Sunday, November 30, 2008

Obama and Clinton; Rosie's Gone Again

Think back two years ago... did you really imagine Barack Obama as the country's next president and Hillary Clinton in his cabinet??? Seriously, who wouldathunkit? Will No Drama Obama be able to keep it no drama? Will Bill Clinton be able to stay out of the headlines during all of this? Were you surprised Hillary even wanted this? Will this end any presidential aspirations or will she try running eight years from now? So many questions to think about on a Sunday night.

We had a quite a road trip. We went to my parents in southern Illinois for the Thanksgiving holiday. I think it snowed virtually the entire drive back. But the great news...thanks to those work crews for getting expansions on Highway 63 (actually, thanks to my tax dollars, too, I suppose). But we could now bypass both Ottumwa and Fairfield. I think I saved at least a half hour of driving. Priceless.

And, who saw this looks like NBC already canned Rosie ODonnell's new show...after ONE episode! The promos about her show seemed to make fun of it before the show even started. They hardly made the show look like a winner. I have no idea why I just wrote about this. But, seriously, after ONE episode? Not that I saw it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tom Miller Staying in Iowa

Another Iowan isn't apparently loading up the U-Haul. Attorney General Tom Miller told the Des Moines Register he wants to stay here. Former Gov Tom Vilsack said a few days ago he wasn't moving east anytime soon. The announcements all come as Barack Obama's administration has been announcing who did get the jobs that will put them in his administration.

Did you see this out of Minnesota? And I thought it was only Senator Larry Craig who made bathroom news up there. Apparently, some Iowa Hawkeye fans got a little too fired up at the game last weekend. A security guard says he busted a man and a woman going at it in a stall in one of the bathrooms during the game. And supposedly a group of spectators were checking out the activity. But here's the best part... after their arrests, the man and woman were released...the man to his girlfriend, the woman to her husband. Those must have been some awkward conversations!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Barack Obama Economic Plan; Ties

Does anyone remember a president-elect getting so much attention and looking like he's planning on doing so much work BEFORE he takes office as Barack Obama? Is it just because of the mess this country is in right now? Is something just different this time around? Is it a combination of both? He wants Congress to have a stimulus package on his desk by the time he gets inaugurated. That would seem to put the pressure on everyone to make sure that happens. Perhaps, a recession does that.

We get hundreds of emails a day at our station. Hell, I get hundreds and not just about helping my "love skills". BTW, they don't need help. So quit sending them. Anyway...I thought you might want to see some of these from time to time (about other topics, I mean). Is the email that came today about a story we did? No. Is it about a vital issue affecting our community? No. It's about wardrobes. "Rowland B" sent this in today:


I'm pretty sure I do a half windsor. Fortunately, You Tube can help us all. Tie one on...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vilsack NOT U.S. Agriculture Secretary

Apparently, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack will not become the U.S. Ag Secretary. At least that's what he told the Des Moines Register. He told the paper Barack Obama's people never even talked to him about the job. Vilsack's name has been mentioned as a possibility for this post for weeks now. What made him come out now to say he was never a possibility? I'd ask him. But he never returned my message last week.

Speaking of messages, a friend sent this one (btw, I cleaned up a few letters). I thought it's fitting since we received our first snow...

A winter statistic


THE OTHER 2% ARE FROM IOWA AND THEY SAY, 'HOLD MY BEER AND WATCH THIS.' Another reason I love my native state ....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Smoking First Lady, The Young Governor, Money Problems and The Infinite Mind

Some quick thoughts before I head home for the night...

First, a reporter busts Iowa First Lady Mari Culver breaking the law and puffing away in the state-owned SUV the troopers use to drive her family. She doesn't get a ticket. A day later, she requests the ticket. She gets a ticket. Can you imagine the position the trooper has been in (providing this wasn't the First Lady's first offense)? You would assume he knew she was breaking the law. But how does he write the boss's wife a ticket?

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal makes his Iowa tour, first Cedar Rapids, then West Des Moines. He says he didn't come here for a "political speech". He probably isn't thinking about running for president either, right? He's only 37. I didn't realize he was that young.

Des Moines city leaders are considering laying off about 90 people. Their budget is short somewhere between $6 and $9 million for next year. Doesn't it seem like this happens every year? Why does the city always seem to need to make cuts and Polk County doesn't?

