Monday, January 29, 2007

Hillary, the Prof and the Leak

I admit, I didn't know what to do with it. First, a little background on our television cameras. Typically, our cameras use two different audio channels. One channel picks up the "natural sound", the background noise, in a room. The other picks up sound from the microphone hooked up to our person.

Guess what? When we turned off the one channel to hear our "person", we could hear her singing. Yes, Hillary Clinton, the candidate for prez herself, was singing the national anthem. And it wasn't pretty. Far from it, actually. Off key? No, that would probably be too kind (I sympathize. I used to play a pretty mean trumpet, but I've never been much of singer). No offense, Senator.

Question was, what do we do with it? Is it news that the former First Lady is somewhere between Roseanne Barr and the Singing Senators on the scales? We decided not to use it. Someone else opted to post in on You Tube. As I write this, it's had nearly 800,000 hits. Interesting.

For months, people speculated what Tom Vilsack would do when his term as Governor of Iowa wrapped up. Here's the release from Drake University...


Drake University Law School announced today the appointment of former Iowa Gov. and current Democratic presidential candidate Tom Vilsack as visiting distinguished professor of law for the 2007 calendar year.

"Governor Vilsack has been a thoughtful and knowledgeable voice on issues of importance at the local, state, regional and national levels," said Drake University President David Maxwell. "We are very grateful for his willingness to share his knowledge, expertise and experience as a member of the Drake University community, and we are excited to have him with us."
Along with Neil Hamilton, Drake’s Dwight D. Opperman distinguished professor of law, Vilsack will teach a May interim course focusing on legal issues relating to rural development and renewable energy. The course will consider policies being proposed for the 2007 Farm Bill as well as current state and USDA rural development programs.

Vilsack will give the keynote address at Drake Law School’s Supreme Court Celebration on Saturday, March 10. He will also convene a major symposium on risk and responsibility in the 21st century this spring and present a public lecture next fall.

"Drake Law School recognizes in Gov. Vilsack a distinguished and outstanding lawyer, leader and public servant. With his demonstrated record of leadership and broad background and experience in private practice and public service, he will enrich the learning experience of Drake for students and all of us. We are delighted to have him join us," Law School Dean David Walker said.
Vilsack will be in residence at the Law School for several days throughout the year to engage in the life of the Drake community through informal meetings with faculty and students. "I’m very proud to be part of Drake University and the Law School," Vilsack said. "It’s a great university, and it’s a great law school. I look forward to teaching, to meeting with faculty and students there, and simply being part of life at Drake."

So, is he expanding his classroom or just preparing for his next chapter?

And, finally...

"The Pipe's Revenge " brought an unexpected sequel to the Statehouse Monday. Early indications are the same area of pipe has burst for the second time and sent an unwanted waterfall cascading from the third floor to the second floor to the first floor.

We wondered what was happening. The fire alarm sounded twice or so about 11a.m. Then, a few minutes later, it started up again and kept going. Everyone slowly, very slowly, evacuated the building. After about 20 minutes, we were allowed to go back inside. By the time we made it to the Chief Clerk's office on the second floor, the water was gushing in. Speaker Pat Murphy and others were grabbing what they could to get things away from the water. It's a mess inside, but it doesn't look as bad as it did two years ago.
The building had a similar leak on Christmas Eve, 2004. When that happened, no one was around. The water flowed for hours. This time, workers caught it early and turned off the water. No estimates on damage yet. But more than one legislator I talked with was extremely miffed this has happened a second time. Who's to blame...the private contractor or the Dept of Administrative Services? No word yet.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Marvin Makes His Mark, Again

Come save us, Marvin Middlemark. Perhaps that water-powered potato peeler he invented isn't the reason we eat so many fries. But his other major invention is the reason many of us are watching football these days. Mr. Middlemark invented the rabbit ears, the only things, besides the dish, that allow 250,000 Mediacom cable customers to watch their local Sinclair-owned television station right now. Drake Journalism Professor Janet Keefer gave Mr. Middlemark his props during her testimony before the Government Oversight Committee.

Lawmakers had few questions for her, actually I'm not sure they even asked a single question. Even she said she didn't know why she was there. Dr. Keefer did compare the feelings people may have for both Sinclair and Mediacom right now to what she recalls from recently seeing a movie about Hitler and his mother. Not quite sure what that meant. I don't want to guess. I'll have to see the movie.

