Saturday, March 31, 2007

Is Hillary a Fair Trader?

I saw this story on Political Wire saying that Hillary Clinton has split ways with her husband, Bill, on the issue of trade. Bill Clinton was a leading advocate of so-called Free Trade by approving NAFTA when he was in office and fighting to include China into the WTO.

From Bloomberg News...

Senator Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, wonders why the North American Free Trade Agreement is ``continuing to drive hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people from Mexico into our country,'' she said in an interview. ``We just can't keep doing what we did in the 20th century.''

Somewhere along the Clintons' ``bridge to the 21st century'' -- their 1996 campaign mantra -- they parted ways on trade. Bill was a champion of the global economy and prodded Congress to approve Nafta in 1993 and China's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. Hillary, 59, says new deals may need to be put on hold pending a review -- an idea she calls ``a little timeout.''

Hillary isn't near the top of my list of candidates, but this is good news to hear. It will be interesting to see where Edwards, Obama, Richardson, Dodd, and Biden come out on this issue.

Hey Democrats, is that a Corporate Lobbyist in your pocket?

David Sirota writes on the Huffington Post about the connection between corporate lobbyists and Democrats in Washington. Sirota tells about one lobbyist, J. Jonathon Jones...

"In 2003, Jones played an instrumental role in organizing a regular meeting of Democratic lobbyists and Senate staffers. Every other Monday during the congressional session, 80 to 100 lobbyists and top staffers for Democratic members plotted strategy in a conference room at the Hall of the States near the Capitol...Staffers stopped meeting in 2005 in a reevaluation of the group in the wake of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. After the air cleared, the mix of lobbyists and congressional aides started meeting again last fall...Jones's main challenge is to beat back the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party and to help craft legislation that businesses can stomach."
Barack Obama has positioned himself as a reformer on government ethics and the influence of lobbyists. Tom Daschle says that Obama" has become a real expert on ethics in government, restoring integrity to the (governmental) institutions.” Unfortunately, Obama is isn't totally clean on this issue.
When Obama declared his presidential candidacy in February, he said he would re-engage Americans disenchanted with business-as-usual in Washington who had turned away from politics...One of the lobbyists, who supports Clinton, said that Shomik Dutta, a fundraiser for Obama's campaign, called to ask if the lobbyist's wife would be interested in making a political contribution.
Sirota says that the influence of corporate lobbyists is so obvious that the lobbyists no longer care if their arguments for policy make any sense at all.
K Street doesn't feel the need to be publicly consistent: Because when you can buy off congressional staffers, when you can create corporate front groups under the guise of "helping Democrats," when you can get even the supposed "anti-lobbyist" presidential candidate to bow down to lobbyists, there's no need to bother with annoying things like consistency or the truth.
Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1990's because they were talking out of both sides of their mouths. They said they supported the middle class, the working family, and labor, but then went and did something else. It didn't take long for the American people to question what Democrats stood for because it seemed that Democrats didn't stand for anything. Now that Democrats have control of Congress, it is disappointing some Democrats are going back to their old ways.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Braley Doing His Job in Congress

Welcome to the return of Democratic Accountability. Rep. Bruce Braley does his job by holding the administrator of the GSA and Karl Rove accountable in a hearing in front of the Committee of Oversight and Government.

Thanks for holding our government accountable Rep. Braley. Keep it up!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Energy Expo in Ames on Saturday

The City of Ames is sponsoring an Energy Expo on Saturday. I attended the event last year and thought it was great. There were a lot of vendors there and people from the city that explained how the city is taking actions to reduce energy use and recycle. IRenew also had a booth.

The event is worth checking out. Here is the info...

City of Ames 6th Annual Energy Fair

10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Ames Community Center -

515 Clark Avenue

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Edwards vs Gingrich

Now tell me which party is the party of family values?

National Debt: Who do you owe money to?

Here is who you owe money to...

Here is how much money you owe on the National Debt.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Real Enemy is the Democratic Consultants

Here is a must read article from Rolling Stone that I found on Political Wire.

2008 has the makings of a banner year for Democrats. The wave of discontent that swept the GOP from Congress last November is growing, and the Iraq debacle will make it difficult for Republicans to retain the White House. But there is one group of powerful Washington insiders who have a proven ability to derail the Democrats. Working behind the scenes, these top-tier operatives humiliated Mike Dukakis in a tank, muzzled Al Gore on the environment and portrayed John Kerry -- a lifelong crusader for gun control -- as a rifle-toting Rambo. Year after year they have made sure that the Democratic message comes across as little more than a fuzzy, focus-grouped drone about child tax credits, prescription-drug plans and the ;fight for working families.
The worst news...
And here's the depressing news: The Democrats pay them millions to do it.
We are doomed if the Democratic nominee hires Bob Shrum, who has a stellar 0 for 7 record in Presidential Campaigns, to run their campaign for the general election.

PCCI Fundraising Dinner Tonight in Des Moines

From my inbox...

Hand in Hand – Progressives Working Together
for a Better and More Humane

This is the theme of our Fund Raising Dinner to which you are cordially invited on Monday, March 26, at
6:30 p.m. at the Forest Avenue Senior Center located at Forest Avenue and MLK Parkway in Des Moines.

Our program will feature special music by Mikiel Williams and Tina Haase Findlay and guest speaker Phillip Cryan, director of Iowa Citizens Action Network (ICAN).

PCCI is devoted to promoting progressive causes and supporting progressive organizations. We have grown to eighteen member organizations and are continuing to grow. PCCI also works with a large number of partner groups and coalitions.

In support of PCCI's efforts we are asking invitees to donate $25.00 for the dinner and program ($30.00 after March 20). Please RSVP to my email address joycevernhn@ and invite friends and associates.

I can't attend, but I talked to some of the people organizing this at the DFA training over the weekend and it sounds like it will be a good event.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

McCain's Falling, Will He be Able to Get Back Up?

I wrote about McCain's gaffe's and obvious pandering last week at campaign stops in Iowa. Today, I found this story about McCain not hitting his fundraising goals and Mitt Romney raising more money than McCain. From Political Wire...

"Some Republicans estimate that Romney, whose network of friends, business contacts and party donors is expansive, could accumulate more than $30 or even $35 million this quarter. McCain is not likely to raise in excess of $30M, according to Republicans outside his campaign who have been given the unofficial estimate." The deadline for campaigns to report their earnings to the FEC is March 31.
There was also news this week that Rudy Giuliani gaining on and expanding his leads on McCain all over the nation, including closing the gap in McCain's home state of Arizona. A poll of Democratic insiders done this week also saw the number of people who thought McCain was the strongest candidate fall from 73% to 17% in just 3 months.

