Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Some questions that could be answered this time next week:
-- Is Vilsack's political standing hurt a bit in the state if Blouin doesn't beat Culver? What does that mean for Vilsack's presidential prospects, particularly if Culver ends up as governor? The one WH '08er who has given Culver the most love is John Edwards.
-- Will the GOP nominee in IA 01 be too conservative to win in November? The one saving grace for House Republicans when it comes to
is Democrat Leonard Boswell. He's probably the most vulnerable Democratic House incumbent in the country. The Republicans could lose IA 01 and still break even in the state if Republican Jeff Lamberti is as strong as he looks right now in IA 03. Iowa
Bob's Blog: What, you guys need more energized rah-rah so you gotta get a blog? Actually, I think this is one of those dreamed up on the bus at 2:00 a.m. ideas - punch that survives campaign group think to become ...
I want to take a moment and welcome you to my blog. It's a new addition to our website and I'm excited to have the opportunity to share with you my stories from the road, the issues Jim and I are discussing with voters and the latest campaign happenings.
For instance, just this past Saturday, I ran in my first competitive race since high school. The folks in
were gracious hosts at their Tivoli Festival, an annual Danish celebration ... Elkhorn
... Dutch humor.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
After a long weekend
The WaPo Fix ranks Iowa's third for the first time...
14. Iowa's 3rd District: The biggest oversight in our last Line was not including Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell. Boswell's Des Moines-area seat is extremely competitive between the two parties (Bush won it by less than 300 votes in 2004), and Republicans have fielded a strong candidate in state Sen. Jeff Lamberti. Lamberti is running as an outsider to Washington, insisting that Republicans and Democrats inside the Beltway are simply not delivering for Iowans. It remains to be seen whether he can convince people in the district that choosing him amounts to a vote for change. (Previous ranking: N/A)And the first moves up to second...
State 29 is asking some tough questions about the newly inked renewables legislation, although I don't believe that Iowa can sit on our combines and watch other states aggressively push quasi-protectionist ag policies.
2. Iowa's 1st District: Both parties host competitive primaries on June 6. For Democrats, former trial lawyer Bruce Braley is the frontrunner, although Republicans believe he would make a slightly easier general election foe than Rick Dickinson, a former state representative with strong ties to the business community. On the Republican side, the race is down to state Rep. Bill Dix and Heart of America founder Mike Whalen. (Previous ranking: 3)
Krusty is attempting a hat trick with the clever vilification of Mike much-too-moderate Whalen (like the DMR endorsement and his ethanol problems aren’t going to be enough to kill his shot) combined with the anything but subtle hustle on behalf of Bill Dix’ campaign. TouchPlay, the Iowa ag race and now Mike Whalen: can an organized group of insiders on a political blog derail issues and candidates through the use of consistent, strategically built posts and comments?
…The Des Moines Register says: One of the bills Vilsack signed at a Statehouse ceremony requires that 25 percent of all fuel sold by 2020 be renewable. (emphasis added)Requires? What do they mean by requires? …
… The department may impose, assess, and collect the civil penalty. The civil penalty shall be for at least one hundred dollars but not more than one thousand dollars for each violation. Each day that a continuing violation occurs shall be considered a separate offense.
Could the State of Iowa fine residents $100 to $1000 for not meeting the goal of HF 2754 by 2020? Am I reading this correctly? …
...Why Mod Whalen, you look like somebody just walked over your grave. If you are not a fan of the movie Tombstone …
… Anyway, for the past month or so it has become apparent that Mod Whalen has decided to buy the 1st CD Republican nomination. Whalen has dumped almost $340,000 into his campaign. It looks like Bill Dix is fed up with Whalen’s attempt to purchase the nomination and dumped in $100,000 of his own money for the final week of the campaign. …
On an unrelated related item, Dick Armey's group (you remember Dick Armey? The boot stompin', econ PhD holdin' former Majority Leader of the US Congress) is sending a flurry of email urging his fans to talk to members of Congress about the so called 'net neutrality' legislation. This is elite speak for "gotta shut, oops, regulate it before 08". Who wants Media-tele-aol-dot companies to control content?