Have you heard this story about Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley calling out a popular public radio talk show host? Apparently, the concern is this host's infinite mind may not be thinking straight.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Budget Problems

Remember when Republican State Auditor Dave Vaudt kept warning state democratic leaders they were spending too much on this year's budget? There's word today Governor Chet Culver is asking department heads to help him come up with $40 million worth of cuts. But will those be enough?

Apparently, Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley's not a big fan of the way another congressman does business. Real Clear Politics says Braley gave an impassioned speech to help oust Michigan Rep. John Dingell from his House Energy and Transportation Committee post.

And Congress may come back early from vacation to work on the economy. Most people believe we're in a recession, the auto industry's out of gas, the stock market's tanked, there are layoffs everywhere. Wow. What a sacrifice for Congress to come back early. It will be interesting to see the public's view of Congress' democratic leadership. Much like they do in Iowa, Democrats have the triple play, both chambers of the legislative branch and the executive branch. What will Iowans/Americans think if these party leaders can't start to make lives better?

Jackie Norris, Michelle Obama's Chief of Staff

It looks like winning Iowa pays. The Washington Post reports Barack Obama's Iowa State Director Jackie Norris is headed to Washington to become Michelle Obama's chief of staff. Jackie had been a civics teacher at Johnston High School She's also held some influential positions in Iowa campaigns recently. She served as Al Gore's Iowa Political Director in 2000. Her husband, John, ran for Congress against Tom Latham in 2002. He's currently the director of the Iowa Utilities Board. I remember Jackie telling me about the immediate bond she felt with Barack, but especially with Michelle. Looks like that bond will only grow. Once again, Iowa shows just how important it is.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Automakers' Bailout

I asked Iowa's congressional delegation its feelings on the automaker bailout. Here are the responses, well, at least the candidates who gave me a response.

Dave Loebsack:
“The failure of the American automobile industry could jeopardize millions of jobs here at home and have a devastating impact on our already struggling economy. I support efforts to provide immediate, targeted assistance to prevent job loss, secure the pensions of long time workers, and require a restructuring of automobile companies. As global demand for more fuel efficient vehicles continues to grow, it is critical automobile manufacturers also use this opportunity to become the leaders in the development and production of these vehicles so we can create green manufacturing jobs here at home.”

Leonard Boswell:
“The failure of the auto industry in the country would have a tremendous ripple effect throughout the economy. There’s no question that reforms need to occur in the industry. However, with the unemployment rate now hovering around 6.5%, I don’t think we want to idly sit by. If the bailout allows for restructuring, reform and transparency, I would give it serious consideration.”

Bruce Braley:
Congressman Braley is open to an auto loan plan, provided the legislation contains strict oversight provisions to ensure that taxpayer money is being spent wisely. As you saw in his letter to leadership yesterday, Rep. Braley wants to make sure that oversight written into the last bailout package is followed through with. Likewise on an auto package.

Tom Latham:
Congressman Latham is reserving judgment until there is actual legislation to review.

Steve King:
“We need to stop spending billions upon billions in taxpayer money to bail out those who’ve made poor business decisions. As if the $700 billion bailout for the financial industry wasn’t bad enough, now Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid are going to completely disregard what few restrictions were placed upon the use of that money, bow to the demands of the auto unions, and send a big fat check to Detroit. We have several other automakers that have set up production lines here in the US. Automakers outside the Big Three make money at their US plants because they will not agree under threat of strike to gold plated benefits packages that would be destined to break their company. In the end, this bailout will only lead us down the path of having to entertain an endless number of requests from major players in every other sector of the American economy for similar aid.”

Tom Miller for Attorney General

I guess we can officially say the title before Tom Miller's name isn't about to get a location change. Some "insiders" were saying the Iowa Attorney General's early support for Barack Obama might get Obama to pick him for U.S. Attorney General. Not so much, as it turns out.

Talk continues to be strong, however, that former Iowa Gov Tom Vilsack could become the Secretary of Ag in Obama's administration. Sources with whom I've spoken say nothing is final yet. I think that means, at the very least, Obama hasn't offered the position to him. But who knows?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Republicans Fire Wieck, Bring in McKinley

No surprise here...but the party purge continues for Iowa republicans. Today, they voted out Ron Wieck as their leader in the senate. Paul McKinley takes over. McKinley said democrats took republicans' ideas in the last election and that's why they won. He said voters couldn't tell from tv commercials whether democrats running for office were democrats or republicans. He claims they ran on lowering taxes, reducing property taxes and "standard republican issues."

