Sunday, January 29, 2006

How not to win elections, Volume 1:

Sorry I've been inactive the last few days, Laura and I just got back from a weekend in Dubuque. But as I was checking the news today, I couldn't resist this:

Elesha Gayman is one of my favorite candidates for State Rep. She's a strong progressive. We need to elect her and about 10 more like her, then maybe, maybe we can start accomplishing something.

Anyway, she received a national endorsement from Democracy for America last week. It hit the QC Times this weekend, here's the story. But if you're not going to read the whole thing, just check out this quote from her likely opponent, Jim Van Fossen:

“I’m going to be running hard and scared,” he said Friday.

That's a textbook example of something you don't tell the press. Van Fossen should start planning for life after the legislature.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

A first in the gubernatorial race

Looking over the news this morning, I found some reports from last night's UNI forum on energy. I found this report from KCRG, and this first in the race:

Forum moderator, Greg Shanley, says, "Sometimes I think you can learn as much from what they don't talk about as what they do talk about."

Some candidates agreed with that statement, often steering away from the topic at hand.

Democrat Sal Mohamed says, "Including energy. Including education. Health care. Everything."

Finally, someone captured Sal Mohamed's incoherence in print.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

An anonymous State 29 reader nails it, and I get hit up for pot in the shower.

I'm not sure how one credits this. I'm linking to State 29, but the work I want you to read isn't really State 29's, it's an e-mail sent to them by "a reader." So all I really know is I'm linking you to political commentary by someone who's not illiterate.

Now, a story, and since I haven't done this in a while, I'll write it as an ALL NEW ONE ACT PLAY!

If you're a new reader to the blog, and judging from my recent linkage, most of you are, you may want to check out some past one act plays. They're not quite hilarious, sometimes good for a chuckle.

Anyway, here's today's:

KL has just finished working out at the gym, and is taking a shower. STONERS are outside the shower. KL turns off the shower, puts on a towel, and opens the curtain. STONERS turn to KL.

STONER 1: Dude, you got any pot?
KL: Yeah, hang on a sec, let me check under my towel...No, you fucking dumbass, I don't have any pot!

Actually, that happened a few weeks ago, it's just been eating at me until now. That's all for today.


Friday, January 20, 2006

So, Mr. Culver, whose governor will YOU be?

So I've spent about 5-6 hours between last night and this morning looking over Chet Culver's financial disclosure report, and I will say this, there's not as much Bill Knapp as I expected.

That's the last positive thing I'm going to say, so if you were looking for positives about Culver, go listen to Chris Woods give you the expected result over and over again. "Culver, still, appears as the strongest Democrat in the field and I predict will continue to show that strength up into June’s primary." Yes Chris, of course you do. You're on his goddamn payroll.

Here's my biggest problem with Culver, after reading his disclosure reports. He's running for Governor of Iowa. You know Iowa, it's this one. But his fundraising doesn't appear to be focused on that at all. In fact, less than 35% of his fundraising actually took place here.

While State 29 may not have the time/patience to slog through these reports, I do. Here are some of the things I found wading through Culver's mess:

He took donations from 959 different donors from outside Iowa.

Those donations came from 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and England, which I'm not sure is legal (see update).

DC alone makes up 13.4 percent of his total. When you add in Maryland and Virginia, you get 27.7 percent.

Here's the list, by state:

District of Columbia: $152585
Texas: $124220
Virginia: $99195
New York: $65080
Maryland: $63740
Massachusetts: $42950
Illinois: $36420
California: $30510
Louisiana: $17200
Missouri: $12750
North Carolina: $11110
New Mexico: $10000
Florida: $7550
New Jersey: $6770
Arkansas: $6750
Nebraska: $5650
Pennsylvania: $5100
Connecticut: $4175
West Virginia: $3500
Puerto Rico: $3400
Georgia: $3200
Minnesota: $2945
Colorado: $2900
Arizona: $2262
Wisconsin: $2250
Ohio: $2050
Maine: $1500
Nevada: $1500
South Carolina: $1500
Wyoming: $1200
Alabama: $1100
Indiana: $1100
Oklahoma: $1000
Rhode Island: $1000
England: $750
New Hampshire: $750
Washington: $750
Michigan: $550
Oregon: $325
Delaware: $250
Mississippi: $200
Montana: $200
Hawaii: $100
Vermont: $100
Kentucky: $25

Just out of state, he took in:

1 $20k donation
1 $15k donation
6 $12.5k donations
7 $10k donations
22 $5k donations
23 more donations over $2400
41 out of state donations that would be illegal on the federal level.

