Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bipartisanship and the Demise of Moderates

Glenn Greenwald has an interesting article as Salon about what bipartisanship actually means.

But more importantly, "bipartisanship" is already rampant in Washington, not rare. And, in almost every significant case, what "bipartisanship" means in Washington is that enough Democrats join with all of the Republicans to endorse and enact into law Republican policies, with which most Democratic voters disagree. That's how so-called "bipartisanship" manifests in almost every case.

Many people, especially partisans, always believe that their own side is compromising too much and that the other side is always winning, so it's best to consult objective facts in order to know how "bipartisanship" works. Here are the vote breakdowns by party over the last couple years on the most significant and contentious pieces of legislation, particularly (though not only) in the area of national security.

In almost every case, the proposals that are enacted are ones favored by the White House and supported by all GOP lawmakers, and then Democrats split and enough of them join with Republicans to ensure that the GOP gets what it wants.
Greenwald then lists through a bunch of votes that nearly all of the Republicans voted for it and the Democrats are split.

One reason for this is the demise of the moderate Republicans in congress.

Today, however, the animal on the brink of extinction comes from Congress’ own ranks: moderate House Republicans.

Their numbers have long been in decline, they were nearly wiped out in the midterm elections, and 2008 looks to be another bad year for this proud creature.

Republicans have long been purging their party of moderates, even encouraging primary opponents to run against moderate incumbents. However, Democrats are often very happy to continue to send incumbents back to Congress that continually vote against the interest of the Democratic party and against the interests of the people they represent.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rudy's Downfall

From Andrew Sullivan...

"Rudy didn’t even care enough about conservatives to lie to us," - Republican consultant, Nelson Warfield.

Edwards to Drop out of the Race Today

Last night, I read that John Edwards cancelled campaign stops in two states today to give a major speech in New Orleans on poverty. Today it is being reported that Edwards will be dropping out of the race.

The former North Carolina senator will not immediately endorse either candidate in what is now a two-person race for the Democratic nomination, said one adviser, who spoke on a condition of anonymity in advance of the announcement.

Edwards waged a spirited top-tier campaign against the two better-funded rivals, even as he dealt with the stunning blow of his wife’s recurring cancer diagnosis. In a dramatic news conference last March, the couple announced that the breast cancer that she thought Their decision sparked a debate about family duty and public service. But Elizabeth Edwards remained a forceful advocate for her husband, and she was often surrounded at campaign events by well-wishers and emotional survivors cheering her on.

Edwards ran a great campaign in Iowa and it showed with a strong 2nd place finish. Unfortunately, He was unable to spread his populist message in the other states, partly due to the condensed calendar and partly due to the media.

I would be shocked if Edwards endorsed Clinton with their differences on accepting money from lobbyists. Edwards has been campaigning on a theme of change and Barack Obama most closely matches Edwards rhetoric. It would be a big boost for Obama if Edwards would endorse before February 5th.

From Marc Ambinder

He does not plan to endorse any presidential candidate in the near future, advisers said.

Advisers say he worries that Obama isn't ready to be president and that Hillary Clinton represents too much the old way of doing business... and both concerns weigh heavily.

The Snub

The big hub bub over Obama turning away from Clinton at the State of the Union is actually a non-story. This picture shows Obama shaking Claire McKaskill's hand while Hillary is shaking Ted Kennedy's.

I think it would have been a bigger story if Obama snubbed McKaskill, a key supporter in Missouri.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Feingold explains FISA

From Open Left...

Best Primary Season Ever?

After a lot of talk about Iowa and New Hampshire having too much impact and then questioning of the impact of the compacted schedule, the primary season seems to be working out pretty well.

Stephen J. Dubner of Freakonomics blog explains why this has been the best primary season ever.

I’d like to suggest an opposing view: this primary season has been remarkably successful at letting the public come to know the candidates and what they’re about. Why?

For one thing, there has been massive exposure to every significant candidate, thanks in part to the scattered primary schedule. There have been so many debates that a voter would have had to try hard not to at least read about them, let alone see them.

But the second reason is, I think, far more important. This year’s primary schedule has forced candidates to act a bit less like candidates and a bit more like managers — and, therefore, a bit more like an actual President.

Think about it. The schedule called for a dazzling array of primary variables: some were public caucuses and some were standard private votes; independents voted in some primaries and not in others; both parties held primaries on the same day in some states and on different days in others. And then there’s the intense clustering of many primaries in many states in a relatively short time.

So what have the candidates been forced to do? Strategize intensely, adapt to a slew of different circumstances and formats, and, most of all, figure out how best to allocate precious resources — money and time chief among them — in order to optimize their outcome.

Monday, January 28, 2008

McCain Says There Will be More Wars

John McCain told a crowd yesterday that he plans on the US fighting other wars.

Sen. John McCain told a crowd of supporters on Sunday, “It’s a tough war we’re in. It’s not going to be over right away. There’s going to be other wars.” Offering more of his increasingly bleak “straight talk,” he repeated the claim: “I’m sorry to tell you, there’s going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars.”
McCain sure is giving Democrats a lot of sound bits to use in the campaign. Earlier this month, McCain said we could be in Iraq for 100 years.

Considering more than 60% of Americans think there should be a timetable for withdrawal, all Democrats will have to do is point out McCain's radical stance.

Iraq Joins the Kyoto Protocol

Iraq signed onto the Kyoto Protocol over the weekend.

Iraq has formally ratified the UN's Kyoto Protocol on climate change, according to a government statement seen by AFP on Saturday.

"The presidential council ratified in its session on January 23 a law according to which the Republic of Iraq will join the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol," the statement said.

The Kyoto Protocol legally commits industrialised countries which have signed and ratified it to trim their output of six carbon gases seen as being responsible for global warming.

I find this pretty ironic considering that the US hasn't joined and that Iraq produces so much oil.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Looking like a Democratic Primary in Iowa's 4th District

Ever since Selden Spencer decided against running, Democrats were busy looking for a candidate to run against Tom Latham in Iowa's 4th District. Now it is looking like there will be a contested primary. I have heard of 2 candidates that have declared and one candidate that is seriously thinking about a run.

The first candidate is Kurt Meyer and I have heard that he is a solid candidate. Meyer lives in Mitchell County and is a graduate of Luther College. He worked on Mike Blouin's campaign in 1976 and was finance chair of John Culver's Senate campaign in 1980. He then started a political consulting firm based in Minneapolis and has done fundraising.

The other candidate is William Meyers from Humboldt. Meyers is a veteran and wants to bring a fresh voice to Congress. He is more of an unknown among the party officials, but he has a lot of info at his website .

A primary between Meyer and Meyers would be a little confusing at the ballot box since their last names are basically the same.

The other name that I am hearing is Kevin Miskell of Stanhope. Miskell is the Vice President of the Iowa Farmer's Union and was a big Edwards supporter in north central Iowa.

Obama's South Carolina Victory Speech

I missed Obama's victory speech last night, but caught clips on TV and watched it online.

Andrew Sullivan gives his opinion...

I've now listened to and read dozens of his speeches, on television and in person and in print. Tonight was, in my judgment, the best. He was able to frame the attacks on him as a reason to vote for him. He was able to frame his foes as the status quo - beyond the Clintons or the Bushes, Democrats or Republicans. He was able to cast his candidacy as a rebuke to the Balkanization of the American public, a response to the abuse of religion for political purposes, a repudiation of the cynicism that makes all political commentary a function of horse-races and spin. It was an appeal to Democrats, Republicans and Independents to say goodbye to all that. It was a burial of Rove and Morris. And it was better than his previous speeches because he kept bringing it back to policy specifics, to the economy and healthcare and, movingly, to this misbegotten war. The diverse coalition he has assembled - including an ornery small-government conservative like me - is a reflection of the future of this country, its potential and its irreplaceable, dynamic cultural and social mix.

