Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More smart money bails: Are the caucuses already over?

If you missed it, here's some coverage of the most recent withdrawal from the presidential race, Evan Bayh:

Dave Price
Iowa Progress
John Deeth
Kay Henderson
Political Fallout
State 29

The surprise of Bayh's withdrawal was enough to pull me away from vacation to write for a minute. If you haven't already done it, let me put some pieces together for you:

Mark Warner spent a fair amount of money considering the possibility that he might run for president, then decided not to.

Russ Feingold spent what might have been even more to consider running for president, including spending the cash to give staffers to dozens of candidates seeking office in November. Shortly after the election, he also announced his decision not to run.

Now, Evan Bayh, who spent as much or more money than Feingold and appeared to have hired even more staff, also pulls out.

I look at this a lot like a hand of high stakes poker. And any poker player worth his skin will tell you that you don't pull out of a hand when you've already got a ton of money on the table unless you know you can't win. Let's look at the table for a moment and see if we can see what they're seeing:

Tom Vilsack, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Wesley Clark and John Kerry are all weighing runs, but most have either waited too long to get started or have limited credibility. They're all long shots at best.

Within the list of real candidates, then, the lowest ranked is probably Al Gore. He's got some significant ideas and some fired up supporters, but it's unlikely caucusgoers at large will want to give him a second chance.

Next, I'd rank Clinton. She's done very little work here in Iowa, and in fact she's done little to help candidates or make friends anywhere. Plus, before she even enters the race she'll generate unfavorable feelings from nearly half the voter base. She's overrated by pundits at this point and will probably be an early disappointment.

Barack Obama is probably standing in second right now. Two weeks ago I said this about him:

He's the "it" candidate right now, and a popular pick for sure. But when he's exposed in prime time to a nationwide audience, if he doesn't walk on water he'll be seen as a disappointment.
I continue to stand behind that.

Then we've got John Edwards. The only polling data I've seen in Iowa puts him way out in front. He's popular, he's got a bit of a rock-star aura and it's believed in many circles that if we had nominated him for President four years ago, he'd live in the White House right now. He's also already more or less locked up the support of people like Ed Fallon, who could potentially bring another large block of voters from the left edge of the undecided pool.

To sum up: While we're still a long way out and anything could happen, right now I see John Edwards as the clear frontrunner, and he's way out in front of second place. It's his race to lose, and it's close to being over.


Saturday, December 16, 2006


Greetings from Wisconsin, where the cheese is good and the internet is dialup.

As such, I probably won't be posting a whole lot (unless I get really bored) between now and my return to Des Moines on the 30th.

To tie up a loose end before I go, though:

Ted, I'll take on the task of debating you on platforms as long as you acknowledge one thing: I'm not a leader of my party or a firm believer in everything my party preaches. I'm a registered Dem, and more unites me with the Democrats than divides me, but I'm not in lock step. Therefore, there may be some cases where you believe a plank is stupid and I agree. So as long as you don't expect me to defend everything, sure, I'll play with you for a while. I'll drop you an email when I'm back in town and we can discuss rules/format.

Until the 30th,


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Passing of the creator of a legend:

For those of you who don't know, presumably because you aren't half the nerd I am, Martin Nodell, the creator of the Green Lantern, passed away this morning. He was 91.

I wouldn't consider myself a huge follower, but I've been a comic book fan for several years now, since well before I was even interested in politics. The Green Lantern is one of my favorite heroes. Right up there with The Spectre for my favorite hero of all time.

I have to leave for work in a little bit, but I've decided to make today a green day in honor of Nodell. So if you see someone out today in a lime green 3XW shirt, with his green sunglasses on and lime green socks, it's probably me.


UPDATE: I forgot, I owe a hat tip to the Freakonomics blog for the info. They've also got an interesting related take on how the creators of many of the great superheroes were Jewish.

Daily reads for Wednesday, December 13

Nothing too exciting in the holidays today, so let's get straight to the reads.

The Register has a better story today on the rebirth of Project Destiny. Yesterday, I said it was absurd to call the plan "property tax relief" when it was being paid for by raising another tax. Today we get the numbers:

Des Moines' property tax rate would drop by about $1.85 per $1,000 of taxable value, according to an estimate from Allen McKinley of the city's finance department. After various tax breaks are factored in, the owner of a $100,000 home would save about $84 a year.

The savings, however, would be offset by the $160 that same person would pay in higher sales taxes, according to Mike Lipsman of the Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance.

The vote also would not freeze property assessments, which have climbed steadily for most homeowners, or prevent cities from increasing their property tax rates.
I think that pretty much speaks for itself.

Jim Pope of Melcher has a letter in today's Register. He wants the state to continue to support his gas guzzling habits:

I own a pickup truck, and I'm not a farmer, but I do own a fifth-wheel camper, which has to be pulled by a pickup.

I purchased my pickup in 2003 when I retired and gas was around $1.60 a gallon. Our plans to travel have changed considerably since gas has bounced upward to between $2 and $3 per gallon. When you get around six miles per gallon, I believe we pickup owners are more than making up the difference in licensing fees.
SIX miles per gallon? Let me make this perfectly clear for you, Jim. When you bought a vehicle that only got six miles per gallon, you should've paid the same registration costs (or more) that I'm paying for my 25 mpg Ford Escort, then you should have to pay more for gas, and on top of that you should've been smacked upside the head for being dumb enough to needlessly drive a vehicle that gets 6 mpg and bitch about gas prices.

Ted Sporer has a post up today on the continued efforts to change and rebuild the Republican Party of Iowa. Ted and I are kindred spirits on a few issues, but this line, in his list of problems with the existing party, was so heinous it needed to be rebutted (bolding is mine, the italicizing is Ted's):

· Lack of defining principles denies both the voting and volunteer base a rallying point because Republicans respond far more to ideas and principles than the mere partisan loyalty and class based hatred that motivates our adversaries. We must always be more than just not the Democrats.
I think I've said enough in this space over time about how much I hate blind partisanship on both sides. But I've also sat down with the Republican platform long enough to find these 33 laughably bad planks. Anyone, and I mean ANYONE with the balls to accuse the Democrats of "class based hatred" really needs to turn around for a second and take a look at some of the things his party leadership supported. If you're really still searching for the reasons why your volunteer support and vote totals are down, Ted, maybe it's because there's significantly fewer people in Iowa who want to stand a behind a party that sanctioned things like this:

3.17 We call for the repeal of the ban on reasonable corporal punishment in Iowa schools, and for legal protection for teachers and principals who reasonably punish students for misbehavior. We believe that students’ civil liberties are not being infringed upon by punishing wrong behavior.
Finally, along with many other Iowans today, my heart goes out to the children and families of the hundreds of workers detained in Marshalltown yesterday. Say what you will about immigration policies and enforcement, but there are two facts in this case that cannot be argued:

1) Meat packing plants and similar industries across the US would never be able to continue to operate without foreign labor. The people who stand on the rooftops and scream "They're taking our jobs!" are all welcome to walk into the Swift plant in Marshalltown today and apply. I doubt one of them will.

2) Hundreds of families in Marshalltown face a massive upheaval today with an uncertain future. Many of the soon to be or already deported have children that are US citizens, many have other family to support as well, and now they're left without jobs and with an uncertain future.

I don't need to tell you that the debate over immigration reform is much bigger than that and more factors come into play. Common Iowan has a good post up this morning with a starting point for a discussion on the issue. But nonetheless, it's worth asking if yesterday's raid was necessary or avoidable.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tidbits from Radio Iowa:

Three interesting news stories on the Radio Iowa website this afternoon:

I guess this one isn't really news, but it's worth reading: U of I students will be forced to work more and take bigger loans to cover tuition increases. In a related but somehow unreported story, upon graduation those same students will likely leave the state for better paying jobs in bigger cities to help pay off their loans.

