Saturday, May 31

FL and MI delegates: Half a Loaf--Dem Party Fractured

On a day that saw Barack and Michele Obama choose to separate themselves from the controversies surrounding their church by leaving it, the Democratic party's rules committee borroed from the Old Testament by playing Solomon and deciding to seat half the delegates from Florida and Michigan, preserving Obama's delegate lead while bringing party delegates's from the two states in from the cold. The winner will need 2,118. According to a count by the Associated Press, as of last night, Obama controlled 2,052 delegates to Clinton's 1,877.

While this may serve to placate some party members, the Clinton camp continues to cry foul, particularly concerning Michigan's delegates. Clinton soldier, Harold Ickes, arguing that the Michigan compromise "is not a good way to start down the path of party unity," Ickes warned that Clinton had authorized him to note that she will "reserve her rights to take it to the credentials committee" later.

If there was ever a time when the Democrats need to look at the larger picture, now is that time. The chronic infighting that has gone on may have the cumulative effect to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, if the disenchanted M.O.R. voters sees John McCain, who is known to be a hot head in his own right, to be the relative voice of reason.

There is no doubt that the nomination has not been won, but in trying to decide on a party nominee, Democrats need to look ahead to November and make decisions that ensure party unity will happen in Denver.

Hey JC, It's Voting Time: Primary True Colors

Johnson County residents have the opportunity to vote early in party primaries today at the Iowa City Public Library, it will be interesting to see how the voter turnout registers.

For the record, my unanimous choices for the County Supervisor's race are Rod Sullivan and Terrence Neuzil. Both are public servants in the best sense of the term and support many progressive issues that I support including the human rights ordinance, the sensitive areas ordinance, and the joint communication center. Additionally both support human services and voted to increase the county contribution to the Shelter House. Rod was a FAIR! organizer and Terrence, like I, was an John Edward's supporter.

The vote I'm still working through is the third person to support. Pat Harney has served for a long-time and is chairing the committee that is looking into the justice center. Terry Dahms, the only non-incumbent, is a trail proponent and is concerned about how taxes are being spent. I personally like Pat Harney, but he does not always represent a viewpoint I support, but I don't have a strong feeling that Terry Dahms would bring a viewpoint that is not already on the BOS.

In the County Auditor's race, I will write-in a candidate for the office. I admire Mona Shaw's raging against the machine that Tom Slockett represents and I appreciate the work that Tom has done to make voting easier. I believe we need a change of the guard because of the internal dynamics within the office, but realistically don't see it happening in this important election cycle.

I am actually surprised that the Republican's haven't put up a candidate this time around for this race. Clearly there are people who believe that Tom Slockett has not lived up to the responsibilities of his office, but also recognize that Mona Shaw's candidacy is seen as largely personal and that she would have a very steep learning curve to running the office well, which makes for a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" vote.

As for Tom Harkin, Dave Loebsack, Vicki Lensing, Lonny Pulkrabek--they are running unopposed in the primary. Depending on the write-in votes in the Republican or Democratic primaries, Vicki Lensing, Lonny Pulkrabek, and the winner of the auditor's race will be unopposed in the fall.

As for Dave Loebsack, he will have a formidable opponent in Dr. Minnette Miller-Meeks (Dr. 3-M?), but with the national trend favoring Democrats, he should be able to stave off the challenge.

Table to Table: Extending the Food Chain

As of this past week, I am volunteering time with Iowa City-based Table to Table, an organization that picks up "wholesome, edible food" that is discarded from groceries, restaurants, and food warehouses and is redistributed through the Crisis Center's Food Bank, Shelter House, United Action for Youth, and other such programs.

I met with Volunteer Coordinator David Wellendorf, who has been an Iowa National Guardsman and is well-versed in emergency service management. I watched a ten minute presentation on safe food handling, given a hooded windbreaker in case it rained, and then was partnered with Amy, a more experienced volunteer, to make my first food pick-up using one of three refrigerated vans that the program has at its disposal thanks to the generosity of other service groups.