This is the America we all love. He is showing us how to find it again. That's leadership.

Attorney General John Edwards

Robert Novak is saying that Barack Obama has had discussions with John Edwards about Edwards being the Attorney General in an Obama Administration.

"Illinois Democrats close to Sen. Barack Obama are quietly passing the word that John Edwards will be named attorney general in an Obama administration," according to Robert Novak.

The appointment of Edwards "would please not only the union leaders supporting him for president but organized labor in general. The unions relish the prospect of an unequivocal labor partisan as the nation's top legal officer."

"In public debates, Obama and Edwards often seem to bond together in alliance against front-running Sen. Hillary Clinton. While running a poor third, Edwards could collect a substantial bag of delegates under the Democratic Party's proportional representation. Edwards then could try to turn his delegates over to Obama in the still unlikely event of a deadlocked Democratic National Convention."
Novak isn't the most popular reporter amongst Democrats, but I think Edwards as Attorney General is an excellent idea. Taking on the corporate interests that control Washington DC has been the theme of Edwards' campaign. As Attorney General, Edwards would have the ability to investigate and hold accountable corporations that have abused the system.

Obama could name Edwards as his choice for Attorney General before the general election and Edwards could campaign on the need to restore the Constitution when it comes to domestic spying, torture, and Habeas Corpus and against corruption in government.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


55% is the percentage of the vote Hillary Clinton won in Michigan when no one else was on the ballot and it is the percentage of the vote that Barack Obama won in South Carolina when he actually had opponents.

Here are some interesting numbers...

  • African American turnout doubled and turnout among 18-24 year olds was 3 times as big as the turnout in 2004.
  • Most importantly, though, the turnout in the Democratic primary was higher than the Republican primary for the first time ever.
  • In last week's Republican primary in South Carolina John McCain and Mike Huckabee won a total of 279,723 votes between themselves. Barack Obama won 295,000 vote by himself.
It was an impressive win for Obama in South Carolina today.

Obama Offers an Opportunity for Real Change

The Harvard Crimson endorsed Barack Obama, giving insight into what the younger generation sees in Obama's candidacy...

Obama has committed his life to furthering the public good. From starting as a community organizer, to working as a constitutional lawyer and law professor, to serving as a Ill. State Senator, and, finally, as an United States Senator, Obama has achieved before the age of fifty what many would aspire to do in a lifetime. The judgment and perspective he has acquired in these roles are qualities that are necessary in a leader, particularly at the highest levels of government, where elected officials are inundated with questions with profound and lasting repercussions.

On issues of substance, Obama has assembled an impressive array of policies that demonstrate careful thought about the immediate problems facing our country today and those that we will encounter in the long term. Although we do not agree with all of Obama’s proposals, every one of his plans is informed, carefully crafted, and thoughtfully considered.
They then run down where Obama stands on the issues of health care, taxes, education, immigration, global warming, and Iraq.

They conclude...
Various critics have voiced concerns that Obama is too ambitious and inexperienced to be the next president of the United States. We disagree. Obama’s candidacy reflects a lack of political maneuvering and instead is based on a desire to see dramatic change in the political system. And what Sen. Obama might lack in political experience, he makes up with sound judgment, intelligence, charisma, and a personable and bipartisan demeanor. Furthermore, in office he will surround himself with some of the smartest and most experienced advisors in the world.

Obama represents an opportunity for a Democratic nominee who represents the value of service, intelligence, and judgment, and, most of all, an opportunity for real change, unburdened by favors owed and ideals lost. He deserves your vote.

Republicans for Endless War in Iraq

At the Republican debate on Thursday, Tim Russert asked the Republican candidates for President if they plan on staying in Iraq even though over 60% of the American people think the war was the wrong idea. There answers are exactly why Republicans will have a very difficult time winning in November (especially Huckabee comparing Iraq to an Easter egg hunt). Each candidate has their head in the sand, except for Ron Paul, who was the only candidate to get applause.

Keith Olbermann and Sam Seder do a great job analyzing these answers.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Colbert on the Obama/Clinton Spat

Last night Stephen Colbert chimed in on the spat between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It even includes a special appearance from the gang from Scooby Doo...

Edwards Gaining in South Carolina

The strong debate performance by Edwards is paying off in the polls. With the South Carolina primary tomorrow, John Edwards is gaining on Hillary Clinton and has a chance for a 2nd place finish. There are two polls that show Edwards within 4% and 5% of Clinton for 2nd place, both within the margin of error.

From Political Wire...

The survey finds Sen. Barack Obama leading with 38%, followed by Sen. Hillary Clinton at 25% and John Edwards at 21%.

Said pollster John Zogby: "The real movement here is by John Edwards, who is the only one who continues to gain ground in our three-day tracking poll. His increase appears to be coming from African American voters who are slowly making up their minds."

The State: "Watch John Edwards. With only a day left before Saturday’s S.C. Democratic presidential primary, the former U.S. senator from North Carolina and S.C. native is making a move."
If Edwards can pull off a 2nd place finish in South Carolina, it would be a big blow to the Clinton campaign and Obama would have the momentum going into February 5th. Edwards would have lived to fight another day and win some delegates on February 5th.

CNN Debunks Email Smear Campaign on Obama's Faith

CNN takes a look at the emails going around saying that Obama is a Muslim, doesn't say the Pledge, and was sworn in on the Koran. They conclude that every single claim is just a smear on Obama.

Thanks to CNN for some good reporting.

Trial Lawyers and Corporate Lobbyists

In the last debate, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton went back and forth on the difference between trial lawyers and corporate lobbyists. John Edwards did a great job refuting a rightwing talking point in his answer about trial lawyers.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Iowa City Press Citizen Calls for Moratorium on Coal Plants

The Iowa City Press Citizen makes the case for a moratorium on coal plants from being built in the state.

In a move that could halt a proposed $1.5 billion, 750-megawatt coal plant project in northeast Waterloo, the Black Hawk County Health Board last week urged the state to ban the construction of coal plants in Iowa until enacting tougher emission standards. That the vote was close -- 3-2 -- isn't surprising. The $1.5 billion price tag on the facility would mean jobs, taxes and investment in the county. But the board's study of the plant's potential health effects indicated thousands of people could be exposed to emissions linked to asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks and other pulmonary diseases. A majority of the board rightly looked beyond any temporary economic gain and recommended a moratorium on issuing coal plant permits; the board voted unanimously to recommend tougher statewide air pollution standards.

The state leaders would be wise to follow the board's recommendation and to deny permits for either the proposed Waterloo plant or the plant Alliant Energy wants to build in Marshalltown. Right now coal produces more than half of the electricity in the United States, but that number likely is to go down dramatically as concerns about climate change, construction costs and transportations problems are making coal less attractive and less cost-effective source for producing electricity. Last year, more than 50 proposed coal-fired power plants in 20 states were canceled or delayed because of such concerns.

They conclude...

In essence, the coal industry is saying, "If you allow us to build these plants, we'll then have a significant economic incentive to figure out how to build the appropriate technology and to use it efficiently." But there's no guarantee that the technology will be in place by the time the plants are scheduled to come on line -- a situation that would leave Iowa in the unfortunate situation of having to choose between allowing the plants to produce electricity without the technology or to let newly completed $1.5 billion plants sit idle.

If the coal industry needs an additional incentive to perfect carbon-capturing technology, it should be that the industry can't begin building plants until it develops a workable system.

