Thursday, January 31

Super Tuesday Matters...If You Vote

From the Good Folks at Why Tuesday

Why Tuesday? is an effort to make America's democracy stronger through increased voter participation. We work to make election reform an issue that our politicians cannot afford to avoid.

Also see Fix the Primaries

Army Suicides Jump 20% in 2007

According to CNN: As many as 121 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2007, a jump of more than 20 percent over the year before, officials said Thursday.

The rise came despite numerous efforts over the past year to improve the mental health of a force stressed by a longer-than-expected war in Iraq and the most deadly year yet in the now six-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.

Internal briefing papers prepared by the Army's psychiatry consultant earlier this month show there were 89 confirmed suicides last year and 32 deaths that are suspected suicides and still under investigation.

More than a quarter of the combined total -- about 34 -- died while serving a tour of duty in Iraq, an increase from 27 in Iraq the previous year, according to the preliminary figures.

The report also showed an increase in the number of attempted suicides and self-injuries -- some 2,100 in 2007 compared to less than 1,500 the previous year and less than 500 in 2002.

The total of 121 suicides last year, if all are confirmed, would be more than double the 52 reported in 2001, before the September 11 attacks prompted the Bush administration to launch its counter-terror war.

Officials said the rate of suicides per 100,000 active duty soldiers has not yet been calculated for 2007. But in a half million-person active duty Army, the 2006 toll of 102 translated to a rate of 17.5 per 100,000, the highest since the Army started counting in 1980, officials said. The rate has fluctuated over those years, with the low being 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.

Wednesday, January 30

Johnny Goes Marching Home

John Edwards departure from the race was not altogether unexpected, but his timing was. With continued fundraising efforts that were higher than the previous month, it was hoped he would be in it through at least next Tuesday. However, as Kenny Rogers once said, "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." Apparently today was a good day for John Edwards to call it quits.

If anyone immediately benefits from Edwards leaving the race, it is probably Barack Obama, who has been trending up nationally. With the Kennedy family endorsement and Edwards a non-factor in Tsunami Tuesday primaries and caucuses, if Obama wins the majority of Tuesday's primaries, he is likely to be jet-propelled toward the nomination.

Whether Obama or Clinton will pick up the mantle of the supreme fighter for the middle class and conscience for the forgotten poor is suspect--if John Edwards couldn't make hay with Two Americas as a centerpiece issue, it is unlikely that either Clinton or Obama will want to touch it, except as a tip of the hat to Edwards. This is unfortunate. Just as Dennis Kucinich's run in 2004 raised the cornerstone issues for this campaign, it is very likely John Edwards will be the canary in the coal mine for the next one.

Johnny Reid Edwards fought the good fight, but he couldn't fight it to the finish line.

Mukasey Shocks the Conscience of Joe Biden

Is torture okay and under what circumstances? USAG Mukasey seems to be okay with it:

"There is a statute under which it [torture] is a relative issue. I think the Detainee Treatment Act engages the standard under the Constitution which is a shocks-the-conscience standard, which is essentially a balancing test of the value of doing something as against the cost of doing it."

Joe Biden thinks differently: "I didn't think shocking the conscience had any relationship to the end being sought. I thought shocking the conscience had to do with what we consider to be basic societal values, things that we held dear, what we consider to be civilized behavior.

You're the first person I've ever heard say what you just said."

Feingold Explains FISA

This is what is at stake.

John Edwards Dropping Out of Race

Despite rumors that he would stay in the race at least through February 5th, John Edwards is expected to make an announcement in New Orleans today that he is giving up his bid for the White House.

His statement from New Orleans. Here's the video.

Statements from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Tuesday, January 29

Florida Follies

Florida highlights in three sentences.

Hillary Clinton wins pointless Democratic primary, Obama 2nd, Edwards 3rd.

John McCain wins Republican primary, Romney 2nd, Giuliani 3rd.

Rudy Giuliani's out and throws his support to McCain.

Rumor Mill Rolling: Edwards Obama's AG?

Robert Novak on Rasmussen Reports

Illinois Democrats close to Sen. Barack Obama are quietly passing the word that John Edwards will be named attorney general in an Obama administration.

Installation at the Justice Department of multimillionaire trial lawyer Edwards would please not only the union leaders supporting him for president but organized labor in general. The unions relish the prospect of an unequivocal labor partisan as the nation's top legal officer.

In public debates, Obama and Edwards often seem to bond together in alliance against front-running Sen. Hillary Clinton. While running a poor third, Edwards could collect a substantial bag of delegates under the Democratic Party's proportional representation. Edwards then could try to turn his delegates over to Obama in the still unlikely event of a deadlocked Democratic National Convention

Florida Flashback

When the Democratic National Committee decided to punish Florida and Michigan in September for moving up their primaries, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards had all signed pledges not to campaign in those states (although fundraising trips were allowed). However, now the Clinton campaign is making overtures to those states and their delegates saying that the delegates should be counted and seated at the convention.

It could be successfully argued that Sen. Clinton is setting up a potential fracas in Denver should the party's nominee be in question when the convention rolls around.

As in the past, Florida could find itself in the center of a nasty controversy.

SOTU Responses from the Democratic Candidates

Barack Obama's Response to the SOTU

John Edwards' Response to SOTU

"The president tonight renewed his call for an economic recovery plan. But the plan he and Congress have offered leaves out tens of millions of Americans who need help the most. This plan would take months to have any impact, and the people I meet everyday on the campaign trail do not have months to wait. These people are hurting now and need this help now. Over the past seven years, typical workers' paychecks have failed to keep up with inflation, millions of families are facing the loss of their homes to foreclosures, health insurance premiums have doubled, and families are spending $1,000 more a year on gasoline. The State of the Union may be interesting political theater, but until we find bold solutions to the challenges facing the country, we will be stuck with the same old small, Washington answers.

"And in the chamber of the House of Representatives where the president speaks, even though this Congress stopped listening to him a while ago, they will still applaud and cheer him. The truth is that Washington is out of touch with what's happening across the country. Between now and January of 2009, Democrats must stand up to this president, stand up for what's right, so he does not continue to forget about the middle class in this country."

Hillary Clinton's Response to the SOTU

Tonight President Bush claimed that the state of our union is strong. And we can all debate that. But what is not up for debate is that for too many American families, the true "state of their lives" is one of economic anxiety and uncertainty.

As I've traveled across the country and visited with people in their homes, I have listened to the urgent problems they face. These families are resolute, and when it comes to their strength, optimism and hard work, the state of our union has never been stronger. Yet after seven years of stagnant wages, declining incomes and increasing inequality, our families are working harder and harder and still falling behind.

President Bush had one final chance tonight to acknowledge what the American people have known for years: that the economy is not working for middle class families. Unfortunately, what he offered was more of the same - a frustrating commitment to the same failed policies that helped turn record surpluses into large deficits, and push a thriving twenty-first century economy to the brink of recession.

We need a President who understands the urgent economic challenges our families face and who will work as hard for middle-class families as they work for America. I intend to be that President for the American people.

While I was heartened to hear the President acknowledge the need for immediate actions to jumpstart our economy, it will take more than tax rebates to fix our economic crisis and rebuild our economy for the future. We need immediate relief for people who are losing their jobs and facing skyrocketing home heating costs. And we need a comprehensive solution to the housing crisis. Every housing proposal the President made tonight, I made several months - and hundreds of thousands of foreclosure notices - ago. For example, I have proposed to enable the Federal Housing Administration to function as an alternative to the subprime market; and I have proposed to empower state housing finance agencies to help families refinance unworkable mortgages. But more is needed. So I have also called on the mortgage industry to observe a 90-day foreclosure moratorium on subprime mortgages and a 5-year freeze in rates on subprime loans.

We need a long-term economic vision to restore shared growth and prosperity for America's middle class. As President, I will work every day to create good high-paying jobs that can't be outsourced, restore fairness to our economy, renew the promise of America that if you work hard, you can get ahead, and restore real fiscal responsibility to Washington.

In Iraq, President Bush talked about the success of the surge. The Administration brandishes many numbers. The one I'm most focused on is that 2007 was the deadliest year for U.S. troops in Iraq. And the humanitarian situation remains devastating.