We stopped at three grocery stores and one restaurant in Iowa City and picked up a total of 650 pounds of foods which included, breads, fresh fruits and vegetables, desserts, milk products, and some canned goods and housekeeping supplies. After our pick-up, we made stops to redistribute food at the Shelter, UAY, and the finally, the Food Bank. At each place, the needs were different. For instance, the Shelter House has limited refrigeration space and took items that could be stored in the open like fruit, the UAY took pizzas, cake, fruit to use with the daily programs. The balance of the goods went to the Food Pantry were volunteers bag up groceries based on dietary needs and redistributes the "extras" based on demand.

According to Table to Table, last year it redistributed over a million pounds of food which would have otherwise ended up in dumpsters. From my viewpoint, this is the tip of the iceberg with regard to the amount of food that is wasted daily.

Table to Table is the only volunteer program in Iowa that redistributes food in this manner.

Wednesday, May 28

Some Guantanamo Protestors Have Iowa Roots

The Washington Post covered the story below about the trial of protesters seeking to close Guantanamo who demonstrated in front of the Supreme Court includes four Iowans: Brian Terrell, Christine Gaunt, Ed Bloomer and Kirk Brown.

Thirty-five people accused of staging an illegal demonstration at the Supreme Court went on trial today and used the proceedings as another opportunity to protest conditions at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Many of the 22 men and 13 women dressed themselves in orange prison jumpsuits to show solidarity with Guantanamo detainees. They were arrested Jan. 11 for illegally protesting on the grounds of the Supreme Court, a misdemeanor that carries up to 60 days in jail.0527 11

Watch the video coverage.

The demonstration came on the sixth anniversary of the opening of the detention facility set up to house suspected terrorists. Today, the defendants continued to make political statements about the treatment of detainees as their trial began in D.C. Superior Court.

Boswell Skipping Debate to Reach Out to Outdoorsmen--on the Radio

If Leonard Boswell has problems prioritizing his time to debate Ed Fallon once for the benefit of voters in the Iowa 3rd District over appearing on a radio show , it is no wonder he has been so lackluster in Washington D.C.

According to the Fallon campaign:
Ed Fallon is making one last appeal to Congressman Leonard Boswell to attend tonight's 3rd District Democratic candidates debate at 7:00 PM at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust in Des Moines. Boswell has stated that he would be not be available for any debates because he would be too busy in Washington or had other conflicts.

Fallon said, "According to a Boswell campaign press release, I understand that tonight at 6:00 PM he is a guest on "Outdoors with Outdoor Dan" radio show on KRNT 1350 AM in Des Moines. Since the radio program ends at 7:00 PM, I want to make sure the Congressman knows that he's still welcome to participate in the debate, even if unscheduled."

Fallon notes that the Primary election is just six days away and says, "This is one of the last chances for voters to see us face to face and learn where we stand on the issues."

Can You Trust McCain on a Women's Right to Choose?

If you are here, it is probably because you already know what John McCain stands for. But if you don't know his stance on reproductive rights, NARAL has it spelled out in black and white, along with Barack Obama's.

Scott McClellan Dishes on Former Boss,the War, Katrina, and Rove

Former White House mouthpiece, Scott McClellan has written a memoir "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" that, surprise, implicates George Bush of being less than candid with the American people. McClellan, who briefed the press and defended President Bush's policies through Hurricane Katrina and the early years of the Iraq war now says, according to CNN "the Bush Most telling administration became mired in propaganda and political spin and at times played loose with the truth."

Additionally, McClellan asserts that Karl Rove, the president's senior adviser, and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff — "had at best misled" him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

"History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided: that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary."

McClellan writes on Iraq that Bush "and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war."

McClellan charges: "If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.

The collapse of the administration's rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. … In this case, the 'liberal media' didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served."

Regarding the handling of Hurricane Katrina, McClellan says "One of the worst disasters in our nation's history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush's presidency," he wrote. "Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush's second term."