So I ask you, if Culver gets elected, exactly whose governor is he going to be?


Update: Patrick Dillon, Culver's campaign manager, e-mailed me this afternoon to let me know his two donations from England are American citizens living in England, which makes them legal. Credit is due to him for responding somewhat kindly to a post where I, as he put it, "wailed on his candidate."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What would you do with $40,000?

As always, the meta blogging comes first:

I've added Chelsea's Fan Club to the links on your right. She's a co-worker, a great writer, funny and well-informed. Should be a blog worth reading for the long term. And I think More Josh, Less Donna is probably a career goal most of us would aspire to.

Campaign finance reports come out today. Before reading them, check out State 29's reinforcement of what I said yesterday, then you should check out Drew Miller, who's doing an incredible job keeping track of what comes in. Then you're prepared to read my ranting.

What would you do with $40,000? Would you buy a new car? Make a huge payment on your mortgage? Go to Vegas? Let's look at what some other Iowa political players would do with $40,000.

If you were Patty Judge, you might consider using it to pay off some of the $53,510 in loans you've accumulated running for Governor. Ed Fallon took no money from political action committees and paid lobbyists, and limited individual donations to $2400, and raised $110,529. Judge took money from the Monsanto Company Citizenship Fund, Sholom Rubashkin (link not for those with weak stomachs), and Syngenta, and only raised $20,000 more, causing her to go $50k+ in debt. That doesn't look so good.

If you were Sal Mohamed, you might consider paying off your Visa card. Sal's already run up a $3300 Visa card bill in his race to try to get 2% of the vote. Then, he failed to get his nomination petition out to caucuses.

But finally, if you were MidAmerican Energy, you might use $40,000, in a non-election year, to buy favors from Iowa Legislative leadership. Take a look at what Mid-American's PAC spent in 2005:

State Rep Geri Huser (D-Altoona), who I made the mistake of helping re-elect: $1500.
Thomas Sands (R-Columbus Junction): $1000.
Willard Jenkins (R-Waterloo): $1500
Clel Baudler (R-Greenfield): $500

That's page 1 and 2 of a 19 page list. Go see it for yourself, if you're interested in how much money they spent on Senate co-president Gronstal, House minority leader Pat Murphy, Speaker of the House Chris Rants, Elesha Gayman's opponent Jim Van Fossen or my senator, Matt McCoy.

This year, when nothing gets done on renewable energy, MidAmerican Energy continues to hold exclusive rights to shut out new local wind farms, and heating costs are higher than ever, go take a look at that report and see if the representatives and senators you're supporting are on it. If they are, then maybe you're to blame, too.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Two days? Has it really only been two days?

Ok, we'll start with the meta blogging:

Iowa Political Watch and DemIowa have both been inactive for a month. In their place I'm adding some new blood.

Patriot Skull Face really should've been up on my list a long time ago, and the reason he's not is actually pretty stupid: I find his yellow on black page layout almost completely unreadable. Like many other things you're welcome to joke about in the comments, it's easier in the dark.

Joe Says So is written by Joe of the Tax Update Blog. Tax updates rarely concern me. I pay them but I work in politics so my income is usually pretty minimal. Joe's non-work, ranting blog is occasionally great.

Conspiracy Theorist also appears to be infrequently written, but his post on the ICAN forum makes him worth a periodic check.

Now that that's out of the way:

We held a press conference at the office today. Click here for the related press release, but here's the gist of it, in my words:

Early indications are caucuses went well. We've already received returns from over 170 precincts and know of at least 400 supporters going to county conventions for Fallon. We've swept all the delegates in at least seventeen precincts. We're hoping this success from our grassroots organization will show some of the naysayers that we really are in a position to win without big money.

Now, here's the part I want to stress is just me.

Blouin trotted out another endorsement this week, from Attorney General and other notable pro-life Democrat Tom Miller. But in all the caucuses I've seen results from, Blouin was hardly mentioned, much less supported. So it looks like all his legislative and elected official endorsements amount to 51 votes. We pulled down 32 votes in one precinct in Des Moines.

Also, here's the greatest example of timing I've ever seen. Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) has been working on a report for months on the influence of money in politics. They're a tremendous, hardworking group and they've put together a tremendous report on donors to campaigns on the state level. Today, they set it loose. Tomorrow, you're going to read about how much money Chet Culver and Mike Blouin and Patty Judge have raised. You're going to hear about their big supporters, be they Bill Knapp, corporate bigwigs, agribusiness, etc. I hope you'll keep that article in mind while you're reading it.

