Thursday, July 31, 2008

What is this Election About?

At his campaign stop in Cedar Rapids today, Barack Obama asked John McCain if the election is going to be about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears or if there will be a serious debate about the issues.

We want to have a serious debate. But so far, we've been hearing about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. I do have to ask my opponent: is that the best you can come up with? Is that really what the election is about? Is that worthy of the American people? Even the media has pointed out...that McCain has fallen back into ... predictable political attacks and demonstratively false statements... Spending all this time talking about me instead of talking about what he's going to do. That's not going to lower your gas prices. That's's not help you find a job if it's been shipped overseas. It doesn't do a single thing to help the American people. It's the politics of the game. But the time for game-playing is over. That's why I'm running for President.
John Deeth once again did a great job live blogging the event.

Proposed Hog Confinements in Dallas County Show Need for Local Control

Usually considered a rural issue, two proposed hog confinements Dallas County are making urban lawmakers pay more attention.

The proposed hog confinements would have a total of 7,440 hogs in rural Dallas County, which is the fastest growing county in the state. These confinements will proposed as much waste as a town of 25,000 people and it will go untreated.

Earlier this month, Dallas County Supervisors voted against allowing these proposed hog confinements, but in reality there isn't much the local people can do about the hog confinements that will be owned by the out of state company, Cargill.

Dallas is among 70 counties that have adopted a system of requirements used by state regulators to determine whether construction of an animal confinement is allowed, which means the Board of Supervisors and dozens of residents who live near the proposed buildings provide input but have little say over what happens in their backyards.

The so-called "master matrix," created in 2003, awards points based on how a confinement will affect the air, water and community. Both proposed Dallas County confinements garnered enough points for approval, which county officials must submit to the state by Monday.

Residents say the grading system creates an illusion of local control. "In reality, the county has very little control over this," said Jim Thompson, who lives near one of the proposed sites west of Perry.

Applications to build animal confinements are submitted to the county, where officials score the matrix. If an applicant gets the needed points, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources approves the application. If the county issues a failing grade, the state rescores the matrix and can overrule the decision.
In the past some state legislators from more urban districts stayed away from this issue, saying that it was a rural issue. However, these proposed hog confinements demonstrate that hog confinements are moving into more urban areas and can be put up anywhere without little control from local citizens.

Hopefully, this will force urban lawmakers in the Iowa legislature to start pushing for the need for local control.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Change I Can Believe In

The Nation magazine has an open letter to Barack Obama in response to Obama's move to the center recently. I just added my name and you should consider adding yours.

The letter asks Obama to stick with the bold positions that won him the Democratic primary, which include...

§ Withdrawal from Iraq on a fixed timetable.

§ A response to the current economic crisis that reduces the gap between the rich and the rest of us through a more progressive financial and welfare system; public investment to create jobs and repair the country's collapsing infrastructure; fair trade policies; restoration of the freedom to organize unions; and meaningful government enforcement of labor laws and regulation of industry.

§ Universal healthcare.

§ An environmental policy that transforms the economy by shifting billions of dollars from the consumption of fossil fuels to alternative energy sources, creating millions of green jobs.

§ An end to the regime of torture, abuse of civil liberties and unchecked executive power that has flourished in the Bush era.

§ A commitment to the rights of women, including the right to choose abortion and improved access to abortion and reproductive health services.

§ A commitment to improving conditions in urban communities and ending racial inequality, including disparities in education through reform of the No Child Left Behind Act and other measures.

§ An immigration system that treats humanely those attempting to enter the country and provides a path to citizenship for those already here.

§ Reform of the drug laws that incarcerate hundreds of thousands who need help, not jail.

§ Reform of the political process that reduces the influence of money and corporate lobbyists and amplifies the voices of ordinary people.

House Judiciary Committee Votes To Hold Rove In Contempt Of Congress

Last week I asked what happens if you ignore a subpoena from Congress after Karl Rove refused to testify in Congress.

Today the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress...

The House Judiciary Committee has voted 20-14 to approve a contempt of Congress resolution against former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove for his failure to appear after a Congressional subpoena.

Voting along party lines Wednesday morning, the committee said Rove broke the law by failing to appear at a July 10 hearing on allegations of White House influence over the Justice Department, including whether Rove encouraged prosecutions against Democrats.

The committee decision is a recommendation. It remains unclear whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will allow a final vote.

Hubler Brings Aboard Joe Trippi to end the Steve King's Circus

The Rob Hubler campaign has hired Joe Trippi to help end the Steve King circus in the 5th district.

Hubler and Trippi met in Washington, D.C., in recent days to iron out details of the agreement.

“The American people are hungry for change, but more of the same divisive rhetoric and embarrassing headlines by Washington politicians like Steve King is not the answer,” said Trippi. “If we want real change, we need grassroots candidates like Rob Hubler who will always put the people’s interests first. From creating new, good-paying jobs right here in Iowa to lowering gas prices, Rob Hubler is a new kind of leader who will deliver real solutions and real change for Iowa and America.”

Trippi should be able to help Hubler get his message out and help raise money online.

Hubler's campaign put together this video of Steve King's antics at a recent hearing on detainee interrogation.

That is just one of the many examples of Steve King's embarrassing behavior. Over at Daily Kos, 2laneIA did a great job keeping track of the other embarrassing statements King has made.
Steve King cannot let a week go by without saying something to which the appropriate response is: "He said what???" For more on that topic, go here and here. He was one of 11 Republicans to vote against relief for Katrina victims. He is expert on numerous subjects, from drilling our way to energy independence, to the similarities between Mexicans and livestock, to the marriages that result when soldiers get drunk in Bangkok, to the real story on that Niger yellowcake. Really, you can't make this stuff up.
Please consider helping out the Rob Hubler campaign by donating to the retire Steve King fund.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Commander in Chief Test

Latham Runs Radio About His Inablility to Lower Energy Costs

Tom Latham is running a statewide radio ad attempting to tout his commitment to lower energy costs.

The sixty second ad reinforces Latham's continued commitment to renewable energy but also discusses the need for Congress to work immediately to increase domestic energy supplies that America controls.

"$4.00 a gallon gas hurts Iowa families," notes Latham in the ad. "And they're frustrated with leaders in Congress for not doing more about it - and they have every right to be."