Open Left Interviews Ed Fallon

Matt Stoller at Open Left interviewed Ed Fallon about his primary challenge of Leonard Boswell.

What are your major differences with Boswell?

Iraq. In 2003, Boswell voted for the Iraq War and has supported additional funding with no timetable to bring the troops home. I opposed Bush's war even before it began and believe we need a more diplomatic approach to foreign policy, not just in Iraq but throughout the Middle East.

Energy. In 2005, Boswell voted to provide $14 billion in tax breaks and incentives for oil and gas companies. He also supports greater use of coal. I have been a leader in the fight against government handouts to big businesses. I supports a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants and has helped lead efforts at the state level to fight global warming.

Education. Boswell voted for No Child Left Behind. I have always spoken against this unfunded, ineffective mandate. I believe NCLB should be repealed, or at a minimum severely overhauled.

Civil Liberties. Boswell supported the PATRIOT Act, and in August 2007, voted for a bill to increase warrantless surveillance on the American people. Iowa's other Democratic Congressmen, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack, voted against it. I have a long track record of working to expand, rather than constrict, civil rights and personal liberties.

Trade. In November 2007, Boswell joined Congressmen Steve King and Tom Latham - both Republicans - to vote for a NAFTA-like trade agreement with Peru. I am a vocal opponent of NAFTA and other so-called "free" trade agreements and believe in fair trade that protects American jobs, our environment and workers' safety.

Clean Elections. Boswell accepts donations from PACs and lobbyists. Of the $600,167 he raised between February and September 2007, nearly 75% came from PACs. During my 14 years as a state representative and when I ran for governor, I refused donations from PACs and lobbyists and I won't accept them in his Congressional campaign either.

Boswell has a large advantage in money, hopefully this interview is a sign that Fallon can get some support via the netroots.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

All-Out Political Warfare

The largest newspaper in South Carolina endorsed Barack Obama yesterday. Here's what they said...

But we also have a good idea what a Clinton presidency would look like. The restoration of the Clintons to the White House would trigger a new wave of all-out political warfare. That is not all Bill and Hillary’s fault - but it exists, whomever you blame, and cannot be ignored. Hillary Clinton doesn’t pretend that it won’t happen; she simply vows to persevere, in the hope that her side can win. Indeed, the Clintons’ joint career in public life seems oriented toward securing victory and personal vindication.

Sen. Obama’s campaign is an argument for a more unifying style of leadership. In a time of great partisanship, he is careful to talk about winning over independents and even Republicans. He is harsh on the failures of the current administration - and most of that critique well-deserved. But he doesn’t use his considerable rhetorical gifts to demonize Republicans. He’s not neglecting his core values; he defends his progressive vision with vigorous integrity. But for him, American unity - transcending party - is a core value in itself.
I agree with their assessment that another Clinton presidency would continue the divisive politics we see today and even make it worse. We have the opportunity to put an end to all the divisive politics and name calling and set a more civil tone by electing Barack Obama. I am afraid that if we miss this chance, we won't have another for years to come.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fallon: Getting What We Need

Here are some articles about Ed Fallon running for Congress against Leonard Boswell.

First, David Yepsen gives a run down on why Fallon might just win.

Fallon can give him a real race for renomination, despite all the advantages Boswell should have. Like moderate Republicans who are vulnerable to conservative primary challenges, centrist Democrats like Boswell are vulnerable to attack from their party's left. The charged partisan atmosphere in the country doesn't help politicians in the middle.
Matt Stoller at Open Left looks at Boswell's voting record and shows there is an opening for Democrat with strong progressives values...

Boswell voted to fund the war with no restrictions on Bush, and voted to expand FISA wiretapping authority for Bush. He is a bad vote across the board on issues like choice, which is out of step with his moderate district. And the thing is, he knows it, since he switched his last vote on funding the war to 'no' after he heard rumors of this challenge. I actually talked to Boswell staffer about this, and she assured me that his patience had run out with the war, until I asked about this primary challenge. And then the staffer said well yeah, there's that. More to the point, Boswell doesn't understand that Congress is doing a bad job, and so he won't take corrective action without extreme prodding.

It is the craven behavior by Democrats like Boswell - nice middle managers with no moral perspective about what they are doing and who they are representing - that is increasingly out of step with the party and the country. When Fallon ran for Governor, he won Boswell's district, and Boswell never really gelled with the areas added in redistricting.

The question is if Fallon will be able to craft a message that resonates with voters. This article written by Marc Hansen in the Des Moines Register shows that Fallon might just be able to do it...
When Fallon talks about the two Americas, like his friend from North Carolina, he's living in a Sherman Hill apartment located a block from the America that isn't flourishing.

"The ultra rich have been doing pretty well," he said. "They've been getting everything they want. Now it's time for the rest of us to get what we need."Not a bad sound bite.

"I just made it up just now," Fallon said. "Please use that quote so I can remember it."

Overturning Roe Won't Stop Abortion

Essential Estrogen has a post up about Sam Brownback using the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade as a fundraising pitch for his PAC.

Like many of you, I pray for the day that the highest court in the land overturns that decision, and this long dark night of abortion on demand comes to an end.
I don't understand how Rightwingers can think that simply overturning a law would stop all abortions. Until the Right actually gets serious about preventing abortions from happening in the first place, all the pro-life and anti-abortion talk from the Right is just a plea for money.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Gloves Taken Off at South Carolina Debate

In a debate that will be remembered for it's heated discussion and personal jabs, John Edwards showed once again that he is able to personally connect with the crowd and focus on his message.

The gloves came off right off the bat on a question on the economy and trade agreements. Here's a summary from Daily Kos...

Obama uses his time to argue that Hillary and Bill are making untrue statements about his record. Hillary responds by saying that Obama said that he "really liked the ideas of the Republicans" over the past years (paraphrase). Obama clearly is jumping to address the issue and is frustrated that Clinton is not been cut off by the moderator.

Obama begins, Hillary jumps in, back and forth, Obama says that he said Reagan was transformative because he got both sides to get together to push through an agenda -- an agenda he doesn't agree with. While he was working for change in Chicago, he says, Hillary was "a corporate lawyer sitting on the board of Wal Mart."


Fire hose! Get the fire hose! The sparks are flying! Hillary responds to Obama claiming she praised Reagan in an upcoming Brokaw book. Obama says she mentioned Reagan, she says Bill did it. Obama slams back: "I can't tell who I'm running against."

Hillary brings up Rezko, a "slum lord." Applause and boos. Edwards finally gets a chance to speak and reminds everyone that there are "three people in this debate, not two." Calls them out on squabbling. "Not about us personally, it's about what we're trying to do for the country."

Obama even once questioned who he is really running against, Bill or Hillary.

After all of this, Edwards chimed in and showed that this should still be a 3 person race by tackling the issues and stressing his message.

It seemed that Obama was deflecting attacks from both sides. It might be because Obama was standing in the middle, but it seemed a lot of the pointed questions were geared at him and he held his own. He looked tough and defended his positions well.

Hillary Clinton's top moment was her answer about why a Democratic candidate for president must have a universal health care plan saying that she isn't running for President to put band aids on our problems. However, her questioning Obama on being honest on his present votes brought boos from the crowd and seemed petty

As Obama and Clinton seemed to go back and forth, John Edwards used the time to talk about the issues that matter most and that will win him some votes in South Carolina and might make people in other states give him another chance.

Feingold Disses Edwards, Still Considering Obama and Clinton

Two people emailed me the story about what Russ Feingold said about John Edwards and the presidential race.