President Bush isn't satisfied with failure after failure in Iraq; he wants to bind the next President to his failed strategy by unilaterally negotiating with the Iraqi government about the future of the U.S.-Iraq security relationship, including the possibility of permanent U.S. bases in Iraq.

The Bush Administration says it does not even plan to submit this agreement to the Congress for approval, even though Iraqi officials plan to submit it to their parliament. It is an outrage that the Iraqi parliament will have an opportunity to debate this but the American Congress won't. We need to rein in this President. That is why I introduced the first legislation to require the President to submit any such agreement for congressional approval and to withhold any funding to carry out the agreement.

After seven long years of this Presidency, I am committed as President to solve problems, not ignore them. I am committed to working for the middle class, not just the privileged few. I am committed to restoring our leadership in the world through strong alliances, not alienating our friends. I am committed to working towards real solutions for real Americans every day as President of the United States.

The Other State of the Union

Kansas's Governor Kathleen Sebelius made the Democratic response to the State of the Union Address last night. And, as I have said, she is a rising star among Democrats. This is no small accomplishment in a state that has been largely dominated by conservative Republicans. Note how she finished her address:

"We have no more patience for divisive politics.

Tonight's address begins the final year of this presidency, with new leaders on the horizon and uncertainty throughout our land. Conditions we face, at home and abroad, are results of choices made and challenges unmet.

In spite of the attempts to convince us that we are divided as a people, a new American majority has come together. We are tired of leaders who rather than asking what we can do for our country, ask nothing of us at all.

We are Americans sharing a belief in something greater than ourselves, a nation coming together to meet challenges and find solutions; to share sacrifices and share prosperity; and focus, once again, not only on the individual good but on the common good.

On behalf of the new American majority - the majority of elected officials at the national, state and local level, and the majority of Americans, we ask you, Mr. President, to join us. We are ready to work together, to be the America we have been - and can be once again.

Thank you for listening. God bless and sleep well. And in the morning, let's get to work."

In news this morning, Gov. Sebelius will announce her endorsement for Barack Obama.
Sebelius said her two "20-something" sons and 86-year-old father, former Ohio Governor John Gilligan, were already backing Obama.

Sebelius said Obama had the ability to bridge generations for the betterment of the country.

Shameless FAIR! Event Promotion

In my leadership capacity with Johnson County's FAIR! group (FAIR! is a progressive voice on local issues of importance to Johnson County residents. We work to build a sustainable, livable, and humane community. We value fairness, justice, equity, and open government. FAIR! seeks to mobilize the community through education, public policy debate, and local electoral politics by focusing on issues such as: Equitable use of tax increment financing (TIF), Affordable housing, A living wage, Expanded public transit), we are having a public education session about how tax monies are used within our county. The announcement is below.

FAIR! Sponsors Third Annual Budget Teach In: Where Does Your Property Tax Money Go?

FAIR!, a progressive voice on local issues of importance to Johnson County residents, will sponsor a countywide budget teach-in with representatives from North Liberty and Iowa City’s City Councils, and Johnson County’s Board of Supervisors. The teach-in will be held in Iowa City’s Emma J. Harvat Hall on Saturday, February 2nd from 9:30 to 11:30 am.

Speakers will include County Board of Supervisor chair, Rod Sullivan; North Liberty Mayor Tom Salm; Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey and Iowa City council member Amy Correia; and Coralville City Manager Kelly Hayworth. Former Iowa City councilor Karen Kubby will moderate the event.

The teach-in is open to the general public. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend. Audience questions will be accepted.

City Channel 4 will record the program for later playback.

Monday, January 28

FISA Bill Stalled By Senate Dems

In a move that pleases the civil libertarian in me, the Dems voted against cloture on the bill that would renew FISA while not holding Telecoms liable for their disclosure of phone records to the Feds. From the Austin American-Statesman.

A majority of Democratic senators killed a Republican motion Monday that would have forced a vote on legislation that overhauls the nation’s electronic surveillance rules.

The 48 to 45 vote put Democrats in the odd position of opposing a vote on a bill supported by Democratic leaders and authored by fellow Democrat-Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Va., chairman of the intelligence panel.

Rockefeller and most Democrats said they opposed the Republican motion because it would have prevented a full airing of Democratic amendments to the controversial bill.

“The FISA legislation before the Senate has been taken hostage,” said Rockefeller in a floor speech urging Democrats to vote against ending debate and bringing his bill up for a vote. “In a transparent attempt to score political points off of national security issues, the White House has decided once again that scaring the American people with unfounded and manipulative claims is in order.”

A temporary measure providing expanded wiretapping authority approved last August is scheduled to expire on Friday. The Senate voted 48 to 45 to reject an effort to extend that measure.

Hot Air in Hawaii

The US will be hosting a funfilled two day meeting of the world's largest polluters to develop a pact the US government can live with.

From Reuters

The world's biggest greenhouse gas-polluting countries are sending delegates to Hawaii this week for a U.S.-hosted meeting aimed at curbing climate change without stalling economic growth.

The two-day gathering, which starts on Wednesday in Honolulu, is meant to spur U.N. negotiations for an international climate agreement by 2009, so a pact will be ready when the current carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

The Bush administration rejects the Kyoto plan, saying it unfairly exempts developing countries from cutting back on emissions, and could cost U.S. jobs. Instead, Washington favors voluntary measures and "aspirational goals" to limit climate change, aided by easier transfer of environmental technology.

In addition to the United States, by many counts the biggest emitter of climate-warming carbon dioxide, the conference is expecting representatives from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

The United Nations and the European Union will also be represented.

Transit Options Service to Expand in Iowa City

Iowa City qualified for approximately $139,000 in federal grants to expand bus service and to provide subsidized cab service when buses are not running to workers who qualify for the JARC (Job Access Reverse Commute) program.

This should help to provide better transportation options to exisiting and future 3rd and early shift workers who would not otherwise have affordable transportation options.

Five Soldiers KIA in Iraq

From CNN

A roadside bombing killed five U.S. soldiers in northern Iraq on Monday, the U.S. military confirmed.

Fighters opposing al Qaeda in Iraq guard the entrance to a village Monday in Diyala province.

The military released no further details on the incident, which took place in Nineveh province.

U.S. and Iraqi forces are carrying out Operation Iron Harvest, an offensive to root out insurgents, in the northern Iraqi provinces of Nineveh, Diyala, Tameem and Salaheddin.

Obama and Clinton to Vote "No" On FISA Cloture

Leaving the door open to disallow immunity for Telecoms who gave up phone records to the Federal government without a search warrant, Senators Clinton anfd Obama will return to D.C. to vote "nay" on cloture.

The rest is from About.Com

The Senate has scheduled a cloture vote Monday afternoon at 4.30 EST over FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) legislation that would provide immunity for telecom firms. This current impasse highlights the age-old tension between individual liberty and government surveillance.

FISA was enacted almost 30 years ago in reaction to government abuses of electronic surveillance for national security purposes, and most American voters (63%) still believe that the government should have to get a warrant before tapping conversations of US citizens. Moreover, about 6-in-10 "reject immunity for phone companies that may have violated the law by selling customers’ private information to the government, preferring to let courts decide the outcome of any cases." (pdf / tip).

The three Democrats who serve on both Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees -- Russ Feingold (WI), Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) -- voted Friday on the losing side of a test that foreshadows Monday's filibuster vote.

Sunday, January 27

Iowa National Guard Units Doing Time in the Sinai

About 95 Iowa Army National Guard soldiers will be deployed to Egypt as part of a one-year activation, military officials said, but their service could be extended by another year, the DoD press release said.

The 109th Medical Battalion, based in Iowa City, will be deployed to Egypt in February. The unit includes 95 soldiers.
Military officials said the battalion will be part of a multinational observer mission and will provide logistical, medical, aviation and explosive ordinance removal for 11 units on this mission.
Soldiers from other Iowa Army National Guard units will be joining the company for this mission, including the 294th Area Support Medical Company based in Johnston, the135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment based in Johnston, the 2133rd Transportation Company based in Centerville and the Joint Forces Headquarters based in Johnston.

