Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The final chapter

Every time I open Firefox, it brings me to this blog. Sometimes, I think maybe I'll come back to it and start writing again. Lately, though, it makes me a little sad, like the story you'd been following for years ended and I didn't tell you how. I've learned never to say never, but it seems relatively likely that this will be my last post in this space.

Anyway, here's how the story ends. I moved to Maquoketa and struggled for some time to find work before I found the job I'm holding now, Iowa organizer for Common Cause. I love my job, I work with incredible people and, months after it appeared my life in politics was over, I'm back to working to get big money out of politics. Visit Common Cause's Iowa page for more.

That link took me almost 2 full minutes to set up. It's been a while since I've blogged, and it shows.

Anyway, I love my job with Common Cause, but it makes it doubly challenging for me to maintain a space like this...if I didn't hold myself completely opinionless on candidates, I'd be risking an electioneering charge. I could write a boring blog, but what's the point?

I guess I could also close this blog down and start an anonymous one where it wouldn't be an issue, but I'm scared I'd fall prey to the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory. I think we all know someone who's gone too far anonymously and now writes a steady stream of inane, inflammatory, lowest-common-denominator drivel. I won't even bother linking to him.

At any rate, if you're looking for more of me for whatever reason, here's the basics:

I do on occasion write personal stuff on my Myspace blog. I still check the email address listed in the sidebar. I stopped reading blogs for a while but I'm back to it now, so if you write something that intrigues me I may comment on it.

But, barring something unforseen, this is my last post on Things I Don't Put On Diary of a Political Madman News and Notes From A New Life.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

READS: Wednesday, July 11 is...

Naadam (Mongolia)
World Population Day (UN)

From Wikipedia:
Naadam (Mongolian: Наадам, games) is the national festival of Mongolia held from July 11th to 13th. The festival is also called "eriyn gurvan naadam" (эрийн гурван наадам) meaning "men's three variety of games" or "three manly games." The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery, and are the only ones that are held throughout the country. Despite the name, women participate in the archery and horse-racing games, but not in Mongolian wrestling.
Sadly, I don't have much time for manly games today. I'm busy packing things for my move. I did play disc golf last night, though, and I did belch while I played, so is that manly enough?

I thought an interesting fight was about to develop between the Register and State 29 today over the definition of fair use. Certainly, the first half of this post would imply it. Then, faster than I could say "Oh god, is he back to quoting Animal House?" he folded.

I'm not sure how much I'll miss him, as I've said before that I think he's gone from insightfully vulgar to just vulgar over the years, and gone from producing new and interesting content to seeking out opportunities to grind the same old axes. But I think it's unfortunate that he's decided to fold under pressure from the Register, merely because of the precedent it sets. As such, I had some reads from the Register that I was going to link today, but I'm deleting them. For trying to use legal action to silence a critic, the Register can sit on the bench for a day.

As for other reads today:

While State 29 appears to be shutting down, Joe Kristan is back to cover the end of Project Destiny:
You have to hand it to our local chamber of commerce. The Greater Des Moines Partnership, with the backing of the biggest companies in town and a $770,000 war chest - 200 times that of the opposition - managed to convince about one voter in seven to vote for a sales tax increase in an off-season election specifically timed to maximize their chances for approval. It's hard to think of a way to make their performance any more disastrous, short of having mobs chanting "no!" sack their headquarters building.
You really should go read the whole thing. It gets better from there.

Also, Common Iowan has a good piece up on universal health care. Go read that too.

As you may have guessed from the late nature of today's reads, it's kind of a busy day for me, with packing and other assorted nonsense to take care of in preparation for my move to Maquoketa. There likely will not be posting tomorrow, as I'll be spending the day making a trip over to move some things and interview for a job. Regular posting will likely resume on Friday, assuming the Register doesn't try to run me off, too.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

REACTION: A response to the Obama Nation

In yesterday's reads, I made a joke about Barack Obama, which led to this response from longtime reader and fellow Dem activist RF:
I forgot you are very skeptical of Obama. Nothing wrong with that. But what are you looking for? For the perfect resume or "right" on every single pet D issue? Didn't we already go that route? Are we enjoying the fruits of Gore and Kerry administrations?

Like it or not, most people vote with their gut. Plus, lots of people seem to think Obama has something to offer, something they want. I'm in that group for sure. The fact that his astounding fundraising has all been done without PAC or lobbyist money has been incredibly underreported. He's done it Fallon-style, which proves something to me.
I felt the need to respond, because I felt a little slapped in the face when it was suggested that I'm looking for the next John Kerry. I'm not.

I'm an idealist, a farther-left-than-most liberal and a policy wonk. I'm also on record as hating things done for the sake of "party unity," which I think sets aside our true responsibilities in favor of political expediency and often creates scenarios where we're choosing between losing a little or losing a lot.

As such, I'm not interested in looking for a candidate we can all unite behind. I'm not interested in finding the least offensive candidate or the candidate most likely to beat the Republicans. I'm interested in supporting the candidate who is with me on the issues and shows a genuine interest in leading the country in the direction I feel it needs to go.

I'm skeptical of Barack Obama because I feel he's running for chief rock star, not chief executive. He's polished, articulate, and he displays likeable qualities, so if you're voting based on those things, he's your guy. But in 2000, Governor George W. Bush said "I'm a uniter, not a divider." That platitude got him into the White House, and six and a half years into his administration, most Americans would argue that we're not better off for it.

Today, Barack Obama is running on a platform of similar platitudes based on hope and unity. I like those things as much as the next guy, but he's going to have to show me a bit more substance before I'm convinced he's someone I want to invest any hope in or unite behind.


IF YOU'RE BORED: Local anecdotal voting numbers

I voted at 11 am and was voter #40 at my polling place.

Not mind-boggling turnout, but for early in the day, that's not bad.


READS: Tuesday, July 10 is...

Independence Day (Bahamas)

It's also time to get out to the polls to vote on Project Destiny. Joe Kristan at the Tax Update blog has a pretty fair summary of the proposal:
The proposal would boost the local sales tax rate from 6% to 7%, with 1/3 of the proceeds earmarked for property taxes, and the rest to be spent by our local elected officials with their usual thrift.
Honestly, I'm done making my case. If you're not against using regressive taxation to pay for non-essential services, I don't know what to tell you.

On presidentials, Political Fallout has the read of the day. Check out his post on the e-word and how it's invaded the Republican party as well.

As for candidate specific stories, here's the alphabetical list:
  • The Register reports that Sam Brownback's supporters are violating election laws by campaigning too close to polling locations. This seems like an awesome way to alienate voters.
  • Bleeding Heartland asks if it matters that Dick Gephardt endorsed Hilary Clinton. This is the first I've heard of it, so it obviously didn't influence me. The theory is it may move some people in the labor community, but I don't think there's a lot of labor voters who could be moved that far.
  • The Register also reports that Barack Obama will tour the state with veterans next week to address claims that he's weak on national security. I, for one, applaud him for stepping out and addressing an actual issue. I might have more on him later today, depending on my schedule.
The Register reports that gambling revenues have set a new record for the second consecutive year, and offers this tell-all statistic:
Between July 1, 2006, and June 30, 2007, more than 22.5 million guests visited Iowa's 17 state-licensed casinos, losing an average of $62 each at the three racetrack-casinos and $57 aboard the 14 gaming boats, according to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
So, it appears that if you're going to a casino and making money, you're not just one in a million, you're one in 22.5 million.

Finally, a non-political read. I'm convinced Chris Radloff is one of the most talented storytellers I've ever had the good fortune to come across, and his post from today is a perfect example of his best work. Go check it out.