I did notice that as the primaries heated up, all of a sudden, all the presidential candidates — none of whom voted with me on the time frame to withdraw from Iraq — all voted with me when we did the Patriot Act stuff.

The one that is the most problematic is (John) Edwards, who voted for the Patriot Act, campaigns against it. Voted for No Child Left Behind, campaigns against it. Voted for the China trade deal, campaigns against it. Voted for the Iraq war … He uses my voting record exactly as his platform, even though he had the opposite voting record.
I am a huge fan of Sen. Feingold, having started a blog supporting him to run for President. It isn't a surprise , though, what he said about John Edwards. Feingold probably wished he had more support on these issues back when it was unpopular in the Senate to do so.

Feingold was asked about who he would endorse...
I'm having a hard time deciding between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as are many people. Those are the two I take the most seriously.

I go back and forth, to be honest with you. I'm torn on this whole issue of who's more likely to be progressive and really seek change vs. who's ready to do the job today. It really is a true dilemma in my mind.
I don't see anyway he could endorse Clinton. At the beginning of the book Feingold: A New Democratic Party, it discusses Feingold and Hillary Clinton clashing over campaign finance reform with Clinton saying that cutting off soft money would kill the Democratic Party. If Russ endorses Clinton, I'd be very disappointed.

The only reason that I could see for Feingold to support Clinton would be to maintain and enhance his influence as a Senator if she were elected President. Feingold didn't run for President because he wanted to work on important issues in the Senate. With past disputes with the Clinton's (both Bill and Hillary), Russ might be thinking that if he supports Obama and Hillary wins, then he will left out on major issues.

Feingold has more in common with Obama on the issues. They both were against the Iraq War from the start and they introduced lobbying reform together.

The Wisconsin Primary is on February 9th and could be a big contests if Obama and Clinton split states on February 5th.

Democratic Candidate in the 4th District

I have written about possible Democratic candidates to run against Tom Latham in the 4th District. Over the weekend, I heard of a candidate that will probably be running. His name is Kurt Meyer and I was told that he is a solid candidate.

Meyer lives in Mitchell County and is a graduate of Luther College. He worked on Mike Blouin's campaign in 1976 and was finance chair of John Culver's Senate campaign in 1980. He then started a political consulting firm based in Minneapolis and has done fundraising.

Another declared candidate is William Meyers. I don't know much about Meyers except that he is a Marine Corps Veteran from Humboldt.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Iowa House Discusses Veterans Issues

Democrats in the Iowa House spent a lot of time discussing veterans issues during the first week of the legislative session.

On the first day of the session, Speaker of the House Murphy honored Rep. Ray Zirkelbach for his service in Iraq. Zirkelbach is the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and has called for actions to help better care for Iowa's Veterans...

Zirkelbach said he wants to ensure that all returning military personnel have access to quality mental-health care — especially in rural Iowa.

Between 12 and 20 percent of Iraq war veterans will suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Today I’m asking for your help and support to ensure that all Iowa veterans have access to medical and mental-health service, as well as educational and employment support that we deserve,” Zirkelbach told his colleagues.
On Tuesday, Rep. McKinley Bailey, who served in Iraq, introduced a bill (HF 2001) about military leaves of absence and reemployment.

Democrats in the Iowa House are leading the charge to ensure our Veterans have the benefits and care they need.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Finger Wagging Former President

Here is an interesting observation about Bill Clinton's outbursts the day before both of Hillary Clinton's victories...

...mark on your calendar Jan. 25 for an outburst by Bill Clinton somewhere in South Carolina. He has launched a tirade the day before each of his wife's victories in Nevada and New Hampshire, claiming the process was unfairly stacked against her.
On Meet the Press a lot of the talk has been on Bill Clinton. One pundit asked if the Hillary campaign can't control Bill on the campaign trail then how will a Hillary administration be able to control him. Another pundit said it seems that Hillary is sending her husband out to wave his finger at the neighbor.

Bill Clinton's role was discussed early on, but it hasn't been discussed in depth since the campaign has heated up over the past few months. The exit polls in New Hampshire showed that 58% of Hillary Clinton voters would have voted for Bill Clinton if he was eligible for a 3rd term. It will be interesting to see how this aspect of the campaign plays out.

Clinton Wins Nevada, Obama Wins More Delegates

Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucus today, but it seems that Barack Obama won more delegates, 13 to 12.

This race is going to last awhile, just like the system was meant to do. Iowans spoke, New Hampshirians spoke, and now the top candidates will battle it out in the other states. Someone will win South Carolina and then Obama and Clinton will each win some states on February 5th. However, in the end it will be the delegate count that we need to keep an eye on.

Tom Ridge: Waterboarding Is Torture

I was very surprised to read that Tom Ridge, the first secretary of Homeland Security, has said that waterboarding is torture.

"There's just no doubt in my mind - under any set of rules - waterboarding is torture," Tom Ridge said Friday in an interview with the Associated Press. Ridge had offered the same opinion earlier in the day to members of the American Bar Association at a homeland security conference.

"One of America's greatest strengths is the soft power of our value system and how we treat prisoners of war, and we don't torture," Ridge said in the interview. Ridge was secretary of the Homeland Security Department between 2003 and 2005. "And I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is - and will always be - torture. That's a simple statement."

Iowa Falls to 4th in Wind Power Production

Even with much discussion about promoting renewable energy in the state, including the development of the Iowa Power Fund to invest in Renewable Energy, Iowa has fallen to 4th place in the nation in wind power production.

As the final day of public testimony on a proposed coal plant in Marshalltown finishes, a new report by the American Wind Energy Association shows that Iowa's leadership in wind power is falling compared to other states in the region. Minnesota now has more capacity installed and both Illinois and Minnesota installed more wind power than Iowa in 2007.

"The difference is clearly policy," said Mark Kresowik with the Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign in Iowa. "Illinois and Minnesota have passed policies that look to the future, such as Renewable Electric Standards, carbon dioxide reduction targets, and even a moratorium on new coal plants. Iowa's energy policy remains in the 20th century."

This new report comes in sharp contrast to the proposed coal plant in Marshalltown, where groups including the Office of the Consumer Advocate are opposing the costly coal burning facility before the Iowa Utilities Board.

"The more Iowans get the facts about this proposed coal plant the more they agree with us," said Carrie La Seur, President of Plains Justice, representing a coalition of energy and environmental groups opposed to the project. "There are better answers for Iowa's energy future."

The Goal in Iraq Wasn't to Reduce Violence

Yesterday, a friend asked me why no one is talking about Iraq anymore. All we could come up with is that the economy is tanking and the surge has reduced violence in Iraq.

Chris Bowers has a must read post at Open Left that tells why the surge in Iraq is not working. Bowers argues that the only thing the surge has done is to reduce violence in Iraq and if that was the goal in the first place then why did we start the war?

If we know the escalation is working because violence levels in Baghdad have been reduced from its peak levels, and if the presence of American troops is required in order to keep violence levels at those somewhat lower rates, then it appears our entire purpose in Iraq, and national reward for winning in Iraq, is to have a large American occupying force in Iraq that maintains 2004 levels of violence in Baghdad.

The reasoning behind the "successful surge" narrative is that less violence in Iraq equals progress in Iraq. So, if the surge worked because violence levels in Baghdad have dropped slightly, then everything that has happened in the Iraq war so far was done in order to reduce the levels of violence in Iraq. And here is what has happened in Iraq so far:

In other words, hundreds of thousands of people have died in Iraq in order to achieve the progress of reduced levels of violence in Baghdad.

