Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ron Paul Raises Over $1 million Online This Week

Ron Paul has raised over $1 million online this quarter, a number that is usually online reached by a handful of Democrats.

Dr. Paul was campaigning in New Hampshire with his wife Carol and their family when our $1,000,000 goal was reached last night. As the time drew near, they watched on a laptop as the counter reached the $1 million mark. They, along with staff, supporters and volunteers throughout the country then celebrated this extraordinary accomplishment.

Over $1,000,000 raised in seven days for the Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign. Remarkable!

On behalf of Dr. Paul and every member of the campaign staff: Thank you!!

Kent Snyder
Chairman
Ron Paul 2008

So it is looking like Paul will have some money to spend. The question now is will he use it to campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. So far Paul has only taken 3 trips and spent 10 days in Iowa and taken 4 trips and spent 8 days in New Hampshire. If Ron Paul is as serious as his supporters about being President he needs to start campaigning in the early states.

Would Rudy be Worse than Bush?

Would Rudy Giuliani be worse than Bush?

John Dean thinks so.

John Dean knows something about White House abuse of power. He wrote a bestseller in 2004 on the Bush White House called Worse Than Watergate. In a recent interview I asked him what he thinks of that title now. Now, he replied, a book comparing Bush and Nixon would have to be called Much, Much Worse.

“Look at the so-called Watergate abuses of power,” he said. “Nobody died. Nobody was tortured. Millions of Americans were not subject to electronic surveillance of their communications. We’re playing now in a whole different league.”

And how does Bush compare with the Republicans seeking to succeed him? “If a Rudy Giuliani were to be elected,” Dean said, “he would go even farther than Cheney and Bush in their worst moments.”

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Vote Vets Ad: Who's the Real Phony?

Vote Vets made ad to respond to Rush Limbaugh's remarks earlier this week where he called troops that were in favor of withdrawal "phony soldiers."

Colbert Explains Why Bush Must Veto Children's Health Care

Stephen Colbert explains why President Bush must veto the SCHIP bill and prevent uninsured children from getting health care coverage.

If we really care for our kids, we should deny them health insurance now to immunize them against expecting it as adults. If we don’t, when they grow up, who knows what other unrealistic things they’re going to expect? You know, if we fund Head Start now, later, they’ll expect education. If we fund school lunches now, later, they’ll expect food.
You can see the entire video at Crooks and Liars.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Clinton Campaign's Revolving Door in Iowa

From City View's Civic Skinny...

Hillary Clinton’s deputy state director and caucus manager Angelique Pirozzi has left the Iowa effort to pursue “other opportunities,” Skinny hears. Pirozzi’s departure comes on the heels of the campaign’s former state director JoDee Winterhof getting demoted in favor of Teresa Vilmain, who consulted for Tom Vilsack’s short-lived presidential campaign. Clinton people tell Skinny that at least a half dozen field organizers — the supposedly smiling faces of the campaign — have also left recently. Skinny isn’t sure what to make of the revolving door.
Winterhof's change in job title puzzled me. Now more people are moving around and leaving will surely cause a few bumps in the road for the campaign in Iowa. The campaign staff that has been on the ground has built key relationships and it will take a new person to establish those relationships again.

To win the Iowa caucuses you must have a strong organization and then hope to get hot at the end. These personal changes can't help Clinton's organization in Iowa in the short term.

The Two Cents campaign from America for Gore

From my inbox....

The Two Cents campaign from America for Gore

America for Gore is dedicated to making Al Gore the Democratic candidate for President in 2008. At present, we are working to get Gore’s name onto as many ballots as possible, and to continue to show as much support as possible for the idea of his candidacy. It is now time for people to act to demonstrate that support, so that Gore understands how much America wants him as president.

To convince Gore to step into the race, we are asking all Gore supporters to mail him two pennies, together with a note indicating real support will be provided if he accepts the challenge and runs for president. The constant arrival of pennies will be a reminder to Mr. Gore that America needs and wants him to run.

The pennies should be sent, preferably in an envelope made of recycled paper, to Office of the Honorable Al Gore, 2100 West End Avenue, Suite 620, Nashville, TN 37203.

America for Gore will continue to assist all groups and individuals working to make the Gore 2008 candidacy a success though our website AmericaForGore.org. Our goal is to help coordinate all the efforts to elect Al Gore with an initial goal of getting him into the race and a further goal of seeing him take office as president in 2009.

Will Congress Condemn Limbaugh for Phony Solider Comment?

After condemning MoveOn.org for a newspaper ad, will congress take a similar action against Rush Limbaugh for calling US soldiers who support withdrawal from Iraq "phony soldiers".

Jon Soltz, the Co-Founder and Chair of VoteVets.org, wrote this about Limbaugh at Huffington Post...

You weren't just flat out wrong, you offended a majority of those of us who actually had the courage to go to Iraq and serve, while you sat back in your nice studio, coming up with crap like this.
John Bruhns, who writes at AmericaBlog and is an Iraq War vet, wrote this...
Well with this latest stunt by Limbaugh he obviously has no regard for freedom or those who fight for it. Unless of course you agree with his methodology of total lunacy.

LIMBAUGH IS A DISGRACE.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Braley Owes MoveOn $87,000

Bruce Braley voted to condemn MoveOn.org for the Petraeus/Betray Us ad that ran in the New York Times. MoveOn.org helped raise over $87,000 to help get Braley elected in 2006.

Matt Stoller from Open Left wrote...

Since they voted to condemn Moveon's ad, they have neutralized Moveon's ability to help them.
Since Braley considers MoveOn so bad, should he consider returning the $87,000 then?

Or does Braley consider, now that he is elected, that he doesn't need help from groups like MoveOn?

Or does Braley think newspaper ads do more harm than continue a failed policy in Iraq?

No Presidents Left Behind

Here is a quote by President Bush, urging Congress to reauthorize No Child Left Behind.

Childrens do learn.
Luckily, teachers learn too. After 5 years of No Child Left Behind, we know there are better methods to improve the educational system. A good start would be to have a President that can at least speak English.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Notes on the Democratic Debate in New Hampshire

I have had a very busy week (parent-teacher conferences until 8 pm for 2 nights), so I am just going to jot down some notes as the Democratic debate in New Hampshire takes place.

  • I teach 2nd grade and we work on raising our hand to get someone's attention and to show respect by letting other people finish. I think Hillary Clinton failed to learn this because in every debate she blurts out at some point and interrupts someone else.
  • Mike Gravel needs to be a TV show. He is out there, but his point about voting for cloture for 40 straight days and grab the Republicans by the scruff and make them end this war is right on.
  • I have been supportive of John Edwards' leadership on Iraq since he apologized for voting for the war over a year ago and then saying to support the troops and end the war. However, his message on Iraq is beginning to be overshadowed by Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd. It isn't that Edwards's message has changed, it is just the others are making stronger arguments.
  • The question about having all the troops out of Iraq by 2013 is very telling. Richardson, Biden, and Dodd all make strong case that this needs to be done. Clinton and Edwards were unable to do that. For some reason, Obama was the only one not asked this question.
  • I take back that comment about Gravel having a TV show after his answer to the question about him filing for bankruptcy.
  • Richardson's wearing the pie chart pin from Iowans for Sensible Priorities.
  • Clinton blurts out again... however, her point about the importance of fiscal responsibility is a very strong argument.
  • National Law banning smoking in public places? I am all for a smoking ban in public places, but Clinton and Obama are right when they said the decision should be made locally.
  • Clinton: "I thought Bill was a good President." But then she insists that she is running on her own merits.
  • Kucinich lays it on the line and gets lots of laughs by saying you can vote for a President who support a not for profit health care system, etc or for a President who is tall.
  • Obama tells Richardson that it is time to tell the truth about how long it will take to get troops out of Iraq and about solving Social Security by growing the economy. Does this mean Richardson isn't on Obama's list of possible VP candidates?
  • Edwards says he won't expand nuclear power, but misses out on a chance to say we should put a halt on coal-fired power plants until there is carbon sequestration technology available.
  • Hillary, when told a quote about torture was made by her husband, says "well, he isn't standing here." Line gets laughs and some applause. Then Hillary says "well, I will take to him later." This line lost any positive and strength she gained from the previous statement.
Winners: Biden, Dodd, and Richardson all made strong positions on Iraq, torture, and restoring the constitution.

