Monday, December 31, 2007

Michelle Obama: We Suffer a Deficit of Empathy

I have seen a lot of political speeches from a lot of different candidate on both sides of the political spectrum this year. This afternoon, I heard the best one of them all when Michelle Obama spoke at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown.

Michelle began saying that throughout her travels around the country she has noticed that, despite all the talk about what divides our nation, our nation is really close to being united behind common values. She said she is out campaigning, not necessarily because of her husband, but because of her two young girls and what their future will look like. The country today is disconnected, isolated, and full of cynicism. This is caused by our nation being guided by fear. We have become a nation afraid of everyone and everything. Fear is clouding our judgement and cuts off people from their communities and the rest of the world. Our children inherit this fear.

Children in a world driven by fear become doubters, are hesitant, are insulate, and timid.
She then discussed her upbringing on the south side of Chicago and that she sees herself as a regular person from a working class background. She said there is nothing miraculous about her upbringing. Her parents raised her and her brother on a single city worker's salary. She said she and her brother are byproducts of the Chicago Public School System.
I want people to know that, so when they look at me that they see what an investment in public education can actually do.
As a public school teacher, that line really hit home. I suddenly began to think about what the students in my 2nd grade class will be doing in 20 and 30 years. If these students aren't able to make a better living than their parents then there is no hope. Michelle and Barack Obama give me hope, and these kids hope, that when they grow up they might just be able to become something big.

Michelle went on to say that she went on to Princeton and Harvard Law and that story nearly impossible today because of the difficulties families face today. She said that most Americans don't want much, except to know that if they work hard that they can get ahead and have a better life for their children.

She discussed the lose of blue collar jobs, "NCLB sucking the life out of education", the rise of college debt, and rising health care costs.
We are not a nation in debt because we are frivolous and greedy. It's because people got sick... and had to use the credit card to cover medical costs.
Despite all of these concerns, we are a wealthy nation with many resources and plenty of policy and plans.
We are suffering as a nation because we suffer a deficit of empathy.
She said we are not looking after each other anymore and our democracy is suffering because of it. We are living in our own little boxes, isolated from our neighbors and communities. We are told by our leaders to not worry and not asked to compromise and sacrifice for one another. To overcome this, we need leadership that can inspire the nation, and Barack Obama is the only candidate that can do this.

She then compared Barack's background to her background, mentioning Barack travelling around the world and experiencing other cultures when he was younger. She said his mom and grandparents sacrificed, work hard, and learned common sense values just like her family did.

Barack used these values when he passed up a job on Wall St. and chose to work as a community organizer. He then went to Harvard Law and passed up millions to work as a constitutional law professor and civil rights lawyer. Then he went to the Illinois State Senate where he rose above the dirty Illinois/Chicago style politics and passed ethics reform.

She said there is no better example of the judgement her husband possesses than the War in Iraq. People say Barack doesn't have the experience in Washington, but all of the candidates with experience in Washington got it wrong. All of the Washington politicians followed our leaders when their judgement was clouded by fear.

Michelle closed her speech by asking us to dream because if she and Barack didn't dream growing up then they wouldn't be in the place they are today.

The crowd gave Michelle a standing ovation and Michelle went to shake hands. As I looked around, I saw a couple people sitting behind me wiping away tears. Everyone I talked to that was there was amazed by the speech. Even a few said that Michelle should be the one running. Not this time around, but maybe in 2016.

Celebrate New Year's Eve With the Candidates

Candidates are criscrossing the state and many are holding New Year's Eve parties tonight. Iowa Politics has compiled a list of where the events are taking place...

The candidates are holding New Year's Eve gatherings throughout the state. Here's where they're scheduled to be:

-- Barack Obama is holding a New Year's Eve rally at 8:30 p.m. at the Iowa State University Memorial Union in Ames. The doors open at 7:30 p.m.

-- Hillary Clinton will be joined by husband and former President Bill Clinton at a New Beginnings Celebration at 9:45 p.m. at Capitol Square in Des Moines.

-- John Edwards' New Year's Eve festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. at his Mason City campaign office.

-- Chris Dodd is holding a New Year's Eve party at Happy's Place in Dubuque.

-- Bill Richardson and wife Barbara will hold a holiday event at 8 p.m. at the Quality Inn and Suites Event Center in Des Moines.

-- Mike Huckabee and his family are meeting with supporters at a New Year's Eve gathering at 5:30 p.m. at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines.

-- Mitt Romney and his family are attending the GuideOne ImaginEve celebration at 7:15 p.m. at the Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines.

What if Iowa Settles Nothing?

The New York Times asks what if Iowa settles nothing?

Good, because Iowa is not supposed to settle the race. Iowa is supposed to put the candidates through the ringer, toss out the duds, and send the rest on to the other states.

Economic Populism Thunders on the Campaign Trail in Iowa

EJ Dionne of the Washington Post has a story out about the economic populist themes of John Edwards and Mike Huckabee's campaigns. From my experiences talking to Republicans about different issues, one thing we can agree on is that government policy favors corporations and the wealthy over the interests of average people and that big money has too much influence in the process.

Dionne has this quote by Huckabee at a recent campaign event in Iowa...

"I'm not exactly the pick of some of the East Coast establishment Republicans," the former governor of Arkansas said in a nice bit of heartland understatement. "I think they don't understand a lot of us who don't live in their world."

"If you ask a hedge fund manager what's he worried about, he's going to give you a very different answer than a guy who just lost his job in a factory in Orange City," Huckabee continues in a quiet voice, referring to a town in the western part of the state. And then he speaks up for "the guy in Orange City" who is alarmed by the price of gasoline, the rising costs of college and health care, the inexorable increases in "deductibles" and "co-pays."

Dionne concludes...
Since the Reagan era, the heroes of the nation's economic story have been valiant entrepreneurs who "took risks" and "created wealth." This narrative advanced the Republican cause and seeped deeply into the Democratic Party. If Iowa is any indication, there is a new narrative in which the old heroes are cast as the goats of the story and the new heroes are people like "the guy in Orange City." There is a thunder out of Iowa, and it is shaking both parties.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Common Iowan Makes the Washington Post: Part 2

The Washington Post has a great post about the rise of Iowa political blogs and they reference me and this blog again. They talk about Chris Woods and Bleeding Heartland, John Deeth, and Iowa Independent. Then they add...

Most blogs are inevitably more opinion-driven. Though two conservative blogs stand out -- The Real Sporer and Conservative Cyclones -- the state's more prominent blogs lean left. There's Century of the Common Iowan, written by Patrick Stansberry, a 44-year-old teacher, and Iowa True Blue, where Gordon Fischer, a lawyer and former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, blogs about his support for Sen. Barack Obama, whom he's advising.
So I think it is safe to say that I have something in common with Valerie Plame: I have been outed by the Washington Post. The Post is correct in that I am a teacher, however, I am definitely not 44.

Some Neighborly Advice for Iowans

Here is some neighborly advice from Illinois for Iowans to consider before caucusing.

Obama Endorsed by the Marshalltown Times Republican

The Marshalltown Times Republican rarely endorses anyone in Democratic Primaries, however, today they endorsed Barack Obama.

With a philosophy of openness — from education to the economy, government to military actions — Barack Obama has based his message of hope and change on the belief that Americans want to be involved in their government.

We couldn’t agree more.

In an age where closed doors, secret military posts and middle-of-the-night pork barrel votes are all too common, Obama believes we can still come together as a country, we can work together to build a better America.

It’s true, his experience in running a country may not be as lengthy as that of his opponents, but perhaps that is a good thing.