If progressives want to defeat the "surge is working" narrative, we need to keep pointing out that the humanitarian, military, financial, and international costs of the war are not all worth returning violence levels in Baghdad to 2004 levels. That is exactly in line with public opinion, as well. Over the past twelve months, the ABC-News / WaPo poll has shown two steady trendlines in public opinion: the number of people who think that Iraq is seeing a drop in violence has increased from 32% to 42% (it is still in a clear minority), while the number of people who think the war was worth the costs has increased from 58% to 64%. In other words, Americans don't think that reducing violence levels in Baghdad to 2004 levels is worth the costs of the war. That isn't a surprise, since 'm not clear on how ethnic cleansing and hundreds of thousands of deaths justified can be justified by a reduction of violence levels in Baghdad that can only be maintained by an enormous American military occupation.
My posts on Iraq have slowed down the past few months with all the excitement of the caucuses in Iowa. Now that the circus has left town, I will be posting more about the occupation, the need to withdrawal our troops from Iraq, and the need to refocus our national security strategy.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Honest Abe, I mean Obama

At a campaign event in Nevada, Barack Obama gives an honest and humorous look at the differences between him and the other candidates.

State Senator Larry McKibben Contemplating Retirement

Iowa Politics has a story up about the possible retirement of State Senator Larry McKibben in Senate District 22.

Sen. Larry McKibben, R-Marshalltown, chose not to seek the Senate minority leader post in September because of work-related responsibilities. He said Thursday he hasn't decided if his name will appear on the November ballot.

"I am talking it over with my family," McKibben said. "I will make my decision in the next couple weeks."
McKibben won reelection in 2004 by less than 800 votes, in a race where over $425,000 was spent. McKibben might not be looking forward to another long summer and fall on the campaign trail.

Democrats already have a candidate who announced his campaign for McKibben's seat in Steve Sodders, a Deputy Sheriff in Marshall County. Sodders has been knocking on doors throughout the district this fall and has been working hard raising money. Sodders has two fundraisers coming up in the next few weeks.

Fallon for Congress

DesMoinesDem wrote a great analysis of Ed Fallon's decision to run for Congress at Bleeding Heartland.

Many Democrats, particularly progressives, simply do not feel that Boswell is representing our interests well enough.

Fallon has the potential to draw cross-over votes from independents and Republicans. He did it in the 2006 gubernatorial primary, and he can do it again. But just as important, he is a candidate Democrats can enthusiastically vote for.

Those who say that we can't take a risk on replacing Boswell also need to explain their game plan for holding on to Iowa's third district after the 2010 census. Iowa is going to lose a Congressional seat when the districts are redrawn. The most likely scenario I can see is that Boswell would retire in 2012, leaving us with no incumbent to run against Tom Latham or Steve King in the newly-drawn third district.

We are better off getting a new incumbent in place before that happens.

Though I don't live in the 3rd District, I will be writing a lot about this race and will be supporting Ed Fallon. It should be a very interesting campaign this spring.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Baby Boom Generation Commission

A bill was introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives that would create a Baby Boom Generation Commission. The Baby Boom Generation Commission would look at ways to keep Iowa's baby boomers in the state after they retire.

The bill establishes the commission within the department of
economic development in order to advise and assist in
and attracting baby boomers in and to both rural and
areas of the state.
The commission seems to be the same idea as the Generation Iowa Commission that was created last year and released their recommendations last week on how to keep and attract young people to the state.

I know there are more things that can be done to keep baby boomers in the state, such as lowering property taxes and more affordable health care, but a start would be keeping baby boomer's children in the state. A lot of baby boomers move out of the state to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

Bill Would Tax Bicyclists

State Senator John Putney (R) has introduced a bill that would require bicyclists to get a license and pay a $10 license fee. This fee is basically a tax on people to ride their bikes. The bill says you don't need to license to ride on municipal streets, on designated bike paths, or in parades (which seems like pretty much anywhere people ride bikes). Money collected would be deposited in the road use tax fund.

This bill doesn't seem to accomplish much of anything, except extending government into your garage.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Student Loan Debt and Personal Responsibility

There is some great discussion going on in the comment section of a post I wrote about the Generation Iowa Commission Report. The Generation Iowa Commission said that low wage jobs and high student loan debt is leading to Iowa's Brain Drain and gave recommendations on how to reverse the trend.

The discussion is on student loan debt and personal responsibility. Please feel free to join in on the discussion.

Profile of Climate Scientists Dr. James Hansen

Meteor Blades posted this great profile of Dr. James Hansen, an Iowa native and NASA climate scientist. The post outlines Hansen's work on global climate change.

Hansen is in Iowa this week speaking in Des Moines on Wednesday night, Iowa City on Thursday, and testifying in front of the Iowa Utilities Board in opposition to the proposed coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vote for Ed Fallon in DFA' Grassroots All Star Contest

DFA is holding a Grassroots All Star contests this month asking people to vote online for their favorite progressive candidate. The criteria a candidate that is leading the progressive movement in their community and is running a people-powered campaign. I voted yesterday for Ed Fallon because his campaign fits both of those criteria spot on.

Please follow the link to vote for Ed Fallon or another candidate of your choice.

Highlights from Culver's Speech

The Des Moines Register has a nice summary of Gov. Culver's speech today at the State Capital...

HEALTH CARE: Culver would like to see all Iowans have the same type of health care as elected officials get. That would be expensive, and the growing budget is already a headache. For now, he'd like to expand pooling options for associations, small businesses, and organizations in an effort to reduce the cost of group rates. He would like to allow parents to cover their adult children up to age 25. He would eliminate exclusions and waiting periods for people who are transitioning from group health plans to individual plans.

SMOKING: If lawmakers pass a bill to allowing local authorities to ban indoor smoking in bars, restaurants and other public facilities, Culver promised to sign it.

ENVIRONMENT: Culver would like to double the bottle fee from 5 cents to 10 cents. Those who return the cans would get 8 cents back. Two cents would not be refunded. It would go environmental fund and to pay bottle handling operators.

EDUCATION: Teachers will see a raise of about $5,400 over two years with legislation Culver signed last year. Some Republicans are unhappy because the raises would not be merit-based; mediocre teachers would get raises along with outstanding teachers.

TAXES: The taxes paid by multi-state corporations who do business in Iowa would go up with Culver's proposal for closing a certain tax loophole. Culver's said Iowa would gain revenue by requiring “combined corporate reporting” of profits.

WORKERS: Education is the way to address a potential workforce shortage, Culver said. He proposed creating a $5 million science, technology, engineering, and math center at the University of Northern Iowa. He would also like to expand a needs-based scholarship program.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Obama is Keeping Some Iowa Offices Open

Barack Obama is trying to keep his momentum in Iowa going by keeping 3 campaign offices open.

Barack Obama is keeping his offices open in Des Moines, Cedar Falls and Iowa City. Volunteers are calling people in other states that have upcoming primaries and caucuses. Obama took Iowa by storm a week ago, and the campaign wants to keep that energy. Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Stickel said, “We just want to make sure that energy travels into other states so we figure what better use of an office then to phone bank other states and capture that Iowa energy."
This is an interesting strategy. Obama had plenty of time to build a strong, dedicate organization and this allows him to use that in states where he lacks the time to build that organization.

Michigan Democrats for Romney

There is push for Michigan Democrats to crossover and vote for Mitt Romney since not all the Democrats are on the ballot in Michigan. Here's a hilarious video about why Democrats should do this...

Strong Action Urged to Cut Energy Use

Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley is being strongly urged by his top energy advisor to take aggressive steps to cut energy consumption, and the state should create a multimillion-dollar fund to give homeowners an array of incentives to use less power.