Three Iowa City-based units will deploy to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The Multinational Force & Observers was established in 1981 as an international peacekeeping force that oversees the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Former U of I Student KIA in Afghanistan

An Army Special Operations (Green Beret) Staff Sergeant, Robert J. Miller, was killed during a combat mission in Barikowt, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when he encountered small-arms fire, the Department of Defense reports.

Born in Harrisburg, PA, Miller was a Freshman at the University of Iowa in 2002.

Miller is survived by his parents, Philip and Maureen Miller; brothers Thomas, Martin and Edward; and sisters Joanna, Mary, Therese and Patricia, all from Oviedo, Fla., located near Orlando.

He was assigned to Company A, 3rd Battallion, 3rd Special Forces Group Airborne based in Fort Bragg, NC.

Miller, who was 24, is at least the sixth U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan this year and is the 64th person with ties to Iowa to die from injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan since March 2003.

Five other soldiers have been killed in action since mid-January:

•Army Sgt. Michael R. Sturdivant, 20, of Conway, Ark., died Jan. 22 in Kirkuk, Iraq, after being involved in an accident while on convoy.

•Marine Lance Cpl. James M. Gluff, 20, of Tunnel Hill, Ga., was killed Jan. 19 in Anbar province, Iraq.

•Army Staff Sgt. Justin R. Whiting, 27, of Hancock, N.Y., died Jan. 19 in Mosul, Iraq, after a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle.

•Army Spc. Jon M. Schoolcraft III, 26, of Wapakoneta, Ohio, was killed by a roadside bomb Jan. 19 in Taji, Iraq.

•Army Spc. Richard B. Burress, 25, of Naples, Fla., died Jan. 19 in Al Jabour, Iraq, after a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle.

SC Results Are a Rush

This will definitely show my age, but I don't care...After the brutal week of politicking in South Carolina, Rush is more relevant than ever.

And the men (and women) who (want to) hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart

The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart
Yes, closer to the heart

Philosophers and ploughmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart
Yes, closer to the heart, yeah

You can be the Captain
And I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the Heart
Closer to the Heart
Well, closer to the Heart, yeah

I'm glad that the voters exercised "Free Will."

Obama's Hope Wins Big in SC

With 99% of the counties reporting, Barack Obama scored a decisive win in South Carolina by garnering 55% of the popular vote while Hillary Clinton got 27% and John Edwards won 18%.

The big story within the story may be the impressive turnout, which was almost double the turnout from the 2004 primary. Amo0ng the press, the story centers around race.

Going into the first Super Tuesday, the question will be, is this win due to the large turn out of African Americans in South Carolina (who make up 55% of the Democratic electorate in the state), of which Obama registered 78% of the vote or a combination of factors including young, affluent white voters voting solidly for him? The leader of the pack "O"-mentum has now swung in his direction.

For the Clinton camp, there is little good that came from finishing a distant second in the state, and for Edwards, the take away for him is that he did particularly well among white males and white voters who made up their minds within three days of the primary according to the Washington Post.

One clear message from last night's primary is that Obama can win in the south and this may carry him further in the minds of unconvinced Democrats than any other fact.

There is no ignoring that the Democrats are running against history and it is becoming clearer that the kind of change Democratic primary voters want looks less like John Edwards and more like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The larger looming question is that the change that the majority of voters in the November election are also ready for?

Saturday, January 26

A License to Pedal

Republican State Senator John Putney of Gladbrook has proposed a bill (SF 2006)requiring bicyclists to have a license to use state and county highways. In an attempt to find more funding for these roadways, Putney would require bicyclists to pay a $10 fee for a five year license for the privilege to bicycle on county and state highways. His proposal does not require a bicyclist to be tested for skill or their understanding of state laws, but would put fees into the highway use tax fund.

The license is not required for riding bikes in municipal roads or bike paths or for riding in parades or RAGBRAI.The license would include the licensee's name, date of birth, address, signature, date the license was issued, and license number.

The law calls for a fine of $10 if a rider is pulled over by the county or state police for riding without a bike license and can be revoked.

If the money were earmarked specifically for improving state roadways for bicyclists, it might be a positive move, however, it is not at all clear that is Putney's intent. However it could be potentially impossible to enforce particularly when state highways run through municipal areas. For instance Burlington St./Hwy 1 runs right through downtown Iowa City, I can't imagine that pulling over bicyclists will be high on either the county sheriff's or state patrol's radar.

For the record, Putney is not seeking re-election.

Housing Summit A Success

120 or so of the Iowa City metro areas developers, politicos, agencies, Realtors, and others interested in the analysis developed at the request of the Iowa City Council were on hand at the Brown Deer Clubhouse at the invitation of the Housing Trust Fund of Johnson County to hear Eric Fulmer review his consulting firm's findings.

Additionally, Heather MacDonald, professor in the Regional and Urban Studies program at the University of Iowa presented the findings that she will present to the State legislature in the coming weeks. Also, a group of 11 entities including my group, FAIR!, worked informally to discuss what it would take to increase the amount of affordable housing in the Iowa City metro area.

From this data and a concerted effort to affect policy, it may be possible to devise strategies that will provide workforce housing to lower income persons in a way that allows Iowa City to meet the needs of the community. Of course, it will not be without its challenges.

Questions that reasoning people likely will ask:

- Who foots the bill for meeting the demand, particularly to meet the needs of those who are cost-burdened?
- Why should we do anything? Shouldn't we grow only as fast as our marketplace and area resources allow?
- Why should it be a higher priority than other needs (e.g., public safety needs)?
- How will this affect my property taxes, property value, quality of schools, etc.?

I will attempt to answer these kinds of questions in coming entries.

Friday, January 25

Just the Facts: FactCheck is on the Air

The good folks at FactCheck now have a weekly webcast.

Kucinich Heads for the Sidelines

Dennis Kucinich is the latest casualty in the "War for the White House" (my own moniker--clever, no? Gark comment: Apparently not so much, the Onion with their scab writers beat me to it--thanks CR). The six-termer from Ohio decided that it wasn't his time--that or he is actually concerned about fighting for his seat in Congress.

For more coverage of Dennis Kucinich, go to the Openers blog.

"I want to continue to serve in Congress," the six-term congressman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "There is a point at which you just realize that you, look, you accept it, that it isn't going to happen and you move on."

If you wondered about the New Hampshire recount that Rep. Kucinich instigated, go here.

Edwards Continues Climb in Carolina

From TPM

The new Zogby poll in South Carolina shows Barack Obama continuing to hold a healthy lead over the rest of the field — and that John Edwards just might be sneaking up on Hillary Clinton for second place. Barack Obama leads with 38% support, followed by Clinton at 25%, and Edwards with 21%.

Some commentary from John Zogby: "The real movement here is by John Edwards, who is the only one who continues to gain ground in our three-day tracking poll ... Can he catch Clinton by Saturday’s vote, perhaps bumping her from a second-place finish? Perhaps that is why she has returned to the state to campaign."

Thursday, January 24

Diversity Dialogues

The Women's Resource Action Center is offering Diversity Dialogues in the community beginning on January 29th, 31st, February 19 & 20. These are eight week sessions. These are open to the community, but you'll need to register.

Listen here for more information.

To register, go Fill this out and e-mail to

Iowa City Council Briefed on Affordable Housing Analysis

The Iowa City Council heard from Eric Fulmer, of the consulting firm who has been responsible for the report for The City of Iowa City, in collaboration with the cities of Coralville, North Liberty, Tiffin and University Heights (collectively referred to as the Iowa City metro area) to examine existing and future need for housing among lower income households.

The purposes of the Affordable Housing Market Analysis:
• Identify demographic and economic trends that affect the demand for housing
• Define the supply and demand characteristics of the housing market as a whole
• Analyze the demand for affordable housing
• Determine if there are any barriers to affordable housing
• Recommend actions and initiatives aimed at expanding the supply of affordable housing

For this study, lower income households are defined as those with an annual income at or below 80% of the area median household income. Affordable housing for renters is defined as paying no more than 30% of gross household income for housing expenses including rent and utilities, regardless of income level. Affordable housing for home owners is defined as paying no more than 50% of gross household income for housing expenses including mortgage, utilities, insurance and taxes, regardless of income level.

Here is a link to the report.

Among the highlights:

Households grew faster than the general population: During the 1990s, population in the Iowa City metro area increased at a rate of 13.6% while households grew by 22.8%.

