Friday, October 31

What Does a Patriotic American Look Like?

Despite the incessant polarization that elections bring out among partisans, I am hopeful that we can all agree that campaigns are waged by men and women that believe in democracy. We may disagree vehemently with each other about exactly what democracy means, but no one can deny that there is something innately wondrous about a place in the world where people can make the most important decision about the direction of their country for themselves. This, I believe, is truly what being patriotic is about--seeing our country for all its bumps and bruises and being convinced democracy is worth it.

But it doesn't mean we should see it as running on auto-pilot either. We the People are upholding part of our job as citizens in pushing hard for the vision of America that we'd like to see; by weeding through the crop of candidates, supporting the best ones, and voting to elect them. But, as someone in my local paper pointed out, that is not guarantee enough, if we wish to live in a vibrant democracy.

Once the dust settles from any election, we must continue to petition our government to continue to form that more perfect Union. We should constantly look for ways to increase democracy for all Americans; this includes breaking the two party stronghold, making voting both accessible and secure, and choosing candidates who truly support publicly-financed elections. We should not reward those politicians who say one thing to be elected and do another when they go to work. And finally, we shouldn't wait for other people to ask us to get involved.

The promise of our country is fulfilled by participating in a living democracy: in the doing, not in the being done to. To all those who work every day to keep democracy alive, whether through protesting injustice, throwing your hat into the ring, or teaching the next generation to understand what democracy means and how to play a part, we are all better for it.

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Spooky: Palin's Constitutional Rights Attacked by Reporters?

To report the news is the job of journalism, not to be a public relations firm for any particular party or candidate--that's what bloggers are for. ABC reports that VP candidate Sarah Palin feels like her first amendment rights are being stepped on by the main stream media--really?

In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by "attacks" from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.

Palin [said] her criticism of Obama's associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate's free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

However she feels about the way her story has been told in the press, Palin told WMAL she is not discouraged.

"It's sort of perplexing to me, because I'm a practical person and plainspoken also, but just cutting to the chase and calling things like I see them, just like most Americans. But this has not left a bitter taste in my mouth, the bitter shots taken by the mainstream media and by some of the elitism there in Washington," Palin said.

As I have said before, the First Amendment protects free speech, it doesn't mean people have to listen to it. To continually assert that a person is guilty based on the meetings they attend is silly. Would either McCain or Palin call Ronald Reagan a Communist because he had meetings with Leonid Brezhnev and Mikhail Gorbachev?

Hurry Tuesday!

Day of the Dead

From Bloomberg News

Republican presidential candidate John McCain goes into the campaign's final weekend a bigger underdog than any victorious candidate in a modern election.

With four days until Election Day, national polls show his Democratic rival Barack Obama leading by an average of 6 percentage points, and battleground polls show Obama ahead in more than enough states to win the decisive 270 Electoral College votes.

``This election is cooked and done, it's in the warming tray,'' said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

McCain ``is as desperate as a candidate can be,'' said Stu Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report in Washington. ``Less than five days to go and McCain's trailing in half a dozen states of which he can't afford to lose any: Nevada, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina.''

Illinois Senator Obama yesterday highlighted new government figures showing the sharpest contraction of the economy since 2001, a harbinger of what could be the worst recession since 1981-82. Arizona Senator McCain, meanwhile, was mum on the latest economic news showing the gross domestic product shrank at a 0.3 percent pace from July to September.

Those latest figures, Sabato said, are ``the final nail in McCain's coffin.''

Being that is Halloween, I imagine the McCain/Palin ticket is counting on rising from the dead.

For a different view, check out the Moderate Voice blog.

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Thursday, October 30

22% of Large Market TV Viewers Watched Obama

Barack Obama's media buy to be on the air on three of four major networks paid off handsomely as about 22% of television watching households in the 56 largest TV markets tuned in--more than the last part of the World Series. This translates into 33.5 million people (or roughly 10% of the population of the United States). From the Boston Globe

This just in from a Nielsen Co. press release about Barack Obama's infomercial:

* Overall, for the six networks that aired the program simultaneously, the spot had a household rating of 21.7% (meaning that 21.7 percent of all households watching television were tuned to the spot) in the top 56 local markets. In Boston, the rating was 25.7 -- meaning that just over a quarter of local households tuned in.
* In comparison, the final debate between the two presidential candidates received a 38.3 household rating in the top 56 local TV markets. The candidates’ first debate on September 26 received a 34.7 household rating in the top 55 markets; their second debate, on October 7, received a 42.0 household rating in those markets.
* The last presidential candidate to air a paid simulcast was Ross Perot in 1996, which received a national household rating of 16.8.
* Last night, the Baltimore market had the largest TV audience, with a household rating of 31.3, while the Portland (Oregon, not Maine) market had the lowest household rating: 14.2.

For perspective, George Bush's State of the Union address in 2006 received a 26.9% rating (roughly 41.7 million people).

Record the Vote/Voters Scared Straight (Ticket)

Two cautionary tales...

Greg Brown to Play For Flooded Artists

University of Iowa's COGS (UI's graduate student union)is helping sponsor events for the Artist's Recovery Fund, a fund established to aid artists who lost supplies, instruments, and finished work during the June floods.

This concert features world-renowned Iowa City folk musician Greg Brown and an otherworldly cast of supporting artists. Other performers will include Bill Peterson, Nikki Lunden, Comics in Action, Paperback Rhino, and the UI Jugglers.

The concert will be on November 13th at the Old Brick on Market Street near Clinton in Iowa City. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Doors will open at 6:30.

Purchase Tickets at:

The Chait Galleries, 218 E. Washington St., Iowa City, phone # 338-4442
West Music, 1212 5th St, Coralville, phone # 351-2000
The COGS Office in Old Brick, Iowa City, phone # 337-5074

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After the Election: Every Day Will Be Game Day for Democrats

If the Democrats have the Super Tuesday many, myself inclded, expect them to have, DNC chair Howard Dean will likely release the loudest scream he's ever produced--and rightfully so. With his Democracy for America grassroots party building initiatives(and Barack Obama's candidacy has certainly helped that)--the Democrats are poised to have a majority in two or perhaps all three branches of the federal government, as well as many gains on the state level.

The crucial step for the Democrats will be to prove that they have earned the trust of those who voted them. This will be a far more difficult thing to accomplish. Whether it is fair or not to say, the last eight years have actually set the bar far higher for the next administration because of the waste of all kinds of capital--human, social, and political.

The issue for the Democrats will be to show discipline and focus in delivering on the campaign promises made. For all of our sakes, we had better hope and be prepared to hold their feet to the fire so that they are not blinded by power (as so often is the case when one party holds sway). The checks-and-balances here are that the Republicans, independents, and the party's own grassroots can be very unforgiving.

Wednesday, October 29

I Goofed Up

I neglected to add all the candidates on Iowa's ballot to the poll on the upper right of the screen. So I've restarted the poll with all the choices listed in alphabetical order. Feel free to vote again or for the first time.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Voting in Iowa

As if you needed more reasons to vote...From 866 Our Vote

Make sure your vote is counted---Print the info below and take it with you. Don't let a pollworker tell you you can't vote.
Upcoming Elections
2008 General Election: 11/4/08

Polling Place Hours: 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Voter Registration Information
Click here for an Iowa Voter Registration Guide created by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and its pro bono law firm partners.

Registration Deadlines
As of January 1, 2008, voters may register up to, and on election day.

2008 General Election Registration Deadline: 10/25/2008

Identification Required for Registration
The registration form will ask you to provide one of the following:

Registration After the Deadline for Registration
At any time before Election Day, if you appear in person at the commissioner's office or at a satellite absentee voting station after the deadline for registration, you may register to vote and vote an absentee ballot. To do so, you must complete a voter registration application, make a written oath, and provide proof of identity and residence.

You may establish identity and residence by providing one of the following, provided such identification contains your photo and an expiration date:
A current and valid Iowa driver's license or Iowa nonoperator's identification card
An out-of-state driver's license or nonoperator's identification card.
A United States passport.
A United States military identification card.
An identification card issued by an employer.
A student identification card issued by an Iowa high school or an Iowa postsecondary educational institution.
If the photo identification presented does not contain your current address in the precinct, you shall also present one of the following documents that shows your name and address in the precinct:
Residential lease.
Property tax statement.
Utility bill.
Bank statement.
Government check.
Other government document.
You may establish identity and residency in the precinct by written oath of a person who is registered to vote in the precinct.
Election Day Registration
If you are eligible to register to vote and to vote, you may register on Election Day by appearing in person at the polling place for the precinct in which you live and by following the above procedure.
How to Check Registration
Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE

Visit the Iowa Secretary of State's Voter Registeration Lookup webpage.