So-So: Edwards. Edwards contrasted his views with Clinton on Iraq and today's vote on the Lieberman bill about attacking Iran, but wouldn't commit to bringing all the troops home from Iraq by 2013.

Losers: Clinton, Edwards, and Obama all underwhelmed. Edwards and Biden took Hillary head on a few issues and Clinton gave many non-answers. At times it seemed Obama wasn't even there.

Thanks for Participating: Gravel and Kucinich

Biden's Packing Up and Moving Everything to Iowa

The Washington Post has a story today that Joe Biden is moving all of his national campaign staff to Iowa.

Among those being sent to the Hawkeye State: Danny O'Brien, longtime Biden chief of staff and current national political director; Valerie Biden Owens, the Senator's sister and one of the leading surrogates for the campaign; Missy Owens, deputy national political director; and Annie Tomasini, a member of Biden's national communications operation.
Biden has received a lot of support from State Legislators and has some momentum on his side. Marc Ambinder takes a look at Biden's strategy to gain this support from State Legislators.

After he announced his presidential bid, Biden’s team drew up a five-point plan to win legislative endorsements. First, Biden would ask state legislators to let him host an event. No endorsement needed, just an event. Then he’d ask the legislators to judge for themselves how their constituents responded to Biden. Third, he’s stress his Iraq message – “a broader policy offering than they normally expected,” O’Brien says. Fourth, he’d stress electability, drawing an implicit contrast with other Democrats in the race. Iowa Democrats, Biden and his aides believes, are hair-trigger-sensitive to electability arguments. And fifth, he’d work as many rooms as he could, focusing on delegate-rich areas and exploiting resevoirs of support that exist from 1988 last sojourn as a presidential candidate.

These include blue collar cities like Davenport and Dubuque and a wide strip of towns along the Mississippi river.

Biden deliberately chooses not to pander to the party’s liberal base, which his staff believes is a lot smaller than their loud voices would indicate.

The operation is pretty lean; there’s very little excess fat. But Biden will have manage to visit all 99 counties by early November. He has nine field offices and 23 full-time staffers – more than some Democrats (and Rudy Giuliani) but fewer, by orders of magnitude, than Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.

At the start of this campaign Joe Biden was at the bottom of my list. However, after seeing him three times in person on the campaign trail and his straight forward responses in the debate, he is quickly moved up into my top 4. From talking to Democratic activists around Iowa, I have found many people are seriously thinking about supporting Biden.

Student Loan Debt Drives Iowa's Brain Drain

The Generation Iowa Commission held their first public meeting yesterday and the conclusion was that student loan debt and the rising cost of college tuition are the driving force behind Iowa's brain drain.

From the Des Moines Register...

"As long as student loans are as big as they are around here, we are forcing people to make that decision" to seek employment outside of Iowa, said Kyle Carlson, chair of the Generation Iowa Commission.

Carlson, 27, is a recent graduate of Drake University's law school and works as an attorney for Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa. He carries roughly $200,000 in student debt, which works out to monthly payments of more than $1,000.

That's more than his mortgage payments.

"I could go to Chicago, do the same job and make $30,000 more a year, but I don't want to," said Carlson, who grew up in Waverly. "I'm probably in the minority, but I think we can do things to make this state a better place to live."
I have written about this issue numerous times on this blog. When you have monster payments on your student loans, it is logical to go where you can make more money and a lot of times that place is not in Iowa.

The Generation Iowa Commission is looking at ways to keep young Iowans in the state. The question they need to answer is should the state do something to forgive student loans for people who stay in Iowa or should they just try and make college more affordable for everyone, so that people don't end up with so much student loans.

Hey Iowa, Rudy's Just Not That Into You

Marc Ambinder had a post yesterday about the lack of effort Rudy Giuliani is putting into Iowa. Ambinder writes that Rudy has not visited Iowa in September. His last visit was way back on August 8th, unless you count a stop in Moline on August 28th (which is in Illinois, but Ambinder counts it anyway).

Ambinder outlines Giuliani's strategy...

The Giuliani's campaign's nomination strategy is delegate-based. It begins with a win in one of the early primary states, proceeds to take some proportionally allocated delegates from others, gets delegates from Michigan, surprises the world by placing second in South Carolina (maybe), wins all of Florida's delegates and then romps to victory on Feb. 5.

Winning Iowa isn't as important.
Ambinder concludes that Giuliani wants to at least be strong enough that if Romney falls flat then they can take advantage of it. This shows the lack of respect Giuliani has for Romney on a national scale that he is basically conceding Iowa to Romney.

Still, Mitt Romney has spent 300% more time in Iowa that Giuliani, as has Sen. Sam Brownback. Even Sen. John McCain, who skipped the Iowa caucuses in 200, has spent 5 more days in the state than Giuliani.

Giuliani's campaign will never admit that winning Iowa is not a necessary hurdle for their strategy to clear -- Iowans are nothing if not vain about making sure that candidates not only take them seriously, but put enough resources in the state in order to give that appearance. Giuliani, therefore, has to cross a threshold, but he doesn't have to exceed it. Also: it’s true that Giuliani wants to win Iowa; his campaign therefore is putting in more resources than is required to give the appearance of competition there… but fewer resources than they would if Iowa was a must-win state. If Mitt Romney falters, Giuliani's campaign wants to be able to build a large enough net to capture his supporters.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Ad from Richardson Shows Differences on Iraq Policies Among Democratic Candidates

Yesterday, Bill Richardson released an online ad that highlights the differences on Iraq between him and all the other candidates.



I am very impressed with this ad. I think Richardson should take the part that shows Hillary Clinton and John Edwards saying there aren't many differences on the war among the candidates and then Richardson explaining his plan (from 30 seconds to just 1:12 in the video) and make a TV ad. That is the part that really caught my attention.

The vast majority of Iowans think we need to bring our troops out of Iraq and If Richardson continues to strongly push this Iraq plan, he should move up in the polls.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Former Iowa Democratic Party Chair Endorses Obama

Barack Obama has picked up a big endorsement in the state in former State Party Chair Gordon Fischer.

From the Des Moines Register...

Fischer said he endorses Obama because he is a change agent, has the best policies and is the more likely to win than other Democrats. He noted a recent poll that showed Obama was the highest ranking Democrat among Republican voters.
Fischer's endorsement might not bring a bunch of supporters along, but it is something Obama can add to keep up with Clinton (Vilsack) and Biden's (Iowa House leaders McCarthy, Whitaker, Heddens, and Reasnor) big endorsements in the state.