More at the Politico and CNN

Help Needed for Iowa Tornado Victims

Donations and other help are needed by the victims of Sunday's tornadoes in Iowa. Call 1-319-291-1200 or 1-800-947-7746 to assist "Neighbors Helping Neighbors." Over 300 homes in Parkersburg alone were demolished.

Tuesday, May 27

Recent Dave Loebsack House Votes

Congressman Loebsack voted for renewable energy, passing the Farm Bill, and appropriating $600 Billion for defense in FY 2009.

Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act - Vote Passed (324-84, 26 Not Voting)

The House passed a measure authorizing the Justice Department to pursue energy antitrust and price-fixing cases against members of the OPEC oil cartel.

Rep. Dave Loebsack voted YES.

Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act - Vote Passed (263-160, 12 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to extend temporary tax provisions that expired at the end of 2007.

Rep. Dave Loebsack voted YES.

Overriding the Veto of the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act - Vote Passed (316-108, 11 Not Voting)

The House voted to override the President’s veto of the farm bill, but a clerical error required that the House vote on the bill again.

Rep. Dave Loebsack voted YES.

To provide for the continuation of Department of Agriculture programs through FY2012 - Vote Passed (306-110, 19 Not Voting)

The House voted to suspend the rules and again pass the farm bill, after a clerical error invalidated a previous vote, the President’s veto, and a veto override.

Rep. Dave Loebsack voted YES.

Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for FY2009 - Vote Passed (384-23, 27 Not Voting)

The House authorized $600 billion in defense appropriations for fiscal year 2009.

Rep. Dave Loebsack voted YES.

H.Amdt. 1055: An amendment to provide that no provision in any status of forces agreement negotiated between the United States and the Government of Iraq that obligates the United States to the defense of Iraq from internal or external threats shall have any legal..., amending H.R. 5658: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009.

Rep. Dave Loebsack voted YES.

Green Team Members Needed for Iowa Arts Festival

The Iowa Global Warming Campaign, Iowa Renewable Energy Association
(I-Renew) and the Iowa City Area Group of the Sierra Club have agreed to
help the Summer of the Arts recruit volunteers for their "Green Team". It is
great that Iowa City is trying to make their festivals green with recycling
and composting. Let's all sign up for a two hour shift. Also please feel
free to pass this email on to others who might be interested in helping out.

Below is the call for Volunteers for the "Green Team". There will be 12
recycling stations at various locations around the Arts Fest. We will need
12 volunteers for each 2 hour shifts on Fri & Sat . June 6-7.

Friday Shifts
5pm- 7pm
7pm -9pm

Sat Shifts
Noon - 2pm
2pm - 4pm
4pm -6pm
6pm - 8pm
8pm- 10pm

Please remember that all volunteers need to sign up using our online
volunteer application (located at ) so that we can
have their contact information, as well as what size of FREE t-shirt they
will need.

Enjoy the Summer by Going Green!

Robert Kennedy, Jr. on the Constitution and the Press

Words worth hearing, too bad you won't hear them on ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS...

Ed Fallon Endorsed Over Leonard Boswell by Des Moines Register

The Des Moines Register is not known for it's going-out-on-a-limb ability, so it comes as a huge surprise that they endorsed my favorite Iowa progressive over long-sitting (Note that I did not say "long-serving") congressman, Leonard Boswell. Iowans in the fighting 3rd District have had the good sense to support Ed Fallon in his many campaigns and I hope they do this time around when it is likely that we will have both a Democratic House and White House.

Does an endorsement by the Des Moines Register have significance in this race, particularly when Boswell's coffers have been filled by lobby dollars and his name recognition--heightened by the ability to send "Congressional information" to his district for free--usually hold sway? That's for the voters to decide. But, as we learned in the 2nd District in 2006, when a college professor with even less name recognition, Dave Loebsack beat long-serving, moderate (and frankly with a voting record very much like Leonard Boswell) Jim Leach, nothing is for certain until the voters make it so.

DOD Admits Potential Financial Fraud in Iraq

The AP reports that "an internal audit of $8.2 billion paid to U.S. and Iraqi contractors found that nearly every transaction failed to comply with federal laws or regulations aimed at preventing fraud.