"I have always been, and will continue to be, a strong supporter of alternative energy research and production, but we need to work for solutions that get Iowans from point A to point B without busting their family budget."
It is quite interesting that Latham says that he is working for solutions to lower energy cost. Currently oil compainies own leases on 68 million acres of public land (inlcuding land that is offshore) and Latham voted against a bill just two weeks ago that would force oil companies to drill on these existing leases.

Latham wants to find a solution that won't burst the family budget. These leases already exist and the oil companies are just sitting on them. Requiring oil companies to use the lease they already have seems like a common sense and inexpensive action to help lower energy costs.

Lionel is Killing Air America

I used to listen to Air America a lot. I would tune into Sam Seder in the morning, catch Al Franken or Thom Hartmann at noon, listen to a little bit of Randi Rhodes while working around the house in the afternoon, and then before heading to bed listen to Mike Malloy rant.

Now the radio network has made some stupid decisions over the years, but the amount of time I listened was drastically reduced when they replaced Sam Seder with this guy...

Boswell's Back in Congress

On Monday, Congressman Boswell returned to Congress after a brief stint in the hospital.

Here's a video message that he recorded recently...

Monday, July 28, 2008

SD 22: Sodders Holds Large Money Advantage

The latest fund raising reports were filled on July 19 and they show Steve Sodders holding a large money advantage over Jarret Heil in Senate District 22. Sodders raised $11,510 and has $48,391 on hand, while Heil raised $7,180 and has $8,116 on hand.

The race to replace the retiring Larry McKibben is predicted to be tight, but the $40,000 advantage in campaign funds puts Sodders in great shape to pick up a seat for the Democrats in the State Senate.

Senate District 22 covers Marshall and Hardin Counties.

Who Benefits from McCain pushing Offshore Drilling?

John McCain's campaign fund raising benefits.

Campaign contributions from oil industry executives to Sen. John McCain rose dramatically in the last half of June, after the senator from Arizona made a high-profile split with environmentalists and reversed his opposition to the federal ban on offshore drilling.

Oil and gas industry executives and employees donated $1.1 million to McCain last month -- three-quarters of which came after his June 16 speech calling for an end to the ban -- compared with $116,000 in March, $283,000 in April and $208,000 in May.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Employment Can't Even Protect You from the Class War Raging Outside

One of my favorite journalists is Matt Taibbi. Taibbi is not afraid to call out the crude behavior of our politicians and show how ridiculous our politically arena has gotten.

Recently, Taibbi wrote an article called It's a Class War, Stupid, where he takes a look at which storyline for the general election the media is going to pick and then focuses in on the one they should: the growing economic disparity and shrinking middle class.

Taibbi talks with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who recently asked Americans to send him letters about economic problems people are facing.

The recurring theme is that employment, even dual employment, is no longer any kind of barrier against poverty. Not economic discomfort, mind you, but actual poverty. Meaning, having less than you need to eat and live in heated shelter — forgetting entirely about health care and dentistry, which has long ceased to be considered an automatic component of American middle-class life. The key factors in almost all of the Sanders letters are exploding gas and heating oil costs, reduced salaries and benefits, and sharply increased property taxes (a phenomenon I hear about all across the country at campaign trail stops, something that seems to me to be directly tied to the Bush tax cuts and the consequent reduced federal aid to states). And it all adds up to one thing.

"The middle class is disappearing," says Sanders. "In real ways we're becoming more like a third-world country."

Here's the thing: nobody needs me or Bernie Sanders to tell them that it sucks out there and that times are tougher economically in this country than perhaps they've been for quite a long time. We've all seen the stats — median income has declined by almost $2,500 over the past seven years, we have a zero personal savings rate in America for the first time since the Great Depression, and 5 million people have slipped below the poverty level since the beginning of the decade. And stats aside, most everyone out there knows what the deal is. If you're reading this and you had to drive to work today or pay a credit card bill in the last few weeks you know better than I do for sure how fucked up things have gotten. I hear talk from people out on the campaign trail about mortgages and bankruptcies and bill collectors that are enough to make your ass clench with 100 percent pure panic.

None of this is a secret. Here, however, is something that is a secret: that this is a class issue that is being intentionally downplayed by a political/media consensus bent on selling the public a version of reality where class resentments, or class distinctions even, do not exist. Our "national debate" is always a thing where we do not talk about things like haves and have-nots, rich and poor, employers versus employees. But we increasingly live in a society where all the political action is happening on one side of the line separating all those groups, to the detriment of the people on the other side.

We have a government that is spending two and a half billion dollars a day in Iraq, essentially subsidizing new swimming pools for the contracting class in northern Virginia, at a time when heating oil and personal transportation are about to join health insurance on the list of middle-class luxuries. Home heating and car ownership are slipping away from the middle class thanks to exploding energy prices — the hidden cost of the national borrowing policy we call dependency on foreign oil, "foreign" representing those nations, Arab and Chinese, that lend us the money to pay for our wars.

And while we've all heard stories about how much waste and inefficiency there is in our military spending, this is always portrayed as either "corruption" or simple inefficiency, and not what it really is — a profound expression of our national priorities, a means of taking money from ordinary, struggling people and redistributing it not downward but upward, to connected insiders, who turn your tax money into pure profit. [emphasis added]

No longer can employment insure that you won't be faced with poverty. During the 2004 campaign, Bush admitted that working 2 jobs was uniquely American. Americans take on that extra job in hopes of getting ahead. However, now they are finding that even 2 jobs isn't enough because all it takes is an illness in the family, a home repair, or the next electric bill that clears out their savings.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

John Nichols Calls on Iowans to Continue to Lead

Last weekend I attended the Iowa CCI convention where John Nichols was the keynote speaker. Nichols gave a great speech that made all of the Iowans in attendance proud.

His theme was that citizenship requires action, that it is more than just voting a couple times each year. It is Iowan's responsibility to pursue progressive goals that move the nation forward because Iowans has always been on the frontline of progressive change in the country.

Nichols outlined how Iowa has been leading the nation on the big issues ever since it became a state in 1846 and declared that it was not going to be a slave state. Wisconsin and Minnesota followed suit and this was the beginning of the end of slavery.

He then told the story of Smith Wildman Brookhart (Yes, Wildman was really his middle name.), who ran ran for the United States Senate in 1922 as a Republican with a populist message, saying...

Wall St. is a greater threat to America than any foreign enemy.
Brookhart won a close election and was seated in the Senate until he pissed off party leaders and the election was overturned. He is the only person ever to have the election results overturned after already being seated as a US Senator. Broookhart didn't give up though. He ran in 1926 against longtime Senator Albert B. Cummins, who was the chair of the Judiciary committee. Brookhart went on to beat Cummins in the Republican primary and went on to win in the general election.