Too many of the candidates already have too much “experience” in our eyes — too much “experience” manipulating the system, too much “experience” bowing to special interests and too much “experience” during a previous White House stint.

Obama has what we would call more “down to earth” experience: helping in his community working as a civil rights activist, and, of course, his time in the Illinois State Senate.

The argument has also been made that Obama lacks experience dealing with foreign policy and foreign leaders. Perhaps that “lack of experience” will translate into some bold, decisive actions that actually deal with foreign issues, rather than the typical “nod and smile” philosophy.

Things are looking good for Obama in Marshalltown, as he adds the endorsement of the Marshalltown Times Republican to the endorsement of Rep. Mark Smith, and the support of the UAW in Marshalltown.

The Times Republican endorsed Mitt Romney on the Republican side.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Obama Highlights Real World Experience and Action

Barack Obama campaigned in Marshalltown on Thursday afternoon. A larger crowd than expected showed up, with over 400 people attending.

Obama gave a strong speech that drew distinctions between him and the other candidates. He did not say Clinton or Edwards by name, but it was clear who he was talking about.

One longtime caucus-goer in attendance was surprised by the diversity and energy of the crowd. She said the crowd didn't look like your typical caucus-goers, but they were energetic and if they turn out then things will be looking good for Obama.

Going all out...80's Style!

Here's an ad from Caucus for Priorities...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Obama Saves Christmas

A Marshalltown family had their home vandalized on Christmas Eve. Their Christmas gifts were stolen and hateful remarks towards Obama and racial slurs were spray painted on the walls.

The mother, who is a precinct captain for Obama, called the Obama captain office in town to tell them what happened. Two staff members went to the house to help clean up. Without the family knowing, another staff member and some volunteers went shopping to purchase gifts for the family's two girls, so they would have present to open on Christmas.

Yesterday, Barack Obama was in town for a campaign event at the local high school. Away from the cameras, in a classroom down the hall from the event, Obama meant privately with the family.

The family are already supporters of Obama, but this event shows that the words Obama speaks on the campaign trail aren't for show. They are about taking the little actions to help people and save Christmas for a family.

Still Undecided: What I'm Looking for

Here is a look at the the issues I am looking at when trying to decide which candidate to support for president.

I want a candidate for president that...

  • is strongly against Free Trade and recognizes that NAFTA ships US jobs overseas and is a driving force behind our immigration problem.
  • is in favor of universal health care
  • sees the major flaws in NCLB and will drastically change the program or just get rid of it
  • is committed to ending our addiction to foreign oil and sees renewable energy and green technologies as a way to create millions of jobs in the country
  • sees Iraq as a distraction from fighting al Qaeda and dealing with terror threats around the world, will bring our troops home from Iraq ( the British withdrawal from Basra reduced violence in the city by 90%), and understands the only solution in Iraq is a diplomatic one
  • has been a longtime supporter of these issues and has the votes and real world experience to back it up
Check out Still Undecided Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The Mindless Menace Of Violence

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Marshalltown UAW to Support Obama

Barack Obama has won the support of UAW Local #893 in Marshalltown, which includes 3,000 members and retirees.

Dennis Stewart, President of UAW Local #893 in Marshalltown, had this to say...

The Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs have been in charge for too long. This week, here in Iowa , their desperate attempt to control the political process is all over our televisions. Now more than ever before, working families know Barack Obama is the only candidate in this race who’s not getting any help in Iowa from Washington lobbyists, special interest PACs, or the shadowy outside organizations known as 527s. That’s why working families can trust Barack to change Washington , tell the truth and win in 2008.

This is big news for Obama in Marshall County. Chet Culver had the support of the UAW in the 2006 Democratic Primary for Governor and Culver won over 50% of the vote in Marshall County with the help of the UAW. Obama had already built strong support in the county and this might just push him to victory in Marshall County on January 3rd.

Final Common Iowan Straw Poll (Updated)

I am posting the final Common Iowan Straw Poll before the Iowa caucuses, asking who do you support to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2008.

Here are the results from November.

The poll will run until January 2nd and will be located in the upper left of the page.

I had some problems with the layout of the blog. While trying to fix it, the results of the poll were lost, so I had to reset the poll.

Don't Move to the Middle, Progressive Needs to be Partisan

Paul Krugman has an article that shows how the country is becoming more liberal. He cites polls that show Americans agreeing with liberal positions and the elections of progressives in red states in 2006.

Krugman then discusses the need for progressives to take advantage of that shift by pushing ahead on bold ideas.

The question, however, is whether Democrats will take advantage of America’s new liberalism. To do that, they have to be ready to forcefully make the case that progressive goals are right and conservatives are wrong. They also need to be ready to fight some very nasty political battles.

And that’s where the continuing focus of many people on Bush, rather than the movement he represents, has become a problem.

Krugman concludes...

So, here’s my worry: Democrats, with the encouragement of people in the news media who seek bipartisanship for its own sake, may fall into the trap of trying to be anti-Bushes—of trying to transcend partisanship, seeking some middle ground between the parties.

That middle ground doesn’t exist—and if Democrats try to find it, they’ll squander a huge opportunity. Right now, the stars are aligned for a major change in America’s direction. If the Democrats play nice, that opportunity may soon be gone.

As Ned Lamont stated no one is looking for a moderate to run their company, they want someone who stands up for their strong beliefs. The idea of a moderate is a trap because the term moderate is defined in the political dialogue today means “being in the middle of elite opinion in Washington, D.C.”

The dismal approval ratings of the President and of Congress shows that Americans are overwhelmingly disappointed in their government. This is not because of partisan bickering, but because it seems that both parties represent corporate profit instead of the people that elected them.

The 2006 elections showed that candidates that run on a platform of economic populism win regardless of what state they come from. People are looking for candidate that have the courage to push big ideas, not ones that run to the middle.

Biden on Campaign Finance Reform and Why Iowa Should Be First

Joe Biden talks about campaign finance reform and why Iowa should be first at a recent campaign event in Iowa.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Romney's 2nd Anti-Endorsement

Things aren't going well for Mitt Romney in New Hampshire. The 2nd newspaper in the past week has come out with anti-endorsements of Romney's campaign. First it was the Concord Monitor and now it is the Union Leader...

THERE IS A reason Mitt Romney has not received a single newspaper endorsement in New Hampshire. It's the same reason his poll numbers are dropping. He has not been able to convince the people of this state that he's the conservative he says he is....

In this primary, the more Mitt Romney speaks, the less believable he becomes. That is why Granite Staters who have listened attentively are now returning to John McCain. They might not agree with McCain on everything, as we don't, but like us, they judge him to be a man of integrity and conviction, a man who won't sell them out, who won't break his promises, and who won't lie to get elected.
With McCain climbing in recent polls in New Hampshire, Iowa is becoming a must win for Romney now.

Family and Politics Mix Over the Holidays in Iowa

Even though the campaigns took a short break over the Christmas, I was surprised by how much politics was discussed at the various get togethers I attended. Politics was a hot topic at every family gathering and at my work's and my wife's work's Holiday parties.

With the caucuses happening so close to the holidays, it gave me a chance to talk to family, friends, and co-workers about a topic that is usually taboo at these type of gatherings. The interesting thing was that I wasn't planning on discussing politics at these events, but people know I am active in politics and wanted to talk. I found myself discussing immigration, the role of religion in politics, and the need for universal health care with people who identify themselves as Republicans. There were some disagreements, but there were also some commonalities that were agreed upon.