I asked why then did voters decide democrats would be better to carry out republicans' ideas than republicans. McKinley said republicans now just need to "enunciate clearly" on their message that appeals to Iowa voters.

He also pointed out that he feels senate republicans "did quite well given the circumstances" on election night. Repubs lost two seats overall in the senate. They now have just 18 out of 50. I believe that's the fewest ever.

Urbandale Leader Offered Job in Kansas

(Photo courtesy: Wichita Eagle)

Urbandale's City Manager Robert Layton looks like he's about to take on ten times the work. I wonder if he'll get ten times the pay. O.K., probably not. The Wichita Eagle newspaper says the city council there approved Layton to become that city's new city manager. Layton would oversee about ten times as many city employees and be responsible for about ten times the budget. Here's the story.

Braley Impatient with Pelosi?

Are Democrats getting a little impatient with Democrats right now on Capitol Hill? I just received a news release from Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley's office. Looks like he'd like his House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to get moving on the oversight part of that bailout, oh, I mean, rescue plan.

November 18, 2008

Braley Urges House Leadership to Finish Naming Members of Bailout Oversight Board
Board Established by Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in October

Washington, DC – Today Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House leaders urging them to finish naming members of a congressional oversight panel charged with overseeing the implementation of the $700 billion bailout package.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA), which became law in October, established a five-member panel with oversight authority over the $700 billion package. As of today, this panel has not met and some members have yet to be named.

A copy of Braley’s letter is attached to this message. The text of the letter is below:


November 18, 2008

Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Office of the Speaker
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
Office of the Majority Leader
H-107, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Minority Leader John Boehner
Office of the Minority Leader
H-204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, and Minority Leader Boehner,

Thank you for your leadership throughout the 110th Congress. As you know, we are facing an economic crisis as serious as any our nation has faced during my lifetime. While this crisis started on Wall Street, it now affects Iowans and Americans from all walks of life. We are all hopeful that the recently enacted Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) will have a significant impact on the recovery of financial markets.

Just last week, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced a change in course on how taxpayer funds from the EESA will be used to stabilize the economy. He stated that instead of buying troubled assets, Treasury would use the funds to invest in nonbank financial companies, and to promote consumer borrowing through credit cards, car loans, and student loans. As reported in the Washington Post on November 13, 2008, the Bush Administration has already committed $290 billion of the $700 billion rescue package.
With all that is going on, I am concerned that all of the members have not yet been nominated to the five-member Congressional Oversight panel, as designated by Section 125 of the EESA. As you know, the EESA included language that required the release of a detailed report from the congressional panel 30 days after the bailout program began. This deadline for this initial report has since passed. Additionally, the congressional oversight panel is supposed to issue a report on January 20, 2009, giving an update on the financial regulatory process. Since a congressional panel is not yet finalized, it is unclear as to whether this deadline can be met.

I strongly believe that the American people have a right to know how their taxpayer funds are being used by the Treasury, especially in light of the recent change in course on how to revitalize the economy. It is essential that Congress conduct vigorous oversight during this process. That is why I urge you to make it a top priority to complete the assembly of a Congressional Oversight Panel as soon as possible.

Thank you again for your leadership, and thank you for your attention to this issue. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


/s/Bruce Braley
Member of Congress

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

As I'm finishing off my leftover pot roast (thanks, honey!), I'm just chewing on a few goings-on (is that a word?).

Why can my former state of Missouri still not determine which presidential candidate won that state?

If Rudy Giuliani decides to run for president again, will he skip Iowa completely?

Mike Huckabee makes his return to Iowa this week. Will he really give up the lucrative world of writing books, giving speeches and hosting his own television show to run for president again?

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal makes his first Iowa voyage this week. Is there any chance he WON'T run for president?

A strange thing happened in the Des Moines tv world this week. Both main anchors went down. John Bachman and Kevin Cooney both stayed home sick the same night.

My mother-in-law won a 42 inch flat screen tv at the Tampa Bay Bucs game today. Does anyone have video of the dance she did after they posted her name on the stadium scoreboard? I'd pay big money!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Brownell for Congress

Do you think Polk County Supervisor Bob Brownell has higher aspirations? I didn't get a chance to post this before the election, but his website is still worth checking out. It looks like someone spent a lot of time and effort to put together a site for Brownell's re-election efforts for the November election. It shows "interviews" with Brownell talking about different subjects. Why do I bring this up? Brownell didn't have an opponent in the last election. Hmmm....