The blueprint, to be released by the Maryland Energy Administration, will offer 20 proposals to help O'Malley (D) deliver on his ambitious pledge to reduce the state's energy consumption by 15 percent in seven years and stave off rolling blackouts that experts predict could occur in three years.

The report recommends that the state encourage the fledgling solar and wind energy industries to invest in the region and help Maryland more than double its use of renewable power.

Iowa Governor Chet Culver has been a proponent of renewable energy, creating the Iowa Power Fund, the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, and saying he wants Iowa to become the renewable energy capital of the world.

Culver has made a goal for Iowa to produce enough wind energy by 2015 to power 500,000 homes and cut carbon emissions by more than 7 billion tons per year. It seems that a program like the one in Maryland would help Culver and Iowans reach this goal.

Instead there are plans to build coal-fired power plants in Marshalltown and Waterloo that would emit more carbon into the air.

If Culver was serious about making Iowa into the renewable energy capital, one would think he would be stressing cutting energy use.

Vote: Because They Don't Want You To

Iowa had a remarkable turnout for the caucuses, especially from young voters.

This video is from Declare Yourself, a grout that encourages young people to vote.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Poll: Iowa's Energy Future

I posted a poll asking if the proposed coal-fired power plants in Marshalltown and Waterloo are the answer to Iowa energy future. The poll will run this rest of the week.

The Iowa Utilities Board will be holding a hearing on the proposed Marshalltown coal plant starting on Monday. I will be writing about the hearings and the issue throughout the week.

Coal plant would be 'waste of money'

The Iowa Utilities Board will be meeting next to week to discuss the proposed coal-fired power plant that is proposed to built in Marshalltown. Iowa native James Hansen, a climate scientist form NASA, will be testifying about the environmental impacts of coal plants.

One of the world's top climate scientists says a new coal-fired power plant planned for Marshalltown would be a waste of money because it will soon be necessary to close such coal-burning facilities to save the earth's climate.

James Hansen, an Iowa native who heads NASA's Goddard Space Center in the Manhattan borough of New York, is expected to testify as a private citizen before the Iowa Utilities Board next week in opposition to Alliant Energy's proposed Marshalltown power plant.

"It would be a tremendous waste of money to put money into coal-fired power plants at this time, because it has become clear that we're going to need to phase out coal use where it is not possible to capture and sequester the carbon dioxide," Hansen said.

Coal plants being constructed now will never be able to fill out their useful lives because the government will be forced to regulate them out of existence, Hansen said.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Lost in the Tears

Two very telling comments were made by the Clinton campaign days leading up to the New Hampshire that were lost amongst Hillary's tears and her finding her voice.

The first comment was Bill Clinton describing Obama's campaign as a fairy tale. After being criticized by the minority community and seeing the comments at possible hurting Hillary's support in South Carolina, the Clinton's are backtracking.

The second comment could only be described as fear mongering. Hillary questioned Obama's experience by brining up possible terrorist attacks if he were to be elected.

She pointed out that the day after Gordon Brown took office as the British prime minister, there was a failed attempt at a double bombing in London and Glasgow.

“I don’t think it was by accident that Al Qaeda decided to test the new prime minister,” she said. “They watch our elections as closely as we do, maybe more closely than some of our fellows citizens do…. Let’s not forget you’re hiring a president not just to do what a candidate says during the election, you want a president to be there when the chips are down.”
These two comments are important to consider because they show how the Clinton's play the game. The fairy tale comment shows that the Clinton's think the Presidency is their right and they will attack anyone who gets in their way. Running on a message of fear shows how divisive the Clinton's are willing to go and shows how they will govern if they get there. This no holds barred politics is what turns off the American public from politics and leads to apathy.

Obama's campaign is based on ending the game playing in Washington. He is running a campaign focused on principles...
I’ve learned in my life that you can stand firm in your principles while still reaching out to those who might not always agree with you.
Politics as usual throws principles out the door when you face someone you might not always agree with. These comments from the Clinton's is an example of just that.

Generation Iowa Report Calls for Cutting Debt, Higher Wages

Iowa is facing a worker shortfall. However, Iowa is a net importer on the number of college students, but has failed to keep these young people in the state after graduation.

Yesterday, the Generation Iowa Commission released their report on ways to stop Iowa's brain drain and keep young people in the state. The report calls for cutting the amount of student loan debt and for ways to increase wages.

The report recommends...

- A higher-education tax credit. Iowans who have earned degrees in the past 10 years should be provided an annual income tax credit of $1,500 for bachelor's degrees and $2,000 for a graduate or professional degree.

- A targeted student-loan repayment assistance program. Students graduating in "critical need professions" should receive loan repayment assistance three times over 10 years, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

- Change Iowa's economic development incentives to require higher salaries. Iowa should stop including the value of employee benefits, such as health insurance, when meeting pay requirements for state incentives and look only at salary, the group said. "A company can claim to be paying above average wages, when in fact the take-home pay is lower than comparative jobs."

Recommendations also addressed issues such as matching young workers with careers and improving Iowa cities and towns:

- Create a merit-based scholarship program with residency expectations. Attracting and retaining the nation's best students could help "drive explosive growth."

- Eliminate or limit "noncompete" contract clauses in state government and private businesses. The group said the clauses "inhibit competition in the work force and drive top, young professionals out of state to start businesses or further their career."

- Create or support an online statewide job and internship exchange.
I agree with many of the groups recommendations. I have pointed out many times that student loan debt is driving Iowa's brain drain. These recommendations would be a great start to keep young Iowans to stay in the state.

I wish the group would have mentioned ways to stop rising tuition rates at Iowa's colleges and universities that causes the large amount of student loan debt.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Divided Republican Party

Social Conservative Tony Perkins and Pat Toomey of the Club of Growth fight over who the Conservative candidate for President will be.

This race could just splinter the Republican party and leave it in shambles.

Clinton and Nevada

This isn't new, but I read yesterday that Hillay Clinton's campaign co-chair in Nevada is Rory Reid, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's son.

With Reid not committing, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) found the next-best thing -- signing his eldest son, Rory, as both the chair of her campaign in the Silver State and an adviser on Western issues.

Richardson Ends Presidential Bid

Yesterday Bill Richardson announced he was ending his presidential run and dropping out of the race. Richardson was hoping to do well Nevada next week, but was polls weren't favorable. Richardson had nothing to gain to by getting blown out in Nevada. Plus, the New Mexico legislative session is starting up soon and he can get back to his duties as Governor.

Richardson was one of my final 3 choices. Out of all of the candidates, I agreed most with his plan for Iraq. Richardson understands that US troops in Iraq are targets, stuck in the middle of a civil war, and unfortunately are adding fuel to the fire over there. He also was very strong on education issues. He had the strongest position against NCLB, saying the law is unworkable and needed to be tossed out. He pushed for a minimum wage for teachers of $40,000.

In the end, Richardson's campaign was too focused on the issues and lacked an overriding theme. Richardson should have used his background as a diplomat and made diplomacy the them of this campaign. He could have created a vision of bringing people on all sides together to successfully end the war in Iraq, solve immigration, improve education. Instead he focused on his plans to solve these issues.

Richardson's campaign died because had too many 5 point plans. He seemed too scripted. Richardson's typical answer to questions about an issue was, "That issue is very important. I have a plan. First, I would...Second....Third....Fourth...Finally." This didn't come across well at all in the debates.

On a lighter side, Richardson displayed a great sense of humor on the campaign trail. At a stop in Marshalltown over the summer at the Iowa Veterans Home, State Rep. Mark Smith introduced Gov. Richardson as the Governor of New Jersey. Richardson came up to the podium and thanked Rep. Smith for all of his great work in the state of Idaho.

