Monday, October 30, 2006

Inspiration Deficit

Okay, I am at a complete loss on coming up with an idea for a post. If you, a friend, your mother, the neighbor across the fence have a topic(s) please send it along. Then again, it's okay if nothing comes to mind. I'm sure I'll think up something in a few days.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Steve King, the Fence and 2008

I doubt there is any need for editorial comment on this Radio Iowa report.

...Congressman Steve King, a Republican from western Iowa, is celebrating. "I'm really pleased that the president has signed the Secure Fence Act," King says. "That's an issue that I've been working on. I first raised that issue here in Des Moines on August 22, 2005, so we're about 14 months down the road...That's fairly quick by legislative standards."

King went so far as to build a scale model of the fence he envisioned along the border, complete with an electrified wire along the top -- similar to those used to farmers to corral livestock. "The price tag to overall build just the fence and the wall is in the area of $2 billion. The concrete wall that I've designed and that I've testified on and demonstrated before the Homeland Security Committee...costs about $1.3 million a mile," King says. "But we're spending $8 billion on our southern border to pay the border patrol, so roughly a fourth of an annual budget will build this entire barrier."

King says the fence will help not only stop the flow of illegal immigrants, but the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. "It's the American people who deserve the credit," King says. "Yes, I raised the issue...but the American people demand that we seal our border...as a matter of stopping the bleeding at our southern border."

The fence will stretch along 700 miles of the roughly two-thousand southern border. King says that means the fence will be built in "high-traffic" areas. King predicts new roads will be built to try to skirt around the ends of the fence. "So I think we'll have to extend it," King says. …

Steve King for Senate! I haven’t put any political advertising in this blog, unlike some blog tools, but for Steve, I might just change my mind. I know Congressman King is not a fan of bloggers, but who knows he might grow to love us when we promote a Steve King for Senate campaign as the only rational choice in 2008.

The quest for a two thousand mile fence, one that very possibly will be visible from space, is visionary beyond expectations. And we certainly need vision in the US Senate.

Wow, I think that is my first official political endorsement, and it’s an endorsement that has nothing to do with 2006.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chet Culver wants to be our next governator



What Chet might be thinking out loud somewhere in Iowa

“Ya, that Jim Nussle, he’s a scaredy-cat, a big baby hiding out from President… ya, here me now, and believe this later: if you want to play games with me, let me tell you now the thing: "Let the games begin!" Maybe you don’t know English. Maybe you see only TV ads and say ya, I vote for Chet, ya, he knows how to pose and show off the pump. Hear me now and believe me later - but don't think about it ever, because, if you try to think, you might cause for me not to be governor.”

A little dated, I’m allowed, but the Culver camp “hiding out” press adventure just smacks of stupid. For one thing, it’s obvious that Nussle doesn’t need to crowd a presidential visit organized around supporting a Congressional candidate; too many political stars on one stage. Moreover, it’s very possible that Bush may be back closer to the election working the Western end of Iowa where vast, by Iowa standards, numbers of Republicans reside and a Presidential visit will help rally the GOP base. Finally, Chet certainly jumps all over this issue and seems comfortable speaking off the cuff on Nussle's choice to skip a fundraiser – no notes or memorized talking points whatsoever. Are we worried yet?


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

GOTV - Fishing techniques that'll make Babe proud.

In today’s column, Yepsen digs into the turnout strategy for both parties and provides an early forecast on turnout success rates. From today's DMR:

…At first glance, Democrats would seem to be ahead. Once again, their absentee-ballot effort is harvesting more votes than the Republicans are capturing. As of Monday, Democrats had 87,214 requests for absentee ballots on file in election offices around Iowa. Republicans had 45,741, and independents had 24,941 - a total of 157,896.

That's good news for the Democrats, right? Maybe not. In all of 2002, there were 242,357 absentee-ballot requests. While there's still time for more people to make requests, it does not appear that this year's absentee-ballot voting will be as large as it was in the last non-presidential election, 2002. That's when Tom Vilsack and Tom Harkin were seeking re-election and bankrolled a huge absentee-ballot program.

One of the rules of Iowa politics is that Democrats win the absentee vote big; Republicans win the vote that's cast on Election Day. So the falloff in absentee ballots from 2002 to 2006 could be bad news for Democrats. While they are beating Republicans, it's not by the margins they've had in the past. That leaves Democrats open to being swamped by the superior GOP turnout on Election Day.