Clinton Endorsement by Bayh is No Surprise

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) has endorsed Hillary Clinton. Bayh is a former chair of the centrists DLC, just like another Cinton backer, Tom Vilsack. The spin is that the Bayh endorsement shows Hillary can compete in red states.

Bayh is a moderate Democrat whose blessing could help Clinton pick up votes in Republican states.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Richardson: Ads Don't Kill People, Wars Kill People

On Friday, Bill Richardson posted this article on the Huffington Post. Not only is the title clever and funny, but Richardson expresses much of the sentiments of Americans.
Everywhere I go on this campaign -- from Iowa to New Mexico -- I hear people asking when is this war going to end and when will we get all of our troops out of Iraq? Everyone, myself included, is tired of waiting for this war to end and tired of feeling let down by the people we elected.

The message I hear on the road seems pretty clear to me, but apparently the people in Congress aren't getting it. I know legislating is hard work -- I spent 15 years in Congress -- but I believe that when the people have given you a mandate, and soldiers are dying, it is your solemn duty to get the job done no matter what it takes.

Two days ago the Senate had a chance to help get more of our soldiers home for longer periods of time -- but the measure failed. Yesterday they had a chance to set a timeline to start withdrawing troops -- but that failed too. And today, another measure that would've required a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq failed. Three chances to make a difference, lost. But instead of continuing to push on the most important issue facing our country right now, yesterday Congress spent their time debating and condemning a newspaper ad by an anti-war group.

Let's get some perspective here -- ads don't kill people -- wars kill people. And it is long past time to end this war.

Of the 6 major candidates, Richardson continues to speak most clearly about bringing home all the troops home from Iraq.

Catching Up With the Iowa Blogosphere

There are couple new Iowa political blogs that I wanted to acknowledge.

First, NE Iowa Progressives has had some great posts including this one about Bush denying children health care and this one on a regional primary system. Tonight at 6:00, they will be debuting on Blog Talk Radio.

The second blog is really knew, but Gavin has returned once again to write at Gavin's Journal.

Finally, Connor at the CMan blog has taken Ed Fallon's advice and is running for city council in Clinton. Good luck Conner!

Romney Campaign Ad Challenge: Five Brothers

Mitt Romney is holding a campaign ad challenge and Slate V entered this video of Romney comparing his sons campaigning for him to serving in Iraq.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Democrats Need to Stand On Principle and Show Strength on Iraq

Drew Westen, author of the Political Brain, explains why Democrats in Congress need to be stronger on Iraq policy and tells why they have failed so far.

The way to win the center on national security is not to try to craft centrist positions on national security. Particularly in the post-9/11 era, Americans want leaders who will decisively pull the trigger. But "pulling the trigger" today doesn't mean rattling our sabers almost as loud as the GOP, or complaining that we don't have the votes when we have the majority. Americans may not understand the subtleties of cloture, but they get the gist: that they handed the ball off to the party that's now in the majority, who they expected to run with the ball instead of consistently playing defense. The way to project strength on national security and to win back the Reagan Democrats who voted for Bill Clinton (despite his draft record) and flirted with the Democratic Party again in 2006 is to exude strength, particularly in the face of aggression, whether that aggression is from al Qaeda or from a bully in his bully pulpit.
Basically he says to grow a spine and stand on principle and people will respect you even if they don't agree with everything you say. There are too few Democrats actually doing this. Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, and Patrick Leahy are the ones that come to mind in the Senate.

Too many Democrats think they have to move to the center or think there is a magical Third Way. What these Democrats are actually doing is undermining their own principles by reinforcing the Right's arguments.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Thought Republicans Didn't Believe in Evolution

It sure seems Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani have "evolved" on many key conservative issues.

First, Romney was pro-choice and was in favor of equal rights for gay and lesbians. Now, Romney is running ads bashing gays and lesbians.

First, Giuliani was in favor of a woman's right to choose and in favor of gun control. Now, Rudy is against choice and suddenly his position on gun control has evolved as well.

Glossing over the less appealing line items on his gun control resume, ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani presented himself as sympathetic to the aims of the National Rifle Association and pledged, as president, to protect gun rights.

"Your right to bear arms is based on a reasonable degree of safety," he said.

He indicated that he would oppose new efforts to tighten national gun laws.

And I thought Republicans didn't believe in evolution.

As Economy Tanks, Bush Gives Himself an A on Economic Policy

Forget about the $9 trillion national debt, or the fact that every person owes over $29,000 on that debt, or the US dollar trading even with the Canadian dollar for the first time since 1976.

Bush says he is doing a great job being fiscally responsible and the economy is just great.

I got an A, however, in keeping taxes low and being fiscally responsible with the people's money.
h/t Andrew Sullivan

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Biden and Edwards Stand Out at AARP Debate in Davenport

Tonight's AARP debate in Davenport just ended and it turned out to be a great event. To start with there were only 5 candidates there (Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson) and that allowed a lot of back and forth and more in depth discussions. Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel weren't invited to the event because they are not campaigning in Iowa and Barack Obama declined the invitation because he thinks there are too many debates scheduled.

The candidates played it safe until Joe Biden took off the gloves and told Bill Richardson that being a Governor of small state and saying you can do the same things as president is like saying you can play in the NFL because you played running in high school. Biden also questioned Hillary Clinton's and John Edwards's ability to bring people together to get health care legislation passed. Biden was able to make these comments without seeming like he was attacking the others. Biden kept in line with his reputation of telling like it is when he brought up campaign finance reform as the best way to limit the influence of special interests.

John Edwards was very well received, gaining applause after many of his lines. I think he made a strong contrast between him and Hillary Clinton. However, there were a couple times I thought he could have been stronger though. When talking about lobbyists and health care, Edwards could have mentioned Clinton's fundraiser she held this week that auctioned off access to special interests and he did not. On one question, Edwards started the line about trying to compromise with the insurance and drug companies, but didn't say the line about them eating all the food. Overall, I think Edwards fared very well in this event.

Biden and Edwards were the big winners of the event. The other candidate all had their good moments (Dodd on the Subprime mortgage issue, Richardson on global warming, Clinton on the solvency of Medicare and Social Security), but were not as consistent and well received as Biden and Edwards were.

The biggest loser of the night was Barack Obama, who blew off the event because events like these are "too time consuming." Obama could lose support from likely Iowa caucus goers by skipping the AARP debate in Iowa.

And as it happens, people over 50 — AARP’s membership — made up more than half of the voters in 2004 in the Iowa caucuses.

Why Iowa Needs to be First and How to Fix the Nominating Schedule

Iowa should not pick the next president. I don't think my opinion should matter more than those in other states. However, I do think Iowa and New Hampshire should go first because they are small states that are won on the ground with retail politics. If Iowa and New Hampshire weren't first, then Joe Biden and Chris Dodd would not be in the race and maybe even Bill Richardson and campaigns would be won with TV ads, large donor fundraisers, and even more mud throwing.

You don't need a ton of money to do well in Iowa, just look at Mike Huckabee's performace at the Ames Straw Poll. Huckabee had less than half a million dollars on hand at the end of the July. In some states, one TV ad costs more money than Huckabee has. Huckabee is still able to gain traction in the race because Iowa is first.