Voting Information
Identification Required to Vote
If you register by mail and have not previously voted in a federal election in the county of registration, you will be required to provide identification documents when voting for the first time in the county unless you provided on the registration form your Iowa driver's license number, or your Iowa nonoperator's identification card number, or the last four numerals of your social security number. If you vote in person at the polls, or by absentee ballot at the commissioner's office or at a satellite voting station, you must provide a current and valid photo identification card, or one of the following current documents that shows your name and address:

Utility bill.
Bank statement.
Government check.
Other government document.
If you vote with an absentee ballot by mail, you must provide a photocopy of one of these documents when returning the absentee ballot.

How to Find Your Polling Place
Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE

Visit the Iowa Secretary of State's Polling Place Search tool online.

Contact your County Audtor

Absentee Voting
Click here to visit, a resource for absentee voters.

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot at any election:

When, during the time the polls are open on Election Day, the voter expects to be absent from the precinct in which he/she is a registered voter.
When, through illness or physical disability, the voter expects to be prevented from going to the polls and voting on Election Day.
When the voter expects to be unable to go to the polls and vote on Election Day.
Download the Absentee Ballot Application here.

Rules and Deadlines:

Voters requesting absentee ballots by mail may submit a request at anytime before an election but must do so by 5 p.m. the Friday before the election. (2008 General Election Deadline: 5 p.m. on 10/31/2008.)

On Election Day, voters who have been issued an absentee ballot but have not yet returned their absentee ballot to their county auditor have the following options:
- The voter may deliver the ballot to the county auditor's office before the polls close on Election Day.
- The voter can "surrender" the absentee ballot at the polling place for the precinct in which the voter is registered to vote. The voter will then be allowed to vote a regular ballot at the polling place.

If a voter cannot "surrender" the absentee ballot at the polling place, the voter will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot.

If returned by mail, the ballot must be clearly postmarked by the day before the election by an officially authorized postal service and received by the county auditor's office no later than noon on the Monday following the election.

Redistribution of Oil Revenues NOT Socialism?

I liked this entry from ThoughtCrimes about an assertion that Sarah Palin made on the campaign trail:

"“And Sen. Obama said that—he said that he regretted--he regretted that the Supreme Court hadn't been more radical and he described the court's refusal to take up the issues of redistribution of wealth as a tragedy and he said that he also regretted that the Supreme Court did not break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers there in the Constitution, that's a quote.”

Aside from deliberately taking the quote out of context, the accusation fits Palin more than Obama.

As governor of Alaska Palin raised taxes on oil companies, then redistributed the oil companies profits to every single Alaskan, even though they didn't earn the money.

THAT my friends, is socialism."

It raises an excellent point that I haven't heard elsewhere.

Citizens United in Hyping Hype

Talking Points Memo has a story about Citizens United, a conservative group headed by right-wing political hitman David Bossie, who are using the Clarion Fund (Of "Obsession" fame) to distribute DVDs in key swing states called "Hype: The Obama Effect" to sway undecided voters away from voting for Barack Obama. Widely promoted on Fox News, this film is the kind of propaganda you would expect to see from a group that supports "complete U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations, defeat of the treaty to establish a permanent U.N.-controlled International Criminal Court, and rejection of one-world government."

Bossie, you may remember was fired as an investigator for the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee after overseeing the release of recordings of Hillary Rodham Clinton's phone conversations with Whitewater figure Webster L. Hubbell. The tapes were edited to create the impression that Clinton was involved in billing irregularities at the Arkansas law firm where she and Hubbell worked. Given this checkered past, it is hard to believe that anything that would come from him or a group he is associated would be a fair accounting.

Bossie said his group would release its damning film about Hillary Clinton, who was considering her run for 2008, "At the right time." After viewing the trailer for "Hype", I'm convinced that this is "the right time" for a last minute attempt at character assassination by a group that would take the hatchet out on any candidate that meet their extreme conservative values.

Hype is hype. Don't believe it. Especially from a guy who funds nothing but conservative PACS and candidates.

BOSSIE, DAVID N MR ASHTON,MD 20861 CITIZENS UNITED/EXECUTIVE 4/29/05 $1,725 National Conservative Campaign Fund
BOSSIE, DAVID N MR ASHTON,MD 20861 CITIZENS UNITED/EXECUTIVE 4/29/05 $1,000 National Conservative Campaign Fund

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Tuesday, October 28

Iowa Flood and Tornado Survivors: Make Sure Your Vote Is Counted

For voters in Iowa who are living in temporary quarters due to the tornados and flooding of spring and summer, read this:

Iowa Secretary of State (aka, chief of elections) Michael Mauro says: If you vote by absentee ballot, make sure you use your permanent address when filling out the affidavit envelope used to return your voted ballot. If you write a temporary address on your affidavit envelope, the ballot will be rejected according to Iowa law.

Check with your county auditor's office, if you have any questions!

Dirty Tricks in Virginia

From CNN

The Virginia State Board of Elections is putting the word out: November 4 is Election Day for everyone in the state, regardless of political party.

The state agency issued a “Rumor Buster” press release this week with the correct date for voting in next week’s election because a fake flyer has been circulating with false information.

The flier said incorrectly that Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters should vote November 4 and that Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents should vote November 5. The flyer claims that the separate dates for voting by party were enacted by the Virginia legislature to ease the strain on the polls during high turnout that is expected.

But, the flier’s information is false. “The State Board of Elections did not issue this flyer,” the agency said in a statement. “Election Day is Tuesday November 4 and all registered voters will be able to cast their vote on that day. The polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Anyone in line at 7:00 p.m. will be able to vote.”

The fake flier has been circulating in the Hampton Roads* area of Virginia, according to the State Board of Elections. The Virginia State Police refused to comment on the flier because it is part of an “ongoing criminal investigation.”

*Hampton Roads is likely to be the most contested part of Virginia. I wonder if this is going on elsewhere?

Ennui the People

With the exhaustion that the brutality national politics produce, I think a group of call center workers in Indiana (a great story at Talking Points Memo), who reportedly chose to walk off the job rather than make incendiary phone calls, have the right idea. If politicians won't knock off the negativism, it's up to us to say "enough is enough" where lowest-common-denominator campaigning is concerned. We deserve politics that respect our higher natures than use fear tactics to scare up the vote.

This election has seen a record amount of fund-raising, not a small portion of which has been used to stoke the fires of damnation for both John McCain and Barack
Obama. Character assassination is a pointless exercise and tells us very little that we can use to make an informed vote.

I wonder what would happen if, at political rallies, the crowd walked away when politicians "go negative" against their opponents or swore off television stations that run ads by political action committees?

Way to go you Hoosier call center workers, Missouri may be the "Show Me" state, but you led us all by setting a good example.

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Monday, October 27

Alaska's Stevens To Add New Title: Convicted Felon?

It was just a matter of time before the inveterate Sen. Ted Stevens would replace another Alaskan from the front page (if only for a minute). Stevens becomes the first senator to be convicted of a felony since 1981.

"Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens, who has been the leading "pork producer" for Alaska for 40 years, was found guilty of "knowingly and willfully" scheming to conceal on Senate disclosure forms more than $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from an Alaska-based oil industry contractor, Bill Allen, and Allen's oil industry services company, VECO Corp and was convicted on all seven charges of ethics violations.

Stevens faces a maximum sentence of up to to 35 years in prison -- five years for each of the seven counts. Under GOP rules, any indicted senator must be removed temporarily from their positions and permanently if convicted. Stevens was ranking member on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and on the Appropriations Defense subcommittee.

Stevens will likely appeal the conviction, and his supporters are also likely to explore the possibility of obtaining a pardon from President Bush, before he leaves office in January.

Web Scum?

Who is running this one? The site points out information about Barack Obama that is mostly patently false and yet The Cedar Rapids Gazette has accepted it on their online website as paid advertising. There is not any information about the "political advertisers" who paid to run it, just a street address and phone number in Houston, TX.

