Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Iowa Utilities Board Approves Coal Plant in Marshalltown

The Iowa Utilities Board approved the building of the coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown today. However, the permit does call for a much greater investment by Alliant in renewable energy.

The approval came with three main conditions attached to it:

-- The burning of bio-mass must reach 5 percent of the plant's capacity within 2 years and 10 percent within 5 years.

-- The company's energy supply must be 10 percent renewable energy when the plant goes online in 2013. The use of renewable energy must then increase 1 percent annually for 15 years.

-- The IUB will periodically review the feasibility of retrofitting carbon capture technology, which deals with capturing the emissions from generating power, and reserves the right to require Alliant to install that technology at its new plant.

A written ruling to further explain the terms of these conditions will be issued in a few weeks.

At first glance, this ruling seems like a decent compromise. It would require Alliant to further increase their investment in renewable energy and would require them to close older, inefficient coal plants.

My main question is on enforcement. What would be the punishment, if in 15 years, Alliant fails miserable to increase their energy supply from renewable sources?

The investments in renewable energy and the ability to retrofit the plant with carbon capture technology are a step in the right direction. However, as a local resident, I still have concerns about other environmental factors in my community, such as the release of mercury and other pollutants into the air and water.

Obama Gains Support from Another Iowa Super Delegate

Iowa Independent is reporting that Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) is going to endorse Barack Obama today. This is the 2nd Iowa Super Delegate to declare for Obama this week after DNC member Richard Machacek endorsed him yesterday.

Obama now has the support of 6 of Iowa's Super Delegates, while Clinton has 3. There are 2 that are still undecided.

Obama Supporters
DNC member Richard Machacek
U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack
U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley
Gov. Chet Culver
Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald
deputy state party Chairwoman Sarah Swisher

Clinton Supporters
U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell,
Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal
DNC member Sandy Opstvedt

Undeclared Super delegates
U.S Senator Tom Harkin
state party Chairman Scott Brennan

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Looks Like Everyone Supports Clean Elections

I have written a great deal in support of Clean Elections in the past.

Could it be true that Real Sporer supports Clean Elections also?

Young Republicans are Becoming Extinct

Iowa Super Delegate Declares Support for Obama

Barack Obama gained the support from one of Iowa's super delegates. Richard Machacek announced today that he has decided to support Barack Obama. Machacek, from Buchanan County, is a member of the State Central Committee and Democratic National Committee.

"I think it needs to be over, and in good conscience, I can't fly in the face of my precinct, county and district," Machacek told The Des Moines Register in a telephone interview. "The raw numbers coming out of the district conventions really sat me down hard."
Obama leads the Iowa super delegate count with 5, while Clinton has 3, and 3 remain undeclared.

Obama Supporters
Richard Machacek
U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack
Gov. Chet Culver
Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald
deputy state party Chairwoman Sarah Swisher

Clinton Supporters
U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell,
Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal
DNC member Sandy Opstvedt

Undeclared Super delegates
U.S Senator Tom Harkin
U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley
state party Chairman Scott Brennan

Fallon's Rap on the Economy

The Fallon campaign released this video last week. When I read that it was a rap video, I thought it was going to be corny, but it is actually pretty good.

This video highlights where Ed Fallon stands on economic issues and shows how Boswell has sided with big money interests over the interests of the people he supposedly represents.

Everyday is Earth Day Film Showing Tonight in Cedar Falls

From my inbox...

Everyday is Earth Day
Film event brings together green activists and public

The Sierra Club, Iowa Global Warming Campaign and I-Renew are hosting a special green event on Tuesday, April 29, which is open to members of the public. The event offers free admission and refreshments and will feature a film screening of Global Warming: the Signs and the Science a film that uses expert dialogues on global warming to talk about how we can reverse its course. After the film, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in a discussion about the film and related issues.

WHAT: Everyday is Earth Day event featuring Global Warming: the Signs and the Science film screening and discussion. Free and open to the public.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Cedar Falls Public Library, 524 Main St., Cedar Falls, Iowa

WHO: Sierra Club, Iowa Global Warming Campaign and I-Renew supporters and the public

The Sierra Club's members and supporters are more than 1.3 million of your friends and neighbors. Inspired by nature, we work together to protect our communities and the planet. The Club is America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.

The Iowa Global Warming Campaign seeks to have state and national leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, discuss publicly, frequently and specifically how they will address global warming, and pledge that they make that plan a top priority. Iowa Global Warming's founding members are the Iowa Environmental Council, Iowa Renewable Energy Association (I-Renew), Environmental Law & Policy Center, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, and Union of Concerned Scientists.

I-Renew (Iowa Renewable Energy Association) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1992. I-RENEW sponsors practical educational activities designed to reach individuals, farms, businesses, schools, and utilities, while also encouraging retail opportunities. The association is a vehicle for pooling and disseminating existing knowledge and experience in renewables and energy efficiency.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Clinton Critcizes Plant Closure that Her Husband Approved

Here's another example of the Clinton's willingness to do anything to get elected.

From David Sirota...

Clinton is airing this advertisement in Indiana, bemoaning the closure of a defense contractor Magnequench's manufacturing plant in Valparaiso (she is also echoing this line in her stump speeches). Looking at the camera, she tells us she's upset that the 200 jobs that were sent to China, and that "now America's defense relies on Chinese spare parts." And then comes the kicker: She tells viewers that "George Bush could have stopped it, but he didn't."