I see Iowa's job to narrow the field down. Let everyone and their brother/sister/mailman campaign in Iowa. We will attend the events at the coffee shops and in the city parks and ask the tough questions. Those that can't make it through this game of retail politics and meet the people face to face will drop out and those that can, will move on to the other states.

What needs to happen is to spread the nominating calendar out. Back in '68 things didn't get heated up until May and June. Now we will have this thing decided by early February. Whomever comes out on top will then get pummeled by the Republican Noise machine for 6 months before the convention. That is not good the democratic process or for the Democratic Party.

ICAN: Call Today to Support Kids Healthcare!

I got this email yesterday from ICAN about the importance of passing a reauthorization of SCHIP and expanding healthcare to millions of uninsured kids. Please give Grassley a call and tell to vote to override Bush's threatened veto.

Don’t you think the needs of America’s children should come first? If so, call 1-866-544-7573 and tell your member of Congress to support legislation to ensure that more 3 million more kids have the health insurance coverage they need-- and demand that they oppose President Bush’s threatened veto.

SCHIP EXPIRES SEPTEMBER 30TH

If congress doesn’t act this week, we’re going to have a big problem here in Iowa.

Though ICAN believes that one uninsured child is one too many, here in Iowa we have a very low rate of uninsured children. Only about 3% of children in this state aren’t covered by some kind of health insurance. The main reason for this is because of the HAWK-I program, which is funded by the federal State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP.)

This program expires on September 30th, and Congress still hasn’t taken action to reauthorize it. And even though leaders in Congress are working RIGHT NOW to pass legislation to renew SCHIP and cover millions more uninsured kids whose parents can't afford private premiums, President Bush has threatened to veto the bill.

This is not a partisan matter. Both of Iowa’s US Senators, Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin not only support the bill, but have been champions of SCHIP and have been leaders in finding a way to pass this measure before the deadline.

CALL NOW!

Sadly, President Bush’s threatened veto would mean that either 6 million children in America would lose their coverage, or states would be into a difficult fiscal position by struggling to replace those federal dollars from already stretched state budgets.

It is vitally important that you call right now and tell your Congressperson:

  1. It is important to pass the SCHIP reauthorization, and it is important to Iowa’s kids that you vote yes.
  1. The difference between the House and Senate bills is the equivalent of the cost of 53 days of war in Iraq. What is more important to you?
  1. The President is planning to veto the SCHIP reauthorization bill. Do you plan to stand with the President and his veto, or will you vote to override this planned veto?

Please use the following TOLL FREE number to call, and you will be connected to your Congressman:

SCHIP Call to Action: 1-866-544-7573

Toll-free number courtesy of SEIU

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Selling Access To the White House

The John Edwards campaign sent an email out about a fundraiser Hillary Clinton is having yesterday that gives special interests government access for a donation.

From Political Wire...

In an e-mail, adviser Joe Trippi wrote: "Today at noon, Hillary Clinton will be hosting a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. for a select group of lobbyists with an interest in homeland security. Tickets for the Clinton fundraiser are $1,000 a ticket and $25,000 per bundler. And for that money you get more than a meal -- you get to attend one-hour breakout sessions in four different areas of homeland security that will include House Committee Chairs and members of Congress who sit on the very committees that will be voting on homeland security legislation."
It is good to see Edwards pointing this out. I am surprised Obama has brought it up either because this is exactly what Obama means when he says we must change the rules of the game. Clinton talks about change, but these antics is exactly what is wrong with Washington right now and it is clear Clinton won't be changing anything about it.

Thoughts on John Edwards

Chase Martyn has an excellant post with some thoughts about John Edwards.

Here is part of it, but make sure to read the entire thing to get a feel for how the race in Iowa is playing out.

In many ways, it seems that the Washington establishment has written him off. The chorus of pundits sings only one tune about the former Senator, and it goes something like this: Edwards is an angry liberal, and he may well be running for President of Iowa, rather than the whole United States.

Indeed, Edwards is focusing intensely on early state caucuses and primaries. But the media that seems to be discounting Edwards for this strategy is simultaneously elevating former Gov. Mitt Romney to his second-place position nationally in the Republican horse race because of his standing in early states. The two candidates are, for sure, not occupying exactly the same spaces in their respective parties’ primaries, but there are comparisons to draw between the two of them here in Iowa. Romney needs to win Iowa as much as Edwards does, and if the caucuses were held today I’m confident that they would both pull it off.

And in many ways, Edwards continues to influence the Democratic race as much as anyone. Clinton’s health care roll out may not have happened at all if Edwards had not released his plan several months ago (the SEIU may not have demanded specific plans from candidates if no one had released them). Obama may not have committed to voting against all war funding bills that do not include a mandatory timeline for withdrawal if Edwards (and, perhaps, Dodd) had not helped to make the issue into something of a litmus test for the netroots and the antiwar left. The “insiders” and “outsiders” rhetoric of Edwards and, in less aggressive terms, Obama, has elevated campaign finance reform — not just in terms of lobbyist and PAC money but also public financing of elections — to its position as a regular section of stump speeches and a standard question in debates.

In general, Edwards has been out in front of the field on many issues that have become central to the presidential election, often at the risk of his own standing in the race. Releasing specific policy proposals before hearing what the other candidates are saying can be politically risky, because it gives pundits and surrogates from other campaigns something to attack. But, as Edwards’s supporters will argue, this tactic demonstrates transparency and honesty.

Edwards is also excellent on the stump. Clinton, Obama, Dodd, Richardson, and Biden are not bad at it, but none is as practiced as the former Senator. Members of the traditional media often speak under their breath about Edwards being an inauthentic trial lawyer with good hair, but he is the only candidate this cycle who regularly pulls off the sort of “I feel your pain” empathy that worked so well for the last Democrat who won the presidency. If stump speeches have any effect on election results (and I think this point can be argued both ways), it isn’t time to write Edwards off yet.

Webb Amendment Gives Troops the Rest They Need

Jim Webb introduced an amendment that would require US troops to have equal time between active duty and breaks between deployments. So if a soldier is in Iraq for one year they get one year off before being redeployed.

Over the summer, this amendment got 56 votes.

Here is Webb explaining the importance of the amendment.

Results of the Common Iowa Presidential Straw Poll

About a month ago, I posted a poll asking who do you support to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2008.

In the past, these polls have been somewhat of a decent showing of what readers of this blog thought. However, this poll caught on with supporters from the Dodd, Richardson, and Edwards campaigns and the results are skewed in that direction. The interesting thing however, is that many of the people who voted for Chris Dodd seemed to come to the site from Facebook. The poll was posted on a Richardson blog and that drove much of his votes. I couldn't find any pattern that showed where the Edwards supporters came from. There was 905 votes in the poll.

Here are the results...

1. Chris Dodd 43%
2. John Edwards 30%
3. Bill Richardson 11%
4. Barack Obama 7%
5. Hillary Clinton 2%
6. Joe Biden 2%
7. Dennis Kucinich 1%
8. Mike Gravel 0%

You can see results from past polls here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Public Opinion on No Child Left Behind

I saw the results of this Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on the Schools Matter blog.

Here are some things that stood out to me from the poll...

* 62% said that the current emphasis on standardized tests was a "bad thing" because it encouraged teachers to teach to the tests. Only 39% of parents were concerned about this in 2003.
* 82% prefer a measure of student improvement, rather than whether students pass a test, as the best way to measure school performance.
* The "biggest problem" facing schools is lack of funding.
* 40% had a negative view of NCLB, while only 31% had a favorable view
* 79% think that English Language Learners should not have their scores counted in measuring school performance until after they pass an English proficiency test.
* 78% of public school parents said that Special Education students should not be required to meet the same academic standards as other students.