New residents continue to move to the area: In 2000, more than 35,000 persons had migrated to Johnson County from their previous residence in 1995, while only 11,000 persons had migrated out.

Housing prices have outpaced incomes: Real median household income in Iowa City decreased 4.5% from $42,694 in 2000 to $40,772 in 2007. Median sales price of housing increased 8.2% from $134,000 in 2001 to $165,000 in 2006, after adjusting for inflation.

Many cost burdened households are active members of the region’s workforce whose salaries are not keeping pace with housing costs: Approximately 12.8% of workers are employed in industries with entry level wages of less than $15,000 annually. Another 40% work in industries with entry level wages between $15,000 and $20,000 annually.

Household growth is expected to add more than 2,600 households by 2012 with most growth occurring at higher income levels: Another 2,618 new households are projected between 2007 and 2012, with most projected to be in the $100,000 and higher income range.

Continued household growth and higher median household income fuel the demand for new housing. However, the Iowa City metro area is producing many more higher-priced housing units than moderately priced units: Between 2005 and 2006, the number of single family housing units that sold for less than $100,000 in the Iowa City area decreased from 186 units to 155 units. Meanwhile, the number of single family housing units that sold for more than $200,000 increased from 751 units to 764 units.

Other highlights:
- Existing demand for affordable housing exceeds projected demand.

- Projected housing construction activity is not expected to address affordable housing need.

- Experienced affordable housing developers in the region are struggling against many barriers to create new affordable housing units for lower income households:
- Developable land zoned for multi-family housing and available for purchase in Iowa City
- State and Federal funding for financing affordable housing
- The high cost of land and construction
- In high growth areas such as the Iowa City area, market rate developments offer higher profit margins to builders and developers
- Capacity of Non-profit developers to be self-supporting
- The ability for consumers to successfully make the transition from renting to home ownership can be daunting.

The study offers nine recommendations to allow more affordable housing to be built: the most controversial will likely be the call for mandatory inclusionary zoning. However the recommendation calls for incentives to offset the costs of building affordable housing.

The Iowa City metro area will be short almost 4,000 affordable housing units by 2012 unless action is taken.

Edwards Rails Against FISA Bush Pushes Expanded Measures

According to the Hill

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) is laying the groundwork to attack Democratic presidential front-runners Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) on some of the key issues that they will be forced to vote on during the primary season.

Edwards on Thursday said it is “time for Senate Democrats to show a little backbone and stand up to George W. Bush and the corporate lobbyists” on a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) measure that would give retroactive immunity to telecommunications corporations.

The Senate is currently debating an extension of FISA legislation enacted last year that is set to expire on Feb. 1.

By criticizing the bill now, Edwards puts himself in a position to criticize Clinton and Obama for not doing enough to fight against corporate interests if the legislation passes. However, Clinton and Obama do not support giving immunity to the telecommunications companies.

The former senator also criticized a tentative deal reached Thursday between Democrats and Republicans on a stimulus package aimed to boost the ailing economy.

The Hill also reports:

President Bush on Thursday pressured Congress to pass quickly legislation to overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which the Senate is debating.

“If Congress does not act quickly, our national security professionals will not be able to count on critical tools they need to protect our nation, and our ability to respond quickly to new threats and circumstances will be weakened,” Bush said in a statement.

Congress passed last August a GOP-written interim FISA bill, set to expire Feb. 1, that greatly expanded the government’s powers to conduct warrantless surveillance on U.S. soil. It quickly drew criticism from many Democrats and civil liberties groups.

The House passed a Democratic-written bill last fall, while the bill pending in the Senate passed by a bipartisan vote in the Senate Intelligence Committee. The bill would, among other things, grant retroactive immunity to the telecommunications firms that participated in the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program after Sept. 11, 2001 – a key priority for the White House.

Many Democrats oppose that provision and will try to alter, if not strike, the immunity language through amendments.

Petraeus: Give Me Just a Little More Time

Six more months, six more months...

General David Petraeus,interviewed for NBC's Today Show yesterday, said, when asked about the progress of the Surge and whether troops could be withdrawn, “We think we won’t know that we’ve reached a turning point until we’re six months past it. We have repeatedly said that there is no lights at the end of the tunnel that we’re seeing. We’re certainly not dancing in the end zone or anything like that.”

If this sounds like, as Yogi Berra would say, "deja vu all over again", it’s because Petraeus, in front of Congress in September, stated, “decisions on the contentious issue of reducing the main body of the American troops in Iraq be put off for six months.”

Economic Plan Burning a Fast Track to President's Pen

According to Bloomberg News

Leaders of the House of Representatives have reached a tentative agreement on legislation designed to stimulate the slowing U.S. economy, congressional aides said.

The accord would give tax rebates of at least $300 to individual taxpayers and offer investment incentives to businesses, said two aides familiar with the talks. It would not include new spending for infrastructure or for extending unemployment benefits, the aides said.

Lawmakers are racing to enact a stimulus measure of about $150 billion to try to avoid a looming recession. The Federal Reserve this week made an emergency cut in its benchmark overnight lending rate, lowering it three-quarters of a point to 3.5 percent. President George W. Bush said last week that a stimulus plan is needed because of a ``risk of a downturn.''

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, and House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio worked out details of the proposal with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson during three meetings yesterday. Pelosi and Boehner spoke this morning and reached an agreement in principle, aides said. Leaders in both parties in the Senate will also review it.

Instead of doing that, why not sell lottery tickets for a $150 billion prize? That would be more likely to achieve the outcome than a $300 rebate check.

Seriously, what are these people thinking? See these thoughtful viewsarticle 1 , article 2, and article 3 from Alternet.

South Carolina Democrat Polls: Obama Leading, Edwards on the Rise

From the Political Wire blog

Sen. Barack Obama's lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton in South Carolina has shrunk by four points overall and by nine points among black voters, during the last 24 hours of polling, but he retains a sizable edge, the latest Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby survey shows.

Obama in in front with 39% support from likely Democratic voters, followed by Clinton at 24% and John Edwards at 19%.

Key finding: "Obama still has a healthy lead among African American voters, but lost almost nine points since yesterday, dropping from 65% to 56% support among that group. Edwards, who registered no support from black voters the day before, picked up five points and Clinton added about two points to reach 18% of black support."

A new Rasmussen poll has Obama at 43%, Clinton at 28% and Edwards at 17%.

Wednesday, January 23

Eyes on the Prize People!

While Bill "The Man from Hope" and Hill "The Woman from Park Ridge" Clinton are tag-teaming on Barack "The Man from the Audacity of Hope" Obama and John Edwards "The Millworker's Son" is trying to be a grownup, the muck is burying the really important stuff that people are concerned with such as the economy (collapsing housing market), the war, the economy (jobs), global warming, and the economy (the national debt). Did I mention the economy?

And to be fair, the other folks (The Republican 5 M's [the Mitt, the Mac, the Mike, the Mayor, and the M.D.]) are actually doing a better job about talking about issues (albeit, 9/11, building a wall, and fawning over the legacy of Reagan don't quite meet our needs either).

While the D's and the R's and the President are looking for ways to cut checks for "average" taxpayers, we should reflect that taxes, when used well, are not a bad thing. Taxes used to allow uninsured children to have healthcare = good investment, tax dollars to fund soldier benefits = good and fair investment, tax dollars to allow tax cuts to corporations and the top 15% of income earners = not such a good investment. Tax rebates might make sense if you've figured out a way to reduce government spending to pay for them--nobody has mentioned how that would happen.

If the proposed plan goes through, I imagine that the average American will use their rebate check to pay off some bills, rather than stimulate the economy. Rebates in the past haven't worked, except for political gain. This might help the banks out, but I guess I need more information to understand how this puts people back to work.

People of conscience can argue the relative merits of a flat tax, a national sales tax, or a progressive income tax, but when we have a choice between taking care of people who have been laid off who need a hand up and those holders of vast personal wealth who want a hand out, we should resist it; particularly when the check that is cut today, will be paid off by our grandchildren.

Some see a rebate from the government as just, given that it is our money. I argue that taxes, when they go to improving the basic quality of life, are an investment. I'm sure that the Paulites would disagree, but so be it.

