Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Policy and Politics of the Stimulus Plan

Rachel Maddow and Rep. Pete Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) discuss the policy and politics of the Stimulus Plan.

Friday, January 30, 2009

We Need Universal Health Care

Paul Krugman explains why now is the time for the United States to implement a universal health care system...

The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe — in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care.

Revenues Are Lower Than Expected

The Marshalltown Times Republican did a story on the freshman legislators in the area. One of the newly elected legislators is Republican Rep. Annette Sweeney. Sweeney said she was surprised by the irresponsible spending.

One of the biggest things Sweeney said has to be dealt with is the budget and looking at all the ramifications.

"We've been told we're looking at a 6.5 percent cut. People are assuming it's 6.5 percent across the board but it's not," she said.

She noted that one agricultural area is looking at approximately a 25-percent cut, while other areas of the budget may be cut less than 1 percent.

"Irresponsible spending has been the biggest surprise," Sweeney said. "We heard about it during the campaign but it's really hit home now that I'm here and nobody wants to take responsibility for it."

The current budget issues was caused when the State revenues were lower than expected. Democratic leaders knew there wasn't going to as much money to go around this year because of the programs created the past two years. Then revenue estimates came in lower.

We don't have irresponsible spending, we have lower than expected revenues.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Milligan Steps Down as Executive Director of Iowa Demoractic Party

I posted on Tuesday that Michael Kiernan will be named the new chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, but missed that executive director Mike Milligan is stepping down.

From the Des Moines Register...

Milligan, 35, had been the top administrator for the party organization for four years, taking over after the 2004 election.

It was unclear why Milligan was leaving. He notified central committee members Friday.

Milligan was seen as a skilled manager, having run the party aparatus through the 2006 election, but more importantly, the watershed 2008 presidential caucuses. Roughly 240,000 Iowans participated in the leadoff presidential nominating contest last year, almost doubling the previous high mark.

Tax Cuts, Tax Cuts, Tax Cuts

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) talks about how the Republicans only answer to any problems is tax cuts and that hasn't worked out so well the past 3 decades.

The Republican answer to everything is tax cuts, we've tried it for eight years it hasn't worked for the economy, that's what they always say...Their answer is always tax cuts no matter what the question is and it simply hasn't worked. We've had eight years of deregulation, privatization and tax cuts for the rich and look where it's gotten us. It's not a surprise that this economy's in such bad shape because of those policies, we don't want to do more of them.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Iowa House Votes for $56 million for Flood Relief

Yesterday, the Iowa House voted 98 - 0 to spend $56 million for flood relief.

"If this isn't responding to an emergency, I don't know what is," floor manager Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids, said about House File 64 that makes $56 million available for housing assistance, the personal needs of individuals and grants to cities to help with flood recovery efforts. "But I want to emphasize this is only the first step. Inaction is not an option."

Representatives had no problem with dipping into the state's $155 million economic emergency accounts to help flood and tornado victims, but minority Republicans sought to improve accountability and prevent an increase in the number of state employees at a time the governor is calling for spending cuts.

Olson hopes the bill wins quick approval in the Senate and lands on Gov. Chet Culver's desk yet this week.
I would like to thank Tyler Olson and other Cedar Rapids/Iowa City legislators for their leadership on this issues.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kiernan to be named Iowa Democratic Party Chair

Dave Price of WHO-TV posted on his blog that Des Moines City Councilman Michael Kiernan will be voted to be the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party. The State Central Committee will be voting on this on Saturday.

Kiernan has been recommended to the position by Governor Culver.

O. Kay Henderson writes that Kiernan has a history of working with Culver and Judge in the past...

As a young adult, Kiernan worked behind the scenes in Iowa politics. Kiernan served as newly-elected Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge's communications director, but he had a very brief tenure in the IDALS (Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship). Judge, as you may know, is Culver's lieutenant governor. Kiernan managed Culver's 1998 campaign for Iowa Secretary of State. Kiernan had previously managed one of former Des Moines Mayor Preston Daniels' successful campaigns.
Henderson provides a great deal of background info on Kiernan. He is married to WHO-TV anchor Erin Kiernan. Kiernan is an at-large member of the Des Moines City Council and is up for reelection in 2010.

The Argument to Leave Guantanamo Open

Matthew Yglesisas outlines the arguments made to keep Guantanamo open...

The basic conservative position, as I understand it, is that the very same federal officials who can’t be trusted to prevent a breakout from a military prison in Kansas can be trusted to administer a system of indefinite detention and kangaroo courts fairly. Other arguments I’ve heard people make, apparently with a straight face:
  • The fact that the Bush administration has let dangerous terrorists go free means Obama should keep innocent people detained.
  • The fact that the Bush administration screwed up the paperwork on detainees shows that there was more wisdom to Bush’s policies than Obama acknowledged on the campaign trail.
  • Obama’s promise of change was empty and hypocritical because it will take time to implement his executive orders.
  • The “Guantanamo” issue is primarily about the physical location of the facility rather than the legal status or treatment of the detainees.
  • Since many liberals live in San Francisco, anyone who thinks it would be ill-advised to transfer prisoners to a museum in the San Francisco Bay that hasn’t been a prison for decades is a hypocrite.

There’s some really out of this world stuff.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Iowa CCI Lobby Day in Tuesday

I am bummed I can't make it to Iowa CCI's Lobby Day on Tuesday at the capitol in Des Moines.

However, I have emailed my State Senator and State Representive supporting two key issues that CCI has been fighting for - local control of hog confinements and the Voter-Owned Iowa Clean Elections bill, known as VOICE.

Here is information Iowa CCI sent out on how to contact your legislators...

Our rally and lobby day is tomorrow - Jan. 27!

If you're not able to join us at the Capitol, help us have a 'virtual' presence at the Statehouse:

E-mail or call your legislators! Urge them to stand up for what's right and protect everyday Iowans through CCI's low-cost solutions. Follow this link to find your legislators - click on your senator or representative, click on the contact tab and click on their email address to compose your message.

Hundreds of Iowans will be at the Statehouse tomorrow - imagine the impact of hundreds more Iowans filling their inboxes and voicemails with messages calling on them to protect all Iowans.

Give them a call, email a message or send a letter on Jan. 27 letting them know that even though you can't be there, you are supporting hundreds of everyday Iowans who are standing up for issues that you care about.

We're asking legislators for simple, no-cost solutions that benefit the common good:
- local control, local people should have the ability to say if a factory farm can build near them;
- strong worker protection laws and children's health insurance that work for everyone -- regardless of immigration status;
- moratorium on foreclosures and other efforts that protect homeowners and consumers; and,
- campaign contributions and VOICE so people talk more in our political process and money talks less.
After you get your email sent, check out this great post from Iowa Independent about Iowa CCI's efforts over the past twenty years.