McCain's campaign is falling. Will he be able to get back up?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tom and Christy Vilsack on Clean Elections at DFA training

Tom and Christy Vilsack are speaking right now at the DFA training in the Cedar Rapids. They are focusing on clean elections and grassroots organizing.

Christy Vilsack is speaking right now about grassroots organizing and what she would call "going coffee shopping." When Vilsack first ran for governor in 1998, Christy was first responsible for visiting the second or third tier counties (Tom would go the larger counties). Christy would go into these towns without a schedule and would just stop where Democratic voters might be in the town. She would stop at the schools and talk to the teachers. She would stop at the library, the local small town newspapers, and eventually the stop at the coffee shop.

Tom Vilsack thanks the Dean family for bringing the grassroots democracy back into politics in America. He gives credit to Howard Dean for the 50 state strategy and says that is the only way to do it. It is the best way to grow the party. He thanks the activist who worked the grassroots here in the 2nd district to help elect Dave Loebsack.

The main part of Tom Vilsack's speech is about campaign finance and specificly VOICE (HF 805). He says his hope for his Presidential campaign was that he could win Iowa and New Hampshire and turn that into the money to run competively in the other states. However, when California, New Jersey and some of the other large states began to move up their primary dates it made it impossible for some to compete

Legislation being considered in Iowa that would put reasonable limits on state house races and for governor. You wouldn't have to raise the $8 million that Gov. Culver had to raise. At the beginning of the campaign people wondered where Culver was at. He was on the phone raising enough money to run. The legislation would give candidates a chance to actually go around and talk to the voters and hear what is their minds. It is the only way to get a system where the people's business is taken care of and not those of the special interests.

As he went around running for President he would go and talk to donors. He would go and give his speil about what he wants to do and the first question asked wasn't how he could govern or what he felt about a specific issue, but can you raise the money.

Vilsack mentions the need to pass HF 805 that is stuck in committee. He doesn't hold back, saying...

The party that is in power today should really be for this.
He is now doing his best John Madden impersonation and drawing how the money works in the Iowa House. He says that the House members have a limited number of dollars that they can raise within their own district. The Speaker gets all of this money funneled through them where they then give to House members and then makes sure the House member remembers where they got the money from. The VOICE legislation would take this out of our political system.

Now that Democrats are in the majority, they will be focusing on raising money. To raise the money they will not be spending time talking to their constituents. They will be talking to the big money donors and their insterests might not be the same as yours.

Vilsack says that we must contact our State Representives this week because this bill is going to be discussed in committee early next week. Here is the contact information for the leaders in committee that is working on this issue...

VOICE – HF 805

Rep. Dave Jacoby (D)

House District 30 -- Johnson County

Home Telephone: 319-358-8538

Rep. Jo Oldson (D)

House District 61 -- Polk County

Home Telephone: 515-255-2805

Rep. Dwayne Alons (R)

House District 4 -- Sioux County

Home Telephone: 712-439-2479

Dave Loebsack on Iraq from DFA training

Dave Loebsack spoke over lunch at the DFA training in Cedar Rapids today. Loebsack was very well recieved and thanked the group of activists that helped him get elected in the 2nd district. Loebsack talked a lot about the Iraq War and the funding bill that was passed yesterday in the US House and took questions from the audience.

Loebsack said that he is proud of being a member of the House that passed this bill and that it was an accomplishment. The bill puts in more funding for the military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that the troops are equipped. Loebsack said the bill isn't exactly what he wanted, but it is a good accomplishment. Loebsack campaigned for withdrawing troops in 12 months. This bill does that in 18 months.

Loebsack quoted a recent blog post by David Sirota that quoted Saul Alinsky. Loebsack said, "start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be.”

This bill reaches the goal of bringing our troops out of harms way. It might not be as fast as we would like, but the goal is accomplished. Loebsack then stressed that we keep the pressure on because the bill still has to go through the Senate and since Bush has said he is going to veto the bill.

Loebsack said he is pleased with the things that he has been able to accomplish in the House so far such as raising the minimum wage, lower college loan rates, promoting stem cell research, implementing the 9/11 commission, and address government ethics.

Loebsack finished with a couple stories about being a Congressman. He said the lifestyle of a Congressman isn't quite as glamorous as people said it would be.

Bush Owes You $40 million

The Bush campaign owes the government $40 million for FEC violations during the 2004 election.

From the Washington Post...

The three Democrats on the Federal Election Commission revealed yesterday that they strongly believe President Bush exceeded legal spending limits during the 2004 presidential contest and that his campaign owes the government $40 million.

Their concerns spilled out during a vote to approve an audit of the Bush campaign's finances, which is conducted to make sure the campaign adhered to spending rules after accepting $74.6 million in public money for the 2004 general election.

The reason you haven't heard about this sooner is because the majority of the FEC commisioners are Republicans and they don't think this is a big deal, such as longtime Bush backer Hans von Spakosky.

What the Bush Campaign did was run ads that also promoted Republican Congressional candidates and they split the tab with the Republican Party.
As a result, only half of the cost would count toward spending limits imposed on the campaign when it agreed to take public funds. Weintraub said the spending limit is an essential part of the agreement candidates make to accept public financing. "Bush-Cheney 2004 took the $74 million, and then they broke the bargain," she said.
Do you think they will ever pay up?

Support the Kuhn/Frevert Bill to Limit Hog Confinements

I have gotten a couple of emails on this issue in the past day.


A newly proposed bill, House File 873, presents COMMONSENSE LEGISLATION that would require large-scale confinements in your county to follow environmentally friendly guidelines and be placed farther away from neighboring residences, schools, churches, lakes and tourist destinations.

Currently less than 1 percent of Iowans own CAFOs and yet have all the rights. THIS BILL GIVES BALANCE to the other 99 percent of us.

Please call or email the following Representatives to show your Support for House File 873 (Kuhn/Frevert Bill). Remember to be polite and respectful when leaving a message or speaking with a legislator. Courtesy counts.

This bill is being met with a lot of resistance from corporate lobbyists representing the confinement industry. WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT TO SAVE IT! Help clean up Iowa's rivers, lakes, air and streams…call the following legislators and your OWN TODAY!

(515) 281-3221. If you can't get through please leave a short message.

Feel free to contact Speaker of the House Pat Murphy at:

(515) 281-5211.

For More Information and easier legislative access, please go to:

Passing this bill will provide a balance between the interests of the confinement industry and their neighbors in Iowa.

This bill is in great trouble, having been moved by Speaker Murphy to the House Agricultural committee and they will not vote it out without a large number of calls or emails from ordinary citizens supporting the bill.

If we want someone other than Farm Bureau to influence the outcome of this bill WE NEED YOU to contact your Representative regarding the commonsense legislation presented in HF 873.