Lawmakers did seem to come after the two men from Sinclair the most and the hardest. This clearly was a topic that hit a nerve for lawmakers. Sure, they've heard from plenty of people who all of a sudden this month can't watch one of the local channels they had been used to watching. But they're affected, too. And they let these executives know it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Not Much Space in this Presidential Place

2 parties, 56 candidates, (O.K., maybe not quite that many) = 1 crowded town. We did a quick check of the 2004 former Caucus headquarters for the presidentials in downtown Des Moines. Most are taken already and not by people who want to be our next prez. In years past, the campaigns didn't have much problem finding vacant office space downtown. But with all the growth, that's likely not the case this next time around. And, yes, the campaigns and not-quite-campaigns have already been calling for weeks about available real estate.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Next Strategery


Chet Culver brought few surprises with him to the stage at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines for his inaugural address...higher minimum wage, teacher pay to the national average, less dependency on foreign oil. But the former teacher did introduce a new word. The new Gov was praising former First Lady Christie Vilsack for all her work...

One other useless observation. What happened to, "raise your right hand and repeat after me"? Culver raised his left hand and put his right hand on the bible during his swearing-in ceremony. Does it matter? Nope. I called Becky Colton, executive asst. to the Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice. She said you can "solemnly swear" with either hand. Whew!...
Here's the full text...

Thank you. Thank you very much!

Today is the greatest honor of my life. I want to thank Iowans for their confidence, support and prayers. I also thank God for the many blessings in my life.

Chief Justice Ternus and members of the Court. Speaker Murphy and President Kibbie. Majority Leaders Gronstal and McCarthy. Minority Leaders Lundby and Rants. Members of the General Assembly. Distinguished guests including Governor Ray, Branstad and Senators Harkin and Dodd and to everyone who is here today. I am honored by your presence.

Lieutenant Governor Judge, thank you! Thank you for being my running-mate and my partner in this administration. I am very fortunate to have you by my side.

The people of Iowa will be well-served by your experience, passion, character and common sense.

To my fellow statewide elected officials, agency directors, and the thousands of dedicated state employees. Thank you.

Governor Vilsack and Christie, may God bless you and your family in the days ahead! I wish you all the best.

Christie, you have been a great first lady and your commitment to literacy will not be forgotten.

Governor, Thanks to you, the foundation has been laid and we have made real progress because of your outstanding leadership.

And, on behalf of the people of Iowa, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your eight years of hard work and dedicated service.

Also, thank you Lt. Governor Pederson and Jim Autry. You and your family brought grace and class to your important position.

To my family and friends who are here, many thanks for your loyalty and friendship.

To my parents, thank you for the guidance you give. I am a very fortunate and grateful son. I love you both very much. Dad, I especially want to thank you for the example you set for me.

I would also like to show my appreciation for my step mother, who has been a great influence on me.

And most importantly, thank you Mari, and my children, John and Clare. Thanks for your unconditional love and support. Words can not express my love for you. This will be an exciting new journey for us.

Finally, I want to thank the brave men and women of Iowa who are serving our nation in uniform. You make us all proud!

I love Iowa.

This "land between two rivers" is blessed with people of strong character; a history that is rich; and as the Native Americans who came before us said, "A Beautiful Land."

My fondest childhood memories are docked along the banks of the Mississippi River near McGregor. As a kid, I remember going out in my fishing boat, “Chet’s Charter,” and enjoying the magnificent surroundings.

Some of my ancestors settled north of there in 1863 and our family lived there for many years. We had a house on the bluff overlooking the river. When you look down the valley of the mighty Mississippi you get a real sense of the awesome landscape and vast history of our state.

The constant movement of the river also reminds us that things are changing all the time. It rises and falls, freezes and thaws, yet emerges strong and powerful, generation after generation!

Right now, Iowa is experiencing much the same change and with it comes the opportunity for a new era of greatness.

As some of you may have heard, once or twice, I was once a high school government and history teacher!

But I am also a student of history. In my classroom, I would remind my students of the ebbs and flows in our history.

As Iowans, I think we could do much worse than to learn from the lessons provided by those who have come before us.
Our state has always been a state of explorers and pioneers. Chief Black Hawk and the Native Americans taught us how to live off the land.

Marquette and Jolliet were the first Europeans to navigate the Mississippi River in 1673.

Following the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark made their famous expedition up the Missouri River along our state's western border.

These explorers were fearless! They faced many obstacles, but showed great courage in their pursuit.

Today, we should challenge ourselves to emulate their commitment to pushing the limits of discovery.

These visionaries were undaunted by the practical challenges of the day.

They were guided by: Their faith. Their hopes. And their dreams, even when no one gave them a map!