And for the love of fairness, get out to the polls!


Monday, July 09, 2007

META: Some sidebar cleanup and additions

It's been a while since I cleaned up the sidebar, so here's some META notes for you:


Essential Estrogen
Iowa Independent


The Chelsea Lepley Fan Club (It's not really lapsed, but it is invite only now.)
Iowa Guy
Iowa Progress
Joe Says So
Krusty Konservative


Side Notes and Detours

As always, if you've got a blog you'd like added to the sidebar, let me know.


READS: Monday, July 9 is...

Independence Day (Argentina)
The Bab's Martyrdom (Baha'i)

Also, hat tip to the Freakonomics blog for pointing out (snicker) that today is the start of Nude Recreation Week. Feel free to celebrate accordingly.

There's nothing terribly exciting in any of the presidential reads this morning, so I'll just make you a nice alphabetical list and you can read whatever strikes you:

DesMoinesDem (via Bleeding Heartland) on Joe Biden
Douglas Burns of Iowa Independent on Chris Dodd
O. Kay Henderson on Rudy Giuliani
The Register on Tommy Thompson

Ok, maybe there is one good joke in here: in the ever-increasing effort to find something Barack Obama actually stands for, burglars broke into his Davenport campaign HQ and stole two laptop computers and some campaign literature. Thankfully, hope and platitudes were left untouched, leading campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor to say, "It doesn't appear that it was anything sensitive or irreplaceable."

Finally, as if you needed another reminder, the vote on Project Destiny is tomorrow. I'm still against regressive taxes, hopefully you are too. If you're still on the fence about it, here's a good overview of the proposal from Sunday's Register, and a significantly less useful horserace story from this morning.

Have a good day, Iowa.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Welcome back.

Next week was supposed to be a really big week for me. And it is, but not in the way I anticipated.

I've been quiet for months. I've been busy, bored and lazy for large chunks of that time, but that's not the whole story. I've also been keeping a secret for much of this time, and working on the right way to reveal it.

As recently as two weeks ago, I was preparing to announce that I'm running for state representative. I was planning on telling you next week that my frustration with the leadership of our Democratic Party has grown to the point where it can only be fixed from within. I was planning to tell you that Party loyalty by itself isn't solving Iowa's problems and the only way to get progressive legislation was to show our legislators, on both sides of the aisle, that we're willing to fight for it.

Unfortunately, as it sometimes does, life got in the way.

Months ago, Laura accepted a year-long residency at a pharmacy in Maquoketa, 200 miles away from our home in Des Moines. Sometimes the only way to realize what you have is to lose it, and when Laura moved out it hit me in a hurry. Eight days ago, I asked her to marry me, and she accepted. At the end of July, I'm moving to Maquoketa to be with her. This means my campaign will, at the very least, have to wait.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what it means. I have no idea what I'll be doing for work after the end of the month, no idea what my political involvement (if any) will be, and no idea where I'll be going home to after our year in Maquoketa is over. I'd like to come back to Des Moines, but I'm not tied to it anymore.

But I do know this: I no longer have a reason to be quiet. So this blog, with a new name and look, is back. Thanks for checking it out.


Monday, May 14, 2007


This is going to be quick, but I wanted to make sure you know I haven't forgotten about you.

My new job isn't going as well as I'd hoped. I work approximately 7:30-3:30 everyday and spend the last 6-7 hours tapping on my desk waiting for 3:30 so I can go home. It's not something I'm enjoying a lot or that I'm really eager to talk about. It ends on June 29, though, so I've got that to look forward to.

Between Laura's graduation from pharmacy school and the new job last week, I didn't find a lot of time to read or write. I'm going to try to work on that this week as I settle into more or a schedule.

But in the meantime, I need to get to work. I've got a desk to hold down.


Friday, May 04, 2007

META(?): A blog status update

I don't think META is really the right tag for this one, but I haven't really figured out the correct tag for a blog that's really just about me.

Anyway, here's the scoop. I got a job and I start a new 8-5 existence Monday morning. I'm not entirely sure how that's going to affect my posting here. It doesn't really make sense for me to recap the day's news everyday if I'm not going to do it until after 5. I guess I could still do daily "Today in other people's blogs" kind of stuff, and that's probably the direction I'm headed.

On the other side, features are probably more likely to occur because in an office/data entry environment, I'm likely to have some time on my hands to daydream develop content.

So that's the story. Check back late Monday for updates.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

READS: Wednesday, May 2 is...

Education Day (Indonesia)
Alacitas (Peru)

I couldn't find anything really relevant to write about today.

I do, however, want to encourage you, gentle reader, to consider buying me a Wii to help with my weight loss efforts.

In the meantime, I'm going outside. Have a good one.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

FEATURE: How much is too much?

Since I started writing a political blog, I've ended up on all kinds of mailing lists for candidates, be they Democrat or Republican, at the local, state, and national level. I used to read them all, now I only read them on occasion.

The reason I burned out on them is because some people have a tendency to abuse their press release ability. For example, check out these press releases I've received from Dan Leistikow with the Edwards campaign:





Yes, that's 7 press releases in 4 media days, and today isn't over yet. Also, in case you forgot to check your calendar today, we're still 7 1/2 months away from the caucuses. I like Edwards, but even I'm not taking the time to read all of those. If I were on his communications team, I'd be worried that the press is going to get as sick of this as I am.

I worked with a basketball coach once who rarely raised his voice. I was with him one night when his opponent had a coach who screamed the entire game. I asked him about it afterwards and he told me, "If you scream all the time, how will your team know when you've got something that's really important?"

Right now, Edwards' communications department is screaming all the time. And if they keep doing it, they're going to run the risk that people will ignore them when they've got something important.


READS: Tuesday, May 1 is...

May Day
International Labor Day
Constitution Day (Marshall Islands)

No clever joke today, let's just move on.

Overrated news of the day: Longtime conservative legislator Dawn Pettengill has changed her party registration to Republican to better match her views.

The Register has coverage of the press conference the Republicans held.

Desmoinesdem at Bleeding Heartland points out that she informed the press before she informed her former caucus, which is classy.

John Deeth
asks two important questions: Will she return tens of thousands of dollars she received from the party, and has she been gathering information in caucuses to report to her new partymates?

Two more questions are worth asking, though: Since party leadership isn't progressive enough to pass VOICE, and failed to produce movement on property tax reform and other issues, does the removal of a conservative Dem from the caucus create the possibility of changes at the top?

If the answer to that question is no, then this one becomes relevant: If a legislator who votes with the Republicans and talks like the Republicans declares herself a Republican, does it really make a sound?

Finally, the Register gives the 2007 legislative session a B, even though they admittedly failed to accomplish almost all of the goals the Register set for them and most of the legislation they campaigned on. The Register must grade on one hell of a curve.


Monday, April 30, 2007

REACTION: A new presidential hotlist


Ok, I'm back as promised, and looking back on old posts this morning, I discovered there's a relatively wide gap between some things I said about presidential candidates during my last active period and how I feel about them now. So it seemed to make sense for me to re-do my hotlist, with a better knowledge of several candidates and a better reflection of my current feelings. All candidates will be listed with both pros and cons:


John Edwards:
I've been calling him the likely nominee for some time now, but it's probably time to back off that. I think he's running a better campaign than he ran in 2004, and he's been the first out of the gate with specific proposals on issues, including a very specific health care plan. The fact that he's no longer a senator leaves the door open for him to campaign all the time without having to worry about missing votes or casting votes that could hurt him.