A "politcal advertisement" site run by CompuEdge 2828 Rogerdale Rd., Houston, TX 77042 • (713) 549-5510,

Voter Suppression: It's a Real Problem

10/27/08 Update: According to CNN, "Georgia must allow thousands of people whose citizenship was questioned by the state's new voter verification system to vote in the upcoming election, a panel of federal judges ruled Monday.

The court ruling will affect about 4,500 people in Georgia who had been "flagged" by the new voter verification system and faced being denied a chance to vote Nov. 4 because their citizenship was questioned.

It could also affect more than 50,000 other registered Georgia voters also flagged by the new system because of mismatches in their personal identification information, such as discrepancies in addresses.

The three-judge panel also ordered Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel to inform all the flagged voters that they can vote.

"We are very pleased that the court agreed with our legal position that the state violated the Voting Rights Act," said Elise Shore, a lawyer with one of the civil right groups who brought the lawsuit.

Shore said the ruling applies to the 4,500 Georgians that were flagged for citizenship reasons and she was uncertain whether it applied to the some 50,000 others that were flagged for other reasons.

The issue was raised in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Georgia college student who claimed that the secretary of state's voter verification system violated the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act and caused an illegal purge of voters in the weeks before the election.

Federal law prohibits widespread voter purges within 90 days of the election. In Georgia, that has become a heated issue with some calling the purge "voter suppression.""

Original Blog Entry

From CNN

College senior Kyla Berry was looking forward to voting in her first presidential election, even carrying her voter registration card in her wallet.

But about two weeks ago, Berry got disturbing news from local election officials.

"This office has received notification from the state of Georgia indicating that you are not a citizen of the United States and therefore, not eligible to vote," a letter from the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections said.

But Berry is a U.S. citizen, born in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a passport and a birth certificate to prove it. Video Watch some of the concerns of voting experts »

The letter, which was dated October 2, gave her a week from the time it was dated to prove her citizenship. There was a problem, though -- the letter was postmarked October 9.

"It was the most bizarre thing. I immediately called my mother and asked her to send me my birth certificate, and then I was like, 'It's too late, apparently,' " Berry said.

Berry is one of more than 50,000 registered Georgia voters who have been "flagged" because of a computer mismatch in their personal identification information. At least 4,500 of those people are having their citizenship questioned and the burden is on them to prove eligibility to vote.

Experts say lists of people with mismatches are often systematically cut, or "purged," from voter rolls.

The article continues:

A lawsuit has been filed over Georgia's mismatch system, and the state is also under fire for requesting Social Security records for verification checks on about 2 million voters -- more requests than any other state.

One of the lawyers involved in the lawsuit says Georgia is violating a federal law that prohibits widespread voter purges within 90 days of the election, arguing that the letters were sent out too close to the election date.

The NY Times reports that "Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law." These states include: Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina.

The article continues "The six swing states seem to be in violation of federal law in two ways. Michigan and Colorado are removing voters from the rolls within 90 days of a federal election, which is not allowed except when voters die, notify the authorities that they have moved out of state, or have been declared unfit to vote.

Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio seem to be improperly using Social Security data to verify registration applications for new voters.

In addition to the six swing states, three more states appear to be violating federal law. Alabama and Georgia seem to be improperly using Social Security information to screen registration applications from new voters. And Louisiana appears to have removed thousands of voters after the federal deadline for taking such action."

Brad Friedman at The Brad Blog has more.

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Sunday, October 26

The New Populist Uprising

David Sirota has a new book out called "The Uprising" which spells out the new battleground in our country between grassroots movements from the right and left. Both of which are vital to the Democrats and Republicans, The conservative right has championed low taxes, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-immigration, and pro-gun agendas with great success. Perhaps John McCain's struggle for the White House can be seen best through the filter of having to appease the right and, at the same time, attract those moderates and independents who are skeptical of those extreme views. Similarly for Barack Obama, he has to contend with the left grassroots who want nationalized health care, equal rights for gays, anti-globalization policies, labor protection, pro-choice, pro-feminist, anti-poverty agendas. His success can be seen as a "perfect storm" between an economy that is in the tank and those moderates and independents who are now hurting.

But the new uprising comes from an electorate that believes its views are ignored by the very people they elect to represent them. The main parties understand that the key to their survival is by a)gerrymandering voting districts and b) also gerrymandering the electoral process to their favor. The hubbub about ACORN and voter suppression is largely about who acquires and maintains power. The vote matters to the parties, but does it make for a robust democracy for the rest of us?

I think that at the root of all populism is the desire to feel like we have some control over how our lives go. When the government reaches too deeply in our pockets, we feel some of our independence taken away; and similarly when our government doesn't do enough to help us take care of ourselves when things are going poorly, we feel disrespected. The natural pull of democracy is a disequilibrium between the power the government thinks it needs and the power we are willing to give it.

In the times we live in, it is hard to know how things are really going because of all the external information we receive. And I am not arguing that information is not good for us to have, it just makes our own situation harder to bear. Because we live in a consumer driven society, we are filled with ideas that having more stuff is a good thing--in fact, we think the lives that people lived in earlier years are quaint and small. Probably we would not be in the jam we are economically if we weren't sold on the credit-driven American Dream.

And yet to hold the sway we do in the world, our government and its corporate partners want to grow our economy and this creates dependencies between us and nations that could be a threat to us. As we grow, so does the rest of the world.

For those of us living on Main Street, we don't see the connection between the interdependent nature of national interests and our own lives as easily. People tend to be much more parochial, focused on their lives and taking care of their families. When things are thrust upon us suddenly, we feel resentful.

This is why I think that invoking fear is such a powerful tool in getting people on your side. If you don't have a job, its because of fill-in-the-blank. If only there weren't so many fill-in-the-blanks, we would be safer. Since the dawn of time, we have always been cautious of people who are different from us and, yet, in times of danger, we band together because of our basic humanity.

Wrapping this up, it is when we rise together, that we are at our best as a nation and a people. If this time we are in teaches us nothing, it will help us to decide if our government is responsive enough or if we need to break up the monopoly. It is my hope that we rise together from the middle.

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More Endorsemnts for Obama

The Des Moines Register, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Hartford Courant, St. Petersburg Times, the Providence Journal, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Baltimore Sun, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Albany Times-Union and others including the largest newspaper in Alaska, The Anchorage Daily News, joined the growing list of newspapers endorsing Barack Obama for the presidency. According to Editors and Publishers, "Obama still leads by almost 3-1 in all editorial endorsements. Updated with the latest from today his lead stands at 162 to 62. Perhaps most tellingly, the Democrat has now gained at least 35 papers that endorsed George Bush in 2004. That year, Bush and Kerry split the 418 endorsements almost straight down the middle." Here's the longer list.

It is important to say that these endorsements don't always mean victory to the endorsee, as John Kerry's candidacy proved in 2004 when he was endorsed by many more newspapers than George Bush.

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More Pollworkers Needed in Johnson County for Nov. 4th

The Johnson County, IA Auditors Office is seeking 43 more pollworkers of the Green, Libertarian, Republican, and "no party". Pay is $10 and hour with time and a half after an 8 hours a day. Visit the auditors office at 913 S. Dubuque St. or contact the office at 356-6004 or email as soon as possible if interested.

The auditors office has enough Democrat pollworkers, in case you were wondering.

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Saturday, October 25

Palin: Won't Label Herself or Those Who Bomb Abortion Clinics

In a joint interview with John McCain, Sarah Palin refused to call abortion clinic bombers "terrorists". "I don't know if you're going to use the word 'terrorist' there," she said. She also said she wouldn't label herself a "Feminist"--although she is a member of Feminists For Life of America.

Here is that portion of the interview.

Palin and McCain continue to try to make a connection between Barack Obama and the Bill Ayers of the 1960's (when Obama was an 8 year old). Is Bill Ayers more "unrepentant" than groups and individuals who target, send threats to, and at times bomb health clinics?

According to the 2005 National Clinic Violence Survey:

Almost one in five clinics throughout the country is still being targeted with the most severe forms of anti-abortion violence. Severe violence includes blockades, invasions, arsons, bombings, chemical attacks, stalking, gunfire, physical assaults, and threats of death, bomb, or arson.

A researcher at the University of Indiana in 2006 found eighty-seven percent of U.S. counties, representing more than one-third of the female population aged 15-44, have no abortion providers, and 31 percent of the nation's metropolitan areas do not have a provider.