Here's the link:


This is my face, or at least it should be. Some pretty reliable (usually) tipsters told me about a new job for Barack Obama's former Iowa Communications Director Brad Anderson. There was an email that said he was headed to work for Carnival Cruises. I blogged about it earlier.

Kathie Lee Gifford, don't quit your day job. It turns out that email was a joke someone sent from Brad's Obama email account. Brad isn't leaving to go work on the high seas. Oops. He's returned to work at Link Strategies in Des Moines. My bad, Brad.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Palin to Iowa, Obama Aide to the High Seas

When can we expect to see Sarah Palin in Iowa? I mean, she's talking to everyone else, it seems. What network hasn't she been on this week to say...she loves John McCain, those expensive clothes weren't her idea, she can make Moose stew, etc. So when is our turn? If she wants to become President of the United States one day, she had better start paying attention to Iowa. Just ask Barack Obama. Better yet, ask Hillary Clinton. Maybe we'll ask Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal when they're here next week.

Speaking of Obama, his former Iowa Communications Director looks to be sailing off to a new adventure. Brad Anderson has told former co-workers he's going to work as a spokesman for Carnival Cruise Lines. I'd call him tonight to get his take on it, but it's late. And I don't want to be to blame for waking up the little ones:) Bon voyage, Brad.

Perhaps, he'll find this gig is available when he gets there.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Change at the Statehouse, Rants Out; Paulsen In

You can't quite call this a shocker. But Christopher Rants is no longer top dog for Iowa House Republicans. The former number two "R" in the house, Kraig Paulsen, beat out Rants to lead the party caucus today. It sounded like this was in the works for a while. And last Tuesday's election made three straight elections where Repubs lost strength in the house. That surely couldn't help Rants' cause. But did this really hurt Rants? As one Repub told me, "This gives Christopher more time to work on his campaign for governor." And Rants won't be saddled with the responsibility and potential blame from time to time of being in leadership. The next question is will Ron Wieck hold onto his position as the Repubs' leader in the senate? Or will Repubs decide the senate needs a swift kick of change, too? Conservative change.

Speaking of change... Barack Obama tapped into a network of donors this country's never seen before...make that, the WORLD has never seen before. Now the dems need you to pay the bills for going blue. And you can get a t-shirt!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Chicago, Obamatown, Oprah Dude

We spent the weekend (well, MY weekend, that is) in Chicago. No doubt that town has Obamamania. It's non-stop on the local news and in the papers. I couldn't tell you how many people I passed on the streets with Obama buttons or hats. The place is going crazy. But that's not the highlight of the trip. Check this out... Do you recognize him?

(Emily, Oprah Dude, me, My Mother-in-Law Bonnie)

It's the Oprah Dude. Sam Perry is his name, I believe. He's the California guy who volunteered for Obama and then during Obama's victory speech, he found himself as Oprah's leaning post. We ran into him at the Hilton Hotel where Obama held his first news conference after the election. Oprah Dude (He's "Mr. Man" to Oprah) was sitting at the hotel bar with a woman. She apparently wasn't his wife...we made that mistake.

In case you care about his fifteen minutes of fame... He said he was standing in the crowd and a bunch of people let Oprah move her way up to the front to hear Obama's speech Tuesday night. Oprah Dude said he offered to let her move ahead of him, but she declined. Instead, she started crying and leaned on him. Then, he got to be on her show the next day. It's a rough life to be Oprah Dude.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night

They were drinking the Kool-Aid big time at the Hotel Ft. Des Moines. The Democrats knew it was going to be a good night. They knew it was going to be a great night. But in the end, it may be that the Kool-Aid was flowing a little too much. They knew Barack Obama would win and win comfortably. He did. They knew Tom Harkin would win big. He did. Same with Leonard Boswell. No surprise. But Dems kept saying they thought Becky Greenwald would push Tom Latham in the 4th District. Not hardly. You have to wonder in this huge Democratic year, and they still didn't even come close to Latham? When would be the year, if this wasn't it?

As I write this at 12:17am, the Statehouse still isn't decided. But it definitely won't be what Governor Culver told us earlier in the evening. He predicted the Dems would pick up 5 in the house and 5 in the senate. Nope. There was concern for a while the house would go 50-50. That doesn't look like it will happen. But it appears as I write this, the Dems will be lucky to hold their margin in the house.