Nichols then talked about Henry Wallace and I shot this video of him talking about Henry Wallace. I used my cell phone to take the video, so the quality isn't the best, but here it is anyway.

Nichols quoted George McGovern, who had this to say about Henry Wallace...
The only thing Henry Wallace did wrong was believe that America could be as good as Americans were.
Nichols then told how Harold Hughes spoke to end the war in Vietnam and against the strong-armed tatics being used by the Chicago police.

That led up to the 2008 Iowa caucuses. Nichols said that Iowans did what only Iowans can do. We asked the tough questions at the small town cafes and in the end, showed the rest of the nation Barack Obama could win.

Nichols stressed that our duties don't stop there. We must continue to push ahead on the issues of clean elections, local control of hog confinements, clean water, and worker's rights. If Iowans do that then the rest of the country will follow.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Now that's a Campaign Ad

Great campaign ad from Alan Grayson, a progressive Democrat running in Florida's 8th District.

We are all Citizens of the World

The right is attacking Barack Obama for saying that he is a citizen of the world yesterday in his speech in Berlin. They say that it is just another example of Obama being unpatriotic. However, they leave out an important part of the what Obama said.

Here's the entire quote...

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.
This diary from Daily Kos points out a long list of former Presidents that have used the term "citizen of world." The list dates back all the way to founding father Thomas Paine and including a speech by Reagan and from a John McCain speech on May 27th of this year.

Jane Mayer Author of "The Dark Side" on Letterman

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reversing Iowa's Brain Drain is Critical for Rural Iowa

Tim Hoy, Democratic candidate in House District 44, responded to my post earlier this month about Iowa's brain drain. Hoy says reversing Iowa's brain drain is critical for rural Iowa.

Iowa has a long and proud history of providing education to our youth; education at its highest standards. But, in recent decades, those young, accomplished people of Iowa have left this great state to pursue financial rewards elsewhere, often never returning.

The brain drain effect is more disproportionally felt in rural communities. This is reflected on main streets in rural Iowa; communities that are dramatically losing population.

State government has numerous tools at its disposal to foster economic incentives to make this possible. This must take place at both private levels as well as governmental levels. We must also re-evaluate our tax code and take a look at a decentralization of government employees.

For Iowa’s future, we must stem and reverse this “brain drain,” if we truly want to have the future of Iowa as bright as its past. This bright future must be provided not only in our major cities, but our rural communities as well.

Hoy is running to replace the retiring Polly Granzow in Hardin and rural Marshall County. In 2006, he was 260 votes short of winning the district.

Please help expand the majority in the Iowa House by donating to Tim Hoy or these other great candidates we have featured in the past few months: Elesha Gayman, Eric Palmer, and Jerry Sullivan.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Do you remember the Downing Streeet Memo?

It was written 6 years ago today.

From Daily Kos...

Six years ago today, Matthew Rycroft, private secretary to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, wrote a secret memorandum to the U.K.’s ambassador to the U.S., David Manning. The memo contained the minutes of a meeting held that same morning between Blair and a few senior foreign policy advisers. It was exposed by the Sunday Times nearly three years later. Two paragraphs stood out.

Rycroft spoke about a trip that Sir Richard Dearlove had recently taken to Washington. Dearlove, the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service or MI6, is referred to officially as "C":

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

What Happens if you ignore a subpoena from Congress?

Well, that's what Karl Rove did.

Now it's up the House to vote on contempt of Congress charges, which could lead to jail time for Mr. Rove.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No Solicitors and Canvassing

Here's a funny story about canvassing from Sean Tevis, a candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives...

Many front doors have a prominent “No Solicitors” sign displayed, which is a nice way of pointing out to hopeful door-to-door salesmen that the door will be shut on their face. Thankfully, as a politician, that sign doesn’t pertain to me as I’m not selling anything. The trick, however, is to let people know that I’m not a solicitor.

I rang one doorbell and heard someone on the other side of the front door. I think they were looking at me through their peephole when I heard a man yell “No solicitors!” without even opening the door. “I’m not a solicitor!” I sort of yelled back through the door. “I’m a politician!”

There was a pause.

I wondered if he had gone away, and then he yelled back, “That’s even worse!”

Hey Democratic Candidates

Hopefully Democratic candidates will remember this quote from Harry Truman...

Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like one, the people will vote for the real Republican every time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

E. coli Conservatism

Conservatives have been screaming for small government for decades now and we have gotten to the point where government is not able to protect the most basic aspects our lives.

From Common Dreams...

Last week, consumers were worried about salmonella in their fresh tomatoes. Before that, it was E. coli in their spinach. Something is wrong. Eating a salad is not supposed to be a high-risk activity

But the problem isn’t so much farmers. It’s ideology. Historian Rick Perlstein, author of “Nixonland,” calls it “E. coli conservatism” — government shrinks and shrinks until people get sick.

“Government is not the solution to our problem,” President Reagan famously declared in his inaugural address in 1981. “Government is the problem.”

Many conservatives have gone far beyond that. Their traditional embrace of small government has been replaced with outright disdain for it. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, doesn’t just want to shrink government. To use his words, he wants government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Once in power, E. coli conservatives shrink government by hamstringing it. They weaken rules that protect people, slash the budgets of consumer agencies and appoint industry friends to oversight commissions. The result: Some government regulatory agencies that we trust to protect us have shrunk to insignificance or serve private industry rather than consumers.

The Food and Drug Administration’s seeming ineptness in finding the source of a salmonella outbreak, which has poisoned more than 1,200 people in 42 states, is case in point. What’s especially troubling is that even before this episode, the Government Accountability Office had officially designated “federal oversight of food safety as a high-risk area.”

We don't need smaller government or bigger government, we need better government.

Obama Raises $25 million on the Last day of the Fund Raising Quarter

From the Politico...

After locking up his party’s presidential nomination, Barack Obama’s fundraising operation came roaring back to life in June, generating more than a million dollars on five days, including a whopping $25 million that came in on the last day of the month.

His one-day haul represents nearly half of his monthly total and more than Republican rival John McCain generated for the entire month. During the month, McCain did not have a single day in which he raised a million dollars.

It's All in Your Head

Iowa CCI Delivers Letter to Terrace Hill

On Saturday morning, members of Iowa CCI took a break from their statewide convention and headed to Terrace Hill to deliver a letter to Gov. Culver.