Clinton is certainly right that it is a tragedy that 200 American jobs were killed in a corporate deal that also exported sensitive military technology to China. But she forgets to mention that it wasn't George Bush who was in the key position to stop it - it was Bill Clinton.

Back in 1995, a Chinese consortium, which included two Chinese state-owned companies, made a bid to take over Magnequench. Because the company makes key parts for smart bombs, the takeover had to be approved by the Clinton administration's Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. Despite the national security and economic problems with selling off such critical manufacturing capacity to the Chinese - and despite the knowledge that such a deal would likely end in a domestic mass layoff - the Clinton administration approved the deal. This same deal - not surprisingly - paved the way for those 200 Indiana jobs and that sensitive military technology to be shipped to China.

The Clinton administration's move was not surprising. This was an administration whose NAFTA and China PNTR record more than proved it was intent on helping Big Money interests face as little resistance to international financial transactions as possible - consequences be damned. But the move was very controversial, raising the ire of key Hillary Clinton surrogate Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN). As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2005, "Bayh was particularly disturbed by the committee's decision in 1995 to approve a Chinese consortium's takeover of Magnequench Inc." In 2006, Bayh specifically slammed the Clinton administration's approval of the deal to the South Bend Tribune, saying "It's not smart to put ourselves in the position of relying on the Chinese for a critical component of a vital weapon system, and yet that is what the CFIUS process has allowed."

Unfortunately, as he has campaigned around Indiana with Hillary Clinton listening to her decry the Magenquench fiasco, Bayh has suddenly gone silent on the matter.

1st District Convention Results

I posted my report about Obama gaining a national delegate at the 4th District Convention at Daily Kos and it sparked a lot of discussion. The discussion at Kos was if Obama won a delegate in the 4th District or if he ended up losing a delegate overall.

Coming into the convention, Obama had 15 delegates secured with 3 delegates up for grabs. The national media coun
ted the hens before the eggs hatched and wrongly projected that Obama would pick up 17 delegates.

A person who attended the 1st District convention posted their results in the comments section and it looks like the Edwards group was able to become viable and won a national delegate. If the Edwards group wasn't viable, Obama would have likely won that national delegate.

After check-in, Edwards had 79 delegates but needed 81 to be viable. There were 7 undecideds. If only 2 undecideds went to Edwards, he was going to get a delegate, so the result in the 1st District was not at all unexpected. But the funny (in a sardonic way) thing was that some Clinton delegates went over to Edwards, just to make sure Obama didn't get that extra delegate.

1st alignment (534 delegates at check-in):
Obama - 281 (52.6%)
Clinton - 167 (31.3%)
Edwards - 79 (14.8%)
Undecided - 7 (1.3%)

2nd alignment (out of 533 - someone left early?):
Obama - 283 (53.1%)
Clinton - 156 (29.3%)
Edwards - 94 (17.6%)

National Delegates:
Obama - 3 (2 males, 1 female)
Clinton - 2 (1 male, 1 female)
Edwards - 1 (female)

National Alternate: Obama - 1 (male)

Who is tough now?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

4th District Democratic Convention: Obama Gains A National Delegate

The big news out of the 4th District Democratic Convention was that Barack Obama picked up a national delegate.

The 4th District had 507 seats to fill. At first count 425 of the seats were filled with delegates and the first count was Obama 231, Clinton 147, Edwards 42, Uncommitted 5. The remaining seats were filled with alternates. I was one of the alternates that were seated for Obama.

After the alternates were seated the count was Obama 274, Clinton 175, Edwards 52, Uncommitted 6. The number for viability was 76. The Edwards group (and the uncommitteds) weren't viabile. The national delegate count at this time was Obama 3, Clinton 2, with one delegate up for grabs.

We then broke into preference groups for an hour where both the Clinton and Obama groups could persuade the non-viable groups to come to their side. The Obama group was very well organized, led by Tom Harrington. They had people already selected to go speak to the Edwards group (which had moved to a separate room), while everyone else sat and chatted. I quickly did some math and by figures Clinton could afford to send 6 delegates to Edwards, which wasn't enough to make Edwards viable even with the 6 uncommitted delegates.

The Clinton group let out a couple cheers as they had swayed a few people to come there way right off the bat. After about 45 minutes, the doors opened and a parade of people from the Edwards group marched in and headed to the Obama group. All of the Obama supporters stood and started a "Fired Up! Ready to go!" chant as the parade of former Edwards supporters joined with the Obama group. It was later announced that the Obama group offered the Edwards group a bunch of seats on the platform committee if they came to Obama's side.

The final numbers were announced with Obama having 316, Clinton 187, and 2 people stayed uncommitted. This meant during realignment Obama gained 42 and Clinton gained 12 supporters. The final delegate numbers were then Obama 4, Clinton 2, with the alternate going to Obama. Obama, also, won 6 of the 10 seats to the committees for the State Convention.

As part of the deal to get the majority of Edwards supporters to head to Obama's side, 5 of the 6 seats on the platform committee were from the Edwards group. Edwards supporters were also able to run for national delegate in the Obama group, though none ended up being elected. The Clinton group also went to the Edwards group with an offer, but the majority of the Edwards group favored Obama.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Iowa District Convention Delegate Counts

I am still at the 4th district convention in Boone. We elected 6 delegates to the national at our convention. Obama won 4 and Clinton won 2.

The statewide results for national delegates were just announced.

Obama 16
Clinton 9
Edwards 4

Obama won all 5 alternates.