At one get together, My wife (a precinct captain for Obama) convinced some longtime Republicans to caucus for Obama because there wasn't a Republican they were enthusiastic about, they didn't want Hillary to win, and they had favorable opinions of Obama.

I'd like to hope that I might have talked at least a couple of people that didn't plan on caucusing to go caucus.

God Bless Who?

At a recent campaign event in Iowa, a man sings God Bless Barack Obama.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Human Consequences of Our For-Profit Health Care System

Americans now have a face to connect to our broken for-profit health care system due to a tragic situation in California, where Nataline Sarkisyan, 17 year old girl, died after she was denied a liver transplant by her insurance company.

Unfortunately, Nataline is not the only person that is denied health care by insurance companies. You have to remember that insurance companies make money by denying people care.

Insurance companies are in the business of not paying claims.

By not paying your claim, they get to keep all those premiums you pay. Maximizing their benefit by minimizing their risk, by finding loopholes and other reason to deny claims unless and until they are either cornered into paying them or a claim is so clear-cut they can't avoid it under risk of bad faith. Welcome to the wonderful world of profit and to hell with the consequences.

We need a doctor and patient health care system and not a for-profit health care system. Medical decisions should be made between a patient and the doctors and not be trumped by insurance companies who are crunching the numbers to see how it all affects their balance sheet.

The death of a teenage girl reminds Americans that our health care system is not about dollar signs, but about real human lives. We can only hope that this tragic situation becomes the impetus for a universal health care system in this country.

Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra

One of my family's traditions over the Holidays is to watch the Christmas Story.

I hope you and your family are able to enjoy your family traditions and as Kinky Friedman says...

May the God of your choice bless you.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Romney's Anti-endorsement

The Concord Monitor came out with an anti-endorsement of Mitt Romney where they highly criticize his campaign and urge New Hampshire primary voters to not vote for Romney.

From Blue Hampshire...

In the 2008 campaign for president, there are numerous issues on which Romney has no record, and so voters must take him at his word. On these issues, those words are often chilling. While other candidates of both parties speak of restoring America's moral leadership in the world, Romney has said he'd like to "double" the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, where inmates have been held for years without formal charge or access to the courts. He dodges the issue of torture - unable to say, simply, that waterboarding is torture and America won't do it.

When New Hampshire partisans are asked to defend the state's first-in-the-nation primary, we talk about our ability to see the candidates up close, ask tough questions and see through the baloney. If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we'll know it.

Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and independents must vote no.

Still Undecided Part 3

Nicholas Johnson wrote an Op Ed in the Iowa City Press Citizen on Saturday that provides an analysis of the candidates. Johnson discusses the qualities he is looking for and then looks at how each candidate stacks up.

So here are the qualities I'm looking for -- followed by my opinion of who ranks highest.
• Experience administering large institutions (state or large city governments, corporations) -- Gov. Bill Richardson (governor; Secretary of Energy), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (mayor of Cleveland).

• A "people person" with charisma or down-home manner, sense of humor (including self-deprecation), or what Molly Ivins called "Elvis" -- Obama (charisma and "Elvis"), Richardson (down-home; humor).

• The understanding and credibility earned by working inside both Washington's executive and legislative branches -- Richardson (cabinet (Energy), Congress). (Legislative: Clinton, Edwards, Kucinich, Obama, Richardson and Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd).

• A willingness to put forward courageous, "best policy" proposals, rather than "starting off backing up" --Kucinich (only one to organize and vote against the war, and propose universal single-payer health care rather than for-profit insurance).

• Experience working inside international organizations (e.g., U.N., World Bank) -- Richardson (UN ambassador).

• Understanding of the elements and process of citizen empowerment -- Obama (community organizer).

• An understanding of foreign policy (as distinguished from administering it) -- Biden, Dodd (plus, of course, Richardson).

• An ability to work with, but an independence from, special interest money and influence (the "Washington Establishment") -- My guess is that all have, can (and will have to) work with Washington's real power centers.

However, Clinton's strength in this department is her weakness. She and Bill could probably name all of their 4,000 presidential appointees in one evening without notes. But part of the reason for their millions from corporate lobbyists and PACs is the Washington Establishment's expectation of another pro-corporate, business-as-usual Clinton administration.

• Experience negotiating with foreign leaders -- Richardson (North Korea, Iraq, Sudan; U.N.; return of hostages); Biden and Dodd.

• Champion of the underdog -- Edwards, Kucinich.
You may have a different list of qualities and evaluation of candidates. But I hope this kind of approach may be helpful to you in a year when we are blessed with a very tough choice from among excellent candidates.
I am not sure which candidate Johnson is supporting, but it seems Richardson is mentioned often in his analysis. As I have been thinking more about which candidate to support, I have been considering Richardson more and more. Though, I am not fully committed, Richardson's stance on getting rid of NCLB, his vast experience, his energy policy, and, most importantly, his position on bringing all of the troops home from Iraq put him ahead of other candidates on those issues.

Check out Still Undecided Part 1 and Part 2.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

With a Possible Primary Opponent, Boswell Flips on Iraq Vote

Last Wednesday the House of Representatives approved another $70 billion for to continue the combat missions in Iraq. I was surprised to see all 3 of Iowa's Democratic Representatives vote against this bill. I expected Rep. Braley and Rep. Loebsack to vote against it because they have consistently been in favor of bringing our troops out of Iraq. However, this was the first time that I remember that Rep. Boswell voted in this manner.

I started doing some research on Boswell's Iraq votes yesterday afternoon and was going to write a post this morning about how rumors of Ed Fallon running against Boswell in a primary next year affected Boswell's vote on Iraq.

However, Chris Bowers at Open Left beat me to it and posted an article this morning. Bowers quoted this article posted at Iowa Independent about a possible run for Congress by Fallon. Bowers had this to say about the effect Fallon had on Boswell's vote...

It is something of an open secret that Fallon, a former state legislator and a very strong progressive, is considering a run against Boswell. While Fallon narrowly lost the 2006 gubernatorial primary to Chet Culver, he actually pulled in the most votes the IA-03. Given that Boswell's neo-conservative voting record on Iraq and civil liberties could easily come back to haunt him in a lean Democratic district like IA-03, especially against a strong campaigner like Fallon, it is also an open secret that Boswell's first good vote on Iraq is a response to the threat that Fallon poses.

Given that the only two Bush Dogs to flip on Iraq are either facing a serious primary challenge, or facing the possibility of a serious primary challenge, I have to agree with kos. Primary challenges are just about the only power we have to change Democratic congressional behavior.

Fred Thompson Tries to Stay Alive in Iowa

That was the headline of an AP story about Thompson.

In case you were wondering, they were talking about his campaign and not him actually trying to keep himself alive.

Thompson is still out and about around Iowa, asking people to give him applause.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Obama: Government Should Lift Barriers

Here's a clip of Obama campaigning in Sioux City where he is talking about the government's role in people's lives.

That’s what our government should be doing — is lifting these barriers off the shoulders of people so they can live out their dreams and create a better country. along with a better life for themselves.

What Edwards has Going for Him in Iowa

Time's Mark Halperin says John Edwards has a chance to shock the pundits and win Iowa. Halperin has compiled a list of what Edwards has going for him in Iowa...

1. The endorsement of the First Lady of Iowa.

2. The support (some secret) of people close to Governor Culver.

3. Big Labor help being quietly marshaled by one of Iowa’s top Democratic operatives and by Edwards’ 2004 campaign manager.