Huckabee's TV ad in Michigan Targets Working Families

Mike Huckabee's latest TV ad in Michigan highlights the struggles of working families and the loss of jobs.

The best line...

I believe most Americans want their next President to remind them of they guy they work with, not the guy who laid them off.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kerry Endorses Obama

John Kerry will be endorsing Barack Obama today. There will be a news conference in South Carolina today.

Wouldn't Kerry's endorsement been more helpful to Obama if it came before New Hampshire, rather than after? Kerry is from nearby Massachusetts, won New Hampshire in 2004, and lost South Carolina.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Barack Obama: Yes We Can

Barack Obama came up short in the New Hampshire primary, losing by 2%. However, his speech was one of the best political speeches I have ever heard. I heard Obama's Jefferson and Jackson speech and in person, his Iowa victory speech, and his 2004 DNC speech, and I think this one is his best yet.

New Hampshire and the Condensed Calendar

Marc Ambinder made a good point earlier today...

Before Obamaiania in Iowa, Sen. Clinton stood at 39% in the New Hampshire polls.

Last night, she finished at 39%.

Usually there are 8 days between Iowa and New Hampshire. However, because of the condensed calendar, there were only 4 days between the two contests, and they came over the weekend (which probably affected the accuracy of the polling).

This made it hard for Obama to take advantage of the bump. The media didn't go on and on about Obama's victory (instead they seemed to go on and on about Clinton's demise, which probably helped Clinton) . Obama had been campaigning in Iowa for most of December, so he didn't have time to focus his message on New Hampshire.

Thoughts on Clinton's Win in New Hampshire

I was as surprised as anyone with Hillary Clinton's win in New Hampshire, just look at my predictions (Note to self: don't predict results in other states).

Clinton squeaked by in New Hampshire, but the real winner was democracy. The system is working.

After watching the pundits on CNN and MSNBC and reading all the polls from the past week, here are some observations about Clinton's win...

  • Women came out for Clinton, independents went McCain's way instead of Obama.
  • Clinton gave up on the manufactured politics and started taking questions at events and tearing up and the question in the debate about people not liking her gave voters a glimpse of the human side of Clinton.
  • Clinton's campaign has made a ton of changes. In her speech she said she found her own voice and she didn't have Bill, Wesley Clark, or Madeline Albright up on stage with her.
  • Howard Wolfson's sweater was horrendous.
  • The polls in the days leading up to the New Hampshire primary showed Obama ahead, but also had a large amount of undecideds that didn't get reported.
  • The pundits say this was an amazing comeback for Clinton, but polls showed Obama was down by 15-20 points just a couple of weeks ago. Obama losing by a couple point would have been a huge win for back in December.
  • The media will be talking about the Democratic race and and barely mention McCains victory.
The first in the nation states have spoken. Women in New Hampshire came out in support for Hillary Clinton and young people in Iowa came out in support of Barack Obama. Now the rest of the nation gets their chance to chime in.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Fallon to challenge Boswell in Primary

So it is official, former State Rep. Ed Fallon of Des Moines will be challenging Rep. Leonard Boswell in a primary in Iowa's 3rd district. The primary will take place in June.

Boswell has been named a Bush Dog Democrat by Open Left, as one of the Democratic Representitives that supports President Bush the most often.

Boswell has had a terrible voting record on important legislation. He was among the minority of House Democrats to authorize the use of military force in Iraq (AUMF). Boswell also voted for the PATRIOT Act, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, a draconian immigration bill that never made it through the Senate, and No Child Left Behind.

Fallon won a surprising 3rd place finish in the 2006 Democratic primary for Governor by building a strong grassroots organization. He won 26% when he was expected to get less than 5% at the start of the campaign (Chet Culver won with 39%). Despite being heavily outspent, Fallon won Polk Co. and was the top vote getter in the 3rd district.

Fallon is socially liberal and fiscally conservative. He has pushed public financing of elections, universal health care, ending corporate tax give aways, and has never taken money from lobbyists and PAC's.

The caucuses showed there is a wave of populism riding across Iowa and Fallon could ride that wave to Congress.

2008 New Hampshire Primary Predictions

I posted my predictions for the Iowa caucuses right before I left work. On the home I started thinking about how ridiculous it would be for Obama to beat Edwards by 8%, so I decided to change them to make it closer. However, when I got home my internet wasn't working and I couldn't.

As it turns out, my predictions were darn close, getting the top 2 exactly right (though I had Richardson and Biden way too high and Clinton too low). My Republican predictions weren't bad either, except I gave McCain too much support and not enough to Fred Thompson.

So here are my predictions for New Hampshire...

1. Barack Obama 42%
2. Hillary Clinton 27%
3. John Edwards 24%
4. Bill Richardson 9%


1. John McCain 32%
2. Mitt Romney 29%
3. Mike Huckabee 16%
4. Ron Paul 11%
5. Rudy Giuliani 9%
6. Fred Thompson 3%

Huckabee and God's Army

On Sunday, Mike Huckabee delivered a sermon at a New Hampshire church where he spoke about being part of God's army.

From the Washington Post...

A pastor from Texas was scheduled to deliver the sermon Sunday at a church here called the Crossing.

But instead this small evangelical congregation heard from a different special guest: Baptist minister and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who delivered a sermon of more than 20 minutes on how to be part of "God's Army" in the middle school cafeteria where the congregation meets.

"When we become believers, it's as if we have signed up to be part of God's Army, to be soldiers for Christ," Huckabee told the enthusiastic audience.

Huckabee and the Catholic Vote in Iowa

Matthew Yglesias had an interesting post today that shows Mike Huckabee had a poor showing in Iowa counties with a high Catholic population.

Here are the maps...

Huckabee won the counties in blue, Romney won the counties in red.

The redder the counties, the more Catholics.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Obama Would Win Iowa in a Landslide

A new poll shows that after the historic caucus victory last week, Barack Obama would win Iowa in a landslide in a general election matchup against top Republicans.

SUSA's latest poll of Iowa shows Obama with ridiculous leads on his GOP rivals. I've edited in the results from SUSA's last Iowa poll 12/13-15.

Today, 01/07/08 …

Obama defeats McCain by 17 points. (+12)
Obama defeats Huckabee by 23 points. (+13)
Obama defeats Romney by 26 points. (+12)
Obama defeats Giuliani by 40 points. (+19)

Iowa Did It's Job

A week ago I wrote...

Iowa is supposed to put the candidates through the ringer, toss out the duds, and send the rest on to the other states.
and that is exactly what we did.

I know you've probably seen these, but here are Edwards and Obama's speeches from Thursday night...

Post Iowa New Hampshire Polls

Here is a look at the polls in New Hampshire since the Iowa caucuses on Thursday.

From Political Wire...

It is looking like Obama got the bump and he should win New Hampshire.

I am kind of wondering why Huckabee and even Edwards went to New Hampshire. Maybe they should have went on to Nevada and South Carolina and try to get ahead start on everyone else there.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Moments From the ABC/YouTube Debate

The ABC/Facebook debate last night in New Hampshire was one of the better debates so far. The candidates were allowed to talk and they were actually allowed to respond to each other.

The theme of the debate was change and who could best provide change. That is where we say the most heated exchange of the night.

Here are the the moments that will be remembered from the debate for each candidate...

Edwards standing up for Obama and calling out the status quo...

Obama praises Bill Clinton, but then leaves him in the dust...

The moderator hurts Hillary Clinton's feelings...

I couldn't find any video, but Richardson had the most humorous statement of the night by saying...

I’ve been in hostage negotiations that are a lot more civil than this.
Richardson didn't have to dodge any attacks by the other candidates and was able to speak passionately and make strong points concerning Iraq.