Despite the Iowa Department of Economic Development's rosy outlook on their own performance, Manpower Inc's studies show that Iowa's job market is about to take a downturn. The worst news is in Ottumwa, where almost 1 in 4 employers expect to downsize in the first quarter of 2007. Quick, we need more taxpayer financed corporate handouts!

About 6 weeks after I called for Michael Gartner's resignation, Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) has done me one better eight better. He's calling for the resignation of the whole Board.


Project Debt Spinny Destiny back on the ballot

From the Register:

A plan that was yanked from November’s ballot asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax in Polk, Dallas and Warren counties will return in a special election July 10, advocates of the plan announced today.

The plan, known as Project Destiny, is backed by the Greater Des Moines Partnership and touted as a way to inject almost $75 million each year into 47 city and three county governments.
Here's the amazing part of this concept: Someone, somewhere, thinks that people are going to see it as a tax cut if they pay lower property taxes and cover the costs by raising the sales tax. It's a shell game at best.

This increase has a slight chance to passing if they do manage to get it on a special election ballot in July, at least more of a chance than it would have had if it had been on the ballot in November. But it's still a slight chance at best. Someone at the Greater Des Moines Partnership is determined to make this work. Now it's up to the voters to reject regressive taxation.


Tuesday, December 12 is...

Virgin of Guadalupe (Latin America)
Jamhuri Day (Kenya)
Constitution Day (Russia)
Neutrality Day (Turkmenistan)

Here in the blogosphere, of course, it's never Neutrality Day. Some things I refuse to remain neutral on today:

That happy-go-lucky group that everyone loves, the Iowa Board of Regents, has made another decision sure to thrill audiences statewide: a 5.2% tuition increase (7.2% if you have the unfortunate problem of not being an Iowan). There's nothing quite like making it harder for Iowans to go to college to repair a damaged reputation.

There's some talk (finally) about re-working the 2000 foot laws to make them...what's the word...less dangerous, but it'll never happen, because people like Mary Lundby (R-Head in the sand), continue to give quotes like this:

Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby of Marion said Republicans would resist any changes that would ease the requirements of existing state and local residency laws. She said she would like to see the Legislature enhance even further electronic monitoring of offenders, for which funding was improved last year.

Lundby balked at complaints by the law enforcement groups that the laws are difficult to enforce. "When law enforcement want to get out of doing their job, they always tell us they don't have enough resources," she said.
Or, in other words, if law enforcement groups can't track 6,000 newly transient or homeless sex offenders, leaving the state of Iowa even less sure of their whereabouts than it was before, that's not a bad law, that's poor law enforcement. It takes some giant balls to say that. The line is simple at this point: the 2000 foot law has made the problem worse with sex offenders instead of better, so the thing to do to make our children safer is to rework the law. But if you rework the law, Mary Lundby will attack you for not thinking in the best interest of the children, and it'll cost you. I just love partisan bullshit.

State 29 seems to have a personal vendetta with Roxanne Conlin, but in fleshing out said vendetta he does raise one valid point:

Why isn't Roxanne Conlin out suing Rod Aycox and the Loanmax? Do you think Aycox overcharges the average (poor) customer between $10.50 and $57 for each car-title or payday loan they process? You can bet on that.
I'm not a lawyer, so I'm unsure if the state has the legal footing to sue Loanmax. Anyone want to help me out on that? Anyone else want to sue Loanmax?

Finally, one of the things I'm kicking around in my head today, via Freakonomics: Write your six-word memoir. I'm still working on mine. Feel free to leave yours in the comments if you choose to participate. Try not to make it as emo as the ones people left in the comments at Freakonomics.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday, December 11 is...

National Day (Burkina Faso)
Escalade (Geneva)

From Europeforvisitors.com:

Every year in early December, the Swiss city-canton of Geneva interrupts its pre-Christmas festivities for a different kind of celebration: l'Escalade, a festival that celebrates the city's victory over the Duke of Savoy's invading troops in 1602.
Some other things to read and ponder today:

Reaction to my "hot" list has been mixed. State 29 says my list is the only one he agrees with and calls it "intriguing." Common Iowan recommended reading it. Drew Miller called it "obnoxious." I'm still researching, but it's possible that being called obnoxious by Drew Miller may be the absolute ultimate case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Douglas Pierce of Greenfield had a letter in the Register over the weekend that was worthy of a full repost:

Is it just me, or do other people agree that we are paying the governor until January? Is he going to reimburse the state of Iowa for his time spent engaging in this folly he is calling a presidential run?

The old adage of the mice will play while the cat is away seems to be right on in regard to the fiasco of a search for a president of the University of Iowa.
I'll reiterate what I've said before. Iowans elected Tom Vilsack to serve eight years. Right now he's served seven years and 11 months. All I want at this point is to know that his job as governor, which he still has for about a month, is his top priority. I don't feel like it is.

With that said, in a shocking development, Tom Vilsack's presidential campaign is receiving the support of his running mate. Join us next week when he announces he's been endorsed by his wife and senior staff.

It appears legislation that would ban smoking in public places could have a negative effect on casinos. I'm in favor of eliminating the dangers of secondhand smoke, to a point, but as someone who's strongly anti-gambling, having casinos that rank as the smokiest places on earth is also appealing. Back when I did go to casinos, I used to have to come home, change clothes and take a shower immediately so I wouldn't want to puke from the smell of stale cigarette smoke. That's a pretty effective gambling deterrent.

Joe over at Roth and Co. has the best coverage I've seen of the Iowa Department of Economic Development's most recent report to laud the achievements of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. While I think Joe and I differ greatly on the answer to the problem, we've at least established agreement on the problem.

Finally, here's a headscratcher: A Register editorial on the need to build spaceships and promote interstellar travel to find alternatives to our doomed planet to preserve our DNA in perpetuity. I'm wondering if Bill Richardson made the phone call that got the ball rolling on this one.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My not-so-hot list:

So now that Chris, Common Iowan and Drew Miller have done it, I'll add my significantly less optimistic hot list. Mine are ranked in order, and I'll try to add a bit of insight on why but I'll keep it brief. I'm also not including candidates who have withdrawn, because I don't see the point.


No one. In my mind, I have to be excited about having you as president to rank you as hot. There are several candidates I feel would be ok or don't know enough about.


I feel he's more flash than substance, but others who have spent more time with him tell me there's a good heart buried somewhere underneath that fake smile.

Clark: I feel like his real opportunity was four years ago, not now, but I feel that someone with military experience could be the one who engenders public trust from both sides on defense issues.

Biden: I played pool with him in August. He's got a ton of experience and he's loaded with ideas. He did vote for the war, which is a drawback, and he absolutely cannot under any circumstances stop talking long enough for someone else to finish a sentence, but there's a real substance in him that I haven't seen with anyone else I've met.

TEMPERATURE UNTESTED (these are in no particular order):


I've had at least six people tell me they're supporting Obama even though they can't tell me one thing he stands for. That's infuriating. He's the "it" candidate right now, and a popular pick for sure. But when he's exposed in prime time to a nationwide audience, if he doesn't walk on water he'll be seen as a disappointment.


Kerry and Gore:
I lump these two together because they fit the same criteria: well funded candidates who couldn't beat the least popular president of my lifetime. Whether the perceptions about them are true or not, they're set in stone now and no amount of bad jokes about Iraq or movies about global warming can change them.

Vilsack: I think he looks and acts presidential. I think I disagree with him on many/most issues and I think he's fiscally irresponsible. If Dennis Kucinich had looked and spoken like Tom Vilsack, he may have been taken seriously in his run for President. If Vilsack looked and sounded like Dennis Kucinich, he never would have been elected to the State Senate.