Culver promised back in March to continue pushing the issues of local control of hog confinements, clean water, and Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE). Even though, Culver has done a tremendous job responding the the needs of Iowans following the floods, he has done little since March on these important issues.

Here's the press release from Iowa CCI...

As the election season heats up in Iowa, more than 200 Iowans gathered at Terrace
Hill Saturday, July 19 to rally, protest and deliver a letter to Governor Culver, telling him to end his vacation and get to work on critical issues affecting thousands of everyday Iowans: local control, Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE), the rights of all workers and consumer protections. The protest was part of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement’s annual statewide convention, of which the theme was, “Real People, Real Power, Real Change.”

“It’s up to Governor Culver to use the power of his office to make things happen – he’s the state’s Chief Executive,” said CCI member and Board President Barb Kalbach from Dexter. “But he is failing Iowans who elected him and who he is supposed to represent. He has been ‘on vacation’ for the last two legislative sessions, and his ignoring of everyday Iowans and our issues has to stop – it’s time for him to get to work.”

CCI member Misti Craig of Des Moines said, “We deserve as everyday Iowans to govern what happens at the statehouse. We will show the governor and our legislators that we are a powerful voting bloc on these issues and cannot be ignored.”

Unfortunately, Gov. Culver was unavailable and couldn't come out and talk

Sunday, July 20, 2008


These comments by conservative radio host Michael Savage are so appalling.

I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.
I think Savage should take his own advice and stop acting like a putz, straighten up, act like a man, and don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot. It is obvious that Savage rarely escapes his perfect little box.

As a teacher, some of my most fulfilling moments have come from working with autistic children. Michael Savage's life would be touched if he would spend just 5 minutes volunteering in a classroom of autistic children.

Here's some audio of Savage's comments...

Savage appeared on Larry King Live last night with guest Glen Beck where Savage's claimed that he is just a defender of the defenseless.

Top 10 Things About Portland, Oregon

At the beginning of the month I spent a week in Portland, Oregon. Saying there are vast differences between Iowa and Portland would be understatement.

Here are my top 10 favorite things about visiting Portland.

10. Hiking
I found out that it helps to have long legs when hiking, but it is even better to just sit down for a rest and enjoy nature.

9. Unchained
I didn't buy anything from a chain store the entire week I was there. I did visit the North Face, Banana Republic, and Columbia stores, but didn't buy anything. I found it more interesting to go into the locally owned shops because you never knew what you'd find.

8. Japanese Gardens
After the hike, we visited the Japanese Gardens. It was a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

7. Powell's
I was told that I had to go to Powell's books, the largest independent bookstore in the country. The bookstore takes up an entire city block. So we planned to spend a couple hours there. Well, a couple hours turned into 5 hours and we even went back the next morning for 2 more hours. They had an incredible selection of used books, as well as new releases. We ended up buying a dozen books with the more expensive book being $9.

6. Dog Friendly
People took their dogs everywhere. Stores even had water dishes outside their doors for the dogs.

5. It's a Good Day in the Neighborhood
Portland's neighborhoods are thriving. We basically spent our time going from one neighborhood to another to visit the shops. I think that has to do with the Urban Growth Boundary that Portland has. The Urban Growth Boundary reduces urban sprawl and encourages investment in existing buildings and neighborhoods.

4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The 3 R's have become part of people's lifestyle in Portland and they don't seem to be suffering much from it. The city provides two large containers: one for yard waste that then is composted and one for all recyclable material, which the city sorts for you.

The coolest place I went to was the ReBuilding Center, which is like a thrift store for used building materials. The goal is to divert construction and demolition materials from going into the landfill and make it available to the public for reuse.

The ReBuilding Center was organized by a neighborhood group and currently has 40 employees that pay $10 an hour with full benefits. They also hold workshops on how to hang doors, lay tile, art projects, and other household projects.

3. Look Ma, No Cars!
The only thing that I did all week that I had to use a car for was when I went hiking. Everything else I walked to or took the train. It would have been even easier if I had a bike. Drivers were very considerate of pedisterians and bicycles.

2. Locally Grown Food
Every restaurant seemed to serve locally grown, organic food. It all tasted so fresh and light. I mentioned this to a waitress and she asked where we were from and we said Iowa. She asked why we don't have locally grown food in Iowa. I said that most farmer's only grow corn and soybeans and there are some farmer's markets, but there aren't many restuarants that serve locally grown food. There is just more demand for fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

1. No Humidity
It got over 90 degrees a couple days and the Portlander's were complaining a little, but if you were in the shade you were just fine. We got off the plan in Des Moines to 94 degree heat and the humidity about melted us.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Right Time Frame for Withdrawal

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki talks about a time frame for withdrawal...

U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.
Right on.

Exploiting Immigrants

The degree that Agriprocessors exploited immigrants working in their meatpacking plant in Postville is just sickening. Even worse, is that hardworking people got arrested and the plant's upper management and owners have yet to be charged with anything.

From Common Dreams...

The list of allegations against the Postville, Iowa, slaughterhouse, recently raided by federal officials for its use of illegal immigrant workers, reads like a story collectively written by Upton Sinclair, Charles Dickens and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Agriprocessors, the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant, is at the center of page after page of sickening accusations. These are contained in an affidavit for a search warrant filed by a federal agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

* Undocumented workers from Guatemala and Mexico were paid as little as $5 per hour — below minimum wage.
* A supervisor made a side business of selling the workers used vehicles, sometimes threatening them with loss of their job if they didn’t purchase one.
* A supervisor duct-taped the eyes of an employee, who was then hit with a meat hook. The employee declined to report the incident for fear of being fired.

Then there are the safety issues that have dogged the operation. The Des Moines Register reviewed the latest available worker-injury reports. It found that in 2004 there were 120 injuries, such as workers suffering chemical burns and broken ribs. In 2005, there were 103 injuries, which included hearing losses.

Also in 2005 there were three amputations by Agriprocessors machinery. The paper reported on Carlos
Torrez, a father of four, who was working a 60-hour week when a mechanical saw used to cut up chicken parts took off a finger.

For these multiple amputations, the company was fined $7,500 by state regulators.

Safety equipment was another way to extort money from workers. According to the Register, a memo from the company’s vice president included an ”equipment price list.” Workers were charged $30 for pants and $30 for jackets if they wanted to protect themselves from the caustic chemicals they handled.

Women workers were particularly at risk. A Catholic nun reported that females were told that sexual favors were the barter for a promotion or shift change.

