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.