I will post more about how the convention went when I get home, whenever that is.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Leonard Boswell Believed Him

Earlier this week, Leonard Boswell sent a mailer out once again criticizing Ed Fallon for backing Ralph Nader in 2000. Boswell attempts to link Fallon's support of Nader to the death of 4,000 Americans in Iraq, the poor economy, and government corruption.

The mailer read...

Ed Fallon believed him.
Fallon helped elect George Bush
by endorsing and actively
campaigning for Ralph Nader.

Now, Fallon claims he's a real Democrat we can trust.

With nearly 4,000 of our soldiers killed in Iraq, rampant corruption throughout our government, health care costs out of control and an economy in shambles, Ed Fallon's support for Ralph Nader is unforgivable.

Enough phony politics.


With nearly 4,000 of our soldiers killed in Iraq, rampant corruption throughout our government, health care costs out of control and an economy in shambles, Ed Fallon's support for Ralph Nader is unforgivable.

In reality, Boswell's support of Bush's policies have much more to do with the death of 4,000 Americans in Iraq, the poor economy, and government corruption. Boswell has voted against the vast majority of Democrats and supported Bush numerous times.

Boswell has...
  • voted for the Iraq War
  • voted to approve torture in the Military Commissions Act
  • voted to repeal the estate tax
  • voted to make it harder for people (and easier for corporations) to declare bankruptcy
  • voted for No Child Left Behind
  • continued to support NAFTA-like free trade agreements
  • voted to give oil and gas companies $14 billion in tax breaks
  • 74% of his donations come from PAC's
Leonard Boswell believed George W. Bush. Boswell supported Bush on too many issues by voting for the Bush agenda, against the good judgement of the vast majority of Democrats.

Now Leonard Boswell says that he is a real Democrat we can trust. Enough with the phony politics driven by big money. Say NO to Leonard Boswell.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Race for Pledge Delegates is Over

MSNBC's Chuck Todd runs through the pledged delegate count on the evening of the Pennsylvania primary. He concludes that the race for pledged delegates is over with Obama. There is just no way Clinton can overtake Obama in the one stat that matters.

Culver Should Veto Odor Study Bill Because It Stinks

Over the weekend, I wrote about the flaws in the odor study bill. I said the bill wastes taxpayer on a study that has already been done. Vilsack requested a study in 2002 and since then other states have done similar studies.

The Iowa Farmer's Union is calling for Culver to veto the bill points out the flaws in the bill. They cite the redundancy of the study...

Research has already been done on cost effective ways to mitigate odor. Included are better siting methods, and the use of biofilters and covers on lagoons. Iowa's taxpayers should not be required to fund another round of studies on proven technologies when the legislature has not shown any willingness to act on the information already gathered from previous studies. Instead we should require producers to implement what we already know.
Unfortunately, the bill has been passed by Iowa House and Iowa Senate and now sits on Gov. Culver's desk.

At Bleeding Heartland, desmoinesdem says that Culver should veto this bill.
If I were an adviser to Governor Culver, I'd tell him to veto this bill. It's the right thing to do on the merits. We simply don't need more study of this problem. Spending $23 million over five years on more study wastes our money and kicks the can down the road. Using state funds to implement the measures that are working in other states would be a wiser use of taxpayer dollars.
Hopefully, Culver will realize that this study stinks and decide to veto it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why is Leonard Boswell Afraid to Debate Ed Fallon?

The Fallon campaign sent out this press release yesterday...

Fallon has received invitations to eight debates and has accepted them all. “Unfortunately,” Fallon said, “Boswell has declined debate invitations from WHO Radio, the League of Women Voters, and Women for a Stronger America. Some of these groups have issued multiple invitations since February and have yet to receive any response from the Boswell campaign.”
Is it because Boswell can't defend his vote for the Iraq War?

Is it because Boswell can't defend his vote in favor of repealing the estate tax?

Is it because Boswell can't defend his vote to the bankruptcy bill?

Is it because Boswell can't defend his vote to approve torture in the Military Commissions Act?

Is it because Boswell can't defend his vote for No Child Left Behind?

Is it because Boswell can't defend his continued support for NAFTA-like trade agreements?

Is it because Boswell can't defend the fact that 74% of his donations come from PAC's?

Is it because Boswell can't defend his vote to provide $14 billion in tax breaks and incentives for oil and gas companies?

Did Steve King Kick off his run for Governor over the weekend?

In cased you missed it, Rep. Steve King, who represents western Iowa, spoke at the 2nd District Convention in Iowa City on Saturday. This just might have been the kickoff to King's run for Governor in 2010.

Some were surprised that King decided against running for Senate against Tom Harkin, but I have heard rumors that King has his eyes sight on the Governor job. This trip to eastern Iowa might be the beginning of King attempting to get his name out there in the eastern part of the state.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's Easy Being Green

Considering it is Earth Day, I need to have a post about our environment.

The thing to remember about going green and taking care of our environment is to keep it simple and easy because if something is hard and expensive people won't do them. I found these 4 simple things to do in this month's edition of Cottage Living.

1. Eat local
Join a CSA or shop at your local farmer's market.

2. Use your feet
Burn calories, not gas.

3. Plant smart
Planting native plants can save you money on your water bill and your yard will look great.

4. Think little, for big results
Supporting local owned, independent cafe, restaurant, bookstore, hardware store, etc adds character to your community, can increase property values, and keeps the local economy afloat.