Company officials routinely refused to allow safety inspectors on the property without a court order.

Then, on May 12, an immigration raid occurred and more than a third of Agriprocessors’ workforce were detained as suspected illegal aliens. There are now some 270 workers, most from rural Guatemala, in federal prison on charges of using false identity documents.

Federal agents have also arrested two low-level supervisors, including one who is alleged to have charged workers $200 for new documents so they could continue working at the plant.

This is a start, but the arrests need to continue up the chain to the plant’s top managers and owners. These overseers have been running a modern-day plantation or workhouse — or whatever one might call today’s hell-on-earth equivalent.

For more information on the immigration raid in Postville check out Essential Estrogen.

Friday, July 18, 2008

What is Mainstream?

This diary at Daily Kos says that bloggers are more mainstream than everyone else thinks...

The other day the Los Angeles Times ran an op-ed about political blogs, looking at who reads them, how effective they are, and what their potential is to generate political change. There were no earth-shattering revelations in this piece, but one thing did catch my eye:

To determine just how polarized blog readers are, we constructed a measure of political ideology by drawing on blog readers' attitudes toward stem cell research, abortion, the Iraq war, the minimum wage and capital gains tax cuts. Using this measure, we then arrayed respondents from left to right. Here's what we found.

Readers of liberal blogs were clustered at the far left...

What does "the far left" mean? Here's the attitudes of Americans as a whole on these issues:

Iraq War:

Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Iraq?

Favor Oppose Unsure

30 68 2

If you had to choose, would you rather see the next president keep the same number of troops in Iraq that are currently stationed there, or would you rather see the next president remove most U.S. troops in Iraq within a few months of taking office?

Keep Same Remove Most Unsure

33 64 3

Stem Cell research:

There is a type of medical research that involves using special cells, called embryonic stem cells, that might be used in the future to treat or cure many diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, and spinal cord injury. It involves using human embryos discarded from fertility clinics that no longer need them. Some people say that using human embryos for research is wrong. Do you favor or oppose using discarded embryos to conduct stem cell research to try to find cures for the diseases I mentioned?

Favor Oppose Unsure

73 19 8


Do you think abortion should be legal in all cases, legal in most cases, illegal in most cases, or illegal in all cases?

Legal: All Most Illegal: Most All Unsure

19 38 24 13 6

Minimum wage:

Do you favor or oppose an increase in the minimum wage?

Favor Oppose Unsure

80 18 2

We reflect the majority opinion of this country on pretty much every issue, yet the media continues to pretend that we're the far left, the lunatic fringe. They're still unwilling to admit the obvious...we are the mainstream.

This is a theme that I have written a lot about in the past, but have failed to discuss recently. In November 2006, I wrote about an article by David Sirota, who tells what is wrong with centrism...
That’s really the problem with the term - and with Washington’s definition of it. “Centrism” as defined in the political dialogue today means “being in the middle of elite opinion in Washington, D.C.” But if you plot this “center” on the continuum that is American public opinion, you will find that it is nowhere near the actual center of the country at large. The center of elite Washington opinion is ardently free trade, against national health care, opposed to market regulation, for continuing the Iraq War, and supportive of the flattest tax structure we’ve had in contemporary American history. That center is on the extreme fringe of the center of American public opinion, which is ardently skeptical of free trade, for universal health care, supportive of strong market regulations, insistent that the war end soon, and in favor of making the tax system more progressive.

Make McCain Exciting, Again

Stephen Colbert aired some more videos from the Make McCain Exciting Green Screen Challenge.

Here are the videos I posted last time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Obama's Speech on Iraq Policy

On Tuesday, I posted a part from Barack Obama's speech on Iraq Policy. After reading more about the speech, there many more parts of the speech that are worth repeating. So instead of posting bits and pieces, here is video of the entire speech.

Iowa CCI's Convention on Friday and Saturday

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is holding their Statewide convention on Friday and Saturday in Des Moines.

On Friday, John Nichols from the Nation magazine will be the keynote speaker.

John Nichols is a pioneering political blogger and writer for The Nation magazine. He regularly reports on the political, social, economic and cultural activism in the United States and abroad that is too often overlooked by mainstream media. He reveals that there are active and growing groups, like Iowa CCI, that are standing up to power and winning more consistently than pundits and politicians want you to know.

Nichols will talk about the importance of flexing our electoral power this election. He knows that everyday people have real power to shape the debate and make real change occur. A frequent radio and television commentator on political and media issues, Nichols is a fiery speaker you won’t want to miss.

On Saturday, there are workshops scheduled . Nichols will be holding a session about the importance of independent media. Pam Jochum will be doing a session about clean elections and the VOICE legislation. There is a session with David Osterberg about factory farms. Kamyar Enshayan will be a session on local vs. industrialized foods and one on ethanol and biofuels. There are also session on the foreclosure crisis, immigration reform, and upcoming legislative races.

There is still time to register. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Health and Human Services Now Say the use of Contraception is Abortion

Last week I posted about one of McCain's surrogates saying that it isn't fair that insurance companies cover Viagra, but not birth control.

Well, on Monday the Department of Health and Human Services announced that they hope to define contraception as a form of abortion.

In a spectacular act of complicity with the religious right, the Department of Health and Human Services Monday released a proposal that allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman's access to contraception. In order to do this, the Department is attempting to redefine many forms of contraception, the birth control 40% of Americans use, as abortion. Doing so protects extremists under the Weldon and Church amendments. Those laws prohibit federal grant recipients from requiring employees to help provide or refer for abortion services.

Rasmussen Shows Harkin Winning 55% to 37%

A new Rasmussen poll from shows Tom Harkin with a comfortable lead over Republican Christopher Reed. 60% of Iowans have a favorable opinion of Sen. Harkin.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Iowa voters finds Harkin ahead 52% to 36%. When “leaners” are included, the incumbent leads 55% to 37%.

Last month, Harkin led his challenger 53% to 37%. The Democrat is currently chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, a key position for a farming state like Iowa.

Harkin fares better among women voters than men in Iowa. He leads 55% to 30% among female voters but has just a 48% to 43% lead among men. Voters not affiliated with either major political party choose Harkin 49% to 27%.