The Dems still had a really big night overall. But Iowa Republicans will be able to keep their chins up a bit. A bit. But the Kool-Aid sure tasted good.

Culver Predicts Gains

California has the terminator. Iowa has the predictor. Governor Chet Culver is working the room here at the Iowa Democratic Party's victory party headquarters (and, yes, I'd say it's fitting to use the word "party" twice in the same sentence) at the Hotel Ft. Des Moines. Here's his prediction:

Current Iowa House: Dems 53 Repubs 47
Governor's Election Night Prediction: Dems 58 Repubs 42

Current Iowa Senate: Dems 30 Repubs 20
Governor's Election Night Prediction: Dems 35 Repubs 15

Culver doesn't sound like he will be here for the duration of the night. He said he got an invite to Obama's huge party in Chicago. The Gov said he heard there may be a million people at that party. A MILLION!

Voting Lines

I meant to add this in a previous post, but it's probably worth doing separately. How long did it take you to vote today? I figure it took me about ten minutes. Not bad at all. It just doesn't seem like Iowa ever has these huge problems other states have or these huge lines other states have right now. I wonder why. Write a few words about your election day experience. Why did you vote today? Why not vote early? What was the mood like at your site? Mine, it seemed everyone was happy. Everyone.

Last Night's Leftovers

I spent last night at the Iowa Democrats' rally at Barack Obama's Iowa Campaign Headquarters. I'm covering the D's tonight, so I thought it would be good to be there. The Dems kept cautioning against getting too cocky. But Tom Harkin did seem to walk that cocky line, a bit. He said something like John McCain isn't quite burnt toast but he is an extra toasted English muffin. Now, that's a soundbite.

Timing was a bit of a problem last night. The rally started at 9pm and was set up to be the backdrop for television stations' 10pm live shots. The speakers went short though. Governor Chet Culver spoke only about five minutes. Who expected that? Tom Harkin spoke last. Staffers kept getting him to stretch his words, so the event wouldn't end early. It almost worked. He quit a few minutes before ten, leaving our backdrop a mostly quiet and empty stage. Supporters did try a few cheers and organizers cranked up the music. So all wasn't lost. Ah, timing:)

Election Day

Some of my colleagues don't work. In fact, one of my closest friends, who is a journalist, doesn't vote. She thinks it's easier to be an unbiased reporter if she doesn't vote. She figures that if she is trying to make up her mind as a voter as she meets and covers a candidate, it can distract her from her neutral reporting. I see her point. But I don't agree. I will say I don't vote in primaries. And I admit, that bugs me. But I don't want campaigns to find out how I voted in a primary and then wrongly assume something about me and possibly question my neutrality or lack thereof. I don't vote in general elections.

My wife and I voted at the church by our house around 10 this morning. It was comfortably crowded. We finished in less than ten minutes. I was voter number 453. A poll worker told us it's definitely been busy. No problems, from what I could tell. We'll have to see how the same day registration goes. At our place, they had a table set up at the left side of the room where the voting virgins could sign up.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Record Early Voters

Iowans keep adding to their early voting record. Here's the latest from the Iowa Secretary of State's office at about noon. For the traditionalists, maybe you won't have to wait in line as long Tuesday!

Absentee Ballots
Received: 502,964
Democrats - 234,387
Republicans - 145,118
No Party - 123,155
Other - 304

Absentee Ballots
Sent: 565,963
Democrats - 262,119
Republicans - 159,870
No Party - 143,627
Other - 347

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bill and Hillary Together Again

Billary hasn't been seen in Iowa since the caucuses. But you can see them together again in this video sent to Hillary's former Presidential supporters. They're standing side by side like Siamese twins. Watch their heads and their eyes. They look like they're watching a tennis match. Love.

McCain on Saturday Night Live

Did you stay up for Mac at midnight? John McCain hoped to change the polls selling jewelry last night on Saturday Night Live? Will it sell with voters?

In case you missed it:

Two More Days

In the words of Wilson Phillips, hold on for one more day (or 2, in this case). I don't know anybody who isn't paying attention to this Presidential election. And it seems everyone wants to talk about it. At church this morning, it started after the service with the older couple behind us. Then a middle-aged couple stopped us after the service. Even the minister talked politics on our way out the door.

Are there still really some people out there who won't bother to vote? Seriously, what more do they need to get engaged? A bad economy? A war? A horribly unpopular President? An even more unpopular Congress? Oh, wait.