Clinton Must Win by a Big Margin in Pennsylvania

Hillary Clinton will likely win the Pennsylvania primary today, but for Clinton to have any chance overtake Barack Obama in the pledged delegate count or the popular vote she must win by a big margin.

After more than 40 Democratic primaries and caucuses, Obama, the Illinois senator, leads Clinton by more than 800,000 votes. Even if the New York senator wins by more than 20 percentage points tomorrow -- a landslide few experts expect -- she would still have a hard time catching him.

Clinton needs ``blowout numbers,'' says Peter Fenn, a Democratic consultant who isn't affiliated with either campaign. ``The wheels would have to come off the Obama bus, and the engine would have to blow.''

A popular-vote victory is vital to Clinton's chances because she is likely to end the primaries still trailing Obama, 46, in the race for delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

According to an unofficial tally by the Associated Press, Obama currently leads by a margin of 1,645 to 1,504 among pledged delegates and those superdelegates -- elected and party officials who get an automatic vote on the nomination -- who have indicated a preference. It will take 2,025 delegates to win the nomination.

Monday, April 21, 2008

On the Eve of the Pennsylvania Primary

Democrats Propose Fiscally Responsible Budget

Democratic legislators released their $6.1 billion state budget last week. It is a 3.7% increase from last year's budget, but $300 million less than Gov. Culver's proposed budget.

However, the thing that sticks out is the fiscal responsibility of Democrats at the State House. The budget increases the state reserve fund in case of an economic downturn.

The spending plan includes a $615 million reserve fund to tide the state over if there is an economic downturn that slows tax collections.

"This is the greatest savings account in the history of the state," said Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs.
Last year's budget also included money to put in the state's reserve fund.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Des Moines Register: Marshalltown Coal Plant is Not the Right Course for Iowa

The Des Moines Register Editorial Board came out today against the proposed coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown.

Today, the editorial board has concluded that building a coal-fired plant in Marshalltown is not now the right course for Iowa. The right course would place far greater emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable sources of generation, particularly wind. For power plants, it would encourage a harder look at natural gas, which emits much less carbon dioxide, and would specify that any new "cleaner-burning coal plants" must be able, at least on the near horizon, to capture and sequester carbon dioxide.

But this moment of decision for Iowa shouldn't be just about this particular plant. It offers a time for Iowa to look itself in the mirror and decide what kind of energy-producing-and-consuming state it wants to be in an entirely different era for energy.

Will Iowa lead or follow at a time when the health of the planet may be in peril and when the availability and price of clean energy may starkly define economic fates? Will it simply meet federal regulations when required, burning fossil fuels as much as it can, as long as it can? Or will it chart a course to conserve electricity, generate more of it from renewable sources and, through its innovation and leadership, create new jobs, new businesses and new opportunities?

This is about image, too. Iowa has led the way in developing the biofuels and wind industries - and enjoyed more jobs and growth as a result. A new coal plant without carbon capture doesn't build a clean-energy reputation.
The Register provided in-depth coverage of the pros and cons of the coal plant the past week. You can read their coverage here.

Odor Study Stinks, Wastes Taxpayer's Money

The Iowa House passed a bill to see if hog manure stinks. The study will cost taxpayers $23 million over 5 years.

You don't need to spend $23 million to tell you that hog manure smells bad. Just drive around rural Iowa with your windows down and you will be be able to tell that hog manure smells.

To make it worse, taxpayer money was spent in 2002 for a similar study.

Previous studies, including one in 2002 by Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, have linked respiratory illnesses with large animal confinements. The 2002 study, requested by former Gov. Tom Vilsack, was overseen by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The study recommended that manure be largely covered by soil immediately upon field application.
The bill now goes to the Iowa Senate. If you already know that hog manure smells bad and don't like to see taxpayer money wasted call your Senator and tell them the Odor Study stinks.

On a related note, legislators are considering allowing open piles of manure within 400 feet of Iowa's waterways and even homes.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hey Leonard Boswell, Which Side are You On?

Does Leonard Boswell stand up for the interest of common Iowans or does he favor the special interests that fund his campaign?

Just take a look at his voting record and where Boswell gets his money from.

From Progressive Kick...

Standing with workers, not Big Business, when international trade agreements are negotiated FOR Trade Agreements 56.25%
Grade: F
$2,751,048 from Big Business Interests

Subsidies to Giant Oil Companies FOR Oil Company subsidies 181st/234 Democrats in standing up to oil companies $101,542 Energy (Oil, Gas, Coal, etc)/Natural Resource Companies

Preventing Bank Foreclosures AGAINST Homeowners No action taken by Boswell $121,784 in Big Bank money alone

Standing with credit card holders & bank customers against Big Banks/Credit Card Companies FOR Banks & Credit Card Companies 45.16%
Grade: F
$646,471 in Finance (inc. Banks)/Insurance/Real Estate money

Standing with consumers against Utilities FOR Utilities 57.14%
Grade: F
$101,542 in contributions from Energy companies, including suppliers to Utilities

War in Iraq Often FOR 155th/234 Democrats in standing up to Bush $41,000 from Military Industry Contractors

Standing against Human Rights Abuses like Guantanamo AGAINST Constitutional Rights 62.5%
Grade: D-

Wiretapping Americans without a warrant FOR Government Spying Voted for “Patriot Act” allowing government spying on Americans 10/24/01 $117,499 from Communications/Electronics Companies

Stopping spread of Nuclear Weapons FOR permitting spread of Nuclear Weapons 39.13%
Grade: F
$41,000 from Military Industry Contractors

Friday, April 18, 2008

Many Illegal Immigrants Pay Too Much in Taxes

It seems that many illegal immigrants pay too much in taxes...