If Palin is suggesting that domestic terrorists are "better" if they target these clinics, that would truly be elitist.

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Friday, October 24

Auditor's Race: Change We Can't Believe In

Johnson County politics are hard to grasp some times. Take the county auditor's race (please).

On the one hand, you have a well-entrenched Democrat who has held the job of county auditor for about half his life, who has been arrested and tried for OWI twice in a six year span, has been accused of mistreatment of a number of employees (two of whom have run against him for his office this cycle), and whose office, while certainly ahead of other counties in terms of having up-to-date equipment and voter information, has had its share of voting issues (including the 21-only vote that was initially reported incorrectly).

On the other hand, you have a 24 year old Independent candidate who, as a clerk of said office, was fired in six months, is embroiled in a war of words over a failed cake venture with the woman she either a)was gifted the secret recipe by, b)entered into a business arrangement with c)none of the above, and who has not addressed her qualifications to do the entirety of the job to which she is running (I e-mailed her on the October 17th, got a response on the 20th that a response would be coming soon--I'm still waiting).

If ever there was a reason to write-in a candidate, this is a good reason. In either case, if they win, someone loses. With the incumbent, the revolving door that employees tend to circulate through, keeps swinging and the controversy continues. With the challenger, you have a person whom Auditor's office staff would question the readiness of to lead their unit and a prior employment record that is as thin as watercress soup.

As for me, I will write in "none of the above"--the vote is too important to be left in the hands of an unqualified person and, in my estimation, both of the candidates are unqualified, although for two vastly different reasons.

Rove-Worthy: Unstable Supporter May Cost McCain Pennsylvania

CNN was abuzz early this morning with the story of Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old from College Station who was a phone bank volunteer for the McCain/Palin ticket in Pennsylvania who made a police report following what she claimed was a robbery and assault by a 6'4" black man near an ATM who carved the letter "b" into her face because he didn't like her McCain bumper sticker on her car.

Well, it's a hoax.

Todd has confessed to making up the story and will be charged with making a false report to police, according to the Associated Press.

Police later said details of Todd's story kept changing, prompting police to give her a polygraph test, the results of which were not released.

Other inconsistencies in the woman's story included the orientation of the "B" scratched onto her cheek (backwards, as if self-inflicted) and the absence of video surveillance or bank records backing up her claims.

Bail was set at $50,000 Friday night for Todd who was described as "very cordial, polite, cooperating."

"It's just a lot of wasted man hours," Pittsburgh Assistant Police Chief Maurita Bryant said at a news conference.

According to the AP

Dressed in an orange hooded sweat shirt, Todd left police headquarters in handcuffs late Friday and did not respond to questions from reporters. The mark on her face was faded and her left eye was slightly blackened when she arrived in district court.

Todd was awaiting arraignment Friday on the misdemeanor false-report charge, which is punishable by up to two years in prison. She will be housed in a mental health unit at the county jail for her safety and because of "her not insignificant mental health issues," prosecutor Mark Tranquilli said.

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Thursday, October 23

John McCain and John McClane

John McCain has been pitching his maverickiness for many a moon. And it wasn't until today when Joe (the Senator) Biden, while on the stump, had a slip of the tongue and called him "John McClane" that it hit me. When it came to maverickiness in the late 1980's--Bruce Willis as wisecracking, tough cop John McClane in the "Die Hard" movies, was the "bomb"(or as McCain might croon "bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb-Iran...)". So perhaps it wasn't a slip of tongue, but an homage to the Joe Six Pack-like character that Bruce Willis played with such abandon.

Well, those were the late 80's and Bruce Willis is not quite the hot commodity he was back in the days when:
- Charles Keating was under indictment
- $2.6 trillion in national debt seemed out of hand
- NASA scientist James Hansen told Congress to watch out for global warming
- George Bush, Sr. had nominated Dan Quayle as his running mate (yes, the Republicans know how to pick 'em).
- The only one even talking about "Faith" back then was George Michaels.

But we are in 2008 now. John McCain is trying to use Joe the Plumber and Sarah the Governor to win the election for him. In the 80's, the Ty-dee Bowl man (whose name we never did learn) was still motorboating around in people's toilet tanks in a blue blazer and dickie. Such was the quality of life for plumbers back then. No one knew who the Governor of Alaska was back then.

Today we don't need a John McClane running around--"yippie-yi-yo," is not likely to win us back any friends. Frankly when you consider the body count in those movies, McClane was rather a blunt instrument. This is not to say that John McCain would be, but after this current incarnation of Republican rule, why take chances?

Today both John McClane "John the cop" is probably back in one of New York's many burroughs trying to keep his house from being repossessed and his police pension from dwindling to zippo before he retires in a few years (unless they alread offered him early retirement due to departmental cutbacks or the PTSD he must have from his extracurricular activities).

He's also might vote for Barack Obama--after all he did have his back covered by Samuel L. Jackson, Reginald VelJohnson (and the Mac v. PC guy, but seriously, how helpful was he?)and he didn't care much for corporate America.

Of course, Bruce Willis is supporting for McCain (after Fred Thompson dropped out)--it's called "acting" folks.

One thing is for sure, in 1988 Bush/Quayle beat Dukakis/Bentsen in 40 of 50 states. I'm pretty sure that Obama and Biden and their "Die Hard" supporters won't have any of that.

Palin the Prognosticator?

With several national polls showing Barack Obama in the lead by between 2% and 10%, this photo of Republican VP-in-waiting,Sarah Palin campaigning in Nevada seems to suggest she knows something the rest of us don't. Note her red, white, and blue scarf decorated in donkeys (hmmm, isn't that the symbol for some other party) and the words "yes" and "vote". I'm not sure this is part of her new $150,000 wardrobe (courtesy of donors to the RNC), but it makes quite the fashion statement!

Wednesday, October 22

Voter Fraud Versus Chances of Being Struck By Lightning

CNN reports that the number of people who commit voter fraud is likely to be no higher than those to be hit by lightning.

How big is that number? According to USA Today:

During every minute of every day, roughly 1,800 thunderstorms are creating lightning somewhere on Earth. Though the chances of being struck by lightning are estimated at 1 in 700,000, these huge electrical sparks are one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the USA each year with an average of 73 people killed; about 300 people usually are injured by lightning.

Also, again according to USA Today: In California, for example, there were 469 cases of fraudulent voter registration resolved from 1994 to 2003, compared with 253 cases of voting fraud, according to a study in the book from Michael Alvarez of the California Institute of Technology.

If the presidential election is decided by no more than 300 votes, let's demand a hand count. Otherwise, I'd watch out for lightning, if I were you.

Off the Cuff(s) Remarks from Karl Rove

They're still after him, even at a meeting of mortgage bankers. A protestor attempted to make a citizen's arrest on Karl Rove--that didn't work. But neither did KR's one liner. Former senate majority leader, George Mitchell shows his quick wit in retorting to the weak attempt at humor. Here's a good look at the back and forth between these fellows.

Democrat Pollworkers Needed in Johnson County

Update 10/26/08: No more Democrat pollworkers needed in Johnson County. But pollworkers from other parties and "no party" are.

From Johnson County (Iowa) Auditor's Office:

Johnson County has a record number of registered voters and a record number of absentee ballot requests at this point in time.

The Johnson County Auditor's Office is in need of Democratic pollworkers for the upcoming General Election. As of today, we are about 35 Democrats short of being fully staffed and 90 short of being staffed with the desired number of backups (One Democrat per precinct).

We need to get our message to a large number of Democrats in a relatively short amount of time, and we are contacting you and your organization for additional assistance.

We ask that workers commit to working the whole day, which runs from 5:30 a.m. to roughly 9:30 p.m. While the hours are long, pollworkers are compensated at $10/hr and $15/hr for any hours over 8 in a day. We reimburse all parking fully and pay $0.49 per mile driven to and from the polling site. There is a paid School of Instruction the 28th, 29th or 30th of October (workers attend 1 of the 3) at 6:30 pm in Montgomery Hall on the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

If you know people who are willing to work, please contact or have them contact Nate Mueller or any of the elections staff at the Auditor's Office (356-6004) as soon as possible.