The basic problem with taxation, as I see it, is that we are paying for stuff that we all don't agree with and that's what is so infuriating--but hey, democracy at work, right? Since we elect people who are supposed to be watching out for our interests (that's you--elected public officials) and they hire us (yes you--government workers) to help them, you would think that patriotic duty would include limiting the spending of crazy money on things that are poor investments--like wars.

So for the candidates of both parties, listen up! I want you talking about your plans to get the economy back on track. I would like to hear how your plans will allow us to take care of those in need, how you will not crush our young under the weight of a debt that will lessen their quality of life, won't get us into another war (or keep us in this one), and how you will lead us to share the burden. I don't expect you to do everything in four years, but I expect you to leave the blueprints behind for the next leader to pick up on. So come on, give a voter something to really cogitate on--spare the sparing, we already know you aren't perfect human beings.

Because, when you come down to it, economic justice is the road to all justice. We live in a country where pocketbooks and fear of risk or buyer's remorse decide elections. We like to reward excellence, but not excess. How about moving away from he said/she said and really talk about the important stuff.

Hey, eyes up here!

Edwards On Letterman: A Hair Raising Experience

Literally a hair raising experience. You've got to watch it to the end to see what I mean.

Edwards Highlights Black and White Disparity

Black and white family income disparity true according to Politifact.

During a Democratic debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Jan. 21, 2008, John Edwards elaborated on his vision of "two Americas" and showed empathy toward an important bloc of Democratic primary voters by pointing out racial disparities in household incomes.

It came during a discussion about whether subprime lenders were targeting the most economically vulnerable people. He said he didn't know their motivations, but added:

"What they have done is targeted the lowest income, most vulnerable families," Edwards said. "And anybody who's paying any attention to what's going on in America today understands, if you are African-American in this country today, you are likely to have a net worth of about 10 percent of what white families have.

"This is not an accident. I mean, we can go put our heads against the wall and pretend that the past never happened, pretend that we didn't live through decades of slavery, followed by decades of segregation, followed by decades of discrimination, which is still going on today."

It appears the former North Carolina senator was relying on figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2000, the median net worth of a household headed by a non-Hispanic white adult was $79,400. The median net worth of a household run by a black adult was $7,500. The figure for Hispanic households was $9,750. These figures are based on a 2003 report.

Net worth is measured as the total value of a household’s financial assets — such as bank accounts, property and vehicles — minus the household’s financial liabilities. Though the measurement is an oft-used indicator of financial health, it doesn't always tell the whole story because the amount of income generated by a household's assets is a key factor in maintaining a desired standard of living.

Retraction: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act in Committee--Not Dead

It turns out that the death of the VRHTPA bill was fiction, not fact. For my part in publicizing this, I apologize.

From Hope Marston at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Dear Friends,
The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act may not be as dead as it was portrayed in the CQ Politics article of mid-December. I apologize for hurrying on Friday to tell you news that appears now to be not news at all.

This morning I was told by other DC allies that S 1959 (the twin of HR 1955, which passed 404-6 in October) is still before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the Senate. According to one source, Sen. Susan Collins, the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, realizes there has been opposition to the bill, and is open to hearing from her constituents.

Others on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (where the bill now waits to be passed or not passed):

Joseph I. Lieberman Chairman (ID) (CT)

Carl Levin (MI)
Daniel K. Akaka (HI)
Thomas R. Carper (DE)
Mark L. Pryor (AR)
Mary L. Landrieu (LA)
Barack Obama (IL)
Claire McCaskill (MO)
Jon Tester (MT)


Susan M. Collins Ranking Member (ME)
Ted Stevens (AK)
George V. Voinovich (OH)
Norm Coleman (MN)
Tom Coburn (OK)
Pete V. Domenici (NM)
John Warner (VA)
John E. Sununu (NH)

If your senator is on the committee, you might be able to help stop this bill from ever reaching the floor for a vote by meeting locally with the senator's aides. They do listen to their aides, especially when groups of constituents take the time to visit with and help educate them about the local feeling on a particular piece of legislation. Letters to the editor and opinion editorials that are published, clipped and sent to senators are also helpful. For tips on how to arrange meetings with aides, see:

I apologize for getting so wrapped up in the excitement of the news the bill was dead -- only to learn now that negotiations are still ongoing to try to improve the bill. I will let you know what I learn as this process continues.

Tuesday, January 22

John Edwards: "I Represent the Grown-Up Wing of the Democratic Party"

From The Hill

At Monday night’s debate, Democratic front-runners Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) repeatedly engaged each other in their sharpest, most contentious debate exchanges yet.

“I’m thinking, ‘I’m John Edwards, and I represent the grown-up wing of the Democratic Party,’ ” Edwards said. “At times like these we need a grown-up.”

The former senator, speaking to reporters on a conference call to announce the endorsement of the South Carolina Communications Workers of America locals, said the contention in the South Carolina debate gives him a chance to be heard, adding that there continues to be a “three-person race.”

Edwards also said he thinks his campaign is looking to expand its budget after last week having its best online fundraising period since he entered the race.

“We have plenty of money,” Edwards said. “Money is not and will not be the issue.”

Freddie's Dead and Duncan Got a Donut

That's right, The other "Thompson Twin," Fred Thompson (no relation to Tommy Thompson)has given up his short lived bid for the White House after coming in a distant third in South Carolina.

Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States," Thompson said in a statement.

"I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people."

In other news, Rep. Duncan Hunter dropped out of the race after finishing last in Nevada and south Carolina.

"Today we end this campaign," the California lawmaker said in the statement.

"I ran the campaign exactly the way I wanted to, and at this point not being able to gain traction in conservative states of Nevada and South Carolina, it's time to allow our volunteers and supporters to focus on the campaigns that remain viable," he said.

That leaves John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, and Ron Paul to fight it out for the Republican nomination.

Monkey See, Monkey Duh!

Larry Baker, an esteemed former Iowa City council member, sent this video link my way:

Three Americas--Obama, Clinton, Edwards

In his best performance of the debate season, John Edwards scores points for this response to the Clinton/Obama fracas. from CNN

Also see Edwards' evaluation of the debate.

Truth Dig has more.

Where's the Economic Justice?

As John Edwards' campaign is seemingly being pushed to the sidelines, I have got to ask, who will stick up for the majority of Americans who are suffering from economic injustice? Is it the American way to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the millions of Americans who are without insurance, without jobs or with jobs with diminished futures, with houses that are likely to be repossessed and public assistance that is rapidly eroding?

It can be said that John Edwards may be the wrong messenger to tell this story, after all, he is not in that boat. But at least he is telling the truth about what really matters in our great nation. We have always done better by raising the quality of life for the poorest among us, in fact that is the greatest legacy of our history--the expansion of the middle class.

I was fortunate enough to overhear a conversation between two elderly women in a doctor's waiting room yesterday and was tickled to hear them talk about the proposed tax cut that President Bush has made in less than glowing terms. One woman said that at least she'd be able to meet her prescription co-pay if she got the check, but didn't really think it was going to help anybody but the banks. "With all the money that people owe," she said, "I expect that people will just try to pay off their credit cards."

And isn't that the problem in the US right now? Aren't we trying to deal with past sins? Whether it is the war or the national debt, we are paying for the sins of the fathers. In the meantime, poor men, women, and children are suffering.

So who will pick up the mantle and address the real needs of the country? On the one side, there is the battle for experience versus hope, on the other, there is the fight between us and them. I believe in hope, but hope with a plan to raise people out of poverty is the only plan that should be on the table.

DU Frat Members Receive Eviction Notice, House Closed

Delta Upsilon Fraternity has four guiding principles: friendship, character, culture, & justice. Apparently members of the University of Iowa chapter misinterpreted their meaning. as a result, the DUs closed the local chapter.

The Daily Iowan reports that "the members of the UI chapter of the Delta Upsilon fraternity received an eviction notice on Jan. 19 along with news from their international headquarters that the chapter is officially closed."

Delta Upsilon International Fraternity closed its Iowa Chapter after an investigation into serious violations of fraternity and university policies. Representatives of the International Headquarters, alumni board and university informed the chapter of the decision on Saturday.