TAKE ACTION TODAY! Contact the following members plus your own Representative:

Agriculture Committee:
H Chair
(515) 887-2952
2. Vice Chair
(641) 782-2693
(515) 281-3221
H Ranking Member
(712) 784-3538
(563) 659-9096
(515) 231-6469
(515) 576-1352
(319) 475-2276
(641) 228-2566
(319) 796-4618
(641) 923-2979
(515) 962-9345
(641) 634-2227
(563) 263-3057
(641) 464-2913
(712) 329-3542
(712) 322-0102
(712) 852-4950
(641) 664-2455
(563) 650-6140
(563) 379-7182
(563) 425-5260
(641) 636-2293
(712) 732-6340
(712) 299-3039
(712) 434-5880

Vilsack to Endorse Hillary

Like Chris at Political Forecast, I was surprised to hear that Tom Vilsack is planning on endorsing Hillary Clinton this early. Vilsack ran his short Presidential campaign being outspoken against the Iraq War, calling for the withdrawl of troops out of Iraq, opposing Bush's attempt to escalate the war with a troop surge, and even ending funding for the war.

This is nearly the opposite of what Hillary Clinton has pushed for in her position in the Senate. It is well known that Clinton voted for the war in the first place, unlike John Edwards she is unwilling to admit that her vote was a mistake, and she supports keeping troops in Iraq in definitely.

From MyDD...

In outlining how she would handle Iraq as commander-in-chief, Mrs. Clinton articulated a more nuanced position than the one she has provided at her campaign events, where she has backed the goal of "bringing the troops home."

She said in the interview that there were "remaining vital national security interests in Iraq" that would require a continuing deployment of American troops.

This is why I was surprised to read on iPol about a comment from a Hillary supporter at the Polk County off-year caucus...
Amanda said that she had been working for Tom Vilsack until his withdrawal from the race, but found it easy to join the Clinton campaign ... because of Hillary’s support for ending the war.
The main thing that Clinton and Vilsack have in common isn't the war, it is the fact they were both leaders in the DLC, the Centrist, pro-corporate wing of the Democratic party. Hillary has no desire to get out of Iraq, except that it might help her get elected. Vilsack endorsing her makes me wonder how serious Vilsack was about his anti-war stance as a presidential candidate.

Friday, March 23, 2007

New Poll in Iowa

There is a new poll conducted in Iowa out by ARG. This is the first poll that I have seen since Vilsack dropped out of the race.

Clinton 34%
Edwards 33%
Obama 16%
Undecided 10%
Others 7%

Most all of the other polls that I have seen has had Edwards in the lead. It seems that a lot of Vilsack supporters made the jump to Hillary. Obama has moved up much considering all of his visits he has made to the state. I think a lot of Iowans are waiting to hear Obama in a smaller setting and not in front of a crowd of 2,000 - 5,000 people.

I knew there was 1 poll that had Hillary leading in Iowa and happened to be done by the same company as this one. That means that Hillary didn't pick up a majority of Vilsack backers, but Edwards did. Thanks to Chris Woods for pointing this out. Here's a story from Political Wire on the poll.

**Update 2**
MyDD has the results of the latest poll and the numbers from the last ARG poll.

Clinton: 34 (35)
Edwards: 33 (18)
Obama: 16 (14)
Biden: 2 (2)
Dodd: 1 (1)
Richardson: 1 (1)
Kucinich: 1 (2)
Gravel: 0 (0)
Other / Unsure: 12 (27)

According to the poll, the big movement came from former Vilsack voters moving to Edwards. However, I don't buy that, because it is not supported by any other Iowa poll. The far, far more likely scenario is that Edwards was never down 17 points to Clinton in Iowa, the previous ARG results were inaccurate, and that this poll just moves ARG results into line with other Iowa polls. Then again, if Edwards is tied with Clinton in ARG, maybe he has pulled ahead of Clinton in reality. Also, one does have to wonder if Vilsack's endorsement of Clinton puts Obama at a severe organizational disadvantage in Iowa, since Edwards can use his 2004 structure and now Clinton can use Vilsack's. We will have to wait for other polls to confirm if Obama truly is this far behind in Iowa. Even if he is, he caucuses are still over nine months away, and he has more than enough time to catch up.

Harkin to Hold Meetings on Farm Bill on Saturday

From my inbox this morning...

Senator Harkin is holding listening sessions this Saturday, March 24th to hear your ideas on priorities for the next Federal Farm Bill. This is a good opportunity to thank him for his support of the Section 9006 Clean Energy Development Program and other Clean Energy programs, let him know how Iowans have benefited from it, and urge
him to expand these programs.

The sessions will be held at the following locations:

9:30 AM North Scott HS Cafeteria, 200 South 1st St, Eldridge, IA

12:45 PM: NICC Peosta Campus Conference Center, 10250 Sundown Road, Peosta, IA

4 PM: Cedar Rapids Prairie HS Auditorium, 401 76th Ave NW, Cedar Rapids

If you need more information please contact Nancy Wagner at 312-795-3726

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Alford Gone!

I know this isn't politics, but it is pretty big news in the state of Iowa. ESPN is reporting that Alford is close to signing a deal to leave Iowa and coach at New Mexico.

From ESPN...

Sources said Alford was looking for a school that is passionate about basketball first and foremost after being at a football-first school.
My first semester at the University of Iowa was in the fall of 99. That same year Iowa had a new football coach and a new basketball coach. No one was saying that Iowa was a football school in the fall of 99. Everyone was excited about Alford and were saying Kirk who? Now Alford wants to get away from a football-first school?

Being in Iowa City for the first few years of Alford's tenure, I heard too many stories that soured my view of Alford as a person and his performance on the court didn't do much to help. If on Friday, New Mexico names Alford their head coach, I know I am not the only one in Iowa that will be cheering.

Not too Late to Sign Up for DFA Training in Cedar Rapids this Weekend

The DFA Training is this weekend in Cedar Rapids. I went last year in the Quad Cities and learned a lot about organizing, fundraising, and politics and I am going again this year. There are 70+ people signed up.

From my inbox...

Democracy for America Kicks Off Campaign Training Academy with the following guest Speakers: Jim Dean, Chair, Democracy for America, Dave Loebsack, Congressman for Iowa's 2nd District Selden Spencer, candidate for Congress in Iowa's 4th District, Tom and Christie Vilsack will speak at a social open to the public Sat. eve. at 7:00 Rob Hogg (Linn), Elesha Gayman (Scott), Art Staed (Linn), Iowa legislators will hold a panel discussion Sunday Johnson County's own Dave Leshtz will be facilitating 2 sessions on caucus training and John Crabtree from the Center for Rural Affairs will be facilitating break-outs on rural issues.

It is not too late to sign up. Scholarships still available. Students, seniors and low-income may sign up at reduced rate (half price).