Illegal immigrants are paying taxes to Uncle Sam, experts agree. Just how much they pay is hard to determine because the federal government doesn't fully tally it.

But the latest figures available indicate it will amount to billions of dollars in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes this year.

One rough estimate puts the amount of Social Security taxes alone at around $9 billion per year.

Paycheck withholding collects much of the federal tax from illegal workers, just as it does for legal workers.

The Internal Revenue Service doesn't track a worker's immigration status, yet many illegal immigrants fearful of deportation won't risk the government attention that will come from filing a return, even if they might qualify for a refund. Economist William Ford of Middle Tennessee State University says there are no firm figures on how many such taxpayers there are.

"The real question is how many of them pay more than they owe. There are undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of people in that situation," Ford said.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama Talks about the ABC Debate

Obama discusses last nignt's ABC debate at a campaign rally in North Carolina...

Take This Job and Shove It (But Still Keep Your Health Care)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has a bill called the Healthy Americans Act that has bipartisan support in the Senate. The bill calls for health care you can keep, so you can tell your boss to take this job and shove it, but still keep your health care.

If you hate your job, but need your health care, you're stuck. If you want to go back to school, start a business, find a new job, or just plain quit, you're stuck.

It's called job lock.

Whether you love your job or hate your job, you should be able to keep your health care no matter what you choose to do.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ABC Debate Sucks

I didn't watch the debate tonight on ABC and it turns out that wasn't a bad choice at all...

From Daily Kos...

It took 52 minutes to get to a question about Iraq. Took 64 minutes to the economy, and then in John McCain's terms.

These are the top two issues cited in poll after poll, but ABC doesn't think they're important enough to ask the presidential candidates on, or will let a Republican frame the debate. It's flat shameful.

From Andrew Sullivan...

8.33 pm. So far, neither Gibson nor Stephanopoulos have asked a single policy-related question. They seem utterly uninterested in foreign or domestic policy. After the past eight years, we have had half an hour with nothing but process questions. Gibson and Stephanopoulos are clearly part of the problem in this election and part of what has to be reformed.

8.40 pm. Now, it's flag-pins! I'm just pointing out that we are now almost halfway through this debate and ABC News has not asked a single policy question. It's pure Rove, sustained and hyped and sustained by Stephanopoulos and Gibson. It's what they know; it's easy; and it will generate ratings. It is not journalism.

8.44 pm. Ambers: "Even Clinton advisers can't believe that ABC asked about wearing the flag on his lapel."

I have to say I am actually shocked at the appallingly poor quality of the questions: the worst of the campaign so far. Pure MSM process bullshit. Again: it's now halfway through and there has not been a single question on the economy, foreign policy, healthcare, terrorism, Iraq or any other actual policy issue in this campaign. How much longer can ABC News avoid the actual policy issues in this election?

From Open Left...
Halfway through the debate, not a single question on any policy issue had been asked, it was obvious that this debate was prime-time hit job on Obama. The questions so far have been why he doesn't wear a flag pin, whether or not his pastor loves America, why he can't win, and how many people were offended by his bittergate comments. Except for Clinton being asked about why she wasn't trustworthy, and both of them being asked about their vice-presidential choices, that has been the entire debate.

As Master Jack said in the comments, nothing on Iraq, nothing on the economy, nothing on health care, nothing on housing, nothing on global warming, nothing on torture. This is nothing but a prime-time hit job on Democrats, although mainly a hit job on Obama.

A Look at Universal Health Care Systems throughout the World

Public Television's Frontline aired a program tonight called Sick Around the World that takes a look at how 5 different countries achieve universal health care. After looking at these 5 wealthy capitalized countries they find...

It's not all socialized medicine in the capitalist democracies examined in this report, but they don't trust health care entirely to the free market, either.
It is clear there is a lot of room for improvement in the United States' health care system. The United States spends the most of any country on health care, but are far from covering everyone.

The program comes up with these 3 conclusions on how the United States can improve its health care system...
1. Insurance companies must accept everyone and can't make a profit on basic care.
2. Everyone must buy into insurance and the government pays premiums for the poor.
3. Doctors and Hospitals must accept one standard set of fixed prices.
If I get the time later in the week, I will post more on the details in each country, but I encourage you to watch the program online here.

Good Question

Democracy Arsenal asks "How many 'gaffes' equal incomptence?"...

John McCain screwed up on Foreign Policy 101 AGAIN. Yesterday at the AP annual meeting, McCain said he would defer any decision to General Petraeus over whether troops should be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan in order to intensify the search for Osama bin Laden. Only problem is that this is not Petraeus’s job, as he has stated before.

By my count, this makes 6 times this month that McCain has screwed up basic foreign policy facts…the other 5 being various conflations of who exactly is fighting in Iraq.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

McCain is Out of Touch with the Economy

Here are couple commercials that set the record straight on McCain's economic positions...

Fallon Raises over $170,000 in the 1st Quarter

Ed Fallon announced that he raised $171,618.70 in the first quarter without taking a penny from PAC's or lobbyists.