Richardson: Seems entirely unwilling to look the part. Broke out of a meeting with journalists and bloggers no less than 5 times in 10 minutes to converse with bystanders in Spanish. And if Vilsack is fiscally irresponsible, Richardson is fiscally criminal...we're talking about the guy who gave up state money to build a spaceport in New Mexico.

Clinton: In an election year where you couldn't throw a briefcase full of cash without hitting a presidential candidate raising money for another candidate, Clinton was conspicuously absent and unwilling to help out. Furthermore, due to some past transgressions, if she ran head-to-head against Satan, she'd only pull down about 55% of the vote. She'll have the money necessary to hire staff to run a campaign in Iowa if she chooses to do so, but she won't get the kind of big name endorsements others will, and she'll be seen as a major disappointment when she finishes third or worse.

Thursday, December 7 is...

President's Day (Ivory Coast)
Dia del Diablo (Guatemala)

Sorry, it's been a few days, I'm working a lot more than I'd planned lately, and you, noble reader, are the one who suffers. It's just the way things work.

A ton of belated reads for you today, though:

This story from yesterday's Register is worth a read purely for this quote:

"They were playing around with fireworks like a lot of the rest of us have done at one time or another," said Des Moines Police Detective Jack Kamerick. "They are all good kids. But if you're going to have a bottle rocket war it would be a lot better to do it outside. It would still be illegal but at least you wouldn't burn up a house."
House and Senate Democrats have picked their committee leaders. I remain cautiously optimistic: I think this year is a tremendous opportunity for a lot of good things to get done, but I'm hearing a lot of half-hearted "let's work slowly" talk. I don't think enough people realize what the voters will say in two years if we don't accomplish anything. And I don't think enough people remember that it may be 50 years before we get another opportunity like this one.

An open dislike for Michael Gartner is spreading into the community at large. We're closing in on two months since I called for him to resign. At the time, I was accused of "screaming fire in an empty movie theater." But today, the search for a new president at the U of I is completely halted, and he's still refusing to answer questions. Add "President of the Board of Regents" to the list of things I'm nominating Nick Johnson for.

Krusty has an interesting read up on the potential move to get the offices of the State Auditor and Secretary of State out of the Statehouse to make more room for other things. He seems to think it's a bad idea:

Do we really need to kick out an elected State Auditor and an elected Secretary of State to make room for staff? I think some staff people think a little bit to highly of themselves. The people of Iowa should be able to go to the State Kapitol and easily visit their state wide elected officials. Vaudt and Mauro should not be pushed out to make room for unelected staffers.
I think there's two points worth making here:

1) The Secretary of State's main office is already outside the capitol. He maintains an office in the statehouse, but he's rarely there. I've been in the office several times and I've never once actually seen him there.

2) It's not like these guys spend all day sitting on their front steps greeting constituents. If you walk through the Capitol, it's cool to be able to see the sign and point at the office for Secretary of State and Auditor, but it's unlikely at best that you'll be able to walk in and launch an impromptu meeting.

Citizen access is important, but I think the actual impact of having the Auditor and Secretary of State at the statehouse is overblown.

Bret Hayworth had an interesting conversation this week on the state and evolution of media. I think he makes an interesting point on the possible overpromotion of web content to a generation that's largely computer illiterate, but I think he misses a more important one: As much as the web has grown, it will only continue to grow as current generations get older and create a world where everyone uses it.

There's a new conservative blog out there: Cyclone Conservative. In their third post, they jumped right into the rumor mill and suggested, once again, that Ed Fallon is running for Congress. I refuted this months ago, and I attempted to refute it again this time, but they've pulled my comment. This is exactly what we need: More thin-skinned gossip mongers.

Finally, let's talk Hawk-I. Yesterday, the Register reported that the Hawk-I program misspent $6.7 million, $3.5 of which will have to be returned to the federal government. State 29 immediately jumped on this, calling it the reason state government can't be allowed to run health care. Chris Woods was quick to jump to the other extreme, blaming the marketplace and private contractors. Truth is, most of the blame should fall on one group:

State government: It's pretty apparent that the Department of Human Services hired private contractors to run Hawk-I and did a world-class job in failing to supervise them. There's no way around that. And when you're looking at a program as large as Hawk-I, that's unforgivable. When IWD was failing to supervise CIETC, the same thing was true. Heads rolled at IWD, and I'm confident heads will roll at DHS. Hopefully, the replacements at both posts will learn this lesson. But the question remains: how many times does this need to happen before we pass legislation keeping state organizations from outsourcing without responsibility?

This brings us to another problem, though:

Oversimplified politics: There's a simple reason the DHS outsources projects like this: they don't have the staff or capacity to do it themselves. And they can't compete with the private sector to hire and retain the kind of employees they would need to do it. But they also can't receive increased funding, because the right would label it as "wasteful government" and the people who voted for it would lose their seats.

So, because we've simplified the debate down to "less government, lower taxes" vs "big, expensive government," we're getting the government we paid for. Then we're paying for its mistakes.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

What're you doing tonight?

Come see me in action!

3XW Holiday Havoc
Saturday Dec 02, 2006, 7:30 PM

Waukee Middle School
905 Warrior Lane
Waukee, IA 50263

Doors open 7:15 pm, Bell time 7:30 pm

The show will include four first-round matchups in the tournament to crown a new 3XW Heavyweight Champion:

Gage Octane vs. Nate Bash

"Delicious" Devin Carter vs. Tyler Cook

Brian Ash vs. Ben Sailer

Tony Scarpone vs. "The Rebel" Jeremy Wyatt

Also on the card :

3XW Women's champion AnnThraxx will be there and has promised that she will be defending her title in an open challenge to anyone brave enough to face her !

8 Man Holiday Havoc elimination tag team match -

Team Northstar - Darin Corbin, Ryan Cruz, Casanova & Ryan Slade
Team Future - Dan Lawrence, Aaron Masterson, Ricky Kwong & Arya Daivari

"The Unbreakable" Zack Thompson will be taking on Des Moines, IA native Hunter Matthews, who is making his 3XW debut

Also in action : Shane Hollister, Krotch, Bryce Benjamin, Machine and Tristan Hayze.

3XW will also be having a Toys for Tots box available at the Front Table. Bring in a toy, and receive a discount on DVD and Tshirt purchases. For every toy that is brought in receive $1 off your DVD purchase. Max $3 off. For Tshirts receive $2 off per Tshirt.

Remember these toys are going to children who need our help.

Tickets - $15 Front Row, $10 General Admission in advance or $12 at the door, Kids 10 & Under $6, Kids 3 & under are free admission


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Chris Woods responds to my thoughts on Vilsack

Chris Woods has a post up where, among other things, he takes a shot at my earlier comments on Vilsack's "visit" to Iowa tomorrow:

One other thing: I felt obligated to respond to this post by Kyle where he laments the title of the email Christie Vilsack sent out from the campaign entitled “We’re coming to your state this week” because its emblematic of the traveling Gov. Vilsack has been doing and because he hasn’t been focused on governance. I think there are some legitimate discussions to be had over his level of involvement in governance and policymaking in Iowa over the last 6 months, but in large part I say Vilsack has done a fine job of being politically involved by making sure that Democrats won — and won big — on election day. Sure he was out working on a run for President but that’s what happens when you’re holding one elected office and are seeking another that’s higher than you. I’m sure Ed Fallon’s run for governor took a bit away from strictly focusing on the issues facing House District 66, but it didn’t stop Fallon and the circumstances facing Vilsack’s current position and the one he’s seeking now shouldn’t stop him in his endeavors. Not to mention the fact that the email was a bulk one sent from the email address info@tomvilsack08.com, so it likely went to folks in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania as well as folks in Iowa.
I tried to post a comment but it's not showing up for some reason. So I'll do my best to recreate my three points in response here:

I say Vilsack has done a fine job of being politically involved by making sure that Democrats won — and won big — on election day.
Vilsack certainly deserves some credit for the financial help he gave several candidates, including over $1 million to Chet Culver. But I think it would have been a good year for Democrats with or without Tom Vilsack's help.