If you are able to make to Des Moines for the Lobby Day, here is the schedule...
Please join us for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement's
January 27, 2009 Rally & Lobby Day
"People Before Polluters. People Before Politics. People Before Profits."
10:00 a.m. Rally at Wallace Building
10:55 a.m. March to Capitol Building/ Greet Legislators
12 p.m. Lunch and Lobby
1-4 p.m. Meetings with Key Leaders

Harkin Votes Against Geithner

I was surprised to see Sen. Tom Harkin voted against Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary today. Geithner was confirmed by a 60-34 vote.

Sen. Harkin released this statement about the vote...

“I strongly believe that, save in extraordinary circumstances, the President should have the right to select his own team. President Obama believes that Mr. Geithner is the best person for this job, and it pains me to go against the President’s wishes on this matter.

“I believe that Mr. Geithner is a person of obvious talent and experience, and I bear no ill will toward him whatsoever. However, after careful deliberation, I simply could not overcome my very serious reservations about this nominee for two reasons. Mr. Geithner made serious errors of judgment in failing to pay his taxes, and he made serious errors in his job as chief regulator of the financial institutions at the heart of the current financial crisis.
Sen. Charles Grassley also voted against Geithner, but that wasn't much of a surprise since Grassley voted against sending Geithner's nomination out of the Senate Finance Committee.

The End of a Conservative Era

Bill Kristol wrote his last column today in the New York Times where he wrote that Obama's inauguration on January 20th, 2009 marked the end of a conservative era.

All good things must come to an end. Jan. 20, 2009, marked the end of a conservative era.

Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, conservatives of various sorts, and conservatisms of various stripes, have generally been in the ascendancy. And a good thing, too! Conservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day: about Communism and jihadism, crime and welfare, education and the family. Conservative policies have on the whole worked — insofar as any set of policies can be said to “work” in the real world. Conservatives of the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich-Bush years have a fair amount to be proud of.

They also have some regrets. They’ll have time to ponder those as liberals now take their chance to govern.

Lest conservatives be too proud, it’s worth recalling that conservatism’s rise was decisively enabled by liberalism’s weakness.
I obviously disagree with Kristol's opinion that the conservative was a good thing, but do agree that liberals have been weak, often times seeming scared of their own shadows.

Kristol concludes...
there will be trying times during Obama’s presidency, and liberty will need staunch defenders. Can Obama reshape liberalism to be, as it was under F.D.R., a fighting faith, unapologetically patriotic and strong in the defense of liberty? That would be a service to our country.
Liberals that will fight for what they believe, who are strong and unapologetic? Now that's change I can believe in!

Sioux City Doctor Heads to Gaza to Care for the Wounded

Last week, a Sioux City Doctor travelled to Gaza to care for injured Palestinians.

There is a fragile ceasefire now in place between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, but in the process of the fighting, over a thousand Palestinians died and several thousand more were injured.

"There's a crisis there and they need help. I'm trained to give that kind of help," Dr. Rick Colwell says.

Dr. Rick Colwell is an emergency room physician at St. Luke's and one of nine U.S. doctors and four from Canada leaving on a 10-day mission to Gaza, providing relief to doctors there overwhelmed with recent need.
You can read about updates from the trip here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Northey for Governor?

Iowa Secretary of Agricutlure Bill Northey appeared on Iowa Press over the weekend and was asked about the possibility of running for Governor against Chet Culver in 2010.

''I think you certainly wait until after this session to see where things go,'' said Northey, a Republican. ''I think it's six months or so out for me to be able to make a decision by the end of summer.''

Northey conceded that winning election against an incumbent governor would be difficult, but he said a sour economy and the state's budget snarls could create an opening.

Now, Northey might be consulting his family about a run, talking with big fundraisers, etc.

However, I think Northey is waiting to see what Sen. Grassley decides to do. If Grassley retires, running for an open senate seat would be much more appealing than challenging an incumbant Governor considering that Iowans haven't voted to cut out an incumbant governor in decades.

Both history and political reality would make a challenge to Culver an uphill struggle, Northey conceded, with Iowans typically showing a willingness to return governors to office.

Former Gov. Robert Ray served for 14 years, former Gov. Terry Branstad topped that with a 16-year tenure and former Gov. Tom Vilsack was in office for eight years and probably could have stayed there if he hadn't chosen to launch a brief bid for the presidency. None of the three faced serious challenges, despite serving during troubled economic times.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

President Obama's Weekly Address

President Obama discusses the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan in his weekly address.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Feingold on Obama's Executive Order to Close Guantanamo and Ban Torture

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has been an outspoken critic of the abuses of the law by the Bush administration. Yesterday, Feingold wrote at the Huffington Post about Barack Obama's executive order to close Guantanamo and ban torture...

Just hours after his historic inauguration, President Obama has made history again, by signing executive orders that undo, with the stroke of a pen, some of the Bush Administration's worst mistakes. President Obama is off to a great start on restoring the rule of law, and he's giving the country the fresh start we desperately need after the last eight years.

President Obama has rejected the policies of the last administration, both in his words and in his actions. In short order, he has signed orders to close Guantanamo, suspend the military commission system, subject all interrogations to the guidelines in the Army Field Manual, end long-term CIA detentions, require humane treatment of detainees consistent with the Geneva Conventions, and guarantee the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all prisoners held by the U.S. government, and announced a return to the presumption of FOIA disclosure under the Clinton administration. That is a breathtaking list, and the beginning of change that is long overdue.

The new President's quick actions to end both excessive secrecy and flawed detention and interrogation policies are very encouraging. I have long opposed the Bush administration's policies in these areas. As chair of the Senate's Constitution Subcommittee, I held a hearing shining a light on the secret laws that last administration created - keeping OLC opinions under lock and key, for instance - and called for a major overhaul of these policies. I also held a hearing in September 2008 on restoring the rule of law, at which John Podesta and others testified about what changes should be made by a new administration. In December, I wrote then President-elect Obama urging him to take these and other vital steps to restore the rule of law. I applaud his quick action on these issues. It's a great sign of his commitment to working on the other issues that still need to be addressed, from the separation of powers to domestic surveillance and privacy.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Obama, Dean, and the 50 State Strategy

The 2007 Harkin Steak Fry was the day that Iowa's Democratic Base realized that Barack Obama was ready. It was that moment that the organization the Obama campaign had built up throughout the summer became visible.

The supporters of all the candidates had arrived to stake out their spots to watch the speakers. Obama held a rally across the street from the Steak Fry and then the crowd, led by the thumping drums of the Des Moines Isiserettes, paraded down the road and into the venue.