The incumbent is viewed favorably by 60% of Iowa voters and unfavorably by 35%. Reed, a businessman and Navy veteran who has never previously held public office, is less known to Iowa voters. He won a three-way primary to get the GOP nomination. Reed’s numbers are 41% favorable and 29% unfavorable, while 31% have no opinion.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Supporters Disagree with Anti-Union Republican Statehouse Candidate

Republican candidate for Iowa House, Jarad Klein, can't be too happy with the results to his online poll on his campaign website. One of Klein's top issues is keeping Iowa's Right to Work law and he links to a Right to Work website on his website that advocates that...

No one should be forced to pay tribute to a union in order to get or keep a job.
Klein has an online poll asking...
Legislation is being proposed this session that would force all workers to pay union dues. Do you support this measure?
As of Tuesday night, out of 72 votes, 53 people voted yes ((74%) and just 19 people voted no (26%).

Klein has to be disappointed that almost 3/4 of the votes so far answered yes to that question and are in favor of requiring all workers to pay for services provided to them by unions.

Fortunately for Klein, who was an intern with George W. Bush, he has learned to get used to 75% of people disagreeing with him.

Klein is facing Democrat Larry Marek in Iowa House District 89 to replace the retiring Sandy Greiner.

What does Success in Iraq look like?

Barack Obama gave a major foreign policy speech today where he discussed what success in Iraq looks like and said...

George Bush and John McCain don't have a strategy for success in Iraq - they have a strategy for staying in Iraq.
Obama then went on to lay out what success in Iraq looks like...
In fact, true success in Iraq - victory in Iraq - will not take place in a surrender ceremony where an enemy lays down their arms. True success will take place when we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future - a government that prevents sectarian conflict, and ensures that the al Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge. That is an achievable goal if we pursue a comprehensive plan to press the Iraqis stand up.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Expanding the Majority: Hoy Creating an Environment That Encourages Young People to Call Iowa Home

One issue that I have blogged about extensively is Iowa's brain drain. Tim Hoy understands this issue and how it effects rural Iowa. He is running to create an environment that encourages our young generations to view Iowa as a place to call home.

To create an environment that encourages young Iowans to call Iowa home, something must be done about the amount of student loan debt our college graduates accumulate, there must high wage jobs, and there must be ample recreation opportunities in the state (which means we must have clean waterways).

If you want to create this kind of environment in Iowa, please donate to Tim Hoy's campaign.

The 2nd fundraising period ends on Tuesday, July 15th. We have a goal of 15 donors by the 15th and are currently at 10 donors. Since my post asking for donations last Thursday, we have raised $540, but are still short of our goal of 15 donors.

Please help expand the majority in the Iowa House by donating to Tim Hoy or these other great candidates we have featured in the past few months: Elesha Gayman, Eric Palmer, McKinley Bailey, Jerry Sullivan, and Nate Willems.

Oil, Oil, Oil

This video was posted at Iowa Liberal of Matthew Simmons, a leading energy investment banker, discussing the high oil prices on CNBC.

The faces of the announcers while Simmons is talking is priceless. What Simmons is saying is so far out of their understanding that they don't know what to say. Simmons understands the concept of peak oil, while the announcers seem to still believe the earth has an unlimited oil supply.

Simmons flatly says that the price of oil isn't coming down and we should stop going on a witch hunt trying to find out who caused the high oil prices. He says there are no short term solutions. The solution is changing the way we are living to live more locally, limit long distance commuting, growing food locally, and increasing R&D into new technologies.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More on the Red Cross Saying Bush Committed War Crimes

A follow up from my post yesterday...

Crooks and Liars make an excellent point that this isn't some partisan smear job by some crazy leftist group, this is the Red Cross that is saying our president committed war crimes.

It’s something that has certainly been spoken of within the liberal blogosphere. I’ve seen the random bumpersticker or freeway blogger suggest it as well, but it is no longer something that can be written off as a partisan or extremist view. As Countdown guest host Rachel Maddow and George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley discuss on Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross sent a report last year to the CIA saying that the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo was unquestionably torture and the Bush administration officials that approved the treatment are war criminals.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Torture is a War Crime

According to the Red Cross that makes Bush a war criminal.

From Andrew Sullivan...

"Categorically" Torture

That's the Red Cross' analysis of what Bush and Cheney sanctioned in Gitmo, according to Jane Mayer's new book. I've read some summaries of the book's key points but haven't gotten a hold of the galleys yet. But suffice to say: it's as bad as we feared:

The book says Abu Zubaydah told the Red Cross that he had been waterboarded at least 10 times in a single week and as many as three times in a day.

The book also reports that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, told the Red Cross that he had been kept naked for more than a month and claimed that he had been “kept alternately in suffocating heat and in a painfully cold room.”

The report says the prisoners considered the “most excruciating” of the methods being shackled to the ceiling and being forced to stand for as long as eight hours. Eleven of the 14 prisoners reported prolonged sleep deprivation, the book says, including “bright lights and eardrum-shattering sounds 24 hours a day.”

This is what we know from the history of torture. Some of the least superficially awful techniques - such as the Gestapo-perfected "stress positions" and "hypothermia" - can actually be the worst in terms of suffering. There is no doubt at this point that the president of the United States is a war criminal. The only question is whether he will ever be brought to justice.

Friday, July 11, 2008

John Nichols To Give Keynote Address at Iowa CCI Convention

The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) is holding their statewide convention on July 18th and 19th. The Nation's John Nichols will be the keynote speaker on the 18th and there will be great workshops on issues such as clean elections, factory farms, and immigration.

This election season, Iowa voters have the opportunity to impact our state and nation. John Nichols, writer for The Nation magazine, as the keynote speaker for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement’s (CCI) Statewide Convention Friday, July 18 at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, will show hundreds of Iowans the potential we have to be a powerful bloc of voters who make a difference with candidates running for office this November. Tickets for the event can be purchased for $15 in advance or for $20 at the door. To purchase tickets, call Iowa CCI at 515-255-0800 or visit

“Nichols is the perfect speaker for our convention this year because he knows voters really can make a pivotal difference in the elections,” said CCI Board President Barb Kalbach. “I am very excited to hear him speak and encourage Iowans to shape the debate around issues that matter most.”

Nichols will also offer a book signing of Tragedy and Farce following his speech for all attendees. In addition to his work at The Nation, Nichols is a pioneering political blogger, a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times, the associate editor of the Capitol Times, and his columns have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers. He has also authored several books and is the co-founder of Free Press, a national media reform network.

Nichols will speak Friday evening of Iowa CCI’s convention, which will be held July18 & 19 at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. Friday evening features a dinner and program prior to the keynote for convention attendees, as well as a live auction. Saturday includes the launch of an electoral campaign, informative workshops and taking action on key issues.