At the end of the quarter, we had 2,082 contributors, who gave an average of $82.43. As of mid-February of this year, we had 1,652 donors, which was more than ten times the number of individual donors than Rep. Leonard Boswell had last year. We know he has been working very hard to increase the number of individual contributors, since 74 percent of his money came from PACs last year.
I could not find how much money Fallon has on hand, but it would seem that this total would be enough to be competitive in the primary.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Guilty of War Crimes

Olbermann on reports that top level officials including Cheney, Ashcroft, Rice, and Tenet approved "enhanced interrogation techniques."

More from the Washington Post...

President Bush says he was aware that his top aides met in the White House basement to micromanage the application of waterboarding and other widely-condemned interrogation techniques. And he says it was no big deal.

"I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved," Bush told ABC News' Martha Raddatz on Friday. "I don't know what's new about that; I'm not so sure what's so startling about that."

Only the fact that torture is against the law.
If you consider what the government did to be torture, which is a crime according to U.S. and international law, Bush's statement shifts his role from being an accessory after the fact to being part of a conspiracy to commit.

Iowans Urge Legislators: Represent Everyday Iowans; Kill the Odor Study

From Iowa CCI...

Iowans Urge Legislators: Represent Everyday Iowans; Kill the Odor Study

Iowans to Hold Press Conference at Capitol April 16

What: Just prior to the end of the legislative session, Iowans will gather at the State Capitol Wednesday, April 16 for a press conference and to tell legislators to stop listening to special-interest lobbyists and start listening to the people they represent – their constituents – and kill the odor study bill, HF 2688.

Who: Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and other coalition groups will push for action and urge legislators to kill the odor study.

When: The press conference will be at 10 am Wednesday, April 16. Members of Iowa CCI plan to lobby key legislators following the press conference until noon.

Where: The press conference will be at the State Capitol building in Des Moines .

Why: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members and others are tired of catering to the factory farm industry and don’t want stall tactics and unnecessary studies that have already been done. This press conference is at a critical time near the end of the session, and that’s why legislators must listen to their constituents – Iowans deserve policies that benefit the common good.

Please join us for this press conference

April 16, 2008 10:00 am

State Capitol Building , Des Moines

Sunday, April 13, 2008

IA-04: Kurt Meyer Raises $130,000 in 1st Quarter, Sort Of

Kurt Meyer sent a press release out last week saying that his campaign has raised $130,000 in the first 3 months of 2008. At first glance, this seems like a great accomplishment considering he is running in a 4 person race in the Democratic primary.

However, when you do a little digging, you find that $100,000 of that money was a contribution from the candidate himself. That means Meyer has raised $30,000 from other people, which is much less impressive.

Bush Administration Going Soft on Corporate Crime

I am not surprised at all...

The Bush administration has a well-known aversion to regulating big business. As it turns out, it is also reluctant to prosecute corporations that break the law. Federal prosecutors have been regularly offering settlements to companies for wrongdoing that, in previous administrations, would likely have led to criminal charges. It is another disturbing example of how this administration has taken the justice out of the Justice Department.

Eric Lichtblau reported in The Times on Wednesday that during the last three years, the department has put off prosecuting more than 50 corporations on charges ranging from bribery to fraud. Instead, it has been entering into so-called deferred prosecution agreements and nonprosecution agreements, in which companies are allowed to pay fines and hire monitors to watch over them.

Defenders say these deals save the government time and the expense of going to trial and avoid doing unnecessary harm to corporations and their employees. The cost to the public and the rule of law is too high.

If corporations believe that they can negotiate their way out of a prosecution, the deterrent effect of the criminal law will inevitably be weakened.

The deals also leave a clear impression that an administration that prides itself on being pro-law-and-order — and on appointing federal judges who are tough on ordinary criminals — is tilting the justice system in favor of the wealthy and powerful.

Just another example of the government favoring Wall St. and big money over the common person and Main St.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama is Right, Small Towns Are Bitter

Barack Obama drew fire from both Hillary Clinton and John McCain over comments he made about small towns being bitter over their economic situation.

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Obama responds to their criticism that he is elitist at a townhall in Indiana...

I agree with the message Obama is saying. Bitter might not be the best word, but the underlying message is correct. The fact that McCain and Clinton are jumping all over Obama and saying that people in small towns are optimistic and happy just shows they aren't in touch with reality.

People in small towns and rural areas are upset that government policies always seem to favor Wall St. over Main St. and their political leaders stop by every few years with promises and then dine with lobbyists as soon as they get back in Washington.

Ezra Klein has more.

Feingold Hiring For His Patriots Corps

Sen. Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund is hiring people to be part of Patriots Corps. In 2006, this program trained organizers and sent them to work in campaigns across the nation (include for Bruce Braley's campaign in Iowa's 1st district).

Senator Feingold has long believed that a strong grassroots field program is the key to electoral victory. As such, Senator Feingold started the Patriot Corps in 2006 as a way to support important races across the nation. In the lead up to the 2008 election, Senator Feingold will again be hiring, training and sending field staff to key races across the country.

We're looking for at least 20 energetic, personable activists from across the country to participate in our second Patriot Corps program. Once chosen, Patriot Corps members will participate in an extensive, multi-day training program in Milwaukee, WI the first week of September. This training will focus on volunteer recruitment, organizing a canvas, running a phone bank, working with local activists, advanced GOTV training, and staffing a candidate. Patriot Corps members will then be placed on targeted campaigns across the country for the last two months leading up to the election.

While we’re looking for organizers with experience, we’re also hoping to hire activists with a willingness to work hard to bring victory home this fall.