On the downside, I think the early spotlight is shooting some holes in his image. I ranted a bit last week about news coverage of his haircuts, and I don't think it should be an issue, but the fact remains that he's living big time while talking about how we need to do more for the poor, and he's heating and air conditioning a 28,000 square foot house while encouraging us to reduce our carbon footprints. He's still the candidate I'm most likely to support, but it's more questionable now.

Barack Obama: He draws huge crowds wherever he goes, he's charismatic and he seems to be able to run a campaign on broad themes without anyone asking him why he's not specific on anything. Of all the Democrats, he seems the most likely to win in November. It's quite possible he's the only candidate in the field that doesn't need to run negative ads. His debate performance looked skilled and practiced. He was the only candidate that answered the "elephant in the room" question without tripping over it.

But, I don't think he's prepared to be Chief Executive. I think he lacks the experience. The fact that he's entirely non-specific on issues means I have no idea what I agree with him on. I talk to people everyday who support him but can't name a single reason why. I think eventually there will be a large block of voters out there saying things like, "We're electing a Commander in Chief, not a Head Rock Star." If he doesn't start coming out with specifics soon, it's going to look like he's only doing it to appease those people.


Chris Dodd:
He jumped into the upper half of my list by being the first to advocate for public financing of campaigns in the debate. He's gotten decent press coverage over the last week, creating a pretty good first impression on a lot of voters. He has good experience and comes across as intelligent.

With that said, he's way back of most of the field. I'm glad he's running in Iowa, but he feels like more of a "I have something to add to the conversation" candidate than a true contender. He's a northeastern Democrat and a lifelong politician, both of which would get the crap beaten out of him in a one-on-one matchup. He's got a small window of time to convert a lot of people, which won't be easy to do with his preferred kitchen-table sized events.

Bill Richardson: He brings incredible foreign policy experience to the race. He may be the last presidential candidate in my lifetime to bring 4 Nobel Prize nominations to the table. He's the only candidate in the race from farther west than Illinois. He might also be the only candidate that doesn't scare the crap out of the NRA.

However, his admission that he hadn't advocated for the firing of the Attorney General because Alberto Gonzales is Hispanic was flatly racist, and there's no excuse for it. It creates a fair question about how he is currently managing personnel in New Mexico and how he would do it at the next level. I'd love to have him as Secretary of State or somewhere else where his foreign relations experience could be helpful, but I'm unwilling to support him for anything beyond that. He actually probably belongs on the cold list.


Joe Biden:
He's friendly and likeable. He's got mounds of experience. Thus far he's the only candidate to show a plan to fix the situation in Iraq, not just pull our troops out. He'll chew your ear off with ideas if you let him. He's probably raised more cash than any 2 candidates not named Clinton or Obama.

Really, though, one outburst near the end of the debate was a deal breaker for me. Less than an hour after being asked if Americans could trust him to mind his manners on the world stage, he called it "Happytalk" when other candidates were talking about ending war. I understand his point, that sometimes preemptive strikes are necessary and have worked wonders in other places, but I was appalled by the way in which he stated it, which might as well have started with "You're a moron." Pacifism is more than just "Happytalk." It's a legitimate desire to do everything we can to end the unnecessary shedding of American blood. And if Joe Biden can't hear talk of it without going off on an unprompted rant, then he's not worthy of the office.

Hilary Clinton:
She didn't embarrass herself in the debate. She's putting a happy face on her years of controversy and blaming them on "sticking up for her beliefs," which is partially true. She's got enormously huge money and the capacity to out-advertise any of her opponents 2-to-1.

She's also the candidate the Republicans can't wait to face. I'm a firm believer that voters should never choose a candidate just because they can beat the Republicans, but there's an argument to be made that there's no way she could beat a Republican. Months before the caucuses there are polls showing her with unfavorable ratings over 50%. There are whole libraries of old video that could be used against her day after day to convince dyed in the wool Democrats to stay home and Republicans to go out to the polls even if they'll die on the way home. Simply put, I don't think she stands a chance of being elected president.

Dennis Kucinich
Mike Gravel


IF YOU'RE BORED: Monday, April 30 is...

Liberation Day (Vietnam)

Yesterday was Greenery Day in Japan, and I celebrated it by going outside. Today is Liberation Day in Vietnam, and since it's supposed to get hot this afternoon, I'm going to liberate myself by going outside this morning.

I'll be back with an updated presidential hotlist this afternoon.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

READS: Thursday, April 26 is...

Take your kids to work day (US)
Union Day (Tanzania)

Today I feel a rare symmetry. I have no kids, but as my job search continues, I also still have no work. So it all works out.

Not a lot of news today, but big news:

The Civil Rights Bill, perhaps partially thanks to the efforts of many of you, passed relatively overwhelmingly last night. The Register, Bleeding Heartland and John Deeth all have coverage worth reading this morning.

Here's an interesting discussion to be had: Ticket quotas. According to today's Register, Pleasant Hill has been accused of having them. I'm not sure where I stand on them. On one hand, removing the element of discretion from an officer is certainly a bad idea, and accusations like this
Zimmerman's complaint alleges that another officer "was ordered to write a ticket to a subject every time he searched a car ... and write two tickets per shift."
are certainly disconcerting. On the other hand, if you're an advocate of responsible budgeting, then having an accurate estimate of the revenue generated by traffic citations is pretty useful. I'd be curious to hear what you, gentle reader, think.

Finally, the first presidential debate of the 2008 cycle is tonight. I'll be DVR'ing it and watching it later, as I do with most TV these days. But if you're interested in watching them with a group, or have a debate watching group you'd like to publicize, check out this post at Bleeding Heartland for a full listing.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

READS: Wednesdau, April 25 is...

Secretaries Day
Flag Day (Swaziland)

Perhaps today you can say thank you to your secretary by getting them a flag from Swaziland. It is a pretty cool one:

I wanted to take a moment today to draw your attention to the legislative session, which may wrap up as soon as Friday, but seems to have enough to do to stretch into next week. There are a couple pieces of legislation hanging out there that still have a chance, but they need our help.

VOICE: Bleeding Heartland has a post up today from the Public Campaign Action Fund letting us know what we can do to help get Clean Elections legislation passed. It's still being held up by leadership in committee, but perhaps if enough of us get behind it was can shove it through this roadblock.

CIVIL RIGHTS BILL: Both Common Iowan and John Deeth have a post up today noting that the bill could come up for a vote as soon as today, and listing people you can get in touch with if you have a story to share or an opinion to express.

These are two great pieces of legislation that would work wonders in helping move Iowa forward. If you've got a moment to spare today, consider lending a hand to help get them passed.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

READS: Tuesday, April 24 is...

Children's Day (Iceland)

Apparently in Iceland, every day is not Children's Day.

I'm going to have to make this quick, I'm working on wrestling stuff today:


John Edwards is the favorite candidate of Thoughts from the Oasis Amidst the Corn, and I think anyone who's voting for a candidate because they're not white or male should read why.

Bill Richardson
's TV ads are online. They're both focused on his foreign relations experience, which I think will resonate. If he had talked about foreign relations when he met with bloggers months ago, he may have done more to resonate with me.

Joe Biden is today's topic at Century of the Common Iowan.

Legislative Session:

Iowa sheriffs and prosecutors are upset, and reasonably so, over the failure to do anything to fix the unworkable 2000 foot law.

David Yepsen and John Deeth also have session roundups.

That's all for now. If you're still craving more, I'd recommend trying some ice cream.


Monday, April 23, 2007

More on Dodd

Seeing as I mentioned this morning that I don't know much about Dodd, I think it's only fair that I also point out that I just received the chance to learn a bit more.