I’m sure Ed Fallon’s run for governor took a bit away from strictly focusing on the issues facing House District 66, but it didn’t stop Fallon
This is apples and oranges. From time to time Fallon was in Dubuque or Sioux City, where he was perhaps 2-3 hours drive away from his constituents. He did not, however, spend whole weeks in New Hampshire. Fallon was also off the road for most of the legislative session. Furthermore, Fallon was one of 150 legislators during his campaign, not the top executive official of a state.

Not to mention the fact that the email was a bulk one sent from the email address info@tomvilsack08.com, so it likely went to folks in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania as well as folks in Iowa.
This is exactly the point. Iowans have voted and paid for Tom Vilsack to serve as governor of Iowa for nearly eight years. The nearly is very important there, because his eight years aren't over yet. While he's still collecting a paycheck and serving as the state's top executive official, his trips back to Iowa should be more than just "visits."


Tuesday, November 28 is...

Independence Day (Mauritania, Albania, Panama and East Timor)

Tuesday, November 28 is also almost over. Sorry for the delay.

There are, however, three things I wanted to respond to today:

I consider Elesha Gayman a friend and I'm proud to have helped elect her to the legislature. I'm glad she's getting press coverage, but if I read one more story like this one, I'm going to scream.

I donated to Elesha's campaign, I volunteered for her campaign, and on more than one occasion I used this space to promote her campaign. I can tell you from experience that she's more than just a young woman. Elesha is a solid progressive on the right side of most issues and she'll be a breath of fresh air in Des Moines. At some point the press is going to have to take a step closer and realize she's more than just a sideshow. But right now, all they seem to notice is her age and her lack of testicles.

Moving on, I got an email from Christy Vilsack today, subject line "We're coming to your state this week." Never has this site been more appropriate. I think it says a lot about the way Tom Vilsack has operated over the last six months that he'll be "visiting" Iowa this week.

Finally, I wanted to respond to this comment, which Ted Sporer left on this post regarding Bill Northey:

Give Bill a chance-he's a good guy and not a pawn of big agriculture. No one really gave Bill a lot of money and he comes into the office beholden to few if any particular constituents.
I think the "no one gave really gave Bill a lot of money" line is particularly ridiculous. If you've lost your scorecard, allow me to remind you of something: Iowans for Agriculture, which was funded by Iowa Farm Bureau, outspent both candidates. If that figure, nearly $200,000, is not "a lot of money" to you, then we must run in significantly different financial circles.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Vilsack running for president...of the U of I?

Kay Henderson has an interesting rumor: That Tom Vilsack's efforts to help the Regents find a new president for the U of I could lead to Tom Vilsack as president of the U of I. Check it out.


Welcome Dan Ehl and other Centervillians

Dan Ehl of the Centerville Daily Iowegian wrote a piece over the weekend which is largely about State 29's decline from "insightfully vulgar" to over-the-top, porn-obsessed, hateful and vulgar. You may remember Ehl from this story in September.

Ehl makes an interesting case for labelling State as a conservative, which is something that's been done before, but the case has never been made quite as effectively as it is in this case:

But, being the bleeding heart liberal that I am, I’m afraid I have to feel compassion for him (State) since a federally-funded study says that people like him are, ah, not as well balanced as others.

Called “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition,” known to others as the “Conservatives are Crazy Study,” it linked together Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh.

"One is justified in referring to Hitler, Mussolini, Reagan, and Limbaugh as right-wing conservatives," the authors write in a published adjunct to the study, "not because they share an opposition to 'big government' or a mythical, romanticized view of Aryan purity — they did not share these specific attitudes — but because they all preached a return to an idealized past and favored or condoned inequality in some form."

There's also a quote from me in the article, which drew my attention.

So Dan, if you're reading, thanks for the mention, and if you're a reader of the Daily Iowegian checking me out after the mention, welcome.


Monday, November 27 is...

Onion Market (Bern, Switzerland)

From Wikipedia:

Zibelemärit - The Zibelemärit (onion market) is an annual fair held on the fourth Monday in November.
So, if you didn't finish your holiday shopping with the crazy people on Friday, I guess today you could buy some onions in Bern. If, of course, you live in Bern. You probably don't.

I haven't been sleeping much lately, which has more or less eliminated my need for an alarm. I could go to bed at 7:15 and I'd be up and wide awake sometime between 7:30 and 8. For whatever reason, though, today something was different and I slept until 8:30, meaning I accidentally lost an hour out of my only opportunity to get things done this week. So, I'm limiting myself to short reads today so I can go jump in the shower:

File this one under the heading "shocking news": Students who gain weight as freshmen often continue to gain weight as sophomores. Stay tuned for tomorrow's follow-up story: students who drink today are also likely to drink tomorrow.

On the terrible headline scale, this is almost off the charts: Wife killer opens taco stand. It's actually not a bad story, but it's a terrible open. I would guess most people who spend 20 years in prison don't come out and immediately contribute to society. James Klindt committed a terrible crime, but he's paid his debt to society and now he's making it on his own. I think that's both admirable and praiseworthy.

Of course, now that he's been in the paper, some asshole in Davenport will do their damnedest to get him shut down.

Nick Johnson's great coverage of the presidential search at the U of I continued through my absence, and yesterday he joined me in calling for Gartner's resignation. Hopefully Vilsack will put his boot squarely in the middle of Gartner's back in their meeting today.

Speaking of Nick Johnson, as a former commissioner of the FCC, I'm really curious what he thinks about the situation between Sinclair and Mediacom. I'll drop him an email and see if I can get his thoughts on it.

Finally, T.M. Lindsey, formerly known as Jimmy The Hustler of Nussle and Flow, has created a new blog, Political Fallout, which I've added to the links on your right. I think I was outspoken enough on my disapproval of Nussle and Flow, which I won't link from here, but this blog seems a little less personal and perhaps more useful.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A new high score:

Killing some time at the office waiting for a meeting:

#1 and #2 are both from today.


Tuesday's reads

I absent-mindedly took the calendar off my wall at work so I could put it on my wall at home, so today I have no idea what the date is, much less the holidays. Sorry. I do have some reads for you, though.

Via the often excellent Freakonomics blog, I found this NY Times story on wineries in Iowa. Some salient points:

“I will make as much selling grape plants off of two acres this year as I did many years on 1,000 acres of corn and raising 3,000 head of hogs,” said Mr. Olson, who makes much of his money selling cuttings to other aspiring vintners.

Corey Goodhue is one such young farmer. His family cultivates 3,300 acres of corn and soybeans near Des Moines. Upon graduation from Iowa State University in December, Mr. Goodhue, 23, will have many options but says he will go back to the farm. He has big ideas about grapes.

“We’re not getting enough value out of corn and beans,” he said. “But these grapes, there’s a tremendous market emerging. On one acre of ground, if we net $40 with corn or beans we’ve done good. With grapes, you could net upwards of $1,500 an acre. For us, growing grapes, it’s the holy grail of high-value crops.”

It all comes back to diversity. We can plow all of Iowa under and use it to make ethanol, or we can diversify and make our family farms profitable again. It really is that simple.

Moving on, there's no way I could provide coverage of the U of I presidential search to compare to what Nick Johnson has done, so again today I'll link you to his coverage.

Finally, BREAKING NEWS: Vegetarian didn't like steakhouse. This story is one of those stories that Chelsea writes every now and then that you think just might end in sex. It doesn't, of course, but it could have.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Monday, November 20 is...

Rights of the Child Day (UN)
Revolution Day

It's ironic that on Rights of the Child Day the conversation has come back to education and the Board of Regents.