For more information or to apply for the Patriots Corps Program, please contact Paula Zellner at or 715-735-7811. All applications must be submitted by Friday, July 25th.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Students Lack Knowledge of Basic Finances

High School students knowledge of financial literacy is on the decline as schools are failing to teach the most basic financial knowledge a students needs to succeed.

High school seniors, on average, answered correctly only 48.3 percent of questions about personal finance and economics, according to a nationwide survey released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve. That was even lower than the 52.4 percent in the previous survey in 2006 and marked the worst score out of the six surveys conducted so far.

With home foreclosures at record highs, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke stressed in a speech that young people must sharpen their financial knowledge so they are in a better position to make sound investment decisions throughout their lives.

"The financial preparedness of our nation's youth is essential to their well-being and of vital importance to our economic future," Bernanke said at the Fed event on financial literacy.

"In light of the problems that have arisen in the subprime mortgage market, we are reminded of how critically important it is for individuals to become financially literate at an early age so that they are better prepared to make decisions and navigate an increasingly complex financial marketplace," the Fed chairman added.

It is amazing that a student can graduate high school and not know how to balance a check or to even understand that concept of interest.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution. Students are required to take a one semester course in American Government (which is great), but then the other semester they should be taking a course to learn basic financial information.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sen. McKibben Thinks Smoking Ban Would Kill Children

I have heard some poor arguments come from Republicans like Sen. Larry McKibben before, but trying to follow the logic on this last one was enough to give me a headache.

McKibben argued that the smoking ban would actually cause more health problems.

McKibben cited studies that he believes point to out that smokers may begin drinking in a bar, then drive to a casino to enjoy some more fellowship with friends while being allowed to smoke indoors. At the very least, McKibben believes it could put more intoxicated drivers on the road.

“We will have more accidents and more fatalities on Highway 30,” he said. “And families with children will be involved.”

However, even if the smoking ban applied to state casinos, it would not affect the casino nearest to Marshalltown, the Meskwaki Casino, as it is run by a Native American tribe and therefore not subject to the smoking ban.

IA-03: Campaigns of the Rich and Powerful

Ed Fallon responds in this online video to claims that Fallon has violated campaign finance laws by Bush Dog Democrat Leonard Boswell. Fallon is challenging Boswell in a primary in Iowa's 3rd district.

A misguided reporter from the popular Youtube show "Campaigns of the Rich and Powerful" steps into Team Fallon HQ to investigate the massive wealth of a grassroots campaign. Cuban cigars, Benjamin Franklins, caviar, and diamonds are paving the way for more progressive future... or not.

Fact: 100% of our funds come from people like you. That's right.

Fact: 0% of Team Fallon's funds ever are from paid lobbyists, or Political Action Committees with corporate ties and intentions. Nor have they ever been able to write a check to Ed Fallon in his 14 years as a State Rep or in his run for Governor in 2006. Instead Ed always self-imposed a cap on contributions, so that money can never be louder than voters.

Fact: 74% of Boswell's campaign money from 2007 came from lobbyists and PACs.

Fact: Of the 322 PAC contributions Boswell received last year, the largest percentage came from corporate PACs.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Cedar Rapids Neighborhood News

I found the link to a great local Cedar Rapids website that focuses on neighborhood issues called Neighborhood Network News.

The site looks like a great way for neighbors to interact and strengthen neighborhoods.

Smoking Ban Passes Iowa Senate and Iowa House

It is great to hear that a compromise has been reached on the smoking ban and it has passed the Iowa House and Iowa Senate. I think Iowa's Legislators need to be thanked for passing this law, especially Rep. Tyler Olson for pushing the issue in the House.

The bill is a compromise between the total ban favored by the Senate and the exception-laden version favored by the House.

The House passed the bill 54-45 after less than an hour of debate, sending it to the Senate a few minutes after noon. The Senate began debate a few hours later and passed the measure, 28-22.

Culver indicated he would sign the bill, which would take effect on July 1.
The bill bans smoking in restaurants and bars, but includes a few exemptions.
Iowans will still be able to smoke in the gambling areas of casinos, although smoke would be prohibited in casino restaurants, gift shops, bars and employee areas.

They can smoke in the outdoor areas of bars, the outdoors areas of county fairs and the State Fair except the grandstands, in limousines and in retail tobacco stores.

Other exemptions are designated areas of correctional facilities, the state veterans home in Marshalltown and Iowa National Guard facilities.

This bill means that 99.9 percent of Iowa’s public places and 99.9 percent of Iowa’s work force would be protected from second hand smoke.

One of the arguments that opponents of the bill say is that the bill will hurt business at bars and restaurants. I disagree. There are two restaurants that I love to eat at in town, but rarely would go to because of the smoke.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Clinton's Anti-Caucus Statements May Swing Harkin to Obama

In a Des Moines Register interview, Sen. Tom Harkin said that Hillary Clinton's statements criticizing the Iowa caucuses would weigh on his decision of whom to endorse. Harkin also referred to Obama strength among independents.

... the candidates' views on keeping the caucuses in their traditional leadoff position and their performance among independent voters are especially important to him.

Clinton and some of her campaign aides sought to diminish the impact of the caucuses after her close third-place finish in January behind Obama and former Sen. John Edwards.

"Iowa doesn't have the best track record in determining whom the party nominates," Clinton said. She also referred to the contests as having "disenfranchised" voters who could not attend."I was not happy with those statements," Harkin said. "I happen to think there's a great value in caucuses for organizing."