In some cases, there weren't even basic invoices explaining how the money was spent.

That's according to results released Thursday of an investigation by the Defense Department inspector general.

The probe said that during a five-year period - from 2001 through 2006 - $7.8 billion in payments skirted billing rules with some violations egregious enough to invite potential fraud.

The findings provided fresh fodder for anti-war Democrats, who say the Bush administration has turned a blind eye to the problem of corruption and fraud by relying too heavily on contractors to manage the war."

The Jurist and Deborah's US Liberal Politics Blog has more.

Monday, May 26

Memorial Day - Hats Off to Iowa Tornado Victims

Memorial Day is always a bittersweet day, but with the tragedy still unfolding in New Hartford, Dunkerton, and Parkersburg because of the massive tornado that killed at least 6 and injured at least 50 people. My condolences to those families that were affected by this natural disaster.

Governor Chet Culver declared these disaster areas, as of last night. The Governor's disaster declaration allows local officials to better utilize state resources in response to any severe weather.

In addition, the Governor's proclamation activates Iowa's individual disaster assistance program. Iowa 's individual disaster assistance program helps people with low incomes. Iowans with household incomes of up to 130 percent of federal poverty guidelines may apply for a grant of up to $3,300 to help recover from flood damage. The governor emphasized that this is a reimbursement program, meaning that applicants must include receipts when applying for help.

The grant application and step-by-step instructions on how to fill it out are found on the front page of the Department of Human Services website: . Look for the words "Storm Help”, or call toll-free (877) 937-3663 to find out more.

If you want to help, the Red Cross is taking donations for disaster relief. Unless you have family that you are helping in the area, please do not go to these affected areas.

Sunday, May 25

Dick Martin Says "Good Night, Dick"

With it being Memorial Day Weekend, it is fitting to recognize the passing of a comedic giant. Dick Martin, along with his partner, Dan Rowan lit up television for progressive thinking people in the sixties as the hosts of the anti-establishment comedy show "Laugh In". Unfortunately the Fickle Finger of Fate was at last awarded to Martin when he passed away at age 86. This tribute is worth a look at--Thanks for the memories--and the laughs.

Friday, May 23

Have You Been on a 3 Trillion Dollar Shopping Spree?

That's the estimated cost of occupying Iraq.

FactCheck: What About Florida and Michigan?

I have heard a number of people who believe that Florida and Michigan voters are going to be left out of the Dem primary and it will affect the election in the Fall. I don't know any better than anyone else what the fallout may be, but FactCheck has done a nice job of summarizing what the scenarios for seating the delegates may look like.

Q:What's going on with Florida's and Michigan's delegates to the Democratic convention? I was wondering if you could you do an article concerning the debate surrounding Florida and Michigan? Was it really the GOP's fault that the primaries were moved up? Is Obama actually blocking giving people there a vote? What is the rationality behind each campaign's proposal behind how the votes should (or should not) be counted? Is there some basis for considering what is fair? Thanks for listening.

A: The DNC rules committee will meet May 31 to come up with a solution to seating the delegates.
Florida and Michigan scoffed at Democratic and GOP rules this year that called for the states to hold their primaries on Feb. 5 or later. Voters instead went to the polls in January. As a result, the Democratic National Committee followed through on its threat to take away both states’ delegates to the national convention. The GOP banned half of the states’ delegates from its convention.

Both Clinton and Obama pledged not to campaign in those states, and Obama’s name was not on the ballot in Michigan. But, once the race became an oh-so-tight contest, Clinton – who won both the Florida and Michigan contests – called for the delegates from the two states to be seated at the convention. The Clinton campaign also backed plans to have the two states hold their primaries, or some form of voting, again.

Her campaign charged that leaving the states out of the primary process meant they were “disenfranchised,” and she called for Obama to join her in “supporting the rights of the people of Michigan and Florida to have their voices and their votes counted.”