One of my heroes, President John F. Kennedy, also believed in the importance of exploration and in the relentless pursuit of a new frontier.

He challenged us to win the race to space, saying "We choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve; to organize and measure, the best of our energies and skills; because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."

Well, my fellow Iowans, this is our time!

It's our time to accept the challenge, to explore and discover Iowa's unlimited potential.

It's our time to win the race to become the energy capital of the world.

Let us invoke the lessons previous generations of explorers and leaders have taught us.

Let us all come together as one and lead our own “21st Century Iowa Expedition.”

There is an energy frontier open before us, and we must explore it immediately! America and the world are counting on us.
Simply put, we can't afford to duck this responsibility!

It's time for Iowa to become the Silicon Valley of the Midwest.

It's time to create the jobs of the future that will keep your children and my children here at home, where they belong.

It’s time to make the entire state of Iowa a laboratory so we remain on the cutting edge of all forms of renewable energy.

We will protect our precious environment: the land, lakes, rivers and streams we all love. However, with the right balance, we can harvest rewards beyond even our wildest imagination.

Our value-added opportunities allow us to take from the earth more than once because we are blessed with the best soil and the most productive farmers in the world.

In addition, we have a tradition of great scientists like Henry Wallace and Norman Borlaug, and a world-class education system that “nurtures” our homegrown talent.

We have already led the nation with ethanol and biodiesel. Now we must maintain that leadership. With the eyes of the world upon us, we must prepare for the next generation energy economy.

We will create an Iowa Power Fund to invest in and attract cutting edge research and development. This will ensure we can lead the way not only in alternative fuels but also in biomass, geothermal, wind and solar energy.

It’s time for Iowa to become the first state in the nation to declare energy independence!

We are already on our way!

Whether it's the production of soy lubricant in Waverly,

the development of a biorefinery in Emmetsburg,

the manufacturing of corn-based plastics in Clinton,

the wind storage project in Dallas County,

or the new biomass option of burning oat hulls in place of coal in Cedar Falls -- Iowa is on the frontier!

Our dreams of an amazing future, one of energy independence, prosperity and a quality of life second to none, are within our reach. I know we can turn our dreams into reality!

There is another important lesson we must take from those daring souls who have come before us. They understood the importance of working together to get the job done!

So, to the 150 dedicated Iowans who will serve in the 82nd General Assembly, I say this: may our inevitable disagreements reflect deep conviction but not contempt, honest difference but not divisiveness.

Let us work together in a sincere and inclusive way, to create "One Iowa." After all, we serve the same Iowans, they are counting on us, and this state's future belongs to all of us.
And, I want every Iowan to know, we need you!

It doesn't matter whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent. Whether you live in rural Iowa or urban Iowa. Whether you are a native Iowan or a new arrival. Young or old. What does matter is that we lock arms for the common good and tap our gold mine of potential.

Together, we will continue to move this great state forward!

However, to achieve this, we who serve, must remember, to respect the will of Iowans. They have spoken, and they expect results.

Iowans expect us to achieve our amazing potential in renewable energy.

They expect us to renew our commitment to educational excellence -- by expanding early childhood education -- getting teacher pay to the national average -- and making college more affordable.

They expect us to find a way to insure that every child has health care -- to save lives by increasing the tobacco tax -- and to give hope to the sick by lifting the ban on stem cell research.

They expect us to pay tribute to our seniors and veterans by showing them the dignity and respect they have earned.

Iowans expect us to find a way to honor and reward hard work by raising the minimum wage.

They expect us to find ways to support and encourage entrepreneurs and small business owners, the dreamers who create jobs across our state.

Iowans also deserve a government that reflects their values! They are right to expect us to be smart with a buck, and to balance our checkbook the same way they do.

And they are right to demand ethical, accountable and open government.

Iowans expect us to encourage, not shy away from, the diversity that has made us a better state. Governor Ray taught us that.

We should never tolerate hate, especially in the form of bullying and threats in the workplace or in our schools.

Finally, I believe we have an obligation to make the most of this important moment in Iowa history -- to explore and harness every bit of potential we have.

But a Governor can't do it alone. That's why today, I am asking for your help. Everyone has a role to play in our 21st Century Expedition.

On Monday, we will honor a great American, Dr. Martin Luther King, who led Americans into action when he said, "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love."

Well, Dr. King was right! Every single one of us can play an important role in this new expedition.

I care deeply about the challenges we face, but I have an even greater faith in Iowa's promise.