Obama and the Creativity of Des Moines

One of my favorite authors is Richard Florida, who wrote Rise of the Creative Class. Florida responded to something Chris Bowers wrote at Open Left and gave some interesting analysis of Obama winning the Iowa Caucuses..

Chris Bowers writes:

I'm looking over the 2008 and 2004 Iowa entrance polls right now. Four years ago, 79% of the Iowa electorate were Democrats. This year, 76% self-identified as Democrats. The huge turnout was just about as Democratic as the 2004 turnout. The new voters were Democrats, not independents. No real surprise in the core of Obama's support. The younger a voter was, the more well-educated a voter was, the higher income a voter was, the more self-identified liberal a voter was, the more likely that voter was to support Obama. It is the same coalition for Obama that people have identified for months. Obama won on the back of the creative class vote.

I think Bowers is right about this. And it seems to me the 2008 election may well turn on class lines. I have long said the central animating issue in American politics is neither partisan polarization nor the culture wars but a festering class divide. Obama may appeal to progressive members of the creative class who swung Iowa, but can that group (roughly a third of the workforce) swing the general election his way. Seems to me there is an even larger group of working and service class people who are frightened, scared, anxious, angry and resentful about what is happening to "their" America. Critics of my own work have already attempted to reduce the creative class to "yuppies, sophistos, trendoids, and gays." My hunch is these same types will be all too eager to hang the label "elitist" all over Obama, framing him as a Harvard educated, Washington insider surrounded by a gaggle of Hollywood glitterati backers and the same old liberal establishment economic advisers (think Robert Rubin and Larry Summers). If the Democrats (and the creative class) cannot figure a way out of this box - to articulate an inclusive agenda for the future which shows in plain and simple terms how working class and service class people can participate and prosper from the global creative economy, my assessment is that the electoral playing field will remain heavily tilted toward a reinvigorating Republican populism. Huckabee has the potential to tap into this zeitgeist in a way that could move far beyond the "Reagan democrats." And Obama, despite his personal attractiveness and oratorical skills, runs the risk of being framed as another Gore or even Kerry. I'm just saying ...
I wouldn't give up on Obama being able to speak to the middle class. His first job out of college was working as a community organizer for factory workers after they lost their job. However, maybe an Obama/Edwards ticket would mesh this divide and unify the creative class and the working class behind a progressive agenda.

Caucus Results from My Precinct

Thursday was my first time participating in the caucuses. I expected it to be a little crazy and it was even crazier than I had imagined. People were told to show up at 6:30 and the doors closed at 7. I arrived at 6 and the room at the Iowa Veterans Home was already crowded.

I signed in and then helped people who needed to change their party to Democrat or register to vote. I would say I collected well over 50 registration forms from people who are now new members of the Democratic party and this was just one of 8 precincts in Marshall County. This is great news for Democrats come November 2008.

People were all signed in by 7, the doors were shut, and people made their way to their preference groups. There were 22 delegates to be had in my precinct. The caucus chair gave the introductory speeches, read a couple letters, and announced there were 372 people in attendance and each candidate needed 56 people to be viable.

Here is a look at the results...

First Count
140 Obama
103 Clinton
55 Edwards
33 Richardson
23 Biden
4 Kucinich
1 Dodd
6 Uncommitted

A few minutes were given for the non-viable groups to move around. Edwards needed 2 people to become viable and they quickly grabbed 2 from the Biden group. Then 10 people from the Biden group moved to Richardson. 3 of the 4 Kucinich people went to Obama.

Second Count
144 Obama
103 Clinton
57 Edwards
43 Richardson
25 Uncommitted

Then the 30 minute period to realign began. I was in the Obama corner and my job was to be the persuader. I talked a girl, who was home from college. She was concerned about Obama's stance on invading Pakistan to find Osama bin Laden. I was unsuccessful and I think she went to Edwards. There were two former Biden supporters that I tried to bring to Obama by saying that I grew up in the house they now live in. That personal connection didn't work and they went to Clinton. I did have some success. I talked the one leftover Kucinich voter to come to Obama over Edwards by telling her a lot of the same things I wrote in my endorsement of Obama.

While this was going on the Richardson group was able to get 3 more people, but were still 10 people away from becoming viable. They tried to pull some people from Clinton and Obama, but no one would budge. Finally, after 20 minutes or so the Richardson group gave up the hope of becoming viable and their group dispersed. The Richardson supporters split pretty evenly between Edwards and Obama, with just a couple going to Clinton.

Finally the 30 minutes were up and the counting for the final numbers began. The Obama group counted 3 times because we had some people that had left over the realignment time. Someone said 4 people, who are residents of the Veterans Home, had to go take their medication and then couldn't return. The final count numbers didn't match to the total number people at the beginning, so other groups had this problem also.

Final Count
159 Obama
107 Clinton
77 Edwards
5 Uncommitted

Delegates Won
10 Obama
7 Clinton
5 Edwards

Saturday, January 05, 2008

McCain Will Keep US Troops in Iraq for 100 Years or More

As all eyes were on Iowa on Thursday night, John McCain was campaigning in New Hampshire. McCain was asked about how long we will have troops in Iraq. McCain responds by saying we could be there for 100 years.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Clinton's Manufactured Politics

The surprise of the Iowa caucuses for many in the national media was Hillary Clinton coming in 3rd place. However, Iowans covering the caucuses weren't as surprised for one simple reason: Clinton didn't embrace retail politics.

Iowa is won through face to face interaction with the voters. A candidate must shake hands, hold babies, and, most importantly, answer people's questions. Clinton rarely took questions at her events, and when she did there were planted questions by her own campaign and she accused legit questions as being plants from other campaigns.

Clinton's campaign was cautious and the result was a campaign that seemed manufactured. John Deeth wrote that Clinton understood the surface, not the spirit, of the caucuses.

Clinton kept errors to a minimum but failed to capture the spontaneous spirit of the caucuses.
This left people asking how well do you really know Sen. Clinton? Last night showed that Iowans did not know Hillary Clinton very well.

This all played out last night with Clinton's 3rd place finish, even thought it was by less than one percentage point. The national media finally observed Clinton's manufactured politics right before Clinton's speech, where Andrea Mitchell observed...
This room was, until about five or six minutes ago, completely empty. This is a manufactured 'celebration.' It really felt more like a funeral as people started strolling in from upstairs where they had obviously been gathered. This is unlike anything that I've ever seen, a completely empty, dirge-like event.

Just Like I Imagined

This quote made me laugh.

From Political Wire...

"This feels good. It's just like I imagined it when I was talking to my kindergarten teacher."

-- Sen. Barack Obama, quoted by the New York Observer, on his new status as Democratic frontrunner. Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign has claimed that Obama has been plotting a presidential run since he was in kindergarten.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2008 Iowa Caucus Predictions

Thought I'd give it a shot at predicting tonight's caucus results.

I was getting the feeling last week that John Edwards was going to win, but the tide seems to be moving Obama's way the past few days.

So here they are...

1. Barack Obama 38%
2. John Edwards 30%
3. Hillary Clinton 20%
4. Bill Richardson 7%
5. Joe Biden 5%
6. Chris Dodd 0%

Republicans (note the percentages are purely a guess here since I haven't paid as much attention to the latest pulls)
1. Mike Huckabee 34%
2. Mitt Romney 27%
3. John McCain 18%
4. Ron Paul 10%
5. Fred Thompson 8%
6. Rudy Giuliani 5%

I will be participating in my caucus here, so I won't be blogging during the caucuses. I will have some posts later tonight and tomorrow about the process and to analyze the results.