UI Poll Shows Support for Obama By Registered Young Voters, If They Vote

In the national poll of 796 voters conducted Oct. 5-18, registered voters 35 or younger favored Obama over John McCain by a 26-point margin -- much more substantial than his five-point lead with voters age 36-54 and nine-point lead among those 55-70. McCain led by five points with voters 70 and over.

Eighty-four percent of the younger voters said they are absolutely certain they will vote. While that percentage is high, it's still lower than the older age groups, in which 86 to 90 percent said they would definitely vote.

"Clearly, younger voters overwhelmingly support Obama. If they show up in record numbers, they will decidedly tip the scale toward an Obama victory," said Hawkeye Poll Director David Redlawsk, associate professor of political science in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "But if they fail to turn out, the final result is likely to be very close."

Less than 40 percent of younger voters are paying close attention to the election, compared to 53 percent of those 35-54, 61 percent of those 55-69, and 72 percent of those 70 and older.

"By historical standards, the level of interest is extremely high across all ages. But those under 35 are much less likely to be tracking the election closely," Redlawsk said. "This suggests they're less engaged -- and perhaps less likely to turn out, because those who pay attention are more likely to vote."

Survey has much more to say. And it is here.

Tuesday, October 21

Vote Yes to Conserve Land in Johnson County

I have written about why the bond initiative is worthwhile, but here is more information from the Our Land, Water, and Future group's Janelle Rettig.


As often happens in the closing days of a campaign a lot of misinformation, scare tactics and dirty tricks start appearing. You would think a campaign about cleaning up our local environment with natural projects to help with clean water, flood protection, and clean air would escape these political scare tactics, but that isn't the case. We've prepared a Q & A about the conservation issue that is on the back of the ballot. This issue is the very last thing on the Johnson County ballot and we need 60% to pass it. That means we need about 41,000 yes votes. This is a daunting task, but you can help with just a few minutes of your time.

Here's how:

300 people on this list forward it to everyone, list serves, facebook lists in Johnson County that they know

If we each reach at least 20 people, we will reach 6,000. If those 6,000 reach 10 more each, we will have reached 60,000. If you take out duplicates, we can still reach the 41,000 votes we need in just a few minutes of your time and at no expense. Campaigns are expensive, so free electronic communication is priceless.

Won't you spend a few minutes of time helping this important cause? Please do it today, because people are voting so quickly we don't want to miss anyone that would otherwise be willing to flip the ballot over and consider voting for the environment and conservation.

If you have any questions or are willing to volunteer more, please contact us at the addresses listed at the bottom of this email.

Thank you,

Janelle Rettig

Co-chair, Citizens for Our Land, Water and Future

The Skinny:

What is this $20 million campaign about?

This initiative will provide $20 million dollars over twenty years ($1 million per year) to be administered by the County Conservation Board to acquire and develop lands for water quality, protect forests, improve air quality, protect natural areas and wildlife habitat, and provide for parks and trails.

It will be leveraged with federal, state, and corporate grants and individual, business and non-profit contributions for a likely multiplying effect of 2.5 to 3 times—or $50 to $60 million for our land, water and future. No land will be condemned; only willing sellers and donors will be considered. The plan will be flexible and developed with citizen input; the spending will receive annual audits.

What will it cost a homeowner?

An owner of a $200,000 house would pay an additional $26.36 a year, or approximately $2.20 a month--the cost of a large coffee. Farmland owners would pay an additional 21 cents per acre per year.

Isn't this the wrong time to raise taxes?

There never seems like a good time to invest in the green infrastructure. There will always be another building to build, another road to build. We have to invest in our quality of life in a percentage of the way we invest in our growth. Johnson County will add 29,000 residents in the first 20 years of this century. This growth is gobbling up large junks of land. We must start identifying areas for green space, for conservation and setting them aside for future generations.

A better question might be what is the cost of inaction?

We can see by terrible flooding this year, the cost of inaction. We've torn up the prairies, drained the wetlands and replaced them with miles of pavement, roofs, and row crops. Then we wonder where the snow melt and rains go. As we know after this summer they go into our homes, business, and yards. It's time to put some wetlands back where they belong and out of our front yards. Small natural watershed protections can have enormous benefits.

The only better time to invest in natural watershed flood protection and clean water would have been 15 years ago after the last big flood. One thing is certain the cost of inaction will be much more expensive than $2 or 3 dollars a month.

Many people move to Johnson County for our quality of life. Our quality of life is not a stagnant target. We must continue to invest in it in proportion with our growth. No one has ever moved to a community or brought a business there because the county had a great big new jail. If we have needs for future construction and growth, one way to pay for them is to grow our tax base by making Johnson County an even better place to live.

What does the actual ballot say?

"Shall the County of Johnson, State of Iowa, be authorized to acquire and develop lands with public access provided, to be managed by the Johnson County Conservation Board, in order to protect the water quality in rivers, lakes and streams; protect forests to improve air quality; protect natural areas and wildlife habitat from development, and provide for parks and trails, at a cost not exceeding $20,000,000 and issue its general obligation bonds in an amount not exceeding $20,000,000 for that purpose, to be repaid in not more than 20 years? All expenditures will be subject to an annual independent audit."

Is there a plan?

The County Conservation Board is creating an additional strategic plan (adding to their current plan) for conservation should this initiative pass. They have already had five public input sessions throughout the county and have had several planning sessions. The meetings are open to the public and input is welcome. They must vote on acquiring land and those land purchases also must be approved by the County Board of Supervisors, thereby creating several layers of transparency.

The public and conservation board are very concerned about water quality, watershed protections, and natural flood prevention. Wetlands, buffer strips, prairies have multiple beneficial qualities. There is also an interest in buffering existing parks, such as Kent Park, Hills Access, etc. Two trail corridors have already been identified -- Solon to Ely to tie into the Linn County Trails that connect to Cedar Falls (eventually tied to North Liberty and Iowa City) and Tiffin to Kent Park (which will eventually tie Coralville to the Amana Colonies).

Why don't they know specific lands that they will purchase?

They do know the two trail corridors that are already identified. The County doesn't know what lands will become available for sale in the coming year. Please remember that land will not be condemned. That means the land owner has to be willing to sell, sell below market value, or donate land. A previous ballot issue created Kent Park. But the County is unlikely to create a big park. Because big parks take an enormous amounts of money to develop and annual maintenance budgets. We can get a lot more beneficial water protection and natural areas if we acquire property in strategic areas. Any land along a river, lake or stream is of interest; any land abutting existent green space; any land that has unique natural features or original prairie remnants; any land that connects green areas. It is impossible to identify specific land when we just don't know what will become available over twenty years.

This is not dissimilar to school issues, when we know we are bonding to build schools, but we don't know the specific location. In this case we know we are voting to build more wetlands, prairies, woodlands and trails, but the specific locations will need to have some flexibility, but will be subject to public meetings and votes by the board.

Don't taxes just keep going up?

This is happening in part because we are a growing community, and previous elected officials didn't invest enough in our infrastructure. However, this issue is a little bit different because you actually get a vote on whether or not to tax yourself for a particular issue. By voting you send your elected officials a message about the priorities you have in spending. In this case, we get to tell our government how we want to spend our money. By voting for conservation, we also send a message as to what is important to us. But, the added benefit is that by investing in our environment and our quality of life, we can actually contribute to growing our tax base by making Johnson County an even better place to live and work.

Will this fix the Iowa and Cedar Rivers, climate change, etc.?

No, but we have to start somewhere. We've seen the costs of inaction and we continue to see it every day in the local and world news. It is easy to talk about climate change, clean water and cleaner environment, more outdoors time, but is another to get started. Johnson County can lead by example and start cleaning up our part of the world. Others will follow and increase their current efforts. If we don't start somewhere, we sure won't make the world healthier by just talking. Major change starts with the first step and in this case a little investment of your own money.

Who supports this initiative?

Over 460 individuals, 12 elected officials, 24 organizations, and 19 businesses have added their names as public supporters of this initiative. Additionally, hundreds of others have taken yard signs, donated money or volunteered. The Iowa City Press Citizen and Daily Iowan have also endorsed this initiative. We welcome more individuals, elected officials, businesses and organizations to be added to the list which will be publicly advertised.