This USA Today piece caught my eye while I was putting gas in my car this morning, so I picked it up. If you don't know much about Chris Dodd, or perhaps even if you do, it's worth reading.


READS: Monday, April 23 is...

Independence Day (Israel)

Ok, it's been a while, but I think it's finally time to bring the blog back. I've missed an awful lot, but I'm not going to go through it all in one sitting, so here are the reads I found notable from the past week or so:

According to Bleeding Heartland and others, Bill Richardson will be going up on TV today with an ad that's "Very out of the box and funny." I still don't like Richardson's Iowa chances, but if he can separate himself from the other candidates with some humor it will dramatically help him. I'm a firm believer that humor in political ads is both refreshing and attention grabbing. To stand a chance, Richardson needs to be both of those things.

My job search (which is ongoing, by the way) has taken me downtown several times over the last couple of weeks, giving me plenty of opportunities to drive past the Chris Dodd for President office set up on Grand. The first time I drove by it, I had a "He's still running?" moment. Apparently most voters in Marshall County's bean poll didn't know either. Dodd's 1 bean gives him slightly less than 1% in the poll, putting him even with Mike Gravel, and behind Dennis Kucinich. I recognize the highly unscientific nature of these polls, but when 105 people vote and only one of them votes for you, that typically means you've got a problem.

Apparently some people are concerned that John Edwards spends too much on his haircuts. I'm going to make this real simple:

If you're the kind of person who picks a candidate based on their hairstyle, close this blog and feel free to never come back.

Who cares where John Edwards gets his haircut? This quote from Dubuque barber Gene Sand is asinine:
"You know, I contributed to Edwards' campaign four years ago," says Sand, who has been cutting hair in this downtown shop since 1964. "I don't think I'll be going down that road again. He kind of blew it with me over this. I had my picture taken with him and they put it in the newspaper. I gave him money. You're sure about $250? You're not kidding me about that?"
Gene, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your donation didn't buy you the right to cut John Edwards' hair in perpetuity. Apparently it did buy you some free advertising in the Register, though.

One last presidential note for today: Common Iowan remains the Iowa blogosphere's best voice on immigration issues, check out this post he wrote on his recent Tom Tancredo experience.

As it turns out, today's post is a bit light on local issues, but I do need to touch on VOICE. I think it's encouraging that the bill has gotten as far as it has this session, even if it does appear to be on its last legs. It's discouraging, however, to hear that my State Rep., Jo Oldson, is holding it up in committee, and it's even more discouraging to read reports that Mike Gronstal is cursing out supporters of the bill in the Capitol. Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Apparently a Democratic trifecta isn't enough to get VOICE legislation debated on the floor. There's still too much big money floating around.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Don't call it a comeback...

But I'm almost ready to come back.

Don't get me wrong, a break has been nice, but I've been hearing every so often that there are people out there who miss me.

I just need to find a new job, then I'll be good to go.

Maybe Monday? We'll see.


Friday, February 16, 2007

REACTION: Jim Leach will not get to play Chief Illiniwek

In August two stories were running simultaneously with a mild connection:

1) Jim Leach was being accused of racism for handing out fake Native American headdresses at parades.

2) The University of Illinois was considering retiring its own mascot and long-time wearer of Native American headdresses, Chief Illiniwek.

I suggested a compromise: Retire Jim Leach instead and allow him to replace the Chief.

Jim Leach did his part, but the U of Illinois isn't doing theirs. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Chief Illiniwek will perform at his last home game on Wednesday, when the men's basketball team plays their final home game of the season. So it appears Leach will have to settle for one of the other 7,000 jobs he's being offered.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

READS: Thursday, February 15 is...

Fiesta de Menendez (St. Augustine, FL)

I have no idea what that's about, and the web doesn't appear to know either, so we'll move on.

UPDATE: From Commenter NotATurtle:

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded St. Augustine in the mid-1500s. He was born on February 15.
So there you go.

I'll start off with the day-late read: I had never heard of Queah's blog before yesterday, when a Google Alert popped up to let me know she had written something about Ed Fallon. Turns out it was a Valentine's Day collection of quotes on the gay rights movement. It's worth a read. I've seen some of these quotes before but most were new to me.

According to the Register, 50 Iowans have applied to fill one of as many as four spots that could open up on the Board of Regents. The Register has an article on it and the full list. There's no one on the list that I'm exceptionally excited about. The story also mentions that Culver is encouraging another 10-15 people to apply. I'd be curious to see that list.

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque has been awarded $8 million in Vision Iowa money as part of a plan to expand. I'm torn on this. I've been to the museum, and it's great. Laura and I spent most of a day there and I'd do it again. But $8 million seems like an awful lot of money.

Finally, the Iowa legislature handed down a massive disappointment yesterday. A quick history lesson: Last year, after five straight years of giving Iowa schools allowable growth rate of 2 percent or less, the state legislature finally approved 4 percent allowable growth. A Democratic movement to raise it to 6 percent didn't come up with the votes. Democrats across the state campaigned on the issue of doing more to fund education.

Then they came back to Des Moines and voted unanimously to do 4 percent again. Furthermore, every single Democrat in the Iowa House voted against an amendment that would have made it six percent.

It already appears that campaign promises for local control have been forgotten. Now they're passing the same education bill we complained about last year and calling it progress. There's little positive one can say about that.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

READS: Wednesday, February 14 is...

Evil. Pure evil. Or, if you prefer to use its long name, you can call it Valentine's Day.

Only one read today, and if you're a longtime reader of the blog you've seen it before, but it bears repeating.

Here's what I consider one of the greatest rants I've ever written. It happens to be about today. Give it a read.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

READS: Tuesday, February 13 is...

George Fox Day
Hobart Regatta (Tasmania)

From Wikipedia:
George Fox (July 1624 – January 13, 1691) was an English Dissenter and a major early figure — often considered the founder — of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers.

While my mind's on the subject, greetings to the (literally) six new readers who stopped by last night immediately after my news story on WOI, if any of you came back for a second day. I guess the viewership of WOI news is even lower than I had imagined.

Today's reads:

Gov. Pataki is out of the race for president, and Cyclone Conservative has a post up thanking him for his contributions to the discourse and other campaigns. This may be the first post he's written that I'm not embarrassed to link to.

One of these days, you'd think Git-n-Go would improve their security. If they don't do it soon, they may have to change their name to Got-n-Gone.

Shortly after my story last night, a story on this press conference aired on WOI as well. The Patty Judge quote they used was about as worthless as it gets:

"Drugs are dangerous. Child abuse is intolerable."

Be sure to join us tomorrow when she reminds us that the sun is warm, but ice is still slippery.

Finally, Geraldine at Iowa Progress notes the difference in press coverage between the recent campaign visits of Clinton and Obama. When I still worked for Ed Fallon, I used to hear the same complaint from irate Iowans who didn't live in Des Moines all the time. They were always upset that politicians don't think they exist and never hold events in their area. This is a perfect example of why they do it that way.

Clinton held a large rally in Des Moines, probably less than 5 miles from the headquarters of every major news organization in Iowa. It got covered. Obama held a significantly larger rally in Ames, where most major media would have had to travel to cover it. They opted out. I don't think the average Iowan realizes how hard campaigns have to work to make it incredibly easy for the media to attend their events, or risk non-coverage. I've held press conferences at the capitol before and had some of the media on hand refuse to leave the press room to cover it. It's one of the most challenging below-the-surface issues campaigns face. And it's why they don't hold major events in Fort Dodge.


Monday, February 12, 2007

REACTION: Check me out on Channel 5 tonight at 6!