4. A consistently confident, upbeat demeanor.

5. A re-tooled stump speech that has audiences rising up, and that is filled with specifics of his agenda.

6. Caucus rules that work to the advantage of those with strong support in rural and blue collar areas.

7. Dedicated supporters who will likely turn out even if the weather is cold and inclement.

8. National trial lawyers who are going to do something (read: “everything”) to get their guy elected.

9. A popular, visible spouse.

10. More than enough money to be competitive.

11. Fearlessness.

12. A stronger work ethic than anyone in the race.

13. Perfect pitch in handling Clinton-Obama conflict.

14. A strong Des Moines Register debate performance.

15. New polling showing him as a strong general election candidate and some new boffo national media clips.

16. High favorables and strong second choice support.

17. Trained precinct captains in almost every precinct – a true, old-fashioned organization.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Top Political Books

I wasn't very involved in politics before the 2004 campaign. I did vote in most elections. However, in 2004 I got more involved in the general election by canvassing a couple times. After the 2004 election, I made the goal to read 1 political book each month in hopes that I would learn more about politics and the issues. Now I haven't been able to accomplish this goal each month, but for the most part I have done pretty well.

Here are the top 10 political books that I have read since then...

10. Big Coal by Jeff Goodell - outlines the influence the coal industry has in our political system

9. The Argument by Matt Bai - a detailed portrayal of the battle for the heart of the Democratic party

8. How Would a Patriot Act by Glenn Greenwald - great background on warrantless wiretapping the Bush's theory of unitary executive

7. Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff - made me aware that using the correct wording is half the battle

6. Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Wellstone - Wellstone laid out a vision that is still being fought for today

5. Hostile Takeover by David Sirota - shows how corporations are taking over our government on each issue

4. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Joe Trippi - an interesting look at the Iowa caucuses, the Dean campaign in 2004, and how the internet is changing politics.

3. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins - gives you background on why we are in Iraq and how the U.S. has built an empire through economic means

2. Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaren - a must read about how bad the planning in Iraq after the fall of Saddam really was

1. Homegrown Democrat by Garrison Keillor - a humorous look at what it really means to be a Democrat

Chime in with any good books you have read.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Looking a lot Like Obama

Still Undecided Part 2

With 2 weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, I am still undecided. I am seriously considering 3 candidates and hope to see all 3 once again before the caucuses. I think I have the same problem as Chris Bowers at Open Left does...

If it were possible to combine the Richardson Iraq policy and blogger outreach with the Obama activism and background with the Edwards advisors and rhetoric and with the Dodd leadership in the Senate, then we might have something. Maybe we would just have Russ Feingold, who I supported behind the scenes for nearly two years before the primary ever began. And maybe that is my problem: I had a clear-cut top choice for a very long time (like, from the day Kerry conceded to the day Feingold announced he wouldn’t run), and that person didn’t run. Or maybe my desires for the progressive movement have moved beyond something that any single individual could ever offer.

Check out Still Undecided Part 1

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What about the Wolves?

After seeing this ad for Hillary by AFSCME...

I wondered if the wolves in the Bush ad from 2004 would catch the little girl.

A Candidate Will Rise

The Edwards campaign has a new video about the caucuses that is made to look like a movie trailer. I think it is really good and surprised that more campaigns ads aren't made in this style.

Common Iowan Makes the Washington Post

Yesterday, I was quoted in the Washington Post in an article about David Yepsen. The quote was at the end of the story about Yepsen's detractors and included a quote from one of my posts about Yepsen saying out-of-state college students shouldn't vote in the caucuses.

Yepsen has his detractors, and he is fooled now and then. He misread former Vermont governor Howard Dean's campaign in 2004: "If organization is as important as caucus lore tells us it is, Howard Dean should win the Iowa caucuses tonight," read the opening line of Yepsen's Register column on Jan. 19, 2004.

His complaint about out-of-state students struck some observers as caucus jingoism. "David Yepsen owes all Iowans an apology," wrote liberal blogger Patrick Stansberry, who noted that the state is suffering a brain drain. "These students are the ones Iowa is depending on to stay in the state after they graduate," he noted on his Century of the Common Iowan blog.

It was pretty cool getting quoted in the Washington Post, but they could have used a better quote, such as this one...
Yepsen flat out says that it is legal for these college students to caucus then condemns these college students for considering coming back to Iowa over their holiday break to caucus. These students are residents of Iowa for at least 10 months of the year and many stay in the state over the summer to work and take classes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Richardson Supports Clean Elections and the VOICE Act

Bill Richardson says VOICE legislation should be a priority in 2008.

New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Richardson today signed a letter to the Dubuque County Democratic Central Committee in support of Iowa HF 805, the Voter-Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE) Act. The VOICE Act would allow candidates for elective office in Iowa to use public funding to finance their campaigns.

“As Governor of New Mexico, as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the Untied States and, most importantly, as an American citizen, I fully endorse the Voter-Owned Iowa Clean Elections Act, HF 805, and I applaud the efforts of Rep. Pam Jochum and Sen. Mike Connolly in moving this legislation forward,” Governor Richardson wrote in the letter.

Richardson added...

“When I’m asked on the campaign trail how we can counteract the powerful influence of corporate special interests and get America moving again, the first thing I talk about is campaign finance reform,” he continued in the letter. “In my state of New Mexico , we are engaged in the process of turning our state elections back over to the people.

It is good to see the VOICE Act gaining some support. Hopefully this continues and it can be brought to the floor for the debate in the 2008 Legislative session.

Why Do Democrats Keep Caving In?

Here is video of Cenk Uyger of the Young Turks radio show interviewing a Democratic Congressman. Uyger asks why the Democrats keep caving in and the Congressman regurgitates the same consultant driven, inside the Beltway talking points.

A Populist/Progressive Message

Mike Lux takes an in depth look at swing districts. His overriding theme is that...

a populist/progressive message tends to out-perform a traditional John Kerry-esque establishment/liberal message in most swing districts. This goes against conventional wisdom that swing voters tend to be "office park dads" and other Mark Penn/DLC swing voter constructs.
Lux tested his theory by looking at districts that are held by Democrats, but lean Republican in Presidential elections.
I counted 22 members of Congress who have clearly run either progressive message campaigns, been champions of progressive issues in Congress, or both. They include some newcomers like Hodes and Shea-Porter from NH, Braley from IA, Hall and Gillibrand from NY. And they include some of the best populists in Congress who have been around for a while, like Obey from Wisconsin, DeFazio from Oregon, Doggett from Texas and Allen from Maine, members of Congress who survived many big Republican elections years. They include people like Phil Hare from the working-class Quad Cities area of Illinois, who beat back the Republican for an open seat in the Republican year of 2004, replacing another great progressive hero, Lane Evans, who had won that very marginal district election after election since 1982 despite being one of the most progressive members of Congress.

To claim, as many establishment Democrats do, that strong progressives can't win or keep marginal seats in Congress is simply not true. We need to constantly challenge that kind of conventional wisdom, and do our own candidate recruitment drives to get strong candidates.

Iowa's 4th District would definitely fit into this category. Hopefully, a candidate steps up and runs on a strong populist/progressive message.

McCain and Lieberman

You have probably heard already that Sen. Joe Lieberman endorsed Republican John McCain for president.

Now, I don't remember where I heard this, but the best analysis of the endorsement went something like this...

McCain is probably the only candidate on either side that would have even accepted Lieberman's endorsement.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dodd Stands Up for the Constitution on FISA

Chris Dodd is prepared to fillibuster debate on the FISA if it includes retroactive immunity for telecom companies that knowingly violated the law.