If you haven't heard, the U of I isn't getting a new president anytime soon. The Board of Regents decided on Friday to scrap the current set of applicants (over 150) and start over. There's enough great coverage of this to go around, so if you haven't yet, be sure to check out the following:

Nick Johnson
The Register
Radio Iowa
State 29
Iowa City Press Citizen

The Press Citizen piece marks the first editorial I've seen calling for a shakeup within the Board of Regents to end all this crap. I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, I started calling for Michael Gartner's resignation a month ago.

Even if you're willing to give Gartner the benefit of the doubt on some of his actions from before his time with the Regents, the fact remains that he has lost the trust (and deservedly so) of many members of the faculty and staff at the Regents universities. If this isn't remedied, it will get worse. There have been accusations that Michael Gartner wants to end public funding to our state universities. Let's end public funding to Michael Gartner first.

Other notes today:

I live in the Drake neighborhood, and I used to worry when I read stories like this one about muggings. But I've also gotten used to reading lines like this:

The men struck Noonen in the head and took his wallet, which had $10 in it, the report said.
I think the easiest way to prevent crime is to show how it doesn't pay. Four men in my neighborhood are splitting $10 today, and all they had to do to get it is risk years in prison. I'm carrying $7 in cash today, a Wisconsin fishing license, my Cosmonaut Club card for Mars Cafe and my Frequent Noodler card for Z'Marik's. I'm rarely, if ever, worth the effort it would take someone to get my wallet.

Finally, Common Iowan has a good post up on the dangers of overexpansion of ethanol in Iowa. The need to diversify is greater than ever. Good thing we elected a past president of the Iowa Corngrowers Association as Secretary of Ag.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

General Disarray

The move went well, but things are still in a state of General Disarray, so I may still be gone for a day or two.

Here's a picture of General Disarray, by the way.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I get the keys to my new place in 20 minutes, and I'm not sure when the internet will be hooked up, so if you don't hear from me for a few days, fear not, it's nothing personal.


Tuesday, November 14 is...

King Hussein Day (Jordan)
Children's Day (India)

I was going to skip the reads and just go straight into the debate today, but then I saw one thing in this morning's Register that demanded my attention:


By the way, here's my Myspace.

Anyway, on to a more worthwhile discussion. I mentioned yesterday that Joe had offered a platform for his (hypothetical) political party (can we call it the Kristan right?). Today Iowa Ennui offers a post-election post on what the Republican party needs to do to rebuild. They both seem to have a point in common, which seems about as accurate as the Myspace comment from before: that Democrats are bound and determined to raise your taxes and blow the money.

I think it's important to put that argument into context. Say you were faced with two options:

a) Raise taxes, balance the budget and continue to operate on the status quo,


b) Cut taxes, raise spending, spend approximately $1 trillion more than you brought in over a three year stretch, and sell the debt to the nation's ever-growing economic competitors.

I'd take the first option, and I think most Americans would be with me. Sadly, over the last 6 years of more-or-less one party rule, we've gone down the second road. Way down the second road. Blame it on whatever you want, it's still tremendously irresponsible. So if your argument against Democratic leadership is their fiscal irresponsibility, I'd say they can't be much worse than their predecessors.

Furthermore, you can't consider taxes in a vacuum. Everyone likes the concept of lower taxes. Everyone likes the concept of being able to work less and take home more. But it's not that simple. There are expenses to consider.

Here's a real life example. In 2006, I'm going to make about $24,000, all told. Based on the fact that I have student loan debt, rent to pay and bad teeth, I'm probably also going to spend about $23,999 in 2006. I could pursue jobs that pay more, but I like where I'm at right now. I could cut some corners and spend less money too, but I like how I live right now. I don't, however, have a long-term option of keeping my current spending habits but making less money. Eventually I'd max out my credit cards and tap out my other options and I'd be forced to return to fiscal reality. Government needs to come back to fiscal reality too. If they're going to make less money, they also need to find a way to spend less money. Right now they're about $400 billion annually in the hole on that.

This is where Joe takes it to the next level, and makes real suggestions where government could cut costs to pay for tax cuts. Some of his suggestions:

...Get the government out of the business of allocating investment capital. This means no research credits, no ethanol credits, no historic building credits, no venture capital credits, no tuition credits. Then...

Shrink Iowa's government. Iowa delivers government services with the same structure that it has had 100 years ago. Does any business operate that way? Go to 10-15 counties; we sure don't need 99. Force more school consolidation. Stop squandering money on convention centers, stadiums, and the like. And maybe trim duplicated programs at the state universities. What about our "unmet needs?" If jobs are going begging in Iowa, like the Register keeps telling us, any such needs aren't likely things the state of Iowa will be very good at fixing.
I'm in favor of some of those things. Not all, but some. Ten years ago, the Hotel Pattee in Perry was vacant. Today, it's struggling, but it's also valued at about $3.7 million and it was a key part of the revitalization of downtown Perry. Historic tax credits played a part in that. Research credits save lives, flatly. And while I can't justify taking Iowa down to 10-15 counties, I think 30-50 is a viable option. But if lower taxes are your highest priority, I think these are some of the points that need to be considered.

If you started skimming when I started ranting, this is the time to start reading again. This isn't about higher or lower taxes. It's about fiscal responsibility, and the way I see it, fiscal responsibility can be divided into two equally important points:

1) Don't take more than what you need.
2) Don't spend more than what you have.

Any solid fiscal strategy needs to include both of those points. And anyone who suggests that one party does both things better than the other is full of crap.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday, November 13 is...

Republic Day (Brazil)
Remembrance Day (Bermuda)

The photo above (via Wikipedia) is of the Remembrance Day parade in Hamilton, Bermuda, taken in 1990. I didn't post on Saturday for Veterans Day, but I do think it's important for all of us to take a moment from time to time to honor those who have left behind their lives to defend their country. I think it's also important to remember that there are veterans everywhere, and that taking a moment to remember those who have shown bravery, patriotism and commitment to their country and their fellow countrymen should not be something we limit to those inside our borders. Bravery is not a purely American concept.

Moving on. I was greatly disappointed, as were many others, by Russ Feingold's decision over the weekend not to seek the 2008 nomination. The best post on the matter comes from Noneed4thneed, who published it at Common Iowan and at Iowa for Feingold. You can also read the letter he sent to supporters announcing his decision at Blog for Iowa.

Another topic gathering a lot of discussion is the restructuring, or the need for restructuring, within the Republican party. Krusty, Ted Sporer and State 29 have all weighed in, but I think the most interesting and thought-provoking proposals have come from Joe Kristan and Steve Salem via Bret Hayworth. As a registered Democrat, I'm not exceptionally inclined to support and probably not qualified to assist in the rebuilding of the Republican party, but both Joe and Steve Salem add something else to the debate: an opportunity to have a legit discussion on issues, which I'm always in favor of. I'm keeping Joe's post starred in my Google Reader so I can do a more in-depth response later.

Finally, from the Register via State 29, apparently my alma mater, Drake, along with the U of I and DMACC, is considering banning smoking on the entire campus. As a non-smoker and someone who uses his voice for a living, I'm always in favor of smoke-free places, but this seems a little extreme. Even at Drake's relatively small campus, a campus-wide smoking ban would turn some students and employees' five-minute smoke break into a half-hour walk. An outdoor smoking ban would be difficult at best to enforce, and it's not really necessary. We're talking about college campuses, not hospitals. Anyone who's lived in a dorm for a week has undoubtably been exposed to a variety of smells and pollutants that make cigarette smoke seem pleasant.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Let's let the voters decide:

State 29 produced an almost obscenity-free post yesterday in response to my claim that Dave Loebsack's win was among the biggest upsets of my lifetime and the biggest turnaround I've ever seen.

State made a fair point: Vilsack's 1998 win was also a pretty major upset.