Finally, I'll close with the fun part:

Ten Top Trivia Tips about KL Snow!

  1. KL Snow was named after KL Snow the taxi driver in Frank Capra's 'It's a Wonderful Life'.
  2. On stone temples in southern India, there are more than 30 million carved images of KL Snow.
  3. You share your birthday with KL Snow!
  4. Over 2000 people have now climbed KL Snow, with roughly ten percent dying on the way down!
  5. Only 55 percent of Americans know that the sun is made of KL Snow!
  6. While performing her duties as queen, Cleopatra sometimes dressed up as KL Snow.
  7. The pupil of an octopus's eye is shaped like KL Snow.
  8. Bananas don't grow on trees - they grow on KL Snow.
  9. US gold coins used to say 'In KL Snow we trust'.
  10. The state nickname of Iowa is 'The KL Snow state'.
I am interested in - do tell me about

All of them are false, of course. All of them but #10 should be false, too. :)


Monday, January 16, 2006

Near-live caucus blogging

Ok, since Drew, Chris and John all are doing it too, I'm not going to bore you too much with details from my caucus. But I will tell you this.

I'm tremendously optimistic for the future.

We had 14 attendees at my caucus tonight. We passed seven resolutions, including universal health care, election finance reform, renewable energy, civil unions, etc. Only somewhat exciting stuff.

Then we went to elect delegates, and we broke into preference groups. Fourteen people in the room. Twelve broke into the Fallon group. One settled in undecided. One started walking towards the Judge corner, looked back and saw the tide going the other way, and moved back to undecided. Fallon swept four delegates. Other results I know from tonight:

We swept Des Moines 41.
We took 2 of the 3 in Pella 3 and in Des Moines 57.

Sounds like Ames went pretty well too, especially considering we swept ISU.

I guess we'll know more tomorrow, but tonight, I feel pretty good.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

I hope this is the proper use of "in lieu"...

Ok, once again, I woke up this morning with the intent to post, and ended up stepping into a debate somewhere else. So in lieu of posting here, I give you this debate and ask you to share your thoughts.

Doug Halsted, aka Iowa Geek, is running for State Senate, and has offered this position on education, promoting school choice.

Stefanie from Bob A One of M ...err... Simplicity offered this response, which appears to misrepresent the position a little bit (see the comments) but raises some interesting points on the potential resulting school consolidation and then goes on to tie the rich/poor gap which would be created to the generalized Republican stance on criminal justice. All in all, a good post.

Anyway, in this post, Jody offers all the links I offered above and then asks for thoughts. If you don't want to follow the links, here's my response:

Ok, I'm sure you've been waiting for a lefty to crawl out of the woodwork and take this on, and while it's rather early on Sunday morning, I'll give it a shot.

The obvious draw of school choice is outweighed by the obvious drawbacks of it. Because if the government gave everyone money to send their children to the school of their choice, what would be left?

If we started this today, everyone in Polk County who cared would send their kids to Urbandale and Valley (West DSM), which would as a result become overcrowded, or impossible to get into, or if they really were run like a business, they'd raise their prices. Nevermind the gas and time expenses incurred when parents living across the street from Ankeny decide their kid should go to Valley.

As a result, our worn-out, inner city schools which have been struggling to keep up for a generation would be hit with declining enrollment and further decreased funding. And the students most at risk, children of parents who can't afford to do better, or children of parents who are unaware or don't care about their options, would be trapped in the worst schools.

I agree with some of your points on why schools need to change. The level of administrative expense that goes into schools would never fly in the private sphere and shouldn't fly in our public schools. I think the answer is a combination of solutions, restoring full funding but finding ways to eliminate some of the many administrative costs.

I had the chance last week to read some of the education ideas considered in HeartlandPAC's discussion on education. (I rolled my eyes at the thought too, but I read it and was surprised.) One included making textbooks available online for teachers to pick and choose the chapters they will teach and purchase/print them that way, eliminating the enormous cost of textbooks schools usually buy when teachers will only use half of them anyway. It's not the only solution, but it is one that could save our schools a fair chunk of change annually, and the damage done in the drawbacks would be minimal.

Anyway, I recognize I'm digging a hole here in a room where most/all readers will disagree with me, but I thought I'd throw my two cents in. I'll be at the blogger bash in February, if nothing else maybe we can continue this debate there.

So, check out Doug Halsted and Iowa Geek, follow the debate, and offer your thoughts. It's fantastic to have public political debate that doesn't involve the KKK denying someone's right to exist or the right battling the left on our ability to kill prisoners for a change.