Vilsack: No Child Left Behind Leaves All Children Behind

Tom Vilsack posted an article on Open Left that outlines some of the things wrong with No Child Left Behind and what we need to do to improve education.

What is the purpose of public education? Simple - every child should have what they need to realize their talents and to contribute in a meaningful way to their community and nation. Rather than a nation of average standardized test takers, our schools should help produce a nation of creative, dedicated, and engaged citizens.

For that to occur the frame of the ESEA must be changed. Instead of a frame built around student achievement based on a single, high-stakes, multiple choice test, we should advocate for a frame based on student demonstration of an array of 21st century skills: core competencies, ability to communicate, technological proficiency, problem solving, financial literacy, global awareness, community responsibility, and capacity to work within a team.

While the debate will swirl around funds, pay for performance compensation schemes, and growth models, we won't get it totally right unless we are clear about what the purpose should be of our system. We must be wary of the language of accountability that comes straight out of a corporate culture to one that speaks of shared responsibility. If we expect our children to get it right, we have to do so first.

I worked as a substitute teacher two years ago and on two occasions when I was subbing, I taught lessons on how to fill in the circles on the answer sheets to prepare for upcoming standardized tests. As I was teaching, I was thinking about how these students will never use this skill when they are adults.

Harkin Steak Fry: Best Line Goes to Dodd

Even though his overall speech wasn't one of the best of the day, Chris Dodd had the best line of the afternoon.

Dodd began his speech by going through thanking people. It seemed this part of his speech took too long, but he ended the thank you's with the day's best one-liner by saying...

In addition to sucking up to Harkin, here, we're all here to tell you why we want to be President.
Dodd then went into the meat of his speech saying the first thing he'd do as President is to restore the constitution. Yesterday, Dodd got an early start on this by submitting a bill along with Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) to restore habeas corpus.

Dodd said the people standing on this stage all have similar policies, but what matters is experience and the ability to bring Americans together. Attempting to differentiate himself from Hillary Clinton, Dodd stressed his ability to bring both sides together by standing on principle and building relationships.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Harkin Steak Fry: Best Organization Goes to Obama

My wife attended the Steak Fry as a Barack Obama supporter. The Obama campaign bought her ticket and gave her an Obama t-shirt when she picked it up. They had an area across the highway from the Ballon Field set up with tables for supporters to pick up their tickets and shirts.

Obama held a rally there before hand with 2,500 supporters there and then they all marched into the Ballon Field led by the Des Moines Isiserettes. I didn't attend the rally, but say the swarm coming in, and it was a sight to see. My wife went on and on about how well organized and smoothly it ran.


Here's a video from the Obama campaign that shows their strong organization and hard work at Steak Fry.

Last Day to Vote in Common Iowan Presidential Poll

The Common Iowan Presidential Straw poll closes tomorrow night. The poll is located in the left hand column. Make sure to vote for your favorite candidate.

Leach to Head Harvard's Institute of Politics

From the Des Moines Register...

Former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa will be the director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University for the current academic year, it was announced this morning by the university.

Leach, a Republican from Iowa City who served in the U.S. House for 15 terms before his defeat in 2006, will succeed Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire
who is leaving to run for the U.S. Senate in her home state.
The Institute of Politics is part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Harkin Steak Fry: Yepsen Says Hillary Underperformed

David Yepsen had some good observations in his blog post about the Harkin Steak Fry about Hillary Clinton.

She may be leading in national polls now, but don’t be surprised if, come December, many Iowa Democrats desert her for another candidate simply because they don’t think she can win. (That same thing happened to Howard Dean in December, 2003. People liked what he had to say, he led in the polls but crashed late in the game when droves of people said the guy would be a loser in November.)

Unless Clinton convinces Iowa Democrats she can go the distance in November, she’ll may have that same difficulty on caucus night and she missed a good opportunity to deal head on with the issue.

Harkin Steak Fry: John Edwards' Speech

John Edwards gave the best speech at the Harkin Steak Fry yesterday in front of 12,000 Democratic Activists in Iowa. Edwards was the 5th speaker of the day and one Edwards supporter told me that she thought there was no way Edwards would come out with a great speech because the previous 4 candidates basically said what he would say. Boy was she wrong.

Edwards had a large group of supporters staked out right in front of the stage and when Sen. Harkin was set to introduce him and said his name, they all went wild. Harkin had to wait a minute or two to continue.

Edwards began by talking about when Democrats don't work for working people, education, and people living in poverty, they lose their soul. He then added

Tom Harkin has never lost his soul.
Edwards spent most of his speech on healthcare probably because Hillary Clinton is set to give a major policy speech in Iowa today and the SEIU will be considering who to endorse this week. All of his best lines and stories came out in the speech, including saying we can't sit at a table and negotiate with drug and insurance companies because they will eat all the food. He told the story of 51 year old James Lowe, who was born with a clef pallet and had to wait 50 years to get it fixed because he didn't have health insurance.

The two lines that probably got the biggest applause was when talking about energy independence, Edwards said...
It is time for the President to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war.
Edwards also got cheers when he said...
We can't replace corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats.
Edwards touched on the message from the response he made after Bush's address last week, saying...
Every single funding bill that goes to Bush should have a timetable for withdrawal. and if Bush vetoes it then send it back and if Bush vetoes it then send it back and if Bush vetoes it then send it back.
At this time the entire crowd (not just the ones holding Edwards signs) were cheering loudly. Edwards added...
No timetable, no funding. It is time to bring this war to an end.
Edwards ended by saying you can't just name yourself the change candidate by putting it up on a placard. The race is about bold vision and who Americans trust.

Earlier in the day there was a plane flying around with a banner that said IOWA IS EDWARDS COUNTRY. After this speech, Edwards surely gained support from some of the most active Democrats in Iowa.

**Update**
Iowa for Edwards and video of John Edwards' speech.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Harkin Steak Fry Roundup

All of the candidates are done speaking and people filling out of Indianola Ballon Field. As the speeches go, I would say Edwards, Richardson, and Obama were at the top of the list. I took notes and pictures of all the candidates and will have in depth posts throughout the next couple days.

**Update**
I am home now. From talking to people while walking out, the consensus was Edwards and Obama performed well, while Hillary was somewhat of a disappointment.

Iowa Independent had some great coverage of the Harkin Steak Fry with 5 people on the ground. Chase liveblogged all the same speeches, so check out what each candidate had to say...

Harkin
Obama
Richardson
Clinton
Dodd
Edwards
Biden

Harkin Steak Fry: Congressional Delegation

I am blogging from the Harkin Steak Fry. The Iowa Congressional Delegation just finished up speaking. I missed Selden Spencer and Leonard Boswell's speeches, but heard Rep. Loebsack and Rep. Braley speak.

Rep. Loebsack spoke about labor and education issues and discussed a bill the President signed into low to lower the cost of college. Loebsack also stressed the importance of grassroots organizing and thanked everyone for the help getting him elected last year.