Let us work together to build “One Iowa” and in doing so, we will achieve the greatness we all know is possible.

So, as we go from here, let us always remember:

This is our time!

Much is expected of us,

And, our future is unlimited.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

You Didn't Write Him In

More news from the "didn't win the nomination front"... I just got this email from Ed Fallon...

Dear Friends,

For those of you who have been asking, "So, Ed. What are you going to do next?" . . . drum roll please! Out of the ashes of my gubernatorial campaign a phoenix arises. We’re calling it I’M for Iowa, which is an acronym for an Independence Movement for Iowa. Building on the resources that assembled during my campaign for governor, I’M for Iowa provides a new vehicle for me, my co-workers and YOU to continue to build a progressive majority in Iowa, one that puts people before profit.

In consultation with co-workers, friends and volunteers, we’ve come up with the following general goals:

(1) Work with Iowans across the state to develop the tools they need to address problems confronting them and their communities, particularly issues involving land, justice and poverty;

(2) Advocate for progressive legislative changes, particularly voter-owned clean elections (campaign finance reform), local control and universal health care;

(3) Continue to build the organizational base necessary for progressive candidates to succeed at running for office, and recruit and help elect candidates across the state;

(4) Through supporting local businesses and Iowa farmers, and through using more community- and environmentally-friendly technologies, set a personal example of the many ways in which individuals can lead lives that are more sustainable and truly independent; and

(5) Build the infrastructure needed to create a grassroots, democratic force that can become an Independence Movement for Iowa, and work in coalition with groups committed to these goals and ideals.

What does it mean to create an independence movement for Iowa? In the 1770s, America’s founders challenged the unjust economic policies of an illegitimate foreign power. In the 1890s, rural Midwesterners ignited a progressive populist movement to reclaim control of their lives and economies from moneyed interests grown greedy and corrupt.

In 2007, the growing power of corporate lobbyists, special interests and unresponsive politicians threatens the very foundations of our democracy. This threat demands a stronger, more politically engaged grassroots movement committed to the patriotic ideals upon which our nation was founded.. Across Iowa and across the nation, more and more of us are fighting to regain control of our lives, our government and our country.

I’M for Iowa – an Independence Movement for Iowa – is committed to developing a broad network of Iowans working for:

• Independence from special-interest campaign contributions.

o Instead, we want voluntary public financing of state and local elections, since the current system has turned our elections into auctions and many public officials into pawns of special interests.

• Independence from poverty, injustice and discrimination.
o Instead, we want a government that recognizes the value of Iowa’s diversity – both rural and urban – and invests in the basic services we all need to achieve our fullest potential, including education, health care, a clean environment, public safety and a balanced transportation system.
• Independence from fossil fuels and foreign oil.
o Instead, we want a diverse, renewable energy industry that emphasizes conservation and energy efficiency, one that is rooted in Iowa’s natural resources and controlled by Iowa farmers and entrepreneurs.

• Independence from government subsidies for big business, from risky ventures that waste our tax dollars while failing to deliver on promises of economic prosperity, and from national chains that exert a strangle-hold on our communities.
o Instead, we want a strong, locally-controlled, free-market economy whose businesses are owned and operated primarily by Iowans.

• Independence from government officials who operate without the public’s interest in mind, often behind closed doors, and with a lack of integrity and accountability.
o Instead, we want government that operates with transparency and a minimal amount of bureaucracy, and we want more concerned citizens who share these values to run for public office.

That’s a brief introduction to I’M for Iowa. We’d like your feedback.

Thank you for reading this letter. I’m excited about the potential that 2007 holds for moving Iowa forward on the road toward greater independence, sustainability and justice. I am eager to travel that road with you, and with the thousands of other Iowans who are fed up with the status quo, hungry for change and committed to doing something about it.


Ed Fallon

The Rev Gonna Work Your A@$ Up!

The Reverend Al Green sounds like he'll offer up some kind of entertainment at Chet Culver's Iowa One Gala Thursday night.

Here's what he told the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

"Oh yeah! We gonna work your ass up and down, boy! We gonna curl your hair all over, boy!’’ says Green, calling from his home in Memphis, Tenn. ‘‘My band has been doing this show for eight years, and they are just baaaaaad! They’re TIGHT! Tight, tight, tight, tight, tight. TIGHT!"