I'd have to say that Tom Vilsack's defeat of former Iowa Supreme Court justice Mark McCormick in the 1998 Democratic goobernatorial primary (52% to 48%) was huge. McCormick had a 20 point lead in the polls just a couple weeks before the primary.

Couple that victory with Vilsack's come-from-behind-and-ass-slapping defeat of two-time loser Jim Ross Lightfoot in the general election later that year and this particular double-shot multi-orgasm has to qualify as the biggest political turnaround in Iowa that I've ever seen.

I'll try to narrow this down to bullet points:

Vilsack (1998):
Overcame double digit deficits in the polls in two different elections.
Won with no coordinated campaign and an Iowa Democratic Party that was bankrupt.
Defeated a Republican with high statewide name recognition due to previous runs for office and a former Iowa Supreme Court justice.

Loebsack (2006):
Overcame a failure to gather enough signatures to appear on the primary ballot.
Was only seen as the third-best Democratic prospect in his own state.
Defeated a 30-year incumbent.

Which upset was bigger? I don't know. I think I'll let you decide. Here's the poll:

Which was the bigger upset?
Vilsack (1998)
Loebsack (2006)
Free polls from Pollhost.com

I'll post something on the results eventually.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

An election roundup, part 2: Statewide races

Like most of my readers (probably), I voted for Culver, O'Brien and Mauro, and got two of the three desired results.

I think there are some lessons to be learned from the Secretary of State race, but I think they're different from the one David Yepsen claimed today:

So, for example, when a little-known candidate is chosen at the last minute to run for secretary of state based on her religious views and not her electability, well, it just cedes the job to a Democrat.

I don't think Hanusa lost because of her religious views. I think Hanusa lost because she was a non-Iowan nominated at the last minute against a well-qualified Democrat. If Hanusa had started running for the office when Mauro did, I think we would have seen a legitimate race. As for her lack of qualifications or electability, the only things I know about Hanusa is that she used to live in western Iowa, and she also used to work in the White House. I don't know if she was qualified to be SoS or not. Most voters probably didn't.

But for any challenger, it would have been a tough run. Mike Mauro is a well-known, well-liked man who has spent decades running elections in the state's largest county. I can't think of anyone more qualified to oversee our state's elections. He's light years more qualified than his predecessor.

I'm disappointed but not entirely surprised by the results in the race for Secretary of Agriculture. I do think Denise O'Brien was the better candidate, with better ideas for the future of agriculture and the wellbeing of all Iowans, not just the Farm Bureau, in mind. However, I think her campaign made tremendous missteps in their handling of the allegations that came out in the last week and cost themselves the race. Saying that's unfortunate would be putting it mildly. The race did teach me a lot about agriculture, though, so at least I can be grateful for that.

I voted for Chet Culver. I helped Ed Fallon write and produce "Don't Write Me In," which hopefully convinced others to vote for Culver. So I was pleased to see him win, although I was surprised by the margin by which he did so.

Early on election day, in an email to a friend, I said this:

I think the long term positive of this election, as nasty as it's been for as long as it has been, is that it may be the tipping point on negative ads. The 2008 caucuses are less than 15 months away, and we're probably only 9-10 months away from full-blown statewide campaigns starting up again. Voters aren't going to have the opportunity to forget all this crap before it starts again. Maybe this is the cycle where enough momentum builds to start the revolution. Or maybe not. But I can hope, right?

Turns out, the tipping point on negative ads may have come earlier than I thought. When I think back on Jim Nussle's TV ads, all I remember is a sea of negativity. He had a nice positive ad talking into the camera that aired on the last weekend, but it was too little too late. Culver mixed some nice positive ads in with the crap: the "big lug" ad may have been smarmy and overplayed, but it was memorable. The ad with Culver and Judge in their rain gear talking about wasteful spending in Congress was genius. When the negative ads in this race were all running together, Culver's campaign found a way to stand out. Now he gets to be governor. And Patty Judge gets to be one heartbeat away from being governor. The latter point scares the crap out of me.

I think the next few months will be as interesting as any I've experienced during my time in Iowa politics. For the first time in my lifetime, Democrats are in near-total control at the state level. They've got a unique opportunity to make huge strides on a lot of issues, starting with raising the minimum wage, ending predatory lending and raising the cigarette tax. What they do after those three things, though, will determine how long they're in office. As I mentioned before, this is the first time in my lifetime they've had this opportunity. If they screw it up, it'll be the last time.


An election roundup, part 1: Congress

I intended to write yesterday, but the day after Election Day turned out to be a little busier than I expected. Actually, that may be a good thing, it's given me a day to think about my reaction to Tuesday's events. Some quick thoughts:

Congressional races: No surprises in the first, fourth and fifth. Well, actually, one surprise. I was expecting Roy Nielsen to do better in the fifth, maybe even becoming the first independent candidate in recent memory to beat a major party candidate. My mistake.

In the third, I'm mildly encouraged by the events of the last few days. I've been hard on Boswell for running nasty negative ads that any progressive should be embarrassed by. He won by a relatively wide margin. Whether the ads were necessary or not is something we'll never know. But I do feel like one step in the right direction has been taken.

Two years ago, I stood on the floor at the Iowa Democratic Party's election night party when we found out that America faced four more years of W. About the same time, Leonard Boswell took the stage to give his victory speech. He used it to announce that he was running again. That was the point when I stopped voting straight-ticket. I had knocked doors for more than half a dozen candidates, Boswell was the only one who had won, and instead of telling us what he hoped to accomplish in his next two years, he told us he was launching his next campaign.

Fast forward to Tuesday night. Leonard Boswell has just won handily, partly by raising more money than any congressional candidate in history, and he's coming to the podium. I cringe, expecting to be infuriated again. Instead, he says we need to change the way campaigns are run. I couldn't agree more, and I'll be watching to see if he takes a step to make it happen. I'm still skeptical, but it's significantly better than what I expected.

Moving on to the second. At the very least, I'm pleasantly surprised. I wrote Dave Loebsack off in March, and in September when the first polls showed he was close, I accused his campaign of push polling. It turns out I was wrong on both counts.

Make no mistake, Loebsack's victory is one of the biggest upsets of our lifetime, but it's also the biggest turnaround I've ever seen. Just eight months ago, Loebsack's campaign wasn't even organized enough to get him on the ballot in the primary. Today he's a Congressman-elect who defeated an incumbent who started serving almost a decade before I was born. Impressive, to say the least.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Good morning.

I downloaded the New Mozilla Firefox yesterday, meaning every time I click on a link, it opens in a new tab. I had forgotten why I hate that.

Then, this morning, I was gathering links to write my morning roundup post, clicked the X to close one of them, and accidentally closed them all. So no morning roundup post today.

And to be honest, in all likelihood, that's probably all I would have written today. I've got a wide variety of things keeping me busy right now.

1) I'm moving. I'm only moving 3 blocks, but I get the keys to my new place on the 15th, and have to be out of my old place by the 30th, with a trip to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving in the middle. So that's on my mind a lot.

2) Election Day. There's actually two things that this impacts:

a) There are lots of people I could be helping with the time I'm spending here, and

b) Most of the political news I would write about is already being covered to death.

3) Wrestling. I'm going to Mankato on Thursday, maybe to Illinois this weekend, and 3XW is back in Ottumwa on the 18th, so that's on my mind a fair amount too.

So, with that said, I'm going on hiatus until at least election day, when one of those three factors will have passed.

I'll be back eventually.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday, October 30 is...

King's Birthday (Cambodia)
October Holiday (Ireland)

These are some awfully uncreative holidays.

I know I haven't written since Thursday, and I'm sorry for that. A handful of things, not the least of them being 3XW, have been holding my attention the last few days. Also, I wrote this letter, which was published in the Register.