Rep. Braley got the crowd going with a great speech. He said in 2006 we cleaned out the US House and in 2008 we need to clean out the White House. He stressed how important it is to reelect Sen. Harkin. If we get the race locked up early then it will only help Democrats in Iowa. Braley talked a lot about Iraq and Bush's broken promises. He mentioned Rep. Boswell's Suicide Prevention Bill to prevent suicide in the military that passed in the House, but is on hold in the Senate because Senator Coburn (R-Oklahoma) must think preventing suicide is bad thing.

I am hearing there are over 12,000 people here. Hillary has the most signs out, but I think Obama seems to have the most supporters because they were passing out a ton of t-shits. Edwards and Biden also seem to have sizable group of supporters. One interesting note is Biden has about 20 volunteers down in front of the stage, while Clinton has just as many paid staffers down there.

The presidential candidates just have been introduced, as well as Sen. Harkin. I will be back in a bit with more info.

**Update**
I asked some people about Selden Spencer's speech and people said he did well, but it wasn't quite last year's speech. Spencer's best line was about people that come up to him and say...

So Dr. Spencer, you are a Neruologist, what's really wrong with George W. Bush.

Did Harkin Make His Endorsement At Last Year's Steak Fry?

Tom Harkin said once again on a taping of Iowa Press on Friday that he is not going to be endorsing anyone before the Iowa Caucuses.

We've got the best candidates I have seen in a long time. Each one of them makes me proud. Each one of them could get elected president and would make an outstanding president.
Could it be possible that Harkin actually made his endorsement unintentionally at last year's Harkin Steak Fry by inviting Sen. Barack Obama to be the guest speaker?

The 2006 Harkin Steak Fry was Obama's first trip to Iowa and jump started his Presidential campaign by introducing Iowa Democrats to Obama and the rock star status ensued.

See You At the Harkin Steak Fry

Today is the 30th Harkin Steak Fry with special guests Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and many other Iowa Democrats. Supposedly, over 10,000 tickets have been sold.

I am going to be there adding my two cents about the speeches. I have my camera, laptop, notepad, and pens packed. Harkin's staff has really reached out to blogger's for this event, so I hope to get good access to the event and wireless, so I can liveblog.

Check back throughout the day for updates.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Look at 2008 Senate Races

Kos takes a look at what 2008 Senate Races that Republicans might spend there limited money on.

Assuming Kerrey gets in the race, the highest tier becomes New Hampshire, Virginia, Colorado, and Nebraska.

The next level of the top tier is Minnesota, Maine, and Oregon. Alaska too if popular Anchorage's popular Democratic mayor Begich gets in.

Then there's the states that will become the second tier -- North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, maybe even Kansas.

On the Republican side, they have two real targets -- Louisiana and South Dakota. Louisiana, however, isn't as easy as anything in the Dem's top tier pickup shots, and South Dakota is tricky given Sen. Johnson's health issues (and Herseth Sandlin wouldn't be any easier). They could be stupid and sink millions more into New Jersey again, but alas, they're probably not that stupid. Or, at very least, they won't have the money available to be that stupid. What's left? Montana? Iowa? Arkansas? No way.

It is looking like Democrats should pick up at least 4 or 5 seats in the Senate. I predict Democrats will pick up 7 seats (Virginia, Oregon, New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Colorado) .

At this point, Harkin is as safe as they come. He has been raising a ton of money and the Republicans have no viable candidate to run.

Clinton Wins Endorsement from Wesley Clark

I was first surprised to read that Gen. Wesley Clark has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. However, then I remembered Clark is from Arkansas and is good friends with Bill Clinton.

I guess this means Clark isn't going to be a late entry into the race like in 2004.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Edwards Responds to Bush on Iraq

John Edwards made a national cable TV ad buy last night after President Bush's speech on Iraq to air his response. The response aired on MSNBC during Keith Olbermann's coverage.

Here's what Edwards had to say...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Last Chance to Buy Harkin Steak Fry Tickets Online

This year's Harkin Steak Fry is going to be a great event. All 6 of the major candidates (Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Obama and Richardson) are scheduled to speak there. The event takes place on Sunday afternoon on Indianola.

Tom Harkin's Steak Fry is always one of the most highly anticipated, time-honored Iowa political traditions. Every year thousands of Iowans gather in Tom's home county of Warren to celebrate the accomplishments of Senator Harkin for the people of Iowa. This year marks the 30th Harkin Steak Fry, and this year’s special guests are Democratic Presidential candidates: Senator Joe Biden, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Chris Dodd, Senator John Edwards, Senator Barack Obama, and Governor Bill Richardson.
I will be attending and providing coverage of the festivities here at Common Iowan.

The deadline to buy tickets to the Harkin Steak Fry on Sunday is Friday night at midnight. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at the gate if you miss the deadline.

Republican Wants Judge Impeached

Republican Bill Salier, a former candidate for US Senate and currently working for Tom Tancredo's campaign in Iowa, wants Judge Robert Hansen to be impeached for ruling in favor of equal rights for gay and lesbians in Iowa. Hansen ruled against the state's gay marriage band last month.

From the Des Moines Register...

Salier said he would collect signatures for a few weeks, then present them to leaders of the Iowa Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats. "If the Democrat Party is dumb enough not to do it, then the Republicans can use it as a political issue," he said. "If the Republicans are stupid enough to not press for it, then we, the people of the state of Iowa, can bludgeon both parties for it," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal laughed when he heard about the effort. The Council Bluffs Democrat said he wasn't even sure what power the Legislature has to impeach a judge. "I'm next to positive it's never been done," he said.

Gronstal said Salier's impeachment demand was not an honest attempt to oust Hanson. "Let's be blunt," Gronstal said. "The likelihood of that happening is zero, and he knows it, and you know it."

Bipartisanship

Ed Kilgore has an interesting article that talks about why the left is angry...

Think about it. Since 1998, we've witnessed the first presidential impeachment since the 1860s, the first presidential election to go into "overtime" since the 1870s; the first attack on the continental United States since 1812; the first major preemptive "war of choice" in U.S. history; and the first televised destruction of an American city. I don't mean to equate any of these non-9/11 occurances with what we witnessed that day, but it has been an extraordinary span of time.

If you want to truly understand why Democrats (especially those whose entire formative political experience has been the last decade) are so often "angry," remember the behavior of the leadership of the Republican Party in all of the non-9/11 events I've mentioned. And then remember what the president and vice president have done to destroy the national unity and worldwide symphathy this country enjoyed just after 9/11, typically viewing domestic unity and global approval with ill-disguised contempt.

Kilgore concludes by writing about bipartisanship...
But what motivates me to ask Republicans as well as everyone else to reflect on this subject is the simple fact that with the Tom DeLay class of congressional Republicans gone or in disgrace, and Bush and Cheney's departure from office growing nigh, we're now witnessing a presidential nominating contest in the GOP wherein most candidates are competing to show how avidly, even defiantly, they'd continue the current administration's worst habits and policies, including its politicization of terrorist threats and efforts to impugn the patriotism of critics.

I'd love to see the day when genuine "bipartisanship" is occasionally possible, within the context of a vibrant, principled party system. But that won't be happen so long as we accept, much less seek to emulate, national leaders capable of using the kind of bipartisanship we briefly saw six years ago as little more than a political capital fund in the pursuit of raw, partisan power.
These Republicans in office don't want to compromise with Democrats. They are still abiding by Grover Norquist's line that bipartisanship is another form of date rape.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Biden Discusses Petraeus and Iraq on Hardball



I think I am starting to like this guy, especially when it comes to foreign policy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Two Questions from Feingold and Warner from the Petraeus Hearings

I was watching Hardball's coverage of General Petraeus testifying in Congress today and these two statements really stuck out at me.