"The DFA training taught my campaign how to analyze voter data, how to establish real-world goals and benchmarks, and how to talk to voters, volunteers, and the media. Campaigning is a skill, and it's something that every progressive activist should know. I'm certain we wouldn't have been able to win without the support and training of DFA."

--Rep. Elesha Gayman IA-84, DFA Training Academy 2006 Graduate

How Does California Moving Up their Primary affect Iowa?

There could be a total of 23 states that hold their primaries on February 5th, just weeks after Iowa and New Hampshire. Here is a story from Monday from the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier about how California moving up their primary to February 5th affects the Iowa Caucuses.

He (Dave Nagle) believes it is imperative Iowa offers candidates who win or do well here a chance to capitalize on their success.

"This is the only place under-funded candidates are going to have a shot," Nagle said.

He has advocated moving up Iowa to put more space between the Iowa caucuses and the contests that follow, especially if New Hampshire moves ahead as officials there have threatened to do.

Nagle argues for a longer selection process than what is planned for 2008.

A less condensed calendar is better in the event the frontrunner stumbles, Nagle said, and ensures the best candidate wins, rather than the candidate with the most money.

I totally agree with Nagle. The condensed calendar will only make Iowa more important. Candidates will need that momentum because they will not be able to simultanously campaign in all 23 states that hold their primaries on February 5th.

It is looking like we will have our nominee by Valentines Day of 2008 or we will have a 2 or 3 candidates split enough of the states on February 5th and that have enough money to hold out and the nomination will go all the way to the convention. I think both scenarios are bad for deciding your nominee.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Valerie Plame Outed at UIowa Lecture Series

Valerie Plame was scheduled to speak at the University of Iowa on March 26th, but she has been advised by lawyers to discontinue lectures until legal matters are cleared up. Plame's husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson will speak in Plame's place.

I saw Ambassador Wilson speak in Ames a few weeks ago and I highly recommend attending his speech. I never got the chance to post about the speech because of the ice storms that hit and loss of power. I will try and do that this week.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tyler Olson Introduces Energy City Legislation

Tyler Olson (D-Cedar Rapids) has introduced a bill (House File 773) that would...
...establish an energy city designation program, with the objective of encouraging cities to develop and implement innovative energy efficiency programs.
This bill is scheduled to be debated in the Iowa House on Tuesday, March 20th.

Here is the explanation on the bill...
This bill provides for the establishment by the department of natural resources of an energy city designation. The objective of the designation shall be to encourage cities to develop and implement innovative energy efficiency programs. To qualify for designation as an energy city, the bill provides that a city shall submit an application including the submission of community=based plans for energy reduction projects, energy efficient building construction and rehabilitation, and alternative or renewable energy production; efforts to secure local funding for those plans; involvement of local schools and community organizations; any existing or proposed ordinances encouraging energy efficiency and conservation, recycling efforts, and energy efficient building code provisions and enforcement; and the organization of an energy day observance and proclamation with a commemorating event and awards ceremony for leading energy efficient community businesses, groups, schools, or individuals.

The bill provides that the department shall establish designation criteria by rule, and shall identify and publicize state grant and loan programs relating to energy efficiency. Additionally, the department is directed to develop a procedure for coordinating with other state agencies preferences given in the awarding of grants or making of loans to energy city designated applicants.
This seems like a cheap and easy way to promote energy efficieny in our communties. It seems pretty similar to the Main Street Iowa program. It would be a great step in helping Iowa become the energy capital of world.

Better Know Phil Hare (IL - 17) and the Out of Iraq Caucus

I just saw Rep. Phil Hare (IL-17) from the Quad Cities on the Colbert Report and then I saw this post from Prairie State Blue about what Phil Hare has been up to since getting elected. I have to say that I am pretty impressed.

Update: The interview can be found here. I can't embed it because Comedy Central is owned by Viacom and they are, like Robert Novak, a total douchebag.

Freshman Illinois Representitive Phil Hare (IL-17) has once again defied fellow Illinois Rep. and Chair of the Democratic Caucus Rahm Emanuel (IL-5).

First, he joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and while that wasn't strictly defying Emanuel, I'm sure Rahm is more comfortable around the Blue Dogs. Next thing you know, Phil Hare is in the Out of Iraq caucus. Those two things on their own had to have Rahm wondering why he didn't look harder for a primary challenger, but now Phil Hare has gone and stuck his finger right in Rahm's eye.

You see on the same day that Rahm Emanuel gave a big wag of the finger to Stephen Colbert, Phil Hare is going to have his district better known.

"I don't know what I'm going to look like tomorrow - foolish, I bet," Hare said. "But that's OK, I don't take myself too seriously." ... All joking aside, however, Hare valued the experience as one in which he could publicize the district and reach a segment of his constituency, unlike other representatives in Washington, D.C., who have told Hare they would be petrified to go on the show.

"There's a lot of people here who won't go on the show, no matter what," Hare said. "I think it's a great way to communicate with young people... My kids are totally addicted to it."

The real question on my end of things is how they're going to pull it all together. You see Phil Hare was already better known at the Kennedy School of Government 2006 Luncheon For Incoming New Members. Well no matter. I'm sure that everyone will join me to see Phil Hare eneagled latter tonight.
Hare did a pretty good job on the Colbert Report. It was funny and Hare didn't get taken, like some others have (example 1 and example 2).

I am impressed with the groups that Hare has joined since getting elected. He is speaking about progressive issues and associating himself with groups that stand for those issues. He is taking stands on the issues that he believes in. He isn't getting pushed by Washington insiders and the so-called Centrists like Rahm Emanuel. Hare is espousing views because he believes in them and because the people in his district believe in them.

After reading that Hare is a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, I wonder why Iowa's two new Congressman, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack haven't joined the Out of Iraq Caucus. (I will give Loebsack credit for being a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.) Both Braley and Loebsack ran on getting out of Iraq and have spoken out about the need to bring our troops home then why not join the 73 other members of the House in the Out of Iraq Caucus?

Ending the War is a Matter of Faith by Jim Wallis

Here is a speech that Jim Wallis gave over the weekend at the National Cathedral.

On the 4th year anniversary of the Iraq invasion, I am posting this article written on Friday by Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics.

Several thousand Christians from around the country will gather at the Washington National Cathedral this evening for a Christian Peace Witness for Iraq worship service, followed by a candlelight procession to the White House. This is an excerpt from the talk I will give this evening. We’ll have the full text and coverage of the event next week.

For all of us here tonight, the war in Iraq has become a matter of faith.