Something else I missed: CSI Des Moines is up and in full swing. Was it the stripper? Or her "companion?" Stay tuned to find out!

Finally, the Department of Cultural Affairs has picked six new winners to spend our tax dollars. I've written at great length about the problems with doing economic development this way, so instead of repeating it, I'll just let you know that you can see a sampling of the problems here and here.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday, October 26 is...

Flag Day (Austria)

Two small reads and a big one for you today:

The State GOP is playing fast and loose with the facts again. Today, as documented in this Register story, they've sent out a mailer accusing Eric Palmer of being late on his property taxes six times. As it turns out, he was only late twice, and four other offenses the GOP has attributed to him actually occured before he owned the building.

It's bad enough that they're sending out mailings with inaccuracies, but let's take a step beyond that and look at exactly what they're accusing. Eric Palmer didn't try to skip out on his property taxes. He paid a two bills a grand total of 1 month and 21 days late, and paid $43 in penalties for doing so. It's hardly something to use to disqualify him from public office.

When asked about it, though, GOP spokeswoman Sarah Sauber stretched the lie a step farther:

"The point of the mailing is to point out that Eric Palmer was voting to raise taxes in Oskaloosa while he wasn't paying his taxes."

Palmer paid his last late bill in 1997. He was elected to the city council in 2001.

Moving on: The Des Moines Airport is still not safe, but it is winning tourism awards.

Finally, in case you didn't notice it last night, Sinclair Broadcasting is run by the slimiest people on Earth. Here's a Register story for background.

Sinclair and Mediacom are in a contract dispute, and they're both trying to negotiate, which is their right and I understand that. In the meantime, Sinclair is running spots on their station making people aware of the problem. I'm ok with that. They're also offering people rebates to screw Mediacom and switch to DirecTV. That's shaky, but life goes on.

BUT, last night they stepped way over the line. I'll acknowledge that KDSM is free to do what it will during regular programming, but last night, during a rain delay in the World Series, they ran a NEWS BROADCAST with the conflict as the top story. That's bullshit. There's no excuse for compromising the integrity of your news department for leverage in contract negotiations.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Crappy tapping

A busier than usual office has forced me to miss a couple days of Tapper this week, and my scores today reflect my rust:

63075 (#3 overall)

I'll try to do better tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 25 is...

Independence Day (Kazakhstan)
Thanksgiving Day (Grenada)
Restoration Day (Taiwan)

Whether you're thankful, independent or in need or restoration this morning, I've got reads for you.

First and foremost, you won't find me blogging a lot about it, because I'm involved in it, I wanted to point out this story from the Register about Ed Fallon's third open records request to IDED in 2006. Hopefully this time we'll get answers.

Again today in the Register, we have claims that Michael Gartner, president of the Board of Regents, is working behind the backs of faculty at the Regents institutions. This comes on the heels of reports that Gartner and Board President Pro Tem Teresa Wahlert told the universities to plan as if state funding is going to dry up, which they denied despite the fact that it was confirmed by several credible sources.

I'm not sure if I'm the first to say this, but I want to make sure someone says it: Michael Gartner needs to resign. This is getting way out of hand. Whether these allegations are true or not, the fact that they keep coming up shows that Gartner, at best, has a poor working relationship with the people he's supposed to represent. Maintaining that relationship is one of the critical aspects of his job. If he can't do it, it's time for him to step aside and make room for someone who can. Once again, I'll nominate Nick Johnson.

The Des Moines Airport still isn't safe.

Finally, an answer to the age old question: Yes, chickens have lips, and they look delicious.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Two columns worth reading:

Yesterday, Valley Junction gave out the Porkies, but I failed to notice that Todd Dorman announced the nominees for an equally important award, the Apathies:

With just two weeks left before Election Day, it's time to announce the nominees for the Apathies --- a coveted trophy intended to reward the best in political advertising and message craft.

The Apathies will be presented at a gala event on the Saturday after the election, unless no one cares enough to show up. Here are your nominees.

Go read it. Laugh. Then cry.

Brian Cooper of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald also wrote a great editorial today about election season that shows how hyperpartisanship has shaped our debate:

One thing has changed, at least in my observation, over the past three decades. It’s unfortunate that people seem less willing to accept that folks who hold a different opinion are not automatically bad, evil or stupid.

Democracy is about discussion, debate and decisions. Thoughtful people should be able to disagree without demonizing the other side. But it seems that people are less willing to believe that.

Take heart: Two weeks from Tuesday, Election 2006 will be history.

Click here to read it in the TH (free membership required) or here to read it on his blog (no membership required).


More on why your money doesn't matter.

A few weeks ago, I think I surprised some people a bit by advocating for small donors to hold on to their money and not waste it on campaigns where it will be a drop in the bucket.

Moments like this are exactly why. The Democratic Governor's Association pledged to donate another $150,000 to Chet Culver today. This is their third donation to Culver, raising their total to $1.15 million.

There's no way I can argue my donations are relevant when groups like the DGA give candidates more than I'm on pace to take home in the next 50 years.


Tuesday, October 24 is...

Independence Day (Zambia)

Quiet day on the international holidays front, I guess. Perhaps it's time to Ring Rang-a-Dong for a Holiday.

While it's a quiet day for international holidays, it's a tremendously busy day for Tom Alex of the Register, who has these three stories today:

The Des Moines Airport still isn't safe.

Apes can pull fire alarms too

If you're going to complain about the delivery time of a pizza, you should order the pizza first.

Also in today's Register: Two letter writers express a point I made last week: Waukee schools knew, at the very least, they were treading on thin ice with their logo, and now that they've been called on it, they should play by the rules.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Polling out all the stops:

Just because we all know I love polls:

The Muscatine Journal wants to know which gubernatorial candidate you're voting for. Results so far:

Nussle 44%
Culver 42%
Don't care 9%
Someone else 6%

Those numbers add up to 101%, but I doubt it's due to vote fraud. To the best of my knowledge, the Muscatine Journal is not using Diebold machines to count their votes.

Anyway, go vote.


Did they call the awards the Porkies?

From the Register:

West Des Moines officials and community members unveiled the glitz and glamour of an Oscar-style award show for their presentation to the Iowa "Great Places" advisory committee this morning.

Valley Junction is one of 12 finalists for the state's program. The program helps cities use state resources to accomplish renovation and economic redevelopment proposals.

Members of the Historic Valley Junction Foundation, as well as residents, business owners and city officials, presented awards based on the plans for the historic district.

Each idea for a project or improvement for Valley Junction was formatted into an award for one of the "Great Places" programs initiatives that was then presented to a community member.

I wonder what was in the "gift bags" they gave out to the audience.

This is exactly what's wrong with the state's current economic development strategy. Twelve communities compete, and presumably spend public funds to do so. At the end of the day, nine of them get to eat their losses, while three get to call themselves Porky award winners "Great Places." The thousands of remaining communities in Iowa will see no benefit, but will nonetheless get to pay the bill.

So, to sum up:


Three cities declared "Great Places."


Nine cities that spent public funds applying to be a "Great Place" but come away with nothing, and thousands of other Iowa cities that paid the taxes to make this contest possible, but didn't even get to compete.

That doesn't seem like a winning proposition to me.

Monday, October 23 is...

Chulalongkorn Day (Thailand)
Memorial Day (Hungary)
Peace Treaty Day (Cambodia)
National Canning Day

So if you needed an excuse to make it a 3-day weekend, there's four of them.

Three reads this morning:

A Bonobo at the Great Ape Trust pulled the fire alarm, and the Register was there. That's why they're the newspaper Iowa depends on. My favorite quote from the story:

"This is the first known case of an animal setting off the fire alarm in Des Moines," fire spokesman Brian O'Keege joked. "We will ask the Great Ape Trust to educate the occupants of the seriousness of their actions."