Here is video of Dodd speaking on the Senate floor today. The

Bleeding Heartland and Iowa Independent have some more info on this bill and Dodd's stand.

Harry Reid tabled the FISA bill and they will discuss it early in January.

From Daily Kos...

This is an important development and will hopefully allow the opposition to telco amnesty to convince enough Senators that providing blanket immunity to these companies who broke the law really doesn't do much to keep us safe.
Sen. Dodd responds...
"Today we have scored a victory for American civil liberties and sent a message to President Bush that we will not tolerate his abuse of power and veil of secrecy," said Dodd. "The President should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecom companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens. I want to thank the thousands of Americans throughout the country that stood with me to get this done for our country."
Thanks to Sen. Dodd (and Feingold, Harkin, and others) for standing up for the constitution.

Thoughts on Urbanization

I found this article on urbanization at the Freakonomics blog very interesting. They asked 5 "experts" to comment on this question...

This year marked the first time in human history that more people lived in cities than in rural areas. What problems and opportunities does this present? What effects has it had on our local and global culture? Economy? Health?
Even though Iowa is considered to be a rural state, our future depends on how we think about urbanization.

Loebsack Endorses Obama

Rep. Dave Loebsack endorsed Barack Obama today.

Loebsack, in his first term, said in the release that Obama is the strongest candidate in a field of strong candidates. “What impresses me about Barack is his commitment to changing the way business is done in Washington. He understands that to pass universal health care, make energy independence a reality, and meet the other challenges we face, we need leadership that can bring all Americans to-gether around a shared purpose,” Loebsack’s said in the statement.
Loebsack's endorsement means Iowa's 3 Democratic Representatives have endorsed different candidates (Boswell endorsed Clinton, Braley endorsed Edwards).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mari Culver May Endorse Edwards

Marc Ambinder is reporting that Mari Culver, the wife of Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, is rumored to be endorsing John Edwards tomorrow.

Rumors abound on the campaign trail today that a big Iowa voice is set to endorse John Edwards. His campaign is mum, but Democratic sources in Iowa believe that Mari Culver, the wife of Gov. Chet Culver (D), is set to endorse the former North Carolina senator tomorrow.

The governor himself is said to be remaining neutral, but if his wife endorses Edwards, the larger Culver orbit will be seen to have descended on Edwards's campaign. (Mari Culver endorsed Edwards in 2004).

Gov. Culver's chief of staff, Patrick Dillon, worked for Edwards in Iowa in 2004, and his is married to Jennifer O'Malley, Edwards's state director. Another Edwards alum serves as Culver's communications director.

This won't be as big of deal as Christie Vilsack's endorsement of John Kerry back in 2004 because the Culver's have only been in office for a year. However, it is big news for Edwards because it gets him back in the news after he lost the Des Moines Register vote to Hillary.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What is a Democratic Congress Good for?

It seems absolutely nothing.

As Congress stumbles toward Christmas, President Bush is scoring victory after victory over his Democratic adversaries. He has beaten back domestic spending increases, thwarted an expansion of children's health insurance coverage, defeated tax hikes, won funding for the war in Iraq and pushed Democrats toward shattering their pledge not to add to the federal deficit with new tax cuts or rises in mandatory spending.
It is pretty sad that the Democrats can't stand up to a president that has an approval rating in the low 30's or point out the hypocrisy of the Senate Republicans for filibustering everything, just a couple of years after Republicans threatened using the nuclear option.

You Can Caucus

The College Democrats of Iowa have a website out called You Can Caucus. The site is a response to David Yepsen and candidates like Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd that have questioned if it is right for Iowa college students who are from out-of-state to caucus.

Lately, some Democratic candidates and journalists have been questioning whether students like us deserve to caucus, questioniong whether we’re Iowans. Nine months of the year, we live here, we go to school here, and we pay taxes here. We care about Iowa.

It is our right - affirmed by both the letter and spirit of the law - to caucus.

We will exercise our rights by participating in the Democratic caucuses next month and you can too.

Both the Iowa Democratic Party and the Iowa Secretary of State agree:


This webpage was set up to help you exercise your right to caucus. We have detailed information about who can caucus, what you need to caucus, how to find your caucus, ways to get housing and transportation to caucus if you need them, and even a way for you to tell US what YOUR caucus story is.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Difficulties Polling in Iowa

Here's something to think about the next time you see a poll predicting the results of the Iowa caucues. The New York Times has an article that discusses the difficulties of polling in Iowa.

All of the eccentricities of the Iowa caucuses make polling Iowa something most pollsters would rather not do. That night, it will be hard enough to depend on those entrance polls, taken moments before Iowans cast their votes. But in these last weeks ahead of the vote, to try and define the electorate and come up with a framework for polling is to rely as much on luck as savvy....

The biggest obstacle to polling in Iowa is drawing the sample in the first place. Some polls use lists of past caucus goers, but they risk missing first- time caucus goers, who accounted for more than half of the Democratic caucus goers in 2004, according to the network entrance poll. Other polls use lists of registered voters provided by the state, but they risk missing those who haven’t yet registered to vote but who plan to participate in the caucuses.

Turnout is so low, less than 10 percent, that few polls use random digit dialing techniques, like those used in national polls, to create a sample of caucus goers. On CBS News’s Web site, Kathy Frankovic, director of the CBS News Poll wrote: “Using random digit dialing techniques (in Iowa) could mean calling — and reaching— 10,000 households to interview only 500 attendees from each party.”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bush Vetoes SCHIP Again

Yesterday, Bush vetoed a compromise bill on expanding SCHIP again...

For the second time, President Bush has vetoed a major expansion of the children's health insurance program, making it clear that the debate will linger as a political issue throughout 2008.

Democrats had rewritten the $35 billion SCHIP legislation in an effort to create more firm caps on income eligibility while explicitly banning children of illegal immigrants from qualifying for the program, funding the expansion with an increase in tobacco taxes. But in an October vote, Democrats gained no ground with House Republicans, who held enough of their members together to sustain any veto.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Ads Huckabee and Romney Don't Want You to See

Here are a couple hilarious parodies of ads from Huckabee and Romney...

Huckabee's Message to Iowans

Mitt Questions Huckabee's Values

Here's one for Rudy...

Could Hillary Come in Third in Iowa?

That is the question that Andrew Sullivan asks in a post today...

The Clintonites are showing signs of panic, as Marc reports:

In a variety of conference calls over the next few days, in surrogate appearances, and in memos distributed to reporters, the campaign will directly challenge Obama on points of his resume, on past statements of his, on the details of his current policy plans, and on his campaign's pushback that it is Clinton who is not electable...

Much of Barack Obama's recent success is attributable to Obama himself and his campaign's formidable Iowa field organization, which was developed by state director Paul Tewes. The Obama campaign regularly attracts more than 70 Iowans to its mock caucuses, a figure suggesting that Obama's support is wide and deep.

The answer is a definite yes. In fact, if one of the top 3 (Obama, Clinton, and Edwards) gets surpassed by Biden or Richardson, I think it would most likely be Clinton. She doesn't have the organization in the state that Obama and Edwards have. Her support isn't as strong either. Edwards and Obama are far ahead of Clinton in polls that show caucus goers 2nd choices.

One Year After the Immigration Raids

One year ago, the Swift plant in Marshalltown was raided by immigration agents. The events that day and those that followed have sent shock waves throughout Marshalltown, the state, and the country.

The most heart wrenching story that I have heard is of the young baby, who was still nursing, that was left in the care of a local church after the mother was detained.