Finally, John Deeth takes on the two GOP candidates running for Secretary of State. He shreds the GOP candidates’ proposals for increasing ballot security by pullin’ the card. I wonder what JD might say about the rumors that certain counties have denied campaigns access to the list of voters applying for absentee ballots for this upcoming primary?
Now back to the sorting.
… It's the airport security, guilty until proven innocent mindset.
Allison would tighten voting laws by eliminating the use of "third party" couriers to deliver absentee ballots. He also favors requiring voters to show photo IDs...
Dopf favors shortening the period for casting absentee ballots, as well as instructing people to give a reason why they are unable to go to the polls to vote.
Allison and Dopf object to Gov. Tom Vilsack's executive order last summer that restored the voting rights of tens of thousands of felons who had completed their sentences.
Perhaps that has something to do with these stats from the Campaign to End Felon Disenfranchisement…
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Illegal Immigration: Heavy Metal or Grunge?
Some of those hard livin’ metal-heads chalk up the demise of metal in the late 80s to the self-absorbed equivocating of the kids fronting grunge bands. Grunge, an offspring of heavy metal, spoke the language.
Headbangers & politicians know: you must speak the language if you wanna' get to…
Recently, Congressional pols have been ignoring this rule. Take the immigration debate; it’s headed for a major collision, in part, because there are a few too many metal heads in the Senate.
The 62 Senators that voted for the all-encompassing immigration reform package seem unwilling to consider the fact that a majority of Americans are most concerned with illegal immigration at the border. The House offered up their grunge version, and it’s all about the fence. They seem to know what to play. They now go to conference to negotiate out the differences and pass something so they can all cut & paste a victory on illegal immigration quote to campaign material.
But this is an
The KCCI poll (PDF) asked 600 likely voters their thoughts on political name id, the head-to-head races, illegal immigration and domestic spying. The poll included five questions on illegal immigration and, for the most part, the numbers look like the national numbers; Iowans are typical. The key immigration question asked the 600 likely voters how the illegal immigration debate will factor into their election-day decisions, about half the respondents indicated it’s a very important issue.
This is where it might be fun.
We know what the illegal immigration debate sounds like in Congress. But how is the illegal immigration debate going to play out in the state & local races? Will it affect the debate on education and social services spending? Are we going to refocus law enforcement to go after illegal immigration crimes? Do we tackle all the suggestions out of the New Iowans Study Committee report?
Somethin' to think about over the holiday weekend.
* I'm officially past one year on this project, and somehow it hasn't helped all that much. Thanks for all the kind words & support.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
CIETC is officially a scandal; CIETC board member/consultant pleads the fifth
The CIETC story is old news. We know that a bunch of clever bureaucrats ended up with lucrative employment contracts in exchange for hooking up marginally educated kids with minimum wage jobs. (My SO keeps tellin’ me I need a CIETC style six-figure job; I keep tellin’ him he might not like the unwritten part of that job description.) But it’s getting interesting once again with the first character smart or nervous enough to plead the fifth. Reported by Radio Iowa:
… Legislators had issued a subpoena to force CIETC board member Dan Albritton to appear before the panel, but with his attorney at his side, Albritton refused to testify.