Meanwhile, some charged that the DNC was being unfair, saying that Republicans, not the state Democratic parties, should be blamed for shifting the states' primaries. The criticism stems from the fact that Florida’s Legislature is Republican-controlled, and its governor, which signed a bill to hold the primary in January, is Republican. But the bill passed the House unanimously, and the Democratic Party in the state said it would stick with the early primary, despite the DNC’s sanctions. In Michigan, the bill to move up the primary was first approved by the Republican-controlled Senate, but the idea was backed by many Democrats there, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.

Despite some support for a do-over election, neither state decided to have one. But now the DNC may backtrack on its promise to ban the delegates – or at least modify its stance in some way that would still amount to some form of punishment but appease voters, the candidates and other states that played by the rules. The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet May 31, and there are various courses of action it could take:

* The Clinton Outcome. Seat the delegates according to the primary votes. Clinton beat Obama 50 percent to 33 percent in Florida, and she won Michigan’s primary with 55 percent of the vote. (Forty percent voted "uncommitted.") The two states have 313 pledged delegates, plus 53 or so superdelegates (who would be free to back their candidate of choice). As we’ve written before, there is no official delegate count and estimates vary among the news organizations that try to keep track. But whatever the calculation, Clinton gets more votes under this scenario. The Associated Press says that Clinton would gain 178 delegates; Obama would get 67. The New York Times says Clinton would net 47 delegates. However, this plan would mean a complete reversal of the DNC’s tough stance. The AP interviewed a third of the 30-member rules committee and found they widely agreed the states should still face a penalty.

* The 50-50 Split. The party could give half of the states’ delegate count to Clinton and half to Obama.

* The Combo Deal. The Michigan Democratic Party has proposed an uneven split that would give Clinton more delegates, but not as many as she would get based on the primary vote.

* The Sounds-Fair-to-Me Option. The DNC committee can seat or not seat the delegates any old way it sees fit.

Of course, how to distribute the delegates may be a much less-heated decision by the time the committee meets at the end of the month. Obama could get the 2,026 delegates now needed to sew up the nomination. And Clinton needs more delegate support than what she would get from these banished ones. As the Associated Press wrote last week: "Michigan and Florida alone can't save Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign."

Obama needs about 60 more delegates to secure the nomination, while Clinton needs about 245. Only Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota have yet to hold their primaries; about 210 superdelegates haven't publicly pledged their support.

While behind in the delegate count, Clinton and her aides have argued she's ahead in the popular vote, if the tally includes Michigan and Florida votes. That's true, but there were no votes whatsoever for Obama in Michigan. Real Clear Politics maps out the popular vote totals under various circumstances, showing that Clinton leads by 57,000 votes, if the count includes Michigan and Florida and the site's estimates for the caucus states of Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington, which haven't released popular vote counts. Dropping Michigan from that total, puts Obama ahead by 271,000 votes. His lead in the popular vote more than doubles if Florida is also eliminated.

Boswell Ducking Fallon?

Representative Leonard Boswell and Candidate Ed Fallon have been invited to the event to be held on 5/28/2008 at 7pm at the State Historical Society of Iowa Building, 600 E Locust, Des Moines, IA. Mr. Fallon has accepted the invitation. Mr. Boswell has declined. The forum will be held on Wednesday with Mr. Fallon in attendance and an empty podium. Principle Sponsors are the Progressive Coalition of Central Iowa (PCCI) and Central Iowa Operation Democracy (CIOD). Co Sponsors are Women's International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Iowa Chapter of Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), and Clarion Alliance.

If you need further information or wish interviews before the event please contact:

Phyllis Stevens 515-309-2860
Vern Naffier 515-276-3602

Thursday, May 22

Documentary Film of lowa City Icon to Have World Premiere

We have GREAT NEWS!! We hope you will be able to come to a very special event involving Lane Wyrick that will be held at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City on Saturday, June 7.

Lane's 1½ hour documentary film, "A Friend Indeed--The Bill Sackter Story," will have its World Premiere at Hancher Auditorium, starting at 7:30 pm.

There will be a post-screening discussion between audience members and many of the "principals" involved in Bill Sackter's life and in the creation of the documentary. To cap off the evening, light refreshments will be served in the Hancher lobby.