Unfortunately, the debate on immigration has become an even hotter and more divisive issue, and the chances for a common sense solution that gets to the heart of the issue becomes less likely. The one thing the immigration raids did accomplish was the decline in trust among people on both sides of the debate. If a successful solution is attainable, trust is the one thing you need.

Here are some post that were written shortly after the raids...

Looking at Immigration
The Day After the Immigration Raids
Immigration: Stop the Hate and Let's Have a Real Discussion
Substantial Identity Theft?
The Reason Behind Immigration
Some Final Thoughts on the Immigration Raids
Our Illegal Employer Problem

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

David Yepsen Owes All Iowans an Apology

David Yepsen has another article in the Des Moines Register today that attempts to suppress voting among college students and limit the voice of young Iowans.

As I said before...

These students are residents of Iowa for at least 10 months of the year and many stay in the state over the summer to work and take classes.
On top of that, these students are the ones Iowa is depending on to stay in the state after they graduate. With all of the discussion about brain drain, chastising these students for attempting to exercise their legal right to vote isn't the right way to encourage them to stay in the state.

However, more importantly, Yepsen is questioning the integrity of the Iowa caucuses. This comes after Iowa had to fight tooth and nail to preserve it's first in the nation status. If other states believe the results of the Iowa caucuses are tainted, we will surely lose our position as the first caucus in the nation. David Yepsen owes all Iowans an apology for even making this suggestion.

Vilsack: Clinton's Attack Dog?

From MSNBC's First Read...

the Clinton campaign has a new direct mail piece that includes a letter from former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D). The letter hits Obama on health care and uses Paul Krugman to do the hitting. Vilsack says in the letter, "Barack Obama's health care plan, which he often calls 'universal,' would actually leave as many as 15 million people without health insurance. That's not really universal coverage at all. And when questioned about the flaws of the plan, Mr. Obama threw back talking points worthy of Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney. But don't take my word for it; read the opinion of Paul Krugman of the New York Times in his op-ed piece entitled, ‘Mandates and Mudslinging.’” Of course, this is nothing that the campaign and candidate hasn't said themselves. But it's also telling that six months ago, the predictions were that the final weeks of the debate in Iowa would be over Iraq. Instead, it's over health care -- or at least that’s what Team Clinton wants to discuss.
Here's a picture of what the mailing says.

Edwards' Bus Tour Stops in Marshalltown

John Edwards stopped in Marshalltown on Monday evening on the first day of his 8 day bus tour across Iowa. Edwards spoke in front of 154 people at Marshalltown High School. A long time Marshalltown Democrat and former county chair told me this was the first time a presidential candidate has come to the High School.

This was my 8th time seeing Sen. Edwards and I noticed some differences tonight compared to past speeches. First, the message was toned down. A couple months ago the headlines were about John Edwards being too angry. Tonight, Edwards took the high road and even joked about the silly campaign antics of Clinton and Obama arguing about a Kindergarten essay. A few times throughout the event Edwards made distinctions on policy with Clinton and Obama, but they were very minor.

I also noticed more emphasis on his rural upbringing. Edwards mentioned growing up with the same kind of people, being born in a small town, and yes, being the son of a mill worker.

Edwards stayed on his theme of power in America being concentrated in the hands of a few. The problem is that regular people are being left behind and their voices aren't being heard. He mentioned problems in health care, the prescription drug plan, and Blackwater and other paid mercenaries running around Iraq. Edwards brought up unfair trade agreements that ship jobs overseas more than he has in past events.

He discussed the responsibility of leaving a better country, calling it the moral test of our generation.

He then told the story of James Lowe, who was born with a clef pallet that was easily fixable and was unable to speak. However, Mr. Lowe did not have health care and could not get it fixed until, through the generosity of others, had the simple operation when he was 50.

James Lowe finally got his voice. Now it's time for you to get yours.
Edwards then transitioned into his new theme of America rising.
...the great thing about America -- and this has happened over and over in this country's history -- when America's faced with great obstacles, what do the American people do? They rose up; they stood up; they spoke up; they faced these challenges, and they brought about the change America needs. Well, we're in that place again. It's time for us to stand up. It's time for us to rise up.

Edwards opened it up for questions, which I shot some video with my digital camera of a few of his responses.

There is a proposed coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown. A citizen who is concerned about the power plant asks Edwards about coal plants and the importance of conservation.

Here Edwards is asked about No Child Left Behind. This was the first time that I have heard him say that he might totally ditch the law.

John Edwards ended his speech by asking people to caucus for him, but then did something a little unusual. He said that if he wants you to caucus for him then it is his responsibility to answer every question.

I thought the entire event was very good. Edwards was on message, he drew distinctions between himself and the other candidates, and his rhetoric was toned down. He gave a very good final push and came across as a nice guy with bold ideas who will stand up and fight.

I drew a different feeling from observing the audience. At times, when I expected more applause, there were little. However, when I looked at the crowd I would see heads nodding up and down in agreement. These people weren't here to cheer on their candidate. These were undecided voters who are thinking long and hard about who they want as their next president. The question is if they will be rising in support for Edwards on caucus night.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Obama gets his 19th Iowa Legislator Endorsement

Rep. Paul Shomshor of Council Bluffs announced today that he was endorsing Barack Obama in the Iowa caucuses.

Barack Obama spent his two decades in public service fighting for families trying to achieve the American dream, and he’ll continue that fight as President. It only proves that he’ll be a President that will change politics as usual, unite America and make progress on the issues are families care about the most.
Shomshor is the 19th Iowa legislator to endorsement Obama.

Should Oprah be Running?

I first thought about Oprah as a candidate when Michael Moore suggested Oprah as a candidate in his book, Dude, Where's My Country. But after her campaigning for Obama over the weekend Howard Fineman and Craig Crawford thinks that maybe Oprah should be the one running.

Fineman says...

She is astonishing, truly. The woman was on her maiden campaign trail voyage, and yet she already she was better -- more cogent, more effective, more convincing -- than anyone out there.
Crawford adds...
Oprah Winfrey claimed to be nervous about her first public foray into presidential politics, but it didn’t show. Indeed, she delivers a better campaign speech than actual candidates -- so much so that you have to wonder whether she might run herself some day.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Boils Down to Personality

Rekha Basu takes a look at the Democratic race in Iowa during the last month. As an undecided Iowa voter, I agree with her conclusion...

The race in Iowa is still wide open. Many Democratic caucus-goers say they're still undecided or could change their minds. History shows much can change in a month.

But barring some final-hour revelations, it may not be policy positions that decide the caucus outcome for Democrats. With minor difference in core values compared to those separating the Republicans, the choice may boil down to that intangible quality - personality.

Trustworthiness, authenticity and likableness are tough enough qualities to judge in a mate. Now Iowans are charged with sizing them up in a possible president. For the whole country. No pressure there.

Video from Oprah and Obama in Des Moines

Yesterday, I attended the Oprah and Obama rally in Des Moines. I never realized there were so many people there until I saw on the news that there were over 18,000. If you add the number of people that say Oprah and Obama in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, it would equal nearly 23% of 2004 caucus goers. Consider the snow, ice, and cold weather it was pretty amazing there were so many people.

I think the campaign made a mistake of not putting out chairs for people to sit. There were a couple of bleachers and maybe 75 chairs. A person near where I was standing passed out while Obama was speaking due to the heat.

I took some video of Oprah's speech with my digital camera. It turned out much better than I expected.

Oprah takes the stage...

I thought this was the best line of the speech.

I am not here to tell you what to think, I am here to ask you to think.