That makes Albritton the first of seven CIETC-related witnesses to refuse to answer legislators' questions. Albritton "took the fifth," saying at his lawyer's advice he was exercising his right to refuse to answer to avoid incriminating himself. Legislators say they want to question Albritton because he not only served on the CIETC board but was also a paid consultant for the agency and he bought a boat with CIETC's former C-E-O, Ramona Cunningham. …
What you need to know about Dan Albritton:
Term Expires: Nov. 2008
A native of
Perry, Iowa, in nearby Dallas Countyand a resident of for more than 20 years, Dan Albritton was appointed to the Prairie Meadows Board in 2002. Since 1972, Dan has been employed at Bridgestone/Firestone and has been a union member of Local 310, United Steel Workers of America. As President of South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Dan represents more than 30,000 union members in 15 counties. He is an executive committee board member of Polk County United Wayof Central Iowa. Dan is a member of the Iowa Citizens Action Network, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield labor liaison council. He enjoys helping others and has been a lifelong political and human rights activist. (Link to Board member bios & minutes)
As I recall, the IFL-CIO is often in the business of political endorsements, and the gubernatorial pick for the Dem primary: Mike – endorsements without voters – Blouin.
I wonder if that's anything like buildings without walls?
Monday, May 22, 2006
Martha's Spirit in Iowa
I spent this past weekend backstage at a dance recital wrangling a bunch of small girls in pouffy and sparkly costumes. We even had to put makeup on our kids, yuck.
I wasn't particularly keen on the whole dance thing. I had a very snobby assumption that the dance school was all tap & dance squad jazz (a primer: dance squad jazz is code for “cleaned-up” music video dancing; Paula Abdul, circa 1986). I was wrong.
The older dancers had the standard tap and jazz routines, but they were also on pointe in one piece and preformed a number of modern pieces. Modern dance out of a small town
It was inspiring, and humbling.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Mike Whalen and his fossil fuel friends
I get caught up in Google moments when trying to think up blog posts. That happened yesterday.
A Mike Whalen email arrived in my inbox with a link to his newest TV spot and I found myself finally interested in the 1st district race. I really haven’t paid that much attention to it, there are plenty of other bloggers spending keyboard time on this race. But it was Whalen’s ad that just seemed so odd, the forced happy with Whalen almost giggling at key points in the ad. Giggling?
I did the usual Google search, although not a blog Google, and found the usual stuff. The one interesting thing is Whalen’s involvement with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) think tank out of
Curious, I went through the NCPA website and found the typical Republican leaning policy ideas, but there was a definite industry tilt in the energy policy section.
It certainly seems like the entire energy policy section is a front for the fossil fuel industry’s government relations shops. Just a couple of quotes for the flavor:
A multibillion-dollar government crusade to promote renewable energy for electricity generation, now in its third decade, has resulted in major economic costs and unintended environmental consequences. While previous renewable capacity built with liberal government subsidies is widely acknowledged to have been uneconomic and is at risk with falling electricity prices, future renewable capacity will be challenged by the rapidly falling costs and prices of traditional sources. (link)
However, abundant supplies of renewable resources do not guarantee abundant supplies of affordable energy. Even with sizable subsidies, renewable energy is generally more expensive than energy produced from nonrenewable sources. We rely on oil, natural gas, coal and even nuclear power today because they provide us with more efficient and affordable energy than renewable alternatives. And they are likely to do so for many years to come. (link)
Ethanol would likely disappear from the marketplace absent federal subsidies and mandates. Like so much of the pork Congress bestows upon special interests, ethanol is bad for the economy, bad for consumers and bad for the environment.
Corn deserves a place on the nation's dinner table for its nutritional value, but it doesn't belong in the gas tanks of millions of
motor vehicles. (link) U.S.
I was surprised by the NCPA's flagrant anti-ethanol, anti-wind, anti anything but oil & natural gas bias in their policy work, and I thought I should make other people aware of this stuff. Oops. I think most insiders probably already know this story, as the MSM & bloggers covering the first district wrote about Whalen’s connection to NCPA back in March .
I’m not an insider and I haven’t been paying attention to this race, so I might represent a more typical voter just tuning into the candidates. As a mildly interested primary voter, if I new about Mike Whalen’s big dollar support for a group working against wind and ethanol policy, he wouldn’t get my vote.