“The actions and decisions of these men are incongruent with the mission and values of Delta Upsilon Fraternity. Substance abuse does not have a place in our Fraternity,” Justin Kirk, Fraternity Executive Director said. “Our mission is to build better men through our four founding principles of Friendship, Character, Culture, and Justice. Unfortunately, this was not happening in our Iowa Chapter.”

Delta Upsilon has operated a chapter on the University of Iowa campus for 82 years and more than 1,000 men have joined this chapter. The Fraternity hopes to return to campus at a later date.

“The University of Iowa is a fine academic institution,” said Kirk. “We would welcome a return to campus when we can ensure that our chapter will complement the mission and values of the host institution.”

Delta Upsilon members Arthur Kerwin, 21, and James Goetz, 20, were charged with possession of marijuana, a serious misdemeanor. Fellow-member Joseph Hillegass, 19, was charged with two felonies, a controlled-substance violation and drug tax-stamp violation. Member Stephen Boyler, 22, was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, another felony.

Monday, January 21

A State of Race

Cowardice asks the question - is it safe?
Vanity asks the question - is it popular?
Expediency asks the question - is it political?
But conscience asks the question - is it right?

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, popular, or political; but because it is right.

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged us with his dream "that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." In Iowa City, there are recent examples to suggest that day is not this day:

- As I joined with 250 people on January 20th at a service commemorating Dr. King's life and work, I heard our former mayor and current council member, Ross Wilburn, reflect personally that he was recently called a "the N word" by a woman who passed by him hurriedly exiting a grocery store.
- The results of a poll that was taken at City High School late last year about our youth's intolerant opinions about race, religion, and sexual orientation.
- Online comments at the Press-Citizen with veiled comments referring to "people from Chicago" and "those people."
- School leaders who are so concerned about the influx of poor students that they single out the one's with the largest minority student populations for focused concern.
- Rules at a local bar about what is appropriate attire that, on the face, discriminates against some persons of color.

The picture is not all bleak.

- A recent meeting of progressive political leaders that I attended reflected that human relations were of major concern and that there are people in the community working on the proposition of how to best address what to do to improve these relationships.
- The decision to revamp the Police Review Board is further proof that citizens of goodwill want accountability for bad behavior.
- The existence of HARRT (Hate Action Rapid Response Team)to address serious problems in the community.
- Barack Obama winning the Democratic caucus handily in Johnson County and the state.
- The local area Chambers of Commerce sponsorship of Diversity Focus whose mission is to enhance the diversity of the corridor.

And we need to be honest and say that the coin is two-sided. Persons of color have prejudices too. The lessons of the past revisit every generation regardless of color. And, perhaps, it is more understandable if a person is visibly in the minority for that person to feel fear--which is what prejudice ultimately is.

But we need to realize that every generation needs to learn the lessons of past generations. Race relations do not improve by ignoring history, but by embracing it. Unfortunately, as Americans, we like the idea of "moving on" and "getting over it" much more than understanding cause and effect.

As people of goodwill know, the best antidote for racism is open and safe communication. The ability for all people to air their grievances is cathartic and leads to healing. All people learn hate, we are not born with it. Watching small children play is all the example we need to know this.

Let us all be better teachers of our children or, perhaps, learn from them.

Sunday, January 20

Facts on the Tax Cut Fiction

FactCheck has this to say about tax cuts. What it says in a nutshell is that tax cuts don't work, at least not one's that we get...

Q: Have tax cuts always resulted in higher tax revenues and more economic growth as many tax cut proponents claim?

A: No. In fact, economists say tax cuts do not spark enough growth to pay for themselves.

This economic theory is what George H.W. Bush called “voodoo economics.” We called it “supply-side spin” when we wrote about Republican presidential contender John McCain’s claim that President George W. Bush’s tax cuts had increased federal revenues. We found that a slew of administration economists – from the Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury Department, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers – all disagreed with that theory, saying that tax cuts may spur economic growth but they lead to revenues that are lower than they would have been if the cuts hadn’t been enacted.

The supply-side theory that tax-cut proponents often espouse was demonstrated by the Laffer curve, named for economist Arthur B. Laffer. The curve suggests that a higher tax rate can generate just as much revenue as a lower rate. But most economists are not Laffer-curve purists. Instead, while they may believe in the power of tax cuts to create an economic boost, they don't say that growth is enough to completely make up for lost revenue. For example, N. Gregory Mankiw, former chair of the current President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, calculated that the growth spurred by capital gains tax cuts pays for about half of lost revenue over a number of years and that payroll tax cuts generate enough growth to pay for about 17 percent of what is lost.

Corporate income taxes, however, may be an exception. There is some evidence that cutting the corporate tax rate can produce more revenue than was projected under the higher rate in the special case of multinational corporations, which can move their money and operations around to take advantage of lower taxes in certain countries. Economists with the pro-business American Enterprise Institute came to that conclusion in a study released in July 2007. They found that lower corporate rates attract enough growth in corporate income to produce higher government revenues. However, one of the authors, Kevin A. Hassett, told that small countries, such as Ireland, had the most success and that "it may or may not be correct" to apply the study's results to the United States.

United States Congressional Budget Office. "The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal years 2008 to 2017" Jan. 2007.

United States Council of Economic Advisers. "Economic Report of the President." U.S. Government Printing Office. Feb. 2003.

United States Joint Committee on Taxation. "Estimated Budget Effects of the Conference Agreement for H.R. 1836" JCX-51-01. 26 May 2001.

United States Joint Committee on Taxation. "Estimated Budget Effects of the Conference Agreement for H.R. 2 The ‘Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.’ " JCX-55-03. 22 May 2003.

United States Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Analysis. "A Dynamic Analysis of Permanent Extension of the President’s Tax Relief." 25 July 2006.

Mankiw, N. Gregory and Matthew Weinzierl, "Dynamic Scoring: A Back-of-the-Envelope Guide," 12 Dec. 2005.

Brill, Alex and Kevin A. Hassett, "Revenue-Maximizing Corporate Income Taxes: The Laffer Curve in OECD Countries," American Enterprise Institute, AEI Working Paper #137, 31 July 2007.

"Thought Crime" Bill Dies Silently

Note: I have posted a retraction of this post and encourage readers to ignore this posting as it turns out to have been not true.

From Hope Marston at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee:

Have you heard the news? The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act is dead. And I think grassroots opposition killed it.

According to an obscure paragraph in CQ Politics on December 14, the Senate version of the bill "died a quiet death" in early December. What's amazing to me (or really, shouldn't be a surprise, I guess) is how well hidden this is. I could find no mention on Thomas, or anywhere else on the web (please help me if I've missed something). Thanks to our friends at the ACLU for alerting us to this obscure paragraph!

The wildfire of grassroots opposition to this "thought crime" bill, which apparently stopped it cold, is receiving no credit. And because this lone CQ article is the singular reference to the death of the bill, articles churning up opposition to HR 1955 and S 1959 continue to populate the Internet. In a case of odd timing, the Committee on Homeland Security issued a "Fact Sheet" declaring each point of opposition to the bill to be myth. The "Fact Sheet" was released (according to Atlantic Free Press) on December 17, though the bill had expired in the Senate earlier in December.

Here's the CQ Politics article. You'll have to dig deep to find the reference to Violent Radicalization, or use "Find" and search on "radical" to find it more easily.

For more information on the bill that is currently resting in peace, see BORDC's legislation page.

More news from this week, including a new film documenting U.S. sanctioned torture, Jose Padilla's $1 lawsuit against torture-enabler John Yoo, renewed opposition to REAL ID, CIA videotapes, Guantanamo, warrantless wiretapping, and White House destruction of evidence (email backups) is available from the BORDC website and news page.

Edwards Campaign In Foreclosure?

After a less than sterling performance in the Nevada caucus last night, John Edwards' campaign team has got to be asking, "what the @#$%^& happened?" As Senator Edwards himself said, he hopes "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," admitting, "I got my butt kicked." And with South Carolina polling showing Edwards lagging far behind Clinton and Obama and even his best state supporter saying he needed to win Nevada to stay viable, it appears that Edwards could be another odd man out in what has now been clearly painted as a two person race by the press and perhaps by the voters (The campaign has not released the results of whether a $7 million dollar goal for web fund-raiser that was held on Friday for public election matching funds).