“The convention is a great experience,” said CCI Executive Director Hugh Espey . “It’s high energy and fun, it brings together members from all across the state, it's energizing, and true to CCI fashion, it's all geared around getting action on our issues.”

The registration fee of $120 includes family admission for the full convention, lodging at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, three meals made with family farm and local foods, as well as tickets to the keynote address. Workshops will cover the election season, local vs. industrial foods, the foreclosure crisis, factory farms and the environment, ethanol and biofuels, immigration reform and much more.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is an organization of thousands of people from all walks of life who talk, act and get things done on issues that matter most. CCI has been tackling tough issues and getting things done for more than 30 years.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Expanding the Majority: Tim Hoy HD-44

The end of the second filing deadline is coming up on Tuesday, July 15th. We are featuring Tim Hoy in House District 44 on the Iowa Blogs Expanding the Majority Act Blue page.

The race in House District 44 is one of the top pick up opportunities for Democrats to expand their majority in the House. It is an open seat formerly held by Polly Granzow. Running on the Democratic side is Tim Hoy. Tim was narrowly defeated by Granzow in 2006 by a mere 255 votes.

House District 44 covers all of Hardin County, Western Marshall County, and piece of Franklin County. Tim grew up in Hardin County and currently owns and operates the Ahoy Soda Fountain and Pharmacy in Eldora. He served on the city council and as mayor in Eldora.

Back in May, 7 people donated to the Iowa Blogs Expanding the Majority Act Blue page. Hopefully, we can get a total of 15 donations by the 15th.

Please consider donating to Tim Hoy and other great candidates today and help expand the Democratic majority in the Iowa House.

McCain's Uncomfortable Position on Birth Control

Carly Fiorina, a McCain surrogate, said early this week that if is unfair that insurance companies cover prescriptions for Viagra, but not for birth control.

So the question was posed to McCain. His answer was filled with rolling of his eyes, an uncomfortable pause, and no comment...

See, McCain has voted against requiring insurance companies to cover prescription birth control.

He knows the Rightwing Dobson clan would be surely be upset if he was in favor of this. However, McCain knows that if he wants to appear moderate and attract women voters who were former Clinton supporters, he needs to be in favor of this.

Some things to Remember about Offshore Drilling

This diary at Daily Kos discusses an upcoming vote on offshore drilling.

They outline some things to remember about offshore drilling...

US Declines in Broadband Penetration Rankings

From Mother Jones...

Broadband penetration rankings, in 2001:

1. South Korea
2. Canada
3. Sweden
4. United States
5. Belgium
5. Denmark
7. Netherlands
8. Iceland
9. Austria
10. Germany
11. Japan
12. Switzerland
13. Norway
14. Finland
15. Spain

Broadband penetration rankings, in 2007:

1. Denmark
2. Netherlands
3. Iceland
4. Norway
5. Switzerland
6. Finland
7. South Korea
8. Sweden
9. Luxembourg
10. Canada
11. United Kingdom
12. Belgium
13. France
14. Germany
15. United States
Broadband penetration is a huge asset for economic development, especially in rural areas like Iowa.

When governments are trying to attract companies to locate in the area they should invest in infrastructure such as high speed broadband. It would benefit those companies and spark entrepreneurship among individuals living in the rural areas.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Marshalltown Coal Plant Could Cause Significant Increase in Rates

From Plains Justice...

An independent financial expert testifying for a coalition of Iowa clean energy, environment, farm and public health organizations says that Alliant Energy's proposed Marshalltown coal plant will be the most expensive in the country and gouge ratepayers for decades to come.

Soon, the Iowa Utilities Board will determine the rates that Alliant subsidiary Interstate Power and Light (IPL) can earn on its proposed Sutherland 4 power plant in Marshalltown. According to Thomas Sanzillo, IPL hasn't addressed four major risks sufficiently: the cost of construction, weak demand, likely regulation of greenhouse gases in the near future, and the rising price of coal.

"The company has decided to place the risk for this plant squarely on the ratepayers. This is costly for Iowans, and in the long-term risky for shareholders," Sanzillo said. He is a former First Deputy Comptroller for New York State who has reviewed the management and operation of the New York Power Authority and the Long Island Power Authority and supervised New York State's $150 billion public investment fund.

"IPL's plan could double the cost of electricity consumers pay to keep the Marshalltown plant solvent." Sanzillo said. "This does not mean the monthly household bill doubles. It does mean a stiff monthly increase. This is not the time to build a coal plant. There are just too many risks and the plant is not needed."

Voting on the FISA Bill

The Senate has voted on the key amendments to the FISA and they have failed.

Dodd's amendment to strip Title II--the immunity provisions fails 32-66.
Specter's amendment to limit retroactive immunity fails, 37-61.
Bingaman's amendment that would delay the immunity until an Inspector General's report is completed fails 42-56.

If you are as upset as I am about our elected officials deciding to protect telecom companies over the constitution, help fight back against these actions. Blue America has been leading the way to fight for our rights and to elect new candidates that will uphold the constitution.

George Washington University Law proffessor Jonathan Turley discusses the FISA bill on last night's Countdown.

PCCI is Throwing a Party for Ed Fallon in Des Moines on Wednesday Night

Got this email yesterday and thought I'd pass along the info...


When: Wednesday, July 9 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Where: Raccoon River Park, Shelters A & B, 2500 Grand Avenue, West Des Moines


Pork & boca sandwiches
Lemonade & ice tea


Tiffany Cox & Veelas of the Moonlit Forest Belly Dancing Troupe (family friendly)
Mikiel Williams - New Orleans-style Jazz Musician
BeJae Fleming - Blues Singer
Exit 113 - 70s Hits, Blues, R & B and Rock
Ed Fallon - Accordionist


To . . . Ed Fallon for his progressive stand on issues, for running for the office of U.S. Congressman in Iowa's Third District, for conducting a clean campaign based on issues, and for refusing donations from political action committees (PACs) and paid lobbyists.

To . . . campaign manager Lynn Heuss and all the Fallon for Congress staff and volunteers.

FREE-WILL DONATIONS ACCEPTED to help offset the campaign's debt. Suggested donation is $50 (or more, if possible), but donations of any size are appreciated. PLEASE COME EVEN IF A DONATION IS NOT POSSIBLE AT THIS TIME.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Polls Show an Obama/Edwards Ticket Blows Out McCain

Paul Rosenberg at Open Left takes a look at a possible Obama/Edwards ticket and says they would blow out McCain.