The sight turned the heads of every person who was there supporting another candidate. I am sure a great majority of them they had to second guess the candidate of their choice at that moment. Throughout the rest of the campaign leading up to the caucuses and the general election the organization from the Obama campaign was amazing.

However, Howard Dean deserves some credit for the gains nationwide for the Democratic Party the past few years he served as chair. Dean established the 50 state strategy that helped Democrats win in reddest of red places like Idaho and Utah.

Now that Tim Kaine has taken over the DNC there are some questions if the 50 state strategy is going to continue.

Howard Dean was a rare political creature -- a person who embraced decentralization. The new crew in power is far more conventional, resorting to an old-school centralized power structure. Democrats have the White House, and perhaps it's understandable that they want to take a proven model (the Obama campaign) and begin building what will eventually morph into Obama's reelection campaign. But given the size of Obama's list and his fundraising prowess, it shouldn't have to be an either-or proposition.
John Deeth says that even though Dean is gone, it doesn't mean the idea behind the 50 state strategy is...
The 50 state MINDSET certainly won't be abandoned. Obama, Plouffe, Axelrod, et al. know how they won. There'll be a 50 state strategy of some sort, but it just might not be as much under the auspices and funding of the DNC. Where there's gaps, the locals will probably have to carry more of the load.

The main question is resources. Organizing needs organizers and organizers need to get paid. Not much, but enough to survive certainly, and even a pittance adds up when you multiply it by hundreds or thousands. (And Democratic Party political correctness being what it is, a health care package is de riguer.)

As for Dean himself, his election in early 2005 was a watershed moment for the netroots, a break from the Terry McAuliffe era of 18 states and high-dollar donors. It's fair to say Obama won in 2008 by running Dean's 2004 campaign: grassroots, people intensive, and funded by small donors.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Preventing Unintended Pregnancy

I have written in the past about the Right not being serious about ending abortion. They just outlaw it and outlaw birth control while they are at it.

In the agenda secion of, the Obama administration stresses the need to prevent unintended pregnancies...

Reproductive Choice

  • Supports a Woman's Right to Choose: President Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Adminstration. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case.
  • Preventing Unintended Pregnancy: President Obama was an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand access to contraception, health information, and preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. Introduced in January 2007, the Prevention First Act will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.
My question for the Right is, will outlawing all abortions end all abortions? If the answer is no then we must do everything we can to prevent unintended pregnancies.

Obama's Sensible Priorities

If you attended any political events leading up to the Iowa Caucuses you know about Iowans for Sensible Priorities. They are the ones that handed out the pens with the pull out charts, had the pie chart car, and passed out cookies with pie charts on them. There goals were to...

Increase funding to meet the needs of our children and children around the world (at no additional taxpayer expense) by reducing money spent on the Pentagon for Cold War weapons systems no longer needed to protect America.
Rahm Emanuel, Obama's Chief of Staff, has recently said that the Obama administration plans to cut Pentagon spending...
Withdrawing from Iraq, and cutting $300 billion in other defense spending, would wipe out the increases in military spending under the Bush administration. It would even reduce military spending to a smaller percentage of the federal budget than it was during the Clinton administration.
It is great to have a President with sensible priorities.

The Mulligan

Obama took the oath of office again last night just to be safe...

White House Counsel Greg Craig released this statement:
"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the President was sworn in appropriately yesterday. But the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of an abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time."
The pool report has great details of how it took place:

At 7:35 pm, Roberts administered the oath of office again to Obama in the map room.

"We decided it was so much fun..." Obama joked while sitting on a couch.

Obama stood and walked over to make small talk with pool as Roberts donned his black robe.

"Are you ready to take the oath?" Roberts asked.

"I am, and we're going to do it very slowly," Obama replied.

Oath took 25 seconds. After a flawless recitation, Roberts smiled and said, "Congratulations, again."

Obama said, "Thank you, sir."

Smattering of applause.

"All right." Obama said. "The bad news for the pool is there's 12 more balls."
Interestingly, Fox News said that it was Obama's mishap on the oath, while MSNBC said it was Chief Justice John Roberts' fault. It was both mens first inauguartion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

John Norris to be Vilsack's Chief of Staff

From Iowa Independent...

Former Gov. Tom Vilsack, who was confirmed as U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tuesday, has named John Norris as his his chief of staff, sources close to Vilsack said today.

Norris served as Vilsack’s chief of staff during his first two years as governor. He also served as chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party in 1998, ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 2002 and was a national field director for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. He currently serves as chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board.

His wife, Jackie Norris, was named in November as First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff.

The Norris's are now the second up-and-coming power couple from Iowa to be headed to Washington DC, following Patrick Dillon and Jennifer O'Malley-Dillon.

Republican Economics

From Jed at Daily Kos...

When George W. Bush took office the Dow was at 10,578.20. By the time he left office, it had fallen to 7,949.09.

It's his final gift to America -- GOP economics in action.

Last week I left this comment over at Krusty Konservative on a post complaining about the economy...

As we find ourselves in the 3rd Bush recession of the last 20 years with a possibility of another Republican depression in the last 80 years somehow Republicans think that we should listen to them when it comes to the economy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Goodbye to All That

Goodbye to all that! Not to Bush, but to the upheaval of the1960's and the Vietnam War.

Andrew Sullivan wrote in December 2007 that the election of Obama would be a transformational moment and allow our nation to finally move past the 1960's.

The logic behind the candidacy of Barack Obama is not, in the end, about Barack Obama. It has little to do with his policy proposals, which are very close to his Democratic rivals’ and which, with a few exceptions, exist firmly within the conventions of our politics. It has little to do with Obama’s considerable skills as a conciliator, legislator, or even thinker. It has even less to do with his ideological pedigree or legal background or rhetorical skills. Yes, as the many profiles prove, he has considerable intelligence and not a little guile. But so do others, not least his formidably polished and practiced opponent Senator Hillary Clinton.

Obama, moreover, is no saint. He has flaws and tics: Often tired, sometimes crabby, intermittently solipsistic, he’s a surprisingly uneven campaigner.

A soaring rhetorical flourish one day is undercut by a lackluster debate performance the next. He is certainly not without self-regard. He has more experience in public life than his opponents want to acknowledge, but he has not spent much time in Washington and has never run a business. His lean physique, close-cropped hair, and stick-out ears can give the impression of a slightly pushy undergraduate. You can see why many of his friends and admirers have urged him to wait his turn. He could be president in five or nine years’ time—why the rush?

But he knows, and privately acknowledges, that the fundamental point of his candidacy is that it is happening now. In politics, timing matters. And the most persuasive case for Obama has less to do with him than with the moment he is meeting. The moment has been a long time coming, and it is the result of a confluence of events, from one traumatizing war in Southeast Asia to another in the most fractious country in the Middle East. The legacy is a cultural climate that stultifies our politics and corrupts our discourse.

Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.

Obama's Remarkable Journey

The Washington Post has a great article looking at Obama's improbable rise to the prescidency...
The essence of Barack Obama has been his capacity to avert life's roadblocks and disappointments during his journey. The first could have been his unusual family biography, with the challenges it presented in terms of stability and psychology. The second could have been the sociology of race in America, with its likelihood of rejection and cynicism. And the final was the geography of elective politics, with all the variables of ideology and luck. In each case, Obama kept moving, finding his way around dead ends, avoiding the traps.

Today, a quarter-century after his first glimpse of the White House, he retraced the route from the U.S. Capitol west along Pennsylvania Avenue, this time ensconced in the back of a presidential limousine, the whole world watching, as he glided toward his new home.

Inaugural Frenzy

INDIANOLA, IA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Supporters of S...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I went through the archives and am posting links to some of Obama's greatest speeches, my best posts, and reports from events that I attended throughout the campaign.

Do Your Part
This election was not about Obama at all. It was about you and me. It was about reponsibility, opportunity, and community. We all have the responsibility to get active in something we believe in, we have the opportunity to solve big problems, and we must come together in our own communities to make it happen.
Obama's Victory Speech

It's Not About Politics, It's About Hope
Story about a lifelong Republican who volunteered to canvass a housing project for the Obama campaign.

Got Hope?
Best ad from MoveOn's ad contest.

Yes We Can's remix of Obama's speech on the night of the New Hampshire primary.

Obama's South Carolina Victory Speech

Barack Obama: Yes, We Can

Reports from campaign events I attended leading up to the Iowa Caucuses...

Michelle Obama: We Suffer a Deficit of Empathy
Probably the best speech I heard from anyone leading up to the caucuses.

Obama Highlights Real World Experience and Action
Video from an event in Marshalltown.

Obama Saves Christmas
Obama campaign helps local family.

Video from Oprah and Obama in Des Moines

Heartland Presidential Forum: Barack Obama

Video of Obama's speech at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner
Probably the speech that seperated himself from the pack and showed the Democratic base that Obama was for real.
Here are the liveblog from Obama's rally in Ames following his presidential announcement...
Live Blogging from Obama Event in Ames: Part 1

Live Blogging from Obama Event in Ames: Part 2
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Stuck at Work? Watch the Inauguration Online

From Political Wire...

Stuck at work tomorrow and need to find a way to watch Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th Presidential of the United States? Here are a few sites that plan on streaming the event live:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blog for Iowa is at the Inauguration

The writer's of Blog for Iowa are in DC at the Inauguration festivities. Check them out for updates and pictures.

Here's their post from today...

We made it to DC! The weather is a gorgeous, sunny, and 37 degrees, which feels like spring to us. We have the window open in our hotel room. Most people traveled over the weekend so the flight was smooth and uneventful.

Our co-travelers picked up our inaugural tickets for us. They just called and said they had been standing in line at the Longworth Building for a couple of hours to get through security so they could pick up all of our tickets. They said (as of about 3:30 pm today) that there were about 200 people in line. Once inside, they had no trouble picking up our tickets from Loebsack (we had to arrange this in advance) and then they proceeded to Boswell's for theirs. They said our tickets are in the Blue Section!! In front of the reflecting pool! High fives all around. We had thought our tickets would be in the silver, behind the reflecting pool, but we'll still be standing. Standing with our fellow/sister Americans saying good-bye to Bushco, Hello, Barack!

Stay tuned...

Trish, Arron, Ellen

Sweatshops are good for the Economy

David Sirota wrote yesterday about an article that appeared in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristoff.

Kristoff defends sweatshops as he tries to lay out the case for Free Trade, even saying that the problem is sweatshops don't exploit enough poor people.

Mr. Obama and the Democrats who favor labor standards in trade agreements mean well, for they intend to fight back at oppressive sweatshops abroad. But while it shocks Americans to hear it, the central challenge in the poorest countries is not that sweatshops exploit too many people, but that they don't exploit enough...

I'm glad that many Americans are repulsed by the idea of importing products made by barely paid, barely legal workers in dangerous factories. Yet sweatshops are only a symptom of poverty, not a cause, and banning them closes off one route out of poverty...

When I defend sweatshops, people always ask me: But would you want to work in a sweatshop? No, of course not. But I would want even less to pull a rickshaw. In the hierarchy of jobs in poor countries, sweltering at a sewing machine isn't the bottom.

Obama's Stimulus Plan Calls for Investment in Broadband

The United States lacks broadband access when compared to other developed countries, ranking 15th in the world in 2007. This is a huge problem in Iowa's rural areas.

I wrote last summer...

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.
Obama's stimulus plan calls for money to be spent on broadband and high-speed wireless access in unserved areas.

From Crooks and Liars...
"Cnet is reporting that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (PDF), currently in the House Appropriations Committee, contains Net Neutrality provisions: 'The so-called stimulus package hands out billions of dollars in grants for broadband and wireless development, primarily in what are called "unserved" and "underserved" areas. ... The catch is that the federal largesse comes with Net neutrality strings attached. ... recipients must operate broadband and high-speed wireless networks on an "open access basis." The FCC, soon to be under Democratic control, is charged with deciding what that means. Congress didn't see fit to include a definition.' The broadband grants appear to begin in SEC. 3101 (pg. 49) of the PDF."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bush's Farewell Address?

This SNL skit by Will Ferrell done in 2000 might as well have been Bush's farewell address.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Patrick Dillon Named White House Deputy Political Director

Yesterday, Marc Ambinder reported that Gov. Culver's former chief of staff Patrick Dillon has been named Deputy of Political Director in the White House.

Ambinder says Dillon and his wife Jennifer O'Malley-Dillon are now an official up-and-coming power couple.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sorry Paris Hilton, the Estate Tax is Here to Stay

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Barack Obama is going make sure the estate tax, or Death Tax, does not expire in 2010.

The reasoning why is a great example of framing the issue...

Perhaps the most important reason for the death of the “Death Tax” movement is what might be called the Paris Hilton affect. In 2001, with inequality mostly a buzzword among a few left-wing professors, it was easier to get public support for killing a tax on the wealthy. Many Americans felt they could become wealthy someday, too, so they opposed any punitive tax on their imagined futures. That was especially true in 2006, when Congress took up repeal again and Americans felt newly wealthy because of rising home values.

But in the intervening eight years, the nonwealthy actually became less wealthy and Americans realized they would be lucky to retire at all, let alone get rich enough to become the target of an estate tax. They also resented the rich Wall Streeters and corporate chiefs who lost so much of other people’s money and publicly paraded their wealth.

