far Swift and Co. has gotten off the hook and are able to go back to hiring the cheapest labor possible. Our illegal employer problem will continue unless the companies that hire illegal workers are fined.

Vilsack's Speech at the DNC Winter Meetings

On Saturday, Tom Vilsack spoke at the DNC Winter Meetings. I caught most of the speech on CSPAN and thought Vilsack did very well. Radio Iowa has a very good writeup on the speech.

Vilsack's theme was pushing for real change. Vilsack spoke against No Child Left Behind and the need to teach creative thinking.

Let me be clear: I'm not talking about small change. I'm not talking about incremental change. I'm talking about bold and courageous change. Let me give you a few examples: adding a few dollars and tweaking a reauthorized No Child Behind is not real change. Ending No Child Left Behind as we know it is real change and replacing it with a real, true commitment to the children of this country. In this competitive world we live in we cannot be afford to be a nation of great, standardized test-takers. We must be a nation of creative and innovative thinkers and that's what our education policy should be.
Vilsack gained huge points with me when he discussed the birth tax by saying...
Balancing budgets, making real choices and eliminating what I call the birth tax is real change. Think about it. That's what the deficit is. That's what the deficit is. It's a tax on our children and we need to eliminate that tax.
I will admit that I have not been a huge fan of Vilsack when he was governor or when he announced he was running for President. However, if Vilsack keeps using the word "birth tax" and taking a strong stance against the Iraq War, I might have to reconsider his candidacy.

Global Warming? But it is Cold Outside and Other Crazy Statements

On Friday, a group of scientists released a report that said global warming is for real and people are likely the cause.

The IPCC, the most authoritative group on warming grouping 2,500 scientists from more than 130 nations, predicted more severe rains, melting glaciers, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels, especially if Antarctica or Greenland thaw.
Conservatives then began showing their disaproval with idiotic statements. Rush Limbaugh tried to debunk global warming by saying stranded polar bears, who live on melting ice caps, are just playing around, just like your cat does.

A caller to the Sam Seder show said that global warming is just a way from liberals to reach into his wallet and take his money.

And the ridiculous statements continued over at State 29. State 29 has recently had a couple posts attacking Al Gore and basically saying global warming can't exist because it is cold outside. This statement shows how ignorant State 29 is. If State 29 actually spent 5 minutes researching global warming, he would know that global warming increases extreme weather patterns such as hurricanes, tornados, droughts, heat waves, and cold spells.

To counter the report, Exxon-Mobil has offered $10,000 to any reports that discuss the shortcomings of global warming.
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report
Maybe State 29 should submit his posts.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Feingold Leading the Way to End the War

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is leading the way in the Senate to end the war in Iraq. Last week Sen. Feingold held hearings about Congress's consitutional authority to end the war. Here is Feingold's opening statement from the hearings...

Feingold then introduced legislation calling for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq in six months and prohibiting funds for continued operations after six months. Feingold then issued this strong statement about Congress's power to end the war (emphasis added is mine)...

“By passing my legislation, Congress can respond to the will of the American people and force the President to safely bring our forces out of Iraq,” Feingold said. “With the President set on pursuing his failed policies in Iraq, Congress has the duty to stand up and use its power to stop him. If Congress doesn’t stop this war, it’s not because it doesn’t have the power -- it’s because it doesn’t have the will.
Also, Feingold, along with Sen. Chris Dodd, called the non-binding Warner/Levin resolution a mistake. Feingold went on to say...
I oppose the weak Warner-Levin resolution as currently written because it misunderstands the situation in Iraq and shortchanges our national security interests. The resolution rejects redeploying U.S. troops and supports moving a misguided military strategy from one part of Iraq to another. The American people have rejected the President’s Iraq strategy and it’s time for Congress to end our military involvement in this war. We must redeploy our troops from Iraq so that we can focus on the global threats that face us.
Feingold was the first Senator to call for a timeline to redeploy troops out of Iraq back in August of 2005. It is just now that other Senators are catching up. Now Feingold is looking ahead and offering a plan, will others follow or stay a step behind Feingold?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Candidates Speeches at DNC Winter Meetings

This morning I caught some of the DNC winter meetings on CSPAN. I was able to see Barack Obama, Wesley Clark, and John Edwards speak. Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, and Chris Dodd also spoke today. Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, and Tom Vilsack are scheduled to speak on Saturday.

Obama's speech was good and got a good response. Clark's speech was dull and boring. Clark basically introduced himself when the audience already knew who he was. He had the chance to connect wtih the people on national security and failed to do so. Instead people left knowing that Wesley Clark has been in the military. John Edwards gave a great speech. He told stories that connected with the people, recieved standing ovations, and called on the audience to act. Of the three speeches I saw, Edwards, by far, did the best.

Here is part of his speech...

The Great Molly Ivins

As you may have heard columnist Molly Ivins passed away this week. Ivins was a great fighter for progressive politics and witty author. I enjoyed reading her columns and books.

She wasn't afraid to write about anyone, even calling out corporate Democrats when they neglected core Democratic values. She wrote this scathing article against the DLC in March of 2006 and recently explained why she would not be supporting Hillary for President.

In her last column, Ivins called for Americans to take a stand and force our elected officials to stop the war now. Ivins said...

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on January 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"

Here is a collection of quotes from Ivins over the years...
• "Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan's speech; it probably sounded better in the original German", Ivins in September 1992, commenting on the one-time presidential hopeful's speech to the Republican National Convention.

• It's like, duh. Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong.

• I am not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife. In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We'd turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don't ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives.

• Naturally, when it comes to voting, we in Texas are accustomed to discerning that fine hair's-breadth worth of difference that makes one hopeless dipstick slightly less awful than the other. But it does raise the question: Why bother?

Oh, it's just that your life is at stake.

• I know vegetarians don't like to hear this, but God made an awful lot of land that's good for nothing but grazing.

• Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.

(About the aftermath of Katrina) Some Christians seem to me inclined to lose track of love, compassion and mercy. I don't think I have any special brief to go around judging them, but when the stink of hypocrisy becomes so foul in the nostrils it makes you start to puke it becomes necessary to point out there is one more good reason to observe the separation of church and state: If God keeps hanging out with politicians, it's gonna hurt his reputation.

• You want moral leadership? Try the clergy. It's their job.

• I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn't actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.

• Last week, I began a sentence by saying, "If Bush had any imagination ..." and then I hit myself. Silly me.

• Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.”

• Let me say for the umpteenth time, George W. is not a stupid man. The IQ of his gut, however, is open to debate. In Texas, his gut led him to believe the death penalty has a deterrent effect, even though he acknowledged there was no evidence to support his gut's feeling. When his gut, or something, causes him to announce that he does not believe in global warming -- as though it were a theological proposition -- we once again find his gut ruling that evidence is irrelevant.

In my opinion, Bush's gut should not be entrusted with making peace in the Middle East.

Long, Long Week

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I had parent-teacher conferences and put in an extra 10 hours in at school this week (and only got paid for 6.5 hours, oh well.). Luckily, I have today off. I have a lot to write about, so check back.