You can purchase general admission tickets for $10 each at the following locations:

1) All four Coralville/Iowa City HyVee Food Stores in their Customer Service
2) On-line at
3) From Tuesday, May 27 on: at Hancher Box Office or by calling the Box Office at 335-1160 or 1-800-HANCHER (open Mon-Fri 10 am-5:30 pm). In addition, on performance day, June 7, the Box Office will be open from 1:00 p.m. to curtain time at 7:30 p.m.

We hope to see you at Hancher on June 7!

Barack and Hillary: Enough Already

Jimmy Breslin once wrote a book called "The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight" and it offers a cautionary tale to the Democratic Party's dueling twosome to stop poisoning the well of goodwill that the country has had toward the party. It is true that the race for the nomination has been one of historic proportions and clearly Hillary Clinton has worked doggedly for the nomination, as has Barack Obama. However, the tank is on empty and it is time for Sen. Clinton to pull off the road.

It is now time to coalesce as a party and begin to gear up for the fall campaign. Barack Obama has earned the party's nomination and it is especially important that he campaign vigorously in those areas where he has not had the support that Hillary Clinton has had. It is important for Hillary Clinton's massive contribution to the dialogue to be acknowledged and to have a significant role for her in the party going forward.

It is one thing for party leaders to say they will unite and quite another for embittered partisans to dust themselves off and fully support the party's candidate, particularly one that has been bloodied by their efforts. If ever there was a time for Democrats to put aside differences, this is it. John McCain is not Bob Dole. He will be formidable and will grab some M.O.R. voters because of his gravitas. The winning path for Barack Obama is to keep pointing out what Bill Clinton took to the bank when he was elected, "It's the Economy, Stupid."

John McCain may try to distance himself from George Bush, but he can't run away from the fact that Republican policies have tanked the stock market, the housing market, and the job market. People do see the connection between the war and the economy, but it is the economy that they feel every day.

So enough already, the press needs a new story to report. Don't use the convention to show how dysfunctional a family the Democratic party can be. Use it to pull together and show that the Democratic party is ready to lead on Day 1--Yes, We Can!

Wednesday, May 14

Finally--Here's Johnny--Edward's Endorses Obama

John Edwards waited until now to endorse Barack Obama. Coincidence? I think not. The thumping that Obama took in West Virginia among white, blue-collar voters--who, not so incidentally, loved John Edward's populist message--led to Edward's laying his cards on the table in support of Obama, who truly needs his support and thus makes Edwards what he wanted to be all along, relevant.

Will this Johnny-come-lately help Obama tighten up Democratic and M.o.R support? Tune in and watch.

Hillary Wins With Hilltoppers

The Rumors of Hillary Clinton's political death have been staved off for this week by a very strong showing in West Virginia where she pounded Barack Obama by a 2/3's margin. Her proposal to defer the federal tax on gasoline over the summer was one issue that resonated with voters in the state with the 6th highest poverty rate in the nation. In addition, it is a highly blue-collar state with an aging population which is the demographic that Hillary appeals to best.

For Barack Obama, it demonstrated a weakness among an older core of mostly white, populist issue leaning Democrats. West Virginia's voting cohort is 34% over 65. As it compares to states like Iowa, where the over 65 group was 22%, Obama will need to be more concrete to gain their trust.

FactChecking McCain

FactCheck has the dope on John McCain's questionable economic policies:

McCain’s big promise is that he can balance the budget while extending Bush’s tax cuts and adding a few of his own. He likes to leave the impression that this can be done painlessly, for example, by eliminating "wasteful" spending in the form of “earmarks” that lawmakers like to tuck into spending bills to finance home-state projects. We found that not only is this theory full of holes, it's not even McCain's actual plan. In this story we examine the spending-cut side of McCain's budget program. In Part II, we'll look at what McCain has said about taxes.

McCain's pronouncements on cutting spending, and even on the growth in the size of the federal government, are dubious at best:

* McCain seems to say that he can save $100 billion by cutting out earmarks. But budget experts say that cutting earmarks would actually save very little. And questioned more closely, McCain's campaign now says that his planned savings have nothing to do with eliminating earmarks.