Friday, May 19, 2006
I’m an equal opportunity blogger when it comes to pointing out the stupid. Yesterday, a clump of Democrat legislators went on record to confirm that Chet Culver was indeed a lobbyist for IBP – one of those evil animal protein processors with their own Latin America to
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of
said Culver needs to admit being a lobbyist for the company. Council Bluffs
"We all knew that. He knows that. It's time for him to own up," Gronstal said during a conference call arranged for reporters by the Blouin campaign.
[House Minority Leader] Murphy said Culver introduced himself as the son of former U.S. Sen. John Culver and listed off his clients, including IBP.
Murphy said the conversation stood out because of who Culver's father was and because
residents at the time had been concerned about the possibility of IBP moving into town. Dubuque
"It was not something that Dubuquers wanted to see happen, so when I heard that, I remembered it. But he admitted to me at that point that he represented them as a client," Murphy said.
Rep. Phil Wise, a Democrat from Keokuk, said he knew back then that Culver worked as a lobbyist for IBP.
"That is just an absurd assertion that somehow it doesn't count," Wise said.
This looks like a pull out the stops, try to make up some ground, last-ditch effort to see Blouin win the nomination. The irony in this attack is for Mike Blouin to call Chet Culver “corporate”; Mike, after all, is the choice of all the well-known, centrist corporate types. Right?
The sad reality is that Ed Fallon is the candidate for the times. He’s not the ‘best’ candidate and would likely get pasted in the general by Rep Jim Nussle and his juggernaut of a GOP campaign, but he’s saying the right stuff. What’s not to love about his tag line “I’m Ed Fallon, and I am not for sale”? It could be that people don’t seem to want to buy what Ed is usually selling, but that’s another story.
At the end of the day, June 6th to be exact, the winner of the Democratic Primary will have to go out and hustle tons more cash and figure out a way to appeal to voters sick of Vilsack’s big spender legacy.
I know what you’re thinking -- okay not really and I’m not sure I want to know -- but put Congress in context. When you're one of 435 and have the difficult job of saying ‘no’ to your colleagues and then watching the ‘no’ appealed up the leadership food chain, it’s tough.
Jim Nussle will be great at saying ‘no’ as
Thursday, May 18, 2006
A Pennsylvania Whisper
Tuesday's election proved to be the exception to a number of campaign rules.
One of them says low turnouts help incumbents. Not this time.
Only 18 percent of the state's voters went to the polls, but they ousted 17 lawmakers, including the two most powerful members of the state Senate -- Majority Leader David J. "Chip" Brightbill, R-Lebanon, and President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer,
. R-Blair County
Another says a big-money advantage is the ticket to winning.
Again, not in every case. Jubelirer and Brightbill's campaigns outspent their challengers -- John Eichelberger and Mike Folmer, respectively -- many times over. Both still lost big.
A third says incumbents have the edge over challengers, because they have name recognition and a record of hometown accomplishments in their favor.
Well, that one didn't pan out, either.
Voters sent incumbents packing in numbers not seen in nearly 30 years. The deep-seated outrage over last summer's pay raise of 11 percent to 54 percent for state officials was cited as the principal reason. …
…Some cited a rift within the state Republican Party over legislative leaders' acceptance of spending and tax increases pushed by Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell. Of the 17 lawmakers who were unseated, all but four were Republicans. The GOP controls the state House and Senate.
Others cited a growing discontent with legislative practices, including the swift passage of bills without full debate. … (link to Patriot-News)
Pennsylvania is irrelevant to Iowa politics in a direct sense; but indirectly, this election day drumming taken by incumbent Republicans suggests trouble in November, particularly if Iowa Republicans are viewed as out of touch and arrogant (poll test, please).
It’s important to voters that their pols stay rooted to their party philosophy, which probably explains some of Mike Blouin’s problems; he’s a pro-life corporatist in a pro-choice union party. What does this mean for Iowa Republicans? They may need to own up to some bad votes while making sure they show off a few battle scars from fighting for Republican ideals.