So I woke up this morning thinking I was going to be working by myself all day. As a result, I didn't shave and I passed up the normal nice polo shirt in favor of an old Packers shirt. Shouldn't be a problem, right?

Wrong. About noon I got an email from a reporter at Channel 5. She wanted to know if I'd be willing to be interviewed for a story they're doing on bloggers and the 2008 election.

"Don't you want someone more active?" I asked. It's been 3 and a half weeks since my last post, which was about pro wrestling. But no, they wanted me. So if you're wondering why I'm going to look mildly unkempt with my jacket on indoors during my interview for tonight's Channel 5 News at 6, that's why. As for why they wanted me more than my more active (and widely read) colleagues, I'm still unsure.

With that said, if you're interested in seeing what David Yepsen and I have to say about bloggers and our capacity to influence elections, tune in to the 6 pm WOI newscast. I think the interview went well, all told. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Normal posting will resume tomorrow, in all likelihood.


Friday, January 26, 2007

A QUICK ASIDE: What're you doing tonight and tomorrow?

Yeah, I know, I've been gone for a while. I could make excuses about being busy or the volume of time it takes to be a consistent blogger, but neither of those are really the problem. I'm bored. Posting will resume when I return from my mental vacation.

In the meantime, here are the two things I'm doing this weekend. First, tonight:

On January 26th, live from Don's Pub in Donahue, IA, Scott County Wrestling and Lederman's Bail Bonds presents Winter of Discontent 2007!

At SCW Genesis, Marek Brave successfully defended his SCW Championship against Danny Daniels in one of the most brutal matches in the history of Scott County Wrestling. It was back and forth, toe-to-toe and no disqualification in a match that closed the door on a feud that has been raging on for two years. Now that one of the greatest rivalries in SCW history is said and done, what's next for SCW Champion Marek Brave? Will somebody in the SCW locker room step up to the plate? Perhaps at Winter of Discontent, we'll find out.

At Genesis, Shane Hollister & Ben N. Sane became the new #1 contenders to the SCW Tag Team Titles defeating The Origional S&M (Montoya X and AJ Smooth) and are entitled to an SCW Tag Team Title match against reigning champions The Mississippi Madman and Krotch.

Tony Scarpone defeated the debuting Adam Evans at Genesis, but was immediately confronted by Mark Storm after the match. Storm proclaimed that now that SCW stars Keith Walker and Rob Anthony have both left for WWE, Tony Scarpone is on his own and he's #1 on Mark Storm's hit list. What will Mark Storm have waiting for Tony Scarpone on January 26th?

"Metal Head" Steve Stone made his return to Scott County Wrestling and welcomed himself back with a tag team victory over Tyler Black and Mikey Maxim with the help of midwest wrestling star, Silas Young to continue his impressive winning streak. Stone will be in action and looking to keep is current success continuing.

Also scheduled to be in the house on January 26th: Danny Daniels, Mikey Maxim, "The Glamazon" Bobbi Dahl, #1 Playa Woody Maguire, The Origional S&M, Boris, Johnny Wisdom, Steven Youngblood, Tony Rican, Hardcore KC and QC Champion Kyle Rich.

SCW Winter of Discontent 2007
January 26th, 2007
Doors Open: 6pm - Bell Time: 7pm

Don's Pub
101 Main St.
Donahue, IA

And on Saturday:

3XWrestling - A New Beginning

January 27th, 2007

Waukee Middle School
905 Warrior Lane
Waukee, IA

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

Featuring :

The 2nd Round of the 3XW Heavyweight title tournament:

Gage Octane vs. "Delicious" Devin Carter

Brian Ash vs. Tony Scarpone

Other matches:

MTV Wrestling Society X star "The Anarchist" Arik Cannon
Danny Daniels

3XW Tag Team Championship
Ben Sailer & Nate Bash (c)
The Northstar Express - Darin Corbin & Ryan Cruz

Hunter Matthews vs. Tyler Cook

Six Man Tag Team Action
Casanova, Ryan Slade & Zach Thompson
Dan Lawrence, Jimmy Rockwell & Ricky Kwong

Plus the 3XW debut of Ring of Honor, Chikara, AAW & IWA-MS star Trik Davis !!!

Also in action : Bryce Benjamin, "The Rebel" Jeremy Wyatt, Krotch, Aaron Masterson, Kraig Keesaman & more.

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

So c'mon out and see a show. It'll be fun.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

READ: Thursday, January 18 is...

Foundation Day (Lima, Peru)
St. Prisca (Texco, Mexico)

Interestingly enough, today's lone read deals with the foundation of the caucuses.

John Deeth
has a great post up this morning, possibly the best one I've ever seen him write, on the potential impact of non-anonymous voting in a Democratic presidential race where a woman and a black man are top contenders. Absolutely worth a read, and possibly worth picking up again to reconsider after the caucus.

I've heard several arguments against the caucuses lately, not the least of which is this whiny one from Geraldine at Iowa Progress about how poor Poweshiek County only gets to send 21 delegates to state convention. (The logic is pretty simple. It's the DEMOCRATIC Party's state convention, so they decide representation based on how many Democratic voters are in your county. More votes in the election = more votes at state convention.)

Another argument is that they don't accurately represent the vote totals of lesser candidates. For example, I've had several people tell me that Kucinich was only a vote or two away from getting a delegate in several Des Moines precincts in 2004, but didn't reach the threshold and therefore got nothing. It's a fair argument and I think it's relevant to a point, but at the end of the night Iowa Democrats have bigger concerns than accurately displaying the support of candidates who finished fifth or worse.

Deeth's argument, on the other hand, is probably the most credible threat to a fair caucus. I think the possibility that voters going against Clinton or Obama will be labeled prejudiced will net them some votes. But there's more to it than that. How many voters won't want a fight when they get home so they'll just follow their spouse into a preference group? Or their boss?

In the end, I like the caucus structure for its unique nature and feel, which is what drew me to my first caucus as a student in 2004. But I worry about the accuracy of its results if voters feel the need to go along with others in the room.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

READS: Wednesday, January 17 is...

Skanderbeg Day (Albania)

From Wikipedia:

George Kastrioti
(born Gjergj Kastrioti, May 6 (disputed), 1405 - January 17, 1468), better known as Skanderbeg (Turkish:İskender Bey), is one of the most prominent historical figures in the history of Albania and the Albanian people. He is also known as the Dragon of Albania and is the national hero of the Albanians. He is remembered for his struggle against the Ottoman Empire, through the work of his first biographer, Marin Barleti.
Moving on. Short reads today, as I need to get to work:

Two important questions today, and they both involve Sen. Obama's presidential "exploration." First, Popular Progressive answers the question I've asked before: "Aside from being a rock star, what does Obama stand for?"

Then, Leftist Logic asks another interesting question: Is this the right time for him to run?

That's all for now. No, I'm not going to waste your time with CIETC crap today. You could get that anywhere.


Monday, January 15, 2007

READS: Monday, January 15 is...

Dr. Martin Luther King Day (US)
Thai Pongal (Hinduism)

From Wikipedia:

Pongal (Tamil: பொங்கல்) is a Hindu festival to give thanks for the harvest. Pongal in Tamil means 'boiling over'. Traditionally celebrated at harvest time, it is a celebration of the prosperity associated with the event.

Pongal is celebrated by all people in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu as well as Tamils worldwide, including Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore.

While Pongal is predominantly a Tamil festival, the same festival celebrated in several other places under different names. In Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka, the harvest festival Sankranthi is celebrated. In northern India, it is called Makara Sankranti. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, it is the date of the annual kite-flying day, Uttarayan. It also coincides with the bonfire and harvest festival in Punjab and Haryana, known as Lohri.