* With earmarks out as a potential source of savings, McCain hasn't said what he'd cut out of the discretionary budget to get to $100 billion. He's even indicated that defense spending might increase. If defense spending is off the table, saving $100 billion would require 18.5 percent across-the-board cuts in every other discretionary program, including things like student loans, veterans programs and highway construction. The alternative would be severe cuts in a few programs, as yet unnamed.

* McCain says that "just in the last few years" the government has puffed up "by 40 percent, by trillions." Actually, it has taken federal spending a decade to grow 40 percent, and even longer to grow by "trillions." This year federal spending is projected to come to $2.45 trillion, including $1.4 trillion for Social Security, Medicare, military spending and veterans programs.

More Here

Monday, May 12

Off to the Workforce Development Office

Well, it is my first full week without work and I am learning about the ropes of unemployment insurance. So far I have learned that you can actually register for services at the IWD without actually going there. They have a nifty online form to fill out. I also learned that you can call in to report your progress, which is very cool. However, I also learned that automated phone systems are not good at nuance. For instance, if you are expecting to receive a severance check or vacation pay, but have not received it, the phone system has no way of knowing that and so I will be visiting the office this morning to explain that nuance to a person--at least I hope it's a person.

For the next 26 weeks, I am eligible to receive $360 a week. I hope not to have to collect it for long, but it is nice to know it is available.

Also, if you are in the position that I am in, just know that that about 1/3 of your severance pay and accrued vacation is held back for taxes--yikes!

I have already applied for two jobs last week and will apply for more this week. I've got an interview lined up tomorrow. On to greatness!

Thursday, May 8

Food for Thought

This afternoon was an interesting contrast in human nature. On the one hand, there were 80 or so people who attended a lunch to support the operation of the emergency Shelter House. On the other hand, there were people in need who were lined up gathering groceries through the Crisis Center Food Pantry a mere half mile away.

I feel fortunate to live in a county that has the means to support those who are trying to stay afloat. Likewise, I feel that the goodness in people is demonstrated by how they treat others. At the food pantry, volunteers and workers go out of their way to try to meet needs of those needing the help. Unfortunately, not everything that is needed is always available. for instance, today they had plenty of yogurt and chips, but no toilet paper. They had toothpaste flavored for kids and none for adults.

Meanwhile, at the Shelter House lunch, there were beautiful salads, breads, and desserts that mostly were consumed by donors. A pianist played soothing classical music while politicos like Rod Sullivan, Connie Champion, and Congressman Loebsack's "man on the street," David Leshtz dined with congregation members, social service workers, and other good people who wanted to help. It was a pleasant afternoon with the brilliant sunshine flowing through the hall. In a tucked away place, a large cardboard box that is meant to be filled by members of the church for the Crisis Center Food Pantry stood empty as people filed past on their way back to their work-a-day world.

Rod Sullivan Needs You

While we have all been paying attention to the national political scene, County Supervisor and current Board Chair, Rod Sullivan is running for re-election and deserves your support. As the only true Progressive on the Board, he has

* Passed a Human Rights Ordinance, the first County in Iowa to do so;
* Passed a Sensitive Areas Ordinance, the first County in Iowa to do so;
* Joined the Sierra Club Cool Counties Initiative, the first County in Iowa to do
* Created a Trails Committee and for the first time created a line item for
trails in the budget;
* Created a Commission for a Livable Community for Seniors;
* Instituted a highly successful Earned Income Tax Credit program;
* Dramatically increased funding for Shelter House;
* Begun a program for upgrading gravel roads to chip seal;

His top campaign issues for a second term are:

1. Increased commitment to the Environment;
2. Positive updates to the County Land Use Plan;
3. Increased support for Human Services;
4. Improved Dust Control

Some of this is not as sexy as ending the war in Iraq or dealing with the economy, but Rod pays attention to what the county can do to improve the environment, help those in need, and use taxes sensibly.