Capping it off was a populist branding campaign that was just as clever as the “death tax” brand. The term was “The Paris Hilton Relief Act,” suggesting that abolishing the estate tax would merely give more money to wasteful, dog-and-diamond-toting heirs such as Ms. Hilton. Mr. Obama used the term in 2006 when he said the “Paris Hilton tax break” would give “billions of dollars to billionaire heirs and heiresses.”

Participate in Innaguaral Events

Iowa Looks at Coal Ash Regulations

Last month a flood of toxic sludge in Tennessee covered hundred of acres of land after a dam broke at a coal plant.

Iowa is now looking to regulate the disposal of coal ash.

Iowa environmental regulators say they will push for landfill-style regulations for coal ash disposal sites in the state.

Members of the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission vowed Tuesday to push for the more stringent and costly rules. They also criticized Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials, who last month said they favored the testing of groundwater to see if the toxic ash was polluting waterways before requiring liners and monitoring at new disposal sites.

The commission's decision follows recent coal ash spills in Tennessee and Alabama, and stems from efforts to rewrite the state's landfill rules.

Coal ash comes from coal-burning and contains heavy metals and pollutants linked to neurological problems and other illnesses.

There are more than a dozen coal ash disposal sites in Iowa.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stimulus Spending

The Senate voted this afternoon to pass the second part of the stimulus bill on Obama's version of the stimulus bill called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill. The bill now goes to the House.

Chris Bowers posted at Open Left a summary of what is in the bill.

Total itemized spending: $518.7 billion

Health Care: $150.1 billion

  • $87 billion for a temporary increase in the Medicaid matching rate;
  • $39 billion to support those who lose their jobs by helping them to pay the cost of keeping their employer provided healthcare under COBRA and providing short-term options to be covered by Medicaid;*
  • $20 billion for health information technology to prevent medical mistakes, provide better care to patients and introduce cost-saving efficiencies;
  • $4.1 billion to provide for preventative care and to evaluate the most effective healthcare treatments.

Education, Science and Technology: $132.6 billion

  • $41 billion to local school districts through Title I ($13 billion), IDEA ($13 billion), a new School Modernization and Repair Program ($14 billion), and the Education Technology program ($1 billion);
  • $39 billion to local school districts and public colleges and universities distributed through existing state and federal formulas;
  • $15.6 billion to increase the Pell grant by $500;
  • $15 billion to states as bonus grants as a reward for meeting key performance measures;
  • $10 billion for science facilities, research, and instrumentation;
  • $6 billion to expand broadband internet access so businesses in rural and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy;
  • $6 billion for higher education modernization.

Energy and Environment: $104 billion

  • $32 billion to transform the nation's energy transmission, distribution, and production systems by allowing for a smarter and better grid and focusing investment in renewable technology;
  • $31 billion to modernize federal and other public infrastructure with investments that lead to long term energy cost savings;
  • $19 billion for clean water, flood control, and environmental restoration investments;
  • $16 billion to repair public housing and make key energy efficiency retrofits;
  • $6 billion to weatherize modest-income homes

Unemployment Compensation: $63 billion

  • $43 billion for increased unemployment benefits and job training;
  • $20 billion to increase the food stamp benefit by over 13% in order to help defray rising food costs.

Transportation: $40 billion

  • $30 billion for highway construction;
  • $10 billion for transit and rail to reduce traffic congestion and gas consumption.

Misc: $29 billion

  • $25 billion to states for other high priority needs such as public safety and other critical services, which may include education;
  • $4 billion for state and local law enforcement funding.
* -= Applicable to either Health Care or Unemployment Compensation

IBM to Bring 1,300 Jobs to Dubuque

Some good economic news for Dubuque and NE Iowa...

IBM plans to create a new technology center downtown in the Dubuque Building, soon-to-be vacated by McKesson Corporation as McKesson locates to their new facility in the Dubuque Technology Park at Key West (Dubuque). As we speak, several floors of the building are being prepared to accommodate the initial round of hires for the center, reported by sources to be approximately 800 THIS year, topping out at 1,300 or more after two years!
Gov. Culver was to hold a press conference in Dubuque this morning (depending on the weather I assume).

There was a press conference this morning. Here's some more info I got from a press release from the Governor's office and Iowa Dept. of Economic Development.
Governor Culver joined with representatives from IBM and local officials to announce today that IBM will open a new technology service delivery center in Dubuque. It is expected that the project will create up to 1,300 high-quality jobs.

“Today’s announcement is about three things – Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” said Governor Culver. “I want to welcome IBM to Iowa, and thank them for bringing these 1,300 high quality, good paying jobs to our state. Today’s announcement is one more sign that people around the country are discovering what we have known all along – that with our highly skilled workforce, inviting business climate and quality of life, Iowa is a great place for business. As Governor, I will not rest when it comes to bringing jobs like these to Iowa.”

Working with the Governor’s Office, the Iowa Department of Economic Development, the City of Dubuque and Dubuque Initiatives and the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, IBM has signed a 10-year lease, with optional extension years, to occupy the historic Roshek Building in downtown Dubuque. The City of Dubuque, Dubuque Initiatives and IBM plan to upgrade the facility to make it a “green” building. The renovation of the building will utilize industry-leading energy-efficient technology.
This announcement does include government incentives for IBM...
The total project cost is expected to exceed $100 million. The Department of Economic Development board will take action next month on $22 million in proposed state incentives for the project. These incentives include:

$11,700,000 Direct financial assistance based on a $9,000 forgivable loan per job for 1,300 jobs

$ 8,500,000 Iowa New Jobs Training Funding through Northeast Iowa Community College

$ 1,848,600 Iowa New Jobs Training Tax Credit

$22,048,600 Total proposed State of Iowa incentives to IBM

In addition, the Iowa Department of Economic Development will provide $450,000 of funding to the non-profit Dubuque Initiatives group to purchase the Dubuque Building, thereby lowering their lease costs to IBM.

Tram System in Downtown Des Moines

The San Diego Trolley going through downtown.Image via Wikipedia

Recently two public meetings were held in Des Moines to discuss the possibility of a downtown tram system.

From Living Downtown Des Moines blog...