I've spent the last couple of hours harvesting some reads for you. No festival necessary.

I'm pleased to see state legislators working on strengthening and freshening the Open Records and Open Meetings laws. There are two major disappointments in the article, though:

1) According to the story (and there's no source quoted on this), the process might take two years.

2) People like Susan Judkins of the Iowa League of Cities seem to think this is a tremendous opportunity to limit their accountability:

Judkins also said that the cities want the Legislature to review a decision made last year as part of the CIETC scandal, requiring intergovernmental agencies to publish financial records and other decisions made by the agency.

"Many of these agencies really have no money and are used by governments to hold down costs on joint efforts," Judkins said. "We think the Legislature went too far on requiring the publishing of this information and would like them to reconsider it."
If these organizations really have no money, then why should they be afraid to publish that? These are organizations run on tax dollars, presumably for the public good. They should be accountable at every turn of the road. But apparently the Iowa League of Cities doesn't want you to know about them.

The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Bureau has fined the Iowa Department of Corrections $92,000 for four workplace incidents resulting in injury, three of which resulted in injuries to inmates. The DOC is appealing the fines. Again, I take issue with a quote:

Money to pay the fines - $12,000 at Fort Madison, $80,000 at Newton - would come from the corrections department and be deposited into the state's general fund, "which is a lot like robbing Peter to pay Paul," said Gail Sheridan-Lucht, a state lawyer for the safety bureau.
This is not robbing Peter to pay Paul. This is fining a negligent state organization for leaving inmates and state employees in situations that resulted in injuries, including the loss of a finger. And that quote didn't come from the Department of Corrections. It came from the people who handed down the fine in the first place. That's hardly the attitude to take when promoting workplace safety.

On Thursday, I admitted in a post that I don't know a lot about Jimmy Carter. I'm pleasantly surprised by the level of discussion that one comment created. There's ten comments up now from both sides of the political spectrum discussing Carter's legacy. Definitely worth a read.

The Republican Party of Iowa has lost control of both houses of the state legislature, lost a race for governor, lost two seats in Congress, and ran a joke of a race for Secretary of State, but party chair Ray Hoffman was re-elected by the state central committee over the weekend. I'll defer to Common Iowan on this one, I think he did the best job of summing up the situation.

But finally, while we're on the subject of party chairs, I'm greatly disappointed, angered and disgusted by something Polk County GOP chairman Ted Sporer had the balls to say on Friday:

What do birds do? They flock together. So what do the Syrian Baathist dictator Bashar Assad, Iranian Islamofacsist President Mahmoud “Israel’s Days Are Numbered” Ahmadinejad and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin have in common?

They all oppose U.S. victory in Iraq. Kind of makes you wonder whose side Harkin is on doesn’t it.
Ted, it's moments like this hyperpartisan, reckless, oversimplified statement about a US Senator that make me happy we're on opposite sides. Because when I'm on the same side with someone who says something this ridiculous, I'm typically embarrassed to admit it.


Friday, January 12, 2007

READS: Friday, January 12 is...

Zanzibar Rev. Day (Tanzania)
Memory Day (Turkmenistan)

Sadly, it's not a real memorable news day.

Stivers Ford in Waukee hit the jackpot today, though: They bought some air time late at night on a channel that Mediacom customers can't get and early in the morning on a station no one watches, and the Register wrote a story on it. Maybe I'll buy half an hour of airtime at 3 in the morning to talk about how awful the Register is and get some coverage.

One positive on the editorial side of today's Register, though: They're finally getting back to talking about the importance of government oversight. It's about time.

I had been wondering how Culver and Blouin were going to coexist: I guess now I know.

I think it's possible that Sinclair and KDSM are enjoying the level of free publicity they're getting by being in the Register every day now that they're no longer on cable. They got another story in the Register today by refusing to go to arbitration.

I'm sick of this problem, so I'm making this my last word on it. I don't have an antenna and I don't plan to get one. I would watch several Fox shows if they were available to me, but they're not so I'll live without them. And this is the last time I'm going to mention Sinclair or KDSM in this space until they're back on cable. I'd like to take this opportunity to challenge other media outlets to do the same. If you want this story to end, let it die.

Finally, I'm not entirely sure on the meaning of this post from Iowa Ennui, but I think it's worth pointing out.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

FEATURE: Is it time to re-think the way we teach history?

I got home from work a bit early today, so I was watching Jeopardy. There was a category on the American Revolution. One woman nailed the first three questions, all the while looking somewhat peeved that neither of the other contestants knew the answer. Time ran out on the round before she could sweep the category.

Watching this reminded me of a conversation I had in Wisconsin over the holidays. I was in a bar with my dad, a friend of his and a bartender eating dinner and watching the news. President Ford had just died days earlier. The reporter mentioned that only four current and former presidents were still alive. I was the only one who could name all four (Bush II, Clinton, Bush I and Carter). I was also the only one in the conversation who wasn't alive when Jimmy Carter was president.

Aside from the basics, I don't really know much about Jimmy Carter. I'd bet most people from my generation don't. The way we teach history creates a real perception problem. I took American history classes in grade school, high school and college. My grade school class ended at the Civil War. My high school class (a full year) ended at World War 2. My college class also ended at the Civil War. An entire generation of Americans and several generations before them have grown up learning that American history ended in 1945. Students in the graduating classes of 2007 will be 62 years behind. Is it any wonder, then, that the high-school educated bartender in the second story thinks Al Gore is still Vice President?

I think it's important that students entering the real world have an appropriate understanding for the events and sacrifices that made and kept America free. But I think it's even more important that we give them an understanding of what got them where they are now: the politics, policies and programs that have succeeded and failed and created the situations their generation will be expected to deal with. It seems unlikely that a student who doesn't have a natural interest in politics when they graduate from high school or college will ever pick it up on their own: the world they've been taught about is decades out of context and the learning curve to fully understand the system around them is greater than a casual observer will take the time to overcome.

Simply put, if we want the next generation to be able to lead society forward, we need to teach them how society got where it is today.


READS: Thursday, January 11 is...

Hostos Day (Puerto Rico)
Aldo Leopold's birthday. Leopold would have been 120 today.

Three reads this morning, then I need to get to work:

Allow me to be one of many who will stand to applaud movement towards universal health care in Iowa. It's about time. And if you're one of those, like speaker Pat Murphy, who's opposed to the plan because gas stations on the border won't sell as many cigarettes, I think you need to re-evaluate your priorities.

I didn't watch President Bush's speech last night, I needed to wash my hair. It doesn't appear things will get any better for him, though, as the speech led David Yepsen to predict the Democrats will win the White House in 2008.

Finally, Chris Woods is peeved this morning because House and Senate Democrats have a disagreement over the correct way to raise the minimum wage. Chris, allow me to remind you of something: It's more important to find the right answer than the politically expedient one.

Tying the minimum wage to cost of living ensures that minimum wage-earning Iowans won't fall back into the hole they're currently in. It's the right thing to do to help people, and it's worth fighting for, even if that fight is within the party. I'm proud of the people who are standing up for working people instead of sitting down for political expediency.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

IF YOU'RE BORED: Wednesday, January 10 is...

National Unity Day (Nepal)
League of Nations Day

It amazes me that the first failed attempt to create the United Nations, and entity that many would argue is also failed, gets its own holiday. But nonetheless, happy League of Nations Day.

No reads today. I looked through the Register and the blogs and didn't find anything exciting to write about. Plus, I really should get to the gym.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

READS: Tuesday, January 9 is...