However the official word from the campaign about the future primaries is: we're in them to win them (delegates, that is)--or words to that effect.

"John Edwards is the underdog in this campaign, facing two $100 million candidates. But that is nothing compared to the real underdogs in our country – working men and women, middle class families, and all those who have no voice in Washington.

The race to the nomination is a marathon and not a sprint, and we're committed to making sure the voices of all the voters in the remaining 47 states are heard. The nomination won't be decided by win-loss records, but by delegates, and we're ready to fight for every delegate. Saving the middle class is going to be an epic battle, and that's a fight John Edwards is ready for."

With the economy showing strong signs of more severe tanking, Edwards' message may yet be heard above the din, but it will have to drown out the sounds of a death knell by the press of his campaign. If any "kid" needs a "comeback", John Edwards is it.

Friday, January 18

Russ Feingold on the Presidential Race

Wisconsin's Senator Russ Feingold, who I respect for his progressive views has a take on the Democratic presidential candidates--remember Feingold was thinking about taking a run at it himself. He throws stones at John Edwards, but he is factually correct on Edward's voting record.

Feingold said in the Appleton Post-Crescent

I did notice that as the primaries heated up, all of a sudden, all the presidential candidates — none of whom voted with me on the timeframe to withdraw from Iraq — all voted with me when we did the Patriot Act stuff.

The one that is the most problematic is (John) Edwards, who voted for the Patriot Act, campaigns against it. Voted for No Child Left Behind, campaigns against it. Voted for the China trade deal, campaigns against it. Voted for the Iraq war … He uses my voting record exactly as his platform, even though he had the opposite voting record.

When you had the opportunity to vote a certain way in the Senate and you didn't, and obviously there are times when you make a mistake, the notion that you sort of vote one way when you're playing the game in Washington and another way when you're running for president, there's some of that going on.

On whether he'll make an endorsement in the Feb. 19 Wisconsin primary

Probably not. I'm having a hard time deciding between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as are many people. Those are the two I take the most seriously.

I go back and forth, to be honest with you. I'm torn on this whole issue of who's more likely to be progressive and really seek change vs. who's ready to do the job today. It really is a true dilemma in my mind.

With regard to those votes, Edwards has been on record for apologizing for his vote on giving the President the authority to attack Iraq and for his vote on the original PATRIOT ACT (and his subsequent support to modify the latter to make it less onerous).

With respect to NCLB, both Edwards and Senator Clinton voted for it and both support pre-K enrichment and bettering metrics for measuring student success.

The harder point for Edwards to defense is his support of the China trade agreement. An article from MSN addresses this:

Edwards explained that his state would benefit because China would cut its tariffs on North Carolina’s poultry, pork and tobacco.

Edwards acknowledged that North Carolina’s textile and apparel workers would face increased pressure.

While the China trade legislation included an “anti-surge” proviso designed to stem a flood of imports, Edwards was quite candid in 2000 in acknowledging that “it does us no good to pretend that these remedies are perfect and that people will not be hurt.”

Asked again whether he regretted his 2000 vote, he said, “Bringing them into the world trading community, subject to rules, makes some sense. But it doesn’t make any sense if you don’t enforce their responsibilities and don’t hold them accountable for their violations of those responsibilities.”

He then proceeded to denounce the Chinese for building up their military, for their too cozy relations with Sudan and Iran, and for “devastating the environment” by building one coal-fired power plant every week.

Voting Discrepencies in New Hampshire: I Demand a Recount!

Most people don't know that there is a recount for the New Hampshire primary due to a disparity between hand-counted ballots and computer-counted ballots. Democrat Dennis Kucinich and little known Republican Albert Howard have ponied up the bucks to pursue the recount.

Meanwhile, Sean Flaherty sent this note:

The Iowa General Assembly is discussing funding to put in place a statewide system of paper ballots and optical scanners by November 2008. U.S. Rep. Rush Holt's new bill, the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act, would reimburse Iowa for the cost of paper ballot voting systems.

That's a great deal for Iowa, and for all the states that depend on paperless systems and don't have the funds to purchase new equipment. Without new voting systems, tens of millions of votes could be decided by paperless systems this November.

Click here to tell Congress to pass the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act.

Rove Sez: "Beat 'em with Taxes, Immigration, and Inexperience"

Pulling a page from his very scary playbook, Karl Rove proposed "fear" as the trump card to keep the Democrats out of the White House...From The Hill

Karl Rove provided state Republican officials Wednesday with his strategy for winning the 2008 presidential election, suggesting the party hammer the top Democrats on taxes, immigration, national security and a lack of experience.

Speaking to a group of state GOP executive directors from around the country at the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) winter meeting, Rove said Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) are beatable.

The former adviser to the president made no mention of former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), who is trailing both Clinton and Obama in most polls.

On Clinton, Rove said the senator talks about fiscal responsibility but has introduced “$800 billion in new spending and the campaign is less than half over.”

Thursday, January 17

Global Warming is Like Falling Elephants

Check this out and then check them out.

The Ghost of Rose Mary Woods: WH Blank Tapes

The White House, despite two Federal laws erased e-mail records of millions of communications in order by recycling the backup tapes used to store them.

Given the types of communications that likely took place between 2001 and 2003, some very important messages may have been vaporized.

According to the Washington Post

E-mail messages sent and received by White House personnel during the first three years of the Bush administration were routinely recorded on tapes that were "recycled," the White House's chief information officer said in a court filing this week.

During the period in question, the Bush presidency faced some of its biggest controversies, including the Iraq war, the leak of former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson's name and the CIA's destruction of interrogation videotapes.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said he has no reason to believe any e-mails were deliberately destroyed.

From 2001 to October 2003, the White House's practice was to use the same backup tape each day to copy new as well as old e-mails, he said, making it possible that some of those e-mails could still be recovered even from a tape that was repeatedly overwritten. "We are continuing to analyze our systems," Fratto said last night.

The court filing said tapes were recycled before October 2003, and at that point, the White House "began preserving and storing all backup tapes."

Two federal statutes require presidential communications, including e-mails involving senior White House aides, to be preserved for the nation's historical record, and some historians responded to the court disclosure yesterday by urging that the White House's actions be thoroughly probed.

Spot On: What About John Edwards?

Edwards to Obama:Reagan No "Example of Change"

Barack Obama was quoted as saying:

"But I think, when I think about great presidents, I think about those who transform how we think about ourselves as a country in fundamental ways...And, you know, there are circumstances in which, I would argue, Ronald Reagan was a very successful president, even though I did not agree with him on many issues, partly because at the end of his presidency, people, I think, said, “You know what? We can regain our greatness. Individual responsibility and personal responsibility are important.” And they transformed the culture and not simply promoted one or two particular issues."

John Edwards was quoted in response to the Obama statement as saying:

“I would never use Ronald Reagan as an example of change...
"He was openly -- openly -- intolerant of unions and the right to organize. He openly fought against the union and the organized labor movement in this country. He openly did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people, created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day. The destruction of the environment, you know, eliminating regulation of companies that were polluting and doing extraordinary damage to the environment...

"I can promise you this: This president will never use Ronald Reagan as an example for change."

Loebsack Supports Civil Rights Initiatives

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights released a report on the 110th Congress's performance regarding civil rights issues. We can be relatively proud that the Iowa delegation has performed better than most and our 2nd District Representative, Dave Loebsack, leads the pack by voting 93% of the time (his only negative vote was for the Gulf Coast Recovery Act) with the civil rights issues supported by this organization.

Other Iowa representatives:
Leonard Boswell: 87%
Bruce Braley: 86%
Steve King: 7%
Tom Latham: 13%

On the Senate side:
Charles Grassley: 8%
Tom Harkin: 100%

Among current presidential candidates:
Hillary Clinton: 92%
Duncan Hunter: 9%
Dennis Kucinich: 100%
John McCain: 22%
Barack Obama: 100%
Ron Paul: 17%

Telling Our Story of Race Relations in Iowa

Telling Our Story of Race Relations in Iowa

Members of the Consultation of Religious Communities in Iowa City are having an interfaith celebration of the life and works of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 7 pm Sunday, January 20, 2008 at First Christian Church.

First Christian Church is located at 900 Lincolnshire Place at North Dubuque St.