By our deepest convictions about Christian standards and teaching, the war in Iraq was not just a well-intended mistake or only mismanaged. THIS WAR, FROM A CHRISTIAN POINT OF VIEW, IS MORALLY WRONG - AND WAS FROM THE VERY START. It cannot be justified with either the teachings of Jesus Christ OR the criteria of St. Augustine’s just war. It simply doesn’t pass either test and did not from its beginning. This war is not just an offense against the young Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice or to the Iraqis who have paid such a horrible price. This war is not only an offense to the poor at home and around the world who have paid the price of misdirected resources and priorities. This war is also an offense against God.

And so we are here tonight, very simply and resolutely, to begin to end the war in Iraq. But not by anger, though we are angry, and not just by politics, though it will take political courage. But by faith, because we are people of faith.

This service and procession are not just another political protest but an act of faith, an act of prayer, an act of nonviolent witness. Politics led us into this war, and politics is unlikely to save us by itself. The American people have voted against the war in Iraq but political proposals keep failing, one after the other.

I believe it will take faith to end this war. It will take prayer to end it. It will take a mobilization of the faith community to end it - to change the political climate, to change the wind. It will take a revolution of love to end it. Because this endless war in Iraq is based ultimately on fear, and Jesus says that only perfect love will cast out fear.

So tonight we say, as people of faith, as followers of Jesus, that the deep fear that has paralyzed the conscience of this nation, that has caused us to become the kind of people that we are not called to be, that has allowed us to tolerate violations of our most basic values, and that has perpetuated an endless cycle of violence and counter-violence must be exorcised as the demon it is - THIS FEAR MUST BE CAST OUT!

And to cast out that fear, we must act in faith, in prayer, in love, and in hope - so we might help to heal the fears that keep this war going. Tonight we march not in belligerence, or to attack individuals - even those leaders directly responsible for the war - or to use human suffering for partisan political purposes. Rather, we process to the White House tonight as an act of faith, believing that only faith can save us now.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jesus Camp

I just watched Jesus Camp, a documentary about an evangelical children's minister who runs a bible camp in North Dakota. I highly recommend watching this movie. Jesus Camp really shows how the far right fundamentalist Christians think and how they are trying to tear down the the separation of church and state.

I have nothing wrong with people enthusiastically practicing their religion. However, there were 2 things that shocked me in Jesus Camp. First, the emphasis on preaching to children in this movie borders indoctrination, rather than simply practicing their religion. The parts that really hit me was when the family said the pledge of alligence to the Christian flag and the boy saying he was reborn when he was 5 because his life wasn't fulfilling. I find it hard to believe that a 5 year old can be reborn. The second thing that shocked me was the scene when they were breaking the cups with a hammer in hopes to "break the power of the enemy over our government in the name of Jesus." This shows the disregard the religous right has of our founding principle of separation of church and state.

Here is the movie's trailer...

and here is a piece that ABC News did on the movie...

I don't even know what to say about the kids worshipping the cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, so here is a clip...

Democrats and Republicans Coming Out Against No Child Left Behind

The No Child Left Behind Act is up for renewal this year and discussion is getting underway in Washington about what to do with the act. US News has this story about Bush losing Republican support for the bill.

Bush supports a fast renewal of NCLB, and his secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, is working hard behind the scenes to get it. The Republican legislation introduced yesterday would not just delay that process; it would gut the law, releasing states from testing and restructuring mandates without forcing them to lose federal funding. The legislation will almost certainly not win approval, but it did send a clear message: Republican leaders no longer stand strongly behind the Bush administration on education.

But the mutiny is against more than Bush. It is also against the law itself. In just five years, the law has transformed public education, giving the federal government more say over what and how children learn than perhaps ever before. To maintain federal funding, all levels have had to change practice: States have had to develop detailed math and reading standards for third through eighth grade, teachers have had to devote weeks of their school year to testing those standards, and schools have had to live by the tests' consequences, facing sticks like forced restructuring or mandatory after-school tutoring if their students don't perform.

While the Bush administration has declared this revolution a success, pointing to higher test scores in elementary and middle school, teachers, parents, and administrators across the country have railed against it, saying it actually hurts their ability to educate children–and they have not been quiet.

Republicans are falling by the wayside because they disagree with the federal government having more control over education at a local level and Democrats are against it because the law is underfunded, impossible to accomplish, punishes the schools that need the most help, and forces schools to teach to the test. This makes it nearly impossible for the No Child Left Behind Act to be renewed without major changes. That means the act will have to be fully funded, have more flexibility in testing, or be totally scrapped. What we do know is that this will be a hotly debated issue this spring.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hop on Board the Straight Talk Express

This is pretty amazing that a person running for President would give this bad of answer to a question. Here is an exchange that took place this week at an event in Iowa. From DailyKos...

In yet another example of straight talk from John McCain, here's his take on contraceptives and HIV/AIDS prevention:

Q: "What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?"

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) "Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy."

Q: "So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?"

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) "You’ve stumped me."

Q: "I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?"

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) "Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it."

Q: "But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?"

Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) "Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before."

He's not sure if condoms can stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases? Is he really that stupid or just willing to look that way in his ongoing effort to pander to the Republican base?

Add this questions to his tar baby comment and it is easy to tell why McCain is falling in the polls.

McCain is torn between doing what he has done his entire career and pandering to the right-wing fringe that holds the noose around the Republican Party's neck. It has gotten so bad, the old man doesn't know what he thinks anymore.

From Dave's Desk

Communication with the people in his district has been a strong theme of Rep. Dave Loebsack's term so far. After he was elected he held constiuent meetings around the district before he went to Washington. Since being sworn in, Rep. Loebsack has come back to Iowa almost every weekend to meet with constiuents.

To keep with this theme Rep. Loebsack has begun writing a weekly column called From Dave's Desk. Here is the first edition...

From Dave's Desk

Friday, March 16, 2007

On March 12th, in 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his renowned fireside chats. In his fireside chats, FDR shared his hopes, plans and dreams for the nation. He initiated a conversation with the American people and asked each American to "tell me your troubles." Today, our nation is, thankfully, not facing a Great Depression. What we are facing is a prolonged war, rising college tuition, a mounting federal deficit, and soaring healthcare costs, among other concerns. In this weekly column, I hope to maintain open communication between Iowa's second district and Washington, D.C. in order to provide realistic solutions to the challenges ahead and work to improve our communities, our state, and this great nation.

I want to begin by telling a little about myself, my desire to serve, and what I have done so far while representing the second district. While campaigning for Congress I traveled across Iowa's Second Congressional District, sometimes even biking and walking. I visited our largest cities and our smallest towns. While the landscape varied, one thing remained the same. People were working hard but struggling to make ends meet. I listened to your concerns about being able to fill up your gas tanks, put food on your table and provide your children with a quality education. With growing uncertainty and little or no confidence in government, people felt they had nowhere to turn for help. This is why I ran for Congress. I wanted to restore the lines of communication, fight for Iowa's families and show that government could once again be a positive force in people's lives. In short, I wanted to restore hope and opportunity to my neighbors.