New Iowa General Election Poll

Rasmussen released a new poll in Iowa for the general election. The poll shows Barack Obama beating John McCain 46% to 42% and John McCain beating Hillary Clinton 51% to 36%.

The wide difference between the two Democrats comes from the margin among voters who are identified as no party...

McCain leads Clinton by a two-to-one margin among unaffiliated voters. However, Obama leads McCain 46% to 37% among those same voters.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?

At least someone is still concerned about bin Laden...

It's Legal for the President to Crush Your Child's Testicles, Seriously It Is

Last week, John Yoo's 2003 torture memo was released by the Justice Department. The memo was written to justify the President's power to torture without regard to any laws or treaties and has been the Bush administration's policy ever since.

In this clip, Yoo says that it is legal to crush your child's testicles if the President thinks he needs to do that.

Glenn Greenwald has more on the Yoo memo.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

IA-04: Miskell Launches Website

Kevin Miskell has launched his website for his bid to be the Democratic nominee in Iowa's 4th District. Miskell highlights his stance on the Iraq War and Health Care on the website, as well as having links contribute and his pages on Facebook and Youtube.

There are 4 people running in the primary, which takes on June 3rd. The winner will face Republican Tom Latham.

The Colbert Bump

So I guess the Colbert Bump is true...

Stephen Colbert, the host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, claims that politicians who appear on his show will become more popular and are more likely to win elections. Although online discussions cite anecdotal evidence in support of his claim, it has never been scrutinized scientifically. In this article I use “facts” (sorry, Stephen) provided by the Federal Election Commission to create a matched control group of candidates who have never appeared on The Colbert Report. I then compare the personal campaign donations they receive to those received by candidates who have appeared on the program’s segment “Better Know a District.” The results show that Democratic candidates who appear on the Report receive a statistically significant “Colbert bump” in campaign donations, raising 44% more money in a 30-day period after appearing on the show. However, there is no evidence of a similar boost for Republicans.

Friday, April 04, 2008

MLK Jr. Killed 40 Years Ago

Martin Luther King Jr. was killed 40 years ago today.

Here is part of his last speech he made...

Here is a speech made the day after by Robert F. Kennedy called the Mindless Menace of Violence...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

IA-04: Greenwald Hires Staff

Becky Greenwald, candidate in the Democratic primary in Iowa's 4th district, has recently hired her first two staff members. She has brought on Mark Daley, who was Clinton's Iowa Communication Director. Daley previously worked for Boswell and was the Communication Director for the Iowa Democratic Party in 2004.

Greenwald has also hired Kim Pieper, who did fundraising on Mike Blouin's campaign in the 2006 Democratic primary for Governor and was Selden Spencer's campaign manager.

Greenwald will be holding a fundraiser next week in Waukee to kick off her campaign and I have heard the Vilsacks and Roxanne Conlin will be there.

Iowa is One of the Top States to Raise Children

A recent survey ranked Iowa as the 7th best state in the country, and first in the midwest, to raise children.

"This report proves that in Iowa we are doing things right," said Governor Culver. "Iowa's children hold the keys to our future, and this is why the Culver/Judge Administration has worked hard to give our children a brighter future. I am committed to building upon the progress we have made so that every Iowa child can reach their fullest potential."

The report - "Geography Matters: Child Well-Being In The States" - utilized key government indicators and reports in making their rankings. The ten key child well-being indicators they looked at include infant mortality rates, the numbers of child and teen deaths, access to prenatal care, and the number of uninsured children.
In the past few months, I have heard of a handful of friends that are moving back to Iowa or thinking about making the move because they have had children recently and want to live in a place that makes the necessary investments to assure children have a bright future.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Where is Don's Flag Lapel Pin?

I was browsing Cyclone Conservative, written by Don McDowell, and saw a couple remarks about Barack Obama not wearing a flag lapel pin. Then I noticed that the picture of Don on the blog showed him without a flag lapel pin on.

So I want to know where's Don's flag lapel pin?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Support the Troops, Spend Millions on Faulty Ammunition

How can Bush and the Pentagon talk about supporting the troops when they do things like this?

A lengthy investigation published Thursday reveals that the Pentagon gave an inexperienced 22-year-old a $300 million contract to provide ammunition to Afghanistan. The shady deal resulted in decades old, substandard munitions being delivered to US and Afghan troops fighting on the front lines of the war on terror ...

The company has provided ammunition that is more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging, according to an examination of the munitions by The New York Times and interviews with American and Afghan officials. Much of the ammunition comes from the aging stockpiles of the old Communist bloc, including stockpiles that the State Department and NATO have determined to be unreliable and obsolete, and have spent millions of dollars to have destroyed. In purchasing munitions, the contractor has also worked with middlemen and a shell company on a federal list of entities suspected of illegal arms trafficking.
Add this story to the incompetence reported in Imperial Life in the Emerald City and it is no wonder our foreign policy is in such disarray.

Not Enough Faith

This is so sad...

An 11-year-old girl died after her parents prayed for healing rather than seek medical help for a treatable form of diabetes, police said Tuesday. Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said Madeline Neumann died Sunday.

“She got sicker and sicker until she was dead,” he said.

Vergin said an autopsy determined the girl died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body, and she had probably been ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness. The girl’s parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, attributed the death to “apparently they didn’t have enough faith,” the police chief said.

The family does not attend an organized church or participate in an organized religion, Vergin said. “They have a little Bible study of a few people.”