The following points were made at the meeting:

  • Most people are only willing to walk .25 miles for mass transit.
  • Start the tram system on a small scale that can later be expanded to include a larger area, with the first segment running about three miles in distance.
  • About every 900 feet would be a stop. At tram stops, there would be a GPS tracking system that would tell you how many minutes before the next tram arrives. You could then make a decision to either wait for it or not wait for it and instead walk to your destination.
  • Tram cars would be modern style cars, not historic replicas, and initial run would require three cars. Cars cost approximately $3 million each.
  • The first segment would cost approximately $50 million for planning, construction of track and overhead electrical lines and purchase of rail cars. Over 2/3rds of the money goes toward track construction, about 1/4 towards purchase of the cars.
  • Initial build out is fairly quick since minimal existing utility relocation is done, a three block section can be done in about three months time.
  • The proposed bus transfer station is not part of this project and this project is not dependent on it.
  • Every city that has added tram lines such as this has spurred development along the tram route.
  • Tram would run till 10 pm on weeknights, midnight on Friday & Saturday nights, 8 pm on Sundays.

Various plans for potential routes were also shown that included:

  • A loop that went down Grand Ave. between 10th St. and SE 6th. It then went down to Cherry (via 10th) then East on Cherry to 5th St to Court Avenue. It then continued on Court Ave. to SE 6th St.
  • Along with a loop downtown, an extension that brings it from the downtown library, north on 10th street to Methodist hospital then west on Woodland to 15th street - ending at Hoyt Sherman Place.

All plans included an eventual extensions to places like Gray’s Landing, Drake University, the lower East Village, and a north-south axis from Wells Fargo Arena to Principal ball park.

With all the talk about building infrastructure and Governor Culver proposing $700 million for "shovel-ready" projects, this project might just have legs (or would that be rails?).

Check out the forums at AbsolutDSM for more info.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obama the Bridge Builder

Obama campaigned on that he wanted end the era of divisive partisanship and bring people together and he is doing just that.

From Political Wire...

Politico has a list of attendees at the dinner of conservative writers that President-elect Obama attended last night at George Will's home.

They were: Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, Larry Kudlow, David Brooks, Rich Lowry, Peggy Noonan, Michael Barone, and Paul Gigot.

Meanwhile, Michael Calderone notes Obama met with the following "liberal" journalists this morning: On the list: Andrew Sullivan, E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson, Gerry Seib, Ron Brownstein, Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, and Rachel Maddow.

Marc Ambinder reports Paul Krugman was invited to today's meeting but did not attend.

Bruce Braley, Netroots Hero

Braley participated in an online chat with the blog Crooks and Liars this morning who called Braley a netroots hero. I knew Bruce Braley has been a great Representitive, but didn't know he became a netroots hero already!

The entire chat is worth the read. Here's a taste. Braley was asked about how grassroot Democrats can get involved...

...we are always looking for dynamic candidates who are electable in their districts. Grassroots Democrats can help us by sharing information and ideas about candidates who have the background and experience to be successful in 2010. So, grassroots Democrats can play a role from the beginning, and I hope to continue to reach out to you and the netroots as the 2010 cycle gets underway. I can also assure you that I welcome your ideas and inspiration, and not just your checks.
We are lucky to have Braley representing Iowa.

US Attorney Whitaker to be Looking for a New Job

The AP reported earlier this week that US Attorney Matt Whitaker said he expects to be replaced by the Obama administration in the coming months.

Whitaker, who overlooked the immigration raids in Marshalltown in December 2006, also responded to criticism of the raids.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Whitaker says he doesn't think he'll keep his job with the new presidential administration, but says he and his office acted correctly during the 2006 immigration raids at the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant. [..]

Whitaker says he expects to be replaced within four to six months.

It is common for US Attorney's to be replaced when a new president takes over. So the obvious question is what will Whitaker do after he is replaced?

Whitaker always could go into private practice, but I don't think he will. Whitaker will be a candidate for something in 2010. First, Whitaker ran for statewide office in 2002 challenging Michael Fitzgerald for State Treasurer. Second, the immigration raids garnered Whitaker cred with the Republican base.

Not many people are talking about Whitaker as a possible Republican candidates in 2010 though. We hear names thrown around like King, Latham, Larson, and Rants as possible candidates. However, Whitaker is in a strong position to challenge Leonard Boswell in Iowa's 3rd District or even run for Governor.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Leave Him Alone, Grassley's Running for Reelection for Now

Yesterday, Senate Guru posted an article at Bleeding Heartland about the possibility of Sen. Grassley deciding to retire instead of run for reelection in 2010.

On Election Day 2010, Chuck Grassley will be 77 years old. If Grassley ran for and won another term, he would be 83 years old at the conclusion of that term. Grassley has a wife (his marriage to whom will celebrate its 55th anniversary in September) and five children, so who knows how many grandchildren. Grassley has been an elected official for fifty years (Iowa state House 1959-1974; U.S. House 1975-1981; U.S. Senate 1981-present). After having spent more than half a century as both an elected official and a family man, I don't think anyone would be surprised if he opted to give all of his time and energy to the latter designation after giving so much to the former.

I would imagine that spending your day playing with your grandchildren is a lot more enjoyable than spending your day waking up at 5am to catch a shuttle from Des Moines to Washington in order to take votes you know your caucus will lose, unable to make any progress on your desired agenda, and then staying up until midnight with policy meetings, political fundraisers, and personal fundraising calls that will all be in vain anyway given the relative weakness of your caucus' minority.

Well, today Senate Guru posted a follow up after he received an email from Grassley's communications director.
My column yesterday on the prospect of Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley retiring must have touched a nerve because I received an e-mail from none other than Chuck Grassley's Communications Director noting:
Senator Grassley has held eight fundraisers since election day, and another 10 are scheduled. Like he's always said when asked by Iowa reporters and others, Senator Grassley is running for re-election in 2010.

First, I'd like to thank Senator Grassley's staff for reading the Guru. Second, while this is indeed a retirement denial, it is worth noting that, for instance, in the 2008 cycle, former Senator Pete Domenici conducted fundraising as though he would run for re-election, including a fundraiser with George W. Bush on the books as late as August 2007, before announcing his impending retirement in October 2007. The point: you're always running for re-election until you're not. Grassley has plenty of time to decide. In the meantime, though, he's fundraising and preparing as though he will run again because, well, that's the appropriate thing to do to scare off potential challengers and keep his options open.

John Deeth disagrees that family will keep Grassley from running again. Deeth thinks, just the opposite, Grassley will run again because of his family.
What Senate Guru misses is that one of those grandchildren is exactly why Grassley will NOT retire in 2010.

As the Legislature convenes today, Rep. Pat Grassley starts his second term at age 25. He's too young to take over for Grandpa next year... but in 2016, assuming all goes according to plan, Pat's got a decade of legislative experience under his belt at age 33.
I think this will be the political campaign story of 2008 in the state of Iowa. Yes, there's a race for Governor in 2010, but a Grassley retirement would shake everything up.

Top Renewable Energy Sources

This artcle from World Changing ranks the top renewable energy sources. 