The first one is by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) who said (emphasis added)...

I strongly supported the decision to go to war in Afghanistan, which served as a sanctuary for Al Qaida. The war in Iraq has been a terrible diversion from Afghanistan and from what should be a global fight against a global enemy. As this summer's declassified NIE confirmed, Al Qaida remains the most serious threat to the United States, and key elements of that threat have been regenerated or even enhanced. While our attention and resources have been focused on Iraq, Al Qaida has protected its safe haven in Pakistan and increased cooperation with regional terrorist groups.

So the question we must answer is not whether we are winning or losing in Iraq, but whether Iraq is helping or hurting our efforts to defeat Al Qaida. That is the lesson of 9/11, and it's a lesson we must remember today, and I would say every single day.


The second statement comes from a question by Sen. John Warner (R-Virginia) where Warner asked if the Iraq War is making America is safer.

Here's the exchange...

"Do you feel that [Iraq war] is making America safer"?

Petraeus paused before responding. He then said:

"I believe this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objectives in Iraq."

That was, of course, a non-answer. And Warner wasn't going to let the general dodge the bullet. He repeated the question:

"Does the [Iraq war] make America safer?"

Petraeus replied, "I don't know, actually. I have not sat down and sorted in my own mind.


To figure out what to do in Iraq, all we need to do is answer these two questions: Is the Iraq War helping our efforts to defeat Al Qaida and does the Iraq War make America Safer?

Unfortunately, it seems the answer to both is no.

Tour of a Sustainable Agriculture Farm

Last week, my wife and I had the chance to tour High Hopes Gardens, a 7 acre farm just off Highway 330 west of Marshalltown. High Hopes grows a large variety of foods and flowers and uses sustainable practices. It was a definite learning experience for me.

Here are some pictures from the tour.

This trellis has gourds growing on it. Thought it was a cool picture with the sun and birdhouse in the background.

They grow many varieties of flowers and sell bouquets. Here are some Zinnias.


The Raspberry patch was huge. There is an old Mulberry tree in the background that they considered cutting down when they bought the place and plant some apple trees. However, they kept the Mulberry tree because the birds like to eat the Mulberries and they stay out of the Raspberries.


Here is a water tank they bought at an auction. It collects rainwater that runs off the barn and they use the water to water the plants around the farm. A half inch of rain fills up the tank.


They have some chickens. Here they are in a little pen that keeps the dogs and other larger animals out and the chickens in. They rotate the pins around the farm, so one area doesn't get worn down.

And they have 3 goats. They said they'd like to get another female and use the milk for cheese and things. However, these 3 help weed and clean up the gardens in the fall.



Here is a picture of one of their garden plots.

They also have 2 bee hives and they have gotten 16 gallons of honey this summer.

Check out the High Hopes blog to read more about the farm.

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, is coming out with a new book called Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Here is a short film that tells what the book is about...



I picked up No Logo awhile back while at a book store and spent a couple hours reading reading some of it. I will have to check this book out too.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Support the Troops, End the War

Matthew Dowd, Bush's pollster from 2004, has come to some conclusions on Iraq including this one that shows Americans support the troops, but want to end the war.

The public does not see withdrawal from Iraq as a signal America doesn't support the troops. In fact, the public sees removing the troops from harm's way and having them in a place where the mission is supported, welcomed and understood as the most proper way to support our troop

Katie Couric's Lack of Watchdog Journalism in Iraq

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Richardson: Why We Should Exit Iraq Now

Bill Richardson has an op-ed piece in the Washington Post called Why We Should Exit Iraq Now.

Here is part of what he wrote...

Those who think we need to keep troops in Iraq misunderstand the Middle East. I have met and negotiated successfully with many regional leaders, including Saddam Hussein. I am convinced that only a complete withdrawal can sufficiently shift the politics of Iraq and its neighbors to break the deadlock that has been killing so many people for so long.

Our troops have done everything they were asked to do with courage and professionalism, but they cannot win someone else's civil war. So long as American troops are in Iraq, reconciliation among Iraqi factions is postponed. Leaving forces there enables the Iraqis to delay taking the necessary steps to end the violence. And it prevents us from using diplomacy to bring in other nations to help stabilize and rebuild the country.

The presence of American forces in Iraq weakens us in the war against al-Qaeda. It endows the anti-American propaganda of those who portray us as occupiers plundering Iraq's oil and repressing Muslims. The day we leave, this myth collapses, and the Iraqis will drive foreign jihadists out of their country. Our departure would also enable us to focus on defeating the terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11, those headquartered along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border -- not in Iraq.

Logistically, it would be possible to withdraw in six to eight months. We moved as many as 240,000 troops into and out of Iraq through Kuwait in as little as a three-month period during major troop rotations. After the Persian Gulf War, we redeployed nearly a half-million troops in a few months. We could redeploy even faster if we negotiated with the Turks to open a second route out through Turkey.

When looking closely at all the of the candidates plans on Iraq, you can see some differences. Richardson has been clear from the beginning of the race that he will withdraw all troops from Iraq. His plan differs from others who say they will bring our troops home, when they really mean they will be some or most of the troops home.

Romeny: Being Gay Should Not Be a Crime

Here's a quote from Mitt Romney from 1994 about the need for equal rights for gay and lesbians...

If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can, and will.
Of course, now that Romney is running for President his rhetoric on the issue has changed. He now supports a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Giuliani: Illegal Immigration is Not a Crime

Rudy Giuliani had some interesting remarks about illegal immigration yesterday on Glen Beck's show on CNN Headline News.

It's not a crime. I know that's very hard for people to understand, but it's not a federal crime. I was U.S. attorney in the Southern district of New York. So believe me, I know this. In fact, when you throw an immigrant out of the country, it's not a criminal proceeding. It's a civil proceeding.
Rudy later added...
We couldn't prosecute 12 million people. We have only 2 million people in jail right now for all the crimes that are committed in the country, 2.5 million. My solution is close the border to illegal immigration.
Rudy has some good points, but these comments sure will make a lot of Republicans angry. It would be interesting to lock Rudy and Tom Tancredo in the same room and see who will come out alive.

Kick the Bottled-Water Habit

Here is some more information about bottled water that I got in an email yesterday.

Kick the Bottled-Water Habit This Week

Small steps ... Big impact
Simple ways you can live green. The planet will thank you.

Kick the bottled-water habit at home:

Annual Savings: $144
Annual CO2 Savings: 600 pounds

You'll save 180 gallons of water per year by drinking tap or filtered water instead of bottled. That's because it takes 1.3 gallons of water to make every 1-quart plastic bottle. BHG.com users who go bottle-less will help reduce the boggling number of thrown-away bottles (over 20 billion per year); only 1 of 6 gets recycled.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I-Renew Energy Expo This Weekend in Solon

From I-Renew...

I-Renew Energy Expo

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

SEPTEMBER 8 & 9, 2007

9 to 5 Saturday

10:30 to 4:30 Sunday


FEATURING:
Workshops All Weekend

A Renewable Fuel Car Show


Demonstrations of Solar and Wind Energy

Exhibitors from the Non-Profit and Business Communities

SOLON HIGH SCHOOL

600 WEST FIFTH ST.SOLON, IA

ADMISSION:
$5 INDIVIDUAL, $10 FAMILY

The 16th annual I-Renew Energy EXPO hosted by the Iowa Renewable Energy Association (I-Renew) will be held on September 8 & 9 at Solon High School, a school built with green and energy efficient technologies. The EXPO features workshops and speakers covering many topics- from renewable energy, green building, energy efficient technology, renewable fuels, alternative transportation, advocacy, and more!