Elected Officials

Joe Bolkcom, State Senator
Amy Correia, Iowa City Council
Bob Dvorsky, State Senator
Tom Gill, Coralville City Council
Vicki Lensing, State Representative
Mary Mascher, State Representative
Kim Painter, County Recorder
Dave Parsons, Soil & Water Conservation District Commissioner
Kelley Putman, Soil & Water Conservation District Commissioner
Rod Sullivan, Board of Supervisors
Ross Wilburn, Iowa City Council
Mike Wright, Iowa City Council


1,000 Friends of Iowa
AFSCME Local 12
Backyard Abundance
City Federation of Labor
Democracy for America Johnson County Chapter
Environment Iowa
Friends of Hickory Hill Park
Friends of Iowa River Scenic Trails
Iowa Bicycle Coalition
Iowa City Area Group of the Sierra Club
Iowa Coalition of Off Road Riders
Iowa Environmental Council
Iowa Native Plant Society
Johnson County Democrats
Johnson County Green Party
Johnson County Heritage Trust
Johnson County Trail Foundation
League of Women Voters of Johnson County
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Songbird Project
UI Democrats
UI Environmental Coalition
Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City-Green Sanctuary Committee


Diary Queen on Market
Linn Street Cafe
Motley Cow
New Pioneer Food Co-op
Northside Book Market
OM +1
Prairie Lights
Radiologic Medical Services
Real Compact Discs and Records
Red Avocado
Russ' Northside Service
Rusty's Records
Simply for Giggles
Third Eye Jewelry
World of Bikes

Who opposes this initiative?

Despite our efforts to reach out to them and make a presentation the: The Johnson County Republican Party and Farm Bureau voted to oppose this initiative without allowing us to present at their meetings.

The Flip No signs are also being funded by Tom Cardella, the owner of Thomas L. Cardella & Assoc., a telemarketing business in Coralville.

We find it disheartening that environmental protection, clean water, clean air, recreation and trails has turned into a partisan issue.

Many local Republicans are individually supportive of this initiative, but the party is opposed.

What's the bottom line?

This fall, voters in Johnson County can do something on the local level that will make an impact on today--and for future generations. This could be the most important local environmental, conservation, recreation, and trails measure of our generation. It will provide money to protect our drinking water sources; the water quality of local rivers, lakes, streams; the watersheds of the Iowa and Cedar Rivers; forests to improve air quality; natural areas from development; and to provide new recreational trails. This year's terrible flooding is precisely the reason we need additional investments in conservation. When we drain wetlands, tear up prairies, and pour miles of pavement, where can the snow melt and rains go? If there is anything we should learn from recent floods, it is that we need more wetlands, green belts around waterways and creeks, and more prairies and woodlands. We need to naturally slow water runoff and allow nature to clean our water. So please flip the ballot over and vote yes.

How can I help?

When you vote this fall, please FLIP the ballot over and vote YES for clean water, clean air, conservation, recreation and trails. To find out more about this initiative, please contact us:;; 319-330-5587.

1) Vote
2) Forward this to everyone you know in Johnson County
3) Help us October 25, 26, November 1 and 2 as we conduct a countywide viability campaign waving signs and walking door to door. Can you give us 1, 2 or 3 hours any of those days between 9 am and 5 pm?
4) Contribute money to fund advertising. Our opponents have purchased $5,000 of radio ads on one station and $3,000 in newspaper ads in just the last few days. We do not have the money to compete, so any contribution is helpful.

Thank you

Citizens for Our Land, Water and Future
PO Box 5125
Coralville, IA 52241
319-330-5587 cell
Donations by mail or on-line here:

Wellmark to Be Only State Insurance Provider

Iowa's Executive Council (which consists of the Governor, Auditor, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of State, and Treasurer) and voted 3-2 to give monolithic insurance-provider Wellmark a monopoly for state government employees.

According to the Chicago Tribune, "Under the plan, employees beginning Jan. 1 won't be able to choose plans offered by United HealthCare, and will have to select those offered by Wellmark.

Supporters say the change will save the state as much of $9.5 million in 2009 and possibly that much in 2010.

Opponents say thousands of workers will be left with fewer options. They also cast doubt on the savings projections, saying Wellmark could increase rates in the last year of the two-year agreement."

The story below from Iowa Politics.

Wellmark will be state government's only health insurance provider come Jan. 1, following a 3-2 decision today by the Iowa Executive Council to eliminate United Healthcare and make Iowa the eighth state in the nation to only offer one health insurance provider to its employees. It would cost $75,000 for the state to put the issue out to bid, and that is not expected to happen now until January 2010.

"If it's working for the state, why bid it?," asked Ed Holland of the Department of Administrative Services, who argued that the move to Wellmark would save families about $100 a month and the state up to $9.5 million next year. "They basically have 92 percent of our business right now. I don't think they're going to change tactics by getting another 2,500 contracts."

Gov. Chet Culver pushed for the change over the past few weeks and called for a vote on the issue three times today. "Any opportunity we have in government to find cost savings, I think we need to find it," he said. "I think this is an opportunity to save the taxpayers a significant amount of money."

All four members aside from Culver -- Republican Ag Secretary Bill Northey, Democratic Secretary of State Michael Mauro, Democratic state Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and Republican state Auditor David Vaudt -- made statements today against the proposal. They said they were nervous, uncomfortable and concerned about the decision, and described the process as "seriously flawed." However, despite their concerns, Vaudt and Fitzgerald switched their votes from last week and reluctantly joined Culver today in voting for the plan.

Ranking State Rep. Carmine Boal -R, Ankeny said, "If the state can lock in four years of health insurance increases at the 1.9 percent proposed by Wellmark for 2009, that's a great deal for the taxpayers and state employees. But if that rate only applies to 2009 and we eliminate competition, where is the incentive for Wellmark to keep the cost to the taxpayer down?"

A Different Look at ACORN

We've all heard about innuendo swirling around ACORN, and usually in accusatory tones. Here's a different look by Brave New Film's Robert Greenwald.

A very important point, fudged voter registration forms do not equal voter fraud. Efforts to suppress the vote does equal election fraud.

MoveOn Says Get a Move On

From the folks at MoveOn


1. The polls may be wrong. This is an unprecedented election. No one knows how racism may affect what voters tell pollsters—or what they do in the voting booth. And the polls are narrowing anyway. In the last few days, John McCain has gained ground in most national polls, as his campaign has gone even more negative.

2. Dirty tricks. Republicans are already illegally purging voters from the rolls in some states. They're whipping up hysteria over ACORN to justify more challenges to new voters. Misleading flyers about the voting process have started appearing in black neighborhoods. And of course, many counties still use unsecure voting machines.

3. October surprise. In politics, 15 days is a long time. The next McCain smear could dominate the news for a week. There could be a crisis with Iran, or Bin Laden could release another tape, or worse.

4. Those who forget history... In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote after trailing by seven points in the final days of the race. In 1980, Reagan was eight points down in the polls in late October and came back to win. Races can shift—fast!

5. Landslide. Even with Barack Obama in the White House, passing universal health care and a new clean-energy policy is going to be hard. Insurance, drug and oil companies will fight us every step of the way. We need the kind of landslide that will give Barack a huge mandate.

If you agree that we shouldn't rest easy, please sign up to volunteer at your local Obama office by clicking here:

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Monday, October 20

The Economist Tells Why Iowa Will Be Blue in November

The not particularly progressive Economist says:

Iowa, according to most polls, is the swing state that has most definitively swung. In 2000 Al Gore won its seven electoral votes by 0.3 percentage points; George Bush won them by 0.7 points in 2004. But Barack Obama currently leads John McCain by about 12 points. The McCain campaign insists the race is closer than that, and Mr McCain visited the state on October 11th and twice in September. His efforts are unlikely to be enough.

It goes on to say there are three reasons why Obama is likely to win our state:

First, Iowa has been turning steadily to the left. In 2006 Democrats won majorities in the state House and state Senate. They also seized two congressional seats that had been held by Republicans since the 1970s.

Second, Mr Obama is beloved in Iowa. After he announced his candidacy in Illinois, he travelled immediately across the state border to campaign in Iowa. He returned again and again, often to hostile territory, and built a huge campaign machine.

The third factor helping Mr Obama is that he has diligently wooed rural voters; he has 50 offices in Iowa compared to Mr McCain’s 16. Last October he unveiled a rural strategy, which includes encouraging young farmers, supporting rural businesses and improving rural health care.

Robo-VP Flip-Flopper on Robo-Calls?