During the first months of this new Congress we have made great strides to improve people's lives. I am proud to serve the people of Iowa in this Congress. I supported legislation to increase the minimum wage to help lift people out of poverty, reform Medicare Part D to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs, cut student loan interest rates in half and increase Federal Pell Grants to make college more affordable and accessible. We increased federal investment in renewable energy to produce a cleaner environment and more jobs in Iowa. This was accomplished under our new, more stringent, ethics and spending rules.

Everyday I step onto floor of the United States House of Representatives I am driven to fight for my constituents. Your needs are my primary interest. I return to the district at every opportunity so I can listen to the concerns of every Iowan because your priorities are my priorities. In the coming months I hope to build on our accomplishments, to provide even more relief, support and security to everyone in Iowa's Second Congressional District.

My priority is to provide the best representation and constituent service possible. I wish to re-open a regular dialogue between Iowans and our U.S. Congress. To that end, if you have questions, concerns or comments please contact my district offices at 1 (866) 914 - IOWA (4692) and visit my website at where you can get helpful information and contact me electronically.

Peace Rallies taking place this week

Monday, March 19th marks the 4th anniversary of the Iraq invasion. There are peace rallies taking place all around Iowa. Here is a list of events...

Saturday, March 17th

The Art of Peace
West Branch, Iowa
West Branch Community Hall, 201 E Main St, West Branch, IA
Saturday, March 17th 2007 events beginning at 3:30.

Paint Peace banners to display in the community on March 19. Potluck and children's activities.
Film: "I Know I'm Not Alone: A Musician's Search for the Human Cost of War" at 7:00. Live music by "Porch Builder" at 9:00.

Sunday, March 18th

We the People Want Peace! Cedar Falls, Iowa
Cedar Falls Public Library
Sunday, March 18th, 2007, 1:30 pm

Half rally, half vigil. The first part of the program will consist of speakers dealing with the state of the nation, life under communism, and about a positive message. The second part will be a vigil honoring our troops.

Monday, March 19th

Not One More Death ... Petition Parade Des Moines, Iowa
Sen. Harkin's office at the US Federal Bldg. 210 Walnut St. Des Moines, IA
Monday, March 19th, 2007, 3:00 pm - 6:30

Vigil & petition delivery to Senate offices in DM. The Names of the Iraqi & US deaths in the war will be read outside as petitions are delivered to Senators Harkin and Grassley offices. Sen. Harkin's office will stay open until 6:30. Visitors must arrive by 5:45 to be allowed in the building.

Tuesday, March 20th

Peace Rally
Iowa City, Iowa
First Avenue Bridge, Downtown Cedar Rapids
Tuesday, March 20th, 2007, 5 PM
Speakers and Rally

Ames Peace March Ames, Iowa
Lincoln Center Parking Lot in front of east Hy Vee, then marching to Ames City Hall at 515 Clark Ave.
Tuesday, March 20th. March starts at 5:30, Public meeting starts at 6:15 at Ames City Hall.

Speakers at the public meeting will include Sue Dinsdale, whose son has served two tours in Iraq; former Congressional candidate Selden Spencer, ICAN Political Director Amy Logsdon, community leaders and high school students from Ames, former State Representative Ed Fallon, and current State Representatives Beth Wessel-Kroeschell and McKinley Bailey (if the legislative schedule that day permits).

Fourth Anniversary of the War Vigil
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
First Avenue Bridge, Downtown Cedar Rapids
Tuesday, March 20th, 2007, 8 PM
Silent Candlelight Vigil

Here are some more events that are taking place in Iowa City...
Mon , March 19th, start 6:45 PM, corner of Washington & Linn, Iowa City. Candlelight vigil.

Tues, March 20th, start 5PM, Pentacrest, organized by U of Iowa Anti-war Committee

Every Friday afternoon, 5:15 - 5:45, corner of Washington & Clinton Peace Vigil
and here is an event in the Quad Cities on Monday...
Monday, March 19th, start at 6:00, Peace Vigil at the foot of the Centennial bridge Gaines Street in Davenport.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Vilsack, Loebsack, Spencer to Speak at DFA Training

On Saturday, March 24th Governor Tom Vilsack, Rep. Dave Loebsack, and Selden Spencer will be speaking at the Democracy for America (DFA) training in Cedar Rapids. Spencer is scheduled to speak at breakfast starting at 8:30. Rep. Loebsack will be the speaker at lunch beginning at 12:30. Gov. Vilsack will speak that night at 7:00.

The training takes place from 9-6 on Saturday, March 24th and 9-6 on Sunday, March 25th.

Here is more information on the training...

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.

Krusty Konservative

It has been a couple of weeks since Krusty took off the comments at Krusty Konservative. I miss reading the comments. They were as interesting to read as the blog entries were.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Today's Republican Party

This is the 3rd video today I am posting from YouTube. I am thinking I will just make this a YouTube day. I have a couple more that I get to posting, depending on how interesting the NCAA tournament games are tonight.

This video pretty much tells you everything about what is wrong with the Republican Party and George W. Bush.

Is this the same Republican Party of Eisenhower?

Here are some related posts...
Forget the Death Tax. What about the Birth Tax?
Tax Cuts for the top 3.5% of Americans!
Bush is Crippling Unborn Children with Debt and Giving the Rich Tax Cuts

Biden Speaks about Iraq on Senate Floor

Joe Biden gave a passionate speech on the Senate floor about ending the failed policy in Iraq. Biden said...

Our troops don't lose wars, bad policy, bad leadership loses wars. We should have the courage to stand up and tell the administration that they have a god awful policy. They have put our troops into a position that has made it virtually impossible to succeed at the outset. They deserve a policy, they deserve a plan. There is no plan.

Now when Republicans counter that Democrats don't have a plan, they haven't talked to Joe Biden. Biden is knowledgable on foregin affairs and has a plan on exiting Iraq, rebuilding the country, and stablizing the region. When Biden talks about Iraq, people should listen. I am glad that he is speaking out and leading on the issue.

If I agreed with Biden on other issues, he would be near the top of my list for President.

A New Progressive Anthem

I found this ad for the Oregon Bus Project that I thought was pretty good.

Not bigger government, not smaller government, but better government. Not left, not right, but forward. Voters wanted.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Edwards Announces Iowa Staff

John Edwards announced his campaign staff in Iowa. It seems to be a lot of the same people who worked for him in 2004, considering he finished second, isn't a bad thing. This time around though, a second place finish in Iowa would be a disappointment.

Edwards' Iowa State Director is Jennifer O'Malley, who worked as Edward's Iowa Field Director back in 2003-04. O'Malley also has expierence working for Tom Dachle and Tim Johnson in South Dakota.