Best to worst electric power sources:

1. Wind power 
2. concentrated solar power (CSP) 
3. geothermal power 
4. tidal power 
5. solar photovoltaics (PV) 
6. wave power 
7. hydroelectric power 
8. a tie between nuclear power and coal with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)

Check out the entire article for more information.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Guantanamo Going Out of Business

Obama is keeping his campaign promise to shut down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

From Political Wire...

An executive order to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay is expected during President Obama's first week on the job -- and possibly on his first day, the AP reports.

"Obama's order will direct his administration to figure out what to do with the estimated 250 al-Qaida and Taliban suspects and potential witnesses who are being held at Guantanamo."

Tax Breaks Bleed State Revenue Dry

The Des Moines Register writes today about how tax breaks are bleeding Iowa's state revenue dry.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on tax incentives and grants for Iowa’s businesses or residents, some of which are depriving the state of revenue, tax reform advocates say.

And legislative leaders - who acknowledge they are facing the greatest financial squeeze since the 1980s farm crisis - say it's time to evaluate and possibly chop some of the incentives when the 2009 session of the Iowa Legislature convenes at 10 a.m. Monday.

Up for grabs are more than 200 sales, income or property tax exemptions as well as dozens of tax credit programs that range from tax breaks for the purchase of argon gas to programs that refund millions of dollars every year to companies doing research in Iowa.

The exemptions - many decades old - were put into place for Iowa to remain or become competitive for high-paying jobs and skilled workers.

But many of the incentives have been on autopilot, dragging on for years without an examination of what benefits they provide to Iowans.
One of the programs discussed is the Iowa Values Fund. The Values Fund has spent $50 million for the past 10 years to offer financial assistance to companies that create jobs in the state. The Values Fund has been very controversial with opponents on both side of the aisle.

The question shouldn't be about raising taxes or cutting taxes. The question is about outdated tax breaks that are handed out to people that don't need them.

Congrats to the Newly Elected State Legislators

I want to send out a congratualations to all of the newly elected state legislators as they get sworn in today.

Here are the brand new state legislators (I know I might have missed one or two, so I will update the list if needed).

Iowa House
Sharon Steckman, Gene Ficken, Phyllis Thiede, John Beard, Kerry Burt, Chuck Isenhart, Jerry Kearns, Nate Willems, and Larry Marek

Nick Wagner, Anette Sweeney, Kent Sorensen, Eric Helland, Jason Schultz, Kevin Koester, Peter Cownie, Chris Hagenow, and Renee Schulte

Iowa Senate
Steve Sodders, Mary Jo Wilhelm

Shawn Hamerlink, Kim Reynolds, Randy Feenstra

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Job Loss

Center American Progress made a graph to show the number of jobs lost the past year or so...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Library Use Booming Due to Poor Economy

The Boston Globe reports (via Treehugger) that libraries are busier than ever thanks to the poor economy.

...with the economy sputtering, unemployment rising, and no relief in sight, Massachusetts libraries, long the victim of budget cuts, are busier than ever before, said Robert Maier, director of the state Board of Library Commissioners.

Attendance is surging. Check-out rates are soaring. At some libraries, circulation - the number of items checked out in a given month - is up as much as 33 percent since last summer. And for the unemployed, libraries have become something like an office, with computers, Internet access, and even classes that teach how to write a resume and peddle it online. In a tough time, it seems, people are returning to a place where whispering trumps shouting and no credit card is necessary. At the library, just about everything is free.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Iowa May Consider Raising the Gas Tax

The Des Moines Register writes that Iowa may consider raising the gas tax during this legislative session.

A coalition of Iowa highway lobby groups will seek at least a nickel-per-gallon increase in the state's gasoline and diesel taxes during the annual session of the Iowa Legislature that convenes on Monday.

The issue matters because the state's aging network of 113,786 miles of roads is wearing out from decades of use and extreme weather.

More money is needed to maintain the road system and make improvements to support economic development, fuel tax supporters contend. A 5-cent increase in fuel taxes would raise an additional $105 million annually for city, county and state road projects. Road construction projects nationwide are also expected to be a major part of President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus plans.

A motorist who purchases an average of 20 gallons of gasoline per week would pay an additional $52 per year if a 5-cent-per-gallon tax increase is approved. Highway engineers contend that if needed road and bridge repairs are ignored, taxpayers will face steeper repair bills in the long run as infrastructure conditions worsen.
House Speaker Pat Murphy is quoted in the article that raising the gas taxes would create 4,000 to 5,000 construction jobs and a bill will be considered in the House. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said for the bill to be brought up in the Senate that it would need broad bipartisan support.

The Uprising

Last May, one of my favorite writers, David Sirota, appeared on the Colbert Report. I thought it would be fitting to share this clip with you since there is just a couple weeks until inauguration day.

Matt Stoller described this uprising as a rootsgap in a post earlier this week.

I first noticed the rootsgap problem during the impeachment of Clinton, when the 60 plus percent of the public supported him in office, but the Republicans, the media, and even some Democratic officials, did not. That was when Moveon was created, via a simple petition that asked Congress to censure him, and Moveon. This rootsgap, which we saw grow during the run-up to the war in Iraq, produced new leaders in the form of Howard Dean and Wes Clark, and new forms of communications and organizing, in the form of the blogosphere. The public, having always preferred a war under UN auspices, turned against the Iraqi adventure as early as 2003. It's been written out of history, but the $87 billion the administration requested for Iraq was opposed by more than 60% of the public.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

When Republicans Say Middle Class, They Mean Millionaires

I find it really annoying when Republicans say they want to help the middle class, but actually mean millionaires.

On Sunday, Mitch McConnell’s proposed cutting the 25 percent income tax rate to 15 percent, which he described as a move to help the middle class. As usual with conservative tax proposals, this is true as long as you see “the middle class” as primarily composed of extremely wealthy people. Ben Furnas points to new analysis from the Tax Policy Center:


As economic stimulus, meanwhile, anything that — like McConnell’s proposal — would do nothing at all for folks earning less than $40,000 is a terrible idea. You need to direct tax relief at people who have a high propensity to spend a marginal dollar, even in a climate when there are some deflationary expectations. That means first poor people, second middle class people, and not at all the $2.8 million a year crowd that McConnell’s trying to help out.

Who will Democrats Pick to Be Chair of the State Party?

With six candidates running, the race for chair of the Republican Party of Iowa has conservative blogs buzzing.  Yesterday, John Deeth wrote about who might be the next chair of the Iowa Democratic Party and what their goals might be.  
Maybe it's because the party chair seems to matter less when you control the White House, Congress, and the state government trifecta. And maybe it's because when you're in power, the opinions of those in power matter. 

In Iowa, that means Governor Culver and Senator Harkin. They'll have strong opinions, and for most of the election cycle they'll be otherwise busy. Culver will be focused on the re-election and Harkin, fresh off re-elect, will be busier in Washington with a friendly Administration.