Sarah Palin yesterday kind of has had it with robo-calls "If I called all the shots and if I could wave a magic wand I would be sitting at a kitchen table with more and more Americans, talking to them about our plan to get the economy back on track and winning the war, and not having to rely on the old conventional ways of campaigning that includes those robocalls, and includes spending so much money on the television ads that I think is kind of draining out there in terms of Americans' attention span." You betcha.

But, and also, it looks like VP-wanna-be S.P. was for robocalls before she was against 'em. Golly, cheese and crackers!

TPM reports

F**K The Vote: Company Working for Republicans Switches Party Registrations

Turns out that ACORN is not the only group under suspicion of fooling around with voter registrations. The difference here is that these are already registered voters. Yikes!

Under the auspices of having California-registered voters sign a petition for tougher penalties against child molesters, registered Democrats had their party affiliation changed without their knowledge or were told they had to switch parties to sign the petition by a group called YPM (Young Political Majors), who were working for the California Republican Party.

In a case of voter bait-and-switch scheme known to election experts, YPM has been accused of using the tactic across the country.

According to the LA Times, "Election officials and lawmakers have launched investigations into the activities of YPM workers in Florida and Massachusetts. In Arizona, the firm was recently a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit. Prosecutors in Los Angeles and Ventura counties say they are investigating complaints about the company."

While it is true that voters can still vote for whomever they want in the presidential race, those who were formerly Democrats may not receive phone calls and literature from that party, and may be left out of get-out-the-vote efforts. Also, they will only get a Republican ballot in the next primary election if they do not switch their registration back before then.

According to the times,
"Some also report having their registration status changed to absentee without their permission; if they show up at the polls without a ballot they may be unable to vote.

The Times randomly interviewed 46 of the hundreds of voters whose election records show they were recently re-registered as Republicans by YPM, and 37 of them - more than 80% - said that they were misled into making the change or that it was done without their knowledge.

It all sounds familiar to Beverly Hill, a Democrat and the former election supervisor in Florida's Alachua County. About 200 voters -- mostly college students -- were unwittingly registered as Republicans there in 2004 by YPM staffers using the same tactic, Hill said.

"It is just incredible that this can keep happening election after election," she said."

More here.

Update: Another story a little closer to home for the McCain campaign from Huffington Post via Truthout.

And if you haven't already crawled into a hole and wished the election were over by now, here's this little joykill from Mother Jones.

Playing With Matches
Four states—Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, and South Dakota—only let residents register if their Social Security or driver's license numbers can be matched with entries in a state database. If you register as "Bill" but the database says "William," or if a data-entry clerk sticks a typo in your name or birth date, tough luck.

sleaze meter: 3 Incompetence may be bipartisan, but critics argue that there will be more typos in the names of Hispanics, immigrants, and black women.

McCain, Palin Call Bank Bailout Not "Socialism"

While beating Barack Obama over the head for saying that increasing taxes for those over $250,000 to allow those earning less to get tax relief(after eight years of paying for the top %5's tax break) is akin to socialism, both John McCain and Sarah Palin refuse to concede that it is more socialistic to hand over $750 to $850 billion in taxpayer dollars to banks, automotive manufacturers, and insurance companies.

"I believe that there are those measures that had to be taken by Congress to shore up not only the housing market but the credit markets -- also to make sure that that's not frozen -- so that our small businesses have opportunities to borrow. And that was the purpose, of course, and that part of the bailout and the shoring of the banks," Palin said. So, to allow small businesses (aka Mom and Pop businesses) to borrow money, we have to make Mom and Pop pay for bailing out the banks they need to borrow money from? I don't know if that is socialism, but it sure is a bizarre form of a free market.

McCain said, "That's the reason why we have governments, to help those who need help, who can't help themselves, and in a time of crisis, to step in and do what's necessary to preserve the lives and futures of innocent people. It wasn't Main Street America that caused this; it was Washington and Wall Street." And yet, it is Main Street that is paying for Wall Street. If it walks like socialism, and talks like socialism, it must be socialism?

The fact is that McCain and Palin represent a viewpoint that says it's okay for the wealthy to get richer by taking it from the rest of us, whereas Obama and others believe its fair to ask the wealthy to pay their share. After eight years of Paul robbing Peter, isn't it time that Pete caught a break?

Sunday, October 19

Read All About It: Obama Endorsed 3 to 1 Over McCain

Update: 10/20: P&E reports newspaper endorsements; Obama 115, McCain 38

Editor and Publisher keeps an ongoing tally about which newspapers are endorsing which candidates. As a frame of reference, by E & P's count, John Kerry barely edging George W. Bush in endorsements in 2004 by 213 to 205. At the moment, the count stands at 94 endorsements for Barack Obama and 28 for John McCain. At the moment only the "trendsetting" Storm Lake Times has made an endorsement in Iowa--for Barack Obama.

Note: in parentheses, the paper's endorsement in 2004 of Bush or Kerry). As of 10/19/08

94 daily newspapers total
Over 10 million circulation (we are still counting)


Tuscaloosa News (K):

Arkansas Times (K): 34,000

The Argus (Fremont) (K): 26,749
Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek) (K): 183,086
Daily Breeze (Torrance)
Daily Review (Hayward) (K): 30,704
The Fresno Bee (K): 150,334
La Opinion (Los Angeles) (K): 114,892
Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Times (N/A): 773,884
Marin Independent-Journal (K)
The Modesto Bee (K): 78,001
The Monterey County Herald (K): 28,933
Oakland Tribune (K): 96,535
Pasadena Star-News (B)
The (Stockton) Record (B): 57,486
The Sacramento Bee (K): 288,755
San Bernardino Sun (B): 54,315
San Francisco Chronicle (K): 370,345
San Jose Mercury News (K): 234,772
San Mateo County Times (K): 25,982
Santa Cruz Sentinel (K): 23,290
Tri-Valley Herald (B): 29,759

Cortez Journal (K): 6,700
The Denver Post (B)
The Durango Herald (K): 8,870
Gunnison Country Times (N/A): 4,000
Ouray County Plaindealer (K): 3,000

The Washington Post (K): 673,180

Daytona Beach News-Journal
Miami Herald (K):
Naples Daily-News (B)
Orlando Sentinel (K):
Sarasota Herald-Tribune (K)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (K)

Honolulu Star-Bulletin (K): 64,305

Idaho Statesman (K):

Chicago Tribune (B): 541,663
Chicago Sun-Times (K):
Daily Herald (Arlington) (K)
Rockford Register (K)
Southwest News-Herald (K)

The Storm Lake Times (K): 3,200

Lexington Herald-Leader (K)

Bangor Daily News (K)
Brunswick Times-Record (K)

The Boston Globe (K): 350,605
The Standard-Times (New Bedford) (K): 30,306

Detroit Free Press (K):
The Muskegon Chronicle (K): 41,114

Columbia Daily Tribune
Kansas City Star
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (K): 255,057

Concord Monitor (K)
Nashua Telegraph (K)

Las Cruces Sun-News (B)
Santa Fe New Mexican (K): 25,249

Las Vegas Sun (K)

Buffalo News (K)
The Daily News (B)
el Diario: 53,856

Asheville Citizen-Times (K): 50,160
Durham Herald-Sun
News & Observer (Raleigh) (K)
Wilmington Star-News (K)

Akron Beacon-Journal (K):
The (Toledo) Blade (K): 119,901
Dayton Daily News (K): 116,690
The (Canton) Repository (B): 65,789
Springfield News-Sun (K): 24,684
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

Register-Guard (Eugene) (K):
Mail Tribune (Medford) (K): 30,349
The Oregonian of Portland (K)
Yamhill Valley News-Register

The Express-Times (Easton) (B): 44,561
Philadelphia Inquirer (K):
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (K): 214,374

Chattanooga Times (K): 71,716
The Commercial Appeal (Memphis) (K): 146,961
The (Nashville) Tennessean (K): 161,131

Austin American-Statesman (B)
Houston Chronicle (B)
The Lufkin Daily News (K): 12,225

The Salt Lake Tribune (B):

Burlington Free Press (K)

Falls Church News-Press (K): 30,500

The Columbian (B): 44,623
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (K): 129,563
The Seattle Times (K): 220,883
Yakima Herald-Republic (B)

The Charleston Gazette (K): 48,061
Huntington Herald-Dispatch (K)