Here's a look at some of the other staff members...

Jackie Lee — Iowa Field Director
Lee returns to Iowa for her second caucuses having served as the North Central Iowa Regional Field Director for the Edwards for President Campaign in the 2003-04 cycle, and then as Field Director in Virginia and Florida. Most recently Lee served as Field Director for the Florida Democratic Party. Previously, she was Delaware State Director for the Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities and for Americans United to Protect Social Security and served as the Field Director for the Oklahoma Democratic Coordinated Campaign.

Pat Maloney — Iowa Political Director
Maloney joins the campaign from 21st Century Democrats where he was National Field Director during 2006. Maloney, a native of Cushing, Oklahoma, worked as Political Director for the 2004 Oklahoma Democratic Coordinated Campaign. Maloney is returning to Iowa for his second time having previously organized southwestern Iowa for Edwards in the 2003-04 caucuses before working as Deputy Field Director in Oklahoma and Texas.

Matt McGrath — Iowa Trip Director
McGrath is a veteran of the Iowa caucuses, having organized parts of Southeastern Iowa for Edwards in 2003-04, and then continuing with the campaign in Tennessee and Ohio. He was South Carolina’s Coordinated Campaign Director in 2006. Prior to that, McGrath worked with New Hampshire Rep. Paul Hodes, helping to set up his successful campaign for Congress. In 2005, McGrath served as the Kentucky State Director for Americans United to Protect Social Security. McGrath served as a Regional Field Director for Anchorage for Tony Knowles’ U.S. Senate race in 2004.

Mark McCullough – Iowa Deputy Press Secretary
McCullough worked at the American Association for Justice as the Southern Regional Press Secretary. Prior to that, he handled media for the non-profit Washington Regional Transplant Consortium, a Donate Life organization. In the last caucuses, McCullough organized Iowa City and eastern Iowa for Edwards and later worked in Virginia and Florida. The Florida native has also worked on U.S. Senate campaigns in South Dakota and Oklahoma.

Zach Wineburg – Iowa Deputy Field Director
Wineburg, a North Carolina native, returns to Iowa after organizing northeastern Iowa for Edwards in the 2003-04 cycle before continuing with the campaign in Virginia and Georgia. Recently, Wineburg was the Kansas City Regional Field Director for the successful McCaskill for U.S. Senate campaign in Missouri. He previously worked at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

Chris Fields — Surrogate Trip Director for Iowa
Fields previously worked as a Field Organizer in Davenport for Edwards’ campaign during the 2003-04 caucuses. She most recently managed the successful re-election campaign of State Senator Beall. Fields, a seasoned Hispanic organizer, was the director of all Hispanic and bilingual educational efforts at D.C. ParentSmart, a Washington, D.C. based educational non-profit and as a Field Organizer for the South Carolina Democratic Party to elect Inez Tenenbaum to the U.S. Senate.

Melanie Muenzer — Iowa Operations Director
Muenzer is back in Iowa after having worked in 2006 for Congressman Leonard Boswell’s re-election campaign, a position sponsored through Senator Evan Bayh’s All-America PAC. In Chicago, she handled operations for a real estate title company. Prior to that, the native of Indiana worked extensively in 2004 on Governor Joe Kernan’s race.

Forget Meth

I was watching the news last night and I heard Republican Representitive Lance Horbach from Tama say in debate on the cigarette tax that we shouldn't be increasing the tax on cigarettes and should put a $5 tax on methanphetamine.

I know that Rep. Horbach was being a little sarcastic, but his example is beyond ridiculous. The Republicans didn't have any other better reason to not raise the tax, as the $1 per pack increase was passed in the House 58-40.

From the Register...

The $1-a-pack tax hike is expected to cut the overall demand for cigarettes by 19 percent, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. About 20 percent of Iowa adults smoke, said anti-tobacco lobbyists, who predicted more than 20,000 current smokers will quit to avoid the higher tax.

Critics say it will push some Iowans to buy their cigarettes across the border into Missouri, where the tax is only 17 cents a pack, or into Nebraska, where it's 64 cents.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bill Tackles Student Loan Debt in Attempt to Keep Young Iowans in Iowa

I have written that one reason Iowa's young people are leaving the state is because of higher student loan debt when they have graduated college. Here is what I wrote back in September...

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?
There is a bill being debated that addressess this issue. From the Des Moines Register...
One way Iowa can keep young people in the state is for employers who hire them to pay back all or part of their student loans in exchange for a tax credit from the state, one professor says.

College graduates could see their loan debt - up to $25,000 - erased within three years under House File 730, a bill supported by Democrats and Republicans in the Iowa Legislature.

Employers would have a competitive edge over those in neighboring states with an unusual way to recruit new graduates for hard-to-fill or competitive jobs, said University of Iowa business professor Jay Christensen-Szalanski, who came up with the idea.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Privatized Government Is Not A Smaller Government

One of the key principles of the Republican Party is a smaller government. Republican strategist, Grover Norquist has even said...

I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.
Over the past 6 years in Washington, the Republcian leadership has been privatizing government in the attempt to make it smaller. However, a privatized government is not a smaller government. It is just a government that gives your tax dollars to companies to provide poorer quality services.

All you have to do is look at the mess of a privatized FEMA during Hurricane Katrina, the safety of drinking water for troops in Iraq, and most recently the poor care of injured troops at Walter Reed.

I agree that it is important to cut wasteful spending, duplicate programs, and pork barrel projects. However, people forget that government is by the people, for the people, meaning that government is meant to provide services that people need. Services that help people. Some of these services aren't able to be successfully done by private business.

We shouldn't complain that our money is being spent, we should demand that our money is being spent well. We shouldn't be giving our tax dollars away for these services to be done by the lowest bidder. Some of these services are too important to be done by the lowest bidder. A smaller government isn't the answer, the answer is a quality government that serves the people and one that we can be proud of.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

John Edwards Community Meeting in Newton

Yesterday, I attended the Community Meeting John Edwards held in Newton. The event was held at the UAW Hall and close to 200 people were there. Check out Iowa for Edwards for video of the event and links to news stories.

Edwards opened by saying that our next president needs real ideas and vision, but more importantly needs to be someone with honesty, openess, decency, and someone we can trust. Edwards showed that he is going to be open about his ideas throughout this campaign saying...

When you to caucus in January of 2008, which I hope is for me, you will know where I stand. Not just on health care, but also Iraq, energy, jobs, and global warming. You will know where I stand.
He then outlined his health care plan saying that it is based on shared responsibility. I would write more about the details of the plan, but the Des Moines Register did a good job doing that. Plus, I want to watch the DVD that the Edwards campaign is mailing out to 70,000 Iowans that outlines his health care plan. The biggest positive that I see in his plan is that it provides seemless care, so if you change jobs, you don't have to worry about changing your health care coverage. Edwards got the biggest ovation when he said that he would pay for the plan by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans.