The Real Rudy

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Christie Vilsack Denied Chance to Speak on Clinton's Behalf At Rock Island Labor Picnic

Some bickering took place on Monday in Rock Island, Illinois when Christie Vilsack was denied a chance to speak in behalf of Hillary Clinton at a Labor picnic.

Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack was refused the chance to speak on behalf of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Monday’s Salute to Labor picnic, which was heavily tilted toward rival Barack Obama, a key Quad-City Clinton backer said Tuesday.

Vilsack, who with her husband, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, is backing Clinton, participated in the Labor Day parade in East Moline then went to Illiniwek Park expecting to speak. But when she tried to do so after U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, spoke on Obama’s behalf, she was refused.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Richardson Scores Points With Humorous Comment

When I first read the following comment by Bill Richardson, I thought it was pretty funny.

Iowa, for good reason, for constitutional reasons, for reasons related to the Lord, should be the first caucus and primary.
Richardson has gotten a lot of flak over the comment in the Blogosphere, especially from Kos. Richardson replied, honestly, by saying he was just trying to score points.
That was an off-the-cuff comment about the importance of Iowa. This was an Iowa crowd — I'm trying to score points, I'm moving up in the polls. So I don't consider that a mistake — that was an off-the-cuff comment, and I stand very strongly behind the fact that Iowa and New Hampshire should be first.
As an Iowan, consider your points scored. I appreciate the humor and the attempt to lighten things up considering how ludicrous the nominating schedule has become. I think we all should lighten up and play the game instead of bickering about the rules.

Win Little Victories

Bush on Family Guy

Oil and Water Only Mix in Bottled Water

I had heard bottled water is bad for the environment, but here is an article that actually explains in numbers how bad bottled water is.

Unfortunately more and more Americans drink those eight glasses out of plastic bottles—a convenience that stuffs landfills, clogs waterways and guzzles valuable fossil fuels.

Last year Americans spent nearly $11 billion on over 8 billion gallons of bottled water, and then tossed over 22 billion empty plastic bottles in the trash. In bottle production alone, the more than 70 million bottles of water consumed each day in the U.S. drain 1.5 million barrels of oil over the course of one year.

Every little bit helps when caring for the environment and it seems filling up a reusable bottle, such as a Klean Kanteen, would be a nice start.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Nussle Confirmed as White House Budget Director 69-24

The Senate voted 69-24 to confirm Jim Nussle as White House Budget Director today.

According the to the Des Moines Register, Nussle...

will advocate the president’s budget policies and manage government regulations in the powerful but highly bureaucratic post.
Here is a list of the 24 Senators that voted against Nussle...

Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Clinton (D-NY)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Whitehouse (D-RI)

And here are 2 interesting comments from Democrats that voted against Nussle...
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who had supported Nussle in a committee vote, said he and Nussle always have had a good personal relationship “but this goes beyond a personal relationship – he has been an architect of this fiscal policy.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called the nomination an “outrage” and urged its rejection.

“I would not vote for a man who put a bag over his head in the House of Representatives” because it shows “hostility to this great democracy,” said Boxer. She was referring to an episode early in Nussle’s career in which he donned a bag to protest the House check-bouncing scandal.

Another Reason to Change Farm Subsidies

This map shows farm subsidies received on Manhattan.

From Matthew Yglesias...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Nussle Nomination Up for Vote on Tuesday and Why to Vote Against Him

The nomination of Jim Nussle as the OMB Director will be up for a vote in the Senate on Tuesday. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has written a lengthy piece at the Huffington Post about why he is voting against Jim Nussle.

Here is what Sanders concludes...

In my view, it all comes down to the phrase "which side are we on." Are we on the side of those people who make huge campaign contributions to Congress and the White House, or are we on the side of tens of millions of working families, struggling hard to keep their heads above water? That is the choice we face.

And, that is why I am voting against Jim Nussle. Not because he is not smart, he is. Not because I don't like him, personally, I do. I am voting against Jim Nussle because I believe we should not give a break to the heirs of the Wal-Mart fortune. Rather, we should be fighting to substantially increase financial aid for low- and middle-class families so that every American, regardless of income, can receive a college education.

We should not give another tax break to the former CEO of ExxonMobil and his family. Instead, we should be working to support working families all over this country who are desperately seeking quality and affordable childcare.

I don't think that the heirs to the Mars Candy Bar fortune should get a tax break. In my view, it is far more important that we keep our promises to the veterans of this country who now find themselves on waiting lists to get the health care they need.

If, as a nation, we are serious about addressing the long neglected needs of the middle-class and working people and creating a fairer and more egalitarian society, we have to invest in education, health care, housing, and our infrastructure. We have to deal with the crisis of global warming and sustainable energy, as well as many other areas. We also have to reduce our national debt. Given that reality, Congress must develop the courage to stand up to the big money interests, to the wealthiest families. We must roll back the tax breaks given to the wealthiest 1 percent, and we must demand that fortunate people rejoin American society and understand that like everybody else in this country, they are part of America and not a special breed. If we are to keep faith with our children, our seniors, our veterans, and with those people who have no health insurance, we can do no less.

It seems very clear to me that we, as a nation, need to change our national priorities, and that the U.S. government should start paying attention to the struggling working families of our country rather than the powerful special interests who have so much power in Washington. We need a budget director who will remind the president that he is supposed to represent the interests of all Americans, and not just wealthy Republican campaign contributors.

That is why I am voting against Jim Nussle.

Bush's Secret Visit to Iraq

So President Bush made a trip to Iraq to visit troops. It is good that our troops get recognition for their work on this Labor Day. However, Bill Scher from Liberal Oasis takes the White House and media to task for calling the trip a surprise visit.

It is unbelievable that for four years, the White House has been able to spin secret visits to Iraq as happy happy fun fun "surprise" visits, when in fact, they have secret trips because Iraq is too dangerous for normal visits.

Romney Actually Sweats

Romney's new TV ad that has been on the air in Iowa over the weekend shows that Mitt actually sweats.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Iowa Farmers Prevented from Diversifying Crops by Federal Rules

Iowa farmers who want to diversify the crops they grow and provide local food are prevented from doing so by federal agriculture rules.

From Eat Local Challenge...

Iowa farmer Gary Boysen grows sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, cantaloupes and other produce on 65 acres near Harlan. He sells his produce at nearby supermarkets and Wal-Mart. And he would like to be growing more fruit and vegetables for Iowans. However, a big obstacle is standing in his way: federal agricultural rules.

If farmers want to plant fruit and vegetable crops on land enrolled in USDA subsidy programs, they must permanently give up the possibility of receiving benefits. Not just for the period when they are growing non-program crops. Permanently.

Many people want to buy locally produced fruits and vegetables and this rule is preventing farmers from providing that. If Iowans would diversify their agriculture, a lot of money could be kept in the state.

These rules seem to favor large commercial farmers that want to keep their access to markets across the country. For example, large tomato farmers in California wouldn't want Iowa farmers to grow tomatoes and sell them in Iowa because they would lose out. Hopefully, these rules can be changed in the Farm Bill.