The Capital Times (Madison) (K): 16,335
Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) (B): 87,930

28 newspapers total
About 2.5 million daily circulation (we are tabulating)

Bakersfield Californian (B)
Napa Valley Register: 16,283
The San Francisco Examiner (B): 80,000
San Diego Union-Tribune (B)

Mountain Valley News (Cedaredge): 2,000
The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction) (B): 31,349
The Pueblo Chieftain (B): 49,169

The Washington DC Examiner (N/A): 100,073

Tampa Tribune

The Baltimore Examiner (N/A): 50,000

Boston Herald (B): 182,350
The (Lowell) Sun (B): 44,439

Foster’s Daily Democrat (B): 22,547
Union Leader (Manchester) (B): 51,782

Las Vegas Review (B)

New York Post (B): 702,488

Columbus Dispatch (B)
The (Findlay) Courier (B): 22,319

Amarillo Globe-News (B): 44,764
Beaumont Monitor
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Dallas Morning News (B):
San Antonio Express-News
Wharton Journal Spectator
Wichita Falls Times Record

The Daily Press (Hampton Roads) (K)

(Spokane) Spokesman-Review (B): 89,779

Wheeling News-Register (B): 12,821

Friday, October 17

Ed Fallon Asks For Support...For Other Progressives

From I'M Iowa founder and lead accordionist, Ed "Grammarian" Fallon

I’ve lived half a century and can say sincerely that this is the most critical election in my lifetime. I’m excited about Obama for a number of reasons, especially his rejection of PAC and lobbyist money. I asked Obama’s Iowa campaign about making a plug for donations, and they suggested Lynn and I focus instead on encouraging support for Iowa legislative candidates.

Wow! How often does that happen? A political candidate encouraging supporters to donate to other candidates! In an election of firsts, for me that’s also a first.

So, if you haven’t yet donated to the legislative candidates who have made campaign finance reform a top priority, please choose one or more and make a contribution today. Let’s show that Iowans want to reduce the influence of money in politics by backing candidates who have the guts to say “NO” to special interests in their campaigns.

HD 14:&nb sp; MARK KUHN, Floyd and Mitchell counties.

HD 16: JOHN BEARD, Winneshiek and Allamakee counties.


HD 47: SUE TEMERE, Dallas County.

HD 50: LYNNE GENTRY, Calhoun, Greene and Webster counties.

SD 14: PAM JOCHUM, Dubuque. Send a check to People for Pam Jochum, 2368 Jackson St, Dubuque 52001.


Ed Fallon

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Oh Hell No, Ohio!

Once again, the Buckeye State finds itself in the midst of a pickle, this time not because votes haven't been counted, but because of voter registration problems. And this time it is going to the US Supreme Court before the election to decide what to do.

Truthout and the The Washington Post reports:

As many as 200,000 votes in the pivotal state of Ohio could be at stake in a legal battle between Republicans and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, and Ohio officials have appealed to the Supreme Court to block efforts to turn aside a lower court order to alter procedures to check new voter registrations.

The battleground state already has become the setting for a series of lawsuits over voter eligibility. About 660,000 new voters have registered since January with an edge to Democrats.

Ohio's attorney general filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday night on behalf of Brunner, a Democrat. It contends that upholding a Tuesday decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit would create havoc on Election Day and cause many voters to cast "provisional" ballots that may or may not ultimately be tallied depending on judgments by local elections boards.

More here.

Updated: According to CNN
The Supreme Court is backing Ohio elections officials in an ongoing dispute over allegations of voter registration fraud.

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner filed the emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The justices in an unsigned opinion Friday blocked a lower court order directing the Ohio Secretary of State -- a Democrat -- to update the state's voter registration database after information provided by some newly registered voters did not match up with Social Security and driver registration numbers.

The state Republican party had asked for enforcement of a temporary restraining order, but the justices ultimately denied that request.

The appeal, from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and other elections officials, follows a Tuesday ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that sided with the state GOP.

It ordered Brunner to create a system by Friday to provide a list of newly registered voters whose Social Security numbers or driver's license numbers do not match their names. More.

League of Conservation Voters Vote In

The LCV votes on environmental issues have been tabulated and this is how our Iowa delegation stacks up:

Vote Scorecard: 110th, 2nd session

Scores for Iowa (Sorted by Last Name)


Senator State 110th, 2nd session Score
Charles Grassley (REP) IA 27%
Tom Harkin (DEM) IA 91%


Representative District 110th, 2nd session Score
Leonard Boswell (DEM) IA-3 85%
Bruce Braley (DEM) IA-1 92%
Steve King (REP) IA-5 0%
Tom Latham (REP) IA-4 23%
Dave Loebsack (DEM) IA-2 92%

Good job D's, tsk, tsk R's.

Thursday, October 16

Bicyclists to Get a Tax "Brake"

One of the sweeteners from the bailout bill that some will appreciate was highlighted on the Ode magazine website.

With gas prices high, many commuters have downgraded from four wheels to two and started riding bikes to work. To help these commuters, Congress passed the Bicycle Commuter Act, which will make bikers eligible for a $20-a-month tax-free reimbursement from their employers for bicycle-related expenses beginning in January.

The League of American Bicyclists say they have been pushing for this legislation for about seven years. Now, the organization is obtaining guidance from the IRS about how employers can set up this type of program.

Plumbing the Depths for Truth About Taxes

If I were to tell you that I had an idea that would help out you and 95% of other people and would only negatively affect 5% of the people who I had helped out for years before that (at the expense to you and the other 95%, I might add), You'd probably be okay with that, wouldn't you? Heck, you might even think it was about time that you caught a break.

Now, what if I were to tell you that same idea would help 98% of people like you and only hurt 2%, how would you feel about that? Oh, and there's money in it for you, if you go along with the idea.

"What's the idea," you ask? The tax plan offered up by Barack Obama. It would help 95% of all Americans pay the same or fewer taxes and the same plan as it applies to 98% of all small business people. But you don't have to take this blogger's word for it, check this out.

Under Obama's plan, Joe the Plumber and Joe Six Pack can sleep tonight knowing that his plan to buy any business that nets under $250,000 a year won't be affected by Obama's tax plan. And do you know how it works? Making folks pay into the system who have been given breaks and have figured out the loopholes to avoid paying their fair share.

Leveling the playing field, what a crazy idea!

Energy and Climate: A Comparison Worth Considering

In the end, people who are undecided should consider where folks stand on the issues that matter most to them. Grist does a good job of showing the differences between Barack Obama, John McCain, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and Bob Barr on energy and climate policy. Good job Grist.

Last Debate Proves McCain Doesn't Get It

Last night John McCain gave his most animated performance of the 2008 campaign season by trying to paint Barack Obama as being out of touch, overly eloquent, and untrustworthy. But there were three moments in the debate where even the most ardent McCain supporter would have wondered which planet he's on. When he said repeatedly that Barack Obama was trying to "spread the wealth around" with his tax proposals; you could almost hear the Joes (six pack, the plumber, etc.) saying what's wrong with me getting mine when Washington has been giving it to the top 5% for at least 8 years? McCain, it seems, confuses fairness for Socialism.

The second moment was when he raised up on his haunches and declared he is not George Bush and if Obama wanted to run against George Bush he should have done it 4 years ago. Other than the fact that McCain did run against Bush himself 4 years ago and had his hat handed to him, the facts support that McCain has supported Bush's policies more than 90% of the time. The danger of running in 2008 is that it is largely a referendum about the presidency under GWB. McCain, self-proclainmed maverick that he is, did his case no good when he ran back to Washington to get in on a photo opportunity when the bailout bill was being worked out. Like Bush, he has been in the wrong place at the wrong time too often (like taking the meeting with Charles Keating when the savings and loans were failing).

The last moment was when McCain said he would freeze the budget--period. How can anyone, in a time like we are in now, say that freezing the budget would solve the problems we have? Barack Obama got it right, you reallocate monies in the budget to address the needs that are most pressing. But this type of all or nothing thinking shows the limitation of John McCain, he can't seem to more than one thing at a time.

Barack Obama gets it. He showed tough resolve, restraint, and avoided taking the gotcha pot-shot last night. He spoke clearly about how the economy, energy policy, the courts, and education would be better served by his presidency. John McCain demonstrated that "straight talk" doesn't always turn out to be sensible talk. The American public needs a president who makes sense.