It looks like Edwards gives Obama a bump in the upper midwest states and in the southeast.

Electoral College: Obama 309, McCain 145, Toss-up 84
National popular vote: Obama 49.9%-42.2% McCain

I'd be happy, really happy, if Obama chose Edwards as VP. However, I think the reason Edwards gives Obama the biggest bump of all possible VP candidates is because Edwards has the highest name recognition of all of them not named Clinton.

Why FISA Matters

The Senate will be voting on the FISA capitulation bill today.

Glenn Greenwald explains what Congress is about to do and why FISA matters to everyone.

They are taking away from the judiciary the power to adjudicate allegations of lawbreaking. They are creating a two-tiered system of justice in which our most powerful corporations can break the law with impunity and government officials remain immune from consequences. And they are, in unity, spewing rank propaganda to the commoners -- who continue to be subjected to the harsh punishment for violations of the law and one of the world's most merciless justice systems -- in order to convince them that granting license to our political and corporate elites to break the law is necessary for their own Good and for their Safety.
If you feel strongly about this please call Sen. Harkin at (202) 224-3254 and Sen. Grassley at (202) 224-3744 this morning.

Tell them to vote no on any FISA bill that has telecom immunity in it and remind them they took the oath to protect the constitution and not to protect the telecom companies.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Investing in Infrastructure

On the plane ride out to Portland, I listened to a podcast about future transportation options in Ohio. They discussed expanding passenger rail, freight rail, bike trails, as well as roads.

One thing they mentioned really stuck out and shows the glaring need for investment in our infrastructure.

China and India spend about 9% of their GDP on infrastructure needs while the US spends about 1%.
That just demonstrates why we lack public transit and our roads and bridges are deteriorating.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Saturday, July 05, 2008

4th of July Holiday Homework

I am vacation this week in Portland, Oregon, but I am still planning on doing some blogging.

Here are some stories that are worth reading...

White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? Frank Graham favors mingling of the races.
Hopefully, we can say that with Helms' passing away that it is an end of an era.
If conservatives tend to see patriotism as an inheritance from a glorious past, liberals often see it as the promise of a future that redeems the past.
  • Over at Daily Kos, mcjoan takes a look at the Declaration of Independence and the FISA bill that the Senate will vote on next week. Included is this quote from former Sen. Frank Church from back in the 1970's...
Crisis makes it tempting to ignore the wise restraints that make men free. But each time we do so, each time the means we use are wrong, our inner strength, the strength which makes us free, is lessened.
In 2004, the Democrats began the year with a 2.3 percentage point edge over the GOP. That grew to 4.0 points by March before moving in the Republican direction for the rest of the year. By Election Day in 2004, the edge for Democrats was a mere 1.6 percentage points.

In 2006, the Democrats began the year with just a 1.6 percentage point advantage. That grew to 6.1 percentage points by November.
Polls done last month show Democrats with a 9.5% advantage.

Friday, July 04, 2008

This American Land

What is this land America so many travel there
I'm going now while I'm still young my darling meet me there
Wish me luck my lovely I'll send for you when I can
And we'll make our home in the American land

Over there all the woman wear silk and satin to their knees
And children dear, the sweets, I hear, are growing on the trees
Gold comes rushing out the rivers straight into your hands
When you make your home in the American Land

There's diamonds in the sidewalk the's gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American Land

I docked at Ellis Island in a city of light and spires
She met me in the valley of red-hot steel and fire
We made the steel that built the cities with our sweat and two hands
And we made our home in the American Land

There's diamonds in the sidewalk the's gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American Land

The McNicholas, the Posalski's, the Smiths, Zerillis, too
The Blacks, the Irish, Italians, the Germans and the Jews
Come across the water a thousand miles from home
With nothin in their bellies but the fire down below

They died building the railroads worked to bones and skin
They died in the fields and factories names scattered in the wind
They died to get here a hundred years ago they're still dyin now
The hands that built the country were always trying to keep down

There's diamonds in the sidewalk the gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American Land
Who will make his home in the American Land
Who will make his home in the American Land

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Grinch Stole Christmas, Steve King Denies Children Health Care

Steve King thinks one his biggest accomplishment in Congress has been helping to block legislation that would expand health care insurance to children.

In an interview with the Sioux City Journal, Steve King cites his effort to block Democratic legislation in the last two years as one of his major accomplishments.

“That very well may be the best contribution that I have made in the 110th Congress, is slowing down, sometimes stopping Democratic-sponsored bills,” King said.

King specifically cites his efforts to derail the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), known locally as the Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa (HAWK-I) program. King was the lone member of Iowa’s congressional delegation to stand with President Bush in opposition to this popular, bipartisan legislation.

“I do believe if you took me out of the equation, there would have been a different funding result,” King said.
At least King has saved Christmas by passing a bill saying that Christmas and Christians are important, the lone bill that King has sponsored that has been signed into law.

Early Childhood Education is the key to Leaving No Child Behind

Matthew Yglesias has a great post that looks at the supposedly poor education systems in urban areas in the US.

His conclusion is one that I see everyday teaching here in Iowa...

All across the United States we have a problem with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds doing poorly in school. We also see kids from disadvantaged backgrounds overrepresented in urban school systems. Consequently, average results from city school systems tend to be below average. But when you use appropriate demographic controls you see that there's huge city-to-city variation and also a huge amount being determined by the demographics.
From my experience, socio-economic status has a huge effect on how well a students does in school, as well as how prepared students are when they enter school. This is why early childhood education is so vital.

The goals of No Child Left Behind are admirable. However, currently, many students who enter school are already left behind because they have not had the exposure to the kinds of activities that encourage the development of language and reading skills.

In 2006, the Iowa legislature expanded early childhood education throughout the state. Research shows that children's brains develop rapidly at this age and it just makes sense that we utilize this time in a child's life to build a foundation for early literacy skills, as well as getting students "school ready."

Expanding community nursing programs that help parents with parenting skills and emphasizing reading and language development in the home is another step that could help children who come from low socio-economic status. A nurse could make home visits once a month and provide patient education to parents and the child. Classes could be offered to teach skills parents need to help their children learn basic early literacy skills and develop language skills.

There is a huge window in the development of a child's brain in the first 5 years of a child's life. It only makes sense that as a society we structure education programs to get the full advantage of this rapid growth. We will see a huge return later in the child's life for this investment.