Edwards spoke about 15 mintues about health care and then opened it up for questions. Edwards did very well in this setting. He was asked about a wide range of topics, answered honestly, and threw in a joke here and there.

On Iran, he said that he would work with Europe to put pressure on Iran by speaking directly to the Iranian people and attempting to drive a wedge between the people and those in power.

Edwards was asked about social security. He said the last things we should do is raise the retirement age or reduce benefits. People who work all their lives, should be able to retire, when they retire. This line got a large applause from the crowd. Edwards said he would think about keeping the cap on Social Security taxes, which is currently at $90,000, and create a bubble to $150,000 or $170,000, so that middle class people don't get hit with more taxes, yet the wealthy pay more into the fund.

The next question was on immigration and was the most interesting exchange of the day. The man began asking if Edwards considered himself a politician or American first saying that everyone is playing politics and not doing what is right for the country. Then he started asking about immigration. All in all, the man spoke for a couple minutes before Edwards could answer. When Edwards responded, he said that maybe the man should be running, which drew laughter from the audience and the man asking the question. The man responded by saying that he would rather work to get Edwards elected. This type of exchange would not have been able to take place in a larger venue, like the ones Obama and Hillary have had here, or Edwards' announcement in Des Moines in December. It is these exchanges that make the Iowa Caucuses unique and helps Iowans really get to know the candidates.

Edwards' response to the question on immigration was that first and foremost it is a border security issue. He said that the current situation is not sustainable. Next, he would have much tougher laws on employers. Finally, the people here should have a chance to earn citizenship. He stressed the word earn by saying they should pay a fine if they came here illegally, they should learn to speak English, and follow the laws.

The next person thanked Edwards for dropping out of the Nevada debate sponsored by Fox News. Radio Iowa wrote about the question and Edwards responds by saying...
We have a bunch of forums and debates...but there's a limit to how many of those things you need to do. I didn't see any reason, under those circumstances, to give FOX News a forum.
There's another question about health care. Edwards says that nearly half of all bankruptcies are due to medical costs and that you are more likely today to file for bankruptcy than for divorce. He then had a good line, saying that those in Washington that say the economy is doing great in America, should come visit the people in Newton and see what it is really like. Edwards the goes on to say that some say universal health care is for the 47 million Americans that are uninsured. He believes it is a moral issue to provide insurance to these people, but his plan is much more. It is for everyone who is stuck in a system that isn't working.

Edwards then said that baby steps won't work anymore to solve the issues we face today, not health care, not ridding our addiction to oil, not in Iraq, and that we need real leadership on these issues.

Then a student from Grinnell College asks about the rising cost of college tuition. Edwards discussed his College for Everyone plan that he put into place in 2005 in North Carolina. The plan is if you graduate from college and have the grades to go to college, you get your books and tuition paid if you work 10 hours a week. He discusses our debt for diploma system by saying this plan decreases the debt load students have.

Finally, there is a question from State Senator Dennis Black about ethanol. Edwards says that we need a comphensive investment in developing renewable energy such as ethanol, solar, wind, biofuels, and new technology. We need to conserve and need more fuel efficient vehicles and buildings. Then we need to cap emissions and he would have a cap and trade system. He then transitioned into talking about global warming saying that the situation is an emergency. He close by saying that it is time for the President to ask Americans to be patriotic about something besides war.

At this event, I got a better understanding of where he stood on the issues. I wish he would have talked some about NAFTA, Fair Trade, and outsourcing American jobs. This was the place to bring these issues up. Edwards had the chance to say that he is against Free Trade agreements that ship jobs overseas and that he supports Fair Trade agreements.

At his official announcement in Des Moines back in December, Edwards gave a motivating speech that called you to get involved in making America better. I was pumped when I left the event. However, I felt that Edwards was close to be right on the issues, but not quite there yet. At this event, Edwards got a step closer.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Century of the Common Iowan is 1 Year Old

One year ago yesterday, I started Century of the Common Iowan. I picked the name in honor of the great Iowan, Henry Wallace, who was Vice President under FDR. In my first post, 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.
I wanted the blog to be a collection of interesting stories and videos that I found and a chance for me to write about some of the important issues that affect the lives of common Iowans. It seems that a lot of our political debate is centered around the hot button wedge issues, while the issues that affect the live of the common Iowan are continually being ignored.

Over the past year I have written a lot about issues such as the rising cost of college tuition and Iowa's Brain Drain, immigration, and the need for a trade policy that protects American jobs. I have focused on the need to stand up for the core Democratic values of equality, opportunity, freedom, the rule of law, separation of powers, and security.

This has led me write about the false moderates that make up part of the Democratic Party. These so-called Centrists fail to stand up for these core Democratic beliefs. They believe they can have it both ways by voting for the interests of big business, while speaking about the interests of the common American. Then they tell the core Democrats their views are out of the mainstream. David Sirota writes...
That’s really the problem with the term - and with Washington’s definition of it. “Centrism” as defined in the political dialogue today means “being in the middle of elite opinion in Washington, D.C.” But if you plot this “center” on the continuum that is American public opinion, you will find that it is nowhere near the actual center of the country at large. The center of elite Washington opinion is ardently free trade, against national health care, opposed to market regulation, for continuing the Iraq War, and supportive of the flattest tax structure we’ve had in contemporary American history. That center is on the extreme fringe of the center of American public opinion, which is ardently skeptical of free trade, for universal health care, supportive of strong market regulations, insistent that the war end soon, and in favor of making the tax system more progressive.

I have been lucky and received some invitations to meet politicians when they have been in Iowa that I would not have gotten if I did not have a blog. These have come from Wesley Clark, Bill Richardson, John and Elizabeth Edwards, and Iowans for Sensible Priorities. I haven't been able to attend some of these events, but it is great to be invited.

Some political events in Iowa that I did get a chance to attend include John Edwards campaigning in Ames and his official announcement for President, Tom Harkin campaigning for a local state house race, Chris Dodd campaigning for Chet Culver and Dave Loebsack, and live blogged from Barack Obama's rally in Ames (Part 1 and Part 2). In the Democratic Primary for Governor, I wrote a lot about the Ed Fallon campaign, clean elections, and the Values Fund. Before the 2006 Elections, I had the chance to have meetings with Dave Loebsack, Selden Spencer, and Denise O'Brien.

Some people ask me why I take the time to do this. I am reminded of this quote by Paul Wellstone...
Politics is what we create by what we do, what we hope for, and what we dare to imagine.
It has been a great year blogging and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Thanks for reading and please keep coming back.