One of the names in the mix is Patty Judge, which would take the IDP the route it went in the Vilsack era, with the lieutenant governor serving as party chair. But Sally Pederson didn't move in as party chair until after the re-election, and there's an inherent conflict as IDP interests and Culver-Judge interests may not always be identical. 

Other names in the mix have included Becky Greenwald and former Mike Blouin running mate and leading Hillary backer Andrea McGuire. Either would be a solid fundraiser and spokesperson.. But if Greenwald wants to take another shot at Latham, she's out, and McGuire's unlikely to get support from the governor.

One thing that seems likely: this will be figured out ahead of time and presented as a fait accompli, without the campaign web sites and public debates that we've seen in the Republican race. The grassroots influence, if any, will be less on the name and more on the direction.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

LS Power Pulls the Plug on Waterloo Coal Plant

It was announced today that LS Power is pulling the plug on plans for a coal-fired power plant in Waterloo after they lost a major funder last week.


WATERLOO, IOWA (January 6, 2009) - LS Power affiliate, Elk Run Energy Associates, LLC, announced today that it will forego further development of the Elk Run Energy Station in Waterloo, Iowa.

Given the slowing load growth in the region due to the current downturn in the U.S. economy, and the fact that LS Power has more advanced projects under development in the region that could serve the same need, the Company will redirect its development efforts to other projects.

This is a great victory for Community Energy Solutions, the community group that organized against the coal plant and provided information about the environmental, health, and economic dangers of coal plants.

The focus now turns to the proposed coal plant in Marshalltown. Will Alliant feel the same economic pressure as LS Power and pull the plug?

Pissed Off

From Andrew Sullivan...

"Some people are p-ssed off at [Americans for Tax Reform President] Grover [Norquist]. Some people are p-ssed off at the Conservative Steering Committee. Some people are p-ssed off at [current RNC chair] Mike Duncan. Some people are p-ssed off at social conservatives. The social conservatives are p-ssed at leaders in Congress. Everyone is basically p-ssed," - a Republican consultant who has worked with the RNC on the leadership contest.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Iowan Named Executive Director of DNC

Bleeding Heartland has the news that Jennifer O'Malley Dillon will be named the executive director of the DNC.  

O'Malley Dillon has strong Iowa ties...

Many Iowans know O'Malley Dillon from her work on John Edwards' presidential campaigns. She worked in field before the 2004 caucuses and was Edwards' Iowa campaign director before the 2008 caucuses. After Edwards left the presidential race, she became the director of battleground states strategy for Obama's campaign.

O'Malley Dillon is married to Patrick Dillon, whom she met while both worked on Edwards' first presidential campaign here. Patrick Dillon later managed Chet Culver's gubernatorial campaign andbecame the governor's chief of staff.

This is great news for O'Malley Dillon and probably solidifies the Iowa Cacuses's first in the nation status.

Financial Support for Waterloo Coal Plant Fizzles

Over the weekend, desmoinesdem at Bleeding Heartland posted that a financial partner backed out on the proposed coal-fired power plant in Waterloo.

From the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier...

The future of a proposed coal-fired power plant near Waterloo became a little cloudier Friday when Texas-based Dynegy Inc. announced that it and New Jersey-based LS Power Associates were dissolving their joint venture to develop that plant and others in several states.

The move transfers to LS Power full ownership and developmental rights associated with various "greenfield" projects in several states, including the 750-megawatt Elk Run Energy Station proposed for construction northeast of Waterloo.


Separation from Dynegy puts the Elk Run plans in doubt, said Don Shatzer, a member of Community Energy Solutions, which opposes the Elk Run Energy project.

"LS Power has no experience developing/operating coal plants and so is unlikely to proceed (without) a new partner," Shatzer said in an e-mail note.

According to Bleeding Heartland, Dynegy's stock shot up 19 percent in one day after they pulled out of the joint venture with LS Power.

I am not sure exactly sure about the plans for the proposed coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown. The DNR was supposed to hear public comments about coal plant in September, but that hasn't happened yet. I have heard that the flooding over the summer might have something to do with that, but I also heard Alliant's investors aren't exactly in a hurry to continue the permit process.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Bill Richardson Withdraws as Commerce Secretary

From MSNBC...

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state.

"Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact," he said Sunday in a report by NBC News. "But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process."

He said he plans to continue in his role as governor.
This is too bad. I thought Richardson was a nice guy when I met him campaigning prior to the Iowa caucuses. The Commerce Secretary will be a very important position with the economy doing so badly and Richardson had a lot of experience to bring to the table.

Bigger Than Bush

Paul Krugman writes about the demise of the Republican Party. He says they have become a party of whiners...

But most of the whining takes the form of claims that the Bush administration’s failure was simply a matter of bad luck — either the bad luck of President Bush himself, who just happened to have disasters happen on his watch, or the bad luck of the G.O.P., which just happened to send the wrong man to the White House.

The fault, however, lies not in Republicans’ stars but in themselves. Forty years ago the G.O.P. decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash. And everything that has happened in recent years, from the choice of Mr. Bush as the party’s champion, to the Bush administration’s pervasive incompetence, to the party’s shrinking base, is a consequence of that decision.
Krugman goes on to explain that the Southern Strategy has run its course...
“Government is not the solution to our problem,” declared Ronald Reagan. “Government is the problem.” So why worry about governing well?Where did this hostility to government come from? In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political consultant, explained the evolution of the G.O.P.’s “Southern strategy,” which originally focused on opposition to the Voting Rights Act but eventually took a more coded form: “You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.
Krugman concludes that the Republican Party is left with no clear political strategy...
That’s why the soon-to-be-gone administration’s failure is bigger than Mr. Bush himself: it represents the end of the line for a political strategy that dominated the scene for more than a generation.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

1 Year After Winning Iowa Caucuses, the Obama's Head to D.C.

Today, Barack Obama's family moves to Washington D.C.

One year ago Barack Obama path to the White House began by winning the Iowa Caucuses. Thanks to a record number of Democrats turning out to participate in what can only be called pure democracy, Obama defeated the Clinton machine and the Edwards organization.

This was my first experience with the Iowa Caucuses and, though the caucuses has some faults, was amazed at the entire process. To go along with desmoinesdems post at Bleeding Heartland, here's my report from my precinct. This comment to that post sums up Obama's victory and explains how Obama defeated Clinton...

I think the whole story of what happened in the caucuses is encapsulated right there. Out of 66 people who were not supporting viable candidates,, 22 went Edwards, 19 went Obama and 4 for Clinton and that, for whatever reason, Hillary lost the caucuses during the realignment period.