Early voting is now available for the June 3 primary at the Auditor's Office, 913 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City, during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. (Closed Memorial Day, Monday, May 26.) here's a look at the "D" ballot.

McGovern Switches Sides, Calls For Clinton to End Bid

I was at the Johnson County Democratic gathering last October where George McGovern pledged his support for Hillary Clinton.

At the time he said, "She seems to have a greater feel for the problems of the country. She gets stronger all the time," McGovern told the crowd at an Iowa City Democratic event that drew a crowd estimated at 1,800 people. "I think that if we can elect her president, she'll be a greater president even than her brilliant husband."

McGovern concluded, "We have an old rule of courtesy in the United States: Ladies first."

Clearly McGovern has rethought his position and has now pledged his support for Senator Obama saying, "It certainly was not out of any less respect for Sen. Clinton," McGovern said. "I think she has waged a really courageous and valiant campaign. ... But I think mathematically the race is all but won by Barack Obama and the time has come for all of us to unite and get ready for the general election in the fall."

Wednesday, May 7

Screw This

Compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs that is...learn all about the wonders of them at Unscrew America

One of the more creative websites I've seen recently.

Let's Do Lunch

The Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City at 10 S. Gilbert St. is having a fund raising lunch of delicious home-made salads, breads, and desserts for Shelter House tomorrow May 8th from 11:30 to 1 pm. The suggested donation is $8 and all proceeds will go to the operation of the shelter.

All are welcome!

Is It Over or Full Speed Ahead?

Barack Obama won a decisive victory in North Carolina by slightly less than 230,000 votes last night and Hillary Clinton has won in Indiana by slightly more than 22,000 votes, so where does it leave things? If the statements of the candidates count for anything, it looks like more of the same all the way to the convention. The sad thing is that there is no legitimate way for either candidate to win the nomination outright without the influence of the superdelegates who may be more likely to use "electability" as determined by polling to affect their decision-making.

As a John Edwards supporter, we learned first hand that electability as measured by polls is hardly reliable. Remember that Hillary Clinton began as the "most electable" until she lost in Iowa. One of the tacts that Edwards supporters used was the idea that John Edwards was the most electable of the Democrats over any of the Republican candidates. As Edwards' campaign ran out of cash, it was clear that the logic didn't hold sway with voters who could have chosen to keep donating.

However superdelegates are party insiders who could be swayed by polls. It is my sincere hope that if the Democratic party hopes to hold itself together that the popular vote and earned delegates will be more influential than the limitations of polling which frankly is a snapshot in time, not a predictor of long-term outcomes.

The McCain Mutiny

Some people believe John McCain would be a better president than either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton--they might not if they watched, compared, and gathered facts...

Watch This:

Can you tell the difference between George W. Bush and John McCain? How about between McCain and a carrot? Take this quiz

Get the facts

Saturday, May 3

Pain in the Gas

FactCheck does a good job of explaining the problems with McCain, Clinton gas plan. Oh, and George Bush still wants to do oil exploration in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge...

Hillary Clinton and John McCain are offering overburdened motorists a federal "gasoline tax holiday." But economists say that the proposal is unlikely to actually lower the price of gasoline. McCain's plan would essentially give federal funds to oil refineries, while the net effect of Clinton's plan probably wouldn't be much at all, although it would create a lot of new administrative work.

President Bush took another tack, dusting off a couple of golden oldies that he said would help halt the escalation in motorists' costs: allowing companies to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and encouraging construction of more refineries.

But opening up ANWR would lead to a negligible bump in world oil supply, and would provide barely five percent of what the U.S. consumes today. The spigot wouldn't even be fully opened until the mid 2020's -- if Congress acts now, which isn't at all likely. And Bush fails to acknowledge that investors aren't interested in building refineries for strong business reasons that go beyond the tangled permitting process.

In a week that saw furious truckers steer their rigs to the nation's capital for a horn-blaring war dance over escalating fuel prices, President Bush and two candidates who want his job were offering proposals that are unlikely to provide any real comfort to motorists.

More here