Ah, counter Democratic strategists: There is a reason for that falloff and the difference with 2002. This year, Democrats say they are doing a better job of targeting their absentee-ballot efforts at "weak-voting" Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. These are voters who vote in presidential elections but not in non-presidential ones. Or, they are new registrants. …

Wait a minute that last paragraph sounds like a whole bunch of Democratic wishful thinking. It’s well documented that the Democrats have not tracked their drop-off voters with the same relentless precision as Republicans and it stretches credibility to suggest that the Democratic field staff, brought to you and paid for by a variety of Team President PACs, would be that careful sifting through their lists. In fact, I don’t believe it.

A dear friend, a registered Democrat & union household in a low-income neighborhood told me a few weeks ago about how many persistent young things have arrived at her door to inquire about an absentee ballot this year. She has said no twice explaining that she always votes at the polls and for every Democrat on the ticket except for her state representative because he doesn’t show up to community events and the only time she’s ever met him, at the Statehouse no less, he spent twenty minutes talking about his kid’s bronchitis. Yet, the Democrats sent her and her husband absentee ballots.

My standard assertion to these types of anecdotal observations: I am sure my friends are not unique. It’s hard to believe with the very public fight the National Democrats are having on drop-off voters, that the Iowa Democrats have changed their game plan from two years ago. My hunch, the shipped in Democratic field staff are out seining for votes in the same way they did in 02 & 04 – under every rock & regardless of voting habits.

I believe the voters that are planning to vote, either early or on Election Day, will do so with more independence than we’ve ever seen. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see this election hailed as the year of the split-ticket voter.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

M’ville riffs on cozy relationships, appels & a taste for headache inducing stupid

I’m privileged to find comments that are worth republishing in a post. It is particularly helpful on days, nay weeks, when not so much is my working mantra.

The following are Manville’s comments to my last two posts. I have included my editorial translation in brackets. And, admittedly, I’m feeling a little lazy so my comments are short.

I'm amused at the angst over the apparent -- shock, shock -- left-leaning impulses of the DMR. A former Washington Post reporter, on the hustings for his new book, points out that in his view, reporters are somewhere between 15-1, and 25-1, Democratic Party-leaning. [M’ville mentions the author in another comment, but I’ll toss in the name here, it’s Thomas Edsall and he’s shilling: Building Red America: The New Conservative Coalition and the Drive For Permanent Power (link to interview with H.H.) i.e.]

Which walking, talking, human really thought the DMR would support Nussle?

This is a longer paragraph than random blog-adherents warrant, but of course, the reason for this is simple: reporters fancy themselves *intellectual* (capable of better thought than the average citizen), but somehow in a free economy, they don't make much money. How could it be that their apparent virtue lacks reward? Why are they so relatively unimportant? Why do people who do make money resent giving it to people who don't work? (sorry, people who belong to AFSCME?) Why aren't they, the people's defenders, rich, while investments bankers pay for medical bills with credit cards?

It's all about an anxiety of influence, and I don't mean in the Harold Bloom sense. As in, they see their influence diminishing ... [ I love this obscure reference to Bloom’s meditation on poetic angst coupled with a sublime pas jete (can I use that term?) at the apparent lack of such angst among the chattering class. i.e.]

Meanwhile, the case of Mrs. Appel's ambitions, and how far from the tree they appear to fall:

I recently had the misfortune of attending a power-party of Harvard MBAs and met a young thing who, once married, decided that (after six whole weeks of trying) (trying: that is as graphic as I'm going to get) it was taking too long to get pregnant. (That's affirmative: that's two cycles she tolerated.) She was behind plan. And husband, who had just had his vasectomy reversed, and described it as one of the single most painful thing he had experienced, was not getting any younger! (You guess who was in marriage #1 vs. #2.) So she had IVF! No time to waste wondering what would happen in cycle #3! (Husband #2 wondered what the agony of the reversed vasectomy was for, but went ahead and had vasectomy #2, which, in context, sounds pretty smart.) [I suppose with a #2, given tastes & habits, a #3 is quite possible, hence, it demonstrates fine Harvard MBA logic to limit potential investment to #2 to #1 & only. Of course, I’m of the #1 mind set in the essential part of the equation. i.e.]

Just thought I would pass this along in case Mrs. Appel runs out of time for producing further additions to the brood. No speculations here on the ardent Justice A.

Remember two things:

1. It's for the children, and if it's not, we'll get back to you.

2. Mencken: Those who seek to reform seek to rule. [You must enjoy reading a little R. Emmett at his most lucid. i.e.]

--Manville

Meant to add, apropos reproduction, this epigram from one of the hand's wives (we shipped 1400 head yesterday):

"Is there any one thing you wish you hadn't learned over the years?"