Oprah says Obama has "experience on the pathways of life" and that is much better than "experience in politics as usual."

Oprah says the moment is now for Barack Obama.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Biden Can't Wait to Take on the Republicans

This morning I attended a Joe Biden campaign event in Marshalltown. There were about 50 people in attendance. I was impressed with Biden's toughness and knowledge on the issues. As I was walking out I saw a few people saying they decided to support Biden after hearing his speech.

The theme of Biden's speech was that the next president must be ready to take action and the issue at hand is Iraq. At the beginning of the speech, he thanked Iowans for letting candidates like him have a chance. He said if it wasn't for Iowa, this campaign would be about 30 second commercials and not about ideas.

Biden spoke a lot about foreign affairs. He said Iraq is the boulder that is in the middle of the road that must be taken care of first before any other issue can be taken care of. One thing that stuck out was when Biden said Americans aren't conservative, liberal, or moderate. They are pragmatic and are looking for someone who will tackle the issues and solve the country's problems.

Here is a video I take at the event. Biden is talking about how he can't wait to take on the Republicans on moral issues.

Biden has some momentum building in Iowa. I rarely hear people that say they don't like him. If Clinton, Obama, or Edwards makes a major gaffe, Biden could take advantage and move into 3rd place.

Blogging Triathlon II

Despite another round of winter weather hitting Iowa, I will be attending 3 campaign events today. This will be my 2nd blogging triathlon. Back in July, I completed the first blogging triathlon by covering an Obama event, Dodd event, and a Biden event.

Today, I just got home from seeing Joe Biden in Marshalltown where I got some video, I am about to leave to see the Obama/Oprah event in Des Moines. Then later tonight I will be heading to Grinnell to see Ned Lamont campaigning on behalf of Chris Dodd.

The Chris Dodd event with Ned Lamont in Grinnell was cancelled, which is ok because the roads were pretty slick from the snow.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Iowa Campaign Field Offices

Des Moines Dem has a great post up at Bleeding Heartland. She takes a look at where the campaign's Iowa field offices are located and has a run down of delegate counts by county with results from 2004.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Iowa State Daily Endorses Obama

Earlier this week the Iowa State Daily endorsed Barack Obama to win the Iowa Caucuses.

In Obama, we have a candidate who has more to offer than a strategic plan or policy that will change America for the better. What Obama brings above all else is a renewed sense of hope. The past seven years have caused our hope for a better world, a better America, to waver. We have lost a national direction, and Obama can restore that.

But his campaign isn't based on hope alone. Obama has a realistic plan to get the troops out of Iraq, instead of some poorly thought out cut-and-run debacle; he has a commitment to making the U.S. energy independent, which would solve several of our Iraq problems anyway; he takes the changes occurring in our environment seriously and would put measures in place to reduce our impact; and his universal health insurance plan is as realistic as anyone else's.

They also touch on a point that I bring up when talking to people about why Hillary isn't at the top of my list...
Perhaps what Obama offers most of all is a change of family. Two families have run the country for the past 20 years, and an election for Hillary would make that 24 at a minimum - longer than most college students have been alive. Political power shouldn't follow through family lines. That in itself is unhealthy for our country's image to the rest of the world as a democracy, and is an example of a political system that seems rooted in its old ways that aren't working.
The Iowa State Daily serves Iowa State University, Ames, and Story County and has a readership of nearly 28,000. With a lot of talk about how many college students will caucus this endorsement could help Obama win more support from students.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tancredo's 2nd TV Ad

I thought Tancredo's first ad was pretty scary, but his second one takes up another notch. I post this because someone needs to say it.

I can only imagine Tancredo's next ad featuring Tancredo holding a machete and talking about moving the White House to the Mexican border, so he can personally go on night patrol.

Environmental Dangers of Coal and Mountaintop Removal

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote an article about the environmental dangers of coal and mountaintop removal. With proposed coal-fired power plants in Marshalltown and Waterloo, it is something everyone should be aware of.

In fact, there is no such thing as "clean coal." And coal is only "cheap" if one ignores its calamitous externalized costs. In addition to global warming, these include dead forests and sterilized lakes from acid rain, poisoned fisheries in 49 states and children with damaged brains and crippled health from mercury emissions, millions of asthma attacks and lost work days and thousands dead annually from ozone and particulates. Coal's most catastrophic and permanent impacts are from mountaintop removal mining. If the American people could see what I have seen from the air and ground during my many trips to the coalfields of Kentucky and West Virginia: leveled mountains, devastated communities, wrecked economies and ruined lives, there would be a revolution in this country.

Well now you can visit coal country without ever having to leave your home. Every presidential candidate and every American ought to take a few seconds to visit an ingenious new website created by Appalachian Voices, that allows one to tour the obliterated landscapes of Appalachia. And it's not just Arch Coal, Massey Coal and their corporate toadies in electoral politics who are culpable for the disaster. The amazing new website allows you to enter your zip code to learn how you're personally connected to the great crime of mountaintop removal.
The Iowa Utilities Board will be holding a hearing about the proposed coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown on January 14th. If you have concerns about the environmental impact of the plant, now would be a good time to give Gov. Culver a call.

Liberals Hate America

George Lakoff responds to the claim that Liberals hate America...

"Aw you liberals just hate America."

No. We love democracy and we want to return it to America.
You want a presidential dictator.
We love liberty and we want to return it to America.
You want to tap our phones.
We love equality and we want to return it to America.
You think some people are better than others.
We love honesty and we want to return it to America.
You love lobbyists and corruption.
We love fairness and we want to return it to America.
You want to oppress the powerless.
We love openness and we want to return it to America.
You love secrecy and hiding the facts.
We love nature's glory and we want to return it to America.
You love the profit that comes from destroying nature.
We love community and we want to return it to America.
You want everyone to fend for himself.
We love public education and we want to return it to America.
You want to destroy public education.
We love civilian control of the military and we want to return it to America.
You want to militarize America.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Who is the best Republicn to Cheat With?

Check out this parody ad about Rudy Giuliani's use of the NYPD to provide security for his mistress and to walk her dog.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Caucusing is Simple

From Iowans for Sensible Priorities...

Clinton's Political Philosophy

At a recent event, Hillary Clinton was asked about the next president needing to have some spine. Clinton responded by saying...

We will have enough spine as we possible can have under the circumstances.

Clinton's answer sums her entire political philosophy. Unfortunately, this philosophy is far too common inside the beltway and is conventional thinking amongst Washington Democrats and consultants.

Her response reminded me of an article written by Glenn Greenwald after Russ Feingold announced he was not going to run for President.
Not only do they believe in nothing, they think that a Belief in Nothing is a mark of sophistication and wisdom. Those who believe in things too much -- who display political passion or who take their convictions and ideals seriously (Feingold, Howard Dean) -- are either naive or, worse, are the crazy, irrational, loudmouth masses and radicals who disrupt the elevated, measured world of the high-level, dispassionate Beltway sophisticates (James Carville, David Broder, Fred Hiatt). They are interested in, even obsessed with, every aspect of the political process except for deeply held political beliefs -- the only part that really matters or that has any real worth.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Braley to Endorse Edwards

John Edwards wins the endorsement of Rep. Bruce Braley from Iowa's First District. Braley was elected to Congress in 2006. He supported Edwards in 2004.

Representative Bruce Braley, who represents Iowa’s First Congressional District in the eastern portion of the state, is scheduled to announce that he is supporting the presidential candidacy of Mr. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina. The development was confirmed to The Caucus by two Democratic officials familiar with the endorsement....