Wikipedia lists the Rev's career highlights:


Back Up Train (1967)
Green Is Blues (1969) # 19 US
Al Green Gets Next to You (1971) # 58 US
Let's Stay Together (1972) # 8 US
I'm Still in Love with You (1972) # 4 US
Call Me (1973) # 10 US
Livin' for You (1973) # 24 US
Al Green Explores Your Mind (1974) # 15 US
Al Green Is Love (1975) # 28 US
Al Green's Greatest Hits (1975) # 17 US, # 18 UK
Full of Fire (1976) # 59 US
Have a Good Time (1976) # 93 US
The Belle Album (1977) # 103 US
Al Green's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1977) # 134 US
Truth N' Time (1978)
The Lord Will Make a Way (1980)
Higher Plane (1981)
Tokyo Live (1981)
Precious Lord (1982)
I'll Rise Again (1983)
The Christmas Album (1983)
Trust in God (1984)
He is the Light (1985)
White Christmas (1986)
Soul Survivor (1987) # 131 US
Hi Life - The Best of Al Green (1988) # 34 UK
I Get Joy (1989)
Love is Reality (1992)
Gospel Soul (1993)
Your Heart's in Good Hands (1995)
Don't look back (1997)
Take Me to the River (compilation) (2000) # 186 US
Feels Like Christmas (2001)
Love - The Essential Al Green (2002) # 18 UK
I Can't Stop (2003) # 53 US
The Love Songs Collection (compilation) (2003) # 91 US
Everything's OK (2005)

[edit] Hit singles
1971 "Tired of Being Alone" # 11 US, # 4 UK
1972 "Let's Stay Together" # 1 US, # 7 UK
1972 "I'm Still in Love with You" # 3 US, # 35 UK
1972 "Look What You Done for Me" # 4 US, # 33 UK
1972 "You Ought to be with Me" # 3 US
1973 "Call Me (Come Back Home)" # 10 US
1973 "Here I am (Come and Take Me)" # 10 US
1974 "Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)" # 7 US, # 20 UK
1974 "Let's Get Married" # 32 US
1974 "Livin' for You" # 19 US
1975 "L-O-V-E (Love)" # 13 US, # 24 UK
1975 "Full of Fire" # 28 US
1977 "Keep Me Cryin'" # 37 US
1988 "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" (with Annie Lennox) # 9 US, # 28 UK
1989 "The Message is Love" (Arthur Baker and The Backbeat Disciples featuring Al Green) # 38 UK
1993 "Love is A Beautiful Thing" # 56 UK

Blouin is Out

Call it the worst kept secret at the Iowa Statehouse...Mike Blouin's headed out as Director of the Iowa Dept. of Economic Development. Blouin moves to Dubuque to take over the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation.

Monday, January 08, 2007


I got this news release today, January 8, 2007.

Dr. Selden Spencer, a neurologist from Huxley, Iowa, today announces the formation of a committee to evaluate a second bid for Iowa's 4 th District Congressional seat.

"I am seriously considering another run at the seat currently held by Tom Latham," said Spencer. "My motivation in the face of our country's problems remains strong. We all must keep hopeful that the mistakes of the past can be addressed, but we must do our part here. There is no more immediate and practical thing we can do here in Iowa's Fourth District than to replace our current representative.

"Today I am announcing that a committee has agreed to work with me as we begin the process of making the 4 th District a Democratic voice in Washington." Members of the committee include: John Norris, Sandy Opstvedt, Dr. Robert Gitchell, Debbie Gitchell, and Representative Berkley Bedell.

For more information and updates, you may go to

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Let's Session

10am on Monday...the democratic triple play is on. The 2007 Iowa legislative session begins.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


This crossed the Associated Press wires today...Oops!

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) -- According to the Mayo Clinic, former President Ford has had surgery today to replace his right hip.
A spokesman for the clinic -- in Rochester, Minnesota -- says the surgery was successful.

4 minutes and 46 seconds later, this came...

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) -- According to the Mayo Clinic, former President Bush has had surgery today to replace his right hip.
A spokesman for the clinic -- in Rochester, Minnesota -- says the surgery was successful. Bush is said to be undergoing physical therapy and is expected to be released Saturday.
Bush traveled to the clinic late Tuesday after attending the Washington funeral of former President Ford. Bush had his left hip replaced at the Mayo Clinic in 2000. His wife, Barbara, also had successful hip replacement surgery there in 1997.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Britney Showing up in Des Moines

Britney Spears? Organizers are thinking about jazzing up the Iowa Caucuses by trying to book some entertainment types. One suggested someone like Britney. Will there be clothing requirements or would that take away from the "show"?

Here's the message she posted on her website (No, honey, I don't usually read this)
Sorry, it's a little hard to read