"Yes. How to AI a cow."

I guess this is the issue with Mrs. Appel's ambitions: they're just sort of tacky, given all that's going on. [In defense of a large brood & thin hips, it is within the realm of possibility if there is time enough to parent and climb the machine, and, no, not the political machine. i.e.]

--Manville

There's a profound difference between the two national parties, but you'd never know it given the incapacity of the president to a) synthesize facts and express them in a compelling fashion; b) rein in the simple corruption that is Washington "lobbying" (rent-seeking politicians and their colleagues on K Street); c) provide coherent justification for imposing imperial culture wars on the Federal apparatus; d) smile and cut a federal agency budget once in a decade. [Good points, although, it’s difficult, if not impossible, when a political culture is mired in intractable bureaucratic turf wars at the highest levels (Rumsfeld vs. Negroponte, anyone?). i.e.]

The difference is that -- as demonstrated by Reagan and re-iterated by Bush -- if the government lets primary producers keep more of their money, instead of seizing (taxing) it, the economy (and federal tax revenues) surges. How can this economy and the policies that sustain it not be Issue 1 for Republicans? Dunno. [As always, a good observation followed by a perfect question. I suggest that the political elite’s turf wars are death to building political rhetoric that shapes a good campaign season. I see it at all levels and find it the least effective way to expend a limited amount of time. i.e.]

Factoids:

1. More consecutive double digit quarterly increases in S&P 500 earnings than seen since 1951.

2. Taxation as a percentage of GDP: still higher than Clinton's (who is coddling "the rich"?)

3. GDP has grown more (marginal increase) since 2001 than the ENTIRE economy of China.

4. Unemployment of college grads at 2%. Unemployment broadly: so low that worker shortages drive massive illegal and legal immigration.

5. The federal deficit as a percentage of GDP, organized (average) by decade: lowest since ... since ... shoot, it's the lowest ever. [A gentle reminder: economists believe a ratio is a better tool to gauge the problematic nature of a deficit. i.e.]

There's no accounting for taste, and apparently, with Republicans, none for success, either. I think we inhabit the healthiest economy of the 20th century, perhaps in the country's history. Which period outperforms this one? When have middle class rates of taxation been lower, since 1950? What developed nation nails 4% annual increases in GDP, year-in, year-out?

In the Thos. Edsall (the ex-WashPost writer who says "sure, my colleagues are somewhere between 15-1 and 25-1 partisan democrats") world of MSM, however, we inhabit a "stagnant", "wealth-divided", "globally unfair" world that creates systemic "insecurity".

Well, life presents its insecurities. I think one of the largest is that felt by traditional elites who see their influence over our institutions on the wane. These elites struggle to pay for their children's private educations, can't fathom the second house on Nantucket, live in less fashionable parts of town -- while the grubby capitalists buy jet-shares. It was not so, in 1955. This insecurity penetrates our public discussions, and the Republicans are not smart enough to summarize reality, in rebuttal. But it truly is an emerging ownership, entrepreneurial society -- that is, if the data matter. [If only. Reality is often years ahead of the political. Moreover, data is difficult to consume, even a simple idea such as a ratio is easily lost on many voters. Sad, but true. i.e.]

Manville

M'ville, thank you for writing my post today.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Stand & Deliver

WSJ editorial writer Kimberly Strassel published the first of many capstone opinions dissecting Republicans election year woes. Strassel compares the immediate election year futures of the Republicans in Florida and Ohio; Florida is set to retain and build on their state level majorities and hold the Governor’s mansion, while Ohio’s GOP is sinking fast and deep. Strassel’s key point in this comparison:

Their respective failure and success is not ideological: Messrs. Blackwell [Ohio] and Crist [Florida] are both running on the same agenda of tax cuts, fiscal responsibility and broad government reform. This, instead, is a story of the state parties behind them. In Florida, Republicans have spent the past eight years keeping their promises to voters; in Ohio the GOP forgot what "promise" meant somewhere in the '90s. The tale of these two GOPs offers broader lessons for congressional Republicans, who are facing a rout this fall. ...

Where are Iowa Republicans on this promise keepers continuum? My guess, somewhere in the middle: Iowa Republicans have done a good job attempting to rein in Vilsack and his spend happy habits. They’re always tough in negotiations pulling down some great victories for taxpayers and reaching out to deliver positive changes on education and health care policy by working with a Democratic governor; essentially, Iowa Republicans have spent eight long years avoiding gridlock and balancing budgets without tax increases.

Iowa Republicans missed moving up a couple spots on the line by not understanding how style translates outside the Dome. Iowans are flyover people and we know it, so we don’t need politicians to remind us in dress, manner & tastes that we’re flyover people. Somehow, even with solid tax policy and aggressive budgetering, it’s hard to get past the superficial stuff when it serves to create disconnect with voters.

I imagine in these last three weeks Iowa Republicans are losing the suits and focusing on meeting Iowans one door at a time and trying their very best to get voters to focus on policy. It’s possible that with a renewed focus on the importance of keeping the state’s fiscal house in some order, Republicans will have a reasonable election. But Iowa Republicans must convince enough voters that it’s a bad idea handing the taxpayers’ money over to free spending Iowa Democrats. To start, Republicans may want to highlight opinion pieces like this one out of Sunday's Iowa City Press Citizen:

Next month, Iowa City councilors will be asking the area's state legislators to focus on several areas, including advocating for increased funding to the Iowa State Housing trust to help cities provide affordable housing; helping cities maintain control over local cable franchises; allowing cities to increase their hotel/motel tax; giving cities the power to impose stricter smoking bans than the state's; letting cities tax condominiums at the same rate as apartments; eliminating the tax break for pickup trucks licenses; allowing cities to charge a percentage of gross revenue as a part of franchise agreements with companies. Most of these priorities revolve around the city councilors asking for more local control. In each of these cases, the expanded power for the city seems worth it.

How many tax increases did you count in this paragraph? I counted four.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Round Up - a few political weeds

The Sunday DMR “Iowa Poll” released a flurry of press. First, the Nussle camp came out with a morning statement on the poll, which included this prickly swipe at the cozy relationship that the DMR seems to have with the Democratic Party.

What’s more interesting is that the current Democrat Governor had knowledge of these questionable numbers to announce before partisans at a Democrat fundraiser before they were made available to the public in print or online.

Notice I did not say they’re in bed together – that’s all we need some blog memed misinterpreted Iowa sex scandal: A mature Des Moines Register text messaging innocent Culver campaign with polling information that can be described as lurid & profane.

State 29, as always, picked up the news and sent it sprawling, and he must have a decent reach: according to O. Kay’s blog the Culver campaign sent out a response by mid afternoon. The release included the usual happy camp spin and then, unexpectedly, snuck in this paragraph.

“The Culver campaign will continue working tirelessly to reach out and inspire voters, including people like the volunteer who waited at the Des Moines Register print shop last night to get the first copy of Sunday’s paper off the press and report the poll numbers back to a fired-up Jefferson-Jackson Dinner crowd.

With lines like this, it does seem more like a sex scandal than just a paper unwilling to acknowledge their political bias. Come on DMR, wouldn’t it be easier to come clean and own your values rather than have to sneak around and pretend to be something that you’re not?

-------------------------------

Iowa’s future Power Family (kids or no kids -- it’s just creepy anyway you slice this stuff) received some good news, on Friday Vilsack announced that Brent Appel is his nominee to the Iowa Supreme Court. Remember stay at home mom Staci Appel wants to transition back into the workforce with a seat in the Iowa Senate. Even her Husband acknowledged a potential for conflict of interest if he is on the Supreme Court and she’s a member of the Iowa Senate. From Saturday's DMR:

…adding that he and his wife might have to withdraw occasionally from legal cases or bills involving each other's institutions.

I think the legislature approves the judicial branch appropriations at least once a year. I wouldn’t call the need to recuse yourself from a vote on major appropriations every year “occasional”. But that’s just me; a misogynist with a uterus just making sure Staci Appel stays home barefoot and pregnant. Hmm.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Smokin'

Those cancer sticks are causing more trouble than they’re worth. Okay, obvious to suggest they’re not worth much in the general scheme, unless you’re a major stockholder or beneficiary of Altria, Reynolds American or any other major corporation with tobacco interests. But for some candidates, the lack of movement on anti-tobacco legislation during past sessions might turn out to be an expensive choice.

I’m not a fan of tobacco taxes for the simple reason that they are regressive and smokers are not price sensitive. Sure teenagers won’t start, but regular smokers have a hard time giving up the habit at any price making it burdensome to low income smokers. I know most middle class non-smokers have no sympathy, but I’m just thinking of the kid in exploding wet diapers with a parent that can’t afford the habit and a larger supply of baby products.

I will say that it’s good to see a little bend on the issue of local tobacco ordinances. Both Nussle & Culver support local control of public smoking, which is not a bad thing. Reported in the WCFCourier:

Iowa's two major party candidates for governor agreed Wednesday that local governments should have the final say in whether they ban smoking in local establishments.

Iowa cities currently are prohibited from implementing smoking bans, and the issue has been a contentious one at the State Capitol in recent years.

GOP candidate for governor Jim Nussle said at a health care forum at Drake University he thought local governments should have the authority to decide.

"I would suggest that we allow local areas of control to determine whether or not smoking goes on in their public establishments --- restaurants and places like that," Nussle said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver responded that he also favors allowing cities to ban smoking in public places, but not a statewide ban.

"I've been a proponent of local control as secretary of state, and will continue to be for that as governor, so we agree," Culver said. ...

I know the convenient libertarians are all fuming at the idea of allowing anybody but the General Assembly to safe guard our liberty to puff away. But it’s a new day in Iowa GOP politics and Nussle seems to see that the Party needs to listen to a little more common sense. Allowing local control of tobacco smoke doesn’t impinge upon our economic security, as would local control of hog lots, and it will most likely improve the quality of every meal at any Iowa steakhouse.

I appreciate that Nussle is taking a different approach to issues; he's leading Republicans into new territory that seems to be much more in tune with voters. It’s a good sign that if he ends up in Terrace Hill it won’t be the same old Republican game from the last few years.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Odds & Ends on GOTV

This election cycle is gearing up for the end, which is, paradoxically, a wind down for the brains that think up ways to push your buttons all the way to the polls. They’ve put down the groundwork and figured out where to spend the money.

Given that messages worth blogging are rout by this point and this is really just a habit built on the concept of “fun”, I went surfing and inadvertently came across a couple of interesting posts on voter turnout efforts for 2006. All I can say, despite MSM punditry about a Democratic wave, it’s going to be one long night.

Jay Cost of Real Clear Politics posted a detailed response to this question from a reader in California:

I am hoping that at some point you might comment at the site on the election and polling impact of the micro-targeting and 72-Hour turnout techniques that we have heard so much about the Republican Party using. These techniques have evidently been responsible for anomalous and a historic levels of GOP turnout when specifically and thoroughly applied in the last few election cycles. Are they powerful enough to drive surprise elections results on November 7? If so, to what degree?

The one paragraph you wade through the longish post to find:

My intuition is that mobilization will make a difference, though not as much as it did in 2004 and 2002. Observing political actors gives us some prima facie evidence on this front. I tend to heavily discount the "conventional wisdom" of journalists/pundits because the nature of their jobs is to just offer endless pontification -- day in, day out. There is no consequence if a pundit is wrong. No real reward if a pundit is right. So, they can go down any randomly incorrect causal path and it will not make one whit of a difference in the world. Their job is just to "blah blah blah" all day, right or wrong. Political operatives are very different. Unlike the pundit class, where there really are no stakes whatsoever, the stakes are high among politicians and their strategists. And I have noticed that all political operatives seem to be in awe of the GOP's current program. The GOP views it as their secret weapon. The Democrats view it as that which could doom them. …

In another corner of internet media, The Hill posted this article on the Democrats yearlong series of oops in rounding up their drop-off voters:

The clash between Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) over how much money the national party would spend to help congressional Democrats ended last month. But the heart of the disagreement, whether the national party has identified new and drop-off voters, could determine whether the Democrats retake the House and Senate in November.

Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Dean agreed last month that the Democratic National Committee would spend $2.6 million on GOTV efforts; Dean reportedly reached a deal Monday with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, to direct $5 million to state parties to help Democratic Senate candidates.

In the months preceding these agreements, the DSCC and DCCC set up their own field programs, which is something the DNC would have done in the past, said several Democratic strategists. …

… Realizing that voter turnout could determine whether the Democrats control the House or spend another two years in the minority, Emanuel hired Michael Whouley and Jack Corrigan, longtime Democratic field operatives, to implement the DCCC’s strategy. The committee has worked with 70 campaigns devising a field strategy; it is helping pay for field programs in several campaigns, said a senior Democratic aide. …

… Still smarting from their losses in 2002 and 2004, Democrats have worked to match the Republican Party’s successful get-out-the-vote operations. Republicans used technology to identify new Republican voters based on lifestyle choices, a practice known as microtargeting. …

If the races stay tight, it might very well come down to rounding up and pushing to the polls the less motivated voters attempting to hideout under rocks -- though, preferably not under rocks that are under six feet of dirt.


Monday, October 09, 2006

A vote for Nussle is a vote for homework

I normally would not make any attempt at campaign ad analysis. I'll leave that one for the pros. However, a new Jim Nussle ad entitled Compete (on the Nussle website but not on YouTube™) must be an effective ad.

Today, my oldest saw the ad and immediately sent younger brother (the minion) upstairs to tell me that I cannot vote for Jim Nussle because he'll make school difficult and the teachers will assign more homework.

We're not a unique family, so I wonder how many other nervous adolescents and tweeners shot a quick glance at mom & dad, or mom, or dad when the ad came on TV worried that Nussle's message of tougher education standards and accountability will sway their parents to vote for Nussle. They’re smart to worry; Nussle’s plan could put an end to the excessive free time spent in front of a screen multi-click bludgeoning a digital character controlled by some other kid, usually from China.

I told the minion (younger brother) to tell his brother that I'm going to make up my mind based on issues with emphasis on rational economic thought (big hint). But the fact that my son is concerned about Jim Nussle's stand on homework is intriguing to me; the thought of having a governor working hard to burden the kid with another hour or two of homework every day sounds good -- healthy, yet twisted.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Blog Talk: the noise within

Deficits redux

A certain Democratic spin blog has been dragging up the issue of budget deficits for months; blaming Jim Nussle for the federal red ink, the red ink manufacturers' use of cheap foreign labor, global warming caused by the paper produced from trees used to put the red ink on, and the token victim that happens to be standing just close enough to the red ink to succumb to a burning and itchy rash that creates a permanent disability, which then requires trial lawyer intervention for purposes of the dissolution of the red ink industry and the greater good.

I wonder if Gordon is going to say anything about the most recent CBO estimate of the federal budget deficit? Saturday’s AP story from the WaPo:

WASHINGTON -- The federal budget deficit estimate for the fiscal year just completed has dropped to $250 billion, congressional estimators said Friday, as the economy continued to fuel impressive tax revenues.

The Congressional Budget Office's latest estimate is $10 billion below CBO predictions issued in August and well below a July White House prediction of $296 billion. …

…At $250 billion, it would be the lowest since the $158 billion figure in 2002, the first deficit following four years of surpluses. …

…But when measured against the size of the economy, which is the comparison economists think is most important, the deficit picture looks even better.

At 1.9 percent of gross domestic product, the 2006 deficit registers far below those seen in the 1980s and early 1990s. The modern record of 6 percent of GDP came in 1983 and deficits greater than 4 percent in 1991 and 1992 drove Congress to embark on a 1993 deficit-cutting drive.

, the long-term deficit picture remains bleak due to the looming retirement of the Baby Boom generation, which threatens to swamp Social Security and the Medicare health care program for the elderly. …

Democrats want voters to believe that they are fiscal watchdogs even though the facts seem to indicate that when Democrats controlled the US Congress we had much higher debt ratios. Is there any reason to believe that Democrats plan to be fiscal hawks to a budget overloaded with entitlement obligations?

Ah, no. Just check out Bruce Braley on his Social Security trip. Reported in the Quad Cities Times.

Social Security doesn’t face the crisis that backers of private accounts are claiming — and using some government estimates, it may not be at risk of insolvency, Democratic congressional candidate Bruce Braley said in Davenport on Thursday. ...

... He told a group at the Lend-A-Hand that there needs to be careful study of the problem before fixing a problem that “may not even exist.”

Referring to a range of estimates in the Social Security trustees annual report, Braley later said in an interview: “There is a real question if you use the high range estimate whether the Social Security trust fund is in serious danger of becoming insolvent.” …

I think the Democrats may have punched this Social Security ticket one too many times given recent polling shows Republican Mike Whalen up by 13 points. I’m offering up the first Big Cheer to the death of Social Security as third rail politics.

Side Notes on the Appels

Okay, so here's my opinion:

It is not inherently misogynistic to be concerned about the amount of time that a couple spends with their small children. Misogyny (in a loose sense, not meaning the hatred of women but the stereotyping thereof) enters into the picture when one automatically looks at the woman as the culprit and questions her ability to mother while working, because obviously the kids should come first. Inherent in this attitude is a concurrent presumption that the father's work is either more important or somehow more valuable than the time that he spends with said kiddies, and a conspicuous lack of questioning his ability to father.

In reviewing the postings to date, I don't find Iowa Ennui's piece to be misogynistic or sexist. She doesn't focus on the woman as the one who is neglectful, but the couple as a whole. State, however, does cross the line with his first post. She hates the kids? If that's the case, what's his busy schedule - just another way to say "I love you?" He pulls it back a bit with the second post. Yes, he still lists a bunch of things that are focused on her, but he does wrap it up by saying his concerns are about the two of them equally.

In case you're wondering, I am aware that there's a whole issue of money involved with any decision about who should spend time with the kids. I am also aware that it appears that his career is far more financially lucrative. But don't you think that's more a private economic matter for the two of them (and perhaps their financial counselor if they have one) to work out? I don't think it's any defense to claim "but that's why I presumed she was neglectful and not him - of course he can't stay home." Might I suggest that, with a little creative accounting, he should consider stepping aside for a while to give her a shot? Either way, it's not relevant to the greater issue.

So, to answer the Madman's question: no, you're not misogynistic, in my opinion. Neither is Bob out of line by pointing out the sexist assumptions that are inherent with pointing the finger at the wife. State skirts the line, as he's so fond of doing, but I think a close reading of his second post shows that while he's critical of her for seeking the office, he's not presuming she should necessarily be the one to give ground in her career.

Thanks Kris. What would the world do without our intelligent & quirky lawyers and their blog habits?

Out of the South.

State 29 is right -- despite his rabid misogynistic tendencies when it comes to slash & burn blogging on the pampered, self-indulgent behavior of ‘important’ people – South of Iowa is good, and the it blog for Iowa Ag issues.

A recent post, the smack down of the eco-enviro types (a.k.a -- the rich NIMBYs) is brilliant, and all the guys, moms & kids know I’m not one for hyperbole.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

You're not going to know my name, but I'm going to run the show

How many jobs and insider tracks into Iowa Democratic politics does this guy need?

Wednesday, October 4, 2006 Mason City Globe-Gazette

DES MOINES — The State Judicial Nominating Commission on Tuesday announced its three finalists for an upcoming vacancy on the Iowa Supreme Court.

The finalists are:

-- Brent Appel, 54, of Ackworth. Appel currently works in private practice at the Des Moines law firm of Wandro, Baer, & Appel. He earned his law degree in 1977 at the University of California, Berkeley. ...

The Sunday, October 1, 2006 Des Moines Register

Culver's advisers

Culver's most trusted advisers have come into his life in a variety of ways. His two campaigns for elective office - both successful runs for secretary of state - provide some advisers. Others have family ties or links with the Vilsack administration.

Some key confidants, such as former Iowa Attorney General Bonnie Campbell, trace their relationship with Culver through his father, former Sen. John Culver.

The same is true for Des Moines lawyer Brent Appel, a Culver adviser who ran Sen. Culver's 1980 campaign....

Candidate Bios, WHO TV, 2006

Staci Appel is from rural Ackworth, she is a full-time mother, community volunteer and former financial consultant. Appel is married to Brent Appel, a practicing attorney in Des Moines. They have four children: Theodore, Jacob, Isaac, and Olivia.

Staci is running to represent Senate District 37 which consists of Madison County, Warren County and a portion of Dallas County. ...

Iowa Health Foundation, 2006

Brent and Staci Appel are like most young parents with four children – busy! Theodore Appel (Teddy to his family) is 7 and loves football and dinosaurs; Jacob is 6 and is also into football as well as cars; Isaac is 3 and can tell you what every tool in the garage is and what it is for; and Olivia, 2, likes Dora the Explorer and playing with her dolls.

It’s a good thing Olivia likes to play with dolls because she might not see her parents very often with this kind of political agenda.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Debate # 1: No winner out of the first 25 minutes I actually watched

A quick take on yesterday’s debate. I probably don’t need to say too much as many other people have many more things to say and we even get a little high quality snark from Todd Dorman (thank you). Besides, I’m sort of coffee boutique with the regulars and the drop ins, so the economics of blogging are obvious in terms of my personal investment decisions.

There are no winners in my debate analysis; I don’t want to be an enabler to self-doubt.

Anyway, this is my version of the highlights, that is, the highlights before I feel asleep, which was about a little over mid way through the debate. This is a list of favorites from the first 25 minutes.

The awkward intro. What debate format doesn’t plan to start with an opening statement? So what do the candidates do? They create their own moments. Nussle worked a moment of silence into his opening in remembrance of the two most recently fallen Iowa soldiers. It forced Culver to play along, which I am sure he found annoying. In fact, so annoying he felt the need to wing his own moment. I am starting to think it is always a bad idea to let Chet wing it.

The oddball question on slogans. Jim Nussle was prepared. It’s a little strange to think that Nussle was actually prepared to talk about the marketing slogan Iowa uses to attempt to keep people driving into Iowa. It was something about a Burma shave for the big cities that would extol the virtues of Iowa in three or four billboards with the final billboard saying something like, “if you were in Iowa you would already be there by now”, the routine big city traffic joke. A little lame. Once again, Culver had the wide eyed ‘hey wait a minute that wasn’t in the debate prep’ look and rambled aimlessly about the two slogans life changing and fields of opportunity and stumbled onto “goldmine of opportunities”. Ouch.

That expletive bullying question. (I take pleasure in poking ironic fun at the number of people who have made this issue, which is really a non-issue, a problem.) Bruce Aune asked the question of Nussle, to which Nussle responded that he supports anti-bullying legislation, but it should be about all kids not just gay and lesbian kids. He sort of stumbled over the term sexual persuasion, I suppose some individuals don’t agree with the academic term sexual orientation so the needed a safe way to say it, but Nussle dispatched the issue quickly. The question went to Culver, he started in on how it’s an important issue and Jim Nussle should join him in supporting it. Was Chet listening? I think Nussle did say he would support anti-bullying legislation. ‘Nuff said.

I did listen a little longer, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open and succumbed to a more pleasant state of being for the last half of the debate. I’m thinking this might be a pattern for me; start out watching and drift off after the first pat answer or bumbling reach for something golden.

-------------------------------

I want answers. What’s going on over at Political Forecast? Chris et al, have you been grounded for the duration?


Monday, October 02, 2006

Culver & Nussle: Debate # 1

More polls and it’s still a big tie. Big surprise. The DMR numbers are running at 44/44 and the new Zogby numbers are at 46/46. It might stay this way until the end, arriving at November 8th with a vote count nightmare ready to launch, but we're coming into debate season and we'll lose the tie.

Bloggers have discussed and categorized the upcoming debates, offering up some early handicapping on performance. The prevailing wisdom is that Jim Nussle is the better candidate in public forums. But why? Is it a comfort level with public speaking? Is it a law degree and 16 years practicing the give and take of public dialogue in Congress? Or could it be something more obvious?

Sunday’s Des Moines Register ran a front-page story filling in the supposed gaps a voter might have when considering Chet Culver and Jim Nussle. Honestly, the story doesn’t help the Culver cause with the Register’s upbeat spin on Chet’s “collaborative” leadership style; a style that has already produced multiple professional gaffs in the SOS office and in his campaign with the IPERS backpedals and the confusion over his stand on educational choice vouchers. Of course, the story doesn’t do much for Jim Nussle, but then it’s the Register and they’ve got that cost cutting policy in place finding ways to combine news and opinion.

… A glimpse into the workings of their campaigns for governor reveals that Culver, Iowa's secretary of state, consults a wide variety of personal and political advisers and accepts coaching from those more seasoned than himself.

Nussle, an eight-term U.S. House member, on the other hand, seeks little input from key Iowa GOP operatives and is surrounded by a much smaller circle with its roots in his early campaigns for Congress. …

Even with the friendly spin the Register put on the Chet Culver portion of the story, you get the idea the guy is currently being instructed not to take a piss until he talks to someone. That’s taking collaboration a little out of my comfort zone.

Back to the point of this pre-debate post: In 1998, Vilsack was well behind Jim Ross Lightfoot in September and by the end of October, after the debates, Vilsack was in the game to win. Something happened, voters started paying attention and listening to the candidates, and when the voters started to listen Vilsack sounded like the smarter choice. I think we’ll see something similar as October progresses with the more articulate candidate bringing his polling numbers out of the tie zone and into a solid lead.

Iowans like to believe our Governor is a competent person who falls somewhere on the upper end of the IQ scale. Nobody wants to spend four years cringing at every inarticulate statement that falls out of a pols mouth, so it tends to make voters a little leery of bad public speakers. We only need to look at Bush’s low approval numbers to understand that relationship. Likewise, Chet Culver is not exactly blowing our minds with eruditions of profound import; however, we can be optimistic that Chet’s been waiting until the debates to light up this race with his inspired genius.

We’ll find out later today.

…A debate between Secretary of State Chet Culver, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle, Republican gubernatorial candidate, will be held at 7 tonight in Ballantyne Auditorium on the Kirkwood Community College campus in Cedar Rapids.

Seating is limited and on first-come, first-seated basis; doors open at 5:30 p.m.

It will be broadcast live on KCRG-TV9 from 7 to 8 p.m. and will also be available for viewing at www.KCRG.com.

Questioners will be James Q. Lynch and Carly Weber of The Gazette and Bruce Aune from KCRG-TV9 News

For online coverage, check www.GazetteOnline and www.KCRG.com

The debate is sponsored by The Gazette, KCRG-TV9 News and GazetteOnline.


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