Commonwealth Day (N. Mariana Islands)

After this post, I'm adding the Northern Mariana Islands to the list of places I'd like to send State 29 on a permanent basis. Admittedly, I did laugh at the last part. I think it's worth noting, though, that I'm hardly a representative of the progressive movement as a whole. I know some people and I'd like to think I'm a decent analyst, but in the grand scheme I'm a blogger, not a movement. So if you arrived here this morning via State to check what the "regressive movement" is up to, I'd recommend broadening your base a little.

Common Iowan
, the Register, Dave Price and others all have the news this morning that Selden Spencer has formed an exploratory committee to look into a potential second run for Congress. The timing seems a little early but I think it's a good idea. Spencer's last campaign started too late to build enough momentum to topple Latham, but 2008 could be different for three reasons:

1) The party situation in Congress. In 2006, the party and their money entered with just one Democrat in the house and were largely focused on re-electing Leonard Boswell and electing Bruce Braley. They didn't even open the pocketbook to help Dave Loebsack, much less Spencer. In 2008 they'll enter with three D's in the house. The only viable pickup opportunity remaining will be Latham's seat.

2) Experience. It's true Spencer lost by 14 points, but for someone who had never run for public office before, you can't overvalue the experience he gained and the things he learned. Without having spoken to him about this run, my guess is he'll handle several things differently this time.

3) A better starting point.
In 2006, Spencer launched his campaign in March with no name recognition, no website and limited financial backing. Today, he launches a campaign with 22 months to do what he was unable to do in eight months in 2006. He already has a web presence, name recognition and presumably some donors. He's not starting from zero this time. He's starting from 43%, the number of fourth district voters who voted for him last time. And he could move up significantly from there.

With the Iowa Legislature underway once again, this morning we've got two sets of challenges to consider: David Yepsen covers the ones we all remember, and the Register Staff covers one I'd forgotten.

Admittedly, the phrase "Blue Thong" in the headline of this story caught my attention. It's not as exciting as I had hoped.

Finally, since it appears Michael Gartner will not resign from the Board of Regents, Nick Johnson has compiled a list of seven ways he could be removed. One can only hope one of them will come to pass.


Monday, January 08, 2007

REACTION/META: Early Loebsack reactions

Two reads on Loebsack have popped up since I wrote my first post this morning:

First, Blog for Iowa has a post up with a picture of the Johnson County DFA members who accompanied Loebsack on his trip to Washington.

On the substantive side, though, Popular Progressive notes that Loebsack's opinions on the war seem to have taken a pretty drastic shift since he was elected two months and a day ago. To say that's concerning is a massive understatement. If I were a Loebsack voter or donor, I'd be pissed right now. Congressman Loebsack, if you or someone from your staff is reading this, listen closely because I'm only going to say this once. You were narrowly elected over a popular 30-year incumbent based largely on your views on specific issues, one of which was the war. If you intend to walk back to the middle on this, then you shouldn't get too comfortable in Washington, because you'll be back in Mt. Vernon before you know it.

Popular Progressive earned a spot on the sidebar by bringing this to my attention.


IF YOU'RE BORED: Snow and dachshund pictures from Christmas vacation

So I'm not usually one to play the tourist, and I'm not a fan of winter at all, but when I got to Minocqua for Christmas, it had recently rained and snowed, which made for some great picture opportunities:

It also gave me the opportunity to take some pictures of Buddy, the family dachshund:

Those images and 45 more are available on my Flickr page. Feel free to check them out.


READS: Monday, January 8 is...

Women's Day (Greece)

It appears over the weekend both Chris Rants (via Krusty) and Ted Sporer decided they couldn't actually wait until the open of the legislative session to begin spewing partisan attacks. Rants has one of the greatest acts of hypocrisy I've ever seen in his post on "Ten things the Democrats don't want you to know."

Democrat Pam Jochum, the new chair of the State Government Committee, will bring out of committee legislation that will a) build in incumbency protection by limiting the size of donations, b) provide for public financing of campaigns, and c) further tilt the playing field of independent activity to organized labor at the expense of the business community. Catchy slogans like “voter owned elections” grab more ink than anything about erosion of the first amendment.
This is coming from the guy who has taken tens of thousands in campaign contributions from the car title loan and tobacco industry. Rants calls public financing "incumbency protection." I personally also think you're pretty well protected when your big moneyed friends allow you to spend almost $60,000 in the 21 days before an election where you're running unopposed. Maybe that's just me.

According to the Register, no one seemed to anticipate that a tax break for farmland owners would be popular. I applaud the Iowa legislature for taking steps to make it easier for new farmers to get on the land, but I've got to ask, if you didn't think it would work, why'd you do it in the first place?

Dennis Barnum is the president of Iowans Against the Death Penalty, and he had a good letter in Sunday's Register regarding his argument. The facts in the case make it perfectly clear: the only reason to execute prisoners is for vengeance, and it's not the state's job to provide that.

Chris Woods has a great post on the bills that were filed before today's open of session for the legislature. It's a great read if you're looking for a heads-up on some of the things we'll likely be debating for much of the spring.

That's all for now,


Friday, January 05, 2007

META: New sidebar addition


As I mentioned earlier, when I find new Iowa blogs, I usually watch them for a while to see if they present me with anything worth linking before I add them to the sidebar.

Leftist Logic made the cut today with this post on Vilsack's presidential aspirations and one of the things they'd like to see him do with his remaining time in office. Excellent work. Keep it coming.

UPDATE: I'm excited to report he got his wish. The Register and Radio Iowa are reporting that Vilsack has commuted the sentence from 50 years with a minimum of 35 years to 50 years with a minimum of ten years. I think that's fair. The fact that she's still serving ten years, which many will overlook (and already have in comments section of the Register story), remains as a statement that murder is still not ok, but the reduction from 35 years to ten on the minimum sentence shows some mercy and understanding for the terrible situation that led Dixie Duty to do what she did.


REACTION: Breaking butter news

So I've had a minor change in plans today. I was scheduled to work this morning, go to the gym this afternoon and go to the Quad Cities for a wrestling show tonight. Fifteen minutes before I was to arrive at work, I received a call asking if I could reschedule. So no work today.

Instead, I decided to take my car in for an oil change, since I was due and I was scheduled to drive about 600 miles between today and tomorrow. Also, one of my front tires was making a funny sound and I wanted to get it checked out. It turns out that somehow my axle got bent. They're going to be able to fix it but it's a $600+ job and has left me without a car since 9:30 this morning.

So now, absent $600, I really shouldn't be spending the gas money or the ticket price to go to the Quad Cities tonight. So I decided to sit back down and blog, partly because it's free and partly because it doesn't require me to leave my apartment. And I found news that's practically tailor-made for my mood:

BREAKING NEWS: The woman who makes the Butter Cow can sculpt other things too.

No matter where you go, there will always be at least one person, usually more, who has a wealth of talent but lives their entire life under one label. I feel like Norma Lyon, the "butter cow lady," probably fits that criteria. At the very least, she can also sculpt cows out of bronze.


IF YOU'RE BORED: Friday, January 5 is...

Twelfth Night (Christianity)
La Befana (Italy)

From Wikipedia:

Twelfth Night is a holiday in some branches of Christianity marking the coming of the Epiphany, concluding the Twelve Days of Christmas, and is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking".

And, also from Wikipedia:

La Befana is a character in Italian folklore, similar to Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus. The character may have originated in Rome, then spread as a tradition to peninsular Italy.

Her name derives from the festival of Epiphany, and she visits all the children of Italy on the night of 6 January to fill their socks with candy if they are good or a lump of coal if they are bad. Being a good housekeeper, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. The child's family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for Befana.