A lucky break on that front is this year’s senior tax cut, it reaffirms
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Common Sense Grassley
Chuck Grassley always seems to have a keen, practical sense when it comes to policy. He wants it to work. That is not to say other pols support bad policy, it’s that they don’t have the instincts to know when they’re paddling up a liquid-nitrate infused creek.
All that instinct is paying off for Grassley – and vicariously for Iowa Republicans – with his recent moves away from the White House on immigration reform and the Medicare prescription drug program.
Immigration reform currently under consideration in the Senate worked through some amendments yesterday (DMR link). One of those amendments (S. A. 3961) would have required the homeland-security secretary to report to Congress that border-security provisions are working before Congress could implement an illegal immigrant guest-worker program. Grassley thought that sounded like a good idea and voted for the amendment, while Tom Harkin didn’t like the idea and voted against it along with 54 other Senators.
My guess, history and the polls will agree with Grassley that we need to support border-security first and the ‘guest-worker’ amnesty program second; Americans are moving to a ‘trust, but verify’ mentality on issues of immigration reform.
And in what can only be described as obvious and inevitable, Senators Grassley and Backus in a bipartisan love fest held a press conference announcing their support for eliminating the penalty fees associated with missing the Medicare drug benefit deadline (DMR link). Duh. I marveled that politicians could be that stupid in the first place to set some arbitrary penalty fee structure affecting one of the largest and most aggressive voting blocs. Rule number five in political campaign orthodoxy: don’t piss off the seniors by messing with their fixed incomes, unless you’re talkin’ tax cuts. (If I can dream up one through four, I’ll post them.)
This is exactly why Iowans love Chuck Grassley -- he applies common sense to politics. We need more of that stuff.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Shutting Down the Speech
I’ve been on a break for a few weeks. New bloggers will find out; blogging can get old and then it’s a grind and since there’s no real payout, outside of a few emails, it requires inspiration -- and when it’s missing, it’s missing.
Enough on this lame explanation for a dropped ball.
I’ve also been busy watching all the other blogs: the comebacks, the orchestrated group think, the solid and always dead on deadpan, the mean & nasty, the gals, the bored insiders…etc. Notice I have no specific links to specific blogs; it’s more fun for y’all to have your own opinions about
That said, I don’t think I’d keep this up if the current crowd of bloggers covered all the issues, but they don’t.
…He[Smithson] explains they were asked to review a "blog," one person's anonymous opinions posted to a site critical of some local issues in
Smithson says all published political materials have to include the name of the person who paid for them, and in some cases the address too, if it was done by a registered political committee. Some people who blog, or post their opinions for the world to see, put lots of personal information on them, but some prefer to remain anonymous, especially if their material is controversial. This one was anonymous.
The blog, titled "Burlington Derailed," talks about issues affecting that eastern
and the surrounding area. The issue in this case was that an item posted on the blog advocated for and against candidates for a city council race. Smithson explains, "The owner of the blog, who calls himself 'Spike,' said 'vote yes on these candidates and vote no on these candidates' and a complaint was filed." Iowa city
But the board ruled that the owner of the site won't be forced to come out and reveal his real identify after all. When the board looked at the decisions in other states and at court cases, Smithson says they'd decided blogs pretty much cannot be regulated unless there's paid political advertising on them or if the blog is in some way controlled by a candidate or a campaign committee. He says the Internet in general has been pretty much free from attempts to regulate it, and the Federal Election Commission has given up a few moves to try and do that.
Smithson says the author of this blog was pretty confident in his position. He'd told the regulators during the investigation that he wasn't a candidate for any office, and his blog wasn't controlled by any campaign. Smithson says the board is going to adopt some administrative rules that clarify that the campaign laws will apply if a blog contains paid political advertising or is controlled by a candidate or any kind of campaign committee.
"If you're truly just an individual out there posting your opinions on a blog, for better or worse, the campaign laws are not going to apply." Smithson says the ethics board applies campaign laws to direct mail and other political advocacy, and with more people all the time using the Internet he wonders if it'll continue to "get a free pass."
Spike also posted the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Board’s letter to his Burlington Derailed website. The letter reads in part:
… As both of you probably know, the court system and government regulators have struggled with the level of regulation that may be applied to the Internet. This is particularly true in the area of the free speech rights of bloggers. As part of the Board's consideration, it researched how other states and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) handle the issue of blogs and the campaign laws. How this issue is handled at the federal level is particularly instructive, as state campaign laws are modeled after federal campaign regulations. However, ultimately the Board has to interpret and apply
campaign laws. Iowa
During this time, the FEC issued both an advisory opinion and then adopted federal regulations concerning the application of campaign laws to blogs. After reviewing the state campaign laws, how other states handle this issue, and the FEC opinion/regulations, the Board made the following determinations concerning the King complaint that Burlington Derailed blog was not in compliance with the state campaign laws:
1. That no campaign law/rule clearly applies to blogs. State law does require a "paid for by" on "Web sites" and there are other campaign laws that could apply Internet communications. However, the Board is going to grant the press exemption to Burlington Derailed at this time. …
… To be honest with both of you, as a campaign regulator I would prefer that anytime a blog expressly advocated for or against candidates or ballot issues the campaign laws would apply. It seems to me that if we can regulate an individual sending out a letter or placing a newspaper advertisement, that the same regulations could apply to the Internet. However, that is not the view of the courts and the general sway of government regulation. My concern is that blogging will not remain the dominion of individuals expressing their opinions. Rather, that campaigns will attempt to skirt the limited regulations that will be in place and we will simply have more underground and unregulated campaign activities (or at least more complaints/investigations on whether or not a particular blog is being controlled by a candidate). The issue of blogging is going to be a much bigger than one posting in a city election. But the Board made its determination and did so in reliance on established laws/regulations/decisions. …
For more details on the
I get the idea that if Charlie Smithson and the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Discloser Board could shut down
The feds have effectively shut down Smithson’s attempt to “regulate” free speech in the form of political blogs; however, it’s not a lethal stuff. Smithson is out fishing for information and opinions on political blogging and campaign ethics as noted in this post to the Council of Governmental Ethics Laws.
I am sure it’s just a matter of time before the Fairness Doctrine crowd finds a way to apply campaign finance laws to kill off the modern day John Dickensons. Additionally, South Park Conservative author Brian Anderson is using the mainstream media to warn anyone who’ll listen about this serious effort by entrenched left leaning elites to shut down political free speech.
… Are the hundreds of political blogs that have sprouted over the last few years - 21st-century versions of the Revolutionary era's political pamphlets - "press," and thus exempt from FEC regulations? Liberal campaign-finance reform groups like Democracy 21 say no.
"We do not believe anyone described as a 'blogger' is, by definition, entitled to the benefit of the press exemption," they collectively sniffed in a brief to the FEC. "While some bloggers may provide a function very similar to more classical media activities, and thus could reasonably be said to fall within the exemption, others surely do not."
The key test, the groups claimed, should be whether the blogger is performing a "legitimate press function."
But who decides what is legitimate? And what in the Constitution gives him the authority to do so? … (link)
To date, the legal and regulatory rulings are consistently on the side of blogging as a form of free speech. But that’s not something to be complacent about, with the Charlie Smithsons of the world looking to regulate the hell out of anything that might create an uneven playing field – whatever that means – it won’t be too long before states and the feds once again challenge the rights of individuals to express their native opinions.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Encouragement from North Andover
Have you read this book yet? It seems to be a hot topic on the net and blogs. Hillary may be driving to the middle but the quotes from the past should catch up to her.
Thanks for the push.
Update: Umm, what I interpreted as encouragement was actually day number five of non-stop rain. Dave's going a little nutty; who knows how many other bloggers he hit up for kicks?
Dave, Martha, Conner, Emily, Sarah, Sandy & Oppie, we hope the mud's tolerable and the cinderblocks hold.