Neighborhood associations and other groups are all up in arms over the possibility of the new homeless shelter being located near them, which is why I find it enfuriating that no one has seen fit to make this point until now: It's working in Davenport.

Finally, campaign disclosure reports came out on Thursday. I haven't written about them because there's really not much to say that I haven't already said. But this Register story has led me to feel the need to say three things:

1) It's true that Jack Whitver outraised Ako in the last fundraising period. It's also true that none of his $6,285 raised in the last period came from his district. It's also true that if you remove $500 he gave himself, he only raised $400 from the entire city of Des Moines. To be fair, Ako also raised $0 in his district during the period.

2) While Whitver took no PAC money, Ako took in $4400 from PACs, 87.8% of his total.

3) Ako received donations from just nine individuals in the last reporting period, and I'm one of them.

After the primary but before CIETC, I was curious about Ako and didn't know much about him. So I took an invitation and attended his birthday party. I was one of the first people to arrive, and as such I got to spend a good deal of time talking to him, and left with a positive impression. As such, I left a check in the donations basket on the way out. Afterwards, CIETC broke, and the Creative Visions audit came up, and I haven't done anything else for any of the candidates in the race since. With that said, now that the audit is over and found nothing, I don't feel nearly as bad about it.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday, October 20 is...

The Bab's Birth (Baha'i)
Kenyatta Day (Kenya)
Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh)
Lailat al-Qadr (Islam)

It's a big day for holidays, but a slow day for posting. Just a few things today:

Two candidates are already on the ballot to run for the city council seat formerly held by Archie Brooks. As many as nine nore could appear. If only all elections were this popular. It's possible that past city council elections were decided by less than 11 voters.

I've missed Chelsea's style of storytelling, and I'm glad it's back. If you're not familiar with it, check out this post, titled "The Winners' Table."

Finally, Ted Sporer is back, and if Blogger ever lets me republish again I'll note that in the links on your right.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mike Blouin: "It's amazing how many people I can't delude."

From the Register:

Growing companies in Iowa have pledged to create and retain more than 30,000 jobs since 2003, a significant milestone, Michael Blouin, the state economic development leader, today told the Iowa Economic Development Board.

Still, Blouin acknowledged that critics of the state’s $50 million annual Grow Iowa Values program question whether the jobs are being created. Companies typically have three to five years to create the jobs — often time that’s needed to build new factories or offices that are needed before jobs can be added.

“The statistics are better than we imagined ... but it’s amazing at how many people don’t believe it,” said Blouin.

Allow me to remind you of something: all this money we've given away was in exchange for promised jobs. As of earlier this year, the most recent released report by the Department of Economic Development showed that less than 1,500 actual jobs had been created. At that point the state was claiming 25,000 jobs had been created. Also, IDED was unable to show proof that any company that had failed to create the promised jobs had returned a dime of their money.

In the middle of the night a few weeks ago, my doorbell rang. I went downstairs to answer it and it was a panhandler. He said he needed money to get to Winterset, and if I gave him a few dollars he would come back in the morning to pay me back. I handed him a few dollars. I knew I was being swindled but it was late and I wanted to go back to bed. I never saw him again, of course.

Claiming the Values Fund will create 30,000 jobs is like saying I still have the money I gave that panhandler, because he'll eventually return it. Maybe he will, but the odds are he won't. And the odds are most of the 376 companies IDED says they've helped with Values Fund money won't ever return their investments, either.

Someone is going to comment now and say I'm full of shit. Before you do, know that I'm going to ask you for proof. If you don't have it, don't waste your time.


Tremendous Tapping

I'm back from lunch, and that means it's time for today's Root Beer Tapper update.


The 64150 score is my highest ever (by over 7000 points), and answered an important question. You get an extra life at 20,000 points, then again every 60,000 points. I now know those additional extra lives start at 80,000, not 60,000.

The scoreboard, if you're scoring at home:


Help Mike Mauro win Pick a Progressive Patriot!

A blog reader, fellow Tapper, and Mike Mauro staffer sent me this email this morning:

Hopefully you can add this to your blog as we are participating in Sen. Feingold's Progressive Patriots contest. The highest number of votes on his poll will receive $5,000 from his PAC.


We could use all of the votes we can get. As you know, Sen. Feingold has been very generous to candidates running for the Iowa Senate. Let's keep up the generosity for Iowa!

Go vote and help Iowa elect someone with the experience and integrity to get the job done as our next Secretary of State.


Lynn Heuss' guest blog on yesterday's meeting with Elizabeth Edwards

Due to a scheduling conflict, I was unable to attend yesterday's blogger meeting with Elizabeth Edwards. Lynn Heuss attended on my behalf and authored this post.

I was invited to be a representative at two different forums with Elizabeth Edwards yesterday. Being asked to stand in for someone means that the person doing the asking shows a certain level of trust in the capacity of the person representing them to do and say those things that would be in line with their own principles and beliefs.

In this case, it was a rather informal gathering, but after a number of conversations with people in attendance (in which I was constantly aware that I was there as a representative for Denise O’Brien and the author of this blog – Kyle), I began to think of the responsibility we place on the people that represent us in public office. My role was minimal, but theirs can impact thousands of people. I also became even more cognizant of the expectations (often unrealistic and borderline selfish) that we place on them.

I continue to find myself liking Mari Culver and appreciating the sacrifices she and Chet are making in their bid for governor. She cares a great deal about her family, especially their young children, and the impact the limited, but significant, absence of their parents is making in their lives. While they have a very good support system, it appears to me that she also understands the need for balance. She is willing to travel the state and put in long days, independently of Chet, in order to be his representative, but she also knows when to say no to the travel so that she can stay home. She cares about the people that work for them, enough that she was willing to share a family dinner with them on one of the rare occasions recently when she and Chet were able to sit down as a family.

Elizabeth Edwards too seems to understand (in light of her broad range of life experiences) and emulate what it takes to be an excellent representative for an even broader group of constituencies. She lost a child in a tragic accident, she has experienced what originally could have been a life-threatening illness, she moved to Washington when her husband became a Senator, she is a successful attorney and author, and she works with him in their effort to eradicate poverty in this country. Unfortunately, that last constituency group is growing so rapidly that her sphere of influence may be increasing more than she wants. (As a brief aside, when I asked her how she and the Senator found connection with those in poverty, since they are not poor, she said, “You don’t have to experience poverty to have a kinship with the people who do.” She can say that because, while they haven’t personally experienced it, they have worked for and taken the time to get to know people who have, and that truly has impacted and energized their efforts.)

Both of these women are strong, intelligent, interesting and passionate individuals who have committed themselves to a life that they hope will make things better for many of the people they come in contact with—they want justice. Equally as important, both of these women expressed the need to have a strong support network, for their own personal support and in order to allow them to do the job set before them.

I have not yet read Elizabeth Edwards’ book, but she said the basic theme is connection and community. In places both expected and unexpected, she often found comfort, support, laughter, understanding and a willingness to join her in places of sorrow, fear, happiness and peace. The point may be that she was willing to look for and accept the help when she needed it and offered the same when she could.

Lots of politicians and public figures talk about community – the need for it and the value of it in our lives. Elizabeth Edwards connected with hairdressers and medical personnel, along with family and close friends. She looked for any and every opportunity where there were common points of contact and that led to meaningful exchanges. Sometimes, I believe she just made the opportunity happen. Some of the connections lasted moments, some will last her whole lifetime. Most have made her a better and richer person. All have taught her lessons – some with lasting and significant value, and others have helped her get through a certain period of time.

Along with expecting our public representatives to advocate for justice in all levels of government, it is my great hope that we too take responsibility to work for justice. I hope we learn, or remember, to become better neighbors again and that the word “community” isn’t just a political, “touchy-feely” buzzword. It takes a little more time, but it may lead us to “be the change you want to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi).