Thursday, May 31

Bush Drops a Bomb on the G-8 Summit

From REUTERS
US President George W. Bush unveiled his plans for tackling climate change Thursday.For months, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been trying to hammer out an agreement to combat climate change that all members of the G-8 could agree with. For just as long, the US has been resisting any agreement that involves a commitment to concrete emissions-reduction goals.

On Thursday, US President George W. Bush took the offensive, and unveiled his own proposal for combating global warming. He would like to see the world's 15 worst emitters of greenhouse gases -- including the US, China, India, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, Mexico, South Korea and Russia in addition to a number of European countries -- hold a series of meetings beginning this autumn aimed at setting a long-term global goal for reducing emissions.

Bush's plans are likely to be seen as a setback for Merkel, who wanted to reach an agreement on climate change at the G-8 summit. The timing of the speech, coming just days before the start of the June 6-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, is seen as significant. Tension between the US and German governments has been mounting in the run-up to the summit, where global warming will be one of the main topics on the agenda.

Merkel wants a commitment from the world's richest nations to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) this century and to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Kurd It Get Worse?

According to the AP Turkey's top general said Thursday his army — which has been massing troops on the border with Iraq — was prepared to attack separatist Kurdish guerrillas in a cross-border offensive.
Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said the military was ready and awaiting government orders for an incursion, putting pressure on the government to support an offensive that risks straining ties with the United States and Europe and raising tensions with Iraqi Kurds.

"As soldiers, we are ready," Buyukanit said at an international security conference in Istanbul.
Although the United States has branded the guerrillas a terrorist organization, Washington fears that Turkish military action could destabilize northern Iraq — the most stable part of the war-torn country. Washington is also concerned that supporting Turkey in an incursion could alienate the pro-American Iraqi Kurds.

Regenia Bailey Kick-off

For those of you who were not at incumbent District C and Mayor Pro-Tem Regenia Bailey's Campaign Kickoff last night (May 30th) at the vibrant Englert Theater --be sure to check out her campaign website. In what I believe is a local politics first, you can actually contribute to her campaign on-line.

No word if she will have opposition for her district seat this fall.

--I'm sure other folks could do with some "green building" themselves. Wright, Mike?

"Earthpork" Project Suffers Yet Another Set Back

The former Coralville Rainforest turned Pella "Earthpork" project is getting no love from Gov. Culver. The $155 million Earthpark project, an interactive museum-like attraction, would feature an indoor rain forest, an aquarium and an environmental and ecological education center. It had been planned for Coralville before Coralville officials parted ways with the project.

Earthpark has received a $50 million federal grant spearheaded by Senator Chuck Grassley that will be revoked if developers don't obtain matching money by the end of this year.

David Oman, Earthpark's executive director, said the project planned to apply for a Vision Iowa grant this summer. That program has been used to support projects and attractions across the state.

The project also had hoped to apply for between $25 million and $35 million in grants from Iowa's Community Attraction and Tourism Program.

Former "Government Witness", Youssef Hmimssa, in "Witness Deportation Program"?

Youssef Hmimssa, who formerly lived in Cedar Rapids and provided key testimony in a terrorism case that eventually fell apart, has been released from a federal prison in Pennsylvania.

In 2005, Hmimssa drew a 6 1/2-year prison term for credit card fraud, document fraud, misuse of visas and other charges. He had been in the United States illegally.

Hmimssa, who was arrested in Cedar Rapids, pleaded guilty in 2003 to the charges, which stemmed from indictments in Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. He then testified against four suspects in what was said to be the first U.S. prosecution of an alleged terror cell detected following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Hmimssa described the defendants as extremists who wanted to support attacks. Defense lawyers suggested Hmimssa fabricated the terrorism allegations to help himself.

The terrorism charges were dismissed after the U.S. attorney's office acknowledged prosecutorial misconduct.

Hmimssa was transferred May 25 to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, spokeswoman Ernestine Fobbs said Thursday. She said Hmimssa was being held at an undisclosed location, pending conclusion of removal proceedings that could result in deportation to his native Morocco. He had been housed at the Allenwood prison in White Deer, Pa.

Fobbs said those proceedings could take up to a year if Hmimssa appeals his deportation. If not, he could be deported immediately.

Another Way Forward

Authorized to conduct a ceasefire...what will they think of next.

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. military commanders are talking with Iraqi militants about cease- fires and other arrangements to try to stop the violence, the No. 2 American commander said Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said he has authorized commanders to reach out to militants, tribes, religious leaders and others in the country that has been gripped by violence from a range of fronts including insurgents, sectarian rivals and common criminals.

"We are talking about cease-fires, and maybe signing some things that say they won't conduct operations against the government of Iraq or against coalition forces.," Odierno told Pentagon reporters in a video conference from Baghdad.

"It's just the beginning, so we have a lot of work to do on this," he said. "But we have restructured ourselves to organize to work this issue."

18 killed in Iraq This Week

Correction: The U.S. death toll for May has risen to 122, making it the deadliest month so far this year.

The highest monthly death tolls for U.S. troops occurred in 2004 -- 137 in November and 135 in April.


Since the start of the war, 3,466 U.S. service members have died. Seven civilian contractors of the Defense Department also have been killed in the war.
Apparently at least one soldier or two has his doubts about his tour of duty.

Edwards Calls for Public-Financed Campaigns in California

Edwards headlined a fundraiser in San Francisco on Wednesday, headed to a second one Wednesday evening in the Bay area suburb of Atherton and planned two more Thursday.

During an appearance at the headquarters of search-engine leader Google, Edwards said the current system of paying for campaigns is "dysfunctional."

"The way we finance political campaigns in this country, it couldn't be more unhealthy," Edwards told about 1,000 Google employees.

He called for taxpayer-financed campaigns — the only way, he said, to "literally pull the life out of these big groups — people that have a huge presence in Washington, lobbying groups."

The former senator from North Carolina was the fourth presidential candidate to submit to questioning by executives and staffers of Google.

4th Suicide at Guantanamo

From the BBC

A Saudi Arabian prisoner has died in an apparent suicide at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the US military has said.

A statement by the US Southern Command said the inmate was found unresponsive and not breathing by guards, and attempts to revive him failed.

Two Saudis and a Yemeni prisoner were found hanged in an apparent suicide at the camp in June last year.

There are about 380 prisoners at the camp, some held for five years.

'Appropriate care'

There were no details as to how the prisoner died. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has begun an inquiry into the incident.

The president of the US Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner, told the Associated Press news agency the death was likely an act of desperation.

"You have five-and-a-half years of desperation there with no legal way out," Mr Ratner said.

'Unfair' trials

The death came just days before two detainees - Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni, and Omar Khadr, a Canadian - were due to face trial before a US military tribunal on charges of war crimes.

On Wednesday, Mr Khadr fired his American lawyers, leaving him without representation for Monday's hearing.

Mr Khadr's former lawyer, Marine Lt Col Colby Vokey, said his former client was being held under a process that was "patently unfair".

"He doesn't trust American lawyers, and I don't particularly blame him," Lt Col Vokey said.

Mr Hamdan won a landmark case last year when the US Supreme Court ruled the military tribunal system illegal.


Don't Tread On, Deface, Defile, Trample, or Mutilate Me

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver has signed a bill that clarifies the state's flag desecration law. It also provided improved counseling benefits to veterans and an array of other veteran-related goodies.

The legislature passed the bill as a result of a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt in March ruling in two cases that involved the flag; in one case the flag was flown upside down and, in the other, the flag had "Corruption of Blood" written on it. Prat said the state's law was unconstitutional because it was too vague. and concluded the law violated the due process law of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which requires that laws be specific enough so the public can reasonably determine whether conduct is illegal.

Pratt's ruling came after two separate cases in which Iowa residents were charged after they flew flags upside down as a way to protest personal losses or disagreements with officials. In both cases, the charges were dismissed.

The bill signed this week by Culver states that it is illegal to show disrespect to the flag by defacing it, defiling it, mutilating it or trampling upon it. The bill also defines each of those terms. The new law (HF 817) was amended to read
HF817 defined
Sec. 15.  Section 723.4, subsection 6, Code 2007, is
5 7 amended to read as follows:
5 8 6. a. Knowingly and publicly uses the flag of the United
5 9 States in such a manner as to show disrespect for the flag as
5 10 a symbol of the United States, with the intent or reasonable
5 11 expectation that such use will provoke or encourage another to
5 12 commit a public offense trespass or assault.
5 13 b. As used in this section:
5 14 (1) "Show disrespect" means to deface, defile, mutilate,
5 15 or trample.
5 16 (2) "Deface" means to intentionally mar the external
5 17 appearance.
5 18 (3) "Defile" means to intentionally make physically
5 19 unclean.
5 20 (4) "Flag" means a piece of woven cloth or other material
5 21 designed to be flown from a pole or mast.
5 22 (5) "Mutilate" means to intentionally cut up or alter so
5 23 as to make imperfect.
5 24 (6) "Trample" means to intentionally tread upon or
5 25 intentionally cause a machine, vehicle, or animal to tread
5 26 upon.

5 27 c. This subsection does not apply to a flag retirement
5 28 ceremony conducted pursuant to federal law.
According to the Press-Citizen

Ben Stone, executive director of the ACLU's Iowa chapter, said Wednesday the clarified bill remains vague.

"We certainly hope that the enactment of this bill is not interpreted by law enforcement as a green light to go out and arrest political protesters," Stone said.

He said the bill does not address "all the problems of the statute ... and therefore it's still not a good idea.

"It would be inconsistent with the spirit of the First Amendment to think this law should be used to arrest political protesters," Stone said. "Just because the Legislature and the governor passed this feel-good legislation it doesn't mean these code sections should be wielded by law enforcement to put down political protesters."

See T.M. Lindsey's Political Fallout Blog.



Michael Moore is a "Sicko"


Go here and see a preview of his film about health care in America. It should stir up some conversation

Wednesday, May 30

Be Careful of What You Ask For...

In Germany, the asparagus harvest is threatened because they don't have enough foreign workers to harvest the crop.

According to Spiegel International "The problem, say German farmers, is a law pushed through in 2006 which sought to limit the use of seasonal workers from abroad and to increase the number of unemployed Germans working in German fields. Before the law, up to 90 percent of those bringing in the harvest in German fields came from Poland, Romania and other countries in Eastern Europe; the new regulation said the proportion of foreign field laborers should be scaled back to 80 percent."

"Germany's continued unwillingness to open its doors completely to workers from the East means has sent many Polish workers to Great Britain, Holland or Spain, where they are allowed to work and live year round. Those countries have opened their labor markets fully to workers from new European Union members (like Poland) -- whereas Germany just extended its restrictions until 2009. Seasonal laborers can stay in Germany for four months each year.
The Agriculture Ministry has rebuffed such criticism by saying the 2006 law was negotiated with Germany's farmers, and if they need more farm help, they can turn to unemployment offices in their region. Newly released figures show the jobless rate in Germany at 9.1%. In theory, at least, some of those workers could join this year's harvest."

This story has an important lesson for Americans who are afraid that foreign workers will take our jobs.

5 More Soldiers Killed

According to the AP Five U.S. soldiers were killed when their Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, a U.S. military official said. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Initial reports suggested the helicopter was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade, the U.S. military official, who was not authorized to release the information, said on condition of anonymity. It was not clear if there were any survivors, the official said.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed that one of its helicopters crashed in southern Afghanistan, but it released no other details.

A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, claimed in a phone call to The Associated Press that militants had shot the helicopter down in Helmand province. That claim could not be immediately verified.

Meet the New Vulcan/Same as the Old Vulcan?


Well, it is mixed reviews on Robert "Bob" Zoellick who was named by President Bush to replace the soon-to-be-departed Paul Wolfowitz. As expected, President Bush picked a person who has his trust.

According to James Baker who has worked closely with Zoellick, "He's an outstanding choice. What he brings to the bank is an ability to get things done, an ability to work with people and an excellent reputation among foreign policy types across the world ... something we badly need," Baker acknowledged that Zoellick does not have extensive development experience, but said he was a pragmatist who "knows how to build coalitions and achieve consensus" -- crucial at a large bureaucratic organization like the World Bank.

Barney Franks, chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee said "The second, high-ranking George W. Bush administration foreign policy, national security official in a row, I think is a mistake."

According to Reuters:

Zoellick was one of 18 mostly conservative figures, including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, who wrote a much publicized letter to former President Bill Clinton in 1998 advocating removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.

Soon after that he was chosen as a member of the "Vulcans" -- [The Vulcans included Richard Armitage, Robert Blackwill, Stephen Hadley, Richard Perle, Dov Zakheim, Robert Zoellick and Paul Wolfowitz], mostly from President Bush's father's administration -- brought together under Rice to advise candidate George W. Bush on foreign policy before his 2000 presidential election.

Bush made the final decision on Zoellick over the weekend, said the senior U.S. official. Asked whether the World Bank board would approve of Zoellick, the official said, "We have every confidence in that."

Update May 31: See this Alternet article for more on th Vulcanic Zoellick.

Georgia and Alaska Do the Primary Two-Step

According to USA Today
Georgia and Alaska joined the growing list of states pushing up their presidential primary voting to Feb. 5, a date clearly shaping up as a national primary day for Republicans and Democrats.
In Alaska, caucuses will be held Feb. 5, 2008. In 2004, Alaska Democrats held their caucus in March, while Republicans waited until the end of May to hold their convention.

"We wanted to make sure Alaska had a reasonable standing in the public debate," said Randy Ruedrich, chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska. "We're going to be on Feb. 5, along with what appears to be over half the country."

In Georgia, Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a bill on Tuesday that pushed the state's primaries up by a month, from March 4 to Feb. 5.

Fifteen states, led by delegate-rich New York, California and New Jersey, have moved their primary voting to Feb. 5 and at least five states, including Illinois and Texas, are close to making a similar shift.

ICAN, You Can, We All Can

From the good folks at ICAN

Ever felt like your highest values – the common good, stewardship, social justice – have somehow gone missing from mainstream political conversation?

Ever noticed that some pretty extreme ideas now pass for “common sense” with a lot of people? (Like the idea that government can play no positive role in our lives, the idea that free markets solve all problems, the idea that poverty is the fault of poor people…)

If so, you’re not alone. People throughout Iowa are tired of finding themselves trapped in an echo-chamber of extreme ideas, where our views are not heard. To join progressive groups around the state in reshaping the political conversation so that it reflects our values and beliefs, please join us for:

OUR COMMON VALUES-- A workshop led by Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN) Thursday, May 31st
3:30 pm
485 Hwy. 1 West

Iowa City ICAN is working with diverse groups throughout the state to put progressive values back where they belong: in the mainstream of political debate.

As the first stage of this work, in the May 31st workshop you will tell us what core values you’d like to see all sorts of great organizations and community groups around the state lifting up in their varied campaigns and struggles. We’ll also look at the role values play in shaping the political agenda – how prior social movements have used values in this way, and more recently how the political right has done so.

For more information, contact ICAN Program Director Phillip Cryan at 515.708.2364, or pcryan@iowacan.org.

Upscale Downtown: If You've Got a Niche, Scratch It

As reported in the Gazette, "Adding more housing was the most frequently mentioned ``big idea'' at a public meeting tonight on the downtown area's future.``I think the future of downtown rests with the development of more housing for non-students,'' said Marc Moen, who as the developer of the 14-story Plaza Towers and another possible downtown high rise, likely will play a big part in the effort."

What the report failed to mention was that people also mentioned they wanted affordable housing downtown, because it is "expensive" to live there. Marketek, the firm hired to do the analysis has experience with towns like Oskalossa and Atlantic, but it is clear that they were there to come up with an economic resurgance plan that was not about a diverse downtown, at least not economically based on this crowd's reactions.

Interestingly, when asked what defined Downtown Iowa City, there is no consensus of opinion, but it was defined by one person as Gilbert St. to Clinton St., Burlington St. to Iowa Ave. Given the movement across Burlington St., it would seem that the definition will need to change--at least in the future.

Faces in the less than huge crowd included Council members Bob Elliott, Regenia Bailey (and her partner Jay Berry), business people Jim Mondonaro, the aforementioned Marc Moen and partner Bobby Jett, the Chamber's Nancy Quelhorst, and members of the Downtown Business Association. Also there was soon to be announcing at-large candidate Mike Wright, law professor Nick Johnson, and several members of the elder community. Curiously absent were the younger adult members of our community.

Focus on Diversity

Multicultural Mixer

Thursday May 31
5:00-7:00 PM
PEACE Iowa, ground floor Old Brick
26 E Market Street, Iowa City

Refreshments served.
All are welcome, even if only for a short time! We hope to see you there!

Diversity Focus is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the diversity of the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids corridor area, especially in the workplace, nonprofit organizations, and local government.

Tuesday, May 29

Reading is Fundamental--Except for Voting on a War

According to CNN , authors of a new biography on Hillery Clinton say that Clinton and 93 other senators did not read the 90-page, classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, according to "Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton."

For members of Congress to read the report, they had to go to a secure location on Capitol Hill. The Washington Post reported in 2004 that no more than six senators and a handful of House members were logged as reading the document.

The Clinton biography, written by New York Times reporters Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr., summarizes the intelligence estimate, which combined reports of U.S. intelligence agencies about Iraq.

Clinton, a New York Democrat, was briefed on the intelligence report multiple times, a spokesperson told CNN.

Clinton is one of six presidential candidates who were in the Senate in October 2002 who voted for the resolution to authorize the invasion of Iraq.

Candidate and then-Sen. John Edwards "read and was briefed on the intelligence" while sitting on the Senate Intelligence Committee, a spokesman said. Edwards has called his vote for the 2002 resolution a mistake. Another Democratic candidate, Sen. Joseph Biden, said he read the report.

6/4 Correction: Clinton, a senator from New York, said she had been “thoroughly briefed” about intelligence on Iraq and tried to dismiss the question as part of an argument “about the past.” Edwards, who also said he read only a summary of the 90-page intelligence report, said he “had the information I needed.” He then repeated his assertion, which Clinton has declined to echo, that his vote against the war was “wrong.”

A spokesman for presidential candidate Sen. Christopher Dodd said the Connecticut Democrat did not read the document, either.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona also voted in favor of the resolution without reading the report.

A spokesman for McCain told CNN his boss was briefed on the document "numerous times, and read the executive summary."

Other candidates were not available for comment Monday.

The National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the United States had "compelling evidence" that Iraq was restarting its efforts to develop a nuclear bomb and had concealed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons from U.N. inspectors after the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

That was wrong, but that wasn't established until after a U.S. -led army toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003.

The intelligence report did contain passages that raised questions about the weapons conclusions, said John McLaughlin, then deputy director of the CIA.

"I think if someone read the entire report, they would walk away thinking the intelligence community generally thinks he has weapons of mass destruction, but there are quite a bit of differences," he said.

1,200 Tiptonites Attend Memorial for David Berhle

From the P-C . About 1,200 family, friends and members of the community gathered this afternoon at Tipton High School to honor the life of 20-year-old Army Spc. David Behrle, who died May 19 in combat in Iraq.It was the second combat death in four years for the small 3,000-person Cedar County town. On Nov. 29, 2003, Tipton’s Aaron Sissel, 22, died from a rocket-propelled grenade in a fight with Iraqi insurgents.

Seven speakers recounted the hard work ethic, dedication and infectious smile of Behrle, including teachers from Tipton Middle School and High School and Superintendent Dick Grimoskas.“Dave was the epitome of a Tipton kid,” Grimoskas said. “Dave was positive, kind, generous. A lot of fun to be around all the time.”

Behrle will be buried at Woodbridge Cemetery at a ceremony this afternoon.

Both Woodbridge and Behrle played football for Tipton High School. The school will retire both their numbers at a home game this fall. More from the Gazette.

Come to Iowa City Downtown Futurama Tonight

Iowa City Press Release

With new housing, new businesses, new restaurants and continued new development becoming an integral part of the face of Downtown Iowa City, it’s clear that this area is undergoing significant change. Now, the City’s Economic Development Committee is asking for opinions and input from residents to help shape the future of Downtown.

A community meeting is scheduled [TONIGHT!] Tuesday, May 29 at 6:30 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library. The public is invited and encouraged to attend to provide input and opinions on the type of downtown they’d like to see in the future.

The meeting will be led by Marketek, a consulting company that the City of Iowa City, the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Association of Iowa City are working with to collect market data and to develop a business plan for the Downtown area. Along with the public community meeting on Tuesday, Marketek will host focus group meetings and will also conduct two surveys – one for consumers and one for business owners – that ask questions about Iowa City shopping needs, how people use Downtown, and what shoppers want to see in the future.

The surveys will be available on-line beginning May 29 at www.icgov.org/downtownsurveys on the City’s website. Printed copies will be available at the Iowa City Public Library Information Desk, and the Planning and Community Development Office at City Hall. Residents with an interest in the future of Downtown are urged to complete one of the surveys, which are due by July 9.

Wendy Ford, Iowa City Economic Development Coordinator, commented, “Iowa City’s Downtown is in the midst of some big changes with more on the horizon. Input from people who use Downtown or those who might use it will be invaluable as the community works to enhance Downtown as Iowa City’s vibrant core.”

Hey Buddy, Can you Spare $31,000 For the Next 75 Years?

From USA Today : The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss — equal to $11,434 per household — is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.

"We're on an unsustainable path and doing a great disservice to future generations," says Chris Chocola, a former Republican member of Congress from Indiana and corporate chief executive who is pushing for more accurate federal accounting.

Modern accounting requires that corporations, state governments and local governments count expenses immediately when a transaction occurs, even if the payment will be made later.
The federal government does not follow the rule, so promises for Social Security and Medicare don't show up when the government reports its financial condition.

Bottom line: Taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, a 2.3% increase from 2006. That amount is equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. By comparison, U.S. households owe an average of $112,043 for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and all other debt combined.

Unfunded promises made for Medicare, Social Security and federal retirement programs account for 85% of taxpayer liabilities. State and local government retirement plans account for much of the rest.

This hidden debt is the amount taxpayers would have to pay immediately to cover government's financial obligations. Like a mortgage, it will cost more to repay the debt over time. Every U.S. household would have to pay about $31,000 a year to do so in 75 years.

Another Casuality of War: Hope

From the BBC Cindy Sheehan, the bereaved mother who became a figurehead for the US anti-war movement, is abandoning her fight after growing disenchanted with the campaign.

She has camped outside President Bush's ranch since 2005, demanding a meeting over the death of her son in Iraq.

But announcing the end of her campaign, she also hit out at Democrats and anti-war campaigners who put "personal egos above peace and human life".

She said she had sacrificed her health, her marriage and her finances.

In a letter on the Daily Kos website titled Good Riddance Attention Whore - a reference to the abuse she says she has suffered, Ms Sheehan said: "I am going to take whatever I have left and go home.

"I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost."

"Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives.

"It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most."

Ms Sheehan criticised the US anti-war movement for often putting "personal egos" first.

"It is hard to work for peace when the very movement that is named after it has so many divisions."

She said that one-time allies among the Democratic Party had turned on her when she no longer limited her protests over the Iraq war to the Republican Party.

The US will rapidly descend into "a fascist corporate wasteland," she said, if "alternatives to this corrupt 'two' party system" are not found.

Ms Sheehan said she was resigning as the "face" of the US anti-war movement.

She said she would "never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good old US of A, but I am finished working in, or outside of this system."


To Cindy Sheehan,

Thank you for summoning up the courage to wage peace and bring your story and loss to the attention of others who must continue what you, and those before you, began. To the political leaders of this country, shame on you all. To those sitting on the sidelines--what will you do?



May "Deadliest Month of the Year" for Troops

The AP reports "Eight American soldiers were killed in roadside bombings and a helicopter crash in a restive province north of Baghdad, the military reported Tuesday, making May the deadliest month of the year for U.S. troops in Iraq.

In other violence, three German computer consultants were kidnapped Tuesday from an Iraqi Finance Ministry office in Baghdad, an Iraqi government official said, and two car bombings killed 40 people in the capital, police said.

The Americans — all from Task Force Lightning — were killed Monday in Diyala as the U.S. commemorated Memorial Day, bringing the number of U.S. forces killed this month to at least 110.

The military said six of the soldiers died in explosions near their vehicles and two were killed in the helicopter crash. It was not clear if the helicopter was shot down or suffered mechanical problems."

Get Gore's Book

Al Gore has written a book that every person on this part of the planet should read. "The Assault on Reason" cements in my mind that Al Gore is one of the great minds of our time and, as I have said before, the only true Rock Star in the US political world. Said differently, he is to the Police as Obama is to the Spice Girls (John Edwards, with his vision, is maybe more like Blake Lewis, American Idol material).

Gore does a great job of taking us all to task for accepting dumbed-down and even false information as truth and relying on faith over measured reason. He does it with a historical eye, and evokes the great thinkers on democracy in doing so. It is a very thought provoking read. Here's an excerpt.

He offers responsible solutions too. But, you gotta read the book.

One can't help but wonder what eight years of an Al Gore presidency would have been like.

Monday, May 28

My Nostradamus Moment: Vilsack Shows Up in Northern Iowa to Endorse Clinton

From my Anybody Need a New Deputy Campaign Manager post

"Speculation/Prediction: Look for Hillary Clinton to visit Iowa very soon with Tom Vilsack holding her cape."

Fast forward to Saturday May 26th:

According to KMEG: Senator Clinton also spoke for about 30 minutes at the Senator Clinton also spoke for about 30 minutes at the Sioux Center Public Library earlier Saturday.

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack introduced Clinton with his endorsement.

Re: Clinton deputy campaign manager Mike Henry, while certainly a convenient scapegoat for writing the "skip Iowa" memo, is not the one who should be axed, unless he also leaked his own memo. It is his job to provide advice, even if it appears to be ill-advised to those of us who live in Iowa.

Biden: His Time (in Iowa City)

From the Press-Citizen

Delaware senator Joe Biden said Sunday at an Iowa City event that he believes in honesty [this contrasts with the Joe Biden of 1988 who freely, some would say, dishonestly, used British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock's speech without attribution as his own words], even if it costs him the 2008 Democratic bid for president.

Biden, one of the few Democrats who supported a recent $94.7 million [actually, P-C, its "billion" as in $94,700,000,000] war funding bill, spoke before a crowd of nearly 200 at a Johnson County Democrats event. Holding anti-war signs to protest their disappointment. Members of the University of Iowa Anti-War Committee also were in attendance.

"Whether you think it's a good idea or a bad idea, there is an overall imperative that when we send our child to war we send them with the best technology we have available," said Biden, who stood on a table at a shelter in Lower City Park.

On Thursday, the U.S. House and Senate passed a bill that provides $3.2 million [Actually it is "billion" and Bush asked for it] more than the president requested to fund troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We're here to tell him that he let us down," said UI Anti-War Committee member Ronald Kinum, 58.

However, Biden maintains that although there shouldn't be a U.S. presence in Iraq, soldiers still deserve to be protected. The 34-year veteran of the Senate also is calling for the building of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles that he said will reduce the number of casualties by two-thirds.

Biden's stop in Iowa City is part of a campaign tour that includes six days in Iowa. Biden, a chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he has the experience and the plan to pull troops from Iraq.

"I am the only one -- whether you agree with me or not -- with a plan," he said.

The plan calls for Iraq to be become a federal system with three autonomous regions run by Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish groups and a strong but limited central government in Baghdad. Biden said he called for a special international conference on the proposal with leaders of the United Nations Security Council -- China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom -- and the response was supportive across the board.

"This war is unnecessary, and we can end it without leaving the country at a mess," Biden said.

But it is a mess. And it is a mess of our government's creation.

Here's a thought, Joe, why not Iraq decide what is best for Iraq? It seems to me that the last thing that would be welcomed by any faction of Iraqis is for the US to tell them how to function as a sovereign nation. Perhaps if the UN or even the Arab League were acting as go-betweens, a more successful outcome could happen. And, if the US is to be part of any "after Saddam" strategy, it would help if we were not keeping our army there as, yes, an occupying force. Perhaps a UN peacekeeeping force would be a better choice than the fragmented remains of the coalition of the willing.


The timing of this speech leaves a lot to be desired. It's Memorial Day, I hope Sen. Biden and all of our nation's leaders will spend some time in one of the many cemeteries commemorating the senseless loss of life that this war and their decisions have wrought.

Sunday, May 27

980 Military Deaths in Middle East Since Last Memorial Day

From an AP wire story.

In the period from Memorial Day 2006 through Saturday, 980 soldiers and Marines died in Iraq, compared to 807 deaths in the previous year. And with the Baghdad security operation now 3 1/2 months old, even President Bush has predicted a difficult summer for U.S. forces.

"It could be a bloody — it could be a very difficult August," he said last week.

U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus on Saturday acknowledged the increase in casualties as a result of the American surge in forces to regain control of Baghdad.

"We're doing heavy fighting. This is a fight. There's a war on out there," he told reporters at al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq.

By the end of Saturday at least 100 American troops had died in the first 26 days of May, an average of 3.85 deaths a day. At that pace, 119 troops will have died by the end of the month, the most since 137 soldiers were killed in November 2004, when U.S. troops were fighting insurgents in Fallujah.

As of Saturday, May 26, 2007, at least 3,451 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,817 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military.



And Then There Were Four?

With Michael Wright set to announce his candidacy for an at-large seat on the Iowa City Council and Dee Vanderhoef and Terry Smith already in the running, the burning question is are there any other candidates in the running? The grapevine suggests that there is at least one more candidate lurking out there. Former Housing and Community Development Commission Chair and President of the Englert Theater Board, Matt Hayak is likely to announce his bid for the council soon. Hayak, an attorney and recent new Dad was responsible for leading the "scattered site" housing task group while on the HCDC.

At this time both Regenia Bailey and Ross Wilburn are seeking re-election in their districts without opponents.

This could be the first city council election without a primary since 1991 when Susan Horowitz, Randy Larson, Karen Kubby and Bill Ambrisco were elected to fill the A and C districts and two at-large seats.

Saturday, May 26

US Against the World?

Congratulations to Iowa City Sierra Club President Mike Carberry on his new job with the Global Warming Initiative--looks like you'll have your work cut out.

From the BBC

The US appears to have rejected draft proposals by Germany for G8 members to agree tough measures in greenhouse gas emissions, leaked documents have shown.

Wide-ranging US amendments to a draft communique prepared ahead of June's G8 in Germany summit cite a "fundamental opposition" to the proposals.

Germany wants all G8 members to agree timetables and targets for major cuts.

Greenpeace, who leaked the document, said it showed UK PM Tony Blair failed to persuade the US to alter its stance.

In the document, US officials make major changes to the communique.

In comments printed in red ink, the US negotiators express disappointment that earlier concerns have not been taken on board.

The changes strike out entire sentences and significantly reduce the certainty with which the statement addresses climate change.

"The US still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement," a red-inked note reads.

"The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses 'multiple red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to," it continues.

"We have tried to 'tread lightly' but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position."

However, in Washington, senior US lawmakers have written to President Bush expressing their dismay at the administration's position, the AFP news agency reports.

T is For Taxes and TIF

As recently pointed out on this blog, TIF as a tool, needs tweaking, but so do property taxes. Iowa has a tax structure that is not seen as fair to either residential property owners or business interests, therefore neither group is happy. To this end, the Iowa legislature ran in circles trying to please commercial property owners wishes, but, at the same time, not biting the hand that votes for them--you and me. Hence, they did nothing--which, let me express, is good. Better to do nothing than come up with another "rob Peter to pay Paul" scenario.

This tug of war surrounding property tax creates some interesting problems for us like the issue I care most about, affordable housing. If I am a developer and I can build either apartments where I pay taxes at 100% of the property value or build "apartments" and call them condominiums, for which I will pay the rollback % of residential property value which in Johnson County is roughly 46% of value. Now granted, at the end of the day, it is either the renter or the condo owner who pays the taxes, but it does affect the cost of doing business for the period of time I have no tenants or owners--and, if I'm building apartments, it further impacts the amount of rent I will charge--which can end up affecting the rate of occupancy.

On the other hand, if I am a residential property owner, if my taxes were to more than double--to make everyone pay at the 100% level, many people would be forced to sell their homes. So you can see where politicians are not going to do that.

This is where the TIF (Tax incremental financing) comes in. Cities need their economic bases to grow, in part because they know that they have limited local control over their tax revenues (thanks to State government). However, the deal with the devil is that cities have to offer tax abatement to attract business, because the theory goes, if we don't, the next town will. So the cities create a local "rollback" for new or expanding businesses in the form of tax abatement for a period of time. Peter Fisher has a great article in the Press-Citizen today that addresses this. Also see this document that explains TIF from the organization I chair, FAIR.

On a local level, we expect a lot of our local governments in terms of public safety, but we also demand a lot of things that cost a lot to furnish, and we value as necessary. Things like parks and senior centers, neighborhood services, city planning, leaf pick-up--all have significant costs. But the thing that costs a ton of cash is infrastructure--roads, sewers, sidewalks, traffic lights--no one is offering a rollback to the city or county to provide these things.

The cost of doing business for communities is negatively elastic, that is to say, the price to buy and offer services increases over time and above the general inflation rate (due to personnel costs and material costs). This is why we are hearing the call for another penny sales tax, on top of what the school district recently had approved by voters. Cities like Iowa City are trying to keep up and not add a direct property tax. They are considering to do what the state is struggling no to--to get revenue any way they can that won't cause voters to hate 'em.

Unfortunately for local governments like ours, the politicians are paid as part-timers and not particularly gifted at making a sales tax pitch. Besides that, it is not non-controversial to hike the sales tax, as it affects certain people (the elderly, fixed and lower income people) more dramatically than others. Still, as Tip O'Neill loved to say, all politics are local politics.

What is needed is a set of priorities where taxation is concerned. No taxpayer should be unfairly burdened, nor should any taxpayer expect special dispensation at the expense of other sectors. This means reevaluating the way we do business as a state and as localities and developing coherent policy that allows localities more flexibility in structuring taxes and debt.

Friday, May 25

Loebsack Votes Against War Supplemental--Supplemental Passes

Rep. Dave Loebsack was one of 140 Democrats (and one of three Iowa Representatives) and 2 Republicans that voted against the Iraq War Supplemental funding bill. To the 86 Dems (including John Murtha) that supported the supplemental, you should be ashamed.

In the Senate sadly both Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley voted for the supplemental bill. See T.M. Lindsey's Iowa Independent story for his comments on Harkin compared with my personal hero, Paul Wellstone.

Dave and Bruce Braley --my hat is off to you gentlemen.


(Democrats in roman; Republicans in italic; Independents underlined)

H R 2206 RECORDED VOTE 24-May-2007 6:45 PM
QUESTION: Concur in Senate Amendment with House Amendment No. 2
BILL TITLE: Making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007


AyesNoesPRESNV
Democratic86140
6
Republican1942
5
Independent



TOTALS280142
11

Boxer Rebellion

It goes without saying that some members of Congress are trying their best to end this war. I was particularly moved by this speech.


California Senator Barbara Boxer's Floor Speech
May 24, 2007

In March and in April I voted for emergency spending legislation that would have fully funded our troops in Iraq, but also changed their mission to a sound one. That mission would have taken our troops out of the middle of a civil war, and put them into a support role, training Iraqi soldiers and police, fighting al Qaeda, and protecting our troops.

The President will not agree to that.

As a matter of fact, the President won't agree to any change in strategy in Iraq, and that is more than a shame for the American people; it is a tragedy.

It doesn't seem to matter how many Americans die in Iraq, how many funerals we have here at home, or what the American people think. The President won't budge.

This new bill on Iraq keeps the status quo. With a few frills around the outside, a few reports, a few words about benchmarks. While our troops die.

I understand why this particular legislation is before us today. It's because this President wants to continue his one man show in Iraq. The President doesn't respect this Congress or the American people when it comes to Iraq. He wants to brush us all off like some annoying spot on his jacket.

We have lost 3,427 American soldiers in Iraq. Of those, 731 (21%) have been from California or based in California. There are 25,549 American soldiers wounded.

And today, after several days of worrying and praying, we received the tragic news of the death of Private Joseph J. Anzack JR., 20 years old, of Torrance, California, who was abducted during a deadly ambush south of Baghdad almost two weeks ago.

One member of his platoon, Spc. Daniel Seitz, summed it up this way to the Associated Press: "It just angers me that it's just another friend I've got to lose and deal with, because I've already lost 13 friends since I've been here, and I don't know if I can take any more of this."

And he shouldn't have to. But with this bill, he will.

The first half of this year has already been deadlier than any six-month period since the war began more than four years ago.

In this month alone, 83 U.S. Service members have already been killed in Iraq.

Let me be clear, there are many things in this bill that I strongly support--many provisions that I actually fought for, for our troops, for our veterans, for our farmers, and for the victims of Hurricane Katrina--but I must take a stand against this Iraq war, and therefore I will vote no on this emergency spending bill.

GLBT Community Celebrates: Culver Signs Extension to Iowa Civil Rights Law

Governor Chet Culver took a progressive step in helping to make Iowa a more welcoming place for all Iowans. The Press-Citizen reports "gays and lesbians in Iowa will get new protections from discrimination in housing, education and a host of other areas under legislation Gov. Chet Culver signed into law today."

``The civil rights struggle has defined our country for generations,'' said Culver. ``This has been a nearly 20-year fight up at the Legislature. We are here to celebrate one more victory.''

The measure Culver signed adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of traits included in Iowa's civil rights law, which already banned discrimination based on such factors as race and ethnicity.

Culver signed the measure at the downtown offices of Principal Financial Group, a powerhouse business that supported the new rules. Principal has banned discrimination of gays and lesbians since 1991.

``It's a good day for Iowa,'' said Ralph Rosenberg, head of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, which also had supported the legislation. ``I feel good being an Iowan today.''

Music and a Plethora of Pols Under the Stars 'N More

While Lazy-Boy and the Recliners played on the Ped Mall in Iowa City, local politicians Supervisor Rod Sullivan and Mayor Ross Wilburn were sighted, as well as State Senator Bob Dvorsky. Representatives of Barack Obama's and Bill Richardson's campaign were also out tabling. In a surprise appearance, presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards (who was campaigning in Washington, IA earlier in the evening), was spotted shaking hands with Ped Mall music-lovers with one of his great looking kids in tow.

On Sunday, Sen. Joe Biden will be at Upper City Park Shelter #2 from 3:30 to 6:30 to help the Johnson County Dems fund raise, according to Matt from his campaign team.

Shameful Aussie Corporate War Profiteering

Corporate war profiteering is nothing new, but our "coalition of the willing" partners have dipped their beaks too, according to Corporate Watch:

"United Nations sanctions against Saddam Hussein may have failed to end his regime but they succeeded in enriching both the Iraqi dictator and corporations able to manipulate the scandal-ridden world body's Oil-for-Food program. Among the profiteers was the Australian Wheat Board, a former state-owned monopoly, which funneled $A290 million (U.S. $208,887,000) into Saddam's coffers even as the “Coalition of the Willing” was preparing for invasion.

The Oil-for-Food program (OFF)--intended to punish and isolate Saddam while supplying food and medicine to ordinary Iraqis--accomplished neither objective. The Bush administration added that failure, and revelations of endemic corruption within the program, to his shifting case for war, after the danger of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction evaporated as a legitimating cause.

But while U.S. French, Russian, and African politicians, businessmen and companies benefited from Saddam's profiteering, the program's worst corruptor was the Australian Wheat Board (AWB), the largest importer of food into Iraq under Oil-for-Food.

The growing scandal has rocked Australia over the past few weeks as government hearings exposed a pattern of outright fraud by the AWB. Ironically, the same Australian wheat company officials who benefited before the war were appointed by the Americans after the invasion to help run the ministry of agriculture, where they profited handsomely once again.

"The AWB is not the Australian government, nor is it a nonprofit organization made up of hardworking Aussie farmers," Mr. Tracy said. "It is a vast independent multinational corporation that uses its monopoly control of Australian export wheat supplies to compete unfairly against American farmers."

Australia, the United States and Canada are the three most powerful wheat producing countries in the world. The three countries, steadfast allies on other fronts, fight bitterly over access to wheat markets.

Mr Howard's government privatized its monopoly wheat export agency in 1999. The Australian Wheat Board, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange under the ticker AWB, continues to be the only exporter of Australian wheat. Its executives are some of the most powerfully connected men in the country.


REAPING THE HARVEST

It was clear from the outset that the invasion of Iraq would bring its own opportunities for profiteering, but Australia had already been profiteering in Iraq for years.

Even as George Bush, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and British Prime Minister Tony Blair prepared their three peoples for war, AWB funneled $A290 million (U.S. $208,887,000) worth of bribes into Saddam Hussein's coffers. The graft, which continued until just months before the invasion, bought Australia access to the Iraqi wheat market and functioned to exclude the United States, Australia's most virile rival in the global wheat industry."

This is a good time to vote for your "favorite" Corporate Hall of Shame Member. The good folks at Corporate Accountability International run this poll annually. Corporate Accountability International, formerly Infact, is a membership organization that protects people by waging and winning campaigns challenging irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions around the world. For over 25 years, we've forced corporations -- like Nestlé, General Electric and Philip Morris/Altria -- to stop abusive actions. For more information visit www.stopcorporateabuse.org.

Let Us Remember For Whom the Bell Tolls

Although Memorial Day will be commemorated as a national holiday on Monday, UI News Service Reports:

"The Old Capitol bell on the University of Iowa Pentacrest will toll 59 times at 3 p.m. Wednesday, to commemorate the number of Iowans who have died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and to honor all those who have given their lives in previous wars throughout American history.

The decision to ring the bell was made after the UI Veterans Association sent a letter to UI Interim President Gary Fethke requesting a Memorial Day tribute for the 59 men and women.

The veterans group asked that the commemoration take place on Wednesday rather than Monday, May 28, because May 30 was the traditional Memorial Day observance from 1868 to 1971, when Congress passed the National Holiday Act creating a three-day weekend for federal holidays."

The bell will toll once for each of these young men and women
(as reported by the Defense Department, Iowa National Guard and family members through May 22, 2007):

Army Spc. David W. Behrle, 20, of Tipton, was killed May 19, 2007, in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. He was among six soldiers who died in the explosion. All six were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Pfc. Katie Soenksen, 19, of Davenport, was killed in an explosion May 2, 2007, in Baghdad while conducting a security mission. She was part of the 410 Military Police based in Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Pfc. Brian A. Botello, 19, of Alta, was killed during combat operations April 29, 2007, in Baghdad. He was 1 of 3 soldiers with the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, of Fort Carson, Colo., who were killed in the explosion.

Army Spc. Travis Vaughn, of Cedar Falls, died Feb. 18, 2007, in the crash of a CH-47 Chinook in Afghanistan, according to his stepmother, Kandi Vaughn, of Reinbeck. The military said the Chinook was carrying 22 U.S. service members. Eight American troops were killed. Fourteen people on board survived.

Army Reserve Spc. Stephen D. Shannon, 21, of Guttenberg, died Jan. 31, 2007, as a result of hostile action in Iraq. He was a combat engineer with the C Company, 397th Engineer Battalion, in Wausau, Wis.

Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard, 46, of Polk City, died Jan. 20, 2007, in the crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that killed 11 other soldiers northeast of Baghdad. Gabbard, a member of the Iowa Army National Guard, served as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the National Guard Affairs Team in Baghdad.

Army Cpl. Jonathan E. Schiller, 20, of Ottumwa, was killed Dec. 31, 2006, when a bomb detonated near his Humvee while on combat patrol in Baqubah, Iraq. Schiller was assigned to the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

Marine Lance Cpl. Clinton J. "C.J." Miller, 23, of Greenfield, died Dec. 11, 2006, while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar province in Iraq. Two other Marines were killed. They were assigned to the Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

Army Sgt. James Paul Musack, 23, of Riverside, was killed Nov. 21, 2006, in what the military called a non-combat related incident in Samarra, Iraq. He was assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Lt. Col. Paul Finken, 40, of Earling, died Nov. 2, 2006, when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Iraq. He was among three soldiers killed in an attack in Baghdad. Finken was based with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. He was an infantry officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 506th Infantry Regiment.

Staff Sgt. Scott E. Nisely, 48, of Marshalltown, died Sept. 30, 2006, when his unit came under small arms fire from insurgents near Al Asad, Iraq. He was a member of Iowa National Guard Company C, 1st Battalion 133rd Infantry, in Iowa Falls.

Spc. Kampha B. Sourivong, 20, of Iowa City, died Sept. 30, 2006, when his came came under small arms fire from insurgents near Al Asad, Iraq. He was a member of Iowa National Guard Company C, 1st Battalion 133rd Infantry, in Iowa Falls.

Army Pfc. William E. Thorne, 26, of Hospers, died Aug. 24, 2006, when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He was a member of the 4th Infantry Division based in Fort Hood, Texas.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jamie S. Jaenke, a native of Iowa Falls, died June 5, 2006, in Al Anbar province, when the Humvee she was in was struck by a roadside bomb. She was assigned to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25, based in Fort McCoy, Wis.

Marine Lance Cpl. William Leusink, 21, of Maurice, was killed May 22, 2006, in a roadside bombing in Al Anbar province northwest of Baghdad. He was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Army Staff Sgt. Mark Wall, 27, of Alden, died April 27, 2006, in Iraq from a non combat-related illness. Wall suffered a cardiac arrest in the dining facility of hit's base in Mosul. He was assigned to the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and was stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Iowa Army National Guard Sgt. Daniel Sesker, 22, of Ogden, was killed April 6, 2006, when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb outside Tikrit in Iraq. Sesker was assigned to the Le Mars-based Troop C, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry, which performs reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

Army Cpl. Antoine McKinzie, 25, of Indianpolis, died March 21, 2006, on a combat security patrol in Baghdad. McKinzie, a native of Des Moines, was a member of the 4th Infantry Division.

Maj. Stuart Anderson, 44, of Peosta, died Jan. 7, 2006, in a helicopter crash that killed seven other U.S. soldiers and four civilians in Iraq. Anderson was a member of the Army Reserve's 3rd Corps Support Command in Des Moines.

Sgt. Nathan Field, 23, of Lehigh, died Jan. 7, 2006, when his Humvee was hit by a civilian vehicle in southern Iraq. He was a member of the Army Reserve's 4249th Port Security Company in Pocahontas.

Army Reserve 1st Sgt. Tobias C. Meister, 30, of Jenks, Okla., died Dec. 28, 2005, by a roadside bomb while on patrol south of Asadabad, Afghanistan. Meister, a native of Remsen, was part of the Sand Springs-based 486th Civil Affairs Battalion and was assigned to the Army Reserve's 321st Civil Affairs Brigade based in San Antonio, Texas.

Iowa National Guard Spc. Gregory L. Tull, 20, of Pocahontas, died Nov. 25, 2005, when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb near Hit, Iraq. He was assigned to Detachment 1, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery, based in Storm Lake.

Army Spc. Dustin A. Yancey, 22, or Cedar Rapids, was killed Nov. 4, 2005, in Baghdad when a bomb exploded near the Humvee he was driving. He served in the 26th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.

Army Pvc. Eric Woods, 26, of Urbandale, died July 9, 2005, in an explosion when he stopped to help a wounded soldier on the side of the road in Iraq. Wood, a medic who moved to Omaha, Neb., was a member of a member of G Troop, 2nd Squadron of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Carson,

Spc. Casey Byers, 22, of Schleswig, died June 11, 2005, south of Ramadi. He was on foot patrol near a Humvee that was part of a convoy of 25 vehicles searching for roadside bombs and insurgents when a bomb exploded directly underneath the Humvee. He was a member of Company B 224th Engineering Battalion, based in Ottumwa.

Army Spc. David Lee Rice, 22, of Sioux City, died April 26, 2005, when the Humvee he was in rolled over after being hit a rocket-propelled grenade Muqdadiyah, Iraq. Rice, who was on his second tour of duty in Iraq, was a fire support specialist with the U.S. Army, based at Fort Riley, Kan.

Robert J. "Jason" Gore, 23, of Nevada, was among 11 people killed their helicopter was down as it flew from Baghdad to Tikrit on April 21, 2005, Gore was a member of the Iowa National Guard's 186th Military Police Company, based at Camp Dodge, but was on inactive status as he performed a six-month tour of duty as a security officer for Blackwater USA, a civilian security company.

Spc. John W. Miller, 21, of West Burlington, died April 12, 2005, in Ramadi, Iraq, when he was shot by a sniper while providing security for route clearing operations. He was a member of the Iowa Army National Guard Company A 224th Engineer Battalion, based in Burlington.

Army Staff Sgt. Shane Koele, 25, of Hartley, died March 16, 2005, from injuries when a land mine exploded near his Humvee in Shindand, Afghanistan. Koele served with the 212th Military Police Company, Kitzingen, Germany.

Army Sgt. Donald Griffith Jr., 29, died March 11, 2005, in Telefar, Iraq, during a suicide bombing incident. He was stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash., and was a member of secret operations. His family is from Mechanicsville.

2nd Lt. Richard B. "Brian" Gienau, 29, of Peoria, Ill., killed Feb. 27, 2005, when the Humvee he was riding in was struck by a homemade bomb as it traveled between Karbala and Ramadi. He was a member of the Iowa Army National Guard Company A 224th Engineer Battalion, based in Burlington.

Army Sgt. Eric Steffeney, 28, of Waterloo, killed Feb. 23, 2005, when an undetected roadside mine north of Baghdad exploded. He was a member of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit. He was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Army Spc. Dakotah L. Gooding, 21, of Des Moines, died Feb. 13, 2005, when his Humvee accident near Balad, Iraq, during a combat patrol. He was assigned to the Army's 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Marine Cpl. Nathan Schubert, 22, of Cherokee, died Jan. 26, 2005, in a helicopter crash during a sandstorm in western Iraq. Schubert was with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Sgt. Thomas Houser, 22, of Council Bluffs, killed Jan. 3, 2005, in fighting near Fallujah. Thomas was a member of the 2nd Force Reconnaissance, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Spc. Daryl Davis, 20, of Spencer, killed Nov. 29, 2004, in a motor vehicle accident in Iraq. A former member of the 2168th Transportation Company of the Iowa National Guard based in Sheldon, he transferred to the Florida National Guard's 144th Transportation Company and was mobilized in February.

Cpl. Jarrod L. Maher, 21, of Imogene, killed Nov. 12, 2004, as a result of a non-hostile gunshot wound in Abu Ghraib, a western suburb of Baghdad; assigned to 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Spc. James C Kearney, III, 22, of Emerson, killed Nov. 1, 2004, when his Humvee was hit by a rocket propelled grenade and small arms fire in Afghanistan; assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry, based in Shenandoah.

Marine Pfc. Nick Skinner, 20, of Davenport, killed Aug. 26, 2004, by gunfire in the southern city of Najaf; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Unit, Platoon 1023 out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Marine Pfc. Brandon Sturdy, 19, of Urbandale, killed May 13, 2004, when a homemade bomb blew up near Fallujah, west of Baghdad; assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Trace W. Dossett, 37, of Orlando, Fla., a Wapello native, killed in a mortar attack May 2, 2004, at Camp Fallujah in Al Anbar province west of Baghdad; assigned to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14 out of Jacksonville, Fla.

Cpl. Michael R. Speer, 24, a Kansas native who joined the Marine Corps in Davenport, killed April 9, 2004, in hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, west of Baghdad; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Lance Cpl. Benjamin Carman, 20, of Jefferson, killed April 6, 2004, in hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, west of Baghdad; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Army Spc. Josh Knowles, 23, of Sheffield, killed Feb. 5, 2004, when his truck was hit by mortar round attack in Baghdad; assigned to the Iowa Army National Guard's 1133rd Transportation Co. in Mason City.

Army Sgt. Aaron Sissel, 22, of Tipton, killed Nov. 29, 2003, in an ambush near Husaybah; assigned to the 2133rd Transportation Company of the Iowa National Guard, based in Centerville, Muscatine and Cedar Rapids.

Army Pvt. Kurt Frosheiser, 22, Des Moines, killed Nov. 8, 2003, when a Humvee he was riding in ran over a homemade bomb west of Baghdad; assigned to the 1st Armored Division; Baumholder, Germany.

Army Sgt. Paul Fisher, 39, of Cedar Rapids, died Nov. 6, 2003, at a hospital in Hamburg, Germany, following a Nov. 2 missile attack on a Chinook helicopter near Fallujah; assigned to Detachment 1, Company F, 106th Aviation Battalion, Army National Guard, based in Davenport.

Army Chief Warrant Officer Bruce A. Smith, 41, West Liberty, killed in the Nov. 2, 2003, attack on a Chinook helicopter near Fallujah; assigned to Detachment 1, Company F, 106th Aviation Battalion.

Army Pfc. David Kirchhoff, 31, Anamosa, died Aug. 14 after suffering heat stroke Aug. 9, 2003, in Iraq; assigned to the Army National Guard's 2168th Transportation Company, Cedar Rapids.

Army Pvt. Michael J. Deutsch, 21, of Dubuque, died July 31, 2003, in Baghdad when the armored personnel carrier he was riding in was hit by an explosive round; assigned to Troop C, 1-1 Cavalry.

Army Pvt. Kenneth A. Nalley, 19, Hamburg, died May 26, 2003, when his Humvee was struck by a heavy truck while escorting a convoy in As Samawah; assigned to the 501st Military Police Company, Wiesbaden, Germany.

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey E. Bohr, 39, Ossian, killed April 10, 2003, in a seven-hour battle outside a mosque in downtown Baghdad; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, Alpha Company of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Marine Sgt. Bradley S. Korthaus, 29, Davenport, drowned March 24, 2003, while trying to cross the Saddam Canal in southeastern Iraq; assigned to the 6th Engineer Support Battalion.

Let us all join the families and the UI Veterans Association in remembering these sons and daughters of Iowa and hope for an end to the circumstances that placed them and more than 160,000 others in harm's way. Let us also remember the soldiers of other nations and those Iraqi civilians and other foreign nationals who have died. Our tragedy is shared with the world community.

Loebsack Report Card: B + "Dave doesn't always listen to instruction"

As often as I am disappointed in Rep. Dave Loebsack on his position to disengaging the troops from the war, I also appreciate the bills that he has supported (and the 414 votes he has made) that are a step in a better direction. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for many of those things to happen on the Federal level because of bottle necks with the Senate and the President. According to an article in the Press-Citizen this morning,

Key votes by Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack in the 110th Congress:
• Iraq. Loebsack voted numerous times to oppose President Bush's Iraq policy and has voted in favor of bills that set withdrawal deadlines and benchmarks. (Vetoed by President Bush)
• Tax cuts. Voted with Democratic majority to repeal tax cuts to oil companies. (Not signed into law)
• Student loans. Voted in favor of lowering interest rates and setting standards for student loan lenders. (Not signed into law)
• Minimum wage. Voted in favor of a bill to raise the minimum wage. (Not signed into law)
• 9/11 Commission. Voted with majority in favor of implementing the commission's recommendations. (Not signed into law)
• Identity theft. Voted in favor of a bill to protect taxpayers from identity theft and fraud. (Not signed into law)
• Military medical aid. Voted with majority in favor of a bill to improve medical care for wounded soldiers. (Not signed into law)

I'll add he supported the Stem Cell Research Act (Vetoed by President)

When Congressman Loebsack ran for office, he answered a Project Vote Smart questionaire this way about his legislative priorities:

"I am running for Congress to restore the hope and opportunity that six years of the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress have stripped from the American people. I support increasing the minimum wage, moving us toward universal healthcare, beginning to disengage our troops from Iraq and putting us on a course to energy independence."

I feel, for the most part he is working his and the voters of IA-district 2's priorities (although the Leach Courthouse is a stretch)--if we could just count on him and the Dems to work toward beginning to "disengage our troops from Iraq" by all means necessary--that's the best way to support our troops.

Thursday, May 24

May 23rd Olbermann Commentary A Must Read or See

The Entire Government Has Failed Us on Iraq By Keith Olbermann
MSNBC Countdown

Wednesday 23 May 2007

For the president, and the majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party - there is only blame for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.
This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.

Few men or women elected in our history - whether executive or legislative, state or national - have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:

Get us out of Iraq.

Patrick Leahy Says He Won't Vote for It

From an e-mail I received from Patrick Leahy's office

"Later today, the Senate is expected to vote on the 2007 Emergency Supplemental -- the Iraq War funding bill -- and I wanted to take a moment to explain to you why I will be voting against this flawed bill.

There is much that I support in this bill -- including assistance for Afghanistan and funding we added to help the National Guard address equipment shortages -- but it contains a serious flaw that I simply cannot vote for: It does not begin the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.

The original supplemental bill that passed the Senate and was sent to President Bush's desk last month paralleled the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, recommendations that would have fundamentally changed the course of our military mission in Iraq.

Unfortunately, the President vetoed the original supplemental bill and has refused any meaningful compromise that would give us a clear path toward ending of our military involvement in Iraq.

This brings us to the current version of the supplemental bill. In short, the Iraq War funding provisions in this bill represent little more than a continuation of the failed status quo -- a continuation that I find unacceptable. The current bill will not begin to redeploy our troops from Iraq, it does not put adequate pressure on the Iraqis to stand up both politically and militarily, and it does not put a stop to President Bush's escalation plan.

While the legislation sets benchmarks for the Iraqi government to follow toward reconciling the country's various political factions, these benchmarks can be waived by the President at his discretion. These benchmarks are a move in the right direction but they are far from adequate.

As long as the Iraqi government believes American troops will always be there, they'll have little reason to make the tough choices that need to be made. And this supplemental bill does little to change this dynamic.

Our engagement in Iraq has been a foreign policy failure of epic proportions. Not only have thousands of Americans lost their lives, tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have as well. Our standing in the world has been diminished, and our weakened influence in the region has compromised our ability to fight terrorism throughout the world.

Clearly, it is time to bring our troops home, and I am disappointed that President Bush vetoed the first bill that would have done just that. Since this new supplemental does not begin the withdrawal of our troops -- while providing tens of billions more dollars in taxpayer money for the President's failed policy -- I cannot in good conscience vote for it."

This Weekend's John and Elizabeth Edwards Sightings

Going to the Cajun-Zydeco Festival in the Amanas or high rolling at the casino in Riverside? Stop by Marengo and Washington and greet the John and Elizabeth:

All the details are below. To learn more or to let us know if you plan to attend, go to: www.johnedwards.com/iowa/events

FRIDAY, MAY 25TH, 2007

8:15 AM
John Edwards to hold a community meeting
Comfort Inn
6169 Reve Court
Fort Madison, Iowa

10:30 AM
John Edwards to hold a community meeting
Hotel Manning
100 Van Buren Street
Keosauqua, Iowa

12:15 PM
John and Elizabeth Edwards to hold a community meeting
Fairfield Public Library
104 W Adams Ave
Fairfield, Iowa

2:00 PM
John and Elizabeth Edwards to hold a community meeting
Midwest Old Threshers Museum
405 E Threshers Road
Mount Pleasant, Iowa

5:45 PM
John and Elizabeth Edwards to hold a community meeting
Washington County Fair Building
2223 250th Street
Washington, Iowa

SATURDAY, MAY 26TH, 2007

9:15 AM
John and Elizabeth Edwards to hold a community meeting
Marengo Public Library
1020 Marengo Avenue
Marengo, Iowa

11:45 AM
John and Elizabeth Edwards to hold a community meeting
Vinton Public Library
510 2nd Avenue
Vinton, Iowa

1:45 PM
John and Elizabeth Edwards to hold a community meeting
Independence Middle School
1301 1st St West
Independence, Iowa

The Circus Is Coming: Who's Cleaning Up After the Elephant?

Hey kids out there in blogland, the GOP will conduct their straw poll in Ames on August 11th. To summarize the importance of the straw poll, if you don't make it there--you ain't going anywhere--at least not as a Republican. The straw poll is a place where about 26,000 Iowans act as an oversized focus group and the candidates are the product in question.

Said differently, the Ames straw poll is like a national car show--wow the crowd and you might have the next Ford Mustang or Dodge Viper. However, let the buyer beware, the Edsel was a big hit on the auto show circuit--and we know what happened to it.

Not archaic enough, this is the Roman Coliseum (Hilton-styled)--thumbs up and you are a somebody, thumbs down and you are a difficult trivia question.

So why am I bringing this up at this early date? It seems like the Iowa Caucuses in January 2008 are just too far away for some. And, if you (yes, you-- state party leaders) don't cull the herd, it makes it darn tough to decide who to cow to.

Perhaps the Dems could take a page out of the GOP playbook and pre-chew the candidates and make them that much more digestible (cud, if you will). After all, why should people actually have to educate themselves about candidate positions, that's for the party to do, isn't it?

Your average party faithful have so much more to do than think for themselves. Straw polls make it easy on those of us who are too busy to be at every candidate event. Here, if you have $35 to spend, you can simplify things for your fellow human being by acting as his/her proxy--that is commitment to service!

Besides, its a great opportunity for the party to raise money and for candidates to shill some t-shirts, bumper stickers, and other "personal-branding" geegaws.

So, act now! Time is a wastin'. If Scott Brennan could get those national Donkey curmudgeons to test market it, I'll bet we could even get the state casinos to take on the action. Since the GOP is doing it in Ames, how about at Carver Hawkeye or, better still, Kinnick Stadium?

Gayman to Run Obama Campaign in Eastern Iowa

Press Release from Obama for President

The Obama Campaign today announced the addition of Iowa State Representative Elesha Gayman (D-Davenport) to the Obama for Iowa team. Elesha will work as the Eastern Iowa political director and lead outreach efforts throughout the region.

“We’re proud to welcome Elesha to our Iowa team and look forward to having her join us as we work to change the way we do politics in Washington,” Iowa State Director Paul Tewes said. “With Elesha’s help in Eastern Iowa, we will continue to mobilize our grassroots campaign focused on reaching out to Iowans one by one. Elesha brings valuable experience building a true grassroots network, and we’re proud to have her on board.”

Representative Elesha Gayman was born and raised in Davenport and just completed her first term in the Iowa Statehouse as a State Representative. A University of Iowa graduate, Gayman was a 2004 Iowa delegate at the Democratic National Convention and later worked for Democratic candidate for President John Kerry. Gayman went on to work as a clerk in the Iowa Senate and Lead Facilitator for the Safer Foundation’s Youth Empowerment Program. Currently, Gayman is serving a three-year term on the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service. She is set to complete her Masters in Public Administration at Drake University in July.

Edwards: War on Terror a "Bumper Sticker" Slogan

John Edwards making a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations called the War on Terror an ideological doctrine used to promote the Bush Administration's failed foreign policy decisions in Iraq.

According to the AP, "Edwards called the war on terror a "bumper sticker" slogan Bush had used to justify everything from abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison to the invasion of Iraq.

"We need a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Iraq military that is mission focused on protecting Americans from 21st century threats, not misused for discredited ideological purposes," Edwards said. "By framing this as a war, we have walked right into the trap the terrorists have set — that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war on Islam."

Edwards is not the first presidential candidate to publicly reject the notion of a war on terrorism. In a speech last fall, Democrat Joe Biden also criticized the doctrine as "simply wrong."

In the first presidential debate last month in South Carolina, Edwards and Biden said they did not believe there was a global war on terror, along with Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel. Front-runners Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) indicated that they did.

It was a new line of attack for Edwards, who often spoke out in support of pursuing a war on terror as a North Carolina senator and later as the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee.

"For us to be successful in this war on terrorism, we have to find these terrorist groups where they are, whether it's within our borders or outside our borders, and stop them and stamp them out before they do us harm," Edwards said in a 2004 CNN interview.

Edwards also voted in 2002 to authorize the invasion of Iraq but has since become a harsh critic of the conflict. In his speech, he reiterated his call to remove American combat troops from Iraq within a year and vowed to "restore the contract we have with those who proudly wear the uniform to defend our country and make the world a safe and better place."

Edwards outlined several steps he said he would pursue as president to strengthen the military, including using force only to pursue essential national security missions, improve civilian-military relations, and root out mismanagement at the Pentagon.

He said he would created a "national security budget" to include the activities of several agencies, including the Pentagon, Energy Department, and Homeland Security. He also said he would boost the budget for military recruiting.

But Edwards saved his toughest words for the Bush administration, whom he accused of engaging in wrongheaded military adventures while abandoning U.S. "moral leadership" in the world. Because of the administration's poor stewardship, Edwards said troops were exhausted, overworked, and potentially ill-prepared for future threats.

"Leading the military out of the wreckage left by the poor civilian leadership of this administration will be the single most important duty of the next commander in chief," Edwards said."

Dig this spin: The Republican National Committee promoting own "truthy" messaging ways sent out a research document titled "Edwards' Troop Profiteering," pointing out that Edward's solicits donations to pursue his anti-war efforts.

"One can't help but wonder how John Edwards is comfortable beefing up his campaign coffers at the expense of our troops," RNC spokeswoman Summer Johnson said. "Edwards' profiteering isn't only in poor taste but it also illustrates his hunger for the White House trumps his sensitivity toward those serving America."

Poor taste? Having our troops killed to prop up a failed foreign policy and hold the White House in 2008, that's poor taste.

Anyone Need a New Deputy Campaign Manager?

This isn't going to look good on Mike Henry's resume...

Warning that her campaign needs "a new approach to winning,"
Hillary Rodham Clinton's deputy campaign manager, Mike Henry, wrote a memo this week urging the Democratic front-runner to bypass next year's Iowa caucuses to focus time and money on states where she's faring better.

Her advisers fearing backlash from Iowa Democrats who cast the first votes of the 2008 presidential race, Clinton denounced the memo hours after it leaked from her headquarters and played down an internal debate over campaign strategy. "I am unalterably committed to competing in Iowa," she told The Associated Press.

Privately, Clinton advisers, including former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, have acknowledged that she would probably not win Iowa if the election were held anytime soon.

Speculation/Prediction: Look for Hillary Clinton to visit Iowa very soon with Tom Vilsack holding her cape.


Updated at 9:41 am 5/24
U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., will make three campaign stops in North Iowa Friday to promote her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. No mention of Tom Vilsack, however.