He is the first of Iowa’s three Democratic members of Congress to announce his endorsement. The value of any endorsement is always an open question, but as Mr. Edwards seeks to compete for attention and support with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, this rollout signals the beginning of an intense final month of the Iowa caucus campaign.
The announcement will take place Monday in Waterloo at Hawkeye Community College at noon.

MyDD notes that endorsements don't mean a huge deal, but this is big news for Edwards because it will be news and remind the media that it is a 3 person race.
As a lot of folks have noted before, endorsements don't necessarily make a terribly large impression on voters decisions directly. However, the Braley endorsement does do at least a couple of important things for Edwards. First off, this could be the big piece of news in the statewide media Tuesday, and perhaps more importantly it could prompt the national media to remember Edwards, who they have been perhaps too quick to forget given their focus on the scuffles between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. What's more, a Braley endorsement could bring some of the organizational support and expertise that helped put Braley in Congress last fall.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie Endorses Obama

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie endorsed Barack Obama today. Cownie has become a leader on the environment in promoting a green economy to combat global warming.

The real promise of Senator Obama’s presidency isn’t just the plans he’ll bring with him into the White House, it’s the visionary leadership he’ll demonstrate once he gets there. Barack Obama will put an end to the bitter partisanship that’s stopped us from making progress on the urgent challenge of global warming. He’ll tell the American people what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear. As President, he’ll restore America’s standing in the world and lead a global effort to meet this challenge once and for all.
Cownie was re-elected this year with 80% of the vote.

Today's Republican Party

Over at Bleeding Heartland, DesMoinesDem takes a look at today's Republican party in a post called Checking in on Republican Culture. She talks about the decline of the moderate Republican and the rise of the religous right.

She quotes an article by Time's Joe Klein about a focus group ratings of the CNN/YouTube debate that took place last week. The amazing part of Klein's article, that is the heart of DesMoinesDem's post, shows how much Republicans love torture.

When John McCain started talking about torture--specifically, about waterboarding--the dials plummeted again. Lower even than for the illegal Children of God. Down to the low 20s, which, given the natural averaging of a focus group, is about as low as you can go. Afterwards, Luntz asked the group why they seemed to be in favor of torture. "I don't have any problem pouring water on the face of a man who killed 3000 Americans on 9/11," said John Shevlin, a retired federal law enforcement officer. The group applauded, appallingly.

What do Conservatives Think About?

Here are the most viewed pages on Conservapedia, a Conservative version of Wikipedia. Do you see a pattern?

Most viewed pages

1. Main Page [1,894,429]
2. Homosexuality [1,475,437]
3. Homosexuality and Hepatitis [515,993]
4. Homosexuality and Promiscuity [416,375]
5. Homosexuality and Parasites [387,265]
6. Homosexuality and Gonorrhea [327,795]
7. Homosexuality and Domestic Violence [319,073]
8. Gay Bowel Syndrome [305,261]
9. Homosexuality and Syphilis [261,781]
10. Homosexuality and Mental Health [243,293]

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Yepsen Doesn't Think Iowa's Out-of-State College Students Should Caucus

The Des Moines Register wrote back in October about how the January 3rd Caucuses will affect Iowa's college students...

Sarah Sunderman, a senior at Iowa State University, said she will drive back early from her home in Minnesota to take part in the Jan. 3 caucuses. She is one of about 21,000 out-of-state students who attend Iowa's public universities. As a member of her school's Democratic student group, she sees the date as a challenge.
Unfortunately, David Yepsen doesn't think Iowa's out-of-state college students like Sarah Sunderman should be allowed to caucus. Yepsen has an article yesterday questioning Obama's strategy to encourage Iowa college students who are from outside of Iowa to come back and caucus.
While it’s legal for college students to register to vote in Iowa to do that, this raises the question of whether it’s fair, or politically smart. No presidential campaign in memory has ever made such a large, open attempt to encourage students from out of state, many of whom pay out-of-state tuition, to participate in the caucuses. No other campaign appears to be doing it in this campaign cycle.

That’s fine but these are the Iowa caucuses. Asking people who are “not from Iowa” to participate in them changes the nature of the event...

But turning out-of-state college students into Iowa voters is a different, larger, matter. Thousands of votes are involved and it risks offending long-time Iowa residents.

But, then, they do politics a little differently in Illinois than they do in Iowa.
Yepsen flat out says that it is legal for these college students to caucus then condemns these college students for considering coming back to Iowa over their holiday break to caucus. These students are residents of Iowa for at least 10 months of the year and many stay in the state over the summer to work and take classes.

The fact that Obama is from Illinois and a large number of the out-of-state students that attend college in Iowa are from Illinois is merely a coincidence. The bottom line is that there is no reason these students should not be allowed to caucus.

Heartland Presidential Forum Puts the Spotlight on the Issues

The biggest thing people would have noticed about the Heartland Presidential Forum would have been the format. The candidates appeared on stage one by one. They faced questions from different community leaders and organizers. A group of 3 community leaders and organizers would get on stage and tell their personal story and how it relates to the larger issue. Each group of people asked 2 questions that related to each other. In total, the candidates had 4 questions from community leaders and organizers, as well as 2 questions for the moderators. The questions focused on immigration, health care, community values, the home foreclosure crisis, fair trade agreements, and living wages.

Ben Smith from the Politico had some comments on CSPAN afterwards that the format hurt this forum. However, the point of this forum wasn't the candidates, wasn't the talking points, and wasn't the mudslinging like it is in the debates. The focus of this forum was on the issues and the people who are working on these issues everyday at a grassroots level. The format allowed the presidential candidates to react to the emotional stories. The answers to these questions couldn't just include the normal talking points or a run down on policy papers, but the candidates had to open their hearts and make a connection to the audience. The Heartland Presidential Forum accomplished it goal by putting the spotlight on the issues that Americans face in their everyday lives.

Heartland Presidential Forum: Barack Obama

As I posted earlier, I was unable to attend the Heartland Presidential Forum due to the winter weather that is hitting the area. So I am sitting comfortably at home and will be blogging from my couch.

Barack Obama is introduced and you can tell there is a large crowd from Illinois in attendance from the loud applause he received. Obama highlights his work as an organizer in Chicago and working with groups like the ones that organized this forum.

The first group of people includes a woman who lost her health insurance and was lucky to have SCHIP to help her daughter who has a rare eye disease and would go blind without medical care. The question is about health care. Government has a role to play to make sure people have a chance to live out their dreams. People don't expect government to solve all their problems. He talks about the need to lower health care costs and not allowing people with pre-existing conditions be denied coverage.

Obama is asked if we should expand Medicaid and Medicare instead of providing tax dollars to insurance companies. Obama says if he was designing a system from scratch, he would move to a single-payer system. However, we have to deal with the system we are in. He dicusses how his program helps cover more people. He will expand SCHIP and other government programs, negotiate with drug companies, and will allow people to enter a government program if they feel the market isn't working for them.

The next question comes from people with concerns about the rising number of home foreclosures. We have lost balance in our economy. We have CEO's making more in 10 minutes than most people here make in on year. Part of the reason is we have special interests in Washington who control the agenda. We must restore fairness in our tax system by repealing Bush's tax cuts, close loopholes for companies that ship job overseas and provide tax relief by making an exemption of the first $15,000 on their income tax.

The final question is about predatory lending and what Obama would do to help families and neighborhoods. Obama says part of the reason we are in this mess is because we haven't had a government that provided regulations on these lenders. He mentions a bill he has introduced in the Senate.

Here is more information
on Obama's appearance.