“Where We Have Come From” Marilynne Robinson,
The David J. Skorton-F. Wendell Miller
Professor of Creative Writing
and the recipient of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for Gilead

“Where We Are Now” Ross Wilburn,
Iowa City Council Member and former Mayor,
Equity Director,
Iowa City School District

Celebration music by
Gospel Explosion Ministry,
Disciple Strings, The Voices of Experience,
Barbara Buddin and Paul Soderdahl

The offering will benefit the Ecumenical Minority Scholarship Fund.

Come for conversation and refreshments following the service.

Wednesday, January 16

Nevada Democratic Debate Highlights

FactCheck had this to say aboeut the facts of the three leading Democratic presidential candidates and noted the following:

* Hillary Clinton once again mischaracterized the 2005 energy bill, saying it had "enormous giveaways" to oil and gas companies. In truth, the measure raised taxes on those industries.

* Barack Obama accused the Bush administration of failing to make "any serious effort" to encourage use of alternative fuels or raise fuel efficiency of automobiles. In fact, President Bush has signed major bills that do both.

* John Edwards said he dropped his support for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site in part because of a scandal over forged documents. But he switched his position in 2004, and the scandal came along a year afterward.

* The three candidates made sweeping claims about their intentions to remove troops from Iraq quickly, but all three admitted under questioning that they could have U.S. combat troops fighting in Iraq for years to come.

* Clinton puffed up her role in stopping the "Bush administration" from taking back signing bonuses from those later wounded too seriously to complete their enlistments. Actually the Pentagon said its policy has been not to reclaim such bonuses and that a bill the Army sent to one soldier was an isolated case that was reversed.

22 Soldiers KIA in Iraq in January

CNN reports that another three U.S. soldiers from Multi-National Division-North were killed by small arms fire on Wednesday, the U.S. military said. Two other soldiers were wounded in the incident, according to the military.

The deaths put the number of U.S. military personnel to die in the Iraq war at 3,926. The total for January is 22 -- 16 of whom were from Multi-National Division-North, the military said.

Kerry v. Clinton: Nevada Caucus Skirmish

Heavyweights Bill Clinton and John Kerry acted as infighting surrogates on a last minute lawsuit by plaintiffs with alleged connections to the Hillary Clinton campaign intended to prevent some service workers from caucusing at select Nevada casinos.

Former President Clinton argued that the casino caucuses were deliberately set up to have a disproportionate impact on the outcome of the contest. Clinton said, "Do you really believe that all the Democrats understood that they had agreed to give everybody who voted in a casino a vote worth five times as much as people who voted in their own precinct? Did you know that?"

Clinton is referring to a decision last March by the Nevada Democratic Party to have special at-large caucus sites to allow those service workers to participate in the caucus. The Culinary Workers Union, who represents those workers was involved in pushing for the sites.

Meanwhile former presidential candidate and current Barack Obama supporter, John Kerry, accused those who brought the lawsuit of attempting to disenfranchise voters. Said Kerry, "Mere days before the caucus, we now see a lawsuit to shut down those at-large sites and deny the casino workers their right to vote. Three of the plaintiffs voted for the very plan they’re now trying to block – reasonable people have guessed they’re changing their minds presumably because just a few days ago the Culinary Workers Union endorsed Barack Obama."

For their part, both Obama and Hillary Clinton are distancing themselves. Hillary Clinton said she is aware of the lawsuit, but hopes it "can be resolved by the courts and the state party because, obviously, we want as many people as possible to be able to participate. ... In the meantime, I'm just going to campaign as hard as I can here in Nevada."

Obama, at a Culinary Union event Sunday, said the rules were fine until the union decided "'I'm going to support the outsider, I'm going to support the guy who's standing with the working people instead of the big shots.'"

"You don't win an election and you don't serve democracy by trying to keep people out," Obama said. "You're supposed to try to bring them in and encourage everybody to get involved."

Quotes from the AP, the NY Sun, and TPM Cafe

MLK Does a Body Good: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Week) Events

Below are a number of events in Iowa City commemorating the life, works, and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, "A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."

Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
Moving Forward Together Series
Date: 01/17/2008 Time: 11:30am-01:00pm
Location: 15 , Schaeffer Hall
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Martin Luther King Interfaith Celebration Service

The interfaith celebration is part of Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week.

When: 7 p.m., Sunday, January 20, 2008
Where: First Christian Church
Admission: Free
More information: 319-335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
Interfaith Dialogue Breakfast
Date: 01/21/2008 Time: 10:00am
Location: APACC
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-2719
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
Human Rights Awareness Social
Date: 01/21/2008 Time: 11:00am-01:00pm
Location: Colonial Lanes Bowling
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation
The convocation will be in the second floor ballroom.

When: 4:30 to 6 p.m., Monday, January 21, 2008
Where: Iowa Memorial Union
Admission: Free
More information: 319-335-3994
Martin Luther King Day of Service
Meet in the east lobby.

When: 9 a.m., Monday, January 21, 2008
Where: Iowa Memorial Union
Admission: Free
More information: Mary Mathew Wilson (319) 335-7589
Link: go here
Stomping Out Stereotypes Discussion
As part of Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week, a discussion about stereotypes will be in the Illinois Room (room 348).

When: 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Where: Iowa Memorial Union
Admission: Free
More information: (319) 335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week AGEP Annual MLK Celebration
The celebration will be in the second floor ballroom.

When: 4 p.m., Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Where: Iowa Memorial Union
Admission: Free
More information: 319-335-6223
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
An Evening of Poetry
Date: 01/22/2008 Time: 06:00pm
Location: Afro-American Cultural Center
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
Diversity Discussion
Date: 01/23/2008 Time: 12:15pm
Location: HP Conference Room, 256 , General Hospital
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
Community of Color: Getting Connected
Date: 01/23/2008 Time: 04:30pm
Location: Van Oel Multipurpose Room , Currier Hall
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Dialogue on Diversity Workshop
The workshop, part of Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week, will be in the Kirkwood Room (room 257).

When: 6 p.m., Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Where: Iowa Memorial Union
Admission: Free
More information: 319-335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
Bayard Rustin: To be Black, Gay and a Civil Rights Leader
Date: 01/23/2008 Time: 06:00pm
Location: LGBT Resource Center
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
"Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence"
Lecture & Panel Discussion
Date: 01/23/2008 Time: 07:00pm
Location: Bijou Theater , Iowa Memorial Union
Sponsor: Graduate Social Work Student Assoc.
Contact: Emily Blaedel / Phone: 358-6646
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
"The Bronze Screen: 100 Years of the Latino Image in Hollywood"
Date: 01/24/2008 Time: 04:00pm
Location: Conference Room 2032 , Library
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
Date: 01/24/2008 Time: 05:00pm-07:00pm
Location: Minnesota Room, 347 , Iowa Memorial Union
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
J{AMnesty} Human Rights Benefit Concert
Date: 01/24/2008 Time: 06:00pm
Location: Old Brick, 26 E. Market
Sponsor: UI Amnesty International/Global Health
Contact: Shajia Ahmad / Phone: 573-8366
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
"Las Mujeres" de la Caucus Chicana
Date: 01/24/2008 Time: 07:30pm
Location: Iowa City Public Library, Room A
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
"I Got Something to Say: A Black Woman's Sonata"
Date: 01/24/2008 Time: 08:00pm
Location: Theatre B , Theatre Building
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
Community Outreach Drive
Date: 01/25/2008 Time: 10:00am
Location: 2nd Floor Ballroom , Iowa Memorial Union
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
Diversity Lecture by Jacqueline M. Hughes-Oliver
"Building Bridges from the Past, to the Present, to the Future"
Date: 01/25/2008 Time: 03:30pm
Location: Senate Chambers , Old Capitol
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059
Economic Human Rights Conference
Date: 01/26/2008 Time: 08:00am-05:00pm
Location: Richey Ballroom , Iowa Memorial Union
Sponsor: Economic Human Rights Organization
Contact: Ryan Bopst / Phone: 563-320-1315
Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week
"Still Pursuing the Dream"
Potluck/Social Gathering
Date: 01/26/2008 Time: 05:00pm
Location: 1117 University Capitol Center
Sponsor: OSL/ Human Rights Week Committee / Phone: 335-3059