Monday, January 09, 2006

And now, our feature presentation...

On Saturday, Chris Woods posted this, his endorsement of Chet Culver. I admire his honesty, to a point. This is a lot better than the "I haven't picked a candidate yet" bullshit he fed me at the Jefferson Jackson dinner after I bumped into him during the sign-posting circus.

Candidate bickering aside, though, I thought it was only fair that if Chris Woods could use his space to endorse Culver, I'd use mine to tell you why I'm supporting Ed Fallon.

I've been on board Fallon's campaign as a volunteer since April, a staff member since June, and a full time staff member since August. I signed up to volunteer for Fallon after an afternoon of research in April, looking at other candidates. I knew right away that Fallon was the only candidate I could support. Here are the biggest reasons why:

Health care: 329,000 Iowans have no health insurance, that's about 1 in 8. Over 500,000 Iowans are underinsured and even more face rising premiums that threaten push them out of the health care system in the
near future. The only way to reverse this trend is by getting insurance companies and others who benefit from the high cost of health care out of politics. Illinois, Maine, Hawaii and others have already taken steps towards ensuring full coverage for all of their citizens, we need to follow suit.

Environment: Ed has served on the House Environmental Committee for much of his 13 years in the state house, but has spent much of that time protecting the environment from legislation which would slash environmental protection standards to benefit businesses, hog confineries and other massive polluters. After 13 years of working as a stop-gap for ecological disaster, Ed would like an opportunity to lead Iowa in the other direction, with tougher restrictions on factory farms and more production and use of renewable energy. And while I hear lots of bantering about ethanol, which may or may not actually be a better solution, Ed's the only candidate I hear talking about wind, solar and biomass.

Education: Every politician will tell you they're for education, but many will prioritize it behind entities like the Iowa Values Fund or special interest tax cuts. In 2002, a budget shortfall forced Governor Vilsack to cut spending 2.5% across the board, including education, which had received no allowable growth for the year already. Earlier in the year, the state had received $100 million in federal aid to use against an expected budget shortfall. The state instead chose to use that $100 million to fund the Iowa Values Fund. Ed was one of the few legislators to oppose that decision. Later, he proposed an amendment that would have given almost $50 million of that money back to schools, at the expense of the Values Fund. Again, the Legislature shot it down.

Clean elections: This is the issue that ties it all together. As long as insurance companies are allowed to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns, we can't expect health care problems to be fixed. As long as factory farmers and MidAmerican Energy are buying support for their issues, we can't expect cleaner water or more renewable energy. And when special interests are investing in politicians and receiving tax breaks in return, it should come as no surprise when we don't have enough money to properly fund our education system.

Those are the four most common reasons to support Ed Fallon, and they're the biggest four reasons why I'm supporting him. But if those reasons aren't compelling to you, here's 80 more. They come from Democrats, Independents and Republicans. They come from men and women, urban and rural, gay and straight. They come from Iowans in all walks of life. All of them have found a reason to support Ed Fallon. Check them out and see if you can find a reason to support Ed Fallon too.

Before I get to the main event...

A quick announcement.

Barring some distracting craziness, I'm planning on attending the February blogger bash, and tenatively planning on borrowing a laptop to liveblog the event. Although, I think I'd have more fun if I was free to wander and mingle and drink with people...maybe I'll just do that. Stay tuned for details. Also, check out Side Notes for details and the Tax Update Blog to RSVP.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

An end-of-week quiz

Sorry, but I really can't justify spending my whole day off blogging. But since I failed to do a mid-week quiz, here's an end-of-week one:

Pure Geek
30 % Nerd, 56% Geek, 30% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Geek, earning you the title of: Pure Geek.

It's not that you're a school junkie, like the nerd, and you don't
really stand out in a crowd, like the dork, you just have some
interests that aren't quite mainstream. Perhaps it's anime, perhaps
it's computers, perhaps it's bottlecaps, perhaps it's all of those and
more. Your interests take you to events and gatherings that are filled
with people you find unusual and beyond-the-pale, but you don't quite
consider yourself "of that crowd." Instead, you consider yourself to be
fairly normal.

Which, you are.

Congratulations! You're the one on the RIGHT!

Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Professional Wrestling

Love & Sexuality


Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 12% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 82% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 45% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I was going to blog today...

I'm not feeling well today, so I'm home, and I was going to try to blog a bit this afternoon.

Instead, however, I've decided to engage in a debate with Chris Woods over candidate preference groups at caucuses. Go check it out.