That's all I've got for today. I've got work this morning, the gym this afternoon and then I'm headed to Donahue for a wrestling show. See you on Monday.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

READS: Thursday, January 4 is...

Independence Day (Burma)
St. Andrew of Corsini, the patron saint of mediators.

Earlier this week, when the caucus concert idea was announced, I sat down with an idea. I'd write a post suggesting we go forward with the idea, but only if candidates themselves were willing to do the concert and call it "Caucus Idol." Over a period of several hours, I adapted songs for each of seven candidates to sing, and I was deep in thought over it when Laura came to look over my shoulder. I explained the concept to her and she read what I had so far.

"This isn't very funny," she said. Then came the crushing blow. "You should stop trying to be Todd Dorman."

So I dropped the project. Similarly, this morning I feel like there's a joke about mediators hanging out there somewhere, but I can't find it, so I'm letting it go.

On to the reads:

There are so many low roads I could take with a story about child-proofing Terrace Hill for the Culvers that I'm not even going to bother. Read it, make your own joke, post it in the comments if you feel it's exceptionally clever.

On a serious note, I've worked both with and against John Hedgecoth, and I know him to be a great person with tremendous intelligence and a wealth of policy experience. I could care less how he drives or pays his taxes, and you shouldn't care either.

That's all I've got for now. I've got a fair portion of the day free today, so I may be back later.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

READS: Wednesday, January 3 is...

The Birthday of St. Genevieve, patron saint of secretaries and the fevered. Perhaps today is the day we should have sworn in the new SoS and SoA.

I'm late with the reads for today, and for that I apologize.

When it comes to making the Iowa Caucuses into a bad concert, Greg Edwards is apparently immune to our disgust. Even after the beating he took yesterday, he was still going to make a TV appearance with Joe Scarborough on MSNBC today until the interview was canceled because Scarborough was "unavailable." In a past job, when crazy people called and wanted to talk to the boss, I was also told to tell them he was "unavailable." I suspect it's not a coincidence.

Finally, this isn't Iowa related at all, really, but just to show how bad some people are at protecting you from identity thieves, Joe tells the tale today of how Wisconsin put taxpayers' social security numbers on the outside of their tax return mailings. Oops. Maybe that's why MLB Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers hasn't paid his taxes. Or maybe he's just reluctant to pay the new "handlebar mustache tax:"

That's one serious mustache. And because I'm out of reads for today, I have a somewhat Rollie Fingers related story. Rollie Fingers played for the 1983 Brewers, as did my dad's all-time favorite baseball player, Gorman Thomas. On May 24, 1983, while my mom was in labor, my dad was listening to the Brewer game, which was tied at 7 in the eighth inning. With runners on second and third, the Athletics intentionally walked Ben Oglivie to bring Gorman up with the bases loaded. A home run would almost certainly have ensured a Brewer victory, and my dad told my mom, "If Gorman hits a home run, we're naming the baby after him." Sadly for the Brewers, but thankfully for me, Gorman struck out for the second time that day, and slightly after midnight when I was born, I was not named Gorman.

That's all for now.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

META: Adjusting the sidebar

I usually pride myself in having the most frequently updated blogroll in the Iowa blogosphere, but it had been a month or two since I had checked the list of blogs on the right for activity, so I have a few changes to make:

I've pulled Bill Dix, Dave Nagle, Denise O'Brien and New Iowan, as all four have ceased posting.

I've added Iowa Daze, New Iowan's new blog.

I've moved Side Notes and Iowa Ennui to lapsed. It's been months for Side Notes and almost a month for Ennui. I'll move them back if they resume posting.

If you've got a blog I should be reading, feel free to leave it in the comments. Usually when I find a new blog I watch it for a few weeks, and if I find something worth linking to I'll add it to the 'roll.


REACTION: Fallon's support is more than just Fairfield

Apparently while I was gone on vacation, some of Iowa's other notable lefty bloggers stopped reading this space. On the 19th I said this about John Edwards:

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.
Then, nine days later, Chris Woods, Common Iowan and Iowa Progress saw Fallon at Edwards' event in Des Moines and reported it as breaking news. At the risk of going out of my way to pat myself on the back, I'd just like to make sure you noticed that I told you that more than a full week earlier.

That's not the point of the post, however. While reading Geraldine at Iowa Progress' report, I was struck by this utter downplay of Fallon's significance:

It’s doubtful whether Fallon’s endorsement has any real weight outside of Fairfield and certain precincts of Iowa City but it doesn’t mean his endorsement’s useless.
It's this kind of glaring oversight that gives bloggers as a whole a reputation for overlooking the facts. Fallon received the support of nearly 40,000 voters, including 40+% of Polk County, where 20% of Iowa's votes are cast. He did win Fairfield, but he also won Story County and a smattering of others across the state, including Poweshiek, which Geraldine probably should have noticed, seeing as she lives there.

The fact that Fallon continues to draw attention from candidates and the news media should tell us something: like or dislike him, Ed Fallon is a player in this race. And trying to play him off as only carrying weight in Fairfield and a few precincts in Iowa City (which he lost, by the way) just makes you look stupid.


READS: Tuesday, January 2 is...

Forefathers' Day (Haiti)
Berchtoldstag (Switzerland)

Berchtoldstag translates roughly to "St. Berchtold's Day," although what St. Berchtold did to earn canonization or a holiday is apparently beyond my reach. Feel free to leave me a note in the comments if you know.

It's a new year and I've decided to try a new labeling system for posts. My daily reads (which I still plan on writing every weekday) will be labeled READS, longer pieces I write out of the blue or to start a deeper conversation will be labeled FEATURES, and things I feel the need to react to will be labeled REACTION. My Root Beer Tapper scores, wrestling stuff, etc will probably fall into a category like IF YOU'RE BORED, or something like that.

Anyway, moving on to today's reads:

Cathy Haustein has a post up on the important differences between a state-run university and a business. It's worth a read, even if only for Cathy's characterization of the opinion page, something I think we all agree with from time to time.

Common Iowan and Political Forecast both noticed that the Draft Obama people ran a TV ad in Iowa aiming to "convince Senator Obama to seek the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination" yesterday. The ad ran on the morning of New Years' Day. Let's break that down a step farther:

An ad attempting to convince a man who lives in Illinois to run for president aired in Iowa on the morning after everyone and their mother stays up late.

What the hell were they thinking? By the way, I was up at 8:30 on New Year's Day, watched TV most of the morning, and didn't see the ad. Maybe next week the Draft Obama people can attempt to convince him to run by sending junk mail to a random address in New Hampshire.

Speaking of crappy caucus ideas, the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitor's Bureau wants to build a nationally televised show to kick off the Iowa caucuses. Britney Spears is pictured as a possible performer. Someone got it in their head that the caucuses need "jazzing up." Someone needs to fire that guy.

I don't want people to have any excuse not to attend their caucus. I don't want there to be anything worth watching on TV, I don't want any sporting events drawing people to the radio, and I sure as hell don't want the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitor's Bureau to stage a Britney Spears concert that night. I want people to go vote. And if helping choose the next president isn't "jazzed up" enough for you, then go back to laying on your goddamn couch and watching whatever reality crap is on MTV.

In a rare act of bi-partisanism, Chris Woods has an interview with Chris Rants on blogs and their role in politics. I've said some nasty things about Chris Rants in this space, some deservedly so, but this interview is still a good read. Kudos to Chris for reaching out and finding a good story.

That's all for now. I've got some more stuff in the works but I've